So I did not win my heat, but was beaten by two brilliant contestants at the top of their game. The heat winner, by the way, was a semi-finalist a couple of years ago. I would have won several of the other heats, and I did as well as the contestant who had Celtic as his subject last year (and he ended up a finalist.)
As far as best losers go, as a rule of thumb 29 points is odds-on to get through to the semis; 28 is evens; and 27 is odds against. This means that one or two more correct answers would have been very useful.
On the Pompey Round, my two wrong answers were the results of two separate failings.
On Guy Whittingham’s record goals total for a season (42), I knew it for certain. The only problem was what I knew (43) was wrong. The irony is that my last double check before I went into the studio was to verify Peter Harris’ all-time scoring record (193 league plus 18 FA Cup.)
The other wrong answer was again something I knew, and this time what I knew was right; the problem is that it would not come out of my mouth. First it would not come out at all, then it would not come out correctly, so I ended up with an anagram of Lassana Diarra (‘Lassiana Darra’). As John Humphrys said “close” – but not close enough.
There are two ironies here. The first is that when I discussed the subject with my cousin, Steve Cogan (another fan), he put the same question to me, and I came up with Diarra easily. The second is that I had rehearsed the pronunciation of Lindy Delaphena (Jamaican forward of the late 1940s) that morning, but I got tongue-tied with Lassana Diarra.
On the General Knowledge round, I was really lucky with my questions and got into quickfire groove – in fact I outscored the heat winner for GK, despite 2 passes, and never having heard of the salamander in question.
I might have done better on the AER question, which went through my mind as follows:
“In economics…” (Yes, I know about that, is it about Adam Smith, J. M. Keynes…?)
“…what do the letters…” (PSBR? ECB?)
“..AER stand for …” (That’s personal finance not economics, what does it stand for, can’t think, need more on the board, don’t waste time – PASS!)
By the time the final question came round, I did not know the answer so I thought of a Victorian artist (Atkinson Grimshaw) and mumbled the first bit to avoid a pass.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable experience: any quiz that includes both Prokofiev and Huckleberry Hound cannot be all bad.
All of the production team were very friendly and supportive, although John Humphrys was a bit aloof, but that is part of what you expect. They were also kind enough to tell me that I had done exceptionally well for a first-time participant. I certainly enjoyed the chance to tell the world about Pompey’s exceptional history as one of the great clubs in English football.
Two points to end on.
The first is that another Mastermind contestant (who I met on Brain of Britain) told me that if you get an answer wrong, it is certain that everyone else would get it right. How true…
The second point is about my cousin Steve. He was very ill with inoperable cancer when we spoke about Diarra and died in July. He would have given me no end of good-humoured stick for not getting that question right. I would have liked to have been able to dedicate a win to Steve, but it was not to be.