Saturday, 26 March 2011

Mastermind Semi Final 4

Well, we’ve seen a few surprises so far in this series of semis, haven’t we ? In fact , during the first three shows, not one player from the top 10 scorers in the first round has qualified for the final yet. A fact which seemed to work against the chances of both Stephen Porter and Brian Daugherty in last night’s show, who were the 10th and 7th highest scorers in the first round. Well, that and the fact that they were going to have to beat 2009 runner up Ian Bayley if they wanted to progress any further, whom you’ll remember I mentioned as one of two dangerous mid-table floaters. Incidentally the other one, Diane Hallagan, claimed her place in the final last week.

There was one highest scoring runner up in the show last night, Anne Skillen, and she kicked off the show last. Anne was runner up in show 2, way back in August, when she answered on the TV series “To the Manor Born “. Back then Anne managed 13 in her 2 and a half minute GK round, and so her best chance, so it seemed , was to put on a good score on her specialist round of The Novels of Jane Austen. I do know a bit about these myself, and so can confidently say that this was a tough set, requiring very detailed and thorough knowledge. Anne found it tough going, and she finished with 6.

Stephen Porter won show 18, when he answered on English first division football of the 1970s. He’d managed a pretty good 15 on his GK round back then, and so there was no doubt, he was a contender to watch tonight. Her certainly proved this to be the case with his round on Scottish Post Punk Bands 1978 - 1983. He answered a super speed, and only one question prevented him from getting a perfect round. Nonetheless, 14 correct answers in a 90 second round is great quizzing, and put him in with a good chance of being involved in the final shake up.

Brian Daugherty has had a long wait for the semi to come around, since he won the very first heat, all those months ago. Back then he answered on the Bernoullis, and like Stephen Porter, he managed 15 on his GK round. Last night he answered questions on The History of the Ruhr. I surprised myself on this round by actually knowing a couple of the answers on the geography of the region. Not as many as Brian did. He scored a good 12. Game on.

One of my favourite subjects in the first round – Ray Harryhausen – was offered by Leslie Hurn in show 22. Back then he scored 14 on GK, so wasn’t to be too lightly dismissed. Last night he was answering on pre historic marine reptiles. Now, maybe this is boastful, but I loved dinosaurs and the like as a kid, and I still know my icthyosaurs from my plesiosaurs. I actually got 6 of these, which admittedly was less than Leslie. He managed 9, a decent score for 90 seconds, certainly, but one which left him with something of a mountain to climb in the GK round.

Last but not least came Ian. In case you’re wondering why I mentioned Ian in my preview of the semis, well, if his previous record in the show isn’t enough, Ian scored 17 on GK in the first round. That kind of ability will always put you among the favourites in my book. In show 21 Ian answered on the Romanov Dynasty. Last night he offered us the Life and Work of Jean Sibelius. It wasn’t a perfect round, but it was a good one. He might have been 2 points behind the lead on 12, but his GK ability certainly meant this was a gap he could close.

Before that, though, Ann Skillen returned to the chair. I don’t know whether her first round was playing on her mind, or whether it was nerves, or whether it was just a set of questions she couldn’t answer, but she struggled. By the end of the round she had scored a total of 11. Leslie Hurn did better, although he didn’t quite manage to get into double figures for the round himself. He added another 9, to finish with 18.

Brian Daugherty had a go next. As in all the GK rounds so far in this show, there was no great fluency in the round, but to be fair he did grit it out, and kept the score moving throughout the round. So even though he added another 5 passes to his score, he did get into double figures, with 10 points taking his score up to 22.

Ian looked rather uncomfortable on his own return to the chair. He stumbled over a couple of questions, and missed a couple I’m sure he would have had under normal circumstances. But that was the kind of show it was, last night. There was an atmosphere of nervous tension , far more than you normally feel through the television, and it had affected all of our contenders last night. Ian added 11 to his score, for a total of 23.

I will admit, I was a little concerned for him. OK, it was by no means a bad score, but it was beatable. To put it into perspective, Stephen needed 10 to win. 9 wouldn’t be enough, because Ian had no passes. If he scored at the same rate as he did in his GK round in the heats, then he would do it. However the same tension that had affected all of the other contenders seemed to turn upon Stephen with an absolute vengeance. After 60 seconds he was well behind the clock, and in the middle of a pass spiral, and he levelled out at 6, for a total of 20.

Well done Ian ! You join Roger Stein, Geoff Thomas, Richard Heller and Mark Grant, our other double Mastermind finalists. I promised myself that I wouldn’t scupper your chances again by tipping you to win, and so I won’t. But the very best of luck, all the same.

The Details

Anne Skillen The Novels of Jane Austen6 - 35 - 611 - 9
Stephen PorterScottish Post Punk Bands 1978-8314 - 16 - 420 - 5
Brian DaughertyHistory of the Ruhr12 - 110 - 522 - 6
Leslie HurnPrehistoric Marine Reptiles9 - 09 - 518 - 5
Ian BayleyLife and work of Jean Sibelius12 - 011 - 023 - 0

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