Friday, 16 September 2016

Mastermind: Round One: Heat 10

Mastermind Heat 10

Morning all. To be honest I found last night’s heat a bit of a bread and butter episode. Nothing drastically wrong with it, but never the most exciting thing on the menu.

Well, our first slice was provided by Rob Mansfield. He was answering on the life and music of Nick Drake. Nick Drake has been a specialist subject a couple of times before in the last few years, so obviously inspires devotion in his fans, but I know little or nothing about him. I certainly knew nothing about any of the questions that Rob was asked, so I can’t comment on whether, given the questions, Rob’s 9 was merely decent, or a little better than that.

Emil Zatopek, on the other hand, I do know a bit about, having recently read a good biography. I love track and field, and of all the greatest Olympians, I would have loved to have met Zatopek, who wasn’t just a great runner, but also, I feel, a great man. So I do know enough about the subject to say that Dave could conceivably have scored a few more – he missed points on what were some pretty important life events for Zatopek. One feels he maybe concentrated on preparing to answer questions mostly on the athletic career.

Like Nick Drake, the TV series “Band of Brothers” has also been a subject on Mastermind within the last few years. Right, what do we say about Adam Wilson’s round? The bare fact of the matter is that he only scored 4, and whatever spin or gloss we put on it, that is not a good score. It looked like he was a bit shellshocked by an early wrong answer, and couldn’t recover, but only Adam could really say what happened to him. We’ll come to John Humphrys’ take on the round a little bit later.

Kate McAllister finished off the first half by answering on a more traditional SS, Hernan Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico. Of all the 4 contenders in last night’s show she seemed most at ease with her subject, and produced the only genuinely good specialist round of the show. 12 points gave her the Eldorado of a 4 point lead over her nearest rival at the halfway stage. One thing was certain already – only the winner of this one would be going through to the semis.

OK, as Adam returned to the chair, I had a feeling that John would make a comment. Thankfully he didn’t give us any of the ‘redeem yourself’ codswallop that he has treated us to in the past. Instead he observed, “You probably underestimated the amount you needed to know. . . “. Ouch. Mind you, I reckon that’s probably true, and Adam admitted as much, with his, “I knew quite a lot about it, just not the right things.”. That’s the point though. If you’re learning a specialist subject, you could be asked anything about it, and you have to try to prepare for that eventuality. At least he scored double figures in GK.

Dave Ryan had a spirited crack at putting the other two contenders yet to go within the corridor of doubt. The only thing is, the GK rounds in this series so far have been pretty gentle, almost in the Sleb Mastermind category of GK rounds. Just my opinion, but one based on years of watching the show and writing about it. With rounds like these if you just keep your head, and above all else guess when you don’t actually know the answer, you can rack up a score in the teens. I rather fancied that this would not be enough.

Rob Mansfield couldn’t get there though. He fell one short, and although he managed 12 his round was never really convincing. This left Emma, who needed 11 to win. Now, as I said, a couple of seasons ago, if a contender needed anything in double figures on GK then this was by no means a given that they could do it, and was certainly enough to give pause for thought. Now, though, 11 is the kind of score that the majority of contenders, by keeping a cool head and answering and guessing, should be able to get. Emma did it comfortably. Her final question, though, for me, is an example of what has happened with a proportion of questions this year. I’ll paraphrase, but basically it started – in which part of the face is the masseter -Now that is enough. In years gone by that would have been seen as a perfectly fair question, as indeed it is. Now, though, the question went on – which takes its name from a Greek word meaning to chew.- Now, with that bit added on, instead of having to think or guess to get it right, it would take a real effort to get it wrong. Rant over.

Well played Emma, clearly the best in this show. Good luck in the semis

The details

Rob Mansfield
The Life and Music of Nick Drake
Dave Ryan
Emil Zatopek
Adam Wilson
Band of Brothers
Emma McAllister
Hernan Cortes and the Conquest of Mexico

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