Right then, onto the form guide. Our own Gareth Kingston would be first into the chair. Gareth was 22 on my unofficial ranking list, with 27 and no passes in the first round, and 13 on GK. LAM reader , teacher, and all round good egg Malcolm Sumner was ranked a little higher, 19 on my list, with 28 and 4 passes, and 12 on GK. Andrew Hunter was the form horse entering the contest tonight; he came in at number 3 on my list with a highly impressive 33 and 5 passes, with 16 on GK. John Snedden was also in my top 10 qualifiers, at number 10, with 30 points and 4 passes, and 13 on GK. Finally LAM reader Nick Reed, placed 13 on my list, with 29 points and 3 passes, and 14 on GK.
Gareth kicked off about as well as you can do, with a perfect round of 12 correct answers from 12 questions. I can even forgive him for his specialist subject – the Life and Career of Herbert Chapman, a man intimately associated with that other team from North London. Now, that is how you go about laying down the gauntlet to your opposition.
The Life and Career of Benjamin Disraeli offered me, as I thought, a chance for a few points. Very few as it turned out. Not so Malcolm. A perfect round he didn’t quite manage, but it was still pretty good. 11 points scored, and what’s more, he too managed to avoid making any passes either. A round which meant that he was still well in the match at the halfway stage.
Andrew Hunter’s round brought me more points than the previous one, and that surprised me a little. I knew who made the English electric deltics- my favourite diesel locomotive if it is possible to have such a thing. They all had nameplates, and were named after Derby winners, I think. St. Paddy and Crepello were two of them I remember, but I digress. I also knew who designed City of Truro, and another one which escapes me. Whichever one it was it didn’t escape Andrew. 12 and 0 was the score needed for a share of the lead at this stage was what was required, and it was duly supplied. What a good show this one was turning out to be.
John Snedden was answering questions on the father of immunization, English physician Edward Jenner. Yes, I had the one that the smallpox vaccine used cow pox, but that was just about it for me. Not so John. Everybody was getting into double figures in this semi final, and John was no exception. He. like Gareth managed 12 points and no passes. Three contenders, no passes yet . That’s good quizzing.
Last in the first round, then , was Nick Reed. You might remember that there was some discussion in LAM following Nick’s first round set on the Football Grounds of England. Well, I doubt that anyone will be saying that his round on The Blandings Stories of P.G.Wodehouse was too easy ! 13 is a good score in a 2 minute round. In a 90 second round it’s a very good round indeed. Alright, it meant that his lead at the halfway point was only one point, but in a tight match like this semi final was turning out to be, every point could be crucial.
So, no passes whatsoever in the first round. I wonder whether there has ever been a show in which none of the contenders have passed at all ? Answers on a postcard to the usual address please. Malcolm could have been forgiven for feeling a little disappointed that a good round of 11 would only be enough to put him in last place at half time. If he was, though, he didn’t let it upset him, and got right on with the task of answering the GK questions. A task he did pretty well, too, managing another dozen to put his score at 23. You didn’t necessarily think that it would be a winning score, but it was enough to put all the contenders yet to come into the corridor of uncertainty.
Gareth at the halfway stage was in joint second, but since he’d gone first in the SS round, he was next to go now. Looking on his face as he answered his questions you could tell he dropped a couple that he knew as soon as the answer was given.Well, maybe, but even so he still matched his first round GK score with 13. That’s an even better score in a semi when average GK scores tend to be a bit lower. He finished with 25 , and crucially, no passes. Nobody was going to beat that without a good GK round of their own.
Andrew Hunter had just such a good GK round in his heat. A repeat of that 16 would have put him in a very commanding position indeed. For the best part of the first minute this looked entirely possible. However the wrong answers crept in from about the minute mark, and Andrew fell some way short. His 10 put him on 22 – absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, but not a winning score this time out.
John Snedden always looked as if he was going to be there or there abouts on his GK round, and he was too. He had 25 and passes as the buzzer went, but his last answer was incorrect. This meant he was tied with Gareth, but – and this was a crucial but – he had picked up 3 passes. That’s an understandable gamble – it bought him the time for that one question which gave him a shot. Sometimes gambles pay off, and sometimes they don’t. This time it didn’t.
Gareth , then, only had to endure one more round to find out his fate. Nick had that point in hand at the halfway stage, which meant in effect that he didn’t need to beat Gareth’s round, just to match it. He looked a little way short as we approached the buzzer. He was short of Gareth’s GK round, but only to the tune of 1 point. He too finished with 25, and ah, he had no passes either. So what we had, for the second time this series, was a tie break.
Believe me, I felt for both Gareth and Nick. The last time there was a semi final tiebreak was in the 2007 SOBM, and I remember talking to lovely Sandra Piddock on the day of the final when she told me all about what going through a tie break was like. Not pleasant for either of the participants. 5 questions to be answered – the same five for each of you. Either you’re outside, waiting for your opponent to have his go, not having a clue how they’ve done, or you’re sat there, having to watch your opponent answer, knowing you can do nothing at all about it. Cutting to the chase, the questions suited Nick more than they suited Gareth, and he managed 3 to Gareth’s one. It could have worked out the other way, but it didn’t, and that’s just the luck of the draw. Well done Nick – Mastermind finalist ! But hard lines to Gareth too. Well played to Malcolm, Andrew and John- those were quality performances , and it made for an exciting and compelling show.
|Gareth Kingston||Life and Career of Herbert Chapman||12 - 0||13 - 0||25 – 0 / 26 after tiebreak|
|Malcolm Sumner||Life and Times of Benjamin Disraeli||11 - 0||12 - 0||23 - 0|
|Andrew Hunter||The Railways of Great Britain in the 20th Century||12 - 0||10 - 3||22 - 3|
|John Snedden||Edward Jenner||12 - 0||13 - 3||25 - 3|
|Nick Reed||The Blandings Stories of P.G.Wodehouse||13 – 0||12 - 0||25 – 0 / 28 after tiebreak|