Friday, 22 August 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Two

Well, that was quite a show. Memorable for completely different reasons from those that made the first heat memorable a couple of weeks ago. We’ll come to that shortly.

First up tonight was a contender returning for her 3rd go, Paula Keaveney. According to my sources, Paula Keaveney took part in the first round in 2006, and went on to reach the semi final in 2009, where she was beaten by Richard Heller. In previous appearences she has been a stronger performer on specialist than on general, and so I expected a good round on The Thick of It. And indeed, in what appeared to be a return to long specialist questions in this show, 13 and no passes certainly looked like a good performance. From my reading on the Wikipedia pages about the series I managed 5. Had I not read it, I would have only managed the 1 for Malcolm Tucker.

Cliff Morgan offered us the music of eric Clapton. This threw up an interesting development for me playing along at home. It transpired that the BBC’s own official Mastermind website didn’t give the full details of the subjects – I had worked on Eric Clapton, rather than just the music. Well, Cliff certainly knew his stuff, He too scored 13, adding one pass. As for me – well, I think that I would have known the half dozen or so chestnuts that were asked in this round anyway, but my wiki work took me to 10, one of which was the Twisted Wheel club in Manchester, which provided Cliff with his only pass. Aggregate total so far – 15, and looking OK.

Until the next round, that is. Rather than British Poetry full stop, as advertised on the website, Stephen Peter was giving us British Poetry 1940 – 1970. A period about which I am far less knowledgable than most. Stephen battled hard with this difficult round, and had managed to accrue 8 points and 4 passes. I scraped five, but that was from prior knowledge rather than any of the work I did on wiki. Aggregate total so far – 20.

Now, like Paula, our final contender in this heat, Tim Allison, is a former semi finalist. In fact it was as recently as last series that Tim was narrowly beaten to the final by Brian Chesney. In his heat last year his GK was solid, and in the semi final, very good. So when he managed a perfect round of 14 on The Life of T.E. Lawrence he certainly looked to be at least halfway to the semi final for the second year running. Before you ask, I can’t point the finger at Tim being given a slot in two series running, since I was beaten in the first round in 2006 before the 2007 SOBM. Now, here was where all the work on wiki came good. Had I not wikied, being generous I think I might have had 3 of these. As it was I scored 10. This took my aggregate for the specialist rounds this show to 30. I’m sure that with the right combination of subjects for me it could be bettered, but it’s a pretty good starting place.

Stephen Peter, 6 points behind Tim, was only really playing for pride in the GK round. And at the start of the round he was playing for pride pretty well too. However he wasn’t answering especially quickly, and the danger of pacing out your answers is that if you get one or two wrong, then you have no momentum to carry you through your bad patch. In the end Stephen managed 9 points, to take him to 17. This brought Paula back to the chair as the first of the three potential winners of the show. Now, I have always said that the more times you sit in the chair, the easier it gets to deal with your nerves, and keep your composure. I’m afraid that Paula’s performance gave the lie to this. She started steadily enough, but from halfway through the round became a grim struggle, as the right answers dried up, and the passes began to accrue. BY the end of the round she had managed to add 8 points to her score, at the cost of 4 passes, and I would imagine that she’d have thought at this point that her chances of making a second semi final were slim.

Cliff Morgan certainly didn’t start his round as well as Paula had started hers, and a few chestnuts went begging before he began to impose himself. The middle of the round was better, though, and at one stage I thought he might comfortably surpass Paula’s score. Well, in fact he tied with it, down to the very last pass, finishing with 8 correct answers and 3 passes for the round. Which brought Tim back to the chair. Consider the size of the task ahead of him. Last year Tim scored 13 in both of his GK rounds. A score of 8 points in his own GK round now would put him through to the semi with no arguments. Oh, but the first question seemed to really unsettle him. Asked from which band Pete Best had been sacked as the drummer, he knew it was the Beatles, but the answer steadfastly refused to pass beyond the tip of his tongue, and he passed. Was he unsettled by this? It looked like it, even though he had the next question right. The third question saw John ask for a one word term for the substance alchemists thought would turn base metals into gold. Tim gave the standard quiz answer, philosopher’s stone, which is in fact 2 words. That was it, He was dragged beyond the event horizon of a horrible pass spiral, and by the end of the round he had only managed to take his score to 19, with 8 passes. Tim, if you’re reading, anyone who watched you last year knows that you’re better than that round, and it’s just one of those things. Please don’t let it get you down.

Tie breaks, like jockey’s legs, are few and far between. Still, that’s exactly what we were faced with – a tie break, that is, not jockey’s legs. Both Paula and Cliff, who must have both been expecting Tim to overhaul them, were offered the lifeline of the same five questions to answer. Paula went first, and answered two correctly. As for Cliff – well, he managed just the one. On such small margins are shows decided. If this heat shows anything, it highlights the unpredictability of the show, after all, on paper, with two former semi finalists in the line up, you’d have said it was highly unlikely that none of the contenders would achieve double figures in GK. Well, congratulations to Paula, and good luck in your semi.

The Details

Paula Keaveney The Thick of It13 - 08 - 421 - 42
Cliff MorganThe Music of Eric Clapton13 - 18 - 321 - 41
Stephen PeterBritish Poetry 1940 - 19708 - 49 - 317 - 7/
Tim AllisonThe Life of T.E.Lawrence14 - 05 - 819 - 8/


Tim Allison said...

Thanks for your kind comments on my general knowledge round.

Tim Allison

Londinius said...

Hi Tim
Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. Very bad luck - to say that I felt for you would be an understatement. It was a real case of - there but for the grace of God - . As I say, it was just one of those things.