Friday, 5 June 2009

Mastermind Semi Final 5/6

The fifth and penultimate semi final, and I hope that I can be forgiven for saying that this was the semi final I had been waiting for, since it featured James Corcoran, one of the first people to latch onto this blog, and a regular reader. More about James later.

This was a seriously strong line-up. First to go was Ian Bayley. Ian, you'll remember, competed in 2008's "Are You An Egghead" and was a member of the hugely impressive winning team in "Only Connect ". Back in November Ian won heat 12 answering on Tchaikovsky. Then he scored 13 and no passes. Tonight he produced a majestic round on Dr. Who in the 1970s. Sixteen questions, and sixteen correct answers - and believe me, if you didn't see it, the round was as impressive as that sounds.

Second to go was Mel Kinsey. Mel Kinsey is the second former finalist to contest the semi finals this year. A few weeks ago we saw Richard Heller book his place in his second grand final. Could Mel Kinsey do the same ? When we last saw him in heat 8 back in October he scored 16 and 1 pass on baseball legend Ty Cobb. Tonight he posted his intent with a perfect round of 16 on JFK.

Some standard set for James to follow, then. James won heat 3 back in September, with a round of 16 on the Mod Movement in Britain. Fears that his nerves might have been unsettled having watched 2 perfect rounds before his turn proved ungrounded, as James sped through a round of questions on Billy Bragg, a far wider subject than you might think, and scored a handy 14 and 1 pass, to leave himself in contention.

On paper, Hugh Brady was the outsider in this semi final. He won heat 18 in February, scoring 13 points on sir Edward Carson. This time he offered us the Montalbano novels of Andrea Camilleri. Yes, alright, I'll admit it, I've never heard of them either. Mr. Brady had, though, since he scored a decent ten and 1 pass. In another semi this would have left him in contention. Not tonight, though. So he made a swift return to the chair. The Montalbano novels obviously don't float John Humphrys' boat, since he spent the inter round chat asking Mr. Brady, a research scientist, whether we will ever find a cure for cancer. Try to answer that one in two minutes. Mr. Brady did as well as anyone could. He didn't do badly on the questions, either, but was a little slow and hesitant. He didn't get many wrong, but he didn't get through enough questions to really put pressure on the other contenders. He scored 10, to finish on 20.

James came next, and was very cool and calm in the way he responded to John Humphrys rather snotty observation that Billy Bragg was not the best songwriter in the world. Being the serious music critic that he undoubtedly is, Mr. Humphrys summed up Billy Bragg as " a bit of an old leftie". Hmm, how impartial. In the middle of the round James looked in danger of falling into a pass spiral, but thankfully managed to pull out, and keep pushing the score along. He ended with 23, which put him into the lead. Lets pause for a minute to remember that this score would have won last week's semi final, with a bit to spare.

Ian Bayley is one of the top ranked quizzers in the country, and anyone who has seen one of his performances in a Grand Prix event will appreciate that his ranking is justified. To be honest I would not have been the least bit surprised if he had pushed through the 30 point barrier for the first time this series. He scored 12, and that's a good performance in a semi final, but I suspect he might well be kicking himself over dropping points by not identifying nicotiana as the tobacco plant, for example.

Mel Kinsey , then had two minutes to earn a grand final place. First , though, he delivered a thoughtful defence of JFK's record, and an argument for why he should be regarded as a hero. Back in the heat he scored 12 and 1 pass. He needed at least 12 and no passes to go into a tie break,and we knew this wasn't going to happen, because we'd had the full chat interludes. The round was less than a minute old, and it looked fairly clear that he wasn't going to get there, and a gritty battling performance brought him 9 to end with 25.

So congratulations to Ian, and commiserations to the others, especially James. To get to a Mastermind semi final at your first time of asking is a real achievement, and with a little bit more luck, had you been drawn in another semi final you could have made the final.

Looking forward to the final, now you have to say that of the 5 contenders through so far, there is little or nothing to choose between four of them going by their performances in the semis. Can't wait.

The Details

Ian Bayley Dr. Who in the 1970s 16 - 0 12 - 028 - 0
Mel Kinsey JFK 16 - 0 9 - 4 25 - 4
James Corcoran Billy Bragg 14 - 1 9 - 423 - 5
Hugh Brady The Montalbano novels of Andrea Camilleri 10 - 1 10 - 2 20 - 3

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