University Challenge





Klinsmann, Beckenbauer, Lahm - with just minutes remaining on the University Challenge clock, the three giants of German football sprinted to the aid of a team from Strathclyde.

Asked to identify footballers who have been named honorary captains of the German national team by the country’s FA, the Scots team hammered in a hat-trick of correct answers. They had won the tussle but it was not enough to win the match against the University of East Anglia (UEA).

The final score was UEA 235, Strathclyde 125.

Host Amol Rajan introduced UEA as home to the UK’s oldest creative writing degree, with alumni including Kazuo Ishiguro, Anne Enright and Naomi Alderman.

Among Strathclyde’s notable graduates were the athlete Aileen McGlynn, video games designer Chris Sawyer, and the BBC’s first director general, John Reith.

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Appearing for Strathclyde were: Nina Reid, from Worcestershire, reading forensic and analytical chemistry; Gregor MacDowall, Black Isle, studying aeromechanical engineering; Stephen Gault (captain), from Glasgow, masters in educational leadership; and Prys Hughes from Gwynedd, mechanical engineering.

Lining up for UEA were Melissa Shiress, from London, who is working on a PhD in Pacific collections in National Museums Scotland; Bryony Yates, Wolverhampton, PhD in plant biology; Owen Tobin (captain), Nottingham, medicine; and Matthew Jennings, King’s Lynn, reading philosophy.

Team UEA got off to a poor start, losing five points with a wrong answer on rivers in Africa. MacDowall swooped for Strathclyde, putting his team on the scoreboard. But the Scots team failed to capitalise on the bonus questions, answering only one out of three.

UAE did better with the next bonus questions, all of which were on video games, much to the delight of Tobin and Jennings.

Gault powered Strathclyde back into the game with a correct answer on Moneyball theory, and Reid built on his intervention with bonus questions on amino acids.

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Ten minutes in there were ten points between the two teams, with UEA on 45 and Strathclyde 35.

Momentum was with the UAE team, but captain Tobin came a cropper when asked to name the Italian astronaut who became the first European woman to command the International Space Station. He plucked “Locatelli” from the air when the answer was Samantha Cristoforetti.

UAE enjoyed a run of right answers, taking them to 150 against Strathclyde’s 50. A dangerous gap was developing. Rajan offered his encouragement. “Plenty of time Strathclyde, see if you can get going on this one.”

An inspired MacDowall picked up several starters for ten, but the team were still failing to score highly enough on the follow-through.

Just when it was starting to look grim for the Glasgow team, the gods of University Challenge smiled on them with bonus questions on German football.

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With 23 minutes gone, Strathclyde had narrowed the gap again to 125 against UEA’s 155.

“You’ve still got time Strathclyde,” urged Rajan. But then came a run of questions on quantum mechanics that proved to be as lucky a subject for UEA as German football had been for Strathclyde.

“Bad luck guys,” said Rajan to Strathclyde after the gong sounded. “Just never quite got going, did it, despite the extreme knowledge of German football?”

UEA were congratulated on their “phenomenal performance”.

With the average highest score around 160, Strathclyde are unlikely to get through to the second round as highest-scoring losers.