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University Challenge: Magdalene vs. St Hugh’s

September 22, 2009

I have been following the current series of University Challenge fairly religiously, as I try to whenever I belatedly realise it’s on, with the added nerdery that this time round I’ve been keeping score. I figure it’s a good way to test my general (and for general, read stupidly esoteric) knowledge. One of these days I’d love to go on the show – following in the grand family tradition; my aunt was on it for St Hugh’s in about 1970-something – but our Student Union is mysteriously silent on its selection process, from which I am forced to conclude that we are in either #1 or #2 of the following categories:

Around Christmas, Granada writes to every Student Union or Oxbridge college President inviting them to submit a team. How the team is picked is thus up to the Student Union themselves. About a third of them lose the form or don’t bother with it. Another third of the Presidents pick themselves and three of their mates. The final third organise a selection quiz which they advertise round their university, and the four best entrants are picked.

(from Sean Blanchflower’s worryingly comprehensive index site)

Now the viewer at home obviously plays under different conditions to the contestants, but I’m still trying to work out whether these are a net advantage or disadvantage. The biggest advantage the viewer has is that they get to answer nearly twice as many questions (both sets of bonuses). The disadvantages are twofold: first, there’s only one of you, and second, you have to get the answer before the contestants do. I’m not sure how it works out.

Anyway. I just caught up with yesterday’s show, in which St Hugh’s College, Oxford, bt. Magdalene College, Cambridge, 145 to 135 on sudden death. I scored a round 20o, being especially proud of knowing that: Dag Hammarskjold was a UN Secretary-General, that the Queen was born in Bruton St and later lived on Piccadilly,  that William Langland wrote Piers Plowman, and that Arthur C Clarke popularised the concept of geostationary orbit.

(Multiply edited owing to HTML fail.)

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