Nick Gunatilleke’s subject, The Battles of the American Civil War, offered the promise of perhaps a couple more points than that for me. Now, going back to the chair walk, Nick too seemed slow and hesitant making his way to the chair. Surely, I mused, we weren’t going to see a second nerve-ridden round in a row ? Well, that’s exactly what we saw. My superficial knowledge was enough to bring me 4 points, and I’m afraid that Nick, who clearly knows a great deal more about the subject than I do, also managed that score. I would have lain odds that Barbara’s score would have left her in last place at the halfway stage, but that just goes to show how much I know.
The Life and Works of H.P.Lovecraft is a subject that has been taken before – indeed I think Sheila Altree, who played in my 2007 semi final , took that subject in an earlier series. Never read any myself, but by answering “Cthulhu” to every question until it was the correct answer I managed to find my single point. John Chadwick walked with a little more purpose to the chair , and confidently rattled off 10 correct answers. Alright, that’s not a huge score for a 2 minute specialist round, but in this particular show it was looking pretty good.
The closest thing to a banker specialist subject for me in this show was Boxing World Title Fights since 2000, although if I’m honest I would have preferred title fights of the 70s, 80s and 90s. It wasn’t my choice, though, it was Xavier Woodward’s, and I’m sorry to say that the same cloud of misery and nervousness which had lifted during John’s round descended once more with a vengeance. It was almost like watching a rerun of Barbara’s and Nick’s rounds. I’m sure that Xavier knew a lot of these answers, but he just couldn’t get them out, and leveled out at 4. I managed 5 of my own answers. My aggregate of 12 was my lowest specialist aggregate so far this season. While we’re on the subject of aggregate scores too, I have no idea if the 23 scored by all 4 contenders is the lowest aggregate ever for a 4 person specialist round. I do know that it is exactly the same score as Jesse’s 2010 record 23 – although Jesse didn’t have passes.
I felt for Barbara, Nick and Xavier. They must have been sitting there at half time, brooding over what had happened, with little prospect of a win, no chance of a repechage spot in the semis, and the fear that more of the same was to follow for them. During this season John has always said that it’s the General Knowledge round that the contenders fear most – I’d disagree with that. They don’t all fear GK at all. Still, all three of them must have approached the chair for their second bite of the cherry with quite a bit of trepidation. Nick , then , showed admirable grit in applying himself to score 13. This was despite taking another 5 passes along the way. It was hard going for him at first, but the last 30 seconds or so was tremendous, and pushed his GK up to 13, and his overall score to 17. Yes, it’s a little modest, but it’s well above a Hall of Shame score. Xavier did a little better. Again, it wasn’t the most free flowing round, but it was an example of what a little application can achieve. Xavier maintained his concentration throughout , and picked off the answers he knew, which brought him 14, and a total of 18.
Barbara had certainly seen the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune during the show. She’d fallen into a pass spiral and seen nerves destroy her chances of posting a good total in her first round. She must have felt after that that coming last in the show was the best that she could hope for. Then she’d seen two contenders score fewer points than she had, putting her up to 2nd, and even the leader wasn’t so far ahead that there was no chance of a win. If she could post a really competitive score. Being realistic, the leading total was 18, and I would say that it would need a total of 20 to put leader John into the corridor of uncertainty. This meant that Barbara really needed a score of at least 15. It turned out that this was asking a little too much. She got two thirds of the way there with 10, for a total of 15, but that was as close as she came.
So John Chadwick needed a score of 8 and no more than 4 passes to see him safely into the semis. He didn’t post the highest GK round of the show. John’s tactic was to answer each question as quickly as he could, preferably correctly, but to avoid passing more than absolutely necessary. As a result he got through a few more questions than the other three contenders – as a comparison I scored 21 on John’s round, and then 18 on both Nick’s and Xavier’s, and 16 on Barbara’s. John himself scored 13, to give him 23 , which was more than enough to see him comfortably through. Well done, and hard lines to the other three.
|Barbara Bell||The National Parks of England and Wales||5 - 5||10 - 4||15 – 9|
|Nick Gunatilleke||Battles of the American Civil War||4 - 2||13 - 5||17 – 7|
|John Chadwick||The Life and Works of H.P.Lovecraft||10 - 1||13 - 2||23 – 3|
|Xavier Woodward||Boxing World Title Fights since 2000||4 -3||14 - 3||18 – 6|