Saturday, 29 March 2014

Brain of Britain - Semi Final Four

Two of the biggest guns are already through to next week’s final. Number 1 and number 3 on my unofficial table, Dag Griffiths and David Hesp had won their semis. Robert Charlesworth, number 2 on the list, had fallen to David’s sword in their semi. So the highest scoring qualifier for our final heat, then was Mark Grant. The full line up was : -
Peter Almond
Mark Grant
Peter Watson
Gareth Williams

I’ll be honest, Gareth Williams was the only one who was within five points of Mark’s first round score, and without wishing to curse Mark with support, anything other than a win for him would have been an upset.

Peter took one, but didn’t know the first major battle on the western front in World War I was Mons. I was a little surprised Mark missed out on the bonus, answering Ypres, which gave Peter a bonus. Mark was given five good quizzers’ questions, with no obvious ridiculous stopper, and he duly took the set for a full 6 points. Consider the gauntlet duly laid down. Peter W. took a good three points, but the first female PM of Turkey did for him, and gave a timely bonus to Peter A. Gareth took one, but nobody knew that Enemy from Space was the American title for the film Quatermass the Second (I thought it was actually called Quatermass 2. In fact I was sure it was). So the first round revealed that everyone looked competitive, but Mark was going away from the pack. In round two Peter A dropped a point he could and should have had. When you hear the words Ferdinand Porsche and 1930s, you don’t just say Volkswagen. You say Volkswagen Beetle, just as Mark did for the bonus. Mind you, I may be wrong, but it occurs that maybe the original car was maybe just called the Volkswagen when it first appeared. It’s another of those borderline adjudications which can happen – sometimes you gotta have the full address and postcode, while sometimes you’re allowed to be in the neighbourhood. Mark didn’t know that the bloodhound is also known as the St. Hubert hound. Neither did I, although I had it from the description, as did Peter Watson. He didn’t know who wrote “The Shrimp and the Anemone” for his own starter, which let Gareth in with L.P. Hartley. Who did not, as it happens, also write “Fly Fishing” (ask your parents if you don’t understand that reference). Gareth didn’t know that buskins are worn on the feet. Peter W. took that. A good round for him, as it turned out, for now he was only one point behind Mark. Peter A. answered his first three, but missed out on the rather chestnutty question asking - who was the first Russian ruler to assume the title of tsar? Peter W. won the buzzer race to give the answer of Ivan IV (the Terrible). Remember I said that Mark wasn’t given any nasty ridiculous stopper in his first set? Well he was given one for his third starter. The Egypt Cup is apparently presented at the end of the tournament to the next hosts of the tournament. Fair enough. Are you surprised that nobody knew it? I wasn’t. Peter W. had two possible answers when he was asked about a description by Harold Nicholson of a Nobel Prize winning writer. He zigged with Galsworthy, Mark zagged with Kipling for the bonus. Kipling was always a better bet, since he would have had dealings with Nicholson through writing the script for the very first King’s Christmas broadcast. Gareth didn’t know about the Study of the Mafia, Mark did, and that extended his lead to two points.

For the Beat the Brains interval, the first question asked the team what Charles Wright 2001, which it became compulsory for motorists to use in 2001 actually was. Nobody knew that it is a font which has to be used on registration plates in the UK. Fair enough. The second was a sitter about Gatsonides, the inventor of the speed camera.

Back to the contest, and for the fourth round Peter A. answered his first, but incorrectly ascribed Karelia and another region to Finland. The buzzer race this time was won by Mark who supplied Russia. He took care of a tricky music starter, and a second question, before falling to Kenneth Graham, which went to Peter A. Peter W. was unlucky to miss out on the WWII code based on Navajo, going for Mohawk instead. Mark took the bonus. Gareth, asked for a very tall German steeple, understandably went for Cologne, but the description made it clear that it was Ulm, and Mark took the bonus. So what with his own answers, and the bonuses, Mark now had a more impressive lead of 7, with 14. In round five Peter A had a nasty stopper to start with the Finsen Unit. I haven’t heard of it – which doesn’t mean anything – and none of the others could take a bonus. Mark didn’t know that fimbriations on flags are narrow strips or borders placed alongside wider strips of other colours. Fair enough. Peter W., like so many good BoB contestants, fell at the first sight of a popular culture question, failing to identify the theme music of Starsky and Hutch. Mark missed it as well, allowing Peter A. in for the bonus. Gareth took his first 2, but the old chestnut of Goat Island did for him and gave Mark a bonus. Which meant that he still led, now by 15 to 8. Peter A. answered his first two, but didn’t know the 2012 film “Noah” was halted due to Hurricane Sandy. No bonus for anyone there. Mark didn’t know that Tau is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Me neither. That’s the sort of question you feel you ought to know the answer to, but don’t. Peter W. didn’t know that caboc cheese is traditionally rolled in oatmeal. Peter A. took the bonus. Gareth missed a chestnutty starter, not knowing that the hedge sparrow is also called the dunnock. Mark was in for that one.

Going into the final round, Mark led with 16 to 11. Theoretically he could lose. It is possible to score 9 points in a single round. It looked unlikely though. Peter A. answered his first two, but the Witch of Agnesi did for everyone. It’s a mathematical curve apparently. Mark took a couple, but didn’t know that 4 dots and a dash add up to 4 in morse code. Peter W. didn’t know that the Train in the clouds begins its journey in Argentina. Nobody had it. Gareth took one, but didn’t know that a member of a kibbutz is a kibbutznik. Peter A. had that. So the last three rounds saw Peter A. continually coming back at Mark and cutting the lead, but in the end not quickly anough. Mark won by three points, and takes his place in what is looking like a very competitive, high class final lineup. More about that in a later post. Well played gentlemen, and congratulations Mark – good luck in the Grand Final.

The Details

Peter Almond – 14
Mark Grant - 17
Peter Watson - 7
Gareth Williams - 6


dxdtdemon said...

Tau is not the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The show got it wrong. It is tav. I felt bad for the guy who said "tev", since I figured he probably knew it.

Londinius said...

Hi dxdtdemon

I bow to your superior knowledge. I must admit, I did think at the time that Tau was a Greek letter.

dxdtdemon said...

Well, my Hebrew is rusty enough that I can't remember if "Ani medaber ivrit" means "I read Hebrew" or "I speak Hebrew", but thank you for the compliment.