First into the chair was Helen Marshall. Of all tonight’s specialists I would say that I fancied hers most of all, which was Catherine of Aragon. Not that I fancied any of tonight’s subjects that much. For the record I managed to get the 4 easy ones. Helen did much better with a good 12. She seemed pretty confident and comfortable in the chair too, but at this stage I didn’t think she’d be on the podium at the end of the show.
The second contender, Bart Smith, has previous form. He was last seen on Mastermind in Nancy’s 2008/9 series, where he was runner up in his heat to Mel Kinsey. Back then Bart answered on the Spanish Civil war, and scored 13. A similar score would have done him very nicely tonight, but it was not to be. The life and career of proto – TV personality chef Fanny Craddock proved tricky. Well, it certainly did to me. I knew that she was born Phyllis, and guessed one of the others, but that was it. Bart himself managed 9 and 1 pass.
If Bart Smith has previous, then Chris Quinn has it by the bucketload. A fantastic quizzer, Chris can boast winning performances on Only Connect, Brain of Britain, and Mastermind too, to name but a few. It seemed highly likely that Chris would have a clear advantage over the other contenders in general knowledge, but the outcome of the show was put into question by the difficult round on the Novels of Roddy Doyle which Chris was faced with. I used to use “Paddy Clarke etc.” with Year 10 and 11 children, so I picked up my couple of points on that one. but that was it for me. Chris managed 8 points, and even though he was 4 points behind I still thought he could do it. But it was looking an awful lot tighter than I’d thought it would be.
All of which ignores the fact that there was still Jonathan Gordon to go in the first round. Jonathan was answering on French Grand Opera, an admirably wide subject. I took the first giveaway point on Faust, and not one of the others. This meant that I registered my lowest first round aggregate of the series so far with 9. Jonathan produced the best GK round of the show, answering admirably quickly and sharply, and for the most part correctly. He finished with 13 , enough to give him the outright lead.
Chris , was the first to return to the chair, and I confidently predicted fireworks. And I got them. Chris produced the best GK round we’ve seen in this series, with 19 correct answers and no passes. When you’re behind, the best you can do is pile on the points and hopefully put the opposition into the corridor of doubt. Well, the lowest any of his competitors needed to progress was 14 and no passes, and that’s not easy for anyone. Chris could do no more.
Bart Smith only had one point’s advantage over Chris at the halfway stage, and this meant that he needed 19 to go into the lead. Well, he might not have achieved that, but his 16 is still a very good round indeed. Would it, I wondered, possibly gain him a repechage slot ? Well, no, it wouldn’t , as it turned out. Helen came next, and showed that she could handle the pressure along with the best of them. Did I say that Bart’s round of 16 was also one of the best rounds this series ? Well, then so was Helen’s, as she too scored 16. She just kept the round moving, kept answering, and with her last answer of Rick Stein she pushed herself into first place. Never mind, though, 27 would still surely be enough to get Chris a runner up slot in the semis. All provided that Jonathan didn’t overtake him.
Surely we weren’t going to get four GK scores of over 15 in the same show ? Well, as Jonathan’s round progressed it looked like, yes, we certainly were. He wasn’t getting them all right by any stretch of the imagination, but he was answering all of them and he was answering them quickly. He passed Bart, then, sadly , Chris, and then took the win with his own score of 16, to win with a highly impressive 29.
Well, what can you say ? It’s always been the luck of the draw who you get in your heat in Mastermind, but you have to say that you feel that Fortune has been particularly outrageous in putting these 4 contenders all in the same show, while last week’s show was won with 23. Don’t feel bad for Jonathan, who deserved his win, or for Helen, who will surely take a place in the semis. But as for Chris, his 27 will surely be higher than some of those who may qualify as highest scoring runners up, but as I understand it, runner up slots for the semis are only available for those who have come second in their heats. That’s very bad luck indeed.
|Helen Marshall||Catherine of Aragon||12 - 1||16 - 2||28 – 3|
|Bart Smith||The Life and Career of Fanny Craddock||9 - 1||16 - 4||25 – 5|
|Chris Quinn||The Novels of Roddy Doyle||8 - 3||19 - 0||27 – 3|
|Jonathan Gordon||French Grand Opera - 1823 - 1900||13 - 0||16 - 0||29 – 0|