Saturday, 17 March 2018

Mastermind 2018: Grand Final Preview


Shall we have a look at the statistics, dearly beloved? Why not?



Kyle Nagendra
The X-Men Films
9
2
11
2
20
4

The Films of James Cameron
14
0
12
4
26
4
Aggregate

23
2
23
6
46
8
Brian Chesney
The Giordano Bruno Novels of SJ Parris
11
0
12
1
23
1

Harold Wilson
15
0
15
1
30
1
Aggregate

26
0
27
2
53
2
Ken Morland
The Works of HP Lovecraft
9
1
11
0
20
1

Red Dwarf
14
0
14
3
28
3
Aggregate

23
1
25
3
48
4
Michael Taylor
The films of Paul Thomas Anderson
11
0
12
0
23
0

U2
14
1
14
4
28
5
Aggregate

25
1
26
4
51
5
Alfred Williams
The Life and Music of Eric Satie
10
0
15
1
25
1

The Life and Times of Alfred the Great
15
0
16
3
31
3
Aggregate

25
0
31
4
56
4
Ben Holmes
The Graphic Novels of Daniel Clowes
10
2
13
0
23
0

Dr. Who 2005 - date
15
0
14
1
29
1
Aggregate

25
2
27
1
52
1



Now, let’s state for the record that statistics only tell you so much. Any of the 6 people who reach a Mastermind Grand Final CAN win it. All the statistics tell us is who is most likely to do it based on performance in the series so far. So what do these statistics tell us?

Both Kyle Nagendra and Ken Morland look less likely to win than the other finalists, according to the statistics. Kyle had a fine GK round in the semis, but he was a couple of points behind the leaders as the half time oranges were brought out. He certainly can’t afford that in the final, and even then his GK score last night, good as it was, was still the joint lowest of our 6 finalists. Can he win? Of course he can, but the formbook points to a lower finish than that.

Ken Morland looked shocked when it was announced that he had won his semi and was through to the final. His semi final performance was similar to Kyle’s and again, he’ll need to do a little better on his specialist if he’s not going to be behind going into the GK. His semi final GK again was joint lowest in the semis. Can Ken win? Sure he can, but again, my gut feeling is that he’ll be amongst the chasing pack.

Next contender of this all male group whose chances we should look at is Michael Taylor. If you look at the aggregate scores of Michael, Ben and Brian, there is virtually nothing to choose between them. Looking at Michael’s scores, what they reveal is that this is a contender who performs at a consistently high level. The evidence suggests that he’ll prepare well for his specialist, which means it will all come down to GK. His chances must be taken seriously. I think the most likely outcome for him is a podium spot, but he can win it, make no doubt.

I’d say the same for Ben Holmes too. His GK aggregate is slightly higher than Michael’s, but there’s really nothing in it. Again, I want to stress this, Ben’s stats suggest that he is perfectly capable of becoming a Mastermind champion, and a worthy one he would be. The fact that I’m not tipping him to win has a great deal more to do with the quality of our last two contenders than any deficiency in Ben.

Twist my arm behind my back and force me down off the fence, and I’d tell you that I think two of the contenders are more likely winners than the other 4. The first of this dynamic duo is Brian Chesney. Brian is a former runner up – last time out in 2014 he lost out on passes to our own Clive Dunning. Now there is a precedent to this. In 2003, the first series of the Humphrys Ers, the great Geoff Thomas was runner up to Andy Page. 3 years later he came back and carried all before him in the series that saw my own Mastermind debut. Consider also the fact that Brian is a Brain of Britain runner up, and you can see how foolish it would be to dismiss Brian’s chances. I have never seen him put in an under par performance in his 5 Mastermind appearances so far. I can’t see that he won’t be in the reckoning. However, to win he’ll have to beat a very serious contender indeed.

Alfred Williams looks like a winner to me. There – sorry Alfred, I’ve maybe jinxed your chances there. But every single round he’s put in so far has been quality. In particular that 15 on GK in the semis was truly outstanding – and that after a 16 on GK in the heats. There’s an air of assurance about Alfred when he’s in the chair – he looks as if he never expects to get one wrong, and he doesn’t let it bother him in the slightest on the few occasions when he does. So yes, I think the most likely winners are Brian and Alfred, and of the two, I just think that Alfred has looked more likely during this series.

But hey, what do I know? There may only be 5 GK questions in the whole show that you don’t know, but if they all come out in the middle of your own round, what can you do? Anyone is capable of having a bad night – although the better quizzer that you are the fewer and further between these should be. I wish all 6 contenders the very best of retrospective luck, and hope that you all enjoyed the experience.

The final itself will be shown on Good Friday, so no Mastermind next week. Shame.


