Friday, 2 December 2016

Mastermind: Round One: Heat 21


Yes, my singing debut in the school concert seemed to go okay, thanks for asking. Well, that was my week – how about last night’s Mastermind contenders? First to take to the chair was Sally Budd, who was offering the great Eric Clapton. That’s 2 shows in a row where the first specialist has been on an iconic British musician – who will we get next week? Answers on a postcard to the usual address. As for Sally’s round, well, I don’t know if she was affected by nerves, but I have a feeling there were questions she probably knew the answer to, but just couldn’t dredge up. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I hear a question asking about a British blues musician I always answer Alexis Korner, and it’s right a hell of a lot more often than it’s wrong. She finished with 7, and with the best will in the world it looked as if she was going to be some way behind at the half time whistle.

Lee Holmes took part in Ian’s 2011 season, which was rather a star studded affair in terms of the contenders, and he produced a great first round performance then to make the semis. Once again, my daughter was totally uninterested when I pronounced him the favourite to win last night’s show. Answering on the Emperor Hadrian he managed 11 points, in a round which looked rather better than just 11 – was it me or did his questions seem even longer than usual? Probably just me. Still, Lee had at least done what you must do, and produced a ‘put you in contention’ score.

I like Tintin. There we are, I’ve said it. When I was just a wee lad I was given a GAF stereo viewmaster for a birthday, and it had several discs, including Tintin’s “Destination Moon”. I only ever had about 5 discs, and they tended to get used endlessly, so I came to know this one very well, and it was my favourite. So I like Tintin. Not as much as Asterix the Gaul, mind you, but that’s another story. I don’t, however, believe I like Tintin anything like as much as Abhimanyu Chatterjee does. There are no fewer than 24 books, and Abhimanyu’s knowledge of them could fairly be called encyclopaedic. The fact that he too only accrued 11 points after such a display rather suggested that my feeling about longer questions was probably accurate.

I managed 2 points on Robert Fenner’s round on Damon Runyon, and both of these came from a passing acquaintance with the music “Guys and Dolls”. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I do like to see that contenders, whatever the state f their general knowledge may be, have prepared thoroughly for the specialist rounds, and this was another round which left me in no doubt of the effort put in to prepare it. For the third round running we saw a performance which looked rather better than the score that it earned, which was 10. In the context of last night’s show that was certainly enough to give Robert his chance when the GK came round.

Maybe I’m wrong about Sally suffering from nerves, but the impression was reinforced by her performance in the GK round, where it seemed that the last 90s seconds was a bit of a grim old slog for her. She finished with 14. So to Robert. He had the chance to really lay down a marker. I reckoned that if he could get a score in the teens, then that would place both of the others yet to come at the doorway to the corridor of doubt. He started brightly enough, but as we’ve seen so often in the past, starting your GK round well is a lot easier than maintaining your momentum through it, and he could only add 9 to his total.

You know what I’m going to say, don’t you? I honestly think that it gets easier to cope with the pressures of sitting in the black chair each time that you do it, and Lee has been this way before. So what we saw was a round which, while not the best that we’ve seen all season, was an admirable display of concentration and technique. You listen to the questions. You answer those that you know correctly. You guess those you don’t, and don’t worry if you get it wrong. If nothing comes to mind you pass as quickly as you can. Written down like that it sounds rather simple. It isn’t simple – try it for yourself if you don’t believe me. But it’s what Lee managed to do, and he finished with 23.

Certainly for the first half 60 seconds or so of his round Abhimanyu looked as if he was in with a chance. However by the 90 second mark he hit a horrible pass spiral. As we know, a pass spiral is the Mastermind equivalent of a black hole, and once you’ve passed beyond its event horizon you can’t pull yourself free of its clutches. Sadly Abhimanyu finished with a total of 18, which really belies the fine specialist performance he put in.

So a clear win for Lee Holmes, and a second semi final to come. Well played.  

The Details

Sally Budd
Eric Clapton
7
1
7
2
14
3
Lee Holmes
Emperor Hadrian
11
1
12
2
23
3
Abhimanyu Chatterjee
Tintin
11
1
7
9
18
10
Robert Fenner
The Life and Broadway stories of Damon Runyon
10
0
9
2
19
2

2 comments:

Liam Holton said...

I was surprised when Abhimanyu had passed on the very obvious question which I knew from my childhood "Which American kids TV show do the characters Big Bird, Elmo and Cookie Monster appear in" and I thought straight away he'd say that it was Sesame Street. So that's quite a highlight for me so far in this series!

Meanwhile I must point out that we're not in 2017 yet and we're already an inch close to the semi final stage of the competition!

Londinius said...

Hello Liam - thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. Yes, I've noticed that the first round is nearly done before Christmas - and I approve of that. You never know, we may even one day get back to the idea of having the whole of a series broadcast in the same calendar year.