OK, let’s have a run down of the contenders, then. 3 virgins, and a contender making her third appearance We’ll come to her momentarily. Meanwhile, let’s start with the first of last night’s contenders, Keith Hutchings. Keith was making what I believe is his first appearance on the show, and he was answering on Chart music of the 1960s. This was something of a nervous start, as three or four questions were allowed to pass by before he really got into his stride. Which was a shame for him, since when he did start to get into the round he was really motoring, and went from being in danger of a low score to getting into double figures with 11. That gave him a shout, no doubt, but a score of 11 in specialist usually means that you have to win the show, because you’re unlikely to get enough on GK to help you make the repechage.
Journalist Sally Jones has been this way before. Her best previous performance was back in 2009, when she won her heat on the short stories of Saki, and then went on to be runner up to Nancy in her semi final. In 2011 she had a bit of a ‘mare on the specialist round in her heat, and despite a very solid GK performance she wasn’t close to getting through. So last night she was answering on the poetry of John Betjeman. Fair play to Sally, she seemed to be really enjoying her round, and that’s more the point than pretty much anything else. She managed 10, a decent enough performance by this season’s standards. But one which would require her best GK round to give her a chance of making a second semi.
Barrister Ewan Paton was taking on a sports subject, answering on the US Masters 1970 – date. I had a couple of these, but as far as sports questions go golf really isn’t my speciality. It is Ewan’s though. He powered his way through to a distinctly above par 13 and no passes, and there was no question that he was going to be in the mix when the score cards were handed into the clubhouse.
Now, I can’t say that I know a great deal about the Life and Films of Luis Bunuel. So it’s very difficult for me to judge how comparatively difficult Rod Armitage’s round on this subject actually was. Rod certainly made a very confident and competent start, but it was one of those rounds that tends to get a bit bogged down as it progresses. 8 points in a specialist round in this series is very respectable and certainly nothing to be ashamed of – but it’s not going to give you a realistic shout at taking the win.
Onto the GK rounds. Now that we’re coming towards the end of this series of first round matches I think we can safely say that if you can get into double figures on GK you’ve done fine. So that was Rod’s target. I was delighted when he produced a pretty good and steady round, picking off what he knew, to score 11. I fancied that if he could have got one more point, then a target of 20 would have looked significantly more daunting than a target of 19, and might just have opened the door to the corridor of doubt for some of the contenders yet to come.
Sally has always managed to get into double figures in her previous GK rounds, but sad to say she didn’t this time. It was one of those rounds when either answers wouldn’t come, or guesses were wrong, and in the end she levelled out at a final total of 15. Keith Hutchings, then, was going to pass that score, and after a minute or so it looked clear that he would overtake Rod as well. The big question was whether he could add enough points to make the job difficult for Ewan. He certainly gave it a lash and was only an answer away from getting into the teens – a real mark of quality in this series. In the end, though, a total of 23 looked a couple short of a potential winning total.
This brought Ewan Paton back to the stage. Now, every now and then when I’m watching the show, I’ll see someone who I don’t actually know, but be convinced by the performance that he or she is a regular quizzer. I had that with Ewan. This was a good performance – yes, alright, maybe he dropped one or two that he might have had, but he also had some terrific answers to some tricky questions. He made sure to answer everything and not pass. His score of 13 looked good – his total of 26 looked better, and he was the deserved winner of this show. Well done, sir. Good luck in the semis.
|Keith Hutchings||Chart Music of the 1960s||11 - 3||12 - 3||23 - 6|
|Sally Jones||The Poetry of John Betjeman||10 - 0||5 - 5||15 - 5|
|Ewan Paton||US Masters 1970 - Date||13 - 0||13 - 0||26 - 0|
|Rod Armitage||The Life and Films of Luis Bunuel||8 - 1||11 - 1||19 – 2|