Tuesday, 30 April 2013

University Challenge: Best Buzzer Per Team

OK, here we go with a look back at the series gone by. To start with, here are the best individual starter tallies per team:

Tom Cappleman (New College) - 30 over 5 matches
Simon Tomlinson (Bangor) - 30 over 6 matches
Simon Dennis (U.C.L.) - 28 over 6 matches
James 'jim360' Gratrex (King's) - 25 over 6 matches
Richard Gilbert (Manchester) - 25 over 7 matches
Alexander Suebsaeng + Sam Mindel (St George's) - 21 each over 5 matches
Tom Foxall (Pembroke) - 20 over 4 matches
Martin Evans (Imperial) - 15 over 4 matches

Those are the best individual tallies for each team. Other notable high tallies include:

Adam Barr (Manchester) - 21 over 7 matches
Andy Hood (New College) - 20 over 5 matches
Amber Ace (King's) - 18 over 6 matches
Tom Parton (U.C.L.) - 17 over 6 matches
Debbie Brown (Manchester) - 17 over 7 matches
Tom Tyszczuk Smith (U.C.L.) - 16 over 6 matches
Robert Scanes (Pembroke) - 15 over 4 matches

If you want a complete list of starter tallies for all members of quarter-finalist teams, do tell me, and I will gladly add them to this.

A more comprehensive review of the series, with a list of highlights, will follow later in the week.

Monday, 29 April 2013

University Challenge: Grand Final: U.C.L. vs Manchester

Well, it's been a long time coming, but we've finally made it: the University Challenge final. Both teams had fought long and hard to make it this far, and tonight, one of them would lift the trophy, and take their place in the annals of history (disqualification notwithstanding).

U.C.L. have fought strongly throughout the contest, beating Exeter, Jesus College Oxford, Bangor, Manchester (see below), and New College Oxford. Hoping to be the first U.C.L. team to take the title were:
Adam Papaphilippopoulos, from London, studying Philosophy 
Tom Tyszczuk Smith, from Cambridge, studying Medicine 
Captain: Simon Dennis, from London, studying the History and Philosophy of Science 
Tom Parton, from Staffordshire, studying Natural Sciences

Well, who'd have thought, when Manchester trailed Lincoln College Oxford by all those points in Round 1, that they'd be here, while poor Lincoln wouldn't even reach Round 2?! Manchester have also defeated Magdalen College Oxford, Imperial College London, St George's London and Bangor. But, they'd also lost to U.C.L. (see above). Aiming to equal the record title haul were:
David Brice, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Economics  
Adam Barr, from Muswell Hill in North London, studying Physics with Astrophysics 
Captain: Richard Gilbert, from Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, studying Linguistics 
Debbie Brown, from Buxton in Derbyshire, studying Pain Epidemiology

And so off we went. The first starter... was dropped by both sides, with U.C.L. incurring a penalty. Not a very promising start. Manchester then got off the mark, with two consecutive starters from David Brice. U.C.L. soon got off the mark courtesy of Adam Papaphilippopoulous. Up came the first picture round, on word clouds of common words used by poets. Mr Brice took his third starter of the night, and Manchester led by 55-15.

Tom Tyszczuk Smith tried early on the next starter, but only resulted in incurring another penalty. After hearing the rest of the question, it was obvious he'd buzzed too early. Manchester were a little lucky for Paxo to accept 'Man Bit Dog', when 'Man Bites Dog' was what was sought. U.C.L. then made their way back into the match, with Tom Parton taking three consecutive starters. These included the music starter, on nationalism in classical music. U.C.L. were now well back in the match, though they still trailed 70-55.

Back came Manchester, courtesy of Mr Brice. There followed a superb set of bonuses on two word phrases that could be UC buzz announcements by Roger Tilling, eg Nottingham Forest! Whoever came up with that set deserves a pay rise! Back came U.C.L. courtesy of Tom Tyszczuk Smith. Manchester came back in again, with two consecutive starters, including a close shave for Richard Gilbert after he stumbled after buzzing.

A third consecutive Manchester starter came, and their lead was beginning to rise into a match winning lead. Up came the second picture round, on illustrations from Kipling's 'Just So Stories'. Manchester now led by 160-75, and U.C.L. were gonna have to get a move on if they were going to do it.

An early interruption from Manchester have U.C.L. the chance to pull back, but they had to let it pass. And when Manchester got the next starter, it looked like they had the match won. Or did they? The next starter went to U.C.L., and they took a full set of bonuses, shouting some of the answers out before Paxo had finished the question! 

