Friday, 10 August 2012

Mastermind - Heat 1

I know the question which has the potential to keep you awake unless I should answer it , namely , did I take the Wiki Challenge for this week’s first heat of Mastermind ? Well, worry not, I shall answer that question now. No, I didn’t. I’ve been a busy boy today, and there’s been Olympics to watch, and bearing in mind I fancied a go at three of the subjects with no prep, I decided to postpone my first go at the challenge this series. Off to Spain before next week's show, so it might be a while before I get to see it as well.

Still, that's my problem, and never mind it for the moment. Let’s get on with the show. Given the honour of kicking off the 2012/13 series was Rosalind Winter. Rosalind was offering one of the three subjects which I fancied – the Completed Novels of Jane Austen. Now, bearing in mind that I haven’t read any of them for getting on for 30 years, and that some of my answers were based on what I remember from telly or film adaptations, then I was pretty pleased to get 7 – pretty much all from the first minute’s questions if I recall correctly. Rosalind acquitted herself admirably. 15 in a 2 minute round is a good score which will always give you a good chance if your GK is up to snuff.

Nathan Joss must be one of the youngest of this year’s contenders. He was offering the second of my fancied specialists, in the shape of the life and times of Queen Elizabeth Ist. By sheer coincidence I managed 7 of these as well, spread throughout the round though they were. Despite his relative youth Nathan did not let himself become overawed by the occasion, and managed a good 13 in a round which seemed to me to have its fair share of obscurities as well as relative gimmes.

My banker subject , in the shape of Fawlty Towers, came third, and my thanks are extended towards Gregory Spiller for offering it. I had most, if not all of the questions that focused on details from specific shows, and ended up with 13. Well pleased with that. However Gregory did much better, with a very fine 16, only missing out on one question I believe. 16 took the lead.

Follow that, as they say. Well, that’s exactly what Chris Cann set out to do. Chris was answering on my bogey subject , the Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan. I managed one, which to be honest is one more than I expected. Chris, however , managed his own sixteen and no passes, which guaranteed that he would be the last to go in the GK round. So at the halfway stage there were only 3 points between all 4 contenders. All 4 had acquitted themselves well on the specialist, and so could relax into the GK.

Nathan , I will admit, I feared a little for. I always think the Gk round can be harder on younger contenders, simply because there’s so many things you can be asked which you might just know simply because you’re that bit older, which a younger person wouldn’t know. I needn’t have worried. Nathan showed admirable presence of mind to snap out an answer, or in a couple of cases to pass quickly when he didn’t know a guess, and as a result he kept his round ticking along nicely, and scored a commendable 13. A score which Rosalind was unable to match in her own round. She added 9 to her total, which left her 2 points behind Nathan. I also found her round a little harder than the others, scoring a 17 myself as opposed to 20s for Nathan and Gregory’s rounds, and a 21 for Chris’ round.

Gregory needed 10 to overhaul Nathan’s score. This should be doable in a 2 and a half minute round, but it’s never easy when you’re in the chair, and things can go wrong. They didn’t go wrong in Gregory’s round though, and indeed he answered very well, never seeming too flustered, and keeping the round ticking along. 16 put him comfortably into the 30s , with 32, and with only Chris to go, he certainly looked the favourite to go through.

Chris never seemed quite as good in his GK round as Gregory, and missed a few ‘quizzers’ questions, of the sort that Gregory had answered. Nonetheless he did keep the score ticking along, although a little more slowly than Gregory had managed to do. In the end Chris managed 13, which was enough to give him a final total of 29. As John himself pointed out, that may well be good enough to get him into the semis, indeed 28 was the lowest score to get into last year’s semis.

A word for Nathan Joss – you might not have made it this time, but you did well and you should keep it up. You’ll only get better. But tonight belongs to Gregory Spiller. Many congratulations, an impressive performance.

The Details

Rosalind Winter The Completed Novels of Jane Austen15 - 09 - 424 – 4
Nathan JossThe Life and Times of Elizabeth I13 - 013 - 326 - 3
Gregory SpillerFawlty Towers16 - 016 - 332 - 3
Chris CannThe Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan16 - 013 - 229 – 2


DanielFullard said...

