Tonight’s contenders , and their placings on my unofficial first round table, were as follows : -
John Beynon – 2nd
Ken Owen - 5th
Gary Grant – 6th
Jonathan Perry – 28th
Mary Bucknall – 30th
SO this was looking rather like one of the top heavy semis we see at least once every series. Based on their first round performances, and their track records over the last couple of years, all three of Ken, Gary and John had every good hope of getting to the final.
That’s not to discount Jonathan and Mary completely. However Jonathan, offering us the Life and Times of Cardinal Wolsey, struggled to impose himself on his round, and after 90 seconds he had managed 4. It happens. Don’t forget the fact that he won his first round heat, and is a Mastermind semi-finalist. He has nothing to apologise to anyone for. There’s lots of people who’d like to be able to make that boast themselves.
Ken Owen posted a perfect specialist round last time out with 16 on the Roy Grace novels. Answering on the Apostle Simon Peter tonight he did even better. His perfect 15 from 15 off a 90 second round was about as good as you can get, and this round required a very detailed knowledge of the subject. With last week, when Julie Aris managed a perfect 15 to take a useful lead after the SS you always suspected that she’d be in danger of losing the lead on the GK round. Ken, on the other hand, looked good value to hold it – depending on how close the remaining contenders could come to matching him in their specialist rounds.
Mary Bucknall this time out answered on Heraldry of Britain. Now, there’s an old fashioned Mastermind subject, I thought. 10 points and 1 pass seemed to be a pretty good return on a round which had only 1 or 2 points for a good quizzer who’d done no specialist work on the subject – I did know the mullet was the five pointed star. As we know, double figures in a 90 second round equals a job well done. However you fancied that she wouldn’t be able to bridge a 5 point gap in GK.
Next was Gary, wearing his lucky shirt. In 2010 Gary and I both wore lucky shirts in the first round of Only Connect , and at least one of them must have worked since we won that round. Gary was answering on the history of the Monaco Grand Prix. That’s one of those subjects where you always suspect the sneaky devils are going to find one or two things to catch you out, however hard you manage to work on the subject. Gary is an old hand at this game now though, and when those couple of questions did rear their ugly heads he snapped out answers anyway to avoid passing, and didn’t let it affect the momentum of the round. In the end he managed 12. The three point gap looked large – but not impossible.
Finally John Beynon, the runner up in Brain of Britain 2011. John came heartbreakingly close to making the final in his last Mastermind semi final in 2009. I had 4 right on his round, about Catherine the Great. John though managed to get into the teens, with 13. One point more than Gary, but still two points behind Ken. So at the halfway stage we looked as if we were in a three horse race, and the three horses were the ones who’d performed best in their heats. No surprises there so far.
Jonathan returned to the chair, and John felt duty bound to pass comment on his modest score on the first round. Well, believe me John, it won’t have been caused by lack of trying. Actually, the GK round that Jonathan produced was a very good one. He scored 12, and putting that into perspective, 12 from 2 minutes is actually better in real terms than 13 from two and a half minutes, which he scored in a his heat. So well done, sir ! Jonathan could easily have been forgiven for losing his concentration completely in GK – he didn’t and produced a good round.
Mary Bucknall had scored 11 in the GK round in her heat, and this suggested that she might find it rather hard going in the semi. I’m afraid that this was the case, and she finished with 13 points. As I said , though, Mary won her heat. She is, and will always be a Mastermind semi-finalist , and there’s a lot of people who wish that they could make that boast themselves.
With all due respect to the previous two contenders, it was at this point that we moved to the real business end of the competition. Gary was three points behind Ken. All he could do was make the highest score he possibly could in GK, to set a challenging target. And what a round he produced ! This was a fantastic display. 16 off a two minute round is a wonderful performance, and these were by no means gimmes either. The speed he maintained was exemplary, and you could feel the concentration coming out of the TV. To put it into perspective, if you can leave your opponents requiring double figures in GK you at least put them into the corridor of uncertainty. This left John needing 15 just to equal him, and Ken 13. Basically it left John staring down the barrel of a gun, and Ken with a difficult ask.
John had a go, but he picked up a pass which meant that even 15 wouldn’t be good enough. His 13 was actually a very good round in its own right. But it wasn’t enough. Which meant it was all down to Ken. As for Ken, well, he managed 15 in two and a half minutes in the heat, which suggested that this was going to be tight. It didn’t help when he had two of his first three questions wrong, and maybe I’m doing him a disservice here, but it looked as if this played on his mind a little bit. Before the minute mark Ken was behind schedule, and in the end he finished with 22. It was hard lines on Ken and especially John being put into such a relatively strong semi, but they can take comfort from the fact that they were beaten by an outstanding performance. I’m not just saying that because Gary is a mate, a LAM reader, and my Only Connect skipper. Watch it yourself on the iplayer. You’ll see what I mean. Many congratulations, and the very best of luck in the final.
|Jonathan Perry||The Life and Times of Cardinal Wolsey||4 - 2||12 - 2||16 - 4|
|Ken Owen||The Apostle Simon Peter||15 – 0||7 - 0||22 - 0|
|Mary Bucknall||Heraldry of Britain||10 - 1||3 - 7||13 - 8|
|Gary Grant||History of the Monaco Grand Prix||12 - 0||16 – 0||28 - 0|
|John Beynon||Catherine the Great||13 - 0||13 - 1||26 – 1|