Another starter was dropped by both sides, and then U.C.L. fought back again, and were still within touching distance. But when Manchester took the next starter, that looked like it. U.C.L. did go out with a bang, getting the final starter of the match. But the gong cut them off during the bonuses.

Manchester won the match, and the series, 190-140. Hugs all round on the Manchester side, while U.C.L. offered generous applause for the winners. The trophy was presented to the winners by the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, who also offered some remarks on the match, and the show in general. As the credits rolled, U.C.L. came down, and the teams exchanged polite handshakes.

The stats: David Brice was Manchester's best buzzer, getting five starters, and the side managed 18 bonuses out of 33, with two penalties. Tom Parton led for U.C.L. with four starters, which helped the side to 14 bonuses out of 23, also with two penalties.

Well done to Manchester on a well deserved victory, that was hard fought for throughout the series. But well done to U.C.L. for doing so well, and getting so far. And thank you to Paxo, and all the teams who took part in this series, which has been good fun covering on here.

Tune in in the next few days for the 'Best Buzzers of the Series', and a short selection of highlights from the series. 

Friday, 26 April 2013

The Third Degree: Week 5: Bath Spa

Well, here we go again with the Third Degree. This week, coming from Bath Spa University, which was became a university in 2005, and, in contrast to Bath University, seems to have a focus on the arts, rather than maths and science. It has yet to send a team to University Challenge, but we may well see them on it soon.

Playing for the Students were:
Daniel Tappel, studying Creative Music Technology
Tilda Holt, studying Creative Writing
Peter Bridge, studying Geography

And playing for the Dons were:
Martin DuPra (Creative Music Technology)
Celia Brayfield (Creative Writing)
Mark McGuinness (Geography)

And so off we set. As usual, we began with questions alternating between the teams. And straight away, we got a complicated maths question for the Dons. An interesting question followed about the origins of the Post-It note. Later, another complicated question involving three phrases differing by the addition of two or more letters at the start. At the end of the round, the Dons led 8-7.

Specialist round no. 1 next, on Creative Music Technology. And then on to the lists round. The Dons were answering on 'Individual Team GB Gold Medalists in the 2012 Games', which they struggled on, only managing three. The students were given 'Countries who's names contain a Z', a somewhat easier subject, which they managed seven on. The gap was now back to a single point, the Dons leading 15-14.

It was all still to play for, as we went into the next specialist round, on Creative Writing. Highbrow-Lowbrow next, which is always good fun, and could be a good idea for a show in it's own right. This week, only five  participants were allowed a choice of questions (the sixth may have been cut for time); two of them opted to go for the two-points option. One of the lowbrow questions asked how to spell Dannii Minogue, which was narrowly missed out on by forgetting the double I. Another entailed how a cricketer got into trouble for using a metal bat, and how the rules were subsequently updated so that the bats had to be wooden.

At this point, the Dons were ahead by 21-17. Still very much up for grabs, going into the final specialist round. On to the final quickfire buzzer round, and Francis Walsingham came up as one of the answers, in a coincidental repeat answer from Monday's UC (the sort of thing Weaver's Week used to pick up on). The final score was a very narrow win for the Dons by 24-22. A slightly lower scoring game than some we've seen this series, but a good showing by both teams.

Tune in next week for the final show of the series. And then, the week after sees the return of Counterpoint.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

University Challenge: Grand Final Preview

Well, here we are, with less than a week to go before the University Challenge final. Last year's final was in mid-March; this year, due to a few delays due to the Olympics, amongst others, we've had to wait until late April for the final. But no complaints from me on that!

And so, the two teams competing in this year's final are:
University College London: Adam Papaphilippopoulos, Tom Tyszczuk Smith, Simon Dennis, and Tom Parton.
Manchester: David Brice, Adam Barr, Richard Gilbert, and Debbie Brown.

How did they get this far?

Well, U.C.L. have been strong throughout, with a big win over Exeter, a close win over Jesus College Oxford, a come-from-behind win over Bangor, and an average win over New College Oxford. They also, however, defeated Manchester in the quarter-finals...

Manchester started shakily in the contest, trailing Lincoln College Oxford until, literally, the final quarter-of-a-second before the gong! But they've put that behind them, and have defeated Magdalen College Oxford, Imperial College London, St George's London and Bangor all comfortably. But, they also lost to U.C.L. in the quarter-finals...

