Kevin Baker, the first of tonight’s contenders, was offering one of my sporting heroes, a man whom I was fortunate to meet a good few years ago when he and Allan Lamb brought their show to Swansea Grand Theatre. That’s Sir Ian Botham, not Kevin Baker. This was the only one of tonight’s rounds in which I fancied my chances at all, and there were certainly a good five or six which the Botham fan could get without much special preparation, and another 3 which I managed to guess, giving me my best specialist total of the night with 9. Kevin, of course, did a lot better. He never seemed to be answering particularly quickly, but this must have been deceptive, since he had amassed a very good 14 and no passes by the end of the round.
I thought that the second subject, The Life and Work of Caspar David Friedrich, which was taken by Andrew Hunt, would offer me precious little – although it stands out as a good subject for a wiki challenge. I knew he was an artist, and if you’d pushed me I would have said early 19th century, but that’s it. So I was glad when 3 guessables came up – the Goethe one being an example. This meant that I didn’t suffer my first pointless round of the series. Andrew started a little slowly, but I needn’t have worried. He knew his stuff, and amassed a creditable 13 and no passes, which certainly put him into contention.
Our popular culture subject of the night was Guns ‘N Roses, which was offered by Nina Featherston. I would never claim to be a great fan of the oeuvre of Mr. Rose and Mr. Slash and the others, but background knowledge and a couple of lucky guesses pushed my score up to 6. Nina answered confidently enough, but not quite as well as her two predecessors. 11 on specialist is nothing to be ashamed of at all, but in this show it did leave her three points off the lead with one contender to come.
Michael Wright answered on something of a good old Mastermind hardy perennial, the Hornblower Novels. Now again, this didn’t offer me a great deal since I have never read any of them. Thankfully guesses about the Duke of Wellington and Nelson’s funeral, and another that escapes me brought me three, This took my aggregate total for the specialists up to 21. That’s by some margin my worst of the series, but on the other hand that was unwikied, on three subjects I wouldn’t have fancied at all. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Michael took his place alongside Kevin at the top of the leaderboard, but he incurred the first pass of the evening. With the scores close, I couldn’t help wondering whether we might perhaps see a tie break.
Nina returned to the chair, and I shamefacedly admit that because of her youth, and the fact that she was three points off the lead, I thought that she would not be contending for the top spot on the podium. That just goes to show how much I know. Nina didn’t answer particularly quickly, but what she did manage to do was, for the most part, answer correctly. Her 14 was one of the better GK rounds that we’ve seen all series. It wasn’t necessarily enough to blow the opposition away, but it was certainly enough to put them all into the corridor of uncertainty. It left her on 25, and remember that both of the last two shows have been won with a 26. I managed 17 on Nina’s questions.
Andrew came next , and I have to say that while his GK round was certainly by no means at all bad, I never felt convinced that he was going to manage to beat Nina’s total. He came close, mind you. He needed 12 to equal her points total, and that’s exactly what he got. However he also incurred 2 passes, and if the show were to go to pass countback, that wouldn’t be good enough, since Nina only had the one. It’s not often that we see someone turn around in 4th at the halfway stage to come back and win, but it has happened. Would tonight be another such occasion ? I managed 19 on Andrew’s questions.
Well, I have to say that it certainly looked possible, for Kevin was answering his GK questions no more quickly than he’d done on his specialist round, and from about the minute mark I started to think that he was behind on the run rate, as it were. He got close , alright, but just ran out of time as the finishing line was in sight. He scored 10 to take his total to 24. I managed 18 of Kevin’s questions.
Only Michael Wright stood between Nina and a famous victory. Michael Wright, though, in terms of GK was a different kettle of fish to the two contenders who preceded him into the chair. For one thing he was answering very quickly, and thus built up a head of steam that a few wrong answers here and there couldn’t extinguish. Now, this is just my opinion, and relative difficulty of rounds is often more in the eye of the beholder than anything else. But I did think that Michael’s round was actually a tad harder than the others. I scored more on Michael’s round than on the others – 20 – but I felt that was just because Michael himself was going so quickly. Put it another way, I thought that you had to know your stuff to score 15 on that round, which is precisely what Michael did. I feel sorry for Nina after such a splendid fightback, and I hope that she makes it to the semis on a highest runner up spot. Still, there was no doubt about the winner. Michael’s was one of the best performances we’ve seen in this series so far, and he fully deserves his semi final spot. Well played, sir.
|Kevin Baker||Sir Ian Botham||14 - 0||10 - 1||24 – 1|
|Andrew Hunt||The Life and Work of Caspar David Friedrich||13 - 0||12 - 2||25 – 2|
|Nina Featherston||Guns n’ Roses||11 - 0||14 - 1||25 – 1|
|Michael Wright||The Hornblower Novels||14 - 1||15 - 4||29 – 5|