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University Challenge: Newnham vs. Southampton

August 13, 2010

Very low-scoring game this week, with Newnham College, Cambridge, beating Southampton by 135 points to 115. This may have been affected by the presence of an unusual number of extremely technical biology/chemistry questions (I’ve always wondered if they tailored the question mix for each show to the contestants’ subjects, but the three scientists present didn’t have much luck.) I scored 195, 180 without unstartered bonuses. (J scored 110, of which he is very proud.)

Both teams were somewhat unbalanced: Newnham didn’t bring an arts student (physics/veterinary medicine/natural science/French and Russian) and Southampton didn’t bring artists or scientists (PPE/economics/maths/politics and economics). Newnham also made the tactical error of passing on questions they didn’t know – as my dad always told me, if you don’t know, guess wildly: it increases your chances of an accidental right answer from ‘zero’ to ‘unlikely’.

At one point Paxman told one of the Newnham women “Don’t look so sad” – it’s fucking annoying when people do this no matter what the circumstances (contestants on TV shows, likely to be nervous and/or scared? Never!) but from a man who has a history of patronising female contestants it’s doubly offensive. I swear he still acts sometimes like he’s faintly surprised to see girls on UC at all.

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