So, they've already met, and U.C.L. were victorious (as they have been most times they've faced Manchester in recent years). So, does that make the final result a forgone conclusion? Well, I'm not sure. Lets take a look at their stats.

U.C.L. have played one match less than Manchester, and have not yet been defeated. Their five match aggregate is 1,090 points, which is just 25 points less than Manchester's six match aggregate of 1,115. The average scores may be more telling: U.C.L. have averaged 218 points per match, Manchester 185.83 per match.

As for points conceded (ie, points scored by the opposition in their matches): U.C.L. have conceded 655 (an average of 131 per match), while Manchester have conceded 840 (an average of 140 per match). This may not been a fair comparison, when you consider Manchester have an extra match, and a loss going into that. But then, as calculated by Dave Clark over on LAM, last year's Manchester team conceded a lower average than their opponents (Pembroke College Cambridge), despite having an extra match, and a loss, going into it.

So, any key factors? Well, quite tellingly, U.C.L. have conceded the first starter in every match they've played in (only once through an incorrect interruption, against Manchester). In most cases, however, they have subsequently pulled out into a strong lead quickly, the exceptions being their second match against Jesus College Oxford, and the quarter-final against Bangor. They have been prone to long periods of immobilisation, as we saw in those two matches, but, when they get going, they really go for it.

Manchester's starting rate is more varied. In their first match, lest we forget, they didn't get any correct starters until ten minutes in. In their other matches, however, they have managed to get at least one starter early on, though only it doesn't always translate into an early run of momentum.

I got go into more depth with these analyses, but I won't, as I don't want to take all day. Suffice to say, both teams can really go for it when they get going, but are prone to stay stuck at times.

So, my tip for the final? Well, I suppose, if you insisted on one, I'd have to go for U.C.L., who have been the more consistent performers throughout. But, to be honest, it would not surprise me if Manchester won it either. Both have done exceptionally well this year, and both would deserve it. Though, as James Gratrex from the King's College Cambridge team, and a few others, have said, it would be nice to see another institution win it for once, rather than Manchester win it again. If they do, they'll equal Magdalen College Oxford's record tally of four wins (including the default win from a few years back).

Whatever happens, all we can hope for is a good match to end the series on. It's been an interesting series, with a handful of very good matches, and others middle-of-the-road. Whoever wins will deserve the title. Once again, best of luck to all involved.

Monday, 22 April 2013

University Challenge: Semi-Final 2: Manchester vs Bangor

And so, here we are at the second semi-final. Both sides had lost a match on their way here, and both those losses were to U.C.L., who the winners would meet in next week's final. I'll say no more of the slip-up on the Radio Times website (repeated by the BBC's own UC page this morning); I've said enough about it in the past week.

It seems such a long time ago that Manchester were trailing Lincoln College Oxford by nearly 100 points in the first match. Since that 'scare' in the first round, they've defeated Magdalen College Oxford, Imperial College London, and St George's London, as well as losing to U.C.L.. Aiming for their fifth final in eight years were:
David Brice, from Kingston-upon-Thames, studying Economics  
Adam Barr, from Muswell Hill in North London, studying Physics with Astrophysics 
Captain: Richard Gilbert, from Henley-in-Arden in Warwickshire, studying Linguistics 
Debbie Brown, from Buxton in Derbyshire, studying Pain Epidemiology

Bangor also got off to a shaky start in the contest, winning a low scoring match over St Andrews. But they've subsequently proven their worth by beating Durham, Imperial and James G. and co from King's College Cambridge, as well as giving U.C.L. a good fight in their defeat to them. Aiming to get a Welsh side into the final for the first time under Paxo were:
Adam Pearce, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, studying Translation Studies
Mark Stevens, from Widnes in Cheshire, studying Environmental Science
Captain: Nina Grant, from Enfield in London, studying French and Linguistics
Simon Tomlinson, from Manchester, studying Neuropsychology

And off we went quickly, and it was Manchester who got off to their quicker start, getting the first three starters, including an amusing one about how Oscar Wilde's grave has been threatened by lipstick erosion due to repetitive kissing! Nina 'pocketmouse' Grant soon got Bangor off the mark, and the side had an unlucky miss on the bonuses, answering 'School for Scoundrels', instead of 'School of Scandal'.

