Friday, 7 October 2016

Mastermind Round One: Heat 13

I must be getting older. Well there’s no must be about it, I am getting older, and it would be remarkable if I wasn’t. But I’m getting less tolerant, and I don’t think that’s ever a good thing. At the end of the day does it matter if someone gets a low score in their specialist subject on Mastermind. No, not really. Yet for the third week running I found myself coming to the conclusion that at least one of the contenders hadn’t prepared well enough, and feeling a bit frustrated about it. Now, I’ve no doubt that every contender who enters really does want to do well. But if we take Gary Maggs’ first round, on Queen, I would say that I liked their music, but I wasn’t a massive, massive fan. Yet I managed 8 on these questions with no preparation, while Gary only scored 6. Yeah, I know, I’m in the comfort of the Clark sofa and it’s different in the studio in the chair. You don’t have to tell me since 've done specialist rounds on no fewer than five occasions in the chair. But that's just it. I know what a commitment it should be in order to prepare for a specialist round.

Of course, poor old Gary’s round was thrown into stark relief by the fact that it was followed by LAM reader Rod Allday’s perfect round on Dame Laura Knight. There was no angle he hadn’t covered, and no question he couldn’t answer . . . and that’s how you must at least try to do it. 13 points meant that Gary would need to get 7 on GK just to equal Rod’s SS score.

Emma Harris’ blank looks at some of the questions she was asked about Anita Roddick led me to believe that there were areas of her subject’s life and work that she just hadn’t covered in her preparation as well. I really, really do not mean to be critical, but I just don’t enjoy heats so much where half the contenders rule themselves out before the general knowledge round through the gaps in their preparation.

Thankfully LAM reader, Mastermind recidivist and University Challenge alumnus Tony Richardson gave us a fine round on Don Revie to bring the specialist rounds to a more successful conclusion. Not quite a perfect round, but Tony’s quick-fire answering enabled him to accrue 12 points by the end of the round. Bearing in mind his track record I confidently turned to nobody in particular after his round and predicted ‘There’s the winner.’

Well, we were left with what was only ever going to be a two horse race, but that would come after Gary and Emma had returned to the chair. It isn’t true that you can’t prepare for General Knowledge, but it is true that preparation is no real guarantee of success in it – well, unless we’re talking about years of preparation, perhaps. So I can’t blame Gary so much for his modest 7 in General Knowledge. His round was what it was. Emma’s was rather better, although she still fell short of double figures, and we’ve already noted that this season the rounds are of a gentle enough hue that the majority should be able to acrrue a double figure score in 2 and a half minutes. Still, there we are – I hope that they both enjoyed their Mastermind experience anyway.

On his last time out in Mastermind a couple of years ago Tony fell just a couple of points short of a win in the first round. I’ve always said that if you have a good level of GK to start with, then coping with the chair gets easier each time that you do it. Tony’s task was clear. He was only one point behind Rod at half time. He was certainly going to beat Emma’s score, so his job was to set the bar at a level which would force Rod to traverse the corridor of doubt. Which is exactly what he did. Tony maintained a great tempo throughout the round – in fact unless I’m much mistaken he had time to attempt over 20 questions – and he managed to answer 15 of these correctly which is not bad going by anyone’s reckoning. The door to the corrido was gaping wide for Rod.

Which is not to say that he made a bad job of his round, for he didn’t. He answered those he knew, and guessed some he didn’t. However he was going more slowly than Tony had gone, and getting more of them wrong. With a minute to go he was behind the clock, and with half a minute to go he wasn’t going to make it. In the end he finished with a worthy 24. Not enough for a repechage slot, I’m afraid.

Well played Tony, and good luck in the semis. If you go all the way I am more than ready to hand over the title of the last schoolteacher to win Mastermind.

The Details

Gary Maggs
Queen
6
1
7
4
13
5
Rod Allday
Dame Laura Knight
13
0
11
0
24
0
Emma Harris
Anita Roddick
7
4
9
5
16
9
Tony Richardson
Don Revie
12
0
15
0
27
0

4 comments:

Emma Harris said...

I am the Emma Harris in question and although your comment that I wasn't well-prepared enough is valid (there was a mix-up regarding dates and I had less time to revise than I thought), I must also point out that I am not a quiz show veteran and nerves unfortunately got the better of me and I passed on some questions I did actually know. My intention is to reapply in two years' time and I will have plenty of time to do thorough revision for my next specialist subject.

I did indeed enjoy my experience and I thank you for your comment that you hoped Gary and I had done so. It was the first time I had done a quiz such as Mastermind and even though I may have failed to reach double figures in the general knowledge round, my score was still a respectable one.

Londinius said...

Hello Emma - thank you for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. I understand about the nerves, although please take it as a compliment that you didn't look nervous in the chair. When you reapply I hope, and am sure that you will find that the nerves play much less of a part. I really believe that it gets easier each time that you do it. I wish you good luck, and am glad that you enjoyed your Mastermind experience.

Rod Allday said...

Hi Emma - having competed a couple of years ago and suffering from picking a very broad specialist subject (The Thames Path) I was very disappointed with my performance because I was sure I had it in me to do better. Consequently I applied again, selecting a much narrower specialist subject and it paid off, to the extent that, as you know, I scored full marks on that round. However, in spite of this I only scored 13 and, having now seen the broadcast, I realise that, although I knew all of the answers, I would have had the opportunity to score higher if I had answered more quickly and more succinctly. So the learning process continues, to be borne in mind if I give it another shot! Friends and family have said that I appeared much more relaxed second time around and I guess that was true - which all helps in improving the performance. So - go for it! (But however much you prepare there's little you can do about the pot luck which is the GK round - I too knew 15 of Tony's questions, whereas I only scored 11 on those I was asked. That's just the luck of the draw)

Emma Harris said...

As you're a veteran of the show, I'm sure you developed strategies and techniques as to how to play the game and conquer the old nerves.I hope to be as at ease as you are eventually!

Being a teacher does help you hide nerves as students expect you to be confident, so I guess that helped. Thank you for the compliment 😊