Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mastermind - Round 1 - Heat 5

The first round continues – although I shouldn’t wonder that the Christmas break can’t be far away. Shame. Still, let’s get back to last night’s show. Andrew Hunter was the first to venture into the chair . Andrew is no stranger to the this particular item of furniture. He played in Shaun’s series of 2004, where he took the Battle of Britain. He didn’t make it to the semis then, being runner up in quite a high scoring heat. Andrew certainly knew just how important it is to get off to a great start in the specialist round. So that’s what he did. 18 questions followed about Montgomery of El Alamein, and 17 were answered. A single pass was the only blemish on a superb round.

Second contender Jeff Grimshaw’s subject, by way of contrast, was the American football team, the Chicago Bears. I’ll be honest, if you ask me about the 1986 Chicago Bears Superbowl winning team, - coach Mike Ditka – Walter Payton – William ‘The Fridge’ Perry – Jim McMahon – then I have a slight chance of answering. Other than that, nope. Naturally Jeff Grimshaw was a hell of a lot better than this. In fact his 15 and 1 pass was a fine round, and certainly put him close enough to challenge Andrew, if he could produce a good GK round.

I’m afraid that neither of the last 2 contenders could manage a performance on specialist which would enable them to challenge in the GK section. Keith Bate was answering on the world chess champion Tigran Petrossian. He scored 8. Having watched the round I’m not sure whether he was hampered by nerves, or whether it was one of those times when the question setter and the contender seem to have different ideas of the parameters of the subject. Even on a 2 and a half minute round, Keith was playing for pride after this. Ian Allan offered us Jimi Hendrix. Now, I think that he was definitely affected by nerves. When you see people taking rounds on a popular cultural icon of Hendrix’ stature they usually score very highly. 10 is a perfectly respectable score, but not as high as I expected.

With the best will in the world by half time it was clear that we had a two horse race. First, though Keith returned to the chair for his specialist round. The nerves affected him badly here, I think. He never achieved a head of steam, and never answered more than two questions correctly in a row. In the end he looked relieved when the buzzer finally ended the round. He scored 7 points from 19 questions, and his overall score had gone up to 15. Ian also suffered from the same nerves that had affected his first round performance. After answering 7 of his first 12 questions correctly he lost all the momentum in his round, and didn’t manage one of the next 6 questions before he was rescued by the buzzer.

When you’re not the last contender to go in the GK round, the best way to put pressure on the leader is to whack in the very best GK round you can manage. Jeff certainly tried. He rattled off answers to his first 3 questions. However 2 passes followed, and two incorrect answers after that. From here on in the round was a struggle. To be fair to him he managed to keep his head, and hardly passed again, always trying to offer an answer. this tactic brought him another 7 correct answers. By the end of the round he had scored a decent return of 10 correct answers from 20 questions. The target , though, was not really that much of a mountain for Andrew to have to climb.

To put it into perspective, Andrew managed 10 in 2 minutes in his 2004 GK round. So I confidently expected him to score the highest GK round of the evening. You have to say, he didn’t disappoint. Four correct answers began the round. A wrong answer, a pass, then 4 more correct answers. A pass, another pass, then four more correct answers. A pass, then four more correct answers. A very good, rather symmetrical round which saw him win at a canter. 16 from 21 GK questions is a good return, and 33 is a fine score- well done sir. Good luck in the semis. As for Jeff Grimshaw – well played. I don’t think it’s a high enough score to bring a runner up place in the semis, but you never know.

The Details

Andrew Hunter Field Marshal Montgomery of El Alamein17 - 116 - 433 – 5
Jeff GrimshawThe Chicago Bears15 - 110 - 325 – 4
Keith BateTigran Petrossian8 - 07 - 515 – 5
Ian AllanJimi Hendrix10 -17 - 417 – 5


drgaryegrant said...

Hi again Dave,

Yes, according to the Radio Times MM is now off until next year.

OK, this may be a bit off-topic (as specific to this show or blog entry) but every time I watch Mastermind (including this one), I can't help thinking that the game as a whole is fundamentally flawed, and I'd be interested to hear your views.

Admittedly, it's a bid odd because (as you may or may not know) I gave Mastermind another go in the currently-being-shown series, although I won't be appearing, I
suspect, until about April because my heat was one of the last filmed. So there are things I would like to say about my most recent experience but can't, lest I create spoilers. But I just think in an era of 300+ channels and a plethora of game show formats that MM has a big struggle getting a decent audience due to what has always been its Achilles' heel - the SS round.

Back when the show first started I think they had a better format: a contender would take an enormously broad SS topic such as 'Visual Art' or 'World War One' and this
has a twofold effect: first, there was a chance that the viewer at home may be able to play along if it was an interest of theirs, and secondly, it tested an in-depth,
prior knowledge rather than what most people do nowadays - which is bone up on something relatively narrow and then try to remember it as short-term recall for the
show. I have forgotten 75% of what I learned about the Planets from 3 years ago, for example. And it is the fact that the first half of Mastermind is essentially
watching other people attempt memory recall that you can't play along at home with, that is the show's major, gaping flaw. Certainly, it's why I believe UC gets much
better viewing figures - the questions there may be challenging but at least you know you can attempt them. People watch GK quizzes largely to play along at home and if you can't do this for half the programme, it is a significant failing for a knowledge-based gameshow.

The other bugbear I have is that some of the SS questions are just too easy, possibly in a misguided attempt to improve the 'play at home' factor. Take the other
night: I had only vaguely heard of the chess champion, but the first question asked where he was born, and added the info that it was the capital of Georgia. So most
people with a grasp of geography would get it, no 'specialist subject' knowledge of Mr Petrosian needed. If you are going to make the specialist subjects so narrow,
then should the layperson be able to get 2 or 3 a round right, as I seem to consistently do, through either educated guesses or non-specialist knowledge? Should I be
being asked, as I was in 2008, which former planet has been downgraded to 'dwarf planet' status? How much 'specialised' knowledge does it require to know that?

drgaryegrant said...

The solution I think is to actually make the show like the website, in that your specialist subject has to come from a predefined, very broad category such as 'History', 'Geography' or 'TV'. Viewers could then play along, particularly if the contender picks their 'favourite subject' and you are then also searching for someone with an excellent general and specialist *knowledge*, rather than someone with - potentially - a good-to-fair GK but brilliant short-term memory recall. How often is the outcome virtually decided by the end of the SS round, suggesting that the recall has far too much current importance (you corroborate this in the above blog saying it became a 2-horse race at half-time)? Again, I think the expansion of the GK to 2 and a half minutes for R1 may be acknowledgement of this (and not just because the 'chats' were often excruciating telly!)

Just my thoughts, but even when I was really into quizzing (more so than I am now) I found the first half of MM quite tedious, and I'm sure the average non-quizzer is
the same. I think it has to change to do anything other than attract its current 'hardcore' audience (and maybe secure a long-term future) and get some way towards
it's previous popularity, and I think it could do this without 'dumbing down' or altering its status as the pinnacle of TV quizzing.

Sorry - that was a bit long, wasn't it?

Londinius said...

Hi Gary

Thanks for a most intersting and thought provoking comment. I've given a bit of though tto my response, and since it's so long I have actually posted it as a main post.



DanielFullard said...

We have celebrity Mastermind to look forward to though haha