Now, earlier this evening, the perennial Pointless favourite the Central African Republic won a pair the Jackpot for the first time. A few hours later, its flag was the first picture starter on UC! Three more African flags with five colours formed the bonuses, after which Manchester led by 70-15.

A good interruption from Mark Stevens got Bangor going again, but just one bonus followed. A short run of momentum for the Welsh side followed, with Simon Tomlinson once again displaying good buzzer skills which have served him well this series. The music round saw Adam 'Welshguy' Pearce finally get his first music starter of the series, which he celebrated with a fist pump! Regular readers may recall Adam expressing his annoyance at how his side never got any good classical music rounds before. (No offense is intended, of course Adam!)

The music bonuses had given Bangor a narrow lead of 80-75. But Manchester quickly took it back with the next starter, but only one bonus followed from a complicated bonus set on computer science. Another unlucky miss for Bangor followed, with Mark Stevens answering two over pi, whne pi over two was wanted! A run of three incorrect interruptions from Bangor saw Manchester build up a bit of a lead. On one set of bonuses, Manchester took so long conferring that Paxo complain that he was getting a headache from listening to them!

The second round, on depictions of Hercules, allowed Bangor to get back into the match, but no bonuses followed. They were now trailing by 120-75, and could still catch Manchester with a good run of questions. Adam P. tried on the next starter, but was wrong, and his namesake Mr Barr duely corrected him.

Another starter for Mr Barr followed, and it now looked unlikely that Bangor could catch up. An interesting set of bonuses asked for the position in line to to the throne various monarchs, including the Queen, were when they were born. Nina Grant managed one more starter for Bangor, but the side just fell short of reaching three figures. The final starter went to Manchester, and the gong went during the bonuses. Manchester won, by 160-95.

Bad luck Adam and co, but you've done incredibly well to reach this far, and, as Paxo said, it's the joint furthest Bangor has ever got under him. And thank you Adam and Nina for posting on here, and giving us some good insight.

But well done Manchester, and best of luck against U.C.L. next week!

The stats: Richard Gilbert was the night's best buzzer, getting four starters; the side struggled with the bonuses, getting just 12 out of 32 (with two penalties), and that will have to be improved on next week. Simon Tomlinson got three starters for Bangor, and the Welsh side managed 8 bonuses out of 21, with three penalties.

Next week: the final, between U.C.L. and Manchester. Best of luck to all involved! 

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Third Degree: Week 4: Leicester

So, here we go with the latest edition of the Third Degree. This week's show came from the University of Leicester, who won the very first series of University Challenge way back in 1963. The students were:
John O'Doherty, studying Medicine
Bevan Edwin, studying Sociology
Maria Valach, studying Physics

And the dons were:
Alison Goodall (Medicine)
Dr Edmund Chateau-Brown (Sociology)
Martin Varstow (Physics)

So, on with the show, which began, as always with the alternative questions round. One rather complicated question wanted a series of words created by adding a letter onto alternative ends of the previous. Another asked how the Cornish cheese 'Yarg' got its name; the name of the family who first made it, Gray, backwards! The scores after this round were the dons ahead 12-4.

And so onto the first specialist round between the two medicine specialists. Alison struggles with her questions, allowing John to pick up a few bonuses for the students, and narrow the gap to just two points. On to the lists round, where the dons managed six on 'English words ending in QUE'. The students managed all eight of the 'official field events at the Olympics', which gave the a narrow lead of 21-20.

Specialist round #2 next, between Mr Edwin, and Dr Chateau-Brown, on sociology. Both managed a clean sweep on all their questions. Which brought us onto the ever brilliant 'Highbrow-Lowbrow'; this week saw all three students, and two of the dons opt for the two point option, with only Mr Varstow not risking it. One rather complex question asked what the highest possible score for a game of snooker would be if an extra colour was added. After all this, the dons had retaken the lead 28-26.

And so onto the final specialist round between the remaining student-don pair. Both did very well, with just one question being missed between the two of them. Thus, going into the final quickfire round, it was a dead heat. The dons just managed to edge out on the buzzers here, with Dr Chateau-Brown doing most of the buzzing, as Steve pointed out at the end of the round.

The dons won by 38-33, but a good close match was fought here, and both sides can be happy with that. Good show.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

University Challenge: It Has Happened Again

I'm afraid we have had another slip-up from the folk at the Radio Times.

The online RT has printed the fixture for the Grand Final on 29th April, inadvertantly revealing who U.C.L. will be playing! I will not say who.

