Friday, 20 January 2017

Mastermind: Semi Final 2


Let’s start this second semi final review with another look at the form book: -


Alan Diment
The Life and Work of Edvard Munch
14
0
15
0
29
0
Sarah Lake
Joni Mitchell
13
1
15
0
28
1
James Haughton
History of the World Cup 1982 - date
14
0
13
0
27
0
Gill Taylor
The Honey Bee and Bee Keeping
12
3
15
4
27
7
Mohan Mudigonda
Nirvana
11
1
12
3
23
4

There’s some really very good GK scores in the first round there, and in fact nobody’s GK score seemed to suggest they might struggle. Our repechage slot last night was taken by James Haughton who, you might recall, had been in the same first round heat as our own Daniel Adler. Underdog in this semi, if such a thing there was, was Mohan Mudigonda, but a good performance on SS would put him right up there.

In fact we’d see just such a SS round from him early doors since he was the first up. Now, he was offering us the Asterix Stories 1961 – 1987. I haven’t read all of the Asterix stories, but those I have read, I love. I think that Goscinny and Uderzo’s English translators, who I believe were Anthea Bell and Derek Hockridge, did the most fantastic job on taking the original French stories and remaining faithful to them while delivering a level of humour and word play every bit as clever as that in the original French – I’ve read a few in the original by way of comparison. Detailed memories of Asterix and the Roman Agent, Asterix and the Big Fight, and Asterix in Britain were enough to bring me about half a dozen points. Mohan’s even 10 looked a good performance, and off 90 seconds it was somewhat better than his 11 from his heat.

I didn’t do so well with the Periodic Table, bagging a mere 4. I used to play Sporcle a lot, and what little I know about the Periodic Table is mainly derived from one of those games where you have 20 minutes to name all the elements in the correct order. Little things . . . Last week we saw everyone still in the hunt by the time the half time oranges were being given out. Sadly Gill Taylor’s 7 meant it looked highly unlikely that she would have a realistic chance of winning the show.

Our first teacher of the semis, Sarah Lake, stepped forward next. Based on her form in her heat, Sarah looked as good a contender to relieve me of the burden of being the last schoolteacher to win Mastermind as any. Back then she whacked in a good 13 on Joni Mitchell. Last night she offered us the Novels of Nick Hornby, and again, while being by no means a bad round at all, her score of 8 left her what you thought would be a couple of points short of the kind of score you need going into the GK.

As I mentioned at the top of the show, James Haughton was unfortunate to feature in the same heat as Daniel, but he made a clear statement of his intent in this show with the finest score of the round so far. Answering on Richard Feynman, or to give him his LAM Towers title, Richard Who?, James produced a perfect 12 from 12. That’s not quite the best round ever in a 90 second specialist round, but it takes something very special to do much better, and James was certainly sitting in pole position for the time being.

Alan Diment produced one of the first round performances that really caught the eye, in a terrific first round arm match with LAM reader Ian Fennell. Back then he produced a perfect SS score on Edvard Munch. Last night he only missed the one question on the life and films of Stan Laurel – having recently read a book about the films of Laurel and Hardy I managed 5. That one question missed though meant that he sat 2 points behind James.

Here’s an observation I made as I watched the second round last night, and as always, this is just my opinion so feel free to disagree. Due to the quality of last week’s first semi this didn’t really come into play then, but last night I did feel that what we saw demonstrated a point I made at the time about the GK rounds in the first round heats. I did feel quite often that the GK rounds were rather more gentle in many cases than we’ve seen in recent years. So while on paper, contenders might be very close in terms of their GK scores from the heats, in practice, with harder questions in the semis, we might see some large fluctuations in the scores. I believe that this was the case in this 2nd semi.

First back was Gill Taylor. In the context of what we saw last week, 9 was by no means a bad score at all, and did the job of setting the bar, if nothing ese. However, the simple fact of the matter was that it gave her a total only 4 points higher than James’ half time score, so it was not going to be a winning score. Hard lines. Sarah Lake had rather impressed with her 15 on GK in her first round heat. She certainly started her GK round confidently too. However we’ve seen often enough in the past that Mastermind can be a cruel mistress sometimes, and even if she smiles at you and everything goes swimmingly in your heat, there’s always the chance that she’s going to kick you in the teeth with a GK round in which the questions just don’t run for you in the semi. Such a round was Sarah’s, and she finished with a total of 14.

