Saturday, 15 May 2010

Mastermind - Semi Final 5/6

After one of the most hectic and difficult weeks I can remember in a very long time, what better than to kick back yesterday evening with the latest Mastermind semi final ? Answers on a postcard, please. What a semi final it was too.

William De’Ath was one of tonight’s two highest scoring runners up from the first round. However going into the show I made him one of the two favourites. You see, even though we have seen some absolutely amazing scores in the specialist rounds in the semis, the fact is that their importance has been reduced, and William is a great general knowledge quizzer. William’s subject this time round was William The Conqueror. This is actually a subject really close to my heart, for reasons which will become clear in the near future. William’s knowledge was extremely secure – almost although not quite perfect. 15 and no passes was a superb score.

I met Mark Grant at the BoB final, and a very nice chap he is too. He is also a very successful Mastermind veteran, having already reached the Grand Final in 2005 where he was runner up to Pat Gibson. Back in November he won heat 10 answering on Edouard Manet. Tonight he produced an absolutely flawless performance on the Life and Work of Gianlorenzo Bernini. He too scored 15 and no passes. Like William, Mark is also a superb general knowledge quizzer, and for me the other favourite to win a place in the final.

This was not to pour scorn on the chances of Colin Wilson. Answering on World Heavyweight Boxing Champions, Colin took second place in heat 2 , way back in September. His 25 though held a runner’s up spot for the rest of the first round. Tonight he was answering on the History of Glam Rock. Ah, I was nobbut a lad at the time, but I remember the era well. I even had the right answer to one that Colin missed – I knew that Judy Teen was Cockney Rebel’s first hit. Howver, I don’t think I would have got anywhere near the 15 that Colin scored. Another great round.

In March Brian Southgate won heat 20 answering questions on Sir Alex Ferguson. Tonight, when he announced that he was answering on The Manhattan Project my first thought was – didn’t they have a hit with Chanson d’Amour ? Or was that the Alan Parsons Transfer ? Anyway it turned out to be a round all about the development of the first atomic bomb. I do always try to manage to answer at least one questions in all of the specialist rounds, and thankfully the ‘Fat Man’ and ‘Paul Tibbets’ questions saw me home in this one. In a 90 second round, 11 points and 2 passes is a very good score, but unfortunately it left him a mountain to climb in GK.

So it was all down to Stuart Maclagan to bring the round to a conclusion. Last time out in heat 14 he answered on the Eurovision Song Contest. In a real change of pace tonight he offered us The Life of King Robert the Bruce. Mr. Maclagan knew his stuff, and he answered quickly and concisely, and that’s the key to getting a good SS score. A couple of questions foxed him, but even so, 11 and no passes was, as I have said, a very good score.

John then proceeded to tell us all about what would happen in the event of a tie. Now, by my calculations time is so tight in the semis, if you get to see John saying all this, then it guarantees that it hasn’t happened, because if there wasn’t a tie break then they wouldn’t have time to show him saying it, so they’d edit it out. Got that ? Doesn’t matter. Brian Southgate earned my disapproval for not knowing that the brilliant Eurythmics recorded Sweet Dreams are made of this. To be fair he found the round rather hard going, and never looked like he would get close to the 10 he scored on GK in the first round. He finished on a total of 16 points and 8 passes . Stuart Maclagan had also scored 10 on GK in his first round match. 4 correct answers on the bounce at the start of the round made it look like he was fully determined to do even better this time. It was nice to hear a question about Boney M’s classic in-depth analysis of Russian mystic Grigory Rasputin. A fine round saw him score 13 and no passes. So in real terms he did even better in the semi than he did in the first round, and you can’t ask any more than that.

Right, time for the fireworks. John lit the blue touchpaper, and William de’Ath began his GK round. His face was a picture on the occasions when he supplied a wrong answer – the questions on pasta, Karl Marx, and others he doubtless knew, but the right answer wouldn’t come out. Yet he still scored 13 and 1 pass to set the bar at 28. That’s hard to beat , even if you already have 15 on the board, as mark and Colin both did.

Mark scored 10 on GK in his first round heat, and that wouldn’t do tonight. It wasn’t a great start to the round, but by crikey it got better. Slightly behind on the clock after the first 30 seconds , Mark kept his head and kept plugging away, and picking off the answers, and picking up his speed at the same time. Was it my imagination, or did John ask about JM Barrie’s Admiral Crichton ? It didn’t bother Mark, he still had this and 13 other questions right to take the lead to 29.

Colin Wilson had a mountain to climb, made none the easier by the fact that he scored 9 on GK in his first round heat. It started to slip away from him from the third question. He never lost his composure, and answered at speed, but by the end of the round he had taken his score to 23 and no passes. So congratulations to Mark. He becomes the first person to reach 2 Humphrys finals – and only the 4th person to ever reach 2 finals of any era of Mastermind. Commiserations to the other contenders, especially William. It needed a stupendous performance to beat him.

The Details

Willam De’Ath The Life of William the Conqueror15 - 013 - 128 - 1
Mark GrantThe Life and Work of Gianlorenzo Bernini15 - 014 - 029 - 0
Colin WilsonThe History of Glam Rock15 - 08 - 023 - 0
Brian SouthgateThe Manhattan Project11 - 25 - 616 - 8
Stuart MaclaganThe Life of King Robert the Bruce11- 013 - 024 – 0

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