This is not the first time this has happened. It happened no fewer than three times in 2010-11. It was better last year, with the fixture not going up until after the second semi had gone out.

It has been reported (by me, and others) over on LAM numerous times when it has happened before. The UC crew have read this, and have taken action. And, until this slip-up, things have been fine on the 'accidental spoiler' front.

I can only advise that you don't look at the RT listings for Monday 29th until after next Monday's match. Unless you want to know who wins on Monday, of course, but the majority probably won't.

Monday, 15 April 2013

University Challenge: Semi-Final 1: U.C.L. vs New College

So, we've finally arrived at the semi-finals. Both tonight's teams had made it thus far undefeated, and had both looked like potential champs at certain points. But, tonight, one of them would be sent packing, while the other proceeded to the grand final in two weeks' time.

U.C.L. got to this stage by beating Exeter, Jesus College Oxford, Bangor and Manchester (the latter two of whom play next week in the second semi-final) en route, scoring at least 190 points on each occasion, and holding their nerve when faced with a challenge. They remained:
Adam Papaphilippopoulos, from London, studying Philosophy 
Tom Tyszczuk Smith, from Cambridge, studying Medicine 
Captain: Simon Dennis, from London, studying the History and Philosophy of Science 
Tom Parton, from Staffordshire, studying Natural Sciences

New College Oxford's road to this stage saw them defeat Homerton College Cambridge, York, King's College Cambridge and St George's London. They were pretty good early on, but seemed to slip down a notch in the quarters, relying mainly on the buzzer to get through. They were still:
Remi Beecroft, from Letchworth in Hertfordshire, studying Psychology and Philosophy
India Lenon, from London, studying Classics
Captain: Andy Hood, from Wasperton in Warwickshire, studying PPE
Tom Cappleman, from Bracknell, studying Maths

So, on paper, U.C.L. looked to have the advantage, having scored over 100 more points than New College, and overall performing stronger. Also, New College's performances have been largely reliant on the buzzer work of Mr Tom Cappleman, whilst U.C.L. have provided a more collegiate effort, with all four players getting at least one starter right in all their prior matches.

On with the show, and Mr Cappleman continued his impressive showing with the first starter of the match. Then, the momentum shifted in U.C.L.'s favour, and they began an early surge away on the buzzers. I noted that captain Simon Dennis, who has sported bright orange hair in the prior rounds, had changed it to blonde and blue this time. Was this U.C.L.'s first match after a recording break? 

The first picture round, on Portuguese speaking nations in Africa, saw Tom Parton get a telling off from Paxo for pausing after buzzing. After the bonuses, U.C.L. led by 85-20. Then, came a run of four unanswered starters, including one about the Aberdeenshire hamlet of Towie, and how it is an acronym of 'The Only Way Is Essex'! 'groan!' Three of these starters saw the teams lose points via incorrect interruptions.

Tom Cappleman finally stemmed the flow of dropped starters, bringing New College back into the match. Another starter was dropped, before Andy Hood got New College's second consecutive correct starter. The music round went to U.C.L., who now led by 95-45.

New College then got two consecutive starters, and slashed the gap down to just fifteen points. Andy Hood was unlucky on the next starter, on MPs who defected, by getting the right idea, but not the correct term, 'crossing the floor', which Adam Papaphilippopoulos duly picked up on. Another starter gave U.C.L. a bit more breathing space. The second picture round went to New College, but they still trailed by 130-95.

Into the final phase, and the gap was still closeable. The next starter went to U.C.L., and the lead rose again. And then another starter pulled U.C.L. into a match-winning lead of 70 points. New College were going to have to get a move on if they were going to catch up; they tried, with two consecutive starters going to them, but just one bonus came out of these.

Step in Simon Dennis, and U.C.L.'s lead rose again, and it looked unlikely that New College could catch them now. A miscue from New College seemed to confirm this, and another starter for Mr Dennis made it definite. At the gong, U.C.L. won by 195-115.

A gallant effort from New College, but it's U.C.L. who go through to the final, as most expected on here and on LAM. Simon Dennis was the best buzzer of the night, getting six starters, and his side managed 19 bonuses out of 33 with two penalties. Andy Hood and Tom Cappleman got three each for New College, who made 10 bonuses out of 24 with three penalties. It's a shame to see them go, but they've done very well this series, and, as Paxo said, going out in the semis is not at all disrespectful. Mr Cappleman may well have one of the highest individual totals of the series; I will find out for sure when I compile the overall tallies at the end of the series.

