Jewish student in nailbiting University Challenge contest

The Worcester College team

The Worcester College team

A Jewish student is hoping that his knowledge of Agamemnon and Lucy the skeleton, in a nailbiting first - round University Challenge match, will be enough to secure his team a place in the next stage of the contest.

Jonathan Metzer, 19, was part of Oxford University's Worcester College team, but despite achieving a score of 180 points they were beaten – by just ten points - by their Cambridge opponents.

However under the University Challenge rules the four highest-scoring losing teams continue with the contest.

The former Haberdashers' Aske's pupil and Bnei Akiva member applied to take part soon after starting university. "I never thought for a moment that I would make the team," he said. "My friend was going, so I went along for fun."

Jonathan, from Willesden Green, said he was delighted to answer correctly the first question about Archimedes and his bath. "It was a really good start," he said.

"But I knew before that the others were very strong and that we'd have to do well to beat them."

He said he hoped his A level philosophy teacher was not watching when he missed a question on Scottish thinker David Hume and offered the answer John Locke instead. "I knew it was wrong as I said it."

Jonathan, a regular at Oxford JSoc's Friday Night dinners, said the experience had been exciting but passed by very quickly. He said host Jeremy Paxman did not live up to his intimidating reputation. "He was friendly, a nice guy," he said. "He's not like what you see on Newsnight."

Last night's episode was only the third in the series, so it's not clear yet whether the Worcester team will stay in the competition. But if they do, Jonathan said he knows what it would be down to.

"I'm lucky," he said. "I've got a good memory."

Last updated: 1:57pm, July 19 2011