Friday, 16 August 2013

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Two

Tonight’s show, being the first of the season for which I accepted the wiki challenge, was something to which I’d been looking forward all day. I’ll be honest, I don’t tend to keep track of my specialist subject aggregate scores for each show, but I had an idea that t I might just set a decent total in this one.

The first of tonight’s specialist subjects, Catherine Howard, was one of the two which I chose for the wiki challenge, and it was offered to us by Lauren White. When I wrote about taking the wiki challenge earlier today I did say that on a History subject such as Catherine Howard I’d hope to get anything up to 8 points with no study. I would actually, I think, have had 4 of these without wiki. Having used wiki, though, I found that I answered 10 of these, based on the questions I gleaned from wiki, and other things I remembered from the article which I didn’t write down among the questions. Lauren did better, scoring 11 and no passes. That’s not at all bad, and there were some quite long questions.

I fought shy of taking the wiki challenge on Alan Forsyth’s subject , Green Lantern Comics. I won’t lie, I just didn’t think that it would lend itself to a good wiki challenge. I haven’t checked, but I bet this would be ne where you’d have to look at quite a few different pages. I’ll be honest, as this round progressed it started to look to me like one of those rounds where the contender and the setter seem to have had a different idea of the parameters of the subject. Maybe I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Alan was expecting more questions about the Hal Jordan Green Lantern. I scored 2, and Alan scored 5 and 2 passes.

We last saw Brian Daughtery in the semi finals of Ian’s series. Back then he scored an impressive 31, including 15 on GK in his heat, so he was certainly the most experienced contender in the show. Brian was offering us the Robert Hooke round. In my earlier post I said that without any study I’d be lucky to get 2 points on a subject like Robert Hooke. Using the questions I posted earlier, and some other things I remembered from the Wikipedia article I again managed to score 10. That’s possibly my best ‘wiki’ score ever. Brian outscored me by 1 point, with 11 and 1 pass – albeit that I was doing it from the comfort of the Clark sofa, and he was doing it under the pressure in the black chair.

Wiki challenge notwithstanding, I had marked down Colin Foster’s subject, British Olympic Medalists 1960 – 2008 as my banker subject. Now, here’s a funny thing. Both Colin and I only got one wrong, and for both of us it was the same question – Pippa Funnell’s bronze and silver winning horse in 2004. So that provided us both with a score of 14 and no passes. I salute Colin for picking a great subject, but I must admit just a couple of the questions seemed a little easy for a specialist round. Let me give you an example. It would have made more sense to ask “Who partnered Tim Henman to silver in 1996 in the tennis men’s doubles?” rather than "Who partnered Neil Broad . . ." After all, if you asked the average person – name a British male tennis player of the mid 90s, the majority would probably answer Tim Henman. You’re not likely to pick Neil Broad out of thin air – it’s something you’d need to know. I don’t blame Colin for that. A very good performance on the round.

By my reckoning that gave me a total specialist aggregate of 36. I don’t say that it’s a personal record, well, I don’t have a personal record, - but it’s not bad.

With Colin leading by three it remained for either Lauren or Brian to set a GK score which would at least place him within the corridor of uncertainty. First, though, Alan returned to the chair. It can’t be easy that, having a very difficult specialist round, where you don’t do as well as you would have liked, then having to come back for the general round. Under these circumstances he started very well, picking off the first 4 questions on the bounce. It was harder going for him after that, though, but 10 points and two passes brought him to a respectable score of 15 and 4 passes.

Lauren didn’t go particularly quickly in her round, but then we have seen in the past that the 2 and a half minute GK round is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s usually better to maintain a steady pace, than to start off like an express, but ground to a halt at the 90 second mark. Lauren kept picking off the answers she knew or could guess, and had added 12 to her score with time left for three questions. Sadly she didn’t get any of these, but if that wasn’t maybe quite enough to put Colin into the corridor of uncertainty, it still mean that he had to produce at least 9 correct answers to win.

