Friday, 12 June 2009

Mastermind Grand Final Preview

Grand Final Preview

Well, here we are, just a mere seven days before the airing of the Grand Final of Mastermind 2008. What a final it promises to be. With so little to choose between all of the finalists, based on their first round and semi final performances, in all likelihood we could see a classic tussle. Yes, I will be making my prediction shortly, and no , in case any nasty suspicious thoughts are entering anyone's heads, I don't know who won, despite having had contact with four of the finalists over the last few weeks and months.

So, what are the factors that are going to have a decisive effect on the final ? Well, all of our finalists have demonstrated that they can cope very well with the demands of learning two specialists subjects. Yet can they learn a third ? Its more of a question than you might think. Choosing three good subjects isn't easy, and I know people in the past who have got to the final , and found that their specialist just hasn't worked out as well for them as the other two. Not only that, though. You might have as much as 10 weeks to learn for your first round. If you're lucky and have an early heat to be filmed you might have even longer to learn for your semi. All of you, though, have a mere 5 weeks to learn for the final. That's not a lot, especially if you're planning to spend some time brushing up on your weakest areas of GK.

This brings me to GK. By the time you get to the final, you can't expect that you are likely to win it on your Specialist Subject. The main thing is not to lose it on Specialist - not to be too far behind at half time. You need to be able to reproduce or even improve upon your best GK form. All of the contenders in the final have scored in the twelve or more in at least one of their two GK rounds. So all are capable of scoring well on GK, and if they outperform their best score so far, winning it on GK.

Lets not ignore the question of pressure. Everything changes for the final. Suddenly you have five fellow contenders, not three. Even if you don't worry about the opposition, and can put them out of your mind, it does mean that the programme takes much longer to make. For example, I was drawn to go fifth in the first round in my final. That's a lot of time to wait, especially if you're seeing all of the others racking up good scores. You probably try not to think about how important and serious it is, but you can't help thinking that this is the final. For all you know you may never be back again. That's the kind of thought that can stop you delivering of your best. Is experience an advantage ? I would say so.

So, what's my prediction ? Well. let's look at each of the contenders one by one.

1) Richard Smyth

Richard Smyth is not, for me, the most likely winner, but there is so little to choose between them that it would certainly not be a shock if he did win. He has advantages in as much as he always does well in Specialist - with 17 and 15. The disadvantage is that he has scored two 12s in GK, which is good, but I don't know that I can see him scoring much more than this, bearing in mind the questions he missed in the first round and semi. Prediction - possible podium, but not the top step.

2) Nancy Dickmann

Nancy for me is one of the three most likely winners. Her semi-final specialist round was highly impressive, and if she repeats this she'll be hard to beat. Advantages - Nancy went through the pain barrier in her first round, when she beat the very experienced Miriam Collard - she knows how to win a tight contest. she has good general knowledge - lets say for example she gets out to a lead of more than a couple of points on Specialist. Then she could certainly hold that lead. In another year Nancy might well be the outright favourite. I feel pretty confident that Nancy will overtake my friends Kath Drury and Sandra Piddock, who have both finished 4th in a Humphrys' era final, but I foresee a third, or possibly second place finish as most likely.

3) Richard Heller

Richard Heller has been consistently impressive in both of his appearences this year. He scored a perfect 16 on specialist in the semi. His GK has been consistent too. As an advantage, Mr. Heller has been this way before, being runner up to Richard Sturch in 1996. I don't see him falling below his first round or semi final performances, and this means we can expect him to score in the very high twenties. However, will he be able to find an extra couple of points to take it through the 30 point barrier ? I wouldn't be surprised if he won at all, but as it stands, I foresee a second silver.

4) Roger Canwell

Roger sent me a delightful email this week, thanking me for my review of his semi final. Believe me, Roger, the pleasure is mine. I do hope that he doesn't mind me saying that of all of the contenders in the Final, he probably has least to lose. He has performed admirably to keep his head and reach the grand Final, which is an achievement he can be very proud of. His advantage is probably that he will know in his heart of hearts that his score in the semi was a lowish one, and being realistic, this makes him look like an outsider. Paradoxically, though, this may actually free him from pressure, and allow him to produce his very best performance. He scored 26 in the first round. A couple of more points than this and he would genuinely be in contention. I see him , as I said, as an outsider, though, but Mastermind can be more like the Grand National than the Derby. Sometimes the outsiders come in.

5) Ian Bayley

Our other potential medallists have already produced very close to optimum performance. Ian, I have to say, still seems to have room to push the envelope a little more. His semi final performance was better, in terms of total score and specialist subject, than his first round performance. Potentially though, he could improve quite a bit more in the final. Of all the finalists, and I mean no disrespect to anyone else by this, he is in all probability the best 'pure' quizzer. In a written quiz of lets say 40 questions, I imagine he would win. As we know its not a simple as this. Yet all things considered, I tend to think that the contender most likely to find that little bit extra to get clear of the pack is Ian, and I pick him as my most likely winner.

