Before you ask, yes, there were two more recidivists in tonight’s show. Not that this is really here or there, but it is something I find to be of interest.
It was one of the two virgins who kicked off tonight, though. Rod Allday was answering on The Thames Path. Now, I had a feeling that this was one of those rounds which is a little unusual, and the kind of thing you’d only take if it was really a special interest, and therefore we’d see something special. Unfortunately for Rod it didn’t quite work out that way. It just seemed that in a lot of the questions in the middle of the round the setters were asking aspects that Rod hadn’t considered at all, and he racked up no fewer than 6 passes. We see it happen from time to time, and it’s just one of those things. As it was Ron did well to rally from his mid round slump to push himself up to 7 points.
Diana Muir has twice previously been a first round contender. In 2010 she answered on Gertrude Jekyll, and was a little unfortunate to lose by a single point, with her score of 23 not being high enough to get her a repechage slot. She returned in 2012 but was unable to do better than third in her heat this time. Nothing deterred, here she was back for a third bite at the cherry, this time offering us Monica Dickens as a subject. It was a round that seemed to promise quite a bit more than it delivered. I don’t know if Diana had concentrated more on her life, but dome of the book details troubled her, and in the end she had taken the lead, but only by a single point with 8.
The second first timer of this show, Hywel Morgan, looked to be one of the youngest competitors in this year’s competition. He was answering on the music of Steve Reich. Steve Reich in the afternoon? Yes, I am that ignorant that I was hitherto unaware of his work. The same could not be said of Hywel, though. His performance was considerably better than either of those we had seen before. John chided him gently for passing on one question – haven’t seen you in the chair yourself, yet, John – but all the same 13 points was a very good return from the round, and with 1 contender yet to come he had a 5 point lead.
Our final contender of the week, Neil Crockford, has, like Diana, appeared twice before. As long ago as 1975 Neil reached the semi final in the series won by the late John Hart. Then in 2005, Pat’s series, Neil returned to finish 3rd in the Grand Final, being beaten by 2014 Brain of Britain Mark Grant, and the great Pat Gibson. That’s some company to keep. He was certainly the runner with the best track record in the field, but he didn’t make things any easier for himself with his specialist round on Thomas Chatterton. It was never a bad round, but topping out at 9 you did feel that he was leaving himself a lot to do int eh General Knowledge round, trailing by 4.
Now, I actually felt that Rod’s general knowledge round started rather well, but it can’t have been quite a minute into it when the gears really started grinding, and the right answers began to dry up. 8 isn’t a bad score, but it’s not great either, and in all honesty it looked to be a bit of a struggle. As indeed did Diana Muir’s. She scored 7 in GK last time out, and this round was much on a par with that. It was one of those round where there were a lot of things which you’d hear if you’re a regular quiz player, but you probably wouldn’t know otherwise, and to be honest Diana was having to work hard for every point. She finished ahead of Rod by virtue of her extra point in the specialist round, but it was fairly clear that she wasn’t going to be making the semi finals this time around.
So on to the two rounds that would sort out who was going to the semi final, and who wasn’t. Neil’s task was fairly clear. He had to post the highest GK score that he could, to place Hywel within the corridor of uncertainty and hope that this would be enough to do the trick. Going for the win was by far his best chance of a semi final slot, since he needed a massive GK score to give him a chance at the repechage. For the first minute to 90 seconds he looked as if he might well get a score of anything up to 15. The last minute didn’t prove to be quite so fruitful, and in the end he scored 12. This took his total to 21, and meant that Hywel needed 9 to win outright. Hmmm.
Well, Hywel looked a little shaky with his first answer, but then very good with his second, and actually that was a pretty good metaphor for the whole round. There were some easier questions that went begging, but on the other hand Hywel also produced some very good answers to other. He managed to hit double figures, which was enough to get him home with a little bit to spare, ending up with 23. Well done, and good luck in the semis.
|Rod Allday||The Thames Path||7 -6||8 – 0||15 - 6|
|Diana Muir||Monica Dickens||8 - 0||8 - 3||16 - 3|
|Hywel Morgan||The Music of Steve Reich||13 - 1||10 - 6||23 - 7|
|Neil Crockford||The Life and Works of Thomas Chatterton||9 - 0||12 – 0||21 - 0|