Saturday, 12 February 2011

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 22/24

We’ve reached the 22nd heat , which means we have two left to go after this before we enter the delightful melee that is the semi final stage of the competition. Let joy be unconfined, whoever Joy is. OK, lets get down to business. Although the contenders wouldn’t have known this when they recorded their show, I’m sure, the bottom line was that a second place score of 29 and 1 pass or better would guarantee a semi final berth.

First contender Steve Upstone certainly put in the kind of first round performance which made this look like a possibility. He was answering on the life and music of Richard Thompson. Richard Thompson of Fairport Convention. Cards on the table folks, I had a pretty good idea that this was not going to be a round where I would be supplying any answers from the Clark sofa, and I proved correct in my assumption. It would be down to the other three rounds to bump up my TSS (Total Specialist Score) in this show. Steve, on the other hand put on a very good performance, and his 16 was the pick of the specialist rounds.

Leslie Hurn on the other hand was offering a subject much more to my taste. The Life and Films of Ray Harryhausen to be precise. When I was a kid I was given a copy of Michael Rodd’s Screen Test annual – it would have been about 1972, and there was a section in it all about Ray Harryhausen. I developed a great fondness for his films – I have even been known to sit through the Valley Of Gwangi – and I still have to cancel all appointments if his Jason and The Argonauts is on the telly. So my 7 points was a fairly decent return on what was I felt rather a tricky round – you had to really know your stuff. Leslie knew enough to earn 12 points.

I always fancy my chances on Kings and Queens – in my semi final in the 2007 SOBM I took George IV, so I watched Helen Walking’s round on King Stephen with great interest. I thought she did extremely well. None of these questions were gimmes, and to get 14 showed that she’d prepared thoroughly, and didn’t seem to suffer adversely from nerves in the chair. I was happy to get my 5.

Last in the first round was journalist Max Cooter, taking another subject to my liking, The Plays of William Shakespeare. I thought that all of the questions about the plays I knew were very fair. The problem with this subject is that there are just so many of them. Which I think Max discovered to be a problem as the round progressed. Going by his GK performance I don’t think it was nerves, but he really seemed to struggle. I managed 7 of his questions, and sadly he only managed 6.

All of which makes his GK performance all the more praiseworthy. With nothing to lose, and a repechage slot beyond the bounds of possibility, he went for it all guns blazing. It might not have been quite in the same league as the very best GK rounds we’ve seen this serious, but it was still a bloomin’ good one. 16 points off a 2 and a half minute round is a good performance by almost anyone’s standards. With a better specialist , he coulda’ been a contendah.

Leslie didn’t look quite as assured on GK as Max. Still, he had a considerable points advantage to begin with, and easily overhauled the 22 which had been set as the target. His 14 was a good , steady piece of quizzing. Answer what you know, guess what you don’t, keep moving on. It’s a simple game plan, and an effective one, but not always easy to stick to when you’re sitting in the chair. 26 looked a decent, if gettable target.

Well, gettable it may have been, but Helen couldn’t manage it. After a fairly confident start you always felt that she was against the clock. Her specialist had been 2 points better than Leslie’s, but that 2 points was gobbled up by the unforgiving hand of the clock. In the end she scored 10 to put herself on 24. Nothing to be ashamed of. So only Steve Upstone could deny Leslie his place in the semi now. At first I thought he was going to do it. He had clearly decided upon the 3 step tactic of 1) think, 2) answer if you know it, 3) pass if you don’t. Now, if you observe the think part of this, then it’s a viable tactic especially when the target is relatively small. However the danger of this is that when you start to get a couple of passes in a row, then it becomes harder and harder to think, and easier and easier to pass the next question as well – the dreaded pass spiral. He reached 25, just one point behind, but was to come no closer than this. In the end he passed on 12.

So well done Leslie Hurn. Well done too to James Collenette.Back in the very first show of the series he scored a fine 29 , and has been waiting patiently on the repechage board for the whole series.

The Details

Steve Upstone The Life and Music of Richard Thompson16 - 19 - 1225 - 13
Leslie HurnThe Life and films of Ray Harryhausen12 - 214 - 226 - 2
Helen WalklingKing Stephen14 - 010 - 324 - 3
Max CooterThe Plays of William Shakespeare6 - 316 - 222 - 5

Current Highest Scoring Runners-Up

Nick Mills – 34 – 4
Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Philip Evans – 28 - 1
Duncan Byrne – 27 – 2

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