Making a third entry to the Mastermind lists was last night’s third contender Mike Foden. Mike was a contender in both 2009 and 2011. In 2009 he answered on Kazimir Malevich, and in 2011 the life and work of Robert Doisneau, Last night he was offering one of my wiki subjects , Steely Dan. I would have had 1 without wiki, since I would have guessed that the William Burroughs novel in which the object Steely Dan features is “Naked Lunch”. With wiki’s help, though I managed 6. Mike didn’t seem to be either answering slowly, answering many wrongly, or passing many, but he managed 9 which certainly seemed as if it would give him a bit to do in the GK room.
Julie Green, whom I will call one of last night’s ‘civilians’ , answered on the Mapp and Lucia Novels of E.F.Benson. Now, once again tonight I didn’t hear a lot of wrong answers, and there were only 2 passes. Yet the score was 12. Now, don’t get me wrong , 12 is a good score, no doubt about that. But it’s not the kind of score I thought that the round was worth. All of which seemed to confirm my impressions that this was a show in which all the contenders were being given long questions. In which case Mike’s score was looking better, especially considering that he would probably be a force to be reckoned with on GK.
The second ‘civilian’ was James Jack, who offered my second wiki subject , The Boston Bruins since 1970. I would have had precisely one of these, since I would have guessed Fenway park if I didn’t know it. With wiki though I managed a pleasing 7. James set the best score of the round so far with a rousing 12 and no passes. I know what you’re thinking , and no, he didn’t have many wrong either. On one hand, at least the rounds within the show were being consistent. Whether it was consistent with specialist rounds in other heats, well, that is more of a question.
Our last contender, then , was Mark Grant. Mark is well known to Mastermind fans, and indeed within the wider quiz world. If I mention that he is a member of the seemingly unbeatable Crossworders, the Champion of Champion of Champions of Only Connect you’ll have some idea of the calibre of quizzer we’re talking about. Not to mention that he was 3rd in the Mastermind 2010 Grand final, and runner up to Pat in the 2005 Grand Final. How unlucky can you get, having to play quizzers of the calibre of Pat, Jesse, and Kathryn Johnson in your two grand finals ? Make no mistake, Mark is a contender for the title this year. However he had to first earn a place in the semis. His specialist round on Henry Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor didn’t make his task any easier for him. Mark answers quickly, and for the most part correctly, and in my opinion he always prepares meticulously for his specialist rounds. However a few bouncers caught him out in this, and he too only managed to get into double figures on his last correct answer. Still, with no disrespect intended towards the other contenders, since they were only 2 points ahead Mike was his real opposition. The two of them were almost tied, so it was all down to GK. I managed three of Mark’s questions. For the record my aggregate for the specialist rounds was 17, which is not a vintage week, but considering that I would have scored 5 if I hadn’t wikied I’m happy to take the money and run on that one.
Mike struck first, and he produced a terrific round of answers. Anything over 15 in a two and a half minute round is a very good performance, and Mike’s 17 was a clear message to the other contenders, and surely enough to at least put Mark into the corridor of uncertainty. Mark reminded me of one of his Only Connect teammates during his GK round, none other than Ian Bayley. When Ian won his title, he was a picture of concentration, his eyes closed, oblivious to everything except the questions. Mark looked just like this as he produced one of the very best GK rounds of the series so far. Mike’s score had been a very good one, so it took Mark a long time to pass it, but he did, and managed another correct answer to be sure. 18 is a terrific score for a GK round, and although we still had 2 contenders to come I felt certain that Mark had secured his third semi final appearance.
Julie Green wasn’t able to put on a GK performance to match the two we’d already seen, but I have to say that I was impressed with the way she kept going, and kept supplying correct answers to the questions she knew. She maintained admirable concentration, and by doing so amassed another 13 points for a total of 25. That’s not to be sniffed at, and would have won some heats in this series. She can be proud of the account she gave of herself in a hell of a heat to be placed in.I don’t know if James Jack had been a little overawed by the GK performances he had witnessed, but he looked a lot more nervous now than he had done in his specialist round. He was answering more slowly than the others, and didn’t ever really manage to get up a head of steam. Fair play to him, he gritted out the round, picking up the points that he could, but by the end of the round he had only managed to add another 8, to finish with 20. So we almost had that Mastermind rarity, of the positions at half time being completely reversed by the end of the show. Alright, so Mike was 4th and Mark was third after round one, but you know what I mean. Commiserations to Mike. John said that he may get a highest loser slot, but if it is true that it’s the 6 highest scores regardless of finishing position who qualify, then I’m afraid he won’t. Nathan Joss is already in the 6th slot, and he had 26 and fewer passes than Mike. Very hard lines, that. Congratulations to Mark, and word of warning to other semi finalists. I doubt very much that you’ll see Mark trailing after a specialist round again.
|Mike Foden||Steely Dan||9 - 3||17 - 1||26 – 4|
|Julie Green||The Mapp and Lucia Novels of E.F.Benson||12 - 2||13 - 2||25 – 4|
|James Jack||Boston Bruins since 1970||12 - 0||8 - 1||20 – 1|
|Mark Grant||Henry Mayhew’s ‘London Labour and the London Poor’||10 - 1||18 - 0||28 – 1|