Saturday, 23 February 2013

Brain of Britain - Semi Final 1

Here we are then, the semifinal stage already. The first four contestants to try to earn a place in the Grand Final were

Rob Cruise ( 15th in my unofficial table)
Clive Dunning (=4th in the table)
Gill Goodwin ( 2nd in the table)
Darren Martin (=10th)

Now, as I said in my Mastermind review, first round form isn’t always the most reliable guide to potential semifinal performance. In my preview I did mention Darren Martin, for example, as a dangerous competitor from the lower half of the table. So what did actually happen?

Rob didn’t know Ermine Street, and Darren was in very quick. Clive didn’t know that a tod was a fox. Darren had it. Gill didn’t know what TNT stands for. Clive was in for that bonus. Darren was given 4 straightforward General Knowledge questions, then a tricky one – which 1859 novel has chapters called ‘knitting’ and ‘Still knitting’? Darren didn’t know it, neither did I, but Gill got a good bonus with “A Tale of Two Cities” , which brings up visions of the tricoteuses. Not that Darren should have worried. he had a 5 point lead at the end of the first round, and was going to take some beating already.

Rob got off the mark with 2, but didn’t know an emperor between Domitian and Commodus. Clive took two, but didn’t know that Einstein was a patent clerk in Bern. A little surprised at that. Gill didn’t know a gamete, and neither did anyone else. Darren took one, but didn’t know that the Dromedary is also called the Arabian Camel. A bonus for Clive there. That actually made the gap a little less gaping, as Darren now led by 7 to Clive’s 5.

Rob didn’t know that Bobby McFerrin’s hit “Don’t Worry Be Happy”, much to his annoyance, was used as a campaign song by George Bush senior. Another point for Clive. He got a nasty starter with the medical term for the eyelids. Gill took four, but got a nasty fifth asking in which year Persia officially became Iran. Darren knew it – 1935, what a good shout that was. Darren didn’t know his first, about fish which have no jaws. Gill had raced up to 5, Clive had gone up to 6, and Darren to 8. What a good show this was turning out to be.

This brought us up to the Beat the Brains interval. The first question they were asked was – who is married to the Duke of Lancaster ( rather easy ) – and Who is married to the Earl of Strathearn ( not quite so easy – the answer being The Duchess of Cambridge). They just about got the second one wrong – saying Prince William instead.

Back to the contest. Rob took one, but missed on the lunula. Darren had that one. Clive didn’t know his first, a piece of music from the Goldberg Variations. Gill didn’t know about the British Thermal Unit – not surprised. Darren didn’t know that Julius II had commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel ( apparently a liberal helping of undercoat and two coats of magnolia weren’t good enough for the fussy devil ) . Clive had that , and so now he had 7 to Darren’s nine. Rob didn’t know who killed Verwoerd – and that was Darren’s. Clive took his first but didn’t know Ernest Rutherford was appointed to Manchester University. Rob had that. Gill didn’t know that old chestnut, that “Vienna” by Ultravox was kept off number 1 by Joe Dolce’s “Shudduppa ya face”. Of course Darren had that. Darren then didn’t know the equally chestnutty – which was the last Road film? He said Bali, Clive said Hong Kong, and Clive had the point. It was very much a battle between Clive and Darren now, and the gap remained at two, as Clive had 9, and Darren, 11.

Rob answered his first but missed on the strong nuclear force – which gave Gill a bonus. Clive missed on Bradford West – George Galloway’s constituency. Rob had that. Gill answered 4 , but oh, she couldn’t tell us the last Space Shuttle to be grounded for good. You have just got to keep up with the news , I’m afraid. Darren knew it. For his own questions Darren took a couple but nobody knew Lenz’s law. Again, not surpri. . . . The round had made a hell of a difference. Gill had put on a major spurt to come up to 10, but Darren now led by 4 with 14.

The last round began, then, and Darren took a bonus with Tallahassee, being uncaptured in the US Civil War. Clive’s question about old kingdom’s foxed everyone with Gwynedd and Northumbria. Gill took one, but didn’t know Robert Graves, and that was it. Game over. Darren finished the game missing the title to put on a letter to the Queen – May It Please Your Majesty. Nobody had it. Very well done Darren – a win by 3 points. Well played to all three runners up as well – this was a high quality contest which I really enjoyed.

The Details

Rob Cruise – 6
Clive Dunning – 11
Gill Goodwin – 11
Darren Martin – 14

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