Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Brain of Britain Grand Final

Well, the Grand Final came round at last. Ian, Rob, Rob and Ray battled it out to see who would win the salver. LAM reader Ian kicked off with two, but LAM reader Rob Milnes took a bonus, on the word karma. My good friend Rob Merrill began his assault on the title with a correct answer, but I can vouch for the fact that he was kicking himself for answering “Maldives” as the smallest African nation. He told me after the final that he’s either asked or answered it in the rugby club before now. Ray took the bonus. Rob Milnes had a great first answer with Kathleen Ferrier, and compounded this with another, but gave Rob Merrill a bonus with Urban II as the pope whose speech at the Council of Claremont inspired the first Crusade. Ray brought the round to a conclusion with 2 , but missed a gettable one with Weber, which let my mate Rob in. A very close round.

Ian took one, but got a nasty second which ray was more than equal to with Lyddite. Rob Merrill ( my Rob to avoid confusion ) missed out on Molesworth for his first – Ian took that one. Rob Milnes missed out on Ellen Ternan, which nobody knew . Ray missed out his first , a tricky little one on Deep Purple and Taliesin. One point separated all 4 at this stage.

Ian took his first, but perhaps a little surprisingly didn’t know that the dodo was actually a member of the pigeon family. Or maybe not surprisingly at all, it’s just that I’ve answered – and asked – this same question in quizzes on a few occasions myself. My Rob took it, anyway – I’m sure he will have had that correct when I asked it. As for his own questions, he managed to answer the first of these, but didn’t get the essayist Hazlitt. I wouldn’t have known that. Rob Milnes got a nasty one on alabaster, originally found in Egypt. My Rob took that , and Russell, rather cheekily, asked “Where did you get that from ? “ Well, the fact that he’s a great quizzer might have something to do with it, Russ. Ray had a nasty one about small mammals in Thailand – the bumblebee bat. Nobody had that . My Rob now led with 6. Go Neath ! Game on.

After three rounds we came to the Beat the Brains interval. In the time honoured fashion the final questions were set by the outgoing champion , Iwan Thomas. Asked about the mathematician who invented a bowling machine, they correctly answered Mr. Venn, who created the Venn diagram. Good question. The second question asked which unlikely organization was granted a 1973 UK patent for a nuclear powered flying saucer . Funnily enough they didn’t get the answer – British Rail ! Good fun question, but enough of such things. On with round four. Ian received a snatch of Wake Me Up Before You Go Go – they don’t write ‘em like that any more. Ian was asked for the names of both members of Wham, and popular culture did for him. Ray came in first for that bonus. My Rob missed out on the Knight’s Tale , which gave Rob Milnes a bonus. Rob himself didn’t know Jormungandr – the Midgard serpent – my Rob took that. Ray didn’t know the stocking frame – neither did anyone else. Rob now had a 2 point lead with 7.

Ian missed out his first – which was one of those good old sports trivia ones – requiring you to know that the Duke of York – later King George VI – took part in Wimbledon . I guess that the guys had never heard that one before. Which was probably more damaging to Ian’s chances than anyone else’s. My Rob was done by his first question, about John B. Watson. Nope, me neither. Rob Milnes got a nasty ‘brain ‘ question, about the pons. Nope, me neither neither. Ray got a nice one on HMS Amethyst to begin, but was done for by his second, which was about sharks. Ray had edged a point closer to Rob in this round.

Ian just didn’t know that the Italian equivalent of the Munich air crash involved players from Torino. Rob Milnes knew it, and kept his score bubbling along with it. My Rob got a tricky one about Eleanor crosses – asked for any of the three remaining crosses, he fell into the trap of saying Charing Cross. Alas, the one that’s there is a replica. Ray leapt in with Waltham Cross, which is the real McCoy. Rob Milnes got a nasty quotation, which allowed Ray to show his class by supplying the writer Alan Bennett. Ray took his first, but somewhat surprisingly missed the chestnutty meaning of the acronym USB. Maybe it’s a few years since that one really did the rounds, but time was you could hear that question being asked on a regular basis. Nobody took a bonus. All of which meant that Ray had leapfrogged my Rob into first place, leading with 9 from Rob’s 7, and with some of his fine answers in this round, you have to say he looked quite good value for it. Still, everything could change in the space of one round.

Ian got another horror to start with, on clams. My Rob took his first, but missed Alexander Hamilton, the other man apart from Benjamin Franklin never to be president to appear on regular denomination US Banknotes. Poor Rob got Alexander, but not Hamilton. On such small margins . . . Rob Milnes managed his own first question, but Camille Pissaro passed him by – as far as Ian, to be exact. Ray got a question which I liked very much – asking, not in so many words, which name links a character in Blazing Saddles, and a unit of Mongolian currency. Mongo . Great question. My Rob had pulled back a point on Ray , and was now on 8 to Ray’s 9. However it was Ian who’d made the great leap forward, and he was also on 8. Anybody’s game still.

The final round had come round. Ian got a physics question which did for him and all the others. Very hard luck that. My Rob didn’t know that Elvis’ first single was “That’s Alright Mama. “ Rob Milnes knew that, and it was his question now. His own first he couldn’t take. Ray could though, which answer effectively meant that he was champion. It’s just as well though, since he couldn’t get his own, on the colour turquoise. My goodness, but it was all close at the end. Rob Milnes ended with 7, one scant point behind both Ian and Rob Merrill, with Ray the worthy winner on 10 points. A small margin, perhaps, but enough, and that’s all that mattered.

Well played gentlemen all. That was a thoroughly entertaining and absorbing final, which any of you could have won right up to the last round. BoB being the kind of show that it is, the luck of the draw with the questions can make all the difference in a show where everyone is as evenly matched as the fine quizzers in this one were. A special word for my friend Rob Merrill as well. I know that before his heat Rob believed that he could get to the semis. Rob, you did so much better than that. We’re all very proud of your achievement.


dxdtdemon said...

While I was impressed with everyone's play throughout the final, I was extremely impressed with the guy who knew the name of the island in Lake Huron. Being an American semi-professional trivia question writer, I was really impressed that someone from another country knew a US geography question that I didn't.

Londinius said...

Hi dxdtdemon

I think that was Ray, and that may7 well have been in the round where he took the lead - essentially the round where he won. I too was really impressed with that answer.

Rob_Milnes said...

Like "your" Rob my target when I entered was to reach the semi-finals. Anything beyond that was a bonus, so I was very pleased just to make the final. I really had no idea who was likely to win before the final. Ray was an unknown quantity as I hadn't seen his semi. Like you I thought Ian's semi had some really tough questions and I knew his winning score was worth more. Rob Merrill had been very impressive in his semi, which was recorded immediately before the final.
The final was just as close as I expected. I think we all would have liked to have answered a few more but they were hard questions. There can't have been many finals which have been up for grabs midway through the final round for all the contenders.
By the way, as was mentioned at the recording, my father reached the final in 1980. We think that it's the first time a father and son have made the final. However, if anyone knows differently, LAM may well be the place to find out.