"Superbrain" stuns Britain with genius quiz show run

Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:17am EST
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By Luke Baker

LONDON (Reuters) - She's being hailed as Britain's cleverest student, a shy, bespectacled and amazingly quick-minded Latin scholar who has romped away to win Britain's hardest quiz show almost single-handedly.

Gail Trimble, 26, is playing down the excitement surrounding her team's victory in the annual University Challenge on Monday, but the nation is abuzz at her polymath performance on the quiz, a favorite on British TV for nearly 40 years.

Coming from behind, Trimble's four-person team from Corpus Christi college at Oxford University raced away to beat sharp rivals from Manchester by 275-190, with Trimble answering most of the dauntingly difficult questions without hesitation.

It was a typically barnstorming performance from the team captain, who has a tendency to laugh excitedly when she knows the answer, even if she seemed nervous at the start as Manchester moved into the lead and the pressure was on.

"The realm that according to Aristophanes was built by the birds to separate..." the questioner asked, getting only that far before Trimble buzzed to interrupt and correctly answer "Cloud Cuckoo Land" to impressed gasps from the audience.

"Which letter of the alphabet occurs most frequently in the line 'To be or not to be, that is the question?'" she was asked, buzzing immediately to correctly answer 'T'. Her quiz answering technique has been described as "intellectual blitzkrieg."

After identifying Dante in a painting, she went on to answer a series of absurdly challenging questions, winning a wealth of points for her team, all of whom seemed at times equally stunned by her brilliance. She identified shapes created by the position of elements on the periodic table, without seeing the table.

In previous rounds she has supplied instantaneous answers to questions on opera, art, history, mathematics, chemistry and physics -- seemingly well outside her Latin-scholar background.   Continued...