Monday, 29 February 2016

University Challenge 2015-16: Elimination Quarter-Final 1: St Catharine's vs York

Evening all. On to the first QF where a team will actually be eliminated. Whoever lost tonight would be the first casualty of the increasingly tiring process, the winners would go through to the play-offs for a place in the semis. Both narrowly lost their first QF to the teams who gave us a great match last week, so hopefully these two would be just as good too.

St Catharine's lost to St John's in their first QF by just five points, though this was an impressive fightback from 90 down with not long to go! They defeated our old friends Southampton and Nottingham in the earlier rounds. They were still the same four as before:
Calum Watson, from Stirlingshire, studying Maths
Ellie Chan, from Brighton, studying History of Art
Captain: Calum Bungey, from London, studying Chemistry
Alex Cranston, from London, studying Biological Natural Sciences

York were surprise winners over Manchester (the Team Everyone Wants to Beat) in their first match, and then took Christ's of Cambridge out in their second; but they lost their first QF to Peterhouse, albeit narrowly on the final starter of the match. They too were unchanged from before:
Barto Joly de Lotbiniere, from London, studying History
Sam Smith, from Guernsey, studying Chemistry
Captain: David Landon Cole, from Yeovil, studying Politics
Joseph McLoughlin, from Oldham, studying Chemistry

Off we set again then, and St Catharine's drew first blood as Mr Watson took the first starter, and all three bonuses on the emperor Claudius followed. York bit straight back courtesy of Mr McLoughlin, and they took two bonuses on the Fermi awards. A second starter in a row for York gave them the lead, plus two bonuses followed, and a third starter and a full bonus set gave them a strong early lead and a good bout of momentum. The first picture round, on heraldic blazons, went to York, who gobbled up the bonuses (much to Paxo's amazement!), and increased their lead to 90-25.

York's momentum continued as Mr McLoughlin took the next starter, and two bonuses followed it. Mr Joly de Lotbiniere took yet another starter for his side, but they showed maybe a hint of weakness, missing all the bonuses (though they were fairly tricky this time). St Catharine's were now 95 behind, but Mr Watson reduced this deficit with a very good buzz on the next starter, and one bonus accompanied. Paxo still felt the need to point out there was still plenty of time left (though he did not name them specifically this time!)!

The music starter was missed by both sides; the bonuses, on songs that won the Academy Award for Best Original Song and their composers and films, went to York, who did well to take two bonuses, and increased their lead to 140-40. Five points disappeared when Mr Cole slipped up on the next starter, allowing St Catharine's to take the honours. Their reward was a good old fashioned UC bonus set where a single question offered 5 points for four correct answers, 10 for five and 15 for a full seven. They got five correct, so 10 for that. Mr Joly de Lotbiniere took possession back for York, and took one bonus on Christian works; Miss Chan took possession back for St Catharine's, and one bonus on antelopes (yes, really!) followed.

The second picture starter was also dropped; the bonuses, on paintings depicting stormy weather, went to York, who took just the one, which put their lead at 165-75. Still time for St Catharine's to close the gap, and Mr Bungey tried his luck on the next starter; but he was wrong, allowing York to take the points and one bonus. Mr Bungey made up for it by taking the next starter, and his side would have to sweep up from now on to catch up like they did before, but they missed all the bonuses, suggesting it would be too much for them.

But they fought on bravely, Mr Bungey trying his luck again, but this time losing five, though York didn't take the points. Mr Watson took the next starter for them, and a full set of bonuses deservedly took them into triple figures. Mr Watson took the final starter of the match, but there was no time for the bonuses. At the gong, York won 180-115.

Another good contest, despite it not being as close as we've been used to recently. Unlucky St Catharine's, who, again, just left it a bit late to gather momentum, but very well done on a very respectable series of performances. Very well done to York though; another excellent performance, and very best of luck in your play-off!

That final starter made Mr Watson the best buzzer of the night, with four starters, though Mr Bungey was the side's best buzzer of the series, with 20 over four matches; Messrs Joly de Lotbiniere, Cole and McLoughlin finished with three each for York. On the bonuses, St Catharine's converted a decent 10 out of 18, while York managed a respectable 17 out of 30; both sides incurred one penalty, and all eight players ended proceedings with at least one starter under their belt.

