How I became “Australia’s Brainiest Quiz Master” – Part IV – The CLIMAX!

Australia's Brainiest with trophy - Copy


So it’s all come down to thisBut first:

THE STORY SO FAR (which you could also easily catch up on by watching the actual show, over at the How To Win Game Shows Facebook page)…

I’ve managed to get through the final round, where there are just three of us competing; William Laing (Sale of the Century champ and $500,000 winner on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire), Rob “The Coach” Fulton (Australia’s first Who Wants To Be A Millionaire millionaire)… and me.

In this final round, we have each answered five questions, and we are tied on 6 points. We have entered a tie-breaker situation.

William’s turn is next, and he chooses another general knowledge question. Then I notice that only two of his five special subject questions have been chosen so far – has he forgotten where they all are? He gets the general knowledge question correct, and is now on 7 points. Then Rob gets a general knowledge question, and also gets it right. So after that bonus round of tie breaker questions, William and Rob are tied on 7, so a clear winner cannot be declared.

Another bonus tie breaker round begins with my turn, and this time I finally pick my one remaining special subject question, worth 2 points … At last!

And the question is:


And this makes me happy. As you can see.

Because although I know this really well, I’m sure and certain that I’ve also seen it recently; this too was a popular question in the online Star Wars quizzes I’d done in training for tonight’s show. I answer “Twelve”. It’s correct, and so I’m now on 8 points.

Then William again fails to choose one of his own special subject questions, choosing a general knowledge question instead… which he gets wrong.

As does Rob.

So after this second bonus tiebreaker round, host Sandra Sully checks the leader board, and there is a clear winner…

And it’s me. I have 8 points, to Rob and William’s 7 points each. And I’m surprised by this; 


“That can’t be right, can it?” But it is.

It really couldn’t have been closer. And in a blur, I’m accepting the trophy from Sandra, and shaking hands with the other competitors, and smiling and not quite believing that I did it.

I still have the trophy, of course, and the RSPCA got their money, and the win really cemented my quizzing credentials. So, looking back on it now, is there anything I learned from the experience that I can share with you, that might be helpful? 

You don’t have to answer, that was a rhetorical question. As are these:


I was good at answering the rapid-fire questions, since the Temptation run had been just weeks before. I think I had an edge over the Millionaire veterans here, as they were accustomed to having as much time as they liked to answer questions on that show. In Round 2 of the Australia’s Brainiest format, you had to answer as many questions as you could in 45 seconds, so this skill was important there. Doing practice online quizzes on my special subject was an absolute boon – particularly when 2 of the 5 questions on my special subject on the show came straight from those online quizzes! On the ‘Matching Pairs’ and ‘Codebreaker’? I think forcing myself to relax and breathe and just work through them, but still quickly. This was an unfamiliar format of game. We had all been provided with a document explaining all the rules before the record, and perhaps I’d have done better on these if I’d done some practice runs of this type of puzzle, or got someone to set some for me.


The Memory Game: locking in where my questions were hidden on that board of 36 squares, after looking at it for 10 seconds. That cost me a lot. If I had my time over, I’d do some training for this, playing the Memory Game, with 36 cards hiding 5 ‘target’ cards randomly amongst them… just to exercise those very particular mental muscles, and perhaps find some ways of making easy-to-remember links or patterns. (Hello Derryn Brown!)

My general knowledge on the subjects of classical music and (as always) geography let me down. I’ve always liked Martin Flood’s tip for learning geographical facts; buy a globe, and look at it and glean one piece of information from it, each time you walk past it.

Another weakness in my game was my inability to keep a sense of the overall gameplay. This meant that when I won, I was genuinely stunned, and thought that there must have been a mistake! Of course there wasn’t, but keeping abreast of the rules of Australia’s Brainiest Quizmaster and the 3 or 4 formats at play in the same show, while you’re in the middle of it, whilst still trying to win… well, I found it a bit tricky, to be honest. I was admittedly unfamiliar with the format, and despite having been thoroughly briefed on the rules, I hadn’t watched the show that much, and so was struggling a bit just to be across what was happening next, and what the implications were at any time in the gameplay.

I really should have studied the format more before I went on, as I had with Temptation (although looking back, there may not have been the time – the gap between the invitation and the record day was not very long, as I recall).

I think they’re the main bits of advice I can offer you off the back of the whole experience. Well, the ones I can think of at the moment, anyway. If you have any questions, please, as always… just ask! Either via the ‘Comments’ section below, or by emailing me at

The Australia’s Brainiest juggernaut continued to roll on after the Quizmaster episode, with more and more specials, including the oxymoronically titled Australia’s Brainiest Footballer, Australia’s Brainiest Cricketer and Australia’s Brainiest Olympian. The network’s reality TV programming cross-promotion commitments were covered, too, with Australia’s Brainiest Idol, Australia’s Brainiest Housemate (they had the rights to Big Brother at the time) and the confusingly titled Australia’s Brainiest Loser (featuring former Biggest Loser contestants).


In the upcoming weeks at, I’ve got loads more EXCLUSIVE interviews coming your way. Including chats with:

  • A behind-the-scenes game show legend, who’s been working in the industry since 1973…
  • Another veteran quiz show question writer…
  • a ‘Jeopardy!’ Grand Champion…
  • and my first ever interview with a successful game show creator.

But next week sees the first part of my EXCLUSIVE interview with a quiz show Grand Champion who’s now one of the STARS of the brand-new Australian version of ‘The Chase’!

And don’t forget that my new eBook ‘How To Win Game Shows’ is available right HERE!

Until next time.

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