Friday, 25 October 2013

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Eleven

Another week, and another eclectic mix of specialist subjects. Actually, maybe not quite so eclectic this week - we had a popular culture subject – R.E.M. – a much loved author – C.S.Lewis – a sports subject – Queen of the South – and a worthy historical figure – Elizabeth Fry.

The R.E.M. round, served up to Simon Marhsall, took me on a little trip down Memory Lane. In my first, unsuccessful, tilt at Mastermind in 2006 I was third to go in my heat. Kath Drury , on the Roger Brook novels of Dennis Wheatley went first, and whacked in a massive 17. Then Neil Phillips whacked in his own 17 answering on R.E.M. Now, both Neil and Kath are friends of mine, but back then I felt like I was staring down the barrel of a gun as I approached the chair for the very first time. Well, that was then, and this is now, and the fact of the matter is that the length of questions today mean a specialist round of 17 ain’t gonna happen. Simon’s round of 11 was a perfectly good one, definitely more shiney happy people than the end of the world as we know it. This meant that he would be in with a shout come the general round, albeit that there was room for one of the others to gain a lead of a couple of points.

Tim Allison gave us the C.S.Lewis round. Now, I know that the idea with these question sets is to give a nice gentle slow ball as the first question in order to ease the contender’s nerves, but was it just me who thought asking for the name of the lion in the Narnia books was a little too easy? After all, Tim was a contender who knew the Narnia books inside out, the only dropped questions being about the Space trilogy. Three points is not an unassailable lead, but, and I speak as someone who never had a lead at half time in the regular series, it’s a very nice and useful one to have.

My heart went out to Amanda Roy. I would imagine that you don’t do a round on a team like Queen of the South unless you’re a devoted fan, all of which is another reason why you want to do well, and another source of pressure. Sad to say, I think it was this pressure that got to Amanda. She started well enough, accruing 4 points, but the rest of the round saw her fall into a pass spiral, from which she did not manage to extricate herself. You could see from her face she knew a number of the passes, but nerves did for her. As she received her total, she said “Oh dear.” Don’t let it get you down, Amanda. In the words of the late, great Magnus Magnusson, it’s only a bloody game.

Last night’s last contender was Ian Welham, a retired teacher. Now, I always want a teacher to do well, although I will admit that I take a certain amount of pride from the fact that, at the time of writing, I am the last schoolteacher to win a series. Elizabeth Fry was a good, traditional Mastermind subject, a subject which Ian Welham knew well, since he accrued a total of 11 points. As a pointer towards the GK round, I did think that if Ian had answered a little more quickly he might have squeezed in one or two more questions, but nonetheless he was in there with a shout.

I invite you to put yourself in Amanda Roy’s position. You have just done your specialist round, on a subject that is dear to your heart, and for some reason you cannot really explain your memory has frozen, and you have produced a round which is a long way beneath what you wanted, and what you were capable of. Now you have to come back and do it all over again, and this time they can ask you about anything. Bearing that in mind, her score of 9 and 6 passes represents respectability at least.

With the best will in the world, though, Amanda was not in contention, and would not have been even if she’d put in the best GK round of the night. Simon Marshall was in contention, though. His job was to keep his head, keep answering the questions, and try to set a score which would be enough to put the last two contenders into the corridor of uncertainty. To be honest, I thought he’d need a score of 15 to give him a realistic chance of winning, but he finished with 12. That’s perfectly respectable, but meant that Tim would only need 10 to win outright. First, though, Ian returned to the chair to make his bid for the win – and although the contenders themselves wouldn’t have known this at the time, the win was what he had to go for, since a repechage slot really wasn’t on for any of last night’s contenders. Ian looked a little surprised when the buzzer went at the end of his round, and he hadn’t really gone quite quickly enough to give him a shout. He did achieve double figure respectability though, with 11 for a total of 22.

Tim’s round was interesting. The first time that he didn’t instantly know the answer he took a very long pause, before answering correctly. This might have been a panic induced brain freeze, I mused, but it transpired that it wasn’t, and rather, it was a deliberate tactic. A very good tactic as it turned out. Tim had plenty of time to achieve the 10 points he needed, and for him correct answers were more important than blitzing the round. A cool head enabled him to pick off 13 points by the end of the round, giving him a final score of 27, and a comfortable win. Well played, and good luck in the semi final.