Next week's match: Imperial vs Liverpool, I guess

Monday, 22 February 2016

University Challenge 2015-16: Qualification Quarter-Final 1: St John's vs Peterhouse

Evening all. After our pause for Chinese New Year last week, we're back in full swing, and, tonight, we would find out who would take the first place in the semi-finals. Both teams have been strong throughout, and would deserve it, and, barring a complete breakdown, the runners-up would probably win their play-off and go through too.

St John's only narrowly emerged on top over St Catharine's in their preliminary, winning by just five points after letting slide somewhat late on. They previously took out Bristol and Queen's of Belfast by strong margins in the first two rounds. They were the same four we've got used to:
Alex Harries, from South Wales, studying History
Charlie Clegg, from Glasgow, studying Theology
Captain: Angus Russell, from Mill Hill in North London, studying History and Russian
Dan Sowood, from Uxbridge in Middlesex, studying Chemistry

Peterhouse also had a close run thing in their preliminary, beating York on the final question of the match having been level almost throughout. Their earlier victories were a narrow one over Glasgow and a comfy one over St George's of London. They too were unchanged from those efforts:
Thomas Langley, from Newcastle, studying History
Oscar Powell, from York, studying Geological Sciences
Captain: Hannah Woods, from Manchester, studying History
Julian Sutcliffe, from Reading, studying History

Off we set again then, and St John's drew first blood, with Mr Russell taking the first starter, and a full bonus set on essays showed they were up for it tonight. Miss Woods showed that her side were too, as she promptly took their first starter, but no bonuses followed it. (Their ever amusing conferring led Paxo to suggest Mr Powell go into stand-up comedy!) Another starter went to the Cambridge side, and two bonuses followed this time. The first picture round, on stanzaic forms and their rhyme schemes, proved tricky, with both sides missing the starter, and Peterhouse taking none of the bonuses. They still led 40-25.

St John's bit back into the match, though, as Mr Clegg took his first starter of the night, but they ran into a tricky bonus set on constellations and their three letter abbreviations, taking just one of the set. It was enough to level the score, but they promptly dropped five on the next starter, and Peterhouse couldn't capitalise after a swerve ruled their answer out. They did, however, take the next starter, and all three bonuses on the Borgia family followed. Mr Sowood fought back for St John's, and they took two bonuses on mythology. But Peterhouse wouldn't let them get away, as they took a starter and two bonuses.

The music round, on barcaroles in classical music, went to St John's, who took one bonus, which cut their deficit to 85-70. Another starter to Mr Clegg, two bonuses on art technique, and they had taken the lead. Neither side took the next starter, Mr Sutcliffe the next, giving Peterhouse back the lead, plus two bonuses on scientific terms.

The second picture round, on depictions of the martyrdom of St Sebastian, went to St John's, who took just the one bonus, but it was enough to put them on level pegging, 105-each. Neither side got the Mendips for the next starter (I did; thanks Fifteen-to-One!), before Miss Woods gave Peterhouse back the lead, and two bonuses followed, one of which was a self-admitted guess. Mr Powell took the next starter, and a full set of bonuses on rodents gave them a 45-point lead going into the final minutes.

But St John's weren't taking this lying down; Mr Clegg took the next starter, and two bonuses requiring foreign past participles to be spelt, not very sporting for a team trying to catch up late on, nonetheless gave them two correct answers. Another starter to St John's, and a full bonus set single-handedly answered by Mr Sowood(!) put them level pegging again! Miss Woods crucially took the next starter, giving her side back the lead, and two bonuses followed. And when Mr Sutcliffe took the next starter, that was game over. All three bonuses followed, and the gong followed them. Peterhouse won 195-150.

Another cracking match between two fine, evenly matched teams. Unlucky St John's, but another good showing, and, if you play like that again in the play-off, you'll surely go through to; best of luck for then. Very well done to Peterhouse though; another excellent showing against strong opposition, and very very best of luck in the semis!

Mr Clegg was the best buzzer of the night, with six correct answers, while Mr Powell was best for the Cambridge side with four. On the bonuses, St John's converted a decent 15 out of 24 (with one penalty), while Peterhouse managed an also very good 19 out of 30. Decent rates for both teams there.

Next week's match: York vs St Catharine's

Monday, 8 February 2016

University Challenge 2015-16: Preliminary Quarter-Final 4: Newcastle vs Liverpool

Evening all. A good show in prospect this evening, with two teams with fairly similar routes to this stage: a fairly easy first round win over half decent opponents, followed by a closer second round win over a team that came through the repechage. Plus, both teams had blog readers among their ranks.

Newcastle defeated Kent in their first match, then overcame Glasgow in their second. They were confident on the buzzer both times, though their bonus rate was noticeably better in the first round than in the second, though it didn't tail completely. They were the same foursome as before:
Alexander Kirkman, from Guildford, studying Biomedical Sciences
Nick Smith, from Chorley in Lancashire, studying Medicine
Captain: Tony Richardson, from County Durham, studying International Politics
Kate Bennett, from Chichester, studying Film Theory and Practice

Liverpool beat St Peter's in the first round, and then our old friends Southampton in the second. Again, they were confident on the buzzer both times, and about half-way with the bonuses on both occasions too. They too were unchanged from those prior outings:
Jenny McLoughlin, from Leeds, studying Biological and Medical Sciences
Jack Bennett, from Lancaster, studying Law
Captain: Robin Wainwright, from the Wirral, studying Biological Sciences
Ed Bretherton, from Bampton in Devon, studying Medicine

Off we set again then, and blog reader Tony Richardson took the first starter of the match, and two bonuses on Monsieur Descartes followed. An unlucky slip-up from Liverpool gave Mr Richardson a second starter, and a full bonus set went their way, showing they meant business. Another starter went to the Tynesiders, and two bonuses followed. Liverpool finally hit positive figures courtesy of blog reader Jack Bennett, and two bonuses on ornithology followed. The first picture round, on areas of the Mediterranean, went to Liverpool, who took one bonus, which cut the deficit to 65-30.

Another starter went Mr Richardson's way, but no bonuses from a set on the work of Mr RA Fisher. Mr Wainwright made up for his earlier mistake, a very good buzz taking points for Liverpool, with two bonuses following. Another unlucky mistake from the Merseysiders handed Newcastle another starter, and two bonuses on acids accompanied it. Three starters were then dropped, one of which saw Liverpool lose another five, and Paxo was harsh but fair to disallow Newcastle's subsequent answer. The Tynesiders did take another starter, but just one bonus on the plays of Mr O. Wilde followed.

The music round, on pop songs that use the Winston's Amen Break drum solo, went to Liverpool, who took two bonuses, which cut the gap to 110-65. The gap slipped further as Mr Richardson fell victim to one of those borderline interruptions. (I'll never fail to point those out, BTW) Liverpool didn't capitalise, but Mr Bennett did take the next starter; one bonus on pairs of US presidents followed, and the other two were unluckily missed.

The second picture round, on portraits of members of the Lunar Society, went to Newcastle, who took one bonus, which nonetheless increased their lead to 120-80. Liverpool were still hot on their trail, though, and Mr Bennett took the next starter, and all three bonuses accompanied it. Another starter to Liverpool put them within five, and a clean sweep on a bonus set on the Lord of the Rings trilogy gave them the lead. A third starter in a row went to the Merseysiders, plus two bonuses. But back came Newcastle courtesy of Miss Bennett, two bonuses followed, and a grandstand finish was on.

A second starter in a row for Miss Bennett put Newcastle back on level pegging, and one bonus was enough to put them slightly back in front. Liverpool took the advantage back via a slightly curious starter taken by Mr Wainwright, but no bonuses followed. Mr Bennett gave them more space to breath, and just one bonus followed this time, but every little counts. Neither side took the next starter; the game was won on the next, when Mr Richardson slipped up and Mr Bennett took the points. At the gong, Liverpool won 190-150.

Another very good close match between two very evenly matched teams. Unlucky Newcastle, who did very well throughout and just slipped out at the end, but a good performance nonetheless and best of luck in your elimination match. Very well done Liverpool though; another decent showing against good opposition, and best of luck in your qualifying match!

The two blog readers were their respective side's best buzzers, with Mr Bennett the best of the night with six and Mr Richardson taking five. On the bonuses, Newcastle converted an OK 14 out of 27, while Liverpool managed a good 18 out of 31, and both sides incurred two penalties.

No match next week, as the slot is needed for a China season programme, so we resume in two weeks' time with, I'm guessing, Peterhouse vs St John's in the first qualifying match.

