On Monday last Brain of Britain climaxed in its Grand Final. As you’ll know if you read my preview we once again had an extremely strong line up, this year consisting of: -
Dag had looked if anything the strongest of the contestants in round one and the semis, but David and Mark had also looked formidable. Well, all of them had really.
The only thing we could guarantee about this contest was that whoever played best on the day would win.
Azeez kicked off the last show of the series, then, and took three on the bounce. However he might have been able to get the answer to what was referred to in Russia as the Caribbean crisis. David didn’t look that gift horse in the mouth answering correctly – the Cuban Missile crisis. Mark took a couple, but didn’t know that the Seatlle based American football team are the SeaHawks. Dag took that one. He didn’t know the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for his starter, and David took that one. In his own set he got a nasty little sod of a starter on Pelagius, which Mark took for a well deserved bonus. That was enough to give him a share of the lead with Azeez on 3. In the second round Azeez took 2, but again might have known the one he stumbled on. Babirusa is one of those – what type of animal is – questions which pops up in quizzes and quiz books from time to time, and Mark knew it belongs to the pig family. His own set saw him take one, but he missed out on a musical. The year 1957 gave it to me, and maybe to David as well, since he took the bonus with West Side Story. Dag got the nasty starter next, on the corpus colosum. Again, Mark showed his class by taking the bonus. David again wasn’t done any favours with his starter, asking him the half life of plutonium 239 to the nearest 1000 years. Can’t say I’m surprised nobody had it at 24000 years. Mark now led by a point with 6. Azeez took his first, but missed out on the gettable question about which venue was the first to host the winter olympics twice. Dag answered with St. Moritz. Mark answered his first 4 correctly . . . and he answered his fifth correctly as well, for a bonus. Now the game really was on. Dag needed a fair set to allow him to get going, and he got it. Dag answered 4, but missed out on the great question asking which was the last ship in the Royal Navy which was the last ship in which sailors slept in hammocks. Nobody had it, and it was just unfortunate Dag had it as the fifth question. It was HMS Britannia. David at last got a fair starter but didn’t know his second, the group of Russian painters named after the Jack of Diamonds. Azeez took the bonus for that. Dag had made good gains during the round, but not as good as Mark. He led by 5 points with 12.
Now, as is traditional, reigning champion Barry Simmons set the two Beat the Brains questions. The first was the gettable but tricky – which is the only African country to span two time zones. The Democratic Republic of Congo is the answer. The second asked which location has the greatest offset from Universal time. Nobody knew it was the Chatham Islands, and to be fair you only ever hear of these being mentioned on January Ist.
Right, back to the final. Azeez took one, but didn’t know that Kirkcudbright is now in the administrative region of Dumfries and Galloway. That eventually went to David. Now, if Mark could have another good round he would be looking good for the win even at this relatively early stage. He didn’t know Franz Liszt’s Les Preludes, and nobody else knew it either. Still, that at least gave a glimmer of hope the other others. Dag made an inroad into the lead but didn’t recognise the scientific name of Dutch Elm Disease. Azeez took a good bonus on that one. David answered one but didn’t know that Malcolm II led troops against the Danes. Dag had that one. Azeez was now three points away from Mark, who didn’t score in the round. Now, I think Azeez’ first question in the next round was the only question I answered correctly that none of the Brains did. I knew that Porta Coeli – the Door of Heaven – is an epithet sometimes applied to the Virgin Mary. Now, I also knew Mark’s first question. He didn’t know that the Adventure Galley was the ship of Captain William Kidd. David had the bonus on that one. Dag answered his first, but the gettable Milgram experiment escaped him. David was happy to take that windfall. For his own set he didn’t get a much easier set than he’d had all contest, but he was able to take three of them on the bounce. Mark, becalmed for a while, took a fine bonus, knowing that the word rodomontade, meaning boastful talk, comes from a character in the Commedia del’Arte. All of which meant that David, who had been quietly accumulating points, was now making a spirited run on the rails, and was two points behind Mark, who led with 13.
So we entered the final round. Putting this into perspective, a full set of five could possibly win it for any one of these contenders, for only 4 points seperated them all. The first to make his bid was Azeez. He didn’t know the Apollo Asteroid which comes within 30,000,000 km of the Sun is Icarus. The starters, which had been relatively kind to him all contest finally put his chances to an end. Mark got a tricky starter. It said that the feast days of Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity all fell on the same day of which month. I had never heard this one, and Mark kept us all waiting for a moment before giving the correct answer of August. That, I thought, could be the difference between winning and losing, especially since he missed the next. Apparently Mr. Smudge in a poem by Browning was a medium. Sounds more like a small to me, boom boom. Nobody knew that. Dag had just a chance. He took his first, but asked for the ‘mormon Moses’ he zigged with Joseph Smith, allowing Azeez to zag with Brigham Young. So the contest came down to this. Azeez could no longer win. Dag could no longer win. Only David could overhaul Mark. If he answered all of his questions correctly, the title was his. If he answered 4, and Mark didn’t get a bonus he would win. If he answered 4, and Mark had a bonus, then we’d need a tie break. Anything less, and the title, the salver, King, Cawdor, Glamis and all would be Mark’s. Well, the tension was short lived, for he failed to recognise the tones of Donovan for his starter, and Azeez finished the contest by taking a bonus.
Many, many congratulations to Mark. That was a very well deserved victory. For the record, Mark joins his fellow Crossworder Ian Bayley as the only people so far to be Champions of both Brain of Britain and Only Connect. Ian is also a Mastermind champion. Mark has been 3rd and 2nd in Mastermind finals – who is now to say that he will not go one better in a future series, and complete that particular Triple Crown? I won’t be betting against it, that’s for sure.
Azeez Feshitan - 11
Mark Grant - 14
Dag Griffiths - 10
David Hesp - 11