Saturday, 3 February 2018

Mastermind 2018 - Semi Final One


Now, I love the Six Nations as much as the next man, but come on, you don’t postpone Mastermind until Saturday in Wales just for a preview. Or rather, that’s exactly what BBC Wales did do last night. Sod ‘em. I watched it on BBC2 England. 

Let’s begin by studying the form book.

Teresa De Billot
British Oscar winning Actors and Actresses
14
0
12
3
26
3
Richard Chaney
Porridge
11
0
13
1
24
1
Pam Poole
Top 10 singles 1963 - 1973
10
1
13
0
23
1
Ben Holmes
Dr. Who 2005 - date
15
0
14
1
29
1
Philip Isaac
Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em
13
0
13
3
26
3

As you can see, there wasn’t a lot to choose between the GK rounds of any of last night’s contenders in their heats – and those, you remember, were all 2 and a half minute rounds. Rather more of a range between the SS rounds. And of course, we have to consider the enduring truth that while all semi finalists have managed to get to grips with one specialist subject well enough, not everyone can manage to prepare a second subject to that standard. 

So to begin. Teresa De Billot was the repechage semi finalist in this show. She appeared in Heat 9 – which incidentally would provide another repechage semi finalist in Cliff Houghton, where she was beaten by former finalist David Love. Last night she offered us Olympic Track and Field 1972 – 1992. – Yum yum – thought I. Love Olympics, love track and field, and that era in particular. So under the circumstances I was disappointed with myself not to get double figures, finishing with 9. This was 1 less than Teresa – and remember, anything double figures is an excellent SS score for a semi these days. 

Now, it isn’t very nice of me to mention this, but last time Richard Chaney was in a semi final, in Clive’s 2014 series, he had a bit of a 'mare on his specialist, having been one of the more impressive qualifiers from the first round. For the first couple of questions on his specialist last night, the Tolpuddle Martyrs, it looked as if lightning might strike twice. To his immense credit he steadied the ship, and picked his way through what looked like tricky set, to earn a highly respectable 7. With things seeming so tight on GK though, this looked likely to leave him as an outsider by the time the half time oranges were passed round.

I was always quite proud of the diversity of my 5 SS rounds during my time on MM, and Pam Poole’s SS of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt was certainly different from her round on top 10 singles from the first round. Now, for me there really wasn’t much in the way of controversy in this semi final, but I did note one question. To be honest, it was one of only three questions that I answered correctly in the round. The architect of the Step Pyramid of King Djoser I knew was Imhotep. Pam answered ImhoPET. John said “Yes, ImhoTEP.” So here’s my issue. For all I know, Imhopet was a perfectly acceptable alternative – I know that translation of Ancient Egyptian names can vary. In which case, though, why did he feel the need to give the more common form, wasting her valuable time as he did so? If it wasn’t an acceptable alternative – well, I’m sorry, but it would have been an incorrect answer and then should treated accordingly, you don’t, or shouldn’t, get marks for a near miss. If anyone can fill me in on this one I’d be grateful. Whatever the case Pam finished with 8, and a two point gap to negotiate.

The top first round performer of last night’s contenders was Ben Holmes, who’d answered on my favourite specialist subject, Doctor Who. Last night he gave us The Graphic Novels of Daniel Clowes, or as he is known in LAM Towers, Daniel Who? Last time he was in the semi finals in 2014, like Richard he too was undone by a relatively modest specialist performance. No chance of that happening tonight. With 10 points and 2 passes he was matching Teresa stride for stride at the head of the field with only one contender to go.

Philip Isaac has been a semi finalist before, although this was in 2015 rather than 2014. Would you believe it if I told you that he too was undone by his specialist score? Doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not, for it’s the truth. Whatever it was that proved his downfall three years ago there was no repeat last night, since he’d obviously thoroughly prepared, and posted a fine 8 points in another tricky historical round, on president of the USA Andrew Jackson. My one point on this round was enough for me to set my first SS aggregate of this year’s semis with scores of 9 – 2 – 3 – 0 – 1 for a total of 15. 

Richard was unfortunate, in my opinion, to get a few more difficult questions at key points in his round. Every time he got a couple right, and had the chance to pick up a wee bit of steam, he’d be bowled another chest high bouncer. As a result his round never really got going, and he finished with a total of 13.

With Pam Poole, though, it was a different story. Pam answered the first 9 questions on the bounce, and let’s be fair, there was a real mix of subjects and levels of difficulty within these. She missed a couple after that, but the Force was with her, and she continued sticking them in the back of the net from all angles. Her round of 14 and no passes in 2 minutes was a round of real quality, and from looking an outsider at the turn around, she now looked as if she had every chance of becoming a Mastermind finalist. 

Philip Isaac, though, would have his say about that first, though. Far from being cowed by such a big total, Philip set off confidently to traverse he corridor of doubt. At one point I did think he might be behind the clock, but this was an illusion, as he maintained steady progress throughout the round. By the buzzer he too had posted a splendid 14 points. Sadly this didn’t quite put him in contention for the win, since he had incurred a couple of passes during his brace of rounds. Nonetheless this was an excellent performance. 

Teresa de Billot, then, needed 12 and no passes just to equal Pam. If she was at all nervous, it certainly didn’t show. Let’s remind ourselves – these are all Mastermind semi-finalists, and they can all handle general knowledge, so we shouldn’t be surprised when they do well. And Teresa’s round was a double figure round in its own right, which is a mark of quality in a 2 minute GK round in this day and age. However, it was 10 rather than the 12 she needed.

So only Ben remained to challenge Pam. There’s a famous quote from the Duke of Wellington about the Battle of Waterloo, “It has been a damned nice thing - the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life” Mind you, he also said that it was won on the playing fields of Eton, which is complete tosh, so what can you do? Nonetheless, this was a near run thing as well. A total of 22 would not be enough for Ben, since he had incurred an earlier pass. He’d scored 12 for 22 as the blue line of death began to encircle the score box, and Pam had one foot in the final. However there was time for that last question, and I felt sure that Ben would know the term malware. He did, and this got him just over the line.

Well played all. Very hard lines to Pam and to Philip especially, but take solace from fine performances which were good enough to have earned a final place in another semi. Very well done Ben – good luck in the final. 

The Details

Teresa De Billot
Olympic Track and Field 1972 - 1992
10
0
10
1
20
1
Richard Chaney
Tolpuddle Martyrs
7
0
6
0
13
0
Pam Poole
Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt
8
0
14
0
22
0
Ben Holmes
The Graphic Novels of Daniel Clowes
10
2
13
0
23
0
Philip Isaac
President Andrew Jackson
8
1
14
1
22
2

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi,just discovered this while reminiscing about my time on Mastermind. It's great to see the stats like this. I was a first time Masterminder and not a regular quizzer so I was chuffed to get to the semis against some seasoned semi-pros.