Monday, 1 February 2016

University Challenge 2015-16: Preliminary Quarter-Final 3: Imperial vs Nuffield

Evening all. One of the good things about watching multiple quiz shows is spotting contestants you have already seen on other shows; for example, Robert Greenhill from the very good Leicester team from last year's UC was on Brain of Britain this afternoon, though I won't spoil how well he did! On with today's game, where two more teams would play it out, the winners going to the qualifying round, the runners-up to the elimination round.

Imperial College London trounced our friends Reading in their first match, and did an almost carbon copy on Sidney Sussex College Cambridge in their second, impressing on the buzzer and the bonuses both times, and racking up the highest collegiate score so far. They were the same foursome as before:
Ben Fernando, from Birmingham, studying Physics
Ashwin Braude, from North London, studying Physics
Captain: James Bezer, from Manchester, studying Physics
Onur Teymur, from North London, studying Mathematical Statistics

Nuffield College Oxford narrowly came through two lower scoring matches, with victories over Queen Mary London in the first round and Warwick in the second, mostly via decent buzzer work, which they may not have the luxury of again tonight. They were also unchanged from before:
Spencer Smith, from Holland, Michigan, studying Economics
Alexander Sayer Gard-Murray, from Los Angeles, studying Politics
Captain: Mathias Ormestad Frendem, from Oslo, studying International Relations
Daniel Kaliski, from Cape Town, studying Economics

Off we set again then, and Imperial slipped-up instantly, handing Nuffield the first starter and two bonuses on 1944 conferences. The London side made up for that mistake by taking the next starter and all three bonuses on the work of the mathematician Hilbert to level the scores. But a second slip-up handed Nuffield back the lead, plus they took the starter and all the bonuses as well. Then it was Nuffield's turn to drop five, and Imperial took the starter, but no bonuses. The first picture round, on Hanseatic cities, went to Imperial, who took two bonuses, and snuck into the lead 45-40.

Mr Bezer made up for his earlier errors by taking the next starter, and the resulting bonuses gave the comedy moment of the night when Imperial offered 'Pietro Aronica' for one them! (Mr Aronica, as you may remember, represented Imperial on UC three years ago!) None of the bonuses followed, but Mr Fernando took the next starter, and a set on Russian oblasts proved more to their liking, with all three being picked up. Nuffield re-entered proceedings courtesy of Mr Ormestad Frendem, but just the one bonuses accompanied it. Still, at this point, it was either side's game.

The music starter was unluckily missed by both sides; the bonuses, on dance interludes in opera, went to Imperial, but none of them were taken, leaving their lead at 90-55. Another mistake from Mr Bezer dropped five, and gave Nuffield the points, but just one bonus on steroids followed. A second starter in a row went to the Oxford side, but, again, just one bonus followed. It was enough, however, to level the scores.

The second picture round, on female heads of government, went to Imperial, who took two bonuses, which gave them back the lead, 105-85. Mr Bezer took a second starter in a row, but, again, just the one bonus followed. This sort of profligacy had been the problem for both sides throughout. Mr Teymur took his first starter of the night, and two bonuses on the Barbary region gave them their biggest lead of the night.

A perfectly timed and patient buzz from Mr Fernando gave Imperial further maneuvering room, and a set of bonuses on curves saw them get one bonus again, and myself get another after recalling a starter from six years ago! Another starter to Imperial, and that was most likely them home and dry, with two bonuses seeming conforming this. The London side managed one final starter, and, again, just the one bonus followed. At the gong, Imperial won 190-85.

A low scoring but close match, and, until Imperial ran away at the end, it was anyone's game. Unlucky Nuffield, who were outplayed on the buzzer late on, but we'll see you again, of course, and best of luck in your eliminator. Well done to Imperial though; not quite as imperious (no pun intended) as before, but another sizeable win nonetheless, and best of luck in your qualifier!

Mr Bezer was narrowly the best buzzer of the night, with six starters to Mr Fernado's five, while Mr Kaliski was best for Nuffield with two (his colleagues all got one each). On the bonuses, Imperial converted an OK 17 out of 36 (with three penalties), while Nuffield managed 8 out of 15 (with one penalty). Both sides around half the bonuses then, thus explaining the low-ish scores.

Next week's match: Newcastle vs Liverpool (best of luck to all readers involved!)