Next week: Manchester play Bangor for the right to fight U.C.L.. And then, the final!

My review of the Third Degree will hopefully be up on Friday. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

The Third Degree: Week 3: Edinburgh

OK, onto this week's edition of the Third Degree. This week's show came from Edinburgh University. Now, my Dad studied there, and a couple of friends of mine are/have been there as well. The uni entered University Challenge every year from 1999-00 until the most recent series, but they'll surely be back again next year.

The Students were:
Madu Chakrobarti, studying Biological Sciences
Katerina Stojanavic, studying the History of Art
Katie MacKenzie, studying International Relations and Law

And the Dons were:
David Arnott (Biological Sciences)
Dr Devon McHugh (History of Art)
Dr Sean Malloy (International Relations)

OK, no change in the layout, so we began, as usual, with the alternate general knowledge questions. Interesting questions included how the Biro and the Rubix Cube were both invented by Hungarians, and how Bolivia has a Navy, despite being landlocked, in the hope of regaining a strip of coast lost to Chile. After this round, the Students led 8-7.

Onto to the first specialist round, with Ms Chakrobarti and Mr Arnott facing questions on Biological Sciences. Then, onto the lists round, where the Dons managed a full eight on 'historic counties of Scotland ending in SHIRE'. The students also managed a full set on 'countries beginning with M'.

Specialist round two next, between Ms Stojanovic and Dr McHugh, after which the sides were level on 22-each. Highbrow-Lowbrow next, which is always good for a laugh. This week, the two point option was selected by four participants. Highlight of this round was Dr McHugh trying to name three X-Factor winners after going Lowbrow on 'X', and nearly managing it! There was also an interesting question about how most watch commercials show the watch at 10:10, thus allowing most of the face, and the manufacturer name to be shown. After that, the Dons narrowly led by 25-24.

And so onto the final specialist round between Ms MacKenzie, and Dr Malloy, which saw both get all their questions right, this leaving the gap at 1 point. The final quickfire buzzer round was, again, pretty closely fought by the two teams, until the Dons pulled away late on in the round.

The final score saw the Dons win 36-29. A good performance there by the Students, but not quite enough. But a good showing all round by both teams. Well done!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

University Challenge: Semi-Final Preview

So, after 34 matches, some nondescript, some truely memorable, we've finally found the final four. They are:
  • University College London: Adam Papaphilippopoulos, Tom Tyszczuk Smith, Simon Dennis and Tom Parton (895 over four matches) 
  • New College Oxford: Remi Beecroft, India Lenon, Andrew Hood and Tom Cappleman (770 over four matches)
  • Manchester: David Brice, Adam Barr, Richard Gilbert and Debbie Brown (955 over five matches)
  • Bangor: Adam Pearce, Mark Stevens, Nina Grant and Simon Tomlinson (830 over five matches)

So, those are the raw stats, but they only tell half the story. What about the actual performance records?

Well, U.C.L. have been the most consistently strong team overall, scoring well and strongly over their four matches, with their only real 'scare' being when they fell well behind Bangor in the quarters, but they soon recovered from that. All four players have contributed well over the matches, and the bonus work has been fair as well.

New College were fairly strong early on in the contest, scoring well in the first two rounds on both buzzer and bonus. But, in the quarter-finals, they seemed to drop down a gear, relying mainly on buzzer strength, and not doing too well on the bonuses. And Tom Cappleman has been getting most of their starters, raising a question over whether the rest of the side can make up if he has an off day.

Manchester got off to a shaky start, trailing Lincoln College Oxford until the last half second of the match. But they've more than made up for that 'scare' since, and have been a strong team on buzzer, and fair on the bonuses, with no real standout player.

Bangor also got off to a shaky start, winning a low scoring affair over St Andrews. But they've since shown that they weren't just lucky to get a lucky draw first time around, and have been a strong consistent team ever since. Most of their starters have been courtesy of Simon Tomlinson, which, again, raises questions about if he has an off-day. The team also comprises two blog readers in the form of Adam 'Welshguy' Pearce, and Nina 'pocketmouse' Grant.

So, those are the stats, and the over performance record. What about the draw?

