The third series of the House Challenge quiz took place during the first two weeks of term, culminating in the semi-finals and final in the Ashton Theatre on Friday evening. The tournament, played under the rules of University Challenge (of which our own quiz guru, Dr Charles Oakley, is a former winner and current question-setter), tests not only general knowledge, but also nerve and a degree of teamwork. The standard of answering was generally impressive, and in the end it was a sparkling display of swift intervention that proved decisive.
Having conducted the earlier rounds single-handed, Dr Oakley withdrew to the “technical area”, keeping the score and providing the occasional ruling on the acceptability of an answer. In the chair was Toby Percival of the Classics Department, a more genial host than the acerbic Paxman, but no less rigorous in requiring prompt and precise replies. He struck the right balance between fun and firmness. Every now and again it was necessary for him to repeat something which had been delivered to him in a sotto voce aside, and it would be worth reminding contestants to address the audience, and not only the Chair. For the most part, however, they did speak out confidently and appeared to be enjoying themselves. So did the audience, though classroom habits die hard, and hands frequently shot up in a bid for recognition. Fortunately, supporters refrained from spoiling the game by prompting.
In the first semi-final, Severn Hill saw off the challenge of a competitive Rigg’s quartet, and in the second, School House defeated an Oldham’s team which had impressed in a closely-fought quarter-final. The margins of victory raised hopes of an exciting climax, but it was not to be. School House, with enthusiastic backing from their peers, had the wind in their sails from the start, and Severn Hill were for long periods reduced to the role of spectators while their opponents racked up the points. It was not as if they didn’t know any answers; they had registered the highest score in the semi-finals, and they could be seen to wince as they listened to bonus questions they had missed out on, all because of the hair-trigger response of the School House team. Time after time the latter got in first, eventually reaching the spectacular total of 310 points in just twenty-two minutes. They were worthy winners and on this showing will take some stopping next year.
To those who have not attended a round of this expertly organised event, I send a strong recommendation to do so at the next opportunity. If, like me, you enjoy pitting your wits against the participants, be prepared for competition. They are very good!
|Final||School House||310||Severn Hill||135|
|Finalists||SH||Seb Kidson, James Humpish, Jamie Nugent, Henry Dashwood|
|S||George Mallett, Rob Cross, Mark Huang, Daniel Edwards|