Author Topic: Getting answers right on University Challenge  (Read 1773 times)

bgmnts

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Getting answers right on University Challenge
« on: August 05, 2021, 07:50:31 PM »
How many answers do you need to get on University Challenge before you are a bit embarrassed by the dip in the quality of questions for people much smarter than you?

I got three answers in one a few days ago and I was a bit gutted about.

icehaven

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #1 on: August 05, 2021, 09:27:10 PM »
I used to watch it a lot when I was at Uni and I'd often try and answer. After a few months one of my housemates said "I'm usually only half listening when we watch this and you say the answers with such confidence that I've only just noticed you're nearly always wrong."

Lisa Jesusandmarychain

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2021, 09:31:59 PM »
I was listening to an episode of " University Challenge" on a Skype call t'other day, and I got 2 out of 3 questions right on the last round, which involved naming words what have their letters in consecutive alphabetical order sort of thing. I got " bijou" and " choux", and didn't get the last one because I couldn't hear the question properly.

My average amount of correct answers  per episode is about 12 ( inclusive of lucky guesses), which I appreciate isn't great.

touchingcloth

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #3 on: August 05, 2021, 10:16:23 PM »
I know very little about classical music, but I know that if they ever play a piece which sounds even the slightest bit Russian you have a good chance of getting it right if you immediately shout PROKOFIEV.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #4 on: August 05, 2021, 10:40:08 PM »
The last one I saw, one of the teams had to identify pieces of music with quotations at the beginning, and there were blank faces all round at the intro to ‘Faster’ by the Manics (containing an Orwell quote, naturally). Probably none of them were even born when that single came out. If Paxman is going to have to lower his dignity to read out the names of popular music acts, the least Oxbridge can do is make sure these youngsters can identify some power-chords.

Twit 2

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #5 on: August 05, 2021, 11:46:25 PM »
Last time I counted, about 30 or so. Not much cop on the science ones (unless it’s zoology) but pretty good on the humanities. I’ve said before, a lot of it comes down to simply being interested in enough stuff and having a good memory; it really isn’t about depth of knowledge. It’s possible to answer on stuff you know nothing about, eg books you know the title of without having read.

touchingcloth

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2021, 12:13:12 AM »
Last time I counted, about 30 or so. Not much cop on the science ones (unless it’s zoology) but pretty good on the humanities. I’ve said before, a lot of it comes down to simply being interested in enough stuff and having a good memory; it really isn’t about depth of knowledge. It’s possible to answer on stuff you know nothing about, eg books you know the title of without having read.

I feel like often the answers represent relatively entry level examples of “high brow” topics, and in some ways the show is Family Fortunes meets Pointless for the higher education classes, where the goal is to come up with an answer which wouldn’t be the best answer in either of those shows. We asked a hundred people to name a Cubist artist, you said “Braques”, our survey said…ding ding ding! When I’m unfamiliar with a topic and when the answer doesn’t require savant-level mathematics, that’s pretty much my approach to guessing the likely answer.

Twit 2

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #7 on: August 06, 2021, 12:43:23 AM »
It’s true you can get a fair few right with the “Name a famous x” approach, but to do really well you’ve got to know stuff definitively. Even more so if you’re an actual contestant, as opposed to playing from the sofa, as questions start specific and get more general by the end of the question, which means you can win points by knowing things precisely and not waiting till the end of the question to make a guess.

In terms of guessing, one thing I like to do is guess the bonus questions before they’re asked. Works well if bonuses are related to starter. Paxo says, “Your bonuses are 3 more…” and I say “He’s going to ask x, y and z”. Sometimes I can guess all three, but usually one or two.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2021, 10:38:01 AM »
The last one I saw, one of the teams had to identify pieces of music with quotations at the beginning, and there were blank faces all round at the intro to ‘Faster’ by the Manics (containing an Orwell quote, naturally). Probably none of them were even born when that single came out. If Paxman is going to have to lower his dignity to read out the names of popular music acts, the least Oxbridge can do is make sure these youngsters can identify some power-chords.
I think a lot of the music questions (when it's not classical) are there to give the aging audience something to be superior about. It's always nice when they ask a question about the 80s or 90s (or even these days the 00s) and the 20-year-olds have no clue, ha ha, I'm smarter than them.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #9 on: August 09, 2021, 10:48:48 AM »
To my astonishment, despite self-confessedly having little or no interest in music, I once got 20/25 points in the music round. Which was useful, as I was actually in a University Challenge team at the time. (We still lost.)

Attila

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2021, 09:19:40 AM »

In terms of guessing, one thing I like to do is guess the bonus questions before they’re asked. Works well if bonuses are related to starter. Paxo says, “Your bonuses are 3 more…” and I say “He’s going to ask x, y and z”. Sometimes I can guess all three, but usually one or two.

I've done that, especially when it's going to be three more questions on something in Greek or Roman history. I feel like I'm in Starter for 10 if I shout out 'Alcibiades!' before the question is even asked.

Jeremy Paxman's pronunciation of some of the Greek and Latin things is woeful sometimes, though -- last week I could have sworn he was asking about this series of wars with the Romans involving Masada and only realised when the correct answer was 'Punic wars' that he'd said Messina, as in the strait of.

That said, this past week's episode was painful, the two teams waffling about trying to come up with the answer...I found myself exclaiming COME ON just about every time a team got their 3 more questions.

gilbertharding

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #11 on: August 12, 2021, 09:49:23 AM »
I think a lot of the music questions (when it's not classical) are there to give the aging audience something to be superior about. It's always nice when they ask a question about the 80s or 90s (or even these days the 00s) and the 20-year-olds have no clue, ha ha, I'm smarter than them.

Not just the music questions.

