Lining up for yesterday’s semi-final were Hamish Cameron, Ian Clark, Angus Douglas and Brendan O’Connor. Our rough form guide put Ian Clark as favourite. Ian scored 21 in his heat, which actually was the second highest score of all the heat winners. Hamish Cameron had the 5th highest score with 17. Brendan Connor was in joint 9th on the list with 12. However it should be remembered that Brendan was actually runner up in the Brain of Britain equivalent of the group of death, and so his 12 was by no means a negligible score at all. Angus was the outsider for the contest, holding the 15th highest score of the qualifiers, although this was only 1 point behind Brendan's.
Hamish kicked off with a point, but nobody knew that a Kipps apparatus produces gases. Ian didn’t know of the recent stage show based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda, giving Brendan a bonus. Angus took his own first, but didn’t know which disease enteric fever is usually associated with. Ian did to break his duck. Brendan knew his first, but perhaps a little surprisingly didn’t know that the god Krishna is depicted with blue skin. That gave Angus another point. So in the first round the two outsiders took an early lead, with 2 each, to the others’ one. Hamish took his first two, but didn’t know the term quarter horse. Ian took that one. Ian then took two of his own, but failed to identify a quote about the American Declaration of Independence. Nobody took that one. Angus missed his first on Clement Atlee, which gave Ian another point, and the lead on the road, as it were. Brendan took two, but couldn’t link a babirusa with a domestic pig. Again, Ian was first in for the bonus. So in a reversal of fortune, Ian now led with 6, from Hamish with 5.
Hamish didn’t know that Prince Arthur of Connaught had served as Governor General of South Africa. Another point for Ian. Ian, though, couldn’t supply two occasions on which a 21 gun salute is fired. Hamish took a tit for tat bonus on that one. Angus took his first, but then got a typical BoB stinker on an Italian prize for literature. Nobody had that one. Brendan really should have known that Reims was the cathedral in which Kings of France were traditionally crowned. Hamish made no mistake with that one. This put him level with Ian on 7, with daylight between the pair of them and Angus on 5. Hamish took his first couple, but didn’t know the first group with which Midge Ure had a UK number 1. This was one of very few questions that I could answer that the Brains couldn’t. “It was Slik – forever and ever !” I shouted at the radio. Russell obligingly confirmed that I was right. Ian took his first, but didn’t know when the first Christmas stamps could be bought from Post Offices. Nobody did. Angus took one, but nobody knew that the cutis is the skin. Well, I’m very sorry, but moisturiser or not, my skin hasn’t been the least bit cutis for years. Brendan’s first was one of the others I knew that the Brains didn’t, that Palmerston was the Prime Minister during the American Civil War. Did you know that Queen Victoria and Prince Albert referred to Palmerston as Pilgerstein in private ? it’s a literal German translation of Palmer, which is an alternative word for pilgrim, and stone. Please yourselves. Hamish was tied with Ian at this stage on 7.
This brought us to the Beat the Brains interval. The first question didn’t. The Brains came up with a cracking answer to a question asking what linked about 50 villages in Britain – some examples being given. The Brains knew that they were ‘blessed villages’ , all of whose soldiers who went away to the First World War came back alive. However when asked which Suffolk town came into being when an established market had to be moved due to the Black Death, they zigged with Stowe Market when they should have zagged with Newmarket. Back to the show.
Hamish missed a gettable one, not knowing that Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets. No bonus for anyone. Not easy, but gettable, which is more than I could say about many of the questions I heard in this show. Yes, I know it’s all in the ear of the behearer, but I found this show to be difficult. Ian didn’t know Origen, neither did the others, and neither did I. Angus managed his first, but couldn’t give the chemical compound from which pearls are made. I don’t know if Ian was guessing with calcium carbonate , but if he was it was a good guess. Brendan missed his own first. It was incredibly tight, and it was due to get even tighter in round 6. Everyone missed their own first question. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t have had any of them, although I probably should have known Pskov as the place where Nicholas II abdicated. Both Hamish and Ian ended the round on 8. It looked unlikely that there could be more than 2 rounds left, and I couldn’t pick a winner. Both Hamish and Ian were capable of getting a 6 pointer if they were given the sniff of a chance by the questions. But would either of them be given that chance ? It certainly didn’t look like it if the previous rounds were anything to go by. Hamish didn’t know that Washington state is nicknamed the Evergreen State. Nobody knew that. Ian took two , and it was looking good. Then he got another one nobody could answer, a piece of music which everyone recognised, but nobody could give the title of – Elgar’s Salut d’Amour. Fair enough. Angus didn’t know that the Battle of Kadesh was a scrappy away win for the Egyptians over the Hittites. Hamish took that to narrow Ian’s lead to 1 point. Brendan didn’t know that Hannah was the mother of Samuel, and Hamish took that to ensure that he and Ian were still tied going into the final round.
Hamish took his first, but missed the distinctly gettable fructose, which allowed Angus in for a bonus. Ian took two, but didn’t know that St. Nicholas’ Island, which had also been St. Michael’s Island, is now called Drake’s Island. Join the club. The arithmetic was simple. Hamish had to take bonuses off both Angus and Brendan to win. Ian needed one bonus off either to win. Nobody could answer Angus’ question, about Rupert Sheldrake. Ian had one foot in the final, but Brendan didn’t know off two people linked by the YMCA. Hamish came in first. . . and he had it. We had a draw. However, as we know , you can’t have a draw in BoB. So we had a tie break. Asked what was the significance of a gold stripe on uniforms of british soldiers from 1916, it was Ian who chanced his arm first. he told us that it denoted a soldier who had been wounded in action, and that was correct. On such small margins. Very well done Ian. A terrific display of nerve. Very hard lines Hamish. Getting that last bonus to tie the show demanded nerves and determination as well. A good show, albeit that correct answers from the Clark sofa were in particularly short supply during this show.
Hamish Cameron – 12
Ian Clark – 13 AET
Angus Douglas – 6
Brendan O’Connor - 6