Enjoyed it but have one issue to raise. I know people myself included, who had subjects rejected for being too narrow.....Fawlty Towers I loved tonight but I was rejected Tv Career of Alan Partridge....Would have been 25 episodes etc for being too short and also Austens Novels is a very narrow subject.

Still I think Gregoey will be hard to beat!

Londinius said...

I think that the problem here Dan is that there are sometimes subjects that they just don't fancy, and yet they don't want to give that as an excuse. Hence the thing about Partridge being too narrow - which is cobblers.But it's even more complicated than that. As I think I mentioned in my earlier post this week, I don't think it's the subjects themselves that are automatically rejected. It seems to me that there are subjects which they are quite happy for some contenders to do, whilst they wouldn't let other contenders do the same subjects. It's the combination of subject AND contender that they are interested in, I think, even though they might not say as much .

Andrew B. said...

For what it's worth, I scored 1 more in each GK round than its predecessor

tuckeraj said...

Did anyone else notice JH using first names rather than the first name/surname combo of previous years?

is he trying to appear warmer? has the "never speaks to the punters" feedback got through?

PS. Since when does taking a breath count as starting the question?

I really should get out more!

drgaryegrant said...

I don't think John ever spoke to me off set, Andy!

Is it just me or has this series started ludicrously early? Not that I wanted to bask in being the 'reigning' champion for as long as possible, you understand.

On the subject, er, subject, I would only add to Dave's correct remarks that there are no hard and fast rules, simply a decision made on the basis of whether the contender/topic combo will 'work' and also, seemingly, the prevailing wind, that it also apparently matters which ROUND it is. I was told I couldn't pick 'Girls Aloud' as my subject for the final, but that it apparently would have been OK for one of the earlier rounds....

dxdtdemon said...

Gary Grant's comments about fairness during the last series have inspired me to create a metric called correct answers per 40 questions. Whilst the tenths place is not a significant digit, it will probably be needed later on as a tiebreaker about which 30 contestants "should've" moved on. To be fair, I think that Mastermind does a lot better job of advancing its better contestants than University Challenge does, but this metric might be interesting to some people.

Anyway, the CA40 for round 1 are:
Gregory Spiller-32.8
Chris Cann-30.3
Nathan Joss-27.4
Rosalind Winter-26.7

Since the CA40's were higher than the actual Mastermind scores, no one was even asked 40 (let alone the 41 minimum needed to match Ashman) questions in this heat.

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone

Andy and Gary - I'm relieved that it's not just me who never hadanything remotely approaching a conversation with John Humphrys when I wasn't actually sitting in the Mastermind chair. To be fair to him, after the final of CHamp of Champs I did ask him for a photo of the two of us together, and he did leave his meal for it.

Jonathan - intersting stats. What will be interesting will be if there are shows where your stats actually put the rank order differently from the way it works out in the studio.

jeffgrimshaw said...

Far from the series starting early this year, it seems to be back to its usual schedule following a very late start (November) last year. I have no idea why it started so late last year, but it was clearly a mistake (or at least a lack of foresight) as evidenced by the number of “double-headers” they had to show in order to get the series finished on time. In fact, a quick check of Wiki shows that the 09/10 and 10/11 series both started in August.

One thing I noticed on the BBC site is that they are suggesting that there are 30 episodes scheduled for this series (eg last weeks show was listed as 1/30) – this is different from the past few series, which had 31 episodes (24 heats, 6 semis and 1 final.)

Does this mean the format is different this year? Or is it simply a typo?

Londinius said...

Hi Jeff

Well spotted ! Simple answer is - I don't know. Personally I think that it might just be a mistake - not sure how they could lose a show short of having 23 heats and 7 highest scoring runners up, which would be a pretty rum way of doing it, but then the Beeb can be a law unto itself some times.

Schedulers sadly can play fast and loose with Mastermind, being as they know that it's core audience are very loyal and will seek it out.

jeffgrimshaw said...

I agree that it’s most likely a mistake but, having thought about it, one way they could lose a programme and not affect the format too much is by reducing the number of semis from 6 to 5 and increasing the number of contenders per semi from 5 to 6. You could then put the 5 winning semi-fnalists plus the highest scoring semi-final runner-up into the final.
Of course, to do this you’d need to increase the time of each semi from 30 mins to, say, 45 mins, but if this could be done it could have the added benefit of allowing the standard 2 mins for semi final SS rounds