I made basically this same point on one of the previous University Challenge threads - and made reference to a newspaper article I half remembered which put the idea in my head in the first place - and I was poo-pooed. Scoffed at, I was. Ridiculed.

I'm thick as shit, but because I'm 52 years old, I get loads of answers right just because I've had my ears and eyes open for longer than these people. At least in the early rounds. And - to be clear - there are always the maths questions and the classical music questions, and the Grand Spectacular questions which you're amazed anyone knows - I don't get those.

Echo Valley 2-6809

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2021, 12:13:30 AM »
Someone just uploaded an old Tabloid Hacks v Broadsheet Brains edition from 1998 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AvhEnb6iro
Features Boris Johnson on the Broadsheet side being a twat.

Worth checking out that channel's other recent uploads - eg Clive Anderson shows from 30 years ago with Newman & Baddiel and Sean Hughes.
Also the Kevin Spacey South Bank Show where Melvyn Bragg is obliged to introduce him to Leon Brittan in the Old Vic café, and Spacey does a workshop with young actors that Peter Serafinowicz has to have seen.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2021, 01:55:56 PM »
I find half the challenge is just trying to keep track of what the question actually is by the time Paxman has finished reading it.

"Born in 1739 and closely associated with the Vienna Movement, Thomas Vencil was a leading proponent of a school of thought often said to be a forerunner to influential works by Mouse Jacob Francis and Guillaume dé Marseille, whose maternal great aunt was fifth in line to the duchy of Kreppelstonia - the ruling family of which having been overthrown in the Haymarket Rebellion of 1846. Of which invention - now an integral part of the computer security systems, created by Timothy Wyvern, for use in online banking - is one of the leaders of the revolutionary militia reputed to have said, "It is a silly thing and not much use to anyone, save that they find themselves in possession of a confused and hungry goat"?

bgmnts

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2021, 01:59:56 PM »
Fucking yes! Thank you@

I thought I was ADD for a while because I zoned out all the time listening to Paxo delivering his essay questions.


Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2021, 02:37:32 PM »
If you think the questions are long on University Challenge try watching Mastermind. I’ve given up trying to get the correct answer and now have much more fun trying to guess what the question is actually going to end up being.

Gurke and Hare

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2021, 03:16:20 PM »
Someone just uploaded an old Tabloid Hacks v Broadsheet Brains edition from 1998 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AvhEnb6iro
Features Boris Johnson on the Broadsheet side being a twat.

That's an absolute parade of twats. Hitchens! Ingrams! Parsons! Thanks for the pointer to the channel, as you say it has plenty of good stuff (and some episodes of Don't Wait Up) but there's no way I'm watching this

gilbertharding

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2021, 03:29:10 PM »
If you think the questions are long on University Challenge try watching Mastermind. I’ve given up trying to get the correct answer and now have much more fun trying to guess what the question is actually going to end up being.

I don't know why you're not allowed to interrupt on Mastermind.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2021, 03:46:51 PM »
Hate the way Pax gets all snotty if they get an easy arts/humanities question wrong but never if it's science.

JesusAndYourBush

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2021, 04:40:06 PM »
I don't know why you're not allowed to interrupt on Mastermind.

I've seen people interrupt on Mastermind.

mothman

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2021, 05:39:47 PM »
If you think the questions are long on University Challenge try watching Mastermind. I’ve given up trying to get the correct answer and now have much more fun trying to guess what the question is actually going to end up being.
This is why I could never go on. It’s not just the required level of knowledge in your chosen subject(s), I’d be stressing too that I’d need a topic which lends itself to short questions…

Norton Canes

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2021, 06:32:51 PM »
I think they time how long it takes to read the questions, so some competitors don't get an unfair advantage.

Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #22 on: August 27, 2021, 09:01:04 AM »
The point of a good University Challenge starter question is it's fucking impossible for about the first 2 minutes going on about obscure advances in 19th century mathematical theory just daring people to buzz in and get it wrong, before ending up "Also he wrote Alice in Wonderland."

Answering that sort of question is a very obscure skill requiring a particular type of brain, which is why winning UC isn't really anything to do with knowledge or intelligence.


Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2021, 10:38:20 PM »
Hate the way Pax gets all snotty if they get an easy arts/humanities question wrong but never if it's science.

He also gets all dismissive and boomer if he has to ask a question about video games. Shaky old bastard.

bgmnts

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2021, 10:39:30 PM »
He also gets all dismissive and boomer if he has to ask a question about video games. Shaky old bastard.

Spat at the telly when he said that.

Old cunt.

Twit 2

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Re: Getting answers right on University Challenge
« Reply #25 on: September 28, 2021, 10:10:41 AM »
The point of a good University Challenge starter question is it's fucking impossible for about the first 2 minutes…

Answering that sort of question….isn't really anything to do with knowledge

It’s not impossible and most of the time you can absolutely win on knowledge by knowing the specifics. As you say, the questions start specific and obscure and get easier by the end. The only tactic is knowing when you can reliably predict the answer from the stuff at the start. So if he says something like: “Which composer is this: born in Germany in 1770…” you can buzz in with Beethoven and be correct because you know your dates and don’t need to wait till the end for “he wrote Fur Elise”. The intelligence needed is the tactic in knowing when you can buzz early or when you need to wait for more information so you don’t fall into traps. With good players, you can pinpoint the moment when a key word in the question  provides the tipping point between a guess and sure answer, prompting them to buzz in.

He also gets all dismissive and boomer if he has to ask a question about video games. Shaky old bastard.

Paxo has always been a snob about the pop culture questions. Another thing that grates is how he can’t pronounce anything properly. “Pew-litzer prize” seems to come up every week; I’m sure setters are doing it on purpose.

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