Friday, 6 March 2015

Brain of Britain - Heat 9

Right, let me begin with my sincere apologies to contenders in the 9th heat of BoB. I am really sorry that I never found time to review it before now. If you’re a teacher who has ever been through an ESTYN/OFSTED inspection, then you don’t need me to tell you how stressful and time consuming it is, and if you’re not a teacher, then I’m afraid that there is not point me trying to tell you, because it is impossible to put it into words. But I am sorry, nevertheless.
OK, then, heat 9. Going head to head were : -


Yes, you are right. That’s Neil Wright, LAM reader and Mastermind 1978 finalist and 2014 semi finalist. Obviously playing under the handicap of support from the Clark sofa, on this show. Look at his opposition, though. Nick Reed – also a LAM reader - was a grand finalist in Mastermind in Gary’s 2012 series. Bad luck for both of these very good players to have to face each other in the same heat – 2 Mastermind finalists going at it hammer and tongs – and this was only a first round match. Well, there isn’t seeding, , and so it’s the luck of the draw.

 We kicked off with Joanne Hancox, who took two relatively easy points but didn’t remember Lance Percival of the Topical Calypso. That was a bonus for Richard, who didn’t know that Weyland’s Smithy is in Oxfordshire. Neil took that bonus. Nick scored two points but didn’t know that two cathedrals with the Magna Carta – Neil knew it was Salisbury and Lincoln. For his own go Neil took his first but the name Colin Pillinger escaped him. Richard took a bonus there. So Neil led with three. Back to Joanne, and she again got off to a start but didn’t know that it was Gene Vincent’s black leather look that was based on Laurence Olivier’s Richard III. That was another one for Neil. Richard didn’t know the house that John Ruskin lived in for the last few years of his life in the Lake District, but Joanne did. I was a little surprised that nobody even guessed Nick’s first question, asking what was unique about one of the five pictures of George Harrison on A Hard Day’s Night. I mean, I am a bit of a Beatles nerd, I admit, but I would have thought that the fact that it showed the back of his head was guessable. Oh well. Neil again took his first, but again faltered on his second, the term bisque in tennis and golf. Never heard of it.

The music questions began with Joanne’s first of the third round. I didn’t recognize the dulcet tones of Primal Scream, but Joanne did, fair play. She took her second, but didn’t know that the term fraction comes from the latin for broken. Richard took one of his own now, but should have known that the Earth is the planet surrounded by the Van Allen radiation belts. I’m not trying to be mean, but that really is the sort of gettable question you have to snap up if you’re going to have a chance in BoB. Neil did. Nick took one, he took a second, a third but then didn’t know about the Hammer of the Witches. Neil had that one. For his own set he didn’t know Leo Durocher, one time manager of the baseball team the Brooklyn Dodgers. Nick had now improved to 6, but Neil still led with 7.

On to the Beat the Brains interval, then. The first question asked them what bird’s name is given to a 4 under par. I knew it was a condor, and so did the Brains. The second question asked why a cue used by Alec Brown caused controversy during a match in 1938? Huh? I had no clue. It was a tiny cue about five inches long apparently. Fair enough.

Back to the contest. Absolutely nothing in it between Joanne, Nick and Neil at this stage. Well, alright, one point. Joanne was, frankly, lucky to be allowed ‘the launch of the first nuclear missile’ as an answer to what happened for the first time at Alamogordo in 1945.  You know me – I’m not a great one for leeway, and the answer as given was close . . . but crucially, it was wrong. In a tight contest . . . well, anyway. For her next question Joanne couldn’t produce the term endothermic, which gave Richard a bonus. So we moved onto Richard’s music question saw him recognize Hank Williams, but he didn’t know that Harry S. Truman was the president associated with the Fair Deal. Nick had that. He took 3 – and did well to do that for they weren’t all gimmes, but nobody knew that the hereditary baronetcy of Scotney in Kent was created for the Thatchers. Neil didn’t know that the W in WK – as in Kayaking, stands for Women’s. That changed the contest. Nick led by 3 points with 10 – 7.