Well, for the first time under the new quarter-final system, the two teams who came straight through without losing a quarter-final, have been drawn together, with U.C.L. playing New College next. James Gratrex of the King's College Cambridge team has suggested this may be due to U.C.L. beating both Bangor and Manchester in the QFs, and the producers not wanting another rematch so soon.

I am inclined to agree, and suspect that, had James and co won last night, they'd have been placed against U.C.L. in the semis, and New College with Manchester.

So, on Monday, U.C.L. play New College, followed by Manchester vs Bangor the week after. And then, the final!

So, who's my tip for the final? To be honest, I cannot call it. It's been a closely fought series, with no real standout candidates for the title. Whoever wins will fully deserve the title.

Monday, 8 April 2013

University Challenge: Play-Off Quarter-Final 2: Bangor vs King's

Well well well, who'd have thought it would come to this? The two 'blog reader' teams from this year's contest clashing for the last place in the semi-finals. Both had done tremendously well to get this far in the contest, considering neither got off to a terribly promising start, but both fully deserve their subsequent success.

Bangor got off to a slow start, winning a low scoring match over St Andrews, but proved their worth when they shockingly beat Durham in the second round. They then lost to U.C.L., but recovered with a good win over Imperial. The side was the same as the other times before:
Adam Pearce, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, studying Translation Studies
Mark Stevens, from Widnes in Cheshire, studying Environmental Science
Captain: Nina Grant, from Enfield in London, studying French and Linguistics
Simon Tomlinson, from Manchester, studying Neuropsychology

King's College Cambridge, lest we forget, came through the repechage, losing to St George's, but then beating Homerton. Subsequent showings were a narrow win over Warwick, a loss to New College, and a very narrow win over Pembroke last time around. The team remained:
Curtis Gallant, from North London, studying Classics
Amber Ace, from Perthshire, studying Classics
Captain: Fran Middleton, from Chorleywood in Hertfordshire, studying Classics
James Gratrex, from Leeds, studying Physics

Among the teams were three blog readers: Adam 'Welshguy' Pearce, Nina 'pocketmouse' Grant, and James 'jim360' Gratrex. So, no partiality from me tonight.

The match began slowly, with the first two starters being dropped, before the hitherto impressive Simon Tomlinson got the match going, with two consecutive starters. With the aid of Ms Grant, he helped Bangor to the sort of strong start we've seen them do twice before, against Durham and U.C.L.. By the first picture round, on the Beatus map, Bangor led by 90-0.

At the moment, King's already looked to be in trouble, and a miscue only worsened their problems, and allowed Bangor to pull ahead. (Incidentally, I'm not a fan of the camera flipping back to a team who've miscued after the other team take the points; it's just not an idea I approve of.)

But our man James finally got King's off the mark, and they took one bonus on, what appeared to be, a complete guess! Even the guesses count! The music round, on biblical oratorios, saw the starter dropped, followed by a further three. James eventually got a starter, allowing King's back into the game, but they still trailed by 130-30.

The third phase saw both teams make progress, but neither really managing much of a momentum run. Bangor had an unlucky miss on one bonus, saying Dupon instead of Dupin. The second picture round arrived, on female scientists, saw King's get back into the match courtesy of Curtis Gallant. Bangor's lead now stood at 160-60.

King's would need to get a move on if they wanted to catch up. James G. tried an early buzz on the next starter, but was wrong; Adam P. shot in straight away, but he was wrong too, prompting Paxo to quip that he should've let him finish! Adam soon made up for that with another starter, and Bangor were now home and dry.

A set of physics bonuses reduced the Welsh side to laughter, as they unsuccessfully tried to get something out them! (Adam remarked earlier on that Bangor has no maths or science departments) King's did manage on more starter, and a couple of bonuses followed just in time before the gong. Bangor had won, by 195-70.

Bad luck James and co, but, as Paxo said, you've done very well throughout the series, especially given the shaky start, and have given us plenty of laughs along the way. And thank you James for your insight as well, which has been fun to read.

But well done Adam, Nina and co on a well deserved victory. I don't think many could've seen you doing this well after your first performace. Well done indeed, and best of luck in the semis!

The stats: Simon Tomlinson continued his impressive series performance, getting seven starters, as the side made 15 bonuses out of 39, with two penalties. Our man James and Curtis Gallant got two each for King's, and the side managed 7 bonuses out of 14, with three penalties.

Next week: the semi-final finally begin, with U.C.L. vs New College. Now, that should be a good match!

A review of today's Third Degree will hopefully be up by the end of the week.