5 comments:

claire slater said...

Thanks for this very good summary of the path to the final.
I was wondering how many of the class of 2017-8 are returning alumni of the black chair experience?

Liam Holton said...

In response to your question Claire,

One contender that returned to Mastermind this year was a guy called Ian Dunn, he appeared in the first round heats of last year's competition and he was in the lead after the first round but came second or third on GK. He returned this year and participated in the second heat and placed fourth overall.

Jonathan Freare also returned to the contest this year after being knocked out of the first round last year, but he had luck of the draw as he got through to the second round.

There was someone else from last year as well, can't think of his name but he appeared in the semis last year and came back this year only not to get through this time around.

Londinius said...

Good question Claire. I think one could find out by taking all 96 names, and checking in the search facility of the blog. I don't know the answer off the top of my head, but it's been my impression that the majority of contenders in any given series are Mastermind virgins, but it's not a huge majority - maybe something round about a 60 - 40 split.

As for people who appear in Mastermind in two consecutive years, well, we're a lot more rare. I'm one of them. I've noticed several others since, but I'm still the only person to get knocked out in the first round in one series, and come back to win the series next year.

Paul Gilbert said...

Contestants in the 2017-18 series who had appeared before in the Humphrys era (all years are the year that the series in question started):

Allan Cook (2004, 2013)
Andrew Teale (2010, 2013, 2014)
Ben Holmes (2013)
Brian Chesney (2013)
Chris Cummins (2011)
David Love (2005, 2007, 2011, 2014)
David Sutherland (2009, 2014)
Derek Moody (2004, 2005, 2007)
Diane Hardman (2015)
Didier Bruyere (2012)
Ian Dunn (2016)
Jonathan Frere (2016)
Lawrence Cook (2013)
Les Morrell (2007, 2009, 2014)
Madeline Grant (2014)
Mike Clark (2011)
Neil Wright (2013)
Nick Gunatilleke (2012)
Philip Isaac (2014)
Richard Chaney (2013)
Sarah Elder (2015)
Sarah Jane Bodell (2015)
Shahab Mossavat (2012)
Steve Lacey (2016)
Terence Saunders (2013)

So 25 out of 96 had appeared before, about 26%.

As can be seen, 3 contestants appeared in both the 2016-17 and 2017-18 series. This brings the total number of such contestants (in the Humphrys era) to 22. The series with the most returners from the previous series is the 2005 series with 6.

On a different note, this is the 5th all-male final of the Humphrys era. 3 of them were the first 3 series, and the other was the 2013-14 series, which was coincidentally the previous final that Brian Chesney contested.

Paul Gilbert said...

I decided to do some calculations to see how much correlation there is between the scores in the final and the relevant contestants' scores in the earlier rounds.

In each case a higher value indicates more correlation i.e. those who had scored well in earlier rounds did better in the final.

Comparing the final scores with the sum of those in the heats and the semi-finals:

2009-10 - 0.8941 (Jesse Honey, Kathryn Johnson, and Mark Grant were the 3 highest scorers in Heat + SF and also in the final)
2004 - 0.7867
2003 - 0.7577
2011-12 - 0.7212
2005 - 0.6931
2015-16 - 0.5761
2007-08 - 0.5478
2013-14 - 0.4485
2006 - 0.2133
2008-09 - 0.1198
2012-13 - 0.0000
2014-15 - 0.0000
2010-11 - -0.0794
2016-17 - -0.1043 (Isabelle Heward comfortably won the final despite only Mohan Mudigonda having a lower Heat + SF aggregate)

Looking at just the SF & Final:

2005 - 0.8796 (in both SF and Final, Pat Gibson was the highest scorer by a fair margin and Robin Chapman the lowest scorer by a fair margin, with the other 4 contestants very close)
2009-10 - 0.8502
2011-12 - 0.8395
2003 - 0.7818
2004 - 0.6354
2016-17 - 0.4904
2006 - 0.4093
2013-14 - 0.3654
2008-09 - 0.2028
2010-11 - 0.0268
2007-08 - -0.0068
2015-16 - -0.0107
2012-13 - -0.2331 (5 out of the 6 finalists scored 21 in their SF, with Didier Bruyere scoring 19 and then finishing joint 2nd in the final)
2014-15 - -0.3136 (Marianne Fairthorne and David Greenwood were the 2 lowest-scorers in the SF but finished 1st and 2nd in the final, 3 points ahead of 3rd place; also Diane Hallagan finished 5th in the final despite being comfortably the best SF scorer)

Looking at this, it seems that the earlier-round scores can be used as a guide (there are more positive figures than negative figures), but there are exceptions.