Fame beck­ons for pair who rose to chal­lenge

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS -

TWO JEWISH stu­dents are get­ting used to new­found fame after be­ing part of the team that won this year’s Univer­sity Chal­lenge.

Joey Goldman cap­tained Bal­liol Col­lege, Ox­ford, to vic­tory over Wolf­son Col­lege, Cam­bridge in the fi­nal of the BBC quiz.

Along­side him was fel­low Jewish Bal­liol un­der­grad­u­ate Ja­cob Lloyd.

In the days since the fi­nal was broad­cast on Mon­day last week, the pair have been stopped in the streets of Ox­ford by ad­mir­ers ask­ing them to pose for self­ies.

Mr Goldman, 23, who is study­ing phi­los­o­phy and the­ol­ogy, told the JC: “I was sit­ting in the col­lege quad the other day and a group of stu­dents came through and asked me for photos.”

Mr Lloyd, 30, who is work­ing to­wards a doc­tor­ate in English lit­er­a­ture, said: “I’ve been recog­nised by a cou­ple of peo­ple, and some of my friends have asked for self­ies to prove to their rel­a­tives that they know us.”

The pair have not yet ex­pe­ri­enced their own ver­sion of “Monk­ma­nia”, the level of at­ten­tion at­tracted by the Wolf­son cap­tain Eric Monkman, whose pop­u­lar­ity spawned in­ter­net memes and a large fan fol­low­ing.

The two stu­dents, along with team-mates Ben­jamin Pope and Freddy Potts, sac­ri­ficed Seder night with their fam­i­lies to watch the fi­nal, which was recorded sev­eral months ago, in their col­lege sur­rounded by friends and well­wish­ers.

Mr Goldman said: “We watched it in our com­mon room — there were about 100 peo­ple there. There was a lot of shout­ing and cheer­ing at the screen, and a big cel­e­bra­tion.”

Almost as ex­cit­ing as win­ning the quiz was meet­ing Pro­fes­sor Stephen Hawk­ing, who pre­sented them with the Univer­sity Chal­lenge tro­phy.

Mr Lloyd, who at­tends Eal­ing Lib­eral Syn­a­gogue, said: “It was an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence — he was ex­actly who we’d hoped for.”

Mr Goldman re­vealed the team had pre­pared by play­ing matches in the Univer­sity of Ox­ford quiz so­ci­ety. Ahead of the fi­nal, they had fo­cused on “buzzer prac­tice”, de­signed to im­prove re­ac­tion time in an­swer­ing ques­tions.

He said: “We’ve com­peted in a num­ber of tour­na­ments — there are in­ter­col­le­giate tour­na­ments all year. We knew what we knew, so we just did buzzer prac­tice.”

After nar­rowly los­ing to Wolf­son Col­lege ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion, the team de­cided to be less ag­gres­sive when buzzing in, and it proved ef­fec­tive.

Mr Goldman said: “We lost the first one against Wolf­son by 30 points. We had six in­cor­rect in­ter­rup­tions. For each one we were de­ducted five points, which comes to 30 points.

“Our plan for the fi­nal was to play it safer be­cause Eric [Monkman] is an ag­gres­sive buzzer. We thought that if the ques­tions were on the stuff we know we would win, so we let Eric make some guesses.

“A few times he buzzed in with great an­swers but some­times he got it wrong.”

Since Univer­sity Chal­lenge matches are filmed months in ad­vance, the pair were not al­lowed to tell any­one they had won the com­pe­ti­tion, save for mem­bers of their im­me­di­ate fam­i­lies.

Mr Lloyd said: “When you go on the show you have to sign an agree­ment — even peo­ple in the au­di­ence have to prom­ise not to re­veal who won.

“They made it very clear we weren’t al­lowed to speak about it. But ev­ery now and then the four of us would get to­gether and whis­per to each other ‘We won Univer­sity Chal­lenge!’

“We were all over­whelmed. It’s hard to tell how far you are in the match. I couldn’t quite be­lieve it. In my whole life it will be a unique achieve­ment.”

Both men said their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies were “very proud”, and they have each re­ceived “end­less” phone calls and emails in the wake of their vic­tory.

Mr Goldman said: “My mum, dad and brother were at the fi­nal when it was filmed a few months ago.

“It’s been re­ally good to con­nect with a lot of peo­ple in my fam­ily who I don’t speak to that of­ten.”

Univer­sity Chal­lenge has at­tracted crit­i­cism for its male dom­i­nance, and both fi­nal­ists this year were all-male teams.

Mr Goldman, from St John’s Wood in north-west Lon­don, said he be­lieved women were dis­cour­aged from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the show be­cause of the fo­cus on their “ap­pear­ance and bod­ies on so­cial me­dia and in cer­tain news­pa­pers”.

Ear­lier in the se­ries a fe­male con­tes­tant from Ox­ford re­ceived me­dia at­ten­tion after be­ing dubbed the pro­gramme’s “hottest ever” par­tic­i­pant.

Mr Goldman said the univer­sity’s quiz so­ci­ety was now look­ing to in­tro­duce a “no more than three men” rule in their in­ter-col­le­giate team quiz, which he hoped would en­cour­age greater fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion — but the prob­lem starts “ear­lier than at tri­als”, he warned.

Wolf­son’s Eric Monkman

Ja­cob Lloyd (left) and Joey Goldman

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