Joanne faltered on her first. I didn’t know that St. Paul’s Shipwreck Day is celebrated in Malta, but I knew he was shipwrecked off Malta, so it wasn’t too much of a mental leap. Neil took advantage of that windfall. Richard had a quote from Montaigne referring to scratching. A bit of a pointless question since nobody was likely to get it, and blooming bad luck to get it as a first question. Nick had my sympathy, having to endure Ken Dodd’s Tears for his first question. He took another question too, but possibly could have guessed that Dennis derives from a follower of Dionysus. Richard gratefully accepted that one. On to Neil. I thought that he might have known that Archibald Primrose was Lord Roseberry, since that’s one of the Prime Minister questions that has done the rounds over the years, as it were, but he couldn’t dredge it up, and neither could the others. Nick now had a 4 point lead, and the situation was looking drastic.

Joanne began the last round not knowing that Endymion was the shepherd who had kids with Selene. Hard question. Richard didn’t know that the Cesarewitch was named after the Tsarevitch who became Alexander II. Nick didn’t know that Thomas Payne was born in Theford. Neil, then, needing a really good set, kicked off with some opera. I have a tin ear, and they all sound the same to me. He recognized Orpheus. Top man. The second asked the state in which the colt 45 and the Winchester rifle were made. Nobody knew it was Connecticut. Game over. Congratulations to Nick, who took his opportunities when they came, and had some fine answers – and hard lines and commiserations to the other contenders, especially Neil, who looked pretty good value for the win until the kayak question.

The Details –




Nick in Masham said...

Thanks for a good write-up. I'd been waiting for LAM validation - though tbh I'm amazed that as a teacher you *ever* have time to blog! Leo Durocher was the game-changer for me, meant I hung on in contention at the break. Disappointments for me were: Dennis / Dionysus; Tom Paine; and Sweet Gene Vincent. But what a good 4-way battle and what a pleasant evening out!

neil wright said...

Can't help but feel that I let this one slip away from me, although Nick was certainly a worthy winner. None of the others had done BOB before and this was at least my fifth time (or is is sixth) going back to the mid 1980s. Perhaps my experience helped with the buzzer, as I was able to get in first on most occasions and I certainly needed the bonuses.
Was I unlucky? Everyone agrees that there is a large element of luck in BOB as you really need to put together sequences of answers to score highly. Over six rounds I got three of my "starter" questions correct and three wrong, but I couldn't get ant of the follow ups right. Therefore, of nine questions allocated to me , I only got three right, 33.3%. I have looked at the questions overall and, knowing what I was ready to buzz in on and being particularly hard on myself, I can confidently claim that I knew the answers to at least 53% of the questions.
On the face of it, that might well appear unlucky. That is particularly so as, had I been sitting in seats 1 or 2, I would have managed 5 in a row in the first round. With my surname I always seem to be in seat 4.
However, looking in more detail at the "starters" I got wrong, a different story emerges. For the WK kayaking, Women's was the first thing that occurred to me but I rejected it as too simple (as did everyone else). On the "Nice guys come last" quote, Baseball was the first thing that I thought of, but again rejected, looking for a profession such as journalism. If it had been Mastermind I would probably have just blurted out my first thought but 10 seconds is sometimes too long. On the other hand, for the Earl of Roseberry question, I came up with the right answer literally a second after the bell so, swings and roundabouts. These were all eminently answerable questions and I have only myself to blame here.
It is probably already clear that, in this very low scoring year, my score of nine was sufficient for a pace in the semis. Indeed, both Nick and I were there at Brooadcasting House last Friday for the recording of the first and second semi-finals. Doubtless more to follow after the broadcasts on March 23rd and 30th.

neil wright said...

It is not strictly correct to say I recognized Orpheus for the opera question at the end. Frankly, I had no idea if the role was male or female, given many male roles were sung by castratos or females. However, the date of birth for the composer (?1713) suggested Gluck or possibly Rameau so I settled on Orpheus as being a relatively famous mythological figure who fitted the description.