Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 2

After the pleasant enough diversion of the Children in Need special last week we returned to the delights of the original and best last night, and for the first time this year, a contestant I have actually met before in the course of my quizzing career. Not Philip Price, as far as I know, who was answering on The Wines of the Loire Valley. Nor Frances Chant, whose subject was the Sandman Graphic Novels of Neil Gaiman. Step forward Maya Davies. Maya played in 2009/10 Brain of Britain, and her heat was recorded immediately before mine was. Unfortunately for her the heat also combined a certain Dr. Ian Bayley, who went on to win the series. As I recall she commented ruefully on the great man’s blinding buzzer speed after the show, something I would experience personally before the series was over. Still, this was Mastermind, not Brain of Britain, and Maya’s subject last night was The Life and Work of Gerard Hoffnung. Finally Adrian Scott offered us The Scottish Enlightenment.

Philip’s subject , the wines of the Loire Valley, promised to be a very tricky one. I say this because in 2007, in my first round heat the second to go was a very nice guy called Tim Vick. Tim had opted to take German wines. I didn’t say so to Tim, but when I heard that was what he was taking I thought that it was a terribly wide subject to be taking, when you consider all the different aspects of the subject that they might ask you. So did last night’s prove to be. In fact I thought Philip did extremely well to get as many points on it as he did, especially considering how difficult the subject was.

Now, while we’re on the subject of subjects, Frances Chant had opted for the Sandman Graphic novels of Neil Gaiman, which last appeared on Mastermind during Geoff’s 2006 series. In fact it was in Geoff’s semi final, when it was taken by Nick Duffy, who scored 17 with it. How do I know this ? Well, I was sitting in the audience watching it. I was semi final stand in that year. If you want further proof of how small a world it is, Barry Simmons also played in the same semi, and Pat Gibson was sitting next to me in the audience, the first time that I actually met him. Not that this had any bearing on the round last night. Frances scored 11, which is nothing to be sniffed at, but left room for either of the contenders still to come a bit of room to establish a healthy lead.

Maya was answering on Gerard Hoffnung. On the specialist rounds she was certainly the pick of the contenders last night. 14 points on specialist in a 2 minute round is pretty good quizzing. I speak from experience. You can have anything up to 12 weeks to prepare for your subject, and you can work and work and work at it, but you can still almost guarantee that the setters will find something to ask that you haven’t considered. A three point lead with one more contender to go looked very handy.

Adrian Scott’s subject, the Scottish Enlightenment was an interesting one, but also one of those very difficult portmanteau subjects whose parameters are theoretically so wide that it becomes extremely difficult to make a good score. He started rather well, I thought, but there were just too many he didn’t know to prevent him from getting any real rhythm going, and building up a head of steam. In the end he scored 9.

This meant a return trip to the chair once the halftime scores had been announced. he gave a decent, battling account of himself now, struggling a little at times, but doggedly pushing the score onwards to 12. Nothing to be ashamed of in a two and a half minute round. Of the 4, his was the round I did best on last night with 20, but it was only a point more than any of the others, so the level of GK questions seemed pretty even to me. Poor Philip Price gave us our first descent into pass hell this series. He became locked in a spiral from which he never quite managed to escape during the whole round, and in the end he added another 7 points to his score.

So, barring disaster, we were very likely to have our first lady through to the semis tonight. Frances came first. I liked the way that Frances went about her business in her round. Yes, there were things she didn’t know, but she didn’t allow them to put her off answering the things she did know- and that , believe it or not, is more important for reaching your potential in Mastermind than you might think. She added 12 to her score. It looked highly likely that Maya, needing 10 to win outright, should get there with some time to spare, but nonetheless it wasn’t going to be a walkover. Maya had produced the best of the specialist rounds, and last night she produced the best of the GK rounds as well. She looked calm and composed, and although she couldn’t quite bring out a couple of the answers that she knew that she knew, it didn’t matter. 13 took her total to 27, and a clear win. Well done Maya ! As for Frances, well, if I’m honest I doubt that 23 will be enough to see her through to a repechage spot, but well played anyway.

The Details

Philip Price The Wines of the Loire Valley 10-3 7 – 6 17 – 9
Frances Chant The Sandman Graphic Novels of Neil Gaiman 11 – 2 12 – 4 23 - 6
Maya Davies The Life and Work of Gerard Hoffnung 14 – 1 13 – 5 27 - 6
Adrian Scott The Scottish Enlightenment 9 – 3 12 – 3 21 – 6


Unknown said...

One of my competitors in the first round of the 2008/09 season also did the Scottish Enlightenment, so I was a bit surprised to see it again so soon!

Unknown said...

Sorry, that's me, Nancy - not sure why it's coming up as 'unknown'!

Londinius said...

Hi Nancy

Lovely to hear from you ! I don't think they have hard and fast rules about how long it has to be between subjects. I think - and I may be wrong in this - I think they are just as concerned about getting a wide enough spread in a particular series. Case in point - when I went for my first MM audition, they told me they didn't like any of my original subjects, and so I had to select others off the top of my head. I came up with the history of Tottenham Hotspur FC and it was summarily rejected - only for me to see it being offered by Susan Sworn a year later in the 2007 SOBM.


LisaH said...

Interesting - I would have scored as many on the last set as all the others put together - although I did get 'aegrotat'. Maybe that's why I'll never be Mastermind champion!!