Friday, 9 October 2015

Mastermind: Round One: Heat Ten

The first of last night’s contenders was, I think, a Mastermind virgin. I say I think, for I do actually have a John Ross on the database as a former contender, but that was back in 1991 and 1998, and with all due respect to last night’s John, he looked a little young to have been of Mastermind age in 1991. His subject was the films of Kevin Smith, a subject which I soon proved to my own satisfaction that I knew absolutely nothing about. John scored 8. That’s not a bad score, it’s maybe not a brilliant one, but it’s a decent return. However in this era of the show it’s a score which is going to leave you with too much to do in the GK round, unless something very unusual happens.

Frances Chant made her own first appearance on Mastermind back in Gary’s 2012 series. Back then she answered on The Sandman Graphic Novels of Neil Gaiman. Last night she answered on The Novels of Neil Gaiman. Well, I for one don’t have any axe to grind about that, the seeming similarity between the subjects. Good luck to her -  Neil Gaiman is a very popular writer, who is becoming more popular all the time, so I can understand the appeal. The thing about doing a set of a writer’s works is – or a filmmaker’s for that matter – is that you really have to know them inside out. It’s pretty much a given that some of the questions are going to focus on small details, and in Mastermind you cannot allow any potential source of points to go by. I have no doubt that Frances knows all of these books very well, but like John she managed 8, and you always sensed that this was not going to be enough to give her a chance in the last round.

Like Frances, Jim Maginnis has appeared on Mastermind before. Way, way back in 1991 – that’s Stephen Allen’s series – way back then he reached the semi finals. Now, I’m afraid that I don’t have any records of his subjects, or his scores in heat or semi back then. Last night, though, he was answering on Sir Arthur ‘Bomber’ Harris, and this was as good a specialist round as we’ve seen for the whole series. Jim was asked 14 questions, and gave 14 perfect answers with no hesitation, and each answer snapped out as quickly as I could imagine they could be given. I do not believe that there was any way another question could possibly have been squeezed out of that round. So I’ll be interested to see if anyone gets a score of more than 14 in the first round for the rest of the series. We have already seen a 15. With one fell swoop, then, Jim took both John and Frances out of the running, and only Nick Downes, yet to come, could it seem bar his progress to a second semi.

I don’t know much about Chess Records. That much became obvious as Nick Downes’ round progressed. Nick obviously did. I like to see a contender get into double figures, which I feel is a good reward for all of the time and effort which you have to put in to learning for your specialist. I don’t particularly want to go on about this, but I’m of the school of – if you’ve got 6 weeks to learn for it, then you use all 6 weeks – if you’ve got 10, then you use all 10. Nick managed 11 points. Did that give him a realistic chance? Not really. Let me explain – so far in this series we have only once seen a contender who is not either in the lead or joint lead after the specialist round come through to win. That was Christine Harrison last week, and she was only 1 point behind. That doesn’t mean that we haven’t seen any great performers on GK, but it does mean that the best performers on GK have also done very well on their specialists.

First back, then was John Ross. I have to pay tribute to John here. He’d have been forgiven for letting his head drop a little after ending with a specialist score which put him an unbridgeable distance behind the leader, but he kept a smile on his face, and did seem to be still enjoying his Mastermind experience. This continued even though a lot of the GK questions eluded him. In the end he had taken his score to 15. As for Frances, well, last time out she had scored a useful 12 on GK – albeit at a time when GK scores in the teens were quite a bit more common. This time, though, it just didn’t come off for her, and she too finished with 15. There’s not a lot I can say in the way of consolation to either Frances or John, other than sometimes it just isn’t your night, and try not to let it get you down.

Nick Downes had to try to set the highest total for Jim to chase that he possibly could. You never really know how well your fellow contenders can do on GK, and so if you can put on a good score yourself you can at least put them into the corridor of doubt. Also there was just the outside chance that if Nick had a blinder, then he could maybe put himself in line for a repechage slot. The first minute or so did for Nick’s chances of that, however to his credit he did pick up momentum from about the minute mark , and started to accrue some good answers. In the end he finished with 13. This gave him a total of 24, which meant that Jim needed 11 to win outright. That’s doable, but it is by no means a given.

To be fair, though, Jim always looked fairly comfortable. For all that he passed a few, and dropped a few more, he always looked good for a total of 25 or 26, and in the end he answered 12 correctly to finish on 26. A fearsome performance on specialist, and a very competent GK performance made him a clear winner on the night, and a worthy one as well. Well played sir.

The Details

John Ross
Films of Kevin Smith
8
2
7
2
15
4
Frances Chant
Novels of Neil Gaiman
8
1
7
2
15
3
Jim Maginnis
Sir Arthur Bomber Harris
14
0
12
4
26
4
Nick Downes
Chess Records
11
0
13
4
24
4

8 comments:

Jim Maginnis said...

From Jim Maginnis...Londinius, thank you for your kind words! For your records...in 1991 I took 'RAF Bomber Command 1939-1945' in the first round and 'The History of Belfast 1690-1960' in the semis. In the semis I was in the lead after the specialist subject round (18 correct, 0 passes, 1 wrong...that's in the days when questions were 'snappy') but I blew up in the GK getting only 8 correct and finished second or third! I was fortunate, I suppose, that this time around there was more of an overlap than I had expected between 'The Life and Times of Sir Arthur Harris' and Bomber Command operations. For the semis I have chosen yet another 'short' historical topic...'Ulster Since The Plantation 1609-1960'! Well, if you're going for it, you may as well go the whole hog! Regards, Jim

clonbron said...

Pete Reilly again

Dave - apologies if the same post has come through twice, albeit slightly different. I had to retrieve my google password, and wasn't sure whether the first one had be transmitted successfully.

clonbron said...

Hi Dave - It's Peter Reilly. Seems that neither of my posts transmitted. I'll wait a bit before I post again, just in case there is a delay.

clonbron said...

Right, Dave I'll try again.

Great specialist round by Jim. Every answer was 'On the B of Bang' as Linford Christie used to say in the context of 100 metre starts - there's no way could he have answered any quicker. Recently, Dave you've alluded to how long the questions are getting on Mastermind, and Jim might be justifiably surprised that he only came out with 14. To put this in perspective, in my Mastermind year, Paul Steeples got 15 in 90 mins in his semi final. A great score, but Jim's comparative performance over two minutes is proof of how far the emphasis has swung towards general knowledge in recent years.
Well done Jim, and best of luck in semis.

Paul Gilbert said...

David - you seem to have overlooked Jeremy Renals in Heat 2 who also came from behind to win his heat (Barbara Flaherty scored 15 in her SS round, Renals scored 13).

clonbron said...

Just to correct my earlier post, Paul Steeples got 12 for SS and not 15. He did however get the highest combined score for the semis that year and that's what's clouded my memory. However, 13s and 14s in 90mins were not uncommon in 2010, so my point is still apposite.

Sorry for clogging up your blog with extraneous posts - it's a bit like London buses....

Dan said...

Some more context: I didn't get an SS score in double figures until the Grand Final. This was two years ago ...

Paul Steeples said...

I think it was 12 in 90 seconds! I'd back myself to get a few more than 12 if I had 90 minutes...