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A renewed event for this year to mark the reign of Lancaster’s new Vice Chancellor, Professor Mark E. Smith, University Challenge took place on Sunday lunchtime, with Lancaster’s very own Jeremy Paxman, Robin Hughes, as question master. It had previously taken place in 2012, with Lancaster taking the win, although it was a very different story here this year.
Questioning began and points were distributed fairly evenly at the start, although York were just slightly quicker on their buzzers, taking an early lead and maintaining it throughout the match. The questions were very obscure, ranging from topics such as geology to seaports, although amazingly there were not too many wrong answers to start with.
After a series of confident points from starter for ten questions, York slipped up and made a mistake with Robert Hook’s first name, but Hughes was nicer than Jeremy Paxman and allowed it, with bonus questions on Shakespeare plays and characters. York confidently answered these to extend their lead further.
There was a palpable sense of relief in the room as Lancaster struck the buzzers for the starter for 10, gaining their first points in a while, but the team were then unable to answer the first bonus question. They managed to answer the next two, adding some much needed points to their total.
Then an overconfident answer from Lancaster led to a lucky guess from York, giving them the bonus questions on French writers and artists, which they managed to answer successfully. However this did mean there were some terribly dodgy French accents all round, making language students around the room cringe inwardly.
Hughes’ inner Paxman came out as he chastised the competitors for being a bit slow with an answer, and informed the audience that they should also have known this. Most of the audience looked very sheepish at this. The three bonus questions went to Lancaster, who got all three right, with the following three going to York who were edging further and further into the lead.
Both teams got two starter for 10 questions wrong in a row and Hughes became more and more sarcastic, asking questions at a horrendously fast rate which Lancaster were unable to keep up with, York just barely. York had a series of successful answers, getting questions right before Hughes had even finished asking the question. Lancaster tried to replicate this and fell down short, getting a starter for ten question wrong and conceding the answer to York, who answered with more and more confidence.
Lancaster started to look almost as bemused as much of the audience as the York score started to triple Lancaster’s in the final few minutes. Hughes announced bonus questions on miracles, with a slight hint of irony, and Lancaster seemed to be getting their confidence back after successful answers to those and questions on fishing, but they were unable to reach the York score when the final questions came.
York, after having the lead throughout the match, took the win with a score of 230 to Lancaster’s 125, a well-deserved victory.