This week’s contestants were John Colmans, Bob Del Quiaro, Brian Roles and George Sheldrick. Now, a John Colman was a semi finalist in the 1973 series of Mastermind. Would this be the same gentleman? Could be. Bob and Brian both came up blank on my database, but George, well, George I didn’t even need to look up. George is a mate of mine, and we’ve been playing in the same teams off and on for a good few years now. When we can both make it to Trevor Parry’s quiz in the Pill Harriers in Newport we play on the same team, and we always play for the same team in the CIU quiz. So I know Gerge pretty well, and can vouch for the fact that he is one of the best quizzers in the whole of South Wales. Don’t take my word for it. His track record includes a semi final appearance in mastermind in 1976. Oh, and a runner up spot in a previous season of Brain of Britain. So I’m sorry, but I can’t be impartial about this particular heat.
John kicked off, and took his first couple, but nobody knew that Chinese Parsley is otherwise known as coriander. Bob missed his first question about the Lake District, and this gave George his first point as he knew that the answer required was Ullswater. Brian took his first couple, but a slip of the tongue made him give the composer of “Oxygene” as Jean Paul rather than Jean Michel Jarre. George had that. He took his own first , but couldn’t dredge up the name of Mussolini’s mistress, Clara Petacci. Nor could anyone else. In round two John failed to score on his own questions. The starter which saw him off was cullet – nobody knew that this was actually waste glass. Bob didn’t know who Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter was, so my boy George nipped in to supply Ada Lovelace. That’s the way I’ve always heard her name given, but Russell, although awarding the point, was a little funny about it. Brian took two, but nobody recognized the original names of the Warner Brothers – and neither did I. Once again George faltered on his second, a difficult question about a tree used to give flavouring to barbecues in Texas, namely mesquite. I don’t blame George and the guys for missing that one. In the third round John made his break for freedom, taking three on the bounce before being bowled middle stump by the abbreviation QR. In smartphone terms it means Quick Response. Fair enough. Bob took his first, but to do well on a show like BoB you really have to know stuff like the town in which King David was born. George knew it was Bethlehem. Brian didn’t know that a mud puppy is a salamander, which gave Bob a bonus. George, once again took one, but failed on a gettable one about extra long sideburns. So at the end of Round Three, John actually led with 7 to George’s 6. Bob was trailing, and Brian was starting to drop behind. Right at the start of round four John failed on a nasty, nasty little starter on the cartilages of Risberg. None of the five of us knew that they can be found in the larynx. Bob took another point, but then didn’t know the Bulwer Lytton Award. The clue was in the way that the question was phrased, and John was grateful to accept the bonus. Brian took his first, but nobody knew that the Great Australian Adjective is Bloody.Once again, George took one question, but I did think he would be able to guess a synapse from the definition given. he didn’t, and so this gave Brian a bonus. So going into the interval, John still led by one point with 8 to George’s 7, and with Brian a further point back on 6.
The two questions foxed the Brains. The first asked where in England a number of places , including Mavis Enderby can be found. If that name rings a bell, well, although it wasn’t mentioned on the show, that’s one of the places whose name is used in Douglas Adams’ and John Lloyd’s joyful “The Meaning of Liff”. They used used the words to mean “The almost-completely-forgotten girlfriend from your distant past for whom your wife has a completely irrational jealousy and hatred". I did thin k that this was very much George’s sort of thing. He has a superb grasp of English Geography, but this time it didn’t quite work. His memory led him to go for Leicestershire, while Lincolnshire was the answer. I didn’t know that, but I knew the answer to the second question – What is the original meaning of Lammas? I wouldn’t say it’s by any means a commonly asked question, but I’m sure I’ve heard it asked. Whatever the case, I knew it comes from ‘Loaf Mass’, and that would have been enough. Never mind, and on with the show.
John took his first, but then failed on the actor to whom Mae West once said “Why don’t you come up some time and see me?” You really can’t expect to beat a quizzer like George if you let gimmes like that go, I’m sorry. George knew that it was Cary Grant. Bob failed on his first. As soon as Russell said ‘Henry Draper’ and ‘catalogue’ I said ‘stars’. I have no idea where I have heard or read that before, but it came straightaway, anyway. None of the brains managed to get it. Brian didn’t know that Lookout Mountain overlooks Chattanooga. George had the bonus there. It’s not just British Geography he’s extremely good at, either. George though didn’t get his first. I can’t remember the exact phrasing o0f the question, but the answer required was dropsy. I wouldn’t have had it. Which meant that John preserved his one point lead, now with 10 to 9. The way things were going it looked as if both John and George would be in with a shout of a place in the semis.
John took his first of round 6. He didn’t know that the words cookie and spook come from Dutch. didn’t know spook did, but I knew that cookie did – as did Bob, who took the bonus. For his own first question he didn’t know where the Calypso Deep is, and it fell to George – our own Mr. Geography – to give the correct answer of the Mediterranean. Brian took one, but didn’t know who was deposed by Mengistu and the Derg. Again, George took the bonus with Haile Selassie. Then after all the good work, George failed to answer what the Soviet Union called their first series of Space Stations. He went for Soyuz, which was a reasonable guess without being right, but the answer was Salyut. Still, it had been a pretty decent round for him, and he now tied with John on 11 points.
Moving into the crunch, as it were, John seemed to crack first when he didn’t know that David Hockney replaced the late Lucien Freud in the Order of Merit. George took the bonus there. Nobody knew that the point in the centre of a black hole where the laws of Physics cease to apply is a singularity. Brian didn’t know that Laszlo Lowenstein was the birth name of Peter Lorre, and this let John in or a bonus. All square again. George found a little daylight by taking his first two, but didn’t know that fresh herring are measured in crans, which gave away a bonus. I can’t blame him at all for missing that. Still, for the first time in the game he was ahead on his own, with 14 to John’s 13.
Only one round remained. John didn’t know that the Megatherium was a giant ground sloth. Alright, maybe not common knowledge, but the sort of half chance to need to convert in a hard game. George had it. He was now two ahead, with a potential maximum of three points that John could take with bonuses. Bob didn’t know the Ethiopian Jews called the Falasha. Nobody had it – I thought it might be the sort of thing George knew, but he didn’t. The best that John could do now was draw. When Brian failed to answer that the Wittelsbach family ruled Bavarai, and George took the bonus, then the game was over. Just as well, really, since he missed a bit of an old chestnut when he couldn’t say that the greek mythological chimaera was part lion, part goat and part snake.
Well played George! The questions didn’t really fall his way, and he still won. Well played to John as well – I hope that will be enough to see you into the semis, sir. Good show.
John Colman – 13
Bob Del Quiaro – 4
Brian Roles – 7
George Sheldrick – 16