Friday, 23 March 2012

Mastermind - First Round - heat 23

Following last week’s show I must admit I was keeping a special ear open for the buzzer tonight. I didn’t notice anything untoward – which doesn’t really mean anything because I’m really not very observant. Still, I did notice that Ken Owen was sitting in the third seat as John introduced the contenders. “That’s the one who’s going to win .” I announced to no one in particular. Admittedly the Clark prediction has scuppered many people’s chances in the past, but then , if nobody is around to hear the prediction, then does the curse work, I wondered. In a way it’s a little like the question – if a tree falls in the woods and nobody hears it, does it make a sound, I suppose.

Enough of such twaddle. Offering us a popular culture specialist subject was the first of tonight’s last 8 contenders of the first round, Vicki Davies. She answered on the band Nirvana. Pretty well too, if truth be told. Crisp, quick answers, and no agonizing over the ones she didn’t know. 15 is a very good score by anyone’s reckoning, and that was exactly what she managed , with just two passes . Food for thought for the opposition, certainly.

Steve Ferry was answering on a far more traditional MM subject by way of contrast to the previous round. The Thirty Years War isn’t something I know a great deal about, but the couple of facts that I do know presented themselves ready for use if the questions arose. OK, there’s no very nice way of saying this. Poor Steve ended up equaling the lowest ever score for a specialist round, and scored the lowest ever SS in a first round heat. I can’t say for certain what it was that caused this, but it looked like brain freeze after getting his first question wrong. Maybe I’m wrong about this next point, and if I am I apologise, but it also looked to me like he hadn’t prepared anything like as thoroughly as he maybe thought he did. I don’t know.

Ken was next into the chair. You might remember Ken from Are You An Egghead Series 2. He’s certainly an experienced hand at this game, and even if you didn’t know it before his round, you certainly knew it after .Ken was answering on the Roy Grace novels of Peter James. Not a series I’ve ever read at all, which excuses me for scoring precisely zero. Ken, on the other hand, posted what was to be the first perfect round of the evening. Barely a hesitation, and a perfect round of 16 points from 16 questions. Highly impressive stuff, that.

Last to go was Stuart Reid. Stuart was answering question on Everton FC since 1992. These particular sorts of rounds, covering a sporting team or a sporting event over a relatively short period of time are inevitably harder than they appear to be on paper. Stuart acquitted himself well. You could have forgiven him for having been daunted by the two extremes of Stuart’s disastrous round, followed by Ken’s perfect round, but he wasn’t, and posted a competitive 13 himself.

I’m sure that John was only being encouraging when Stuart returned to the chair, and he made a comment about people finding their minds going blank when they sit in the chair. who knows, maybe this contributed to Steve’s very good showing in his GK round. It certainly was a very good showing. 15, even on a two and a half minute round is by no means an easy ask, and while Steve’s score of 16 isn’t one of the highest of the series, it’s not the lowest either. I hope that he’ll forgive me for saying this, but if that GK round wasn’t a one off, then if he picks the right subject, and prepares thoroughly, then he could go quite a long way if he tries again in the future.

Stuart came next, and if Steve’s round had been good, well, Stuart’s was better. He dropped a couple early doors, but kept his composure, didn’t let it put him off, and kept on plugging away throughout the round, picking up some very good answers along the way. By the time of the buzzer he’d added another 16 points to his score, to take him to a total of 29. That’s a very competitive total, and if it did nothing else it certainly meant that Ken was going to have to work for his place in the semis. This was not going to be a walkover by any stretch of the imagination.

Vicki Davies couldn’t match the standard of the two previous contenders on GK, although her 9 was a good battling performance which was respectable, and her final score of 24 was certainly nothing to be ashamed of. But all eyes were now on Ken. He certainly didn’t disappoint. Ken started brilliantly , picking off chestnuts, medium ones and hard ones with impunity. He built up a head of steam very quickly, and maintained his momentum until the end of the round, by which time he had achieved escape velocity. even though a few wrong answers began to creep into the round, the fact was that he finished with daylight between himself and Stuart, adding 15 to take his total to 31.

Well played Ken ! A great performance which marks you out as one to watch for the semis. But well played Stuart as well – a performance which deserves its own place in the semis.

The Details

Vicki Davies Nirvana15 - 29 - 424 - 2
Steve FerryThe Thirty Years War1 - 115 - 316 – 4
Ken OwenThe Roy Grace Novels16 – 015 - 031 - 0
Stuart ReidEverton FC since 1992 13 - 316 - 329 – 6

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