Sixteen of the finest Jewish student quizzers in the country headed to Oxford on 12 March for the Jewniversity Challenge Final, knowing there could only be one winner.
Competing were northern victors Newcastle, battling Birmingham, who dug deep to take the Midlands, Cambridge, who narrowly won the tense London heat, and Brighton & Sussex, confident after crushing last year’s champions Oxford in the south. Only quizmasters Ben Salamon and Matt Keston stood in their way to fame and glory.
Newcastle were fashionably late, which gave Cambridge some brain-warm-up time, taking to some pre-match team stretching. It seemed to work, as they were first on the scoreboard (Ghana was formerly known as The Gold Coast and a 6 litre wine bottle is called a Methuselah). Then Birmingham proved their mettle on Jack Nicolson movies. Newcastle meanwhile, were slow out of the blocks.
Further rounds asked contestants to name such things as TIME Magazine’s ‘person of the year,’ European countries and Solomon’s son, while in the music round, all teams struggled to recognise the musical Rent. Luckily, S Club 7 and 5ive broke the tension and got the teams dancing! Cambridge led at half-time.
After the break Brighton, shone on Doctor Who, Cambridge impressed on Israeli cities and Newcastle had no trouble with Simon & Garfunkel while Birmingham got full marks on famous novel opening lines. It was finely poised, with Newcastle hot on the heels of Cambridge and Birmingham, but not even the northern city’s outstanding knowledge of Pokemon evolutions could better Cambridge’s knowledge of New York’s boroughs, meaning both Newcastle and Brighton slipped out of contention.
Enter the final round, with Cambridge leading Birmingham by 105 points. This, it seemed, was an insufficient lead and they stepped up a gear, buzzing in correctly on biblical prophets, English painters, Shakespeare, capital cities, Israeli peace deals, Greek goddesses and historical dates. Birmingham’s knowing of Monopoly and Keats was of scant consolation, as all they could was sit back and admire as Cambridge smashed the 400 point barrier – a new Jewniversity Challenge record.
Well done to all who took part, and of course to the winners, who raised the bar quite considerably this year. All the more to fight for in 2015, it seems!