Before that it was Brian’s turn. We saw in his last first round appearance that Brian is capable of amassing a good GK score, and if he could get close to a 15 this time out, then he could certainly make things tricky for Colin. He took 4 correct answers in fairly short order, but then the wheels came off a bit. Believe me, all it takes is two or three questions you don’t know in a row and it can destroy your concentration, and send you headlong into a pass spiral. Even a partial recovery towards the end of the round meant that Brian only managed to take his score to 18.

9 points in 2 and a half minutes is not a huge ask, but the black chair can be a cruel mistress, and it is possible to be completely undone by nerves. So Colin was not guaranteed a win. He had the sense to take his round steadily, though, and pick off what he knew, and make a guess at what he didn’t. His score had reached the required 24 within two minutes, and in the remaining 30 seconds he added another 2 points, and no passes. So well played Colin, and good luck in the semis. Hard lines to Lauren – I’ll be honest, 23 is unlikely to stay on the repechage board for long, but well played.

The Details

Lauren WhiteCatherine Howard 11 - 012- 423 - 4
Alan ForsythGreen Lantern Comics5 - 210 - 215 – 4
Brian DaughertyThe Life and Career of Robert Hooke11 - 17 - 518 – 6
Colin FosterBritish Olympic Medalists 1960 - 200814 - 012 – 026 – 0


Andrew B. said...

In discussing his specialist round, you've called Colin Foster "Andrew" at one point - although you're right; I did also know them all except Pippa Funnell's horse! I'd agree that that set of questions was pitched a bit easy overall.

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew
Thanks - sorted that out now. I very rarely criticise any of the specialist sets, and this is in no way a criticism of Colin, but apart from the Pippa Funnell question they really didn't seem to be written to test for any gaps in the contender's knowledge. For example - rowing. Ask who was the cox for the Searle Brothers in 1992. Cycling - ask who got silver in the final against Rebecca Romero in 2008. And so on. I'm not saying that Colin wouldn't have answered them - I'm sure that he would. But at least it would have been more of a test. As it was, I bet he couldn't believe his luck with the set of questions he was asked. In fact he may even have been a little disappointed that he wasn't given more of a real test.

bj said...

Yes, it was certainly the easiest set. But contestants can only answer the questions they are presented with, so there is no criticism of the quizzer there. On the other hand others may feel hard done by. I know it is difficult for us to believe that the production team genuinely really do think the sets are balanced and fair, but I think we maybe forget how stretched the BBC are with cuts these days and we read too much into these things.

Londinius said...

Hi Brian,
I wasn't trying to read anything into the fact that I felt that the Olympic set was an 'easy' set, and I certainly wasn't suggesting any nefarious practices on the part of either the team making the show, or the Beeb in general.

For what it's worth, my opinion is that this was just a rogue 'easy' set, where maybe the setter hadn't really got to grips with the level of difficulty that would make them a genuine test.

That's just my opinion, of course, and as always, everyone is free to disagree.

untruth said...

It seemed to me that the contenders in this heat had some very long questions, and didn't seem to face as many as usual, so I compared the heat with the day's heat on Classic Mastermind from 2006 (Heat 17, as it happened).

I was right. In 2006, the average was 33.5, but in 2013, the contenders faced only 32.75 questions - and that's with an additional 30 seconds GK available.

Londinius said...

Hi Neil

That's really interesting. After all, you can get through maybe 5 questions in 30 seconds. Back in 2006, as you know, there were no repechage places on offer. In one way that's a shame, because I would have had one! In another way it isn't, because if I'd been in the semis in 2006 there's no way I would have won the series, but I might well not have gone on to play in 2007. However, that's by the by. In 2006, it didn't matter if one show gave the contestants more questions than another. It does today. When 1 correct answer can mean the difference between a repechage spot, and elimination, it's fairly obvious that you have an advantage if you're being given more questions. if that's because you're answering more quickly, then well and good. But if it's because of the question lengths - well, as we've noted before, this is a debate which will run and run, for as long as the series does, probably.

George Millman said...

The contender who faced questions on Green Lantern Comics was called Andrew Forsyth, not Alan. You might want to clean that up.