Friday, 24 September 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 6/24

If you’ve read any of my recent posts you’ll know that I’ve had an exciting week, one way and another. So what better way to round it off than having someone to cheer for on Mastermind? Step forward Min Lacey. I haven’t actually met Min, but I remember her last year from her heroics on Only Connect, where she was the captain of the brilliant Archers Admirers, so unlucky to meet the series winners The Gamblers in their semi final. We saw on OC last year that Min’s a fine player, and doesn’t seem to suffer from nerves on set, but would even this be enough to overcome the curse of the Clark sofa ?

Min was answering on the Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz. As you know, he was the creator of the Peanuts cartoon strip. This struck me as the kind of round which seems on the surface to be quite narrow, so you know that the setters are really going to dig deep, and throw the metaphorical kitchen sink at you. Based on my strictly limited knowledge of Mr. Schulz and his oeuvre, this seemed to be exactly what happened. Min was equal to the task, though, rattling off correct answers to the first 8 questions. She lost a tiny bit of momentum then, but being an experienced TV hand she didn’t panic, and kept on adding points to take her score to 12. Barring an outstanding score from one of the others, this meant her General Knowledge would definitely put her in the hunt in the next round. So far so good.

Our second specialist subject was The Second Ranger Battalion in World War Two, and it was served up to us by Matt Rowlands. Matt made a slip up with the second question, but it was full steam ahead after this, and he barely made another error until the end of the round, when he had taken his score up to an impressive 15. Like Min before him he had also had the presence of mind to avoid any passes. Would this be important in the final reckoning ? Time would tell.

The Plays of Tennessee Williams were Louise Broadbent’s specialism tonight. Like Min before her she made a superb start to her round, taking the first 7 on the bounce, and then like Min before her she didn’t quite get back the same momentum. She too took her score to 12 by the buzzer, although in this round we did get the first passes of the night.

Bringing the specialist round to a close was Simon Martin, whose subject , UK progressive rock 1968 – 1978 seemed another of those which could suffer from its apparent narrowness. Simon managed 4 without error, then passed, and for a moment was rather becalmed. Then he picked up an impressive turn of speed, but again in the last 30 seconds passed, and again lost momentum, not to recover. Never mind, 12 points and 2 passes put him nicely into contention.

So we had the unusual halftime situation whereby any of our contenders could win, and it would be a brave person who would gamble on predicting the outcome. Despite having no passes to Louise’s and Simon’s 2 passes, Min returned to the chair to kick off the GK round. How well she did ! 16 is a fine score. Yes, I think she’d admit that she missed just a couple which she would have had if she’d had a little bit longer to think about them. But there’s the rub – you don’t have a little bit longer ! What she did really well was to maintain her concentration right through to the end, in particular the last 30 seconds enabled her to set what already looked like a really challenging target of 28. Curse beaten ?

Perhaps, but not yet. Firstly Louise took a go at overhauling the target. Like Min she earned respect for keeping going and not running out of steam at the end of the round. However , in a week where I thought all of the GK rounds were very much of the same standard of questions there was just too much that she honestly didn’t know, and she levelled out at a score of 11, for a total of 23.

Simon, on the other hand did impress at the start of his round, and at the minute mark he was more or less neck and neck with Min at the same stage. But this round is now rather less of a sprint than it used to be. Or to use a slightly different analogy , if the 2 minute round was an out and out 200 metres sprint, the new GK rounds are more like a 400 metre race. You have to be fast, but you have to have stamina too. Simon just fell behind on the clock during the second minute, and at the end of the round he had scored a good 13 to finish on 25.

So it was down to Matt to try to take the win. 13 points and no passes would bring a tie break with Min. Anything more would be an outright win, and anything less wouldn’t be enough. I think that Matt probably did the equivalent of looking down a mountain when you’re halfway up to the summit and having an attack of vertigo. In all honesty as well I think that the round just didn’t suit, and he never really got on terms with it. I may be mistaken, but I think he was probably quite relieved when the round ended. He finished with 20.

Congratulations Min ! Yours was by some distance the pick of the GK rounds tonight and one of the better ones we’ve seen so far this series. With a really competitive specialist score you will definitely need to be taken very seriously by whoever you meet in your semi final . Best of luck !

The Details

Min Lacey The Life and Work of Charles M. Schulz 12 – 0 16 – 0 28 – 0
Matt Rowlands The 2nd Ranger Battalion in World War Two 15 – 0 5 – 3 20 – 3
Louise Broadbent The Plays of Tennessee Williams 12 – 2 11 – 4 23 – 6
Simon Martin UK Progressive Rock 1968 – 1978 12 – 2 13 – 4 25 – 6

Current Highest Scoring Runners-Up

Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Laura Humphreys 25 – 4
Simon Martin 25 - 6
Nick Spickernell 25 – 7


Andrew B. said...

Well done Min! (It's Charles *Schulz*, by the way!)

Londinius said...

Ooops - I'll fix that now Andrew


Quiz_Beagle said...

Thanks, Andrew - and very many thanks, David (you may not have met me, but I am an avid reader! ;-))

Quiz_Beagle said...

Oh, and I am Min...

Londinius said...

Hi Min

Lovely to virtually meet you. Many congratulations on a fine performance last night - without wishing to be unfair to your fellow contenders, you were a different class in the GK round. I wish you the very best of luck in the semis - even if they have already been recorded.


Andrew B. said...

The semis have been recorded - not sure if anyone's said this already, but they have shorter rounds: 90 seconds on specialist subjects, 2 minutes of general knowledge.

Londinius said...

Ah, thank you Andrew, that does answer a question for me - I wondered if we were going with the same semi final format as inthe last series. This shows that we are. Thanks.