Friday, 10 February 2017

Mastermind: Semi Final 4


So then, let’s begin, as we usually do, by casting an eye over the racing form for tonight’s contenders.

Lynn Edwards
The Forsyte Novels by John Galsworthy
15
0
15
0
30
0
Tony Richardson
Don Revie
12
0
15
0
27
0
Colin Daffern
Benny Hill
14
0
13
0
27
0
Ian Fennell
David Bowie
14
0
13
1
27
1
Gerald Chong
Steve Jobs
11
0
14
3
25
3

There’s a couple of things we should note about this. Firstly, three of tonight’s contenders had terrific SS scores in their first round. Which begged the question – it’s hard enough to do that well in one specialist round – could they do it again with a second? Then two of our contenders had very good GK scores. Only one, though, had both great GK and great specialist. So if first round form is any kind of reliable guide – and sometimes it is - then Lynn Edwards looked to be favourite. Well, let’s see how it worked out.

You wouldn’t necessarily have ruled out the chances of any of tonight’s contenders prior to the show, and Colin Daffern had the distinct advantage of having been this way before. If you’re waiting for me to once again say that I firmly believe that dealing with the chair becomes easier each time that you do it, then I’m not going to disappoint you, for it does. Last time out Colin scored an excellent 14, tonight, on the life and work of the great Alan Bennett he didn’t quite manage such an outstanding score. Oh, don’t get me wrong, 8 off 90 seconds is not easy to get, but it’s not the kind of score which absolutely guarantees you’ll be at least on the shoulder of the leader at the halfway point.

Teacher Tony Richardson has been on TV before his Mastermind adventures – I think specifically of University Challenge. Being a teacher, of course, he had the burden of support from the Clark sofa to contend with, as he tackled his round on Cream – that’s the iconic 60s rock band and not the less iconic dairy product. And tackle it extremely well he did. 11 points off 90 seconds is the kind of performance which will usually put you right up with the leaders at the turn around. Tony, let’s remind ourselves, scored 15 on GK in the heats, which all seemed to bode well for his chances.

Gerald Chong had scored 11 in his first round heat, and 14 on GK, which marked him out as perhaps the underdog in this semi, if you can have an underdog in a Mastermind semi final, that is. His performance on tonight’s round on the Novels of Dan Brown, in which he scored 8, was of a similar ilk, fine, but not outstanding. It left him three behind Tony, however, and off two minutes a three point gap can look like a yawning chasm sometimes. A great performance on GK would be a necessity for him.

LAM reader Ian Fennell put in a tremendous performance in his own heat, and yet had to qualify for the semis via the repechage places. Well, that is what they’re there for, to prevent very good contenders from slipping through the net. I made the point when I watched his perfect round on David Bowie last time out that I reckoned that John could have spent the whole show asking Ian questions on Bowie and he wouldn’t have had any of them wrong. Well, it’s incredibly difficult to hit that level of SS performance twice in a row, and Ian too became one of our 8 pointers in his round on Herbert Von Karajan. With one contender to go, Tony was looking more and more secure.

Lynn Edwards was the top performer of tonight’s contenders in the first round heats, with a double 15. Her round on Mary of Teck tonight, to be honest, looked nothing like as good as her previous round on John Galsworthy. In fact she seemed to be shipping gettable points alarmingly at the start. When it comes to technique, though, Lynn is a lady after my own heart. She never brooded when she got an answer wrong, just kept snapping out the answers and not agonising over anything, and gradually – if anything in a 90 second round can be gradual – her score climbed until she too had scored 8. Advantage Tony.

So for four contenders at least, the mission was simple and clear. Score enough points to at least put Tony within the corridor of doubt. Colin gave it a lash. Now, this is all in the eye of the beholder, and one man’s meat is another man’s poisson, but I found Colin’s set of questions less to my liking than the following rounds. That’s just the way it goes – some sets suit and some sets don’t. I don’t know that they were totally to Colin’s liking either. He scored 9 – a perfectly respectable semi final GK score, but we’ve seen him go better than this in the past. 17 looked unlikely to win this show.

