Saturday, 9 April 2011

Mastermind Semi Final 6/6

The last semi final of the current series offered me something of a quandary, as you may recall, since it featured no less than 2 LAM readers and contributors, Paul Steeples and Min Lacey . Who to support ? Well, in the end I rooted for them both, with varying degrees of success as you’ll see.

Before all that, though, the show was kicked off by Robin Seavill. Robin won heat 7 on the Plays of Alan Bennett. He had been the 26th highest scorer of the first round, and his 13 on GK suggested that this would probably prove to be a hurdle too far. Still, his subject last night was my favourite one of the show , the “Unreliable Memoirs” of Clive James. I love the first three, but haven’t read any since ‘May Week was In June’ and so any about his career since leaving Cambridge I couldn’t get. I had all of the others, though. Robin duly laid down the gauntlet, with a fine 11, a very good score for 90 seconds.

Next came Min. Min scored a handy 16 on GK in her first round, where she was the 18th highest scoring qualifier for the semis. Back then, in show 6 she answered on the Life and work of Charles M. Schultz. Last night she gave us the “Discworld” novels of sir Terry Pratchett. Blimey, but there are a lot of them. Brave choice Min – I thought. Considering the amount of material to have to learn I thought Min did really well, but 8 points put her 3 behind at this stage, with possibly more to come from the other 3 contenders as well.

Peter Watkins scored a handy 15 on GK back in show 15, which marked him out as a dangerous dark horse for the show. In the first round his specialist subject had been mark Antony. He opted for a real change of pace in last night’s show, with radio’s “The Navy Lark”. He must really love the show, since a) it went on for donkey’s years, and b) he got every single question right ! Yes, it was a perfect performance which saw him score 13 correct answers from 13 questions. Very well done, sir, a noteworthy achievement.

James Collenette set a highest runner up score way way back in August, in the first show of the series. This, mind you , despite the fact that he scored a very good 16 on GK that day. To be honest, in coming second in his heat he had looked quite a bit better than quite a few people had in winning theirs. As it was he was the 14th highest scoring of all the semi final qualifiers. In August he had given us the history of Argentina since 1800. In the semis he opted for The Novels of Raymond Chandler. I have to say I loved the questions about the contrived similes that Chandler used. I have never read any Chandler, but after this round I think that maybe I should give him a try. James scored 10, a good score by anyone’s reckoning, but still one which left him with quite a bit of ground to make up on Peter.

Finally, then, came Paul. I said in my semi final preview that Paul looked a pretty good shout for the final. He was 6th highest scorer in the first round, and managed a massive 17 on GK. However, you will recall that the top 10 scorers from the first round heats have all been falling like ninepins in the semis. Paul, in fact, was the only one left. So there was a definite trend here which he needed to buck. IN his heat, the second of the series, he had answered on Charles Ives. Last night he opted for Victorian Churches of London. Good choice, although one which leaves the mind boggling at the possible amount of information to take in. 12 points and 1 pass were a very fine return on the round, and placed Paul very handily in his challenge for the final place in the final.

Min returned to the chair. Now, you’ll recall that in the last couple of semis, the contenders have many of them seemed to have been stricken by nerves in the GK rounds. I’m happy to say that for the most part this wasn’t the case last night. Min knuckled down to building the bet total that she could, and the score climbed into double figures, a significant performance in a semi final GK round. She finished with 18, and although she looked unlikely to progress any further, she has nothing to be ashamed about with her performances in the series this year.

James, I’m afraid, was the exception to the no nerves in the GK round rule tonight. He struggled to get on terms with the round, and I have no doubt that this was an under par display from a respected quizzer. It happens. James finished with 16 points.

We were climbing up the leaderboard now, and the scores began to climb too. Robin Seavill threw down his gauntlet, producing a decent round of 11 , to set the bar at 22 points and 1 pass or less. So Paul returned to the chair , in the chaser’s position which I have to admit was always my favourite. I never really enjoyed going last in the GK round myself, although I had to in my own semi , way back when. Paul produced the finest GK round which we had seen in any of the semis up to this point of the series. As we always say, anything in a two minute round over 12 is a good score, and anything over 14 is excellent. Paul produced a pretty nerveless round of 15 and 2 passes, to set the bar at 27, incidentally the highest score of the semis so far. Peter certainly had a mountain to climb.

To climb it, then, was what he set out to do, one step at a time, in the only way you can. You have to say he made a pretty decent fist of it as well. I sensed by the minute mark that he was perhaps one or two questions behind the clock, but nonetheless he kept rhythm, never lost concentration, and the 12 that he scored pushed him up to 25 points. Not enough to beat Paul, but a score which would have won three of this year’s other semis, and so a praiseworthy performance indeed.

So well played Paul ! You carry the LAM banner into the final – we all wish you the very best of luck retrospectively.

The Details

Robin Seavill ”Unreliable Memoirs” of Clive James11 - 011 - 222 - 2
Min LaceyDiscworld Novels of Sir Terry Pratchett8 - 010 - 018 - 0
Peter WatkinsThe Navy Lark13 - 012 - 325 -3
James CollenetteNovels of Raymond Chandler10 - 16 - 116 - 2
Paul SteeplesVictorian Churches of London12 - 115 - 227 - 2

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