Let’s take the now traditional glance at last night’s runners and riders, and their first round form then: -
Ian Clark – 30 (15)
Tom Parker – 26 (13)
John Beynon – 25 (11)
Hywel Morgan – 23 (10)
Paula Keaveney – 21 (8)
Right, this is one for the Mastermind trivia buffs. In 2009, John Beynon and Paula Keaveney both contested the same semi final. John beat Paula then, although Richard Heller beat both of them. Here they were in the same semi final again. Has that ever happened before in Mastermind, that two contenders in the same semi have both been in the same semi in a previous series? Answers to the usual address. Coming back to the issue in hand, I thought that Ian, Tom and John were the contenders to watch in this round, with Ian probably the favourite.
Hywel picked the League of Gentlemen. Sometimes I hear people expressing the opinion that TV comedy series provide a relatively soft option. I beg to differ. The League of Gentlemen is yet another one of those parties where I arrived just after everyone else has left. I never saw anything in it until it was finished, and then I saw a repeat or two. Double figures is what you aim for in a 90 second specialist, and Hywel almost managed to get there, but had to be content with 9.
Paula Keaveney, as already mentioned, reached the semi final last time out in Nancy’s 2009 series. You may recall also that in the first round this year she had to endure that rarest of rara aves, a tie break. Looking at general knowledge scores and performances in previous appearances, Paula’s best hope of qualification for the final was to blast the opposition in the Specialist, and to hold on in the GK. Her specialist subject this time out – the Harry Devlin novels of Martin Edwards – are not works with which I am in the least bit familiar, but whatever the case she managed a good score of 9. Not a score, though, which would be likely to set her up for a win.
In his time, John Beynon has been a Brain of Britain runner up, and in terms of broadcast quiz pedigree he was one of the two most successful contenders in last night’s show. John’s specialist subject last night – The Romanov Dynasty – was one of my two favourite rounds. I’m not so hot on the earliest Romanovs, but not bad from Peter the Great onwards. As it happens there is a sort of family connection, since my ancestor George Dawe was court portrait painter to Alexander Ist, but I digress. I managed 7 of these, and John 10. Now that looked like a competitive score.
My other favourite general knowledge round of this semi was offered to us by Tom Parker, in the shape of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. Now, Spurs are my team, but I’ve read both of Alex Ferguson’s autobiographies, and that and what I remembered from the time gave me 8 points from this round. Not as good as Tom – he set the round of the show, with a very fine 11 points. Now, ok, his GK round in the heats wasn’t as good as Ian’s, but it was still pretty good, and crucially, better than John’s. Suddenly what I had thought of as a two horse race had now become a three horse one.
Presuming of course that Ian managed to whack in a very good round on The Life of Ernest Hemingway. To be fair it was by no means a bad round at all. However, in a 90 second round the margins are so tight, and Ian managed 8. That’s absolutely fine in a 90 second round, but it did leave him with work to do against two contenders with proven track records in GK.
Ian’s GK round was not, it’s fair to say, quite as fluent and impressive as it had been in the heats, but then this is a semi final. He added ten to his score to set the initial mark at 18. I was confident that this would beat some of the remaining contenders, but in my heart of hearts I doubted that it would be enough to beat all of them. Hywel was the first to try, but he never managed to build up a sufficient head of steam to power his way through to more than 7 for a total of 16. Paula followed. Now, an experienced campaigner, as we have already noted, Paula adopted the tactic of blasting her way through, and passing anything where an answer didn’t come straightaway. Don’t knock it – it’s a valid tactic that can pay dividends. It enabled her to surpass Hywel’s score, at the expense of 7 passes, but not Ian’s.
It remained, then, for John to set the kind of score that could put Tom into the corridor of doubt. Remember that we’ve seen that in the last couple of years it requires a score as close to the mid-twenties as possible to qualify for the semis? Well, that’s what John provided. His wasn’t the quickest round I’ve ever seen, but it was very accurate, and in the end he had added another 13 points to his score to take the total to 13. Not that Tome seemed the least daunted by it. He must have been within the corridor of uncertainty, and yet I still thought he had some extremely good answers. He can’t have missed more than 4 or 5, but such was the quality of John’s round that this made the crucial difference, and he finished heart breakingly close with 11 for 2.
So, well played John – good luck in the final.
|Hywel Morgan||The League of Gentlemen||9 - 1||7 - 1||16 - 2|
|Paula Keaveney||The Harry Devlin Novels of Martin Edwards||9 – 0||8 - 7||17 - 7|
|John Beynon||The Romanov Dynasty||10 - 0||13 - 0||23 - 0|
|Tom Parker||Man Utd. under Sir Alex Ferguson||11 – 0||11 - 1||22 - 1|
|Ian Clark||The Life of Ernest Hemingway||8 - 0||10 - 3||18 - 3|