Friday, 9 January 2015

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 20

We’re winding towards the end of the first round heats now, good people, and there are only a few spaces left in the semis up for grabs.

First to make her bid for one of them in tonight’s show was Sarah Mead. Sarah is new to Mastermind, although her specialist subject certainly isn’t. The novels of Dick Francis remain popular with his large readership, and they remain a popular Mastermind subject as well, having featured back in Magnus’ day as well. In this day and age anything in double figures represents a good round, and Sarah managed that. There were just a couple of answers that refused to go any further than the tip of her tongue, but she still managed 11, to make a good start to her first ever appearance on the show.

Also making his debut tonight was Frank Wood. He was offering us what seemed to be a subject that was a little bit out of left field, and one which would not have been out of place at any time during the show’s history, namely British Railways disasters 1830 – 1939. I expect that many of us w knew that William Huskisson MP was the first person to die in a railway accident after being hit by Stephenson’s Rocket, but I somehow doubt that many of us knew many of the other answers. Frank, like Sarah, missed on just a couple, but his 11 looked pretty good to me.

Our third contender tonight, Iwan Thomas, has already collected the first half of the coveted BoB/MM double. Back in 2011 Iwan won Brain of Britain, defeating a star studded line up including Mark Kerr, John Beynon and our own Andy Tucker. In the same year he also made it to the semi finals of Mastermind. He set a half of fame score of 37 in his first round, but didn’t make it through the semis. So you can’t blame me for making Iwan favourite to go through as the winner of this heat. He certainly made short work of his round on the Life and Music of Gram Parsons, scoring an unbeaten 14 from 14. Incidentally this was last a specialist subject in Nancy’s 2009 series.

Last to go was Gareth Williams, answering on Welsh rugby 1960 – 1980. Well, if you’re going to answer on Welsh international rugby, that’s certainly the era you’d want to talk about. I scored more on this round than on any of the other specialist rounds – I’m a little shaky on the 60s, but pretty good on the 70s. Not as good as Gareth, though. His 12 was a very good round, although possibly I thought a couple short of giving him a real run at a repechage semi slot.

I’ve often said that a two and a half minute GK round is a test of stamina as well as being a test of knowledge. Sarah Mead’s GK round was a good example of this.  She actually started really pretty well, giving a little bit of thought where it was needed, but making sure to pick off the answers she knew. However something happened to her concentration about halfway through the round, and it became a grim old struggle to add to her score. When you lose momentum in a round like this it can be absolutely fatal, and you can only sympathise. Sarah finished with 18.

Frank managed to maintain momentum through his own GK round, but it was quite a slow momentum. You never thought that he was going to grind quite to a halt, but on the same hand you couldn’t see him putting on a score which would cause huge trouble for either of the contenders yet to follow. The first of these, Gareth, began his roun with 12 and no passes. Now, putting this into perspective, that meant that a score of 13 and no more than 2 passes would put him into a repechage slot for the time being at least. Not an easy task, but a doable one. I liked the way he went about his round as well. Maybe it wasn’t the most impressive that we’ve seen all season, but he maintained his composure, and did what we always say you must do – answer what you know, guess what you don’t, and pass quickly when you can’t guess. I had little doubt that his score of 24 wouldn’t keep Iwan at bay, but in the context of this series it was a pretty good show, and would have even won some of the other heats.

Just Iwan remained, then. Back in 2011 we saw Iwan absolutely rip his GK round to pieces. Well, the GK rounds are still 2 and a half minutes long, but they seem designed to prevent anyone getting close to the 20s now, what with longer questions and that. This wasn’t the best round that Iwan ever has or ever will produce, but when you have someone of that level of ability, even a so so round is usually a lot better than most other people’s, and Iwan’s 13 saw him comfortably home with quite a bit of daylight, and fuel left in the tank. Well played sir, and the very best of luck in the semis.

The Details

Sarah Mead The Novels of Dick Francis 1962 - 198011 - 37 - 418 - 7
Frank WoodBritish Railway Disasters 1830 - 193911 –011 - 522 - 5
Iwan ThomasThe Life and Music of Gram Parsons14 – 0 13 - 427 - 4
Gareth WilliamsWelsh International Rugby 1960 – 198012 - 012 - 424 - 4

Highest scoring Runners Up

Gareth Kingston – 28 – 0 (qualified)
Diane Hallagan – 28 – 3(qualified)
Marianne Fairthorne – 27 – 2
Alice Meynell – 26 – 0
John Beynon – 25 – 1

Julia Hobbs / Jeremy Renals/ Susan Sworn – 25 - 3

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