Monday, 23 January 2012

Brain of Britain - Round One - Heat 11

I don’t wish to say anything particularly mean or nasty, but having listened to today’s heat the phrase ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’ come irresistibly to mind. Is that mean ? Sorry if it is. Let’s get on with it , then. First to go was Paul Duke. He missed out on the first Pharoah of Egypt which gave a handy bonus to Toby O’Connor Morse. Alan Hay was second to go. He mercifully took his first, but didn’t get the Van Allen radiation belts. The fact that none of the other brains got them either led me to speculate that we were in for one of ‘those’ shows. Toby took his own first question, but didn’t know that Linus and Anacletus were the second and third popes. Again, nobody took the bonus. Finally William Thirsk – Gaskill missed out on his own first , that the New Party was formed by Oswald Moseley. Alan was happy to take a bonus for that. Paul took his first of the second round, but then missed out on a tricky one about saphrophytes – plants without chlorophyll that feed on decaying matter. Nobody knew Alan’s second, that Attila replaced his brother Bleda. ( Wasn’t that what Old Steptoe used to call Harold when he was annoyed ? I digress. ) Toby did not know that the actor from the film Two Way Stretch who has also been in Dr. Who within the last couple of years was Bernard Cribbens – Paul had that one. Finally William missed the extremely gettable Home Thoughts From Abroad by Robert Browning. Toby took that one. William had yet to score, the others were all on three.

To be fair to Paul he got a bit of a bouncer with his first question in Round Three. Nobody knew the term ‘jacquerie ‘ . Alan took one of his own, but alas I seem to have omitted the question which tripped him up. Toby took his first, then Alan took a good bonus on Ph values – I was nowhere near that one myself. William got himself off the mark with his first, but nobody knew that it was Sir William Chambers who designed amongst other things the pagoda in Kew Gardens. At one time there were quite a few other remarkable buildings there as well – all long gone now, sadly. Nobody took the bonus. Paul probably should have known that the Andeman Islands belong to India. Well, put it this way, to have a chance in BoB you need to know that sort of thing. Toby did. Surprisingly nobody recognised the chestnutty full name of Man Ray for Alan’s second. Toby took his first, then missed out on a tricky one involving the Arab name for the mount of Olives. Finally William didn’t see that the capitals of a number of US States were all named after presidents. I bet Alan couldn’t believe he got a chance at a bonus on a gentle lob like that one. At the Beat the Brains interval Alan led Toby by 7 points to 6.

The first Beat the Brains question concerned the taxonomic system from domains down to species – and asked what comes above a family but below a class ? How do we remember ? Altogether now – Kent Play Cricket On Fridays - Girls Spectate. I guess this was a new one on the brains , as they plumped for something other than order, the correct answer. To be fair to them they did know that a cyanometer is used to measure the blueness of the sky, which was the second question.

On with round 5. Paul again missed his first, being unable to define the phlegmatic personality. Alan was close enough with laid back. Alan was stopped by his own first. He was asked about which station on the DLR has the same name as a Commonwealth country. I won’t lie – I immediately thought of Canada Water, but this wasn’t accepted. Apparently there is a station just called Cyprus. I didn’t know that, so I’m glad that I tuned in now. Toby managed to miss the old chestnut about the meaning of the Sikh name Singh. William thus took his first bonus of the contest. He then went and blotted his copybook by not knowing that korfball takes its name from the dutch for basket. In a tit for tat exchange, Toby took that one. Paul at last managed to get another starter right, but his second, about transhumance , caught everyone else out as well. Alan didn’t know that James Alexander Gordon reads out the football results on Radio 5 Live – Toby took that, which took the edge a little off missing out his own first question, about Morse Code telegraphy. Nobody knew that one. William was asked which is the largest dwarf planet in the solar system, and I didn’t know it was Eris any more than the rest of the contenders did. With two rounds left Alan and Toby were tied, but anyone could still win if they pulled off a full set. That didn’t look likely, somehow.

