Question subjects in last night’s University Challenge contest ranged from the love interests of Charles Dicken’s characters to the shorter name for organic longchain aliphatic carboxylic acids, as Somerville battled with Pembroke College, Cambridge for a place in the second round of the television show’s forty-third season.

Somerville College won out over their Cantabrian rivals by 255 points to 145 points, an encouraging result against good opponents. Somerville’s 2013 team is: Michael Davies (captain), Chris Beer, Zachary Vermeer and Hasneen Karbalai.

Pembroke College started well, correctly identifying Bill Clinton as the US President from a quote taken from Clinton’s inaugural address, and following it up with correct answers to two out of three questions on Hans Holbein. After Pembroke answered another starter question correctly, the Somerville team had some ground to make up.

They did so convincingly, however, delivering answers on fatty acids, team crests, mathematics, cinema and plenty more. By halfway through the episode, Somerville was pulling away from Pembroke. They remained ahead until the end of the game, beating Pembroke 255-145.

Jeremy Paxman, the show’s presenter, concluded “Well, you were good, Pembroke, but not good enough to beat these guys, who seemed to be on fire at various points. Somerville College, Oxford – 255, terrific score. We will look forward to seeing you in Round Two.”

(You can watch the full episode on BBC iPlayer.)

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