Friday, 5 November 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 12/24

The first round continues to run its inexorable course, as we reach the end of the first half. We’ve seen some amazing scores already, and doubtless the series has many more surprises to unfold.

Enough of such chaff. Tonight’s first specialist subject, offered by Stephen Gault, was 80’s gloom-mongers The Smiths, a band whom even people who weren’t fans should admit have stood the test of time. Stephen set off at a good pace, and picked up the first five answers without loss or hesitation. However the next two questions stopped him in his tracks, and from then on he was really scrabbling for answers. By the end of the round he had managed 9 altogether.

David Malone was answering on The Third Battle of Ypres – often called the Battle of Passchendaele. Actually that was the answer to one of his questions. He too began very well, and maintained form for two questions longer than Stephen had. However once again the first wrong answer proved to be a real momentum – stopper , and he could only add another 4 to his total. Still, this at least took his score into double figures, with 11 points altogether.

I amazed my nearest and dearest tonight, by predicting that Gillian Taylor who came next would post a massive score, and probably even get all of them right. Which is exactly what she did . What on earth possessed me to make such a prediction ? Well, the fact that when Gillian last appeared in the first round, in Nancy’s 2008/9 series, she did just that, 18 question and 18 correct answers ! Of course, that was on a different subject, and tonight Gillian was offering The Life and Career of Josephine Baker, the American dancer who became something of a sensation in Paris by dancing wearing little else than a short skirt made of bananas, unless I am very much mistaken. You pays yer money . . . Let me take nothing away from Gillian. It was an outstanding round.

Poor Christopher Payne had the incredibly difficult job of having to follow Gillian into the chair. His subject was the Literary Works of John Betjeman. Like his fellow contenders he started confidently enough. However the fifth question stopped him, and his confidence took an absolute nosedive. After a wrong answer a pass spiral grasped him in its deathly clutches, and 4 passed in a row before he managed to find another answer. 2 correct answers, 2 wrong answers, and another 4 passes later the bell kindly put him out of his torment. If you watched the round I think you’d probably agree with me that this was not a case of a contender not having prepared, but of one being virtually paralysed by nerves. And when that happens, my friends, there is next to nothing you can do. Still, it didn’t bode well for the next round, considering that Christopher would be making a very quick return .

Before that, however, John didn’t miss an opportunity to rub it in that Gillian was ‘way out in front ‘ . So, thus encouraged, Christopher returned to the chair, and managed to add a further 8 points to his score. His final score was that rare bird, a score in which the total points and the total passes were equal. At least Christopher will have possibly derived a crumb of comfort from the fact that he did beat Stephen in the General knowledge round. Stephen struggled, and never really got to grips with the questions. He finished with 16. So even though two contenders had now finished, Gillian was still in the lead, with her own general knowledge round to come.

There was still much for David Malone to play for, though, even if a win looked unlikely. A high score would give him a chance of making the runners- up board. He certainly provided a pretty decent round, and even in a 2 and a half-minute round 14 is certainly not to be sniffed at. However 25 left Gillian needing 9 for an outright win without recourse to a pass countback.

Looking back on Gillian’s 2008/9 performances, it has to be said that her General Rounds never matched her specialist rounds. Before tonight’s show she had scored a 9 and an 8, which are relatively modest even for a 2-minute round. However, with an extra half minute I had no doubt that Gillian would make it. Indeed, for much of the round she seemed to be doing considerably better than in previous GK rounds. Then, as we’ve seen before this series, a little fatigue kicked in with about 45 seconds to go. She kept pushing on, and in the end scored 12 to reach the magical 30-point mark. To be honest, after the specialist round there had only looked one winner tonight, and it means that Gillian joins the ranks of those who have twice made it to the semi finals. Well done !

The Details

Stephen Gault The Smiths9 – 4 7 – 4 16 – 8
David Malone The Third Battle of Ypres 11 – 1 14 – 4 25 - 5
Gillian Taylor The Life and Career of Josephine Baker 18 - 012 - 1 30 –1
Christopher PayneThe Literary Works of John Betjeman 6 - 8 8 – 6 14 – 14

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Duncan Byrne – 27 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Chris Harrison - 26 – 1

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