ICQ 2000 - News
12/2/2000 - Balliol given fright in Inter-Collegiate opener
The Inter-Collegiate Quiz kicked off today, with holders Balliol A receiving a nasty fright in their opening match against Corpus Christi B.
Balliol looked distinctly off-colour, and Corpus held a narrow lead until half-time, thoroughly upsetting the form book in the process. The speed of starter response was alarmingly fast, leading later to allegations that the questions had been made easier.
However, Balliol woke up towards the end, and aided by a strong performance from Ian Bayley and a superior bonus conversion, managed to pull just over 100 points clear. It was still Balliol's shakiest performance in the Inter-Collegiate for a very long time, and one that will lead to questions whether they can retain the trophy for a second year.
Later, Corpus Christi A showed how it should be done with a comprehensive away demolition of Pembroke. Sandeep Sreekumar hyperactively scored +70, effectively blocking Pembroke from taking greater advantage of their superior bonus conversion. Corpus captain Matt Carter later praised Sreekumar as "our secret weapon", a description that their opponents may well find painful!
19/2/00 - Inter-Collegiate history as Keble and Oriel take tie-break
Inter-Collegiate Quiz history was made today as the Group E match between Keble and Oriel went all the way to a tie-break.
Oriel, last season's runners-up, look rough from the start, not least because David Follows, their science guru, had failed to live up to his name and got lost en route. To the delight of the strong home crowd, Keble took the first two starters for a 45-0 lead. Follows appeared, and promptly opened his side's account, and by half-time, Oriel had swept into a reasonably comfortable 135-65 lead.
But Oriel then seemed to go to sleep. Question after question passed them by, as Keble overtook them and moved into a ten-point lead. Yet still Oriel had no reaction other than two -5s in a row. Finally, with just two bonus questions remaining, Oriel realised the seriousness of their predicament - trailing by 40 points - and picked up the remaining two starters to tie the match.
165-all was the score, as a tie-break envelope was opened for the first time in competition history. After barely a few words of the question, Keble captain Richard Copley buzzed, but blanked and was ruled out of time, just as he remembered the answer. Oriel had taken the match by the very skin of their teeth: 165-160. Keble couldn't later believe how close they had come to unseating the top seeds in their group; neither, quite probably, could Oriel, who departed swiftly no doubt for a serious post mortem of their performance.
21/2/00 - Records tumble in Inter-Collegiate madness
Until just after 6:30 pm today, Balliol had a complete grasp over the top spots in the records tables. Then came David Brewis.
Brewis, long time player with Oriel, and now consigned to the B team, came up against the top seeds from the group, Regent's Park. Over the next 25 starters, he correctly answered 14 with no negs, to steal the top spot on the individual scores board from a disgruntled Ian Bayley. Bayley's best of +135, set almost exactly a year ago, was widely thought to be unassailable, but Brewis has struck a blow of revenge for his Oriel team's defeat by Bayley's Balliol in last year's final.
Elsewhere, Nuffield were displaying deeply schizophrenic tendencies. A weak performance against St Hugh's early in the evening saw them fall to a disappointing 150-105 victory. Yet with the change of just one team member (albeit the experienced Richard Coggins coming in), they stormed to a score of 285 against Trinity B, leaving their opponents with a new record low of just 10 points. As far as we know, this is also a British record, beating even the all-time University Challenge low of just 15 points.
Trinity A became the first team to be guaranteed of their place in Round 2, winning their third and final group game against Queen's. They will play the runners-up of Group A, from which group Balliol A saw their qualification assured barely an hour later by other results.
19/03/00 - Inter-Collegiate finals: a wonderful evening, but a predictable outcome!
Glorious to the last, the Inter-Collegiate Quiz finals at the Oxford Union showcased the best of Oxford quizzing, but the final score didn't surprise anyone.
Billed as one of the most technological finals ever, the music rounds were a great success. Technical glitches marred the picture rounds slightly, but the consensus was definitely that they were worthwhile and fun.
The evening's opening match involved two of the least likely teams to be gracing the finals. Exeter, making their first Inter-Collegiate appearance since 1986, got off to a dream start against St John's B, moving 120 points in the lead before the first picture round allowed John's to get off the mark. Though John's fought back hard with a good run of their own, Exeter held them off at the end when they came close to drawing level, and Exeter eventually went through to the semi-finals, equally their best ever performance from 1986.
The second quarter-final was the Battle of Oriel, as in an unprecedented draw, Oriel A came up against Oriel B. In the end, it was quite clear that the speed of Brewis for the B team was no match for the depth of the A team, who were showing the good form that had so far eluded them throughout the tournament. Neil King's +115 was one of the performances of the evening, as the A team won 335-110.
Both high levels of expectation, but also form worries, had been surrounding St John's A through the tournament. On the other hand, Christ Church B had well outpaced their own A team, giving an unlikely return to top-flight competition for old hands Kennedy and Mills. In a strange twist of fate, it was the John's side this time that moved into an unchallenged 120 point lead, from which Christ Church could never quite recover, the lead staying resolutely at about 100 points. As the final minutes ticked away, John's pulled clear, and back into the semi-finals for a second year.
Opinions had been divided about Lady Margaret Hall A. While some thought they were possible contenders to topple the holders Balliol A, their quarter-final opponents, others had them written off as cannon-fodder. The doubters were given an early fright as LMH got the best of the opening few minutes, but normal Balliol service was soon restored. By half-way, bonus conversion was telling as well, as the Balliol lead was 150 points. Balliol then hit overdrive. With only a few minutes to go, they passed the 300 point, with LMH still languishing on 105. Realising that their own record was in site, they upped the pace, and just before the whistle, a final bonus question gave them 405 points, a new university record.
The first semi-final paired Exeter and Oriel A. The first half was very even, with Exeter's luck on the draw of bonus questions deserting them at every turn, leading to a 40-point half-way deficit. A rash of -5s then began to take their toll on Exeter, as some fortuitous early buzzes from Neil King frustrated them. Oriel kept the pressure up until the end, and ran out winners by 115 points, much to the disappointment of the large Exeter contingent in the crowd.
Just as Exeter were to be thwarted yet again in the semi-finals, John's were to have a similarly frustrating evening. They never really began firing against Balliol in their semi-final, not helped by having to watch a 110-point solo Ian Bayley performance. Edward Laird, allegedly the scientist of the St John's team, pointed the way for his flagging team mates with a incredible range of knowledge, but in the end, the spark was not there, and Balliol marched on, leaving John's contemplating yet another semi-final exit.
The final, therefore, was a precise repeat of last year, but with a very different Oriel team taking on the Balliol beast. Tellingly, Balliol pulled together as a team when it mattered, and Oriel found it very hard going to get a purchase on the game at all. By half-time, the Balliol lead was creeping past 100, and although Oriel managed to slow the increase, they could not claw any back, and the final whistle came with the score on 310-175 to Balliol.
The trophy was presented by Professor Richard Dawkins, who paid tribute to the standard of the teams, before returning the shield to Balliol's custody for another year.