Saturday, 26 September 2015

Mastermind: Round One: Heat 8

My first reaction when scanning the line-up for last night’s show was that I didn’t recognize any of the names, and when I scanned down my contender database it confirmed that they were all Mastermind virgins. Nothing wrong with that either.

First up was Rachel Fullard. Rachel offered us Catherine of Aragon, one of England’s finest queens, who did little or nothing wrong, other than fail to provide a surviving male heir, for which she was treated appallingly. I didn’t know until this round, for example, that Henry dressed himself in ceremonial yellow to celebrate when he heard that she had died. I remember my History teacher telling us how Henry Died, by using the euphemism ‘he died of sensual pleasures’ by which we were left to draw the inference that he died of a sexually transmitted illness. Good. Coming back to Rachel, she also did little wrong in her round. The trouble is, with the length of questions  putting the ceiling at about 15 for a specialist round, the margins are so tight that you really can’t afford mistakes. As it was, Rachel managed 10 and 2 passes – a good round, but unlikely to give her a realistic chance in the last round.

Ed Kent looked well up for the challenge as he made his way to the chair. Answering on the Labour Government of 1945-1951, he was pretty animated on the chair, well, as animated as you can be anyway. Without wishing to shove my own political views in your faces I’d still like to comment that this immediate post-war Labour Government is still well worthy of study, for the scope of their ambition for change even if not for their achievements – and in my opinion these were quite considerable. I managed half a dozen on this round, which was the same as I’d managed on Catherine of Aragon. Like Rachel before him, Ed made 10, although with one fewer pass. If a 14 came along he’d struggle.

I wasn’t much of a fan of Rush – be honest, I’d struggle to name any other song of theirs except ‘Spirit of Radio’, and I can only name that one since my brother went through a phase of playing it about 20 times a day for a week or two after it was released. Invisible airwaves crackle with life etc. etc. Tom Mead, who was third into the chair, offered us a better SS round than we’d seen so far in this show. Ed had answered very quickly, and so did Tom, reaching a final score of 12. It wasn’t a ‘blow the opposition away’ score, but in the context of this show it was distinctly useful.

I cannot in all honesty say that I know a great deal about poet Robert Fergusson. In fact I didn’t get a single answer in Andrew Brophy’s specialist round on the same. It did give John H the chance to indulge himself in that cod Scottish accent non-Scots tend to put on when they’re trying to read Burns. To be fair he did make some self-deprecating comments about it after the round. Andrew managed a final score of 9. Now, that’s perfectly respectable in the context of this series. Realistically, it’s only 1 less than 10, yet psychologically there’s something about getting into double figures, and I felt sorry for Andrew that he just didn’t quite manage this.

With only three points separating all 4 contenders theoretically any of them could win. For Andrew to do so, though, he needed to throw in something in the mid teens. He had a go too, but by the middle of the round he was slogging through the questions, and looked behind on the clock. 12 was a decent performance, and was certainly enough to give at least the next two contenders food for thought, although it didn’t look like a potentially winning score.

Rachel Fullard found her GK round pretty hard going. Like many, she didn’t start at all badly. However a Mastermind GK round, I believe, is designed to allow you to build up a bit of momentum. The proof of the pudding is how you cope when you start getting a couple wrong. Rachel looked a bit unhappy with herself when she went back to her chair. She really needn’t have – 8 is fine and nothing to be ashamed of, especially if you’re not a quizzer. What made it appear worse was that she passed 9 times. Don’t let it get you down, if by any chance you’re reading Rachel – as the late, great Magnus Magnusson used to say, It’s only a bl**dy game.

As with his first round, Ed Kent was up for it when he came back to the chair. He virtually snapped his answers out, doing the classic thing of only giving surnames when names were asked for. Judging by the quality of a lot of his answers Ed is a quizzer. If he isn’t, then he should think of taking it up. Again, we have to consider the context of the series, and in the context of this series, 14 is a good score for GK. It put Ed on 24, which was surely at least enough to put Tom within the corridor of doubt. Another thing it did do, though, was to make it pretty certain that only one of tonight’s contenders would be going through to the semis.

I dare say that Tom is also a quizzer. His round was similar to Ed’s – both of them answered quickly and with admirable economy, and both of them got many ‘quizzer’s questions’ right – by which I mean the sort of thing the average person will never need to know, but a quizzer will know immediately because it’s the sort of thing asked in quizzes. It was close. In the end Tom managed 13, one fewer than Ed had scored. However he had that 2 point cushion, and that was enough to give him a one point win. As a matter of fact, not having passed at all Tom would have gone through if he’d only scored 12. Well played, sir. As for Ed, well I do feel a little sorry, since I can’t really see him making the semis with 24, and that’s a shame since he’d produced a GK round worthy of a semi place. But then it is a game played over two rounds, and however brilliant your GK, if you don’t maximize your score on SS, then you can leave yourself with problems.

The Details

Rachel Fullard
Catherine of Aragon
Ed Kent
Labour Government 1945 - 1951
Tom Mead
Andrew Brophy
Robert Fergusson

No comments: