Friday, 6 January 2017

Mastermind Round One: Heat 24


I was interested to see that we had a University Challenge winner among the contenders in this final first round heat. This was none other than Adam Barr, a member of the victorious Manchester team in 2013. Well - I announced to the empty living room - should he win the series he won’t be the first to complete the double – that distinction belongs to our own Stephen Follows. But this was getting ahead of myself. Adam hadn’t even sat down for his first round yet.

The round in question, then, was on Naval Battles of World War One. Good subject – many people think the extent of naval action in World War One was the Battle of Jutland and that was it. Au contraire, as Adam well knew. To be honest, his round looked to me worth rather more than the plain ten points that he achieved, but nonetheless we’ve seen during the series that usually, any double figure score will give you a chance if you have a good general knowledge, and from UC we at least already knew that he had this.

Trevor Rhodes, our second contender, offered us a genuinely great film actor, in the figure of Charles Laughton. I think I must have known more about Charles Laughton than I thought I did, since I managed 7 of these, for my best SS round of the evening. This wasn’t even close to Trevor’s score of 13, mind you. The last question was on my favourite of his films, Spartacus – in his autobiography “Dear Me” Peter Ustinov wrote very entertainingly about the antipathy between Laughton and Olivier during the making of the film.

For our second war-based subject of the evening, James Shore answered questions on the De Havilland Mosquito – the ‘wooden wonder’ Second World War fighter bomber plane. For the second time this evening, I felt that James’ performance on the round was actually somewhat better than the score he achieved. He obviously knew his stuff, and I did think that 8, while a perfectly decent score, wasn’t an accurate reflection of this. It’s a shame, because at 5 points behind the very least it would be was an uphill struggle for him.

Finally Dave Mason gave us The Punisher. I’m afraid that my knowledge of the Punisher doesn’t really go beyond a poor Dolph Lundgren movie (which is probably a tautology when you come to think of it.) This was my worst round of the night, but it went pretty well for Dave. 11 points meant that he was just 2 points behind Trevor at the halfway stage, and was still well in contention.

At this point I’d like to go back to a point that John made at the start of the show, where he said that only one place remained in the semi-finals. Point of order, John. One place as of right remained, but for all he knew at the start of the show the runner up in this heat might have scored enough to have gained a runner up slot. Still, by half time it was pretty clear that realistically, the contenders in possession of these going into this last heat were still going to be in possession of them by the end of it.

So to the GK rounds. James Shore’s round was something of a study in frustration. Now, while I would draw the line at making an observation that quizzing is not a matter of life and death, because it’s far more important than that, I do take my quizzing seriously while I’m playing. So I like to see someone else to whom it matters. And it clearly mattered to James. The questions did not fall his way, and his frustration as the guesses failed to reap a harvest was almost tangible through the TV set. Hard lines, and you do have my sympathy.

It was a pensive looking Adam who returned to the black chair. 3 behind is a significant deficit to make up, but it’s vital that you keep your head, and amass the best GK score you can. Adam’s job at the very least was to put Dave and Trevor into the corridor of doubt. His tactic seemed to be answering as many questions as possible, but passing when no answer came. It worked to the extent of bringing him 13. I felt that this would be enough to push open the door to the corridor, but the coin was in the air as to whether it would be enough for a win. Certainly he had a concerned look on his face as he left the chair.

Dave gave it a lash, but with only one point lead over Adam at the halfway stage, it soon looked fairly clear that he was going to fall some way short. The chair can do funny things to you, and it doesn’t help when John decides to rub it in that an answer you missed comes to you just too late. Yes, contenders never tire of that one, John. Dave finished with 21, and respectability.

In his SS round, Trevor answered precisely, and in a rather leisurely fashion, and he started his GK round in the same fashion. OK, he did have a little bit of leeway to begin with, but this cushion seemed to be melting away before our eyes. He rallied in the last minute, but the finishing post didn’t come within touching distance until the blue line of doom had begun to snake around the score. He reached 10 correct answers by the end of the round to take his total to 23, the same score as Adam. Yet who had incurred the fewer passes? Well, as it turned out, it was Adam. So the double is still on. Hard lines Trevor, but well played. As for Adam, good luck in the semis.

The Details


Adam Barr
Naval Battles of World War One
10
1
13
3
23
4
Trevor Rhodes
Charles Laughton
13
2
10
4
23
6
James Shore
The DeHavilland Mosquito
8
2
6
1
14
3
Dave mason
Garth Ennis’ Punisher Max
11
1
10
4
21
5

7 comments:

Liam Holton said...

So far in the series, the most impressive rounds to me have been:

* Steven Marc Rhodes- general knowledge, he was a weak score in specialist subject which put him on 3rd or fourth and then poured out a huge general knowledge round that left him way ahead.

*Daniel Adler- in specialist subject he scored a healthy 16 and the best that most people could get in the specialists round would be 14 or 15. So that's an impressive round as well.

Going into the semis next week I'm intrigued to see what type of subjects and questions pop up for the semi finalists.

Dan said...

Thanks Liam. Kicking myself for missing London's Burning now ...

Liam Holton said...

After tonight's show, it just goes to show that passing is a very dangerous and risky tactic.

Londinius said...

You're right about passing. I've said before in the 2007 SOBM that at the halfway stage in my first round heat I was level with the leader at the halfway stage, but 2 passes behind on countback. I made up my mind that however far I went in the series I wouldn't pass again. Sometimes it's not easy, but it can be done. I think it's widely understood that giving a quick wrong answer is far better than passing, if you can do it.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

I suppose if nothing else one can give a random word by way of an answer, to at least move on to the next question. It's not always easy to do even that I suppose (wouldn't know, never been on TV myself) and it might get you laughed at or in Private Eye's "Dumb Britain" column, but if it stops you giving an extra pass...

Stephen Follows said...

That's what I did, Adam, and I have to say it worked for me. The trick is to say something that might be a reasonable answer to the question, and that really isn't easy a lot of the time. You can't just shout out nonsense.

I have to say I was a bit cross at the end of the series, though, because my ambition had always been to say 'pass' to a national audience and I never had.

(BTW, I hate to be churlish in the face of a potential challenge to my record, but I think AB got away with one in the GK: if you listen carefully, he said 'adobo' instead of 'adobe', but Humphreys had already given him the mark before he'd finished saying the word.)

Unknown said...

I remember a BBC Point of View complaint about a contestant who answered 'Smith' to everything instead of 'Pass' and ended up winning by having less passes than his opponent of the same score.
Viewers weren't impressed, but the producers decided not to investigate further since according to them if he had said 'Pass' instead of 'Smith' he would still have won because the opponent had an inordinate number of passes. They also argued that saying a wrong answer wastes time because John has to spend time correcting it rather than moving straight on to the next question.

However, I agree that saying a wrong answer remotely connected to the question is the safer option. For example in this case I remember the older gentleman contestant passed a "Which flower...?" question to which the answer was 'Irises' I think? But surely if he answered "Orchids" or "Roses" that wouldn't be a problem? I can think of other examples, but as you say in the black chair it may not even be easy to consider other options.

Nonetheless, good to see another UC alumnus go through, joining Newcastle Richardson from last year's UC.