Gerald Chong had put on a highly useful 14 in GK in his own heat. I’d say that 10 off 90 seconds is roughly equivalent to 14 off 120, so he was at least showing a level of consistency. An overall total of 18 and no passes meant that Tony was going to need at least 9 for an outright win, and so the target was at least climbing to the kind of total that would require a serious chase.

Ian shook his head ruefully after he, like Colin, posted 9 to take his total to 17. I think he knew that there were a couple of answers that just got away from him, and sadly, on a night when you need every point you can get these things will count against you in the end. Never mind. You are a Mastermind semi-finalist, Sir, and have nothing to regret in any of your performances. With only one contender to go before Tony, though, the Clark 50p was still very much placed on a Tony win.

I mentioned Lynn Edwards’ technique in her SS round. It has probably never served her better than in her GK round tonight. I am perhaps doing her a disservice when I say that it seemed that several of her correct answers may well have been guesses, judging by her tone of voice and facial expression. That’s not a criticism by any means. One of the essential skills of any good quizzer is being able to apply what you do know to help you answer what you don’t. It takes concentration and presence of mind. After all, if you’ve got a couple of minutes to think about it, even if you’ve never heard of Jacob’s Ladder it’s not unreasonable, when you’re told it ascends a landmark in Somerset to come up with Cheddar Gorge. Try doing it in a second or two. You can, but you have to concentrate and think clearly to come up with percentage answers which have a decent chance of being right, and that’s exactly what Lynn did. She posted a terrific score of 13. With no passes it meant that Tony needed 11 for an outright win. Game on.

I feel nothing but sympathy towards Tony for what happened in his round. Believe me, everyone has nights when every choice you make, every guess you take, is a close but no cigar answer. He could probably play another dozen GK rounds in the chair, and this wouldn’t happen again. It is just such bad luck for it to happen when you are in a very good position in the semi-final, and have what appears to be an excellent chance of making it through to the final. In the end he took his score to 16. Many commiserations Tony – sometimes it just ain’t your night. If you want to, you’ll be back.

Congratulations Lynn, and best of luck in the final.

The Details

Colin Daffern
Life and Works of Alan Bennett
8
1
9
0
17
1
Tony Richardson
Cream
11
1
5
3
16
4
Gerald Chong
The Novels of Dan Brown
8
0
10
0
18
0
Ian Fennell
Herbert Von Karajan
8
0
9
1
17
1
Lynn Edwards
Mary of Teck
8
0
13
0
21
0

12 comments:

Ian F said...

I'm still kicking myself for fumbling my two easiest SS questions. I could have answered dozens of questions about Karajan's relationship with the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Salzburg Easter Festival. But when simply asked to name them, my mouth decided to say 'Philadelphia' and 'Berlin Easter Festival'. Doh! You can see me wincing as soon as I say them. Steven Sondheim wrote the lyrics to 'West Side Story'. I've always known that - except during those 120 seconds in the chair...er er er...pass. It's such a psychological game, and there's even more pressure in these shorter semi-final rounds. All useful experience for the next time. Now I can see why people keep going back for more punishment.

You had to be sitting next to Lynn to know how nervous she was, but it didn't seem to slow her down at all. Having since seen her performance in the heats it's clear that winning the semi was no fluke. I think she was surprised to find herself in the semi, but gobsmacked to find herself going through to the final. I think she can do very well, and I'll have my fingers crossed for her when it comes on. I'd like to see her reaction if she wins it!

Londinius said...

Hi Ian, and commiserations. As you say, it is all good experience, and it does become a little addictive. You now yourself how much better you could have done if everything had gone your way, and also I always enjoyed the learning a subject for the specialist. SO heaven forbid, had the 2007 SOBM never happened I might well have become a hardened recidivist.

Liam Holton said...

ah that was a disappointing round for Tony. It must feel really awful to be first after the first round and then choke in general knowledge.

Londinius said...

I don't know that 'choking' is very fair, Liam. Often there are pivotal moments in a round which can put you off your game early in a round, and then you end up missing things you'd normally get in your sleep. It doesn't matter how good a quizzer you are, sooner or later you are going to have a round, or heaven forbid , a whole quiz where absolutely nothing goes right for you. The better quizzer that you are, the less likely it is to happen, but nobody is immune.

Gerald said...

