Friday, 15 March 2013

Brain of Britain - Semi Final 4

The last semi final then pitted four brave contestants all trying to win the honour of a place in the grand final alongside Darren Martin, Barry Simmons, and David Stainer. No mugs there! The final four contestants, then, were : -

Jenny Dunn
Anthony Fish
John Harris
George Sheldrick

Now, you may remember that George has been a friend and team mate of mine for many a long year now. Looking at the first round performances, only Jenny had outscored him, and then only by a point. Come on George ! – I murmured, as Russell took us through the introductions. No, I haven’t seen him since the recording, so I had no idea of the outcome as I sat down to listen. All to play for.

Jenny kicked off. She took a fairly innocuous pair, and then was given the benefit on the World Anti Doping Agency – saying Association instead. Hmmm. You know it’s this kind of thing which makes BoB so compelling and so infuriating. Yes, I know that Jenny was very close, but the answer she gave was not actually correct. Had she corrected herself within the 10 seconds, then all well and good. But this adjudication meant that she was able to go on and get a full set of five, which was bound to have an effect on the outcome of the show. Controversial, certainly. Anthony didn’t know that you decline a noun. John did. For his own set he didn’t get that Nixon and others took office in 1969. George had it. You see – there’s no opportunity of being allowed a ‘near enough miss’ with that sort of question, is there? George took his first, but surprised me by not being familiar with the Modified Mercalli scale. Anthony knew it was earthquake intensity. Jenny had a controversial 4 point lead with 6 to George’s 2.

Jenny benefitted from another adjudication in her first in round two , and then added a second but failed on the term ‘gestalt’. Nobody had that one. Anthony took one, but it took George to say that the letter S was the first ever radio broadcast. John missed his first. George got a snorter to start on Veronese, but he had it. The second did for him . Anthony knew that Martin Luther King said “I want to be the white man’s brother – not his brother-in-law. ‘ Good quote. Jenny led by 4 with 8. For round 3 Jenny was played a bit of Olivia Newton John, and neither she nor anyone else recognized her voice. Anthony was asked what a postilion was. Now, John gave a definition which was at least as close to the one wanted as Association is to Agency, but was denied. Jenny supplied the correct definition. Please don’t misunderstand me. I don’t blame Jenny one bit. She has come across as a good quizzer, and it’s not her decision whether the adjudicators accept an answer or not. But this is what happen when you start accepting near misses as correct answers for some, but not for others. John didn’t know that C90 is used to create artificial snow on film sets. George correctly answered one, but then had his own ‘near miss’ turned down – giving Buckman instead of Buckland as the name of the man who discovered the Megalosaurus. It’s close, but it’s not right. Quite right that it wasn’t given. Only that decision is meant to look inconsistent by that answer for WADA being allowed. Oh dear.

A break from the controversy, then, was supplied by the Beat the Brains interval. The first question was – why might you have to take extra care when your camel turns to the right? I guessed Sopwith Camel , maybe stalling in the air, and I was close ! I did actually know that it had a rotary engine. The team missed it. Question 2 – what was Howard Hughes’ flying boat constructed of – it was actually birch – not spruce at all ! Nasty !

Back to the contest. Jenny was asked about a bottle containing 30 litres of champagne. Nobody had Melchizedec. Anthony didn’t know polyphony – neither did I, but John did. He didn’t know about a German road in berlin, and Jenny was in for that. George was asked about Bismuth and didn’t know it. Jenny now had a 5 point lead. In her next set Jenny knew her first, but didn’t know three names in the development of the bicycle. Anthony had that. He took his first three but a nasty biology question halted his run. John added 1 but didn’t know the Portland vase. George had it. In his own set he missed out on plaice for his first, which he might have had. Anthony had now closed to within 3 points of Jenny. She now took another point on her own et, but nobody knew what a soursop was. It’s a fruit. Anthony didn’t know about tannin – John had that. He didn’t know that Edward the Confessor was originally buried in Old St. Paul’s. George then really needed a good set to give him a realistic chance. He didn’t get it. The first on jazz saw him off, with a snatch of Charlie Mingus. Only Jenny had scored in that round, and so we came to the last round. She took one, but lost out on poisoned ivy. Anthony didn’t know that there are 540 degrees in the interior angles of a pentagon. John Harris didn’t know von Moltke, and my boy George had that. He got a nasty one for his first, asking for the name of the play in which Nell Gwynne had her greatest success, and that was the game over.

The final scores were: -

John Harris – 6
George Sheldrick – 7
Anthony Fish – 8
Jenny Dunn – 13

Right - cards on the table. Even without the controversial call in the first round I think that Jenny played well, and would have won anyway, and many congratulations for that achievement. But please, Paul and the team, I know just how much you care about producing a great show,and how hard you work to do so, so can you sort out this whole near miss thing? Because when you start allowing wrong answers, because they are close to being right answers, then you are weakening a great, great competition. It’s not being petty, and it does matter.

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