University Challenge: Grand Final
The Grand Final! Oxford took on Cambridge, the age-old rivals represented respectively by St John’s College and Emmanuel College.
I think the audience, and Paxman, and probably the teams themselves, were expecting a hard-fought battle – after which it came as something of a surprise that Emmanuel steamrollered the St John’s team by a staggering 315 to 100. St John’s did nothing spectacularly wrong: they were simply unable to withstand a bravura performance from the Emmanuelites, led by another tour de force from captain Alex Guttenplan.
An aside on Guttenplan: first, is there no limit to this man’s knowledge? Second, I find it telling that he has had almost zero media attention to his brilliance, whereas the comparable performance by Gail Trimble a couple of years back was all over the tabloids. It would seem that vast knowledge in a soft-spoken identifiably-Jewish (from his surname, more than anything else) geek is so unremarkable as to pass without comment, whereas that same knowledge in a whitebread English girl makes her an object of confused and prying media interest. Doesn’t say much for our media stereotypes of either white girls or Jewish guys, really.
Anyway. I scored 230, 215 without un-startered bonuses, including 14 starter questions (though not the one about varieties of Linux. J got that one.) The only round I scored full marks on was the one requiring you to identify, from their binomial Latin names, plants and animals homophonic with letters of the alphabet – pea, jay and tea (Camellia sinensis, and I can’t remember the other two.)
And that’s it for this year.