Paul didn’t know that the Order of Merit was instituted by Edward VII, which gave Alan a bonus. Alan took his own first, but didn’t know that Strawweight – or mini flyweight – is the lightest professional boxing weight. Bonus for Paul. Toby missed his own first on the Battle of the Spurs. William managed to add another point to his total, but nobody knew that the painter Richard Dadd ended his days in Broadmoor. This left Alan with a two point lead, and frankly in this show that looked like it would be quite enough. Paul missed his first which asked for the three countries which share a land border with Cambodia. William took that one. Alan didn’t know the meaning of the full name of the SS when translated into English. Toby did. Another point would put him level , but he didn’t get it from his own first question, about a term which is used for objects which point in all directions. William was asked a question about which country has a mythology about giant lemurs. Frankly you’d have thought that lemurs would have been enough to give him a decent shout at an answer, but he didn’t get it. Paul won the buzzer race to offer Madagascar, and that was enough to ensure a 1 point win for Alan. Alan probably deserved it, on the balance of the whole show he was maybe just a shade better than Toby. But you have to feel for the three of last week’s brains who didn’t win, any one of whom might have fancied their chances in this particular heat. That’s what you call the luck of the draw.

The Details

Paul Duke – 7
Alan Hay – 10
Toby O’Connor Morse – 9
William Thirsk – Gaskill - 5


davidbod said...

I've been meaning to say this for weeks, but since this week's show illustrates my point nicely I'll chime in now.

Is it me or has the difficult level gone up a level since the days of Jorkins setting the questions and Robert R asking them? I used to really enjoy the questions on BoB because they really were a good test of general knowledge - nothing too specialist but a nicely testing standard that might be likened to that used by Fifteen-to-One in the old days.

But nowadays it seems to be packed full of questions that I really don't care about, of the type "The merriwhittle is the poetic name for which African bird?" and "Which doctor was MP for Scarborough in 1857?"... made-up examples but you get the point. They seem to be so remorselessly you-know-it-or-you-don't.

And I have to say, even with several A Levels and a degree in the sciences, I really struggle with some of the science questions they come up with.

bj said...

I was in the previous heat and console myself with the fact that I was playing with some excellent quizzers. The combined score of all the correct answers in Heat 10 was 50, the combined score of Heat 11 was 31. Even with a runaway winner, as Roman was on Heat 10, the totals should still roughly balance out, given you are looking at roughly the same number of questions. Luck of the draw, win some, lose some. It's one of the things that make quizzing fun.

DanielFullard said...

Yeah as I said on TQA.....I managed to get much higher on this set than ever before on Brain of Britain. No disrespect but if I was in another heat and runner up this year Id be kicking myself I wasnt in this heat

drgaryegrant said...

I don't believe your comments were mean, Dave - it was an underwhelming show. Just fair comment.

But I have to agree with David B - I really do find the questions on BoB a bit obscure at times; I made the point the other week that they asked a medical question that I had never heard of - so what chance a non-doctor? But then rather it too hard than too easy, I think - it is supposed to be one of the 2 pinnacles of GK quizzing and the questions should be set to sort out the very best from the merely good. So I don't blame Monday's contestants for struggling, I dare say they'd all be more than handy at a bog-standard pub quiz.

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone - and thanks for your comments

David, you make a valid point. For a while now they have made a habit of throwing in a few questions which nobody is going to answer. I don't know why - you could say that it's all part of the quirkiness of the show, which would be fair enough I suppose. But if you happen to get a run of those type of 'what the hell ? ' questions for your first in a set, then it's really galling.

Gary - maybe they would all be handy at a bog standard pub quiz. It doesn't necessarily follow. I was told a story by a BoB contestant in the last couple of years. A lady in his heat was in the same hotel that he was. She hadn't scored very well in the show, and so when he saw her in the hotel bar after the show, he was trying to break the awkwardness. Knowing nothing about each other, he guesse4d that the only thing in common they would have would be an interest in quizzes. Nope. She told him that she never watched or listened to quizzes, and never played in quizzes. She'd only entered because her daughter had mysteriously told her she should enter because it was 'her kind of thing'. So he told me, she was actually rather upset about her performance. No need to be, of course - it's just a game and not everyone is going to be very good at it.

Now, OK, anyone who wants to apply has got every right to apply. Of all the people who apply, Paul and the team have the right to select whichever contestants they choose. That's the way that it must be. But there were a number of questions - quite a number of questions - in that show that I would normally have expected anyone interested enough in quizzing to apply in the first place to be able to answer. It stuck out in this show because there were four seemingly weaker players in the same heat.