Saturday, 20 December 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 18

A couple of weeks ago a fortuitous set of specialist subjects came together to give me my personal unwikied specialist aggregate record of 26. Well, they do say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but in this case ‘they’ speak with forked tongue, since another fortuitous combination allowed me to surpass this.

Not that this is at all important. What is important is that the first of last night’s contenders was Alan Gibbs, a terrific quizzer, and of the initial 96 contenders in the first round a very serious contender for the title. Alan reached the final of 2013’s Britain’s brightest, but eve more than that, he is a member of the Gamblers, champions of the 3rd series of Only Connect. A formidable contender. Alan’s subject last night was One Hit Wonders 1960 – 2000. That’s a great subject, and it makes you wonder why nobody else had chosen it before – alright, they might have done, but I certainly can’t remember it, and have no record of it. I managed 9 of these, either from them being standard quiz questions, or from personal memory of the records. Alan did better, though – he scored 11, and was very unlucky not quite to dredge up Paul da Vinci of the Rubettes at the death. Bearing in mind that Alan will always be a top contender on GK, the others were going to need big scores to be in with a shout.

Chris Baker I don’t know, but as we’ve seen so often that doesn’t mean anything. Chris opted for General elections 1979 – 2000. Now again, like one hit wonders, General elections is another subject which has a certain fascination for quiz setters. As a result, I amazed myself by taking 11 on this set. Already I was on 20, and needed only another 7 to beat my record. Chris had obviously done his homework, and gave himself every chance of success on the GK round by scoring 13.

Our third contender, Stephen Jones, looked very familiar, but searching LAM I could find no previous reference to him, and he’s not on my previous contender database. Whatever the case, he was answering questions on the History of West Brom. Did I get my 7 to push me to a new record? Don’t be silly. I did get 4 though to take me to 14. Stephen, like Chris before him, produced a terrific round of 13. Up to a couple of years ago, anything in the teens was a good round. Nowadays, anything in the teens is a very good round. In the last show or two I’ve felt by half time that the only qualifier from the show would be the winner, since nobody was going to get a high enough score for a repechage slot. In this show we already had three contenders with a high enough SS show to give them a chance.

You might remember our fourth contender, Marianne Fairthorne, from Only Connect, where she skippered semi finalists, the Festival Fans. I’m pretty sure that I met Marianne when I guested for North London once in 2010 in the Summer Quiz League of London. Now, with a league quizzing background, and a good run in OC behind her, Marianne was obviously going to be competitive in GK. So the question was, how would she do in specialist? He answer was splendidly. Marianne offered us the Empress Livia, or Sian Phillips as most of us know her. Now, thanks to my love of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” and “Claudius the God” I managed the 5 I needed to get to a new record aggregate of 29 – whoopee! Marianne though managed 14. Now that, I reckoned, made her a serious contender for the win.

Alan, then, following his round of 11 probably wouldn’t have expected to be back in 4th at the turn. Still, he’s an old quiz hand, and I reckoned he’d know exactly how to go through a GK round. What followed was a virtuoso demonstration of exactly that. He didn’t agonise over any answer, waiting only until John had finished saying the question before snapping out the answer, most of which were of course correct. He also answered every question. At the end of the round he had scored 16 and no passes, one of the finest GK rounds which we’ve seen all series. To put that into perspective, all three remaining contenders would have to score in the teens and avoid a single pass even to match him. Gauntlet well and truly lain down.

Chris made a very good start to his round. His tone and inflection sometimes suggested that his answers weren’t all given with a great degree of certainty, but they were right and that is all that counts. However the last minute in a Mastermind GK round makes such a difference, and a few wrong answers had robbed him of all momentum going into the home straight. Chris eventually levelled out at 11 for 24. Nothing to be ashamed of in scoring double figures in both your rounds.

Stephen didn’t start his own round quite so well, and after a couple of questions the advantage of his 2 point half time lead over Alan had been wiped out. He struggled manfully with the round, managing to pick off points here and there, and ended with 7 for 20. That total is perfectly respectable, but it is made to look more modest having been scored amongst the calibre of contenders in last night’s show. Marianne, then required 13 and no passes to force a tie break, and 14 and as many passes as she liked to win outright. She wasn’t going quite as fast as Alan had, but then she didn’t need to, having a three point half time lead. Marianne came up with some fine quizzer’s answers, and I honestly couldn’t call it. In the end she scored 13, with 2 passes putting her into second place. She also had the agony of knowing one of the passes by the time that John gave us the answer.

Well played Alan – an impressive performance. Don’t worry though – I shan’t be cursing your (or anyone else’s) chances with the Clark tip just yet – it’s a bit too early. As for Marianne, she resides in 3rd place on the repechage board, and will be extremely unlucky if she doesn’t make it through. Well played both – in fact well played all 4. Great show.

The Details

Alan Gibbs One Hit Wonders 1960 - 200011 – 0 16 – 0 27 – 0
Chris BakerUK General Elections 1979 - 201013 - 111 - 324 - 4
Stephen JonesThe History of West Bromwich Albion FC13 – 0 7 - 220 - 2
Marianne FairthorneThe Empress Livia14- 0 13 - 227 - 2

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