The Details

Simon Marshall R.E.M.11 - 112 - 423 - 5
Tim AllisonThe Fiction of C.S.Lewis14 - 113 - 327 - 4
Amanda RoyHistory of Queen of the South4 - 69 - 613 - 12
Ian WelhamLife of Elizabeth Fry11 - 111- 422 - 5

Repechage Table ( if 3rd or 4th place players are eligible as they were last year)

Steven Broomfield 30 – 1
Beth Webster 28 – 2
Ron Wood 28 – 3
=Carol O’Byrne 27 – 2
=Peter Russell 27 – 2
Andrew Teale – 27 – 5


bj said...

In preparation for my MM SS of Dad's Army I watched every one of 80 episodes and re-read several books, well over 100 hours. And I am sure that sort of preparation is not exceptional. I have only a passing interest in Queen of the South FC. I have a few friends who are supporters, including David Gow, who was on last year's series, is a fanatical fan, was told he couldn't do Queens because it was lined up for someone else and lost his heat by one point, and Ewan McNaught, a Scotland C internationalist quizzer. I spent precisely 10 minutes reading Queens' Wikipedia entry. I didn't know that while manager Ally McLeod turned out once for the reserve team at 61. I scored 6 on last night's show, compared with the contestants' 4. Queens' one truly amazing achievement was reaching the 2008 cup final and coming from 0-2 down to 2-2. I was there and so remembered Thomson getting the equaliser. I was surprised that last night's contestant did not know that or the origin of the team's name or the nickname of the man who is possibly their greatest player McMinn - The Tin Man. I would have been really interested to see what David and Ewan would have scored. Just checked my emails and I have messages from Ewan and another quiz friend with no interest in Queens. They scored respectively 10 and 5. Actually, tbh, I thought it was a very basic set of questions, slightly out of kilter with the level of difficulty of some of the other specialist subject sets in this current series... The woman did ok on GK, but I am not sure Annie Lennox would be too chuffed with the suggestion that she had a hit in 1963.

Julian Pedley said...

I am sure Ian Welham was my maths teacher back in '66 - is there any way to confirm or contact?

Londinius said...

Hi Brian

I'm not sure that she didn't know them - I think last night was a classic case of 'rabbit in the headlights'. I know it's B8%£dy annoying when you see someone take a subject which a friend would have liked to do, and do badly with it, but that's the way it goes.

Yes, I know what you mean about Annie Lennox, but then at least there was half a rationale behind that answer - was it with The Tourists that she recorded the song? I think so.

Re: Preparation for Specialist subjects. The Olympic Games was probably the hardest to prepare for. I would estimate an average of two hours every day for ten weeks. that's 140 hours - and like you said, I doubt that's exceptional. Like you, probably about 100 hours for other subjects.

Not aiming this comment at any contender in particular - but - fail to prepare - prepare to fail.

Hi Julian, and welcome to LAM.

Short of hiring a private detective ( I am NOT advocating this course of action) go to the Mastermind website - send them an email. They won't give you Ian Welham's email address if he has one, but might pass a message on to him if you ask very very nicely.

bj said...

Julian. Ian Welham was in the Welsh squad at the Celtic Nations championships. If you can give me your email address I can send it on to one of the Welsh players I know and they can put you in touch. I am reluctant to put my email address up here but it is bpendreigh INSERT THE AT SYMBOL IN THE MIDDLE HERE... He is a good quizzer and I thought he should have won last night. I think it was the pressure of needing instant recall.

Clifton said...

Ian Welham was ROBBED !!
Only 13 questions so no chance of reaching 14 or indeed above! It appered that the Fry questions were harder and more convoluted than the other specialist sections... that first question... all of that preamble just to ask the city of her birth? (plus the Gen Knowledge section was harder).
Jolly good show for Mr Welham I say ( and, no,he wasn't my maths teacher !!)

Londinius said...

I would not want to deliberately do down any Welsh player, but I'll be honest, while I was watching I didn't think that Ian was robbed. I didn't think that his GK questions seemed particularly harder than anyone else's. Could you make out a case that the C.S.Lewis set were easier than the Elizabeth Fry ones? Well, maybe, although I'd say personally that I don't have the level of knowledge of either subject to be able to make a judgement on it. Now, on another day, with another two sets of GK, maybe he would have won, but that, as they say, is life. I'm sorry if I upset anyone by saying this, and as ever, fell free to disagree, but I thought that the winner deserved it in this show.