Somerville College won the first of its two quarter-final bouts in University Challenge on Monday evening, correctly answering questions on Juvenal, the Gini coefficient, Hieronymus Bosch, Go, leading figures in Ancient Rome, contemporary folk singers, board games and the novels of Angela Carter.

Somerville lagged early on in the encounter and by mid-match had just 20 points to Clare College’s 120. They brought the score up to 120-105 before Clare scored any more points. Clare fought back, proving especially strong in one of the two picture rounds, and so pushed ahead to 160-120, leaving Somerville with a lot to do in a short time.

But the correct answering of a Thomas Hardy starter question delivered the Somerville team a round of questions on place-names, and they bounced back. With three minutes to go, Somerville lagged by twenty points. A starter question on Picasso (answer: the Blue Period) allowed Somerville to take the lead by five points with three correct answers on birds.

Two more starter question successes (answers: Lord Byron, an apostrophe) and a couple of correct answers on classical music gave Somerville a secure lead by the time the final gong sounded. They won by 195 points to 160.

University Challenge teams have to win two quarter-final round matches in order to be sure of progressing to the semi-finals. Trinity College, Cambridge and SOAS also won their first quarter-final matches, placing them alongside Somerville as leading contenders to enter the semi-finals.

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