Friday, 12 March 2010

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 21/24

What has Mastermind got that University Challenge hasn’t ? Or to put it another way, why was University Challenge postponed in order to make way for Lambing Live, when Mastermind wasn’t ? Normally poor old Mastermind is first in the firing line whenever something needs to make way. Not that I’m complaining that we had a show tonight at all. We’re now into the last few shows of the first round, and so the expectation level is rising.

All four of tonight’s contestants were newcomers again. Some of them shaped up like old hands at this game, though. Take tonight’s first contender, Kevin Quinn. His specialist subject was The Life and Career of Lester Piggott. I actually got a couple of these right tonight. It was just one of those things. During my sojourn in Spain last summer I finished the 3 or 4 books I took with me, and at a local tourist market I picked up a few more including Lester’s autobiography. Good read too, and considering that the man gave me my first ( and last ) ever winner in the Derby when I backed Teenoso, he can do little wrong in my eyes. This round was definitely a thoroughbred, since Mr. Quinn zipped through , getting 16 points and no passes. Lester himself would surely have been proud.

Mrs. Londinius doesn’t often watch Mastermind, but she did tonight. When Paul Robson sat perched right on the edge of the black chair she said that he looked absolutely petrified, and predicted he was going to struggle. She is obviously a far more accurate tipster than I am. His specialist subject was the Weimar Republic. The poor chap looked totally overwhelmed by the experience, and once he struggled on the first few questions he was doomed. In mid round he hit a pass spiral, which saw him pass on 4 in a row, I think, and alas he didn’t ever manage to compose himself and answer questions which I am sure that he knew. He scored 2.

Wendy Mayman-Guest’s specialist subject was a barrister whom John Humphrys had originally described as the man on whom Rumpole of the Bailey was based. Edward Marshall Hall , going by the wide range of questions that the contender answered, seems to have been a remarkable character. Apparently he turned down defending Dr. Crippen. From what came out during this round about some of the cases he won, you can’t help wondering that he might even have got Crippen off. So I can understand Wendy Mayman-Guest’s interest in the subject, and also her fine performance, scoring a fine 15 as she did.

So Sean O’Neill completed the first round, with the Life and Films of Preston Sturges.Preston Sturges is one of those Hollywood figures who I’ve heard of on a number of occasions, but would have been hard pressed to name any of his films. According to Sean O’Neill they’re well worth the trouble of obtaining on DVD. In recent weeks the scores on the Specialist rounds have been a little down on what we’ve seen earlier in the series, and so Mr. O’Neill’s 13 would have put him among the front runners. Tonight though it was only good enough for third place at the halfway stage.

So Paul Robson returned to the chair , where he received some words of sympathy and encouragement from John. Quite right too. I know that nobody is ever forced to submit to the ordeal of the chair and the lights, but until you’ve tried it for yourself you can never know what it’s really like – and I do honestly feel that the experience of it is probably different for all of us. Mr. Robson managed to build up a head of steam in this round that had eluded him in the first. John Humphrys was certainly impressed by the way that he pulled his score up to 11, double figures and respectability by the end of the round. He’d scored 9 by the end of the round, and next contender Sean O’Neill went one better, with a battling 10. It wasn’t enough to put him onto the highest scoring runners up board, and you felt that Wendy Mayman- Guest and Kevin Quinn’s lead over him should be enough.

It wasn’t enough for Wendy Mayman-Guest. I pay her full credit for answering rather than passing, but many of her answers fell quite wide of the mark. She scored 7, still her total of 22 for the show is a good one. Now, Kevin Quinn had looked quite masterful in his first round, but it seemed that he was hanging on by his fingertips long before we reached the one minute mark in his GK round. He could afford three passes, and still win by scoring 7 points. He soon ate into these three passes, and it looked as if he was only crawling towards his target. Crucially though he kept his head, and didn’t panic. An eighth correct answer saw him home, and another was thrown in for good measure. 9 points saw him comfortably on 25 for a win. Well done Mr. Quinn.

The Details

Kevin Quinn Life and Career of Lester Piggott 16-0 9 – 6 25 – 6
Paul Robson The Weimar Republic 2- 4 9 – 1 11 – 5
Wendy Mayman-Guest The Life and trials of Edward Marshall Hall 15 – 0 7 – 2 22 – 2
Sean O’Neill The Life and Films of Preston Sturges 13 – 2 10 – 2 23 – 4

Since there are only three shows left in the first round now, I think we must be able to say with some certainty that the top three on our runners up board are through. So congratulations to John Cooper, Ian Scott Massie, and a special congratulations to my friend Les Morrell, who now has the distinction of being a double semi finalist.

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
Peter Cowans25 - 2
William de'Ath25 - 4

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