6) Stuart Macdonald.

Last, but not least. Stuart didn't think he'd even get picked for the series, let alone win heat and semi-final. Yet he scored 28 in the semi final, and that is seriously good form for anyone else to contend with. He has the weight of the expectation of all Northern Ireland upon him, but if his semi final showed nothing else it showed that he can cope with pressure. A scan of the results of the whole of the Humphrys' era reveals that if he repeats his score of the semi-final, 28, then he should finish in the top three.

All of which gives me a problem. Reading this back, I think that I've just predicted that 5 people will end in the top 3 ! That's my problem, you see, based on performances in the series so far it really is that tight. So if I have to nail my colours to the mast, I take Ian Bayley to probably win, most likely with Richard Heller and Nancy Dickmann to contest silver and bronze, with Roger, Richard and Stuart not more than a gnat's whisker behind them.

So there you are. None of my predictions are made with any confidence, and it won't surprise me in the least if I turn out to be 100% wrong. Roll on next Friday.

The Raw Figures

NameRound 1 S/SR.1 - GK R.1 - TotalSemi S/SSemi GKSemi Total
Richard Smyth 17 - 012 - 029 -015 - 012 - 027- 0
Nancy Dickmann 13 - 014 - 127 - 116 - 012 - 028 - 0
Richard Heller14 - 014-228 - 216 - 013 - 129 - 1
Roger Canwell14 - 113 - 127 - 212 - 29 - 321 - 5
Ian Bayley13 - 013 - 026 - 016 - 012 - 0 28 - 0
Stuart Macdonald14 - 012 - 226 - 217 - 111 - 328 - 3


JC said...

My money's on Dickman to pip Bayley at the death

Londinius said...

You could be right James. As I said, its so close between all of the finalists' performances so far, that its not unrealistic to say that any of them could win.

Mike88 said...

Not long left till you are officially de-crowned. I would be surprised if this final is as exciting as last years.

Londinius said...

Ah, Mike, you say the nicest things ! To be fair you knew the result of the last final nine months before it was broadcast ( don't worry everyone else - Mike is my son ! )

bill said...

Gosh is your previous article about the pheasant quiz sour grapes or what! Most music quizzes you have to identify artist AND title so why accentuate this? You complain about the handouts because the team in the lead had a MALE NURSE in their team and it was on bones - well this MALE NURSE was a Psychiatric nurse not medical and the human skeletal system is a subject taught in most(all) schools and being a teacher you should have an 'unfair advantage' in this AND most areas. Your comment about the QM knowing about the Nurse in the team (on this occasion factually incorrect) and having a lead after the music round ( how would he have known this prior to the quiz?) The person you refer to, Steve Williams is rarely in the lead after the music round, on this occasion he was accompanied by someone with a vast knowledge of music - the QM whoever it is does not know who is going to turn up each week. The Pheasant quiz is run by the locals, FOR the locals who enjoy a bit of fun on Sunday evening and NOBODY takes it seriously (well almost nobody!!)
All you can do on your blog is repeatedly run down the quiz yet you persist in turning up! The preparation of the quiz takes a lot of time and effort from whoever presents it. The quiz has enjoyed something of a revival in recent times in attendance terms, thanks in no small part to the youngsters who have also recently produced and presented the quiz themselves and in doing so cater for the interests of ALL attendees. You have proved at the quiz with your repeated shouts of 'YES' every time you get a correct answer that you not only an ungracious winner but as clearly shows on your blog an even more ungracious loser.

Londinius said...

I have already posted my response to criticism about the article I wrote about the Pheasant quiz in response to comments of a similar nature posted on the article itself. If you haven't read them already and are interested, then you can find them there. I don't really have a lot more to say on that particular issue than I have already said.

With response to the 'Yes!' thing, I noticed that Mr. Jeffers posted a complaint about the same thing in his personal attack on me posted in his own blog. If you look back to the comments after the article in question, you can click on his name and it will take you to his own blog. I don't know whether you've seen it or not. I'm sure you'd be in agreement with a lot of the things he's said there.
I'll be honest, I don't really see why the 'yes' thing upsets people that much - now if I was doing a lap of honour running round the pub bare chested and screaming in people's faces, yes ( oops, sorry, I said it again ) that would be a different matter.

None of us are above criticism. I am entitled to my point of view. You are entitled to yours - hence you can post your comments here, and, so long as they are not abusive or obscene, they will not be edited or removed. Your post is here for everyone to read, and when people have read it they may very well agree with you, and your assessment of me. That is their prerogative.

Whether or not I attend a particular quiz is up to me, and of course the landlord of the pub in question. I don't have to explain why I attend a quiz to anyone else. If the Pheasant want to ban me from the quiz, then fair enough. I'll go quietly. Other than that, I will make up my mind whether I intend to come to a quiz there in future or not.

As I have said before, this is a public forum, and you are free to air your opinons.