Chris McHarg began the show by answering on The Solar System. We last saw this as a specialist subject in the 2009 semi finals when my Only Connect captain Gary Grant made rather a good fist of it, despite being a subject he found less than fascinating. Chris tonight struggled with a couple of questions, but was very sound on the planets themselves and their natural satellites, and scored a good 13 and 1 pass . Indications were that we were in for an impressive set of specialists tonight.
However, having said this I had no idea that Pamela Woods’ round on American comedian and actor Andy Kaufman was going to be anything like as impressive as it turned out to be. Some people have the erroneous idea that entertainment subjects are somehow easier than others. They’re not. I’m not an expert on Andy Kaufman, but there seemed to be the same amount of obscure and difficult stuff in this round as you would get in any other. All of which made Pamela’s perfect 19 correct answers from 19 questions more remarkable. It was a stunningly good performance. You always felt that John could have asked her another ten minutes worth of Andy Kaufman questions, and she would still have had them all right.
The first of tonight’s well known quizzers was Mastermind veteran Hamish Cameron. We last saw Hamish in the semi finals of the 2007 SOBM, where he was unlucky to meet Stewart Cross in the semis. Stewart had the highest score of the semis, and so even though Hamish had the third highest score of the semis – mine was second highest, thanks for asking – he only got to be the stand in for the final. Hamish has actually made the semis 3 times in 5 attempts, but has yet to make it to a final. His subject for tonight – The Scottish Covenanters – looked like it could leave him some way short tonight. His 13 was a good score, but even in a 2 and a half minute round a six point gap can be extremely hard to bridge.
The other well known quizzer was Iwan Thomas. I’m sure that I’ve seen Iwan on shows in the past, although I don’t recall if we’ve ever met in person. He offered us the second entertainment subject of the night , The Byrds, and you have to say that he started brilliantly. He was answering very quickly, and very correctly, picking off the first 9 questions on the bounce. The rest of the round was good too, if not quite as impressive as the first part. Iwan scored 14, but did pass on the last question. Would this be a cause for regret later on ?
John paid tribute to a high set of specialist scores, before Chris returned to the chair. I have to say that I thought he was probably out of the running bearing in mind Pamela’s lead, and the strength of both Hamish and Iwan. Still, even though he never really got into a good run at any time of the round, he did keep picking off the answers he could, and by the end of the round had reached double figures.
Hamish actually posted the highest score in the whole of the 2007 SOBM in the first round, where he’d scored 33. Part of this was a 15 on GK, and so I expected him to set a very challenging target. I wasn’t disappointed. The best scores we’ve seen so far this series on GK were Brian’s 20 points last week, and Paul Steeples’ 17 in heat 2. Hamish shaped up like the Mastermind old hand that he is, and kept the answers coming throughout the whole round, maintaining the intensity throughout the extra half minute. By the end he’d added 17 more points to set the bar at 30 and 2 passes.
If Iwan was at all daunted by the prospect of having to match Hamish point for point in GK in order to take the lead, he certainly didn’t show it. What followed was remarkable. I may be mistaken in this, but I believe that the previous GK round record was 22. Certainly this was the GK score managed by both Jennifer Keaveney in her 1986 final, and Chantal Thompson in the 1990 final. Iwan’s 23 was the highest score ever achieved in a GK round, and it equals the 23 in specialist set by Jesse in the Champion of Champions series. OK – so Iwan had 2 and a half minutes. Even so it is an incredible achievement, and a record.
Pamela returned to the chair. She had put in an incredible performance in her specialist round, and yet still faced the prospect of needing to score 18 just to draw. With all due respect that looked unlikely. However a much more realistic 12 would put her into outright second place, and this might be doable. Well, she gave it a good try. She kept answers coming, and slowly, gradually crept up to 30 points. Alas for her, the end of the round came before she could secure second place. The 11 points she scored put her equal with Hamish, but the 6 passes put her behind. So its Hamish who goes onto the highest runners up board, and you have to say that at this stage, a third of the way through the first round, he looks good value for a record fourth appearance in the semis. But the last word must be for Iwan Thomas. That, sir, was an outstanding performance. Many congratulations.
|Chris McHarg||The Solar System||13 - 1||10 - 6||23 – 7|
|Pamela Woods||The Life and Career of Andy Kaufman||19 – 0||11 - 6||30 - 6|
|Hamish Cameron||The Scottish Covenanters||13 - 0||17 - 2||30 - 2|
|Iwan Thomas||The Byrds||14 - 1||23 - 0||37 – 1|
Current Highest Scoring Runners Up
Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Chris Harrison - 26 - 1
Laura Humphreys 25 – 4