This brought Mohan Modigonda to the chair. Now, if Mohan was going to win this semi, then he was going to have to do it on GK. He had James 2 points ahead of him, and next up was Alan Diment, whose GK round had been one of the more impressive in the heats. By the time you get to the semi finals, if you can manage anything close to a score in the teens in GK then you’ve done well. Mohan’s answers marked him out as someone whom I’d dare say is a quizzer. Mind you, he wasn’t happy with his round. When John gave him the answers to his three passes, twice he gave himself a full-on, Homer Simpson-esque smack on the head – although he didn’t say d’oh. I think Mohan you are now one of my favourite contenders this year. I love it when people show that they care about how well they did.

I dare say that Alan Diment certainly cared just as much about his own GK round, and it was close, mightily close. As John announced he had not incurred any passes, but scored 21 points there was a wry look on his face. He knew how close he’d come, and that, at a time when maybe just a few questions hadn’t quite run his way. If he wants to, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he passes this way again in the future.

Which left just James Haughton. By the time you get to this stage in a semi-final, you can pretty much guarantee that you’re going to be up against some well experienced quiz warriors, who are going to fashion the kind of GK rounds which will mean you’ve got to be on your best form in order to compete with them. I don’t think that James found his best form in the GK, and I don’t think he had the rub of the green in terms of the way the questions ran for him. Whether nerves played a part, I don’t know. Whatever the case he was some way behind the clock by the one minute mark, and in the end he finished with a total of 18.

So well done Mohan! Best of luck in the final, and thanks very much for winning without putting us through another tie break – I loved it last week, but don’t know if my nerves could take too many of them.

The Details

Mohan Modigonda
The Asterix Stories 1961-1987
10
1
12
3
22
3
Gill Taylor
The Periodic Table
7
0
9
3
16
3
Sarah Lake
The Novels of Nick Hornby
8
0
6
4
14
4
James Haughton
Richard Feynman
12
0
6
0
18
0
Alan DIment
The Life and Films of Stan Laurel
10
0
11
0
21
0

5 comments:

Liam Holton said...

I'm starting to think that semis are kinda jinxed and challenging, last week I felt certain that Steve Lacey would overtake everyone in general knowledge and the same went for James this week. It's a real pity that the 90 second jinx always kicks in at that point.

As for Mohan, a good job and in my view a contender with his eye on the prize by the look of it.

Londinius said...

Hello Liam,
I did allude to the fact that this what can happen when you have what I felt were a lot of really rather gentle GK rounds in the first round heats. They can make it difficult to predict what will happen in the semi final when the GK seems to get a bit harder. For example, there's not much on paper to choose from the reasonable quizzer who sores 14 on a gentle GK round, and the good quizzer who gets 15 on a gentle GK round. Put the two in the semis with harder GK questions, though, and you'll often see the difference.

This is not meant as a criticism of any of our semi finalists, each of whom earned their rightful place in the semis, more a possible explanation for some of the GK rounds we've seen in the last two semis.

Mohan said...

Good morning everyone,
I came across this lovely blog quite by chance whilst preparing for my appearances on Mastermind this year. David, I really must compliment you on the sheer detail of your posts and I am also very humbled by your comments about my appearances on the show.
I think you make some very salient points about the GK rounds. Speaking for myself personally, I'm quite bad at discerning what counts as an "easy question" or a "difficult question". If I know the answer to something, is it because it was easy, or am I clever because I knew the answer to a difficult question? :) As Chris Tarrant used to say.. "it's only easy if you knew the answer"

On the flip side however,I do agree that some questions in the GK rounds have been relative Gimmes. "which city is Charles de Gaulle airport in" for instance is one I remember from this series.

Liam, thank you for your very kind comments also :)
Frankly, I genuinely thought I didn't have a chance in hell of getting through the first round let alone the semi. What an experience.

Liam Holton said...

Cheers Mohan

I'm sure the final will make for good TV like it did last year. Also I only noticed they won't be showing Mastermind this Friday evening because of the UK's Eurovision Selection on BBC 2!

Londinius said...

Hi Mohan! Thank you so much for your very kind words, and for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.
Easy v. difficult? Well, let's be honest, it's all in the eye of the beholder and the ear of the behearer. As with everything else in the blog, it's purely a subjective view. I base it on my experience of setting quizzes for the rugby club to a large extent. I think - would all the teams in the club get that one right? If the answer is yes, or even most of them, then it's an easy question. I also take into consideration how often I've heard the same question being asked in the last few years - some questions do seem to go in and out of fashion, interestingly.

I wish you the very best of retrospective luck in the final.