Friday, 11 April 2014

Mastermind - Semi Final 5

Shall we cast an eye at the first round form of tonight’s contenders? Indeed we shall. Here they are: -

Steven Broomfield14 - 016 - 130 - 1
Jon Jacob12 - 118 - 130 - 2
Clive Dunning11 – 0 18 - 029 – 0
Andrew Warmington 14 - 014 - 028 – 0
Lindsay Ashford14 - 010 – 524 -5

There were several interesting features about tonight’s semi final. One of them was the fact that we had both Jon Jacob and Clive Dunning, two of the three highest scorers on GK in the first round. Throw into the mix Andrew Warmington, the giant slayer of Heat nine, and you have something very intriguing.

Right, enough of the preliminaries. LAM reader Clive Dunning kicked off. Back in December Clive won heat 16 by some distance, answering on Blackadder. He’s obviously a man after my own heart since tonight’s specialist was also very much to my liking, the Life and Music of John Lennon. He produced a quality round, and we were both neck and neck on 8 points going into the last question. Now, Clive knew the answer was Happy Xmas, War Is Over, but was let down by a slip of the tongue with MERRY Xmas, war is over. Easily done, but a point dropped, and with so little separating the contenders on paper, maybe this would prove to be a crucial error.

Successful novelist Lindsay Ashford was, to be honest, very much the underdog in this heat. In February she won heat 24 with an excellent specialist round on Bedlam, and held on through the GK round. With less time to achieve a significant lead on specialist tonight the task ahead of her looked formidable. To be fair, her specialist round on Burke and Hare did put her into the lead with 9, but a lead of 1 was never likely to be enough with the calibre of General Knowledge quizzers she was facing in this show.

In Heat nine Andrew Warmington knocked out both the captain of the unbeatable Crossworders, and 2013 BoB runner up David Stainer, and former MM semi finalist, our own Brian Pendreigh. He could be forgiven for thinking that the task ahead of him in the semi couldn’t possibly be harder than that. Back in October Andrew answered on The French Revolution, and scored an excellent 14. Last time he passed this way, he was knocked out in the semi final of Jesse’s series by my friend Les Morrell, where an under par GK round did for him. Tonight, then, Andrew answered on the life and Reign of Charles II. He scored 8, which was fine in the context of this show, but meant that he was going to have to outscore the others on GK.

Jon Jacob won heat 5 back in September on the life and work of Arthur Sullivan, and I have to say that I thought he looked mightily impressive while doing it. Tonight he had the Peloponnesian war, and for the first half of the round he seemed to be going great guns. Then something happened, a dodgy question, or a more difficult one? I don’t know enough about the subject to be able to comment. However, whatever it was the round swiftly turned from being what looked like potentially the best of the contest turned into the least successful, as Jon levelled out at 6. Now, 3 is not a totally insurmountable lead, but it meant that an outstanding GK round would be essential.

Steven Broomfield brought the first round to a close. In one of life’s little ironic twists, Steven, although the highest scoring of tonight’s contenders in his first round heat, actually had to qualify as a high scoring runner up. He was beaten by 1 pass by Michael McPartland, who is already in the final. His 14 on the Battle of Balaclava was a very good round, and he was looking to produce something similar in this semi. His subject tonight was the novels of Patrick Hamilton. I’ll be honest, the only thing I knew about him was that he wrote the novel on which the Nigel Havers/Bernard Hepton/Rosemary Leach TV series “The Charmer” was based. I think maybe Steven had taken losing out by a single pass to heart, since he made sure that he answered every question, getting 8 points by doing so to be joint second.

Someone was going to have to produce a very good GK round to get ahead of the field in this semi, and the form guide said that 4 of the contenders were potentially good enough to do just that. The first of these 4, Jon Jacob, returned to the chair not knowing how many would be necessary to win, but knowing that it would have to be a big score. Jon had obviously decided that his tactic was to keep moving on as quickly as possible – and why not? It’s a valid tactic. This meant that if the answer didn’t come at once, he was going to pass. Whether this was a conscious decision or not, the passes did start to accrue, and by the end of the round a score of 9 really didn’t look likely to carry the day.

Clive Dunning too was never going to pass during his own round. However he managed to score 3 points more than Jon had done. That, I sagely observed to nobody in particular since none of them will willingly watch the show with me, could well be enough to see him safely home. In the context of tonight’s show, I fancied that Clive’s 20 could be enough. It certainly ensured that all the remaining contenders were going to have to pass through the corridor of uncertainty in order to beat him.

Andrew started well enough to do it, certainly. However, a couple of difficult ones in the middle of the round stopped him dead in his tracks, and he never regained sufficient momentum to get close to the target. He, like Jon, managed 9. Steven’s round, if anything was a mirror image of Andrew’s, for Steven started his round uncertainly, and even missed a couple of rather innocuous questions. Then. all of a sudden, about a minute into the round he picked up momentum, and started heading towards the line like an express train. An express train, though, that had started to accelerate a little too late, and he finished with 10 for 18, 2 points short of a tie break.

I think that it’s fair to say that these GK rounds tonight were just a little bit harder than we’d seen in the first round, and thinking back to Lindsay’s first round GK performance I just couldn’t see her finding the 12 points she would need to progress to the final. BY the end of the round her score had gone up to 13. So a resounding well done to Clive. I have said before that I take a certain amount of guilty pride from the fact that I am the last schoolteacher to win the title. However Clive is certainly capable of winning the title in a couple of weeks to take that particular crown, and I will not begrudge him it in the slightest should he manage it. Go for it, Clive!

The Details

Clive Dunning Life and Music of John Lennon 8 - 012 - 020 - 0
Lindsay AshfordBurke and Hare 9 - 34 - 213 - 5
Andrew WarmingtonThe Life and Reign of Charles II8 - 09 - 117 - 1
Jon JacobThe Peloponnesian War6 - 39 - 515 - 8
Steven BroomfieldThe Novels of Patrick Hamilton8 – 0 10 – 0 18 – 0

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