Brain of Britain Grand Final
If I told you that I wasn’t eagerly anticipating this final, then you’d know that I was lying. 4 fine quizzers, battling it out for the most prestigious title on the radio, and one of the absolute pinnacles of quizzing. Drawing on my own experiences of last year’s grand final I expected it to be fast and furious, although for the sake of at least three of the contestants I hoped that it would be a little closer than last year’s.
John Beynon went first, and was given 2 decent questions to get off the mark, but failed to get that Lord Roberts was the last holder of the title Commander in Chief of the British Army. Nobody else quite managed a bonus. Mark Kerr, for whom I was rooting, took four on the bounce but couldn’t quite manage to convert it to a full set. Never mind, a confident start there. Iwan Thomas took his first, but failed to get the other Gentleman of Verona to accompany Valentine. A second bonus for John there. Andy Tucker couldn’t name Scotland’s longest river, but Iwan knew full well that it was the Tay. Mark and John led with 4, from Iwan’s 2.
John took his first, but failed to answer that the new sport with a shortstop in the 1992 Olympics was baseball. Simple as that. Mark in this early part of the contest was doing well on hard questions, but when asked which spa town in England Sochi was twinned with didn’t know that it was Cheltenham. Neither did I. Iwan did. On his own questions Iwan didn’t know Mr. Wu from the George Formby song . I’d say that this was nothing to be ashamed of, but actually I have quite a soft spot for old “turned out nice again “ George. He made some of his films in Ealing , you know. Still, I digress. Andy took his first, but the coriolis effect stumped him as it did the others. Scores at the end of the round – Andy – 1, Iwan – 4, John – 5, Mark – 8, and looking good value for his lead.
In round three again John had a nice starter, this time on the Kaalevaala. He followed this up with a good answer on Sibelius for a music question, although is third on physics did for him. Perhaps a portent of things to come , Mark was served with a bouncer to start with – as the frontalis muscle did for him. He guessed the cheek, but it was in fact the forehead. This didn’t look too disastrous since Iwan failed his first as well, not knowing the 1983 album by the Police called Synchronicity. Allowing for bonuses, as we headed into the Beat the Brains interval the scores were Andy – 3, Iwan – 5, and both John and Mark tied on 8.
As is traditional the reigning champion set the questions for the beat the brains interval in the final. Ian Bayley’s questions were on astronomy – firstly - which class of minor planets orbiting between Jupiter and Neptune were named after composite beings from Greek mythology ? The brains dismissed this quickly, knowing they were centaurs. The second found them out, though . Which centaur was the first to be classified as such ? The answer was Chiron. Well done Ian.
Round four saw John beaten by the first question for the first time. Actually I was surprised that nobody could remember that Il Milione – the million – was the proper title of the Travels of Marco Polo. It happens.
Mark for the second round was given a nasty starter, requiring the rock called Keiselguhr , which nobody had. Iwan now made his move. He hit a superb series of five for a bonus, which catapulted him into the lead. Even more so when he took a bonus from Andy’s first question on the crab nebula. Now the scores were Andy – 3, John and Mark – 8, Iwan - 12.
As round five began it was still all to play for, but neither Mark nor John could really afford a scoreless round, and a set of five would really come in handy. It was not to be.
John was stopped by his first again . Mark was given a nasty anagram to begin, requiring him to work out Durban and Dunbar. He didn’t, and Andy took a good bonus. Iwan only took one of his own questions, yet it was the kind of round where that would be enough to increase his overall lead, even if Andy top scored in the round. AT the end of the round the scores were Andy – 5, John and Mark – 8 , Iwan 13.
Into round six, and Iwan’s lead was beginning to look decisive. John took his first, but was stopped in his tracks by someone singing My Funny Valentine – nice planning there guys ! I can’t even remember who they said it was, but I’m afraid that nobody had it right. Mark got going, but I’m afraid that his second question , on Wordsworth, brought him up short again. Iwan offered a slight hope to all the others by failing with his first , but kept a crucial bit of momentum by taking a bonus from Andy’s first question.
So into round Seven, and the ominous announcement from Russell that this was in fact the last. Realistically it wasn’t going to be Andy, and both John and Mark needed full sets. Iwan needed really just to keep his head. John made a fight of it by taking the first two. Poor Mark got another stinker, asking him the name of the prison in which Nelson Mandela finished his time in prison – nobody got it. Iwan – home and dry now, couldn’t take his first, and so it only remained for Andy to see out the match. In the end the scores were : -
John Beynon – 12
Mark Kerr – 9
Iwan Thomas – 14
Andy Tucker – 6
My commiserations to Mark. I'm sorry for jinxing you with my support. Still many congratulations to Iwan , a worthy champion and successor to Ian. Both doctors as well , as a matter of coincidence. When I tell you the past roll call of recent champions you’ll see that he has joined illustrious company indeed –
The late Mark Bytheway
Chris , Pat and Geoff are all , of course, also Mastermind champs. We have the mouthwatering prospect ahead of us that Iwan, already through to this year’s Mastermind semis – will be chasing a double. The only person to hold both titles simultaneously before is of course the great Kevin Ashman. Can Iwan do it ? Of course. However I think Ian, the 2010 BoB champion, will have his own eyes on the double as well. Plenty to look forward to.