Magdalen College were crowned University Challenge champions on Monday night, after a clear victory over York University.
Starting off with a question on Mughal Emperor Akbar the Great, York initially appeared strong, with their Captain, Andrew Clemo, answering questions with a disconcerting \”Cheshire-cat grin\”.
However, as the questions roamed from mammalian hormones to game theory, Magdalen quickly took a decisive lead, taking 200 points to York\’s 50 after only 19 minutes.
Whilst at one point it appeared that an impressive comeback could be launched off the back of a round on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody\’ characters, York simply could not keep up once Magdalen were in full swing again, thanks to some well-timed questions on the solar system.
The gong finally sounded with Magdalen reaching 290 points to York\’s 85. Whilst York had gone for a more casual appearance, Magdalen\’s formal choice of outfits, complete with Captain Matthew Chan\’s impressively bright yellow trousers, appeared to have made the difference.
Historian and author, Anthony Beevor, was on hand to present the trophy, highlighting the range of knowledge displayed, praising the quality of the current education system, and dismissing claims that the academic quality of the university experience was being watered down.
The victorious Magdalen team was headed by Chan, a History undergraduate from Leamington Spa, and also included Will Cudmore, an English undergrad from Lincolnshire, and Kyle Haddad-Fonda and James McComish, postgraduates from Seattle and Melbourne. Haddad-Fonda in particular stood out from the other competitors, with a breadth of knowledge that spanned all realms of academia.
Magdalen\’s victory proved to be the fourth for the college, who also top the Norrington Table, finished as Head of the River in this year\’s women\’s Torpids Regatta, and have five alumni in the cabinet, having previously won University Challenge in 1997, 1998 and 2004. No other college or university has won more than twice.
Chan told Cherwell how, despite the unpredictable nature of the University Challenge style of questioning, the team had still believed that there was \”a definite possibility\” that they could win the tournament.
He added that although they had little knowledge of the skills of the other competitors, it was fact this randomness that \”makes the experience particularly nerve-wracking, but also particularly engrossing\”.
Whilst Chan did warn that a large ego would be required to deal with the shower of mixed reactions to participation in the competition, particularly as \”being from Oxford, [one] will inevitably be hammered about being posh and/or smug\”, he would \”definitely recommend the experience\”.
Cherwell was also told that the team enjoyed a celebratory dinner at the President\’s Lodgings in Magdalen, followed by \”attempts to have it large\” with \”Oxford\’s Monday out-of-term nightlife\”.
However, despite the \”Matthew Chan: phwoar\” facebook group having 317 ‘likes\’, some have said that this year\’s contest lacked some of the more memorable contestants of previous years, such as winning captains Gail Trimble and Alex Guttenplan. Furthermore, there was a noticeable lack of any female contestants in this year\’s final.
Nevertheless, with Matthew hoping to take up a place at Princeton next year, Will working as an assistant to a Conservative MP and James and Kyle working towards completing further academic work, who knows what the future will hold for these champions?