I'm one of the other semi finalists on this show and I definitely don't think it was a case of Tony choking, it was just a case of 50/50 answers going the wrong way and just being unlucky. In my mind it was a toss up between loch and firth, and Tony went the wrong way, same with macrame or crochet (I don't know if those were the options that came up in his head, but they certainly were the ones my mind presented). If he'd have got anyone else's GK round, he'd have been through.

Ian F said...

The fewer questions in the semis mean you do need more of them to go your way.

Hi Gerald! Are you tempted to give Mastermind another go?

Gerald said...

Hi Ian,

I think I'll give it a year or 2 and reapply. I was happy to say that I'd managed to forget a lot of my specialist subject since the filming, and could only answer about half of them when I watched it again.

Londinius said...

Hi Gerald, and thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. As you say, I think there were a few questions where you ight be caught in two minds, and sadly every time this happened he went the wrong way. Nothing you can do when it happens except take it on the chin.

Tony Richardson said...

A very fair write up David and contributors to the comments have been kind. I'm currently teaching in rural Nepal (a decision I made long before the car crash of my GK round in the semi!) so haven't seen the show.You and Gerald are spot on with the assessment of my thinking and my realisation that nothing was going right on those 'either/or' questions led to frustration and ultimately it may well have looked as though I was choking. Liam may have a point - in the green room before recording I remember saying that one of us would have a 'dream' round and another a nightmare, an hour later, sat in my chair I'd had no problem with the other 4 GK sets and recall thinking as I walked to the black chair that I may have a tough time ahead, realising of course that such negative thinking was not ideal at that moment.
Lynn was a worthy winner on the night, she nailed every answer very quickly and I'd love to see her win the series.
Lastly David, thanks for keeping the blog going, I know it's much appreciated by all quiz contestants.
Kind regards
Tony

Ian F said...

Hi Tony, I remember the discussion about there always seeming to be one set of GK questions that one scores lower on. I have to say I couldn't have done any better with your set. There were some muddy questions at the start. There could also be a disadvantage in going last. The whole mise-en-scene is designed to put you off, and I found it quite psychologically draining just sitting there being on the show. After half an hour my mind was ready to shut down!

Hope you're having a great time in Nepal. I was there a couple of times 20-or-so years ago. Spent several months walking in the mountains, and met my wife Mandy high up in the Annapurnas. One of my favourite countries. Fantastic people; tough and good-humoured.

Tony Richardson said...

Hi Ian
The psychological effect of waiting so long cannot be overestimated and it probably had a negative effect on me, 'Muddy' is a good way to describe some of the questions!

How amazing that you met your wife in Nepal! I'm in the foothills to the South of the Annapurnas in a tiny, very isolated village. I live in a mud hut and have to bathe in the river next to the school as there are no showers but unlike 20 years ago they have (intermittent) wi-fi, the joys of globalisation! The people are wonderful, such generosity it's humbling and the kids are (mostly) so keen to learn - I'm having a fabulous time, everyday is an adventure. Best wishes, Tony

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

"The whole mise-en-scene is designed to put you off, and I found it quite psychologically draining just sitting there being on the show."

Considering that the show's design was famously based on Gestapo interrogations, I'm quite sure that that feeling is deliberate, not that knowing it makes it any easier to experience.

I've had such GK rounds as Tony's even in pub quizzes, and actually last Friday itself I had a couple. For whatever reason (partially the pressure as defending champion and the expectation from several other teams that we would win, partially lots of other things) answers I should have gotten easily failed to materialise. I even struggled to remember the current Archbishop of Canterbury's name, despite having teammates (none of whom knew it) and time enough.

When that feeling can happen even in a comfy pub, I'm not sure I want to imagine how it must feel in that chair. I really felt for you Tony, I could see exactly what you were thinking, the emu/kiwi question second from last coming to mind. Takes a lot of guts and a lot of knowledge to sit in the chair at all - more of eithre than I have, hence why I've not applied for the show yet. Lady Luck does seem to sometimes have a forked tongue, and that night she did not smile upon you. Definitely don't think you choked, as it could have happened to anyone at any time.

Best of luck in any future appearance you may make, and it sounds like you're having a great time in Nepal!

Cheers,

Adam