Friday, 4 September 2015

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 5

Unless I’m very much mistaken this was the heat originally slated to be the second shown, but postponed due to the late Sir Edward Heath facing a number of allegations. He was the subject of the third of the specialist rounds in this evening’s show, and we’ll come to that in due course.

The first contender of the evening, Raymond Nicell, came up clean on my contender database, and so was one of tonight’s two Mastermind virgins. He was answering on Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy. This is the kind of subject that the uninformed cite as examples of Mastermind being ‘dumbed down’, and yet this is exactly the sort of subject which is deceptively difficult, and much wider than you might expect. Anything in double figures is fine in a specialist round these days. However, 10, which is what Raymond scored, is always going to leave you needing a blinding GK round.

There’s no really kind way of saying this, so let’s just put it on the table – Barrie Cooper, the second of tonight’s Mastermind virgins provided us with the relative rarity, a ‘mare of a specialist round. It’s sometimes difficult to tell whether a poor specialist round is the result of a failure to prepare, or a surfeit of nerves, or a mixture of both. Looking at some of the questions that Barrie failed to answer, I would suggest that it was nerves. I’m pretty sure that anyone who actually opted to take the wars of the Roses as a specialist subject would know that Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s oldest son was called Arthur. By the end of the round Barrie had scored 4.

Michael Frankl, a Brain of Britain semifinalist in his time, made his first Mastermind appearance 2 years ago, where he placed third in his first round heat. He achieved double figures in both rounds back then, and so the smart money said that he’d be in contention in this particular heat. It wasn’t a bad round this time either, although reading back my comments on his previous appearance I did make the point then that Michael didn’t answer very quickly, and I would say that this is a criticism that could be levelled at his performance again tonight. It may have cost him the chance of another question at the end of the round. I had a feeling that he was going to be behind at the turn around, but then I did know who was coming next.

My friend, Rach ‘Cherryade’ Neiman has been racking up a fairly impressive tally of broadcast quiz appearances over the last few years. She has twice taken part in Mastermind, and twice reached the semi finals, and was unlucky enough to lose out on a place in the final back in Aidan McQuade's 2013 series by a single point. Now, here’s a point to make about Rachael’s previous Mastermind appearances. I’m pretty sure that she has never been behind at the halfway stage – and in fact in three out of four appearances has been outright leader after specialist. This is a contender who knows how to prepare a specialist properly, and, answering on the comedy series ‘Cabin Pressure’, she gave another virtuoso performance, scoring a perfect 14 from 14. Brilliant work.

Right, in all honesty it looked like a two horse race from this point. The question remained, though, how would Barrie manage to perform after the disaster of the first round? All things considered, then, the answer was – not so badly. These days you only really get yourself mentioned in the low score Hall of Fame if your aggregate is not in double figures, and Barrie’s 8 put him comfortably outside this.  He did still seem to be rather affected by nerves. If he was, though, it must have been contagious, for poor Raymond Nicell, who followed him into the chair, seemed so struck by them that he fell into a horrible pass spiral. Indeed, at one point it was open to question whether he was going to pass Barrie’s aggregate. In the end he did that with some room to spare, but his total of 6 only put him 2 points ahead of Rachael, and she had yet to go with her GK round.

So to the business end of the competition. nMichael is an old and wise enough hand at broadcast quizzes to know that all he could do was to try to rack up as high a score as he could, and put as much pressure onto Rachael as possible. This he did very well. It’s all subjective, I know, but I didn’t think his GK round was the hardest I;ve ever heard – the only one I didn’t know was the Missy Elliot one. I don’t blame Michael for that – he can only answer the questions that he’s asked. This he did very well to take his score 10 26. 15 is a good GK round by anyone’s reckoning, and crucially it would give him a shout at a repechage slot if Rachael managed to beat him.

For my money this was one of Rachael’s best performances on GK. Where she knew the answers – and there were 13 of these questions – she snapped out the answers in double quick time. Where she didn’t know the answers, she came up with something and avoided the pass. This was textbook stuff. It meant firstly that when she reached Michael’s score of 26 she had done enough to win, since she had no passes. It also meant that when she did so, there was time for one more question, which gave her a superior total as well. Terrific performance.

Well played Michael – hope that you make it through, and Rach, excellent. Many congratulations, and I apologise now for the fact that you’ll be burdened with support from the Clark sofa for the semis/ Best of luck!

The Details

Raymond Nicell
Phil Lynott and Thin Lizzy
Barrie Cooper
The Wars of the Roses
Michael Frankl
Edward Heath
Rachael Neiman
Cabin Pressure


Paul Gilbert said...

Coincidentally, both of Michael Frankl's appearances have been transmitted 1 week after Janet Parfitt's appearances.

By my reckoning Rachael Neiman is the 7th person to reach 3 or more semi-finals in the Humphrys era, following Andrew Warmington, Mark Grant, John Beynon, Diane Hallagan, Gareth Kingston, and Hamish Cameron (who has reached the semis on 4 occasions). Only the first two (and Ms Neiman) have won 3 heats.

Great blog, BTW!

Londinius said...

Hi Paul - thanks for the stats. Yes, I may be wrong but I think that Hamish has more appearances in individual shows in regular Mastermind than any other Masterminder - the 2014 final being his last appearance to date. Mark - who is a Brain of Britain champ and an Only Connect superchamp - has placed 3rd and 2nd in finals before as well. Diane is a double finalist as well and there still aren't very many of those. Two double finalists - Geoff Thomas and Ian Bayley have ended up as champions.

I hope that the very least that Rachael does is to reach the final.

Will G said...

Hi. I'm pretty sure Rachel's last appearance (before this one) was in Aiden McQueade's 2013 series. She lost out to Andrew Fraser in the Semis.

Londinius said...

Hi Will
You're dead right, - I'm getting (even more) careless in my old age. I'll edit the post now, thanks.