Friday, 10 November 2017

Mastermind 2018 - Round One - Heat 15

Yes, dearly beloved, I am aware now that last week's heat was not the one scheduled, but I'm numbering them in broadcast order. Sorry I’m a little late posting this. Knackered last night, if truth be told. Still, let’s make up for lost time and crack straight on.  

Out first subject, offered by Chris Sloley, was the Simpsons. Now, for potential contenders, this is the sort of subject that should come with a government heath warning. To the average person on the street, who has never harboured the least intention of appearing on Mastermind, the Simpsons may look like a more easy subject than many. Au contraire. According to Wikipedia, there are currently over 600 episodes that have been broadcast. And yes, some episodes are more famous than others, and maybe more likely to be asked about. But you can’t leave it to chance. You have to be familiar with every episode. Even then they might well ask you about the creator, or the vocal performers, or the background to the show. Put bluntly, taking a subject like this puts you on a hiding to nothing. To get a high score would be an amazing feat of memory, yet if you did, the general public would probably be unimpressed. More likely though you would find yourself in the same position that Chris did. He was let down by his knowledge of specific episodes, and finished with 7.  

Is Venomous Snakes of the World a subject with less to learn than The Simpsons? I have absolutely no idea. What I do know, though is that whatever the size of the task, our second contender, Tim Kenny was well up to it. He managed 13, and as we know, with the current SS rounds, if you can get into the teens then you’ve done a very good job. On a personal note, I was surprised and happy to score as many points on this round – 7 – as I’d scored on The Simpsons (and I’ve been a fan of that show ever since it was a series of brief inserts in the Tracey Ullman Show 30 odd years ago. ) 

Way back in 1981 I won my first Mastermind competition. This was Elthorne High School Mastermind, which in its own way was just as hotly contested as the TV show. I was in the lower 6th form. A girl in the upper 6th was answering on Sherlock Holmes. Now, the gossip after the competition was that she’d turned up, fully expecting that she would only be asked about the 4 novels, and only realised that she was going to be asked about the 56 short stories after the round began. Well, Charley Hasted, our third contender, was well prepared for all eventualities, and she too scored a great 13. I pushed my score to 19 – well, I have read all of the stories, although this was a few years ago, to give me just a chance of breaking my best aggregate SS total for the series. 

I would have to do well on the last subject, though, which was Alfred the Great. I didn’t expect to get zero, since I knew a bit about Alfred from having studied Old English literature as part of my degree, but that was a long time ago. In the end, though, I managed 5. A good aggregate performance of 24, but no cigar this week. Alfred Williams, our 4th contender, really proved himself to be Alfred the Great, since he managed a superb 15 from 15. He hadn’t won yet, since Tim and Charley were still very much in the competition, but he had given himself a great springboard. 

Chris returned to the chair, and I fancy he may have been a bit downhearted after what had happened in his specialist round. Who knows? He battled manfully with his round, not quite accumulating a double figure score, and added 9 to his total to make 16.  

Tim’s round was rather better, and indeed with abut 20 seconds to go he was in with a chance of making a score of around 25/6. Wrong answers to most of his last few questions though left him high and dry on 23, and with the best will in the world that was not going to be enough to put Alfred into the corridor of doubt. Charley too scored 10 to put herself on 23, although behind Tim on pass countback. Any GK score in double figures is perfectly decent, but this left Alfred needing only 9 correct answers in order to win outright.  

And let’s give credit where it’s due, Alfred did considerably better than that. His technique was, I felt, extremely good. He snapped out his answers the moment that John had finished the question, and didn’t agonise over the ones he had wrong. As it was he passed on 3, but if you’re going to pass, then you have to pass quickly, which is exactly what Alfred did. In the end he had amassed a hugely impressive 16, for an overall total of 31. That’s extremely good quizzing, and I dare say that Mr. Williams will be one to watch in the semi finals. Very well done sir – we at LAM salute you.  

The Details

Chris Sloley
The Simpsons
7
3
9
4
16
7
Tim Kenny
Venomous Snakes of the world
13
0
10
0
23
0
Charley Hasted
Sherlock Holmes
13
1
10
4
23
4
Alfred Williams
The Life and Times of Alfred the Great
15
0
16
3
31
3

5 comments:

Myron said...

Should have done Simpsons, Seasons 1-10, or something like that. Even that would be a daunting task.

Mycool said...

Not convinced about the difficulty of covering The Simpsons. As I have mentioned before, Richard Chaney scored 12 on The Life And Works Of Charles M Schulz, which you could argue is an equally vast subject. I find it difficult to imagine that the question setters ploughed through more than 600 episodes to find the most obscure questions possible. Fact is, Mark Helsby agrees with the contenders which two or three books they will revise from, although the question setters are not obliged to use them exclusively. If you were to look at the Bibliography section of the Wikipedia article on The Simpsons, you could pick out a couple of books to use; I would hope that you could learn off the contents of these books and get a good score. We probably need some input from Chris to clarify this.

claire slater said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
George Millman said...

I was surprised by how well I did on The Simpsons. When I saw that was the category, I thought, like you did, that it was going to be fiendishly difficult, but I found myself doing quite a bit better than Chris Sloley (I didn't actually count my score, but I got most of the ones that he got and quite a few of the ones he didn't). The questions did mostly seem to be on Seasons 1-10, which as every fan knows are the seasons that really made The Simpsons what it was. I've watched those seasons repeatedly, I knew the answers.

Just a note: Charley Hasted uses the personal pronoun 'they' rather than 'she' (they have been quite vocal since the show about how John Humphrys apparently refused to refer to them as such, which is ironic because Tim was then asked a question on personal pronouns). Maybe a good idea to update the article to reflect that?

Chris Sloley said...

They were narrowed to series one-to-10. It made it seem much wider in the actual recording but I should have done better. Thanks for the kind write-up and excellent blog.

In response to Mycool, I gave the first 10 DVDs as my reference point and then neglected to do the necessary research. Nobody's fault but my own. Was madly impressed by the other contenders, all thoroughly good people.