Saturday, 5 March 2011

Mastermind - Semi Final 1/6

Right, cast your minds back to my review/preview of last week, if you would. I did mention that the nature of the way that the semis are put together does mean that you can sometimes get some quite 'top heavy' semi finals, with several of the top contenders all together. Well, in last night's first semi-final we had the highest scoring qualifier from the first round - Iwan Thomas, the 3rd highest scorer from the first round - Keith Nickless, and the 4th highest scorer in the shape of Nick Mills. Also playing were the 19th , Bill Cawley, and the joint 23rd, Peter Reilly. Tough match.

Iwan Thomas, the 2011 Brain of Britain, kicked us off with Glamorgan County Cricket Club, 1946 - 1990.Iwan won heat 9, answering on The Byrds. Iwan’s massive first round score of 37 was built on a superb score of 23 in GK, and a good 14 on specialist. Tonight, as with last year’s semis, the specialist rounds were cut to 90 seconds, and the GK to 2 minutes. So my initial impression was that it looked less likely in this format that one competitor could blow the competition out of the water on specialist. Iwan put together a good round to score 10, but a few mistakes did leave a little room for other contenders.

Nick Mills, by far the highest scoring of the first round runners up, came next. Nick came runner up in heat 13, answering on Rameses II. Nick had picked a hell of an interesting subject, but also a hell of a complicated one in Dark Age Britain, 400 to 600AD. I was pleased with myself for getting two, precisely twice as many as I managed on the cricket, but from what I know of the subject this was a tough set. In that respect Nick’s 9 was pretty good, but I couldn’t help thinking that this might just leave quite a bit to do in the GK.

So, with my two favourites for the final spot having done well, but left the door ajar so to speak, there was still everything to play for . Bill Cawley, who won heat 10 with American Presidents, now offered us the Life and Works of Thomas Paine. I was happy with my 3 on this subject. Bill did a lot better. Its hard to say exactly, but I reckon that a 10 in 90 seconds must be roughly equivalent to 13/14 in a full 2 minutes. That’s a good score. However it is not a score which blows all of the competition out of the water.

Keith Nickless had met Nick Mills before in this competition, since he had been the winner of heat 13, when he answered on Mott the Hoople. In the semis he had opted to answer on the Jack Reacher novels of Lee Child. For the only time tonight this brought a big fat zero to the score from the Clark sofa – never read any myself. Making a tight contest even tighter, Keith finished with 10 points, and not knowing the books I can’t really say whether this was just a good score, or a great one.

Peter Reilly had won heat 11 answering on The Grand National. A man who would know about odds, then, and going purely on the statistics of the first round he was very much the outsider of this heat. It didn’t seem to bother him at all. Answering on the highly rated drama series “Our Friends in the North”, he barely put a foot wrong, and raced through 14 correct answers. That’s a great, great score for a 90 second round, equivalent to about 18 I reckon. It put him 4 points ahead of his nearest contenders. That’s not insurmountable in a 2 minute round, especially for quizzers as good as Iwan and Nick, for example, but it ain’t easy. Game on.

Nick laid down the gauntlet. 15 in a 2 minute round in GK is very good quizzing, and set the target at 24. Iwan came next. His 11 was nothing to be ashamed of, but the round really didn’t suit him. Well, the Brain of Britain /Mastermind double is a very tough nut to crack, and I guess that the quiz gods were just not smiling on Iwan last night. Bill Cawley gave it his shot, but he rather struggled through his GK round, and only managed to add 9. Now, Keith Nickless had , for me, been one of the real surprise packages of the first round, where he had managed a good 16 in a two and a half minute round. However he would need to do proportionately even better than this to take the lead. Fair play, he displayed admirable sang froid in supplying some amusing answers to questions he didn’t have a clue about, one of which even put John Humphrys off his stride a little. In the end though he finished with 10 for 20.

The target for Peter Reilly was clear. He was already on 14 and no passes. That meant he needed ten and 2 passes or less to claim a surprise final spot, and a couple of impressive scalps. His tactic was fairly clear from the outset. Answer what you know. If you have an inkling, give an answer, but if you don’t then pass quickly. That’s a tactic which doesn’t always work , as I can vouch for personally , but it can be effective , and this is what it proved to be last night. Peter added 4 passes to his total, but 12 points, to take him clear of Nick, with a final score of 26.

Congratulations, Peter ! That was a fine performance, and you deserve your spot in the final. It all goes to show, even when you reduce the specialist round, you still can’t underestimate its importance. Great show – great way to kick off the semi finals.

The Details

Iwan Thomas Glamorgan County Cricket Club 1946 - 199010 -111 - 321 - 4
Nick MillsThe Dark Ages in Britain 400 – 600 AD9 - 215 - 124 - 3
Bill CawleyThe Life and Works of Thomas Paine10 - 09 – 0 19 – 0
Keith NicklessThe Jack Reacher Novels of Lee Child10 - 010 - 020 - 0
Peter ReillyThe TV series “Our Friends in the North” 14 - 012 - 426 - 4


Jack said...

To be honest, I was surprised by Dr Thomas's poor showing in the GK round. Giving his first round performance and his impressive win on BoB, I fully expected him to do much better.

But then, as we know from past experience, first round showing is never to be trusted as a sign of later form.

Well done to Mr Reilly though! Hard lines to everyone else, but you all put up a good show. Well done indeed!

Unknown said...

Hi It's Pete Reilly. Yes you are totally correct, Dave - shall we say I had framed "realistic" odds about a Reilly victory. Had I known about the quizzing prowess of my fellow competitors at the time of recording, the odds would have been of Foinavian proportions (never one to pass up on a horse racing analogy!).

Nice bunch of fellow competitors. Found Iwan to be an absolute gent, and was really chuffed for him when he won B of B - Nottinghamshire in the ascendancy!

Thanks for your kind comments,Dave.

Paul Steeples said...

A trivial point, but you've got Pete Reilly's score as 16 rather than 26 in the table at the bottom of the post. Might cause anyone giving it a quick scan to come to the wrong conclusion entirely!

Still no idea when my flippin' semi is going to get shown...

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone

OOps ! I've emended the score, Paul. Really looking forward to your own semi.

Pete - many , many congratulations ! A good performance, and a hell of an achievement. Thanks for dropping by, and the best of retrospective luck in the final