Saturday, 26 January 2019

Mastermind 2019 - First Round Heat 14

Hello, good morning, and welcome. Well, we’re cracking through the heats at a fair old rate of knots now, aren’t we. Last night’s 14th heat featured two Mastermind virgins, one recidivist coming back to have another, and one contender who has a reasonable claim to have undergone more rounds in the black chair than any other contender in the history of the show.

Our first contender, Philip Dubois, took part in Isabelle’s 2017 series, answering on Oliver Cromwell. Back then he scored a modest 6 on Oliver Cromwell, and looking back on my review I can see I was a little surprised at some of the questions he failed to answer. I did suggest that maybe this was nerves. Well, last night, answering on The History of the World Cup, Philip certainly didn’t look nervous. However once again he only scored 6. I’m sorry about this as well, but some of the questions he missed, Jairzinho scoring in every round of the 1970 tournament – the goalkeeping award originally being named after Lev Yashin – really are sitters if you’ve done much preparation. Sorry Philip, but that wasn’t a great round at all.

The first of our two Mastermind virgins, Alex Patel, was answering questions on the Battle of Stalingrad. As much as Philip’s round was suggestive of a contender who had either underprepared, or got his preparation wrong, Alex’s spoke of a contender who had prepared thoroughly. Not that he was a perfect round, but nothing will ever guarantee you that. I worked like stink for every one of my specialist rounds, but I never quite achieved a perfect one. Alex’s score of 12 would mean that he would have a cushion of 6 over Philip, and, depending on his general knowledge, would be in with a shout.

The second of our newbies then was Susannah Croft. Susannah was answering on The Novels of Sarah Waters. I will admit that I’ve never read any of them, although I did once catch a bit of the TV adaptation of Tipping the Velvet a few years ago. My scores so far had been 9 on the World Cup, and 5 on Stalingrad. A couple of useful guesses brought me another couple of points on Susannah’s round. While I was floundering around, though, Sarah had gone about the business of answering every single question correctly. It was a pretty flawless demonstration of what you can do if you get your preparation absolutely right. A great performance.

This left only Hamish Cameron to go. Now, I may well have this wrong, so please forgive any inaccuracies. By my reckoning, not counting last night, he’s been in the heats at least 5 times, the semis 4 times, and the final once. That’s a total of 20 turns in the chair – and that’s only if I haven’t missed one. He was already a very seasoned Mastermind performer when I met him when he was the stand in for the 2007 Grand Final of blessed memory. Hamish is a master at negotiating his way through the heats, so I expected him to come close to matching Susannah’s score. He did come close – only the last question robbed him of a full house, but even so he managed 13. With the GK to come, I was putting the Clark 50p on a Hamish win.

Philip came back to the chair for his GK, and it did look like he meant business. He scored 11, and that’s a perfectly respectable performance. For the fist minute and a half it looked even better, and I was impressed with the range of knowledge he was covering. However he did seem to just run out of steam and lose some momentum in the last minute.

As for Alex Patel, well, I would say that he too didn’t really seem nervous. But it just wasn’t a great round at all. Sometimes you watch a Mastermind GK round and you do think it’s noticeably harder than the norm. I don’t think that was the case with this round. There you go. Alex did score 6 which was just enough to put him in front of Philip. With the best will in the world, though, he was never going to stay there.

So to Hamish. As the most experienced Mastermind hand that there is, he won’t have panicked being two points behind while the half time oranges were being passed around. He knows that a Mastermind GK round is a marathon, not a sprint, and that two and a half minutes is more than enough time to overhaul a 2 point lead. So what he produced wasn’t the best GK round I’ve ever seen from him, but it was still pretty good. 14 correct answers put Hamish on 27 – which gave him one foot in the semis via the repechage process whatever happened in Susannah’s round.

Well, as I said, the Clark 50p was riding on Hamish, but to be fair to Susannah she made a race out of it. By the time that we passed the two minute mark it was fairly clear she was going to come close, but there would still be daylight between her and Hamish once the blue line of death had completed its circuit. In the end she scored 10 for 25, and although she didn’t win she can take heart from the fact that she had a good overall performance, which would have won some heats.

The winner, though, was Hamish. Was he inspired to apply this year by Isabelle Heward’s win a couple of years ago? Isabelle, you may recall, was herself a veteran of several series. Whatever the case, I can’t help wishing him a similar outcome to Isabelle’s. Well done to you, sir, and the very best of luck.


Philip Dubois
The History of the World Cup
Alex Patel
The Battle of Stalingrad
Susannah Croft
The Novels of Sarah Waters
Hamish Cameron
John Knox


Martin said...

Not that it made any difference, but I didn't like the darts question that Alex Patel got in his GK round. The question asked for the value of the "inner ring of the bullseye" and Alex said 25. It was marked as incorrect. I think the word "ring" can't be fairly used to describe the centre circle and would have confused me as it seemed to do with Alex.

Londinius said...

I see where you're coming from, Martin, but I can't say that it struck me as unfair at the time. It's a long time since I had a dartboard so I can't remember whether there actually was a ring around the bull itself, but having said inner I answered 50 and I thought it was fairly obvious that the centre was what was being asked for. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree.

Paul Gilbert said...

I believe Hamish Cameron did appear once in the Magnus era (1990?) - he mentioned it in his VT in the 2014 final. This means that Friday's show was the 12th he had featured in (11 in the Humprhys era), with at least 1 more to come. Mark Grant has also featured in 11 Humphrys-era shows (2 finals, 2 more semi-finals, plus the heat this series), with at least 1 more to come.

Incidentally, Hamish almost certainly holds the dubious honour of most defeats on Mastermind, given that 2 of his semi-final appearances came as a highest-scoring runner up (2003 and 2010-11).

Keshava said...

I believe Hamish was also a contender on the Radio 4 Mastermind in the late 90s. I met him on set this year and he said it was his 8th or 9th (I forget which) appearance on the show, if you included the radio version.