I don't know what it is, but even though the new series is at the moment going out on Wednesday evenings, I just can't seem ot get my head around posting about until Friday. Sorry if you've been waiting. Still, here it is. I'll be honest, I wanted to see whether the GK rounds were going to be as relatively benign as last week's were, but we'll come that question in due course.
I'm away from the house at the moment so I can't check my database, although they all came up clean on LAM. SO possibly 4 Mastermind virgns in this heat. For me there really wasn't a great deal on offer in the specialist rounds. I have a passing familiarity with the work of MC Escher, and knew a very little bit about the Trevor Horn years with Yes, but really and truly I was always going to be scratching around for any answers in this round. Not so John Leeming. John was cursed with the support of the Clark sofa in this heat, since he is a fellow schoolteacher. He was answering on Yes, and managed 10. Hey, in most recent series 10 is a perfectly decent score, but you have to reckon on a first round heat that there is every good chance that somebody is going to achieve a 14 or 15, and even if you have a really good general knowledge, on the evidence of last week 4 or 5 points can be a hell of a lot to make up on GK.
Gerda Mamott offered us Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory. Regula readers are fully aware of the fact that I was away on the day that they did Science when I was at school, so this promised little for me, which is exactly what it delivered. Gerda kept going well, but again, I honestly think she needed maybe 2 or 3 more correct answers to be in with a really good shout by the end of the round. Still, in latter day Mastermind anything in double figures is a pretty good performance on SS.
Now, I have heard some unkind things already said about Thomas Nash and his specialist round on the films of Werner Herzog. Let's start by being objective. Thomas scored 4. It's not a very good score, but it isn't the lowest ever scored on SS. I've seen some speculation about what it was that caused such a modest round. In all honesty, there's little point in speculating. Nerves, or a failure to prepare, who knows? Whatever the case, Thomas has my full sympathy, for nerves can make that chair a very lonely place. As I've often said, if you've never tried it yourself, then you just don't know. If you have ever tried it yourself, then you know and so you wouldn't be hurtful about it anyway.
From a round where little or nothing went the contender's way, to Ross May's round which was, in just one word, perfection. It didn't seem to matter in the least whatever aspect of the life and work John was asking him about, Ross had an answer for everything, and a correct answer to boot. Speaking as someone who never managed a perfect round in five Mastermind shows I have to run that round up the flagpole and salute it. Did it kill the contest by half time? No, not necessarily. That 2 and a half minute GK round can be quite a devious beast, and I've seen so many people brought to a grinding halt by just one question in the last few years that I know that anything can happen. The Clark 50p was on Ross at this stage, though.
So Thomas returned, and John made that comment he sometimes makes, and I really wish he wouldn't – 'time to redeem yourself' - . Oh, come on John! For heaven's sake, will you leave it out?
1) It is only a game at the end of the day. People make mistakes.
2) Nobody deliberately makes a low score, and when they do, they are the only ones who are likely to be in any way hurt by it.
3) Going into any round – SS or GK is nerve wracking enough WITHOUT being reminded that things did not go the way that you would have liked first time out.
OK – rant over. Thomas steadied himself and his nerves, and whacked in 11 points. It's not the highest that we're going to see all series, but a double figure score is never to be sniffed at, and he did just fine.
You get a feeling sometimes when you watch the show, a feeling about which contenders are good, regular quizzers, and which are not. It's a little difficult to quantify, but it's something to do with the speed of answers, and also with the particular questions which are dispatched contemptuously to the boundary, and I got this feeling distinctly when I watched John with his GK round. Two rounds in and I did think that these rounds were much on a par with the level of rounds being asked in the previous heat, so this seemed fair. John, to be fair, needed to get into the mid teens to really put the pressure on Ross. Ideally you want the contenders coming after you to be needing to get a double figure score, since this is the point at which they have to enter the Corridor of Doubt. John gave it a good old lash, but dropped a couple which he might otherwise have had on another day, and finished 9 points ahead of Ross.
Which is not to exclude Gerda from the calculations. However she was answering that little bit more slowly than John, and in all honesty did not look like matching or surpassing him after the first 30 seconds or so. Like Thomas earlier she managed a score of 11, and that took her to 21. I don't honestly think that you ever have anything to be ashamed of after a Mastermind round, whatever the score, but certainly a final score in the 20s is something you can hold your head up after achieving.
So to Ross. The simple arithmetic said that anything in double figures would see him safely home. While I don't think that his round was quite as good, and quite as confident as John's it was still pretty good. What he did so well was to start with his mind fully focused on the job, and to keep picking off the questions to which he knew the answers. This meant that while he was never quite going at express pace, he never lost momentum either, which meant that he achieved the total with time to spare, and actually pushed his total up to 28.
Well done sir.
Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory
The films of Werner Herzog
The Life and work of MC Escher