Magdalen College lose in University Challenge final

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Magdalen College suffered a bruising defeat by Cambridge’s Gonville and Caius in the final round of this year’s University Challenge.

The 105 – 255 point loss was dubbed “a revenge for Saturday’s boat race losses” by Cambridge student newspaper Varsity.

Topics ranged from classical mechanics and geology to Ancient Rome and mathematics with both teams illustrating an extensive breadth of knowledge. Despite levelled scores 15 minutes into the programme, Cauis entered the lead through a series of well executed answers provided during the picture round and bonus questions.

The winning team were presented with their trophies by novelist and Oxford alumnus Will Self, who complemented their mental agility and eclectic spread of knowledge.

Ted Loveday, a Caius 2nd-year, emerged as the star of the show due to his speed and accuracy throughout the final. Notably, he correctly answered the opening ten questions whilst  he left Paxman with little time to finish his question: “Meaning ‘only said once’, what two-word Greek term denotes a word…”, before providing the answer “Hapax Legomenon”. Subsequently, #allyouneedisloveday trended on Twitter through the final stages of the competition whilst he secured himself on the ‘Cuties of University Challenge’ tumblr page.

In a post-show interview, Loveday revealed the team’s tactics, saying: “We’d put aside regular times to sit down together in the college bar, watch past episodes on YouTube and try to shout the answers at the telly before any of the contestants buzzed. That was really helpful for improving our reaction speeds. Sometimes question-setters really like a particular area and they’ll keep coming back to it. For instance, they’re a bit obsessed with Pre-Raphaelite paintings, so we binged on some Wikipedia articles to make sure we were familiar with them. It paid off because we had a whole picture round on the Pre-Raphaelites! University Challenge isn’t about deep understanding – it’s about very wide, superficial knowledge combined with quick recall.”

In its 44th series, the highly-anticipated final was hosted by Cambridge alumnus Jeremy Paxman. The Magdalen College team was headed by captain Hugh Binnie, studying Chemistry, alongside  fellow chemist Chris Savoy, classicist Harry Gillow and Cameron Quinn reading French and Philosophy. Meanwhile the Cambridge team was headed by 6th year clinical medic Antony Martinelli, 4th year Jeremy Warner reading Natural Sciences, 3rd year historian Michael Taylor, and 2nd year Ted Loveday reading law.

Magdalen Team Captain Hugh Binnie commended his team’s achievements stating: “I was very happy with our performance… The overall experience was immensely enjoyable. The most stressful part was probably waiting to find out if we’d got on!”

Despite this year’s loss, Magdalen College have won the competition four times in the past, including their 2004 win against Gonville and Caius, and Magdalen is currently ranked first alongside University of Manchester for the highest number of wins within the competition’s history.

JCR President of Gonville and Cauis, Harriet Barlett, added: The team have put so much work into University Challenge so it is fantastic that they won! They have had a great amount of support from the college throughout the competition and we are so proud of them!”

Last year’s University Challenge final similarly saw a fight between Oxford and Cambridge, with Trinity College Cambridge gaining 240 points to Somerville’s 135.


PHOTO/Magdalen College JCR


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