Saturday, 2 April 2011

Mastermind - Semi Final 5

If you read the blog earlier in the week, you’ll know that I already highlighted Rach Cherryade’s appearance in this semi final. I always look forward to a Mastermind show, but you’ll appreciate that this one held a special fascination.

Julia Hobbs, who kicked off the show, won show 19 when she answered specialist questions on Armistead Maupin. Back then she scored 14 on GK, and she had the 17th highest score of all the qualifiers for the semis. All of which marked her out as a contender to take seriously in this semi, but not necessarily a favourite. Last night she offered us Calvin and Hobbes. And a very good job of it she made too. 12 on a 90 second round is the equivalent of 16 or 17 in old money, and that’s good quizzing. So she would certainly be in the shake up for the place in the final.

Our second contender, Hamish Cameron, is, I am fairly certain, the most experienced Mastermind semi finalist there is. Hamish had made the semi finals in three previous series, the most recent being the 2007 SOBM, where he was unlucky to meet Stewart Cross. That night Stewart produced by far the best performance of all of the semis. Hamish, had he been in 4 of the other 5 semis, would have won a place in the final on the strength of his performance that night. Well, what will be will be. In show 9 Hamish became one of the highest scoring runners up answering on The Scottish Covenanters. More importantly he scored a very fine 17 on GK that night, and this marked him out as one of the most likely finalists from this group. However his specialist tonight, the Life and Work of Aphra Behn, left him with some work to do. Yes, 9 is a perfectly good score in a 90 second round, but you don’t want to be 3 points behind a quizzer like Julia going into the GK round.

Lee Holmes beat Diane Hallagan in the last show of the first round, when he answered on British Domestic Politics 1970 – present day. His score was the 11th best of the first round. I did point out in my review of the first round that even though he beat Diane, I felt she was more likely to get to the final, since her GK score was quite a bit better than Lee’s 14. Well, Diane is already through to the final. Could Lee join her ? His specialist subject was my favourite of the 5 on offer tonight, and I have to say that I did rather well on The Life and Work of Ronnie Barker. Lee didn’t do badly, either, with a nifty 11 points putting him only a point off the lead at this stage.

Thomas Perry was one of the surprise packages in the first round. He answered on freshwater fish of the British Isles in show 23, and also scored 16 on GK. His score was actually the fifth highest of the first round. Which should have made him one of the favourites for tonight’s show . . . only it hasn’t been working out like that so far in this series, has it ? 9 points and 1 pass is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in a 2 minute round, let alone a 90 second one, but as I said with Hamish, 9 points put him 3 points behind Julia, and that is a significant gap to have to close.

At last Rachael came to the chair. Rachael produced one of the finest specialist rounds of the heats when she scored 18 on Belle and Sebastian in show 3. Her overall total was the 15th highest of the first round. Significantly, though, her GK score in the heat was a little lower than any of the other contenders in this show. Imperative, then , for her to take a lead on the specialist round. Answering on John Shuttleworth’s radio series, she didn’t disappoint. 13 is a superb score , and frankly on a par, I thought, with her round in the heat. Well done Rach ! I will admit that I was shouting at the telly at this stage in the competition.
On to the GK round. Hamish had to come back to the chair first. In the heats, it can happen that one contender is so much better than the rest on GK that they can overturn deficit on all of the other contenders, but that’s always less likely to happen in a semi. Its even less likely to happen when you get a really rather tricky set, which is exactly what was served up on a plate to poor Hamish. He just really couldn’t get his round started, and a run of passes scuppered his chances.

You may remember how last week the contenders seemed struck by tension and nerves in the GK round. Well, as for last week, so for this week. Poor Thomas Perry seemed frozen into indecision with some of his own questions, so much so that although he passed fewer times than Hamish did, he also scored less, and ended with 14 points.

The contest was crying out for someone to grab it by the scruff of the neck, and force themselves into the final. Lee certainly started as if this was what he was going to do, but his round too unravelled a little as time went on. He kept his head enough o keep pushing the score on to 9 , which gave him a total of 20 . Alright, it didn’t look that much like a winning total, but it was certainly enough to give Julia and Rachael food for thought, and to use a term from boxing parlance, to keep them honest.

Julia needed 8 and less than 3 passes to take the outright lead. She kept her head, and I thought had some great answers at the start of the round to build just that little bit of momentum that you need. She kept her head well, and offered answers to every single question. There was still time left on the clock as she reached the target , and in the end she scored 10 and no passes to set the bar at 22. Not perhaps a vintage GK round, but the semis are a funny old round, and its all about doing enough to get to the final. This looked like it might well be that.

However , the fact was that 9 and no passes would put Rachael through. A serious target, yes, but not an insurmountable one, albeit that this would be a win rather against the odds. Fair play, Rachael gave it a go. However she was behind on the clock by the one minute mark, and notwithstanding a rally in the last quarter of the round, she fell a little short , ending in third place with 19.

Well done Julia ! Best of luck in the final .

Well done, Rach, too. Semi finalist in University Challenge, and semi finalist in Mastermind. That’s an impressive looking CV you’re building up.

So , by a process of elimination, I believe this should leave us with: -
Paul Steeples
Min Lacey
James Collenette
Robin Seavill
Peter Watkins

next week. A few names to conjure with there. Should be a very good show.

The Details

Julia Hobbs Calvin and Hobbes12 - 110 - 022 - 1
Hamish CameronThe Life and Work of Aphra Behn9 - 07 - 716 - 7
Lee HolmesThe Life and Work of Ronnie Barker11 - 19 - 320 -4
Thomas PerryHistory of Burnley FC9 - 15 - 514 - 6
Rachael NeimanJohn Shuttleworth’s Radio Series13 - 06 - 319 - 3


Anonymous said...

I don't know what it was but I found the general knowledge rounds somewhat testing. I would normally expect to get into double figures but the only one I did so on was Julia's. It wasn't that the questions were ridiculously obscure but even watching at home, I seemed to catch the same mental paralysis that seemed to afflict the contestants.
Maybe it was just me but...

LisaH said...

No question who I'll be rooting for as Julia and I went to the same secondary school (Kendrick - Reading). [Her first year was my last]

joe said...

I'd never even hear of Calvin and Hobbes!

DaveBill said...

I think Rachel got the hardest set of GK by some distance, taking nothing away from Julia though - a solid performance if not spectacular.

Ewan M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ewan M said...

Relative difficulties of GK sets are fairly subjective, for what it's worth I thought Hamish and Thomas had the trickiest sets, with Rachel and Lee's being the most accessible, for me at least. The last couple of shows seem to have seen a stepping up of the general level of difficulty though. Like Chris I generally expect to get into double figures on a typical 2 minute GK round, but I only managed it twice on this show, my aggregate GK score for the 5 rounds coming in at 41, my lowest, by some distance, since I started counting.

Londinius said...

Hi everyone, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

I personally struggled with the sets for Hamish and also Julia. I think I would have got more right in the second half of the round than Julia did, but I certainly wouldn't have had all the ones right that she had in the first minute.

Of the five finalists so far, Ian and Diane I know personally, so I'm afraid that they are cursed with support from the sofa at the moment. Still , if a LAM reader such as Paul or Min joins them in the final, then that could all change . Watch this space !