The annual Academic Challenge competition always excites considerable interest within the School and members of each House gather on the mezzanine floor of the School Library to see their champions doing academic battle on the floor below. Starter and Bonus questions are fielded and answered- usually correctly and quickly, though there is the occasional howler to punctuate the action and keep everybody entertained.

One contestant asserted that Alfred the Great had reigned in the eighteenth century, for example. On the other hand, the School’s knowledge of orchestral percussion instruments, African capital cities and distressing phobias appears to be sound.

The first-round matches of the 2014 competition have now been completed, with Hart and School House winning their respective groups and thus creating the possibility that they will again contest the forthcoming Final, as they did last year. However, Powell, who gained a semi-final berth in a breathless finish last Tuesday, will not be swept aside easily.

Nor will Robertson who gave the best performance by a girls’ house for a decade and came second in their group. An entertaining highlight of the competition so far is that a boys’ House, playing a girls’ House on the opening evening, got the starter question on netball correct, whilst a girls’ House, playing boys in the second set of first-round matches, was quicker on the buzzer when a question on playing positions in rugby cropped-up.

Otherwise, the usual range of eclectic, sometimes useless, knowledge has been shown and questions on the last words of Shakespearean tragic heroes have been fielded no less seriously than the teasing, “What is a chipolata?”. The final of the Plate competition will take place on Thursday 23rd in the Library, whilst the competition for the Griffiths Shield will conclude there on Thursday 30th January.


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