Saturday, 28 March 2009

Anniversary - Mastermind Update


Yes, its been a quiet week. There was no chance of me getting out to a midweek quiz this week, being as it was the week in which we had to send out the sample of our GCSE coursework for external moderation. At my school, we're great believers in the school of 'measure twice, and cut once ' or to put it another way, make sure that the folders are as perfect as you can before they go. Its a good approach, but the problem is that it does take a lot of time and effort in marking, checking, re-marking, arguing, checking again, re-marking, filling the folders with comments justifying the marks given, etc. Thus I rationed myself to the unpleasant experience last Sunday which was the subject of my previous entry , and Thursday night's quiz, of which more later.

Not only that, then, but its been a bit of a quiet week TV wise.I've enjoyed "A Question of Genius" although I haven't caught much of it this week due to one thing and another.Then last night Mastermind was held over so that the BBC could show the world track cycling. Now, I can understand why they want to show the cycling. What happened in the Beijing Olympics was unprecedented, for the GB and NI team to so dominate a sport . I just wish that it wasn't poor old Mastermind being used as the 12th man again. You can understand why the BBC do it, though. They obviously feel that Mastermind viewers are a steady audience, many of whom will actively seek it out, and will loyally come back even if they take it off for a week without so much as a by your leave. They're probably right too.

Its a little ironic, though, since last Tuesday saw the first anniversary of the broadcasting of last year's final. Not of the filming of the final itself, which actually took place on the 15th June 2007 - which by coincidence was my 43rd birthday. Still, it is a personal milestone of sorts, even if I didn't actually realise that it had passed until Thursday ! In her fine book about her Mastermind experiences, " And No Passes " the 1989 champion Mary Elizabeth Raw prints extracts from her diary to give an example of the sort of things that happened to her in the year after her win. I'm afraid that my experiences in the past year tend to pale into insignificance alongside Ms. Raw's, but then Mastermind was on BBC1, and far more of a national institution in those days. I suppose that some of the highlights of the year would have to be these : -
* Being recognised in a car boot sale in Swansea
* Being the answer to a question in the Quiz of 2008 in the Rugby club
* Nancy Banks- Smith's review of the final in the Guardian
* Having a civic reception at the Mayor's Parlour in Neath
* Being on the front page of the South Wales Evening Post
* Being invited to become a resident expert on the website of the London Bridge Museum and Educational Trust
* Having the Mayday in Melincryddan Quiz charity Quiz Trophy renamed The David Clark Mastermind 2008 Trophy
* Being invited to spend a day with my old school, and to present the prizes on the Presentation Evening
* Being invited to attend the 900th anniversary of the Opening of Old London Bridge as a guest
* Being invited to give a speech at the Bro Morgannwg Unison Learning awards.

Actually, now that I see it all written down in the same place, its not too shabby at all. Of course, there have been a couple of less pleasant outcomes, but lets not dwell on those at all. Instead, lets take this opportunity to update ourselves on the relative performances in this series of Mastermind so far. I last gave you an update at the halfway stage, after 12 heats. Since then we've had another 10 heats, and the table looks like this : -

John Beynon 15 - 014 - 029 - 0
James Corcoran16 - 013 - 329 - 3
Richard Heller 14 - 2 14 - 028 - 2
Mel Kinsey16 -112 - 128 - 2
Gillian Taylor18- 09 - 027 - 0
Nancy Dickman13 - 014 - 127 - 1
Roger Canwell14 - 113 - 127 - 2
Gary Grant 14 - 2 13 - 327 - 5
Edward Pearce16 - 111 - 427 - 5
Thomas Armer13 - 0 13 - 0 26 - 0
Ian Bayley13 - 0 13 - 026 - 0
Stuart Macdonald 14 - 012 - 226 - 2
Louise Mayer15 - 011 - 326 - 3
Paul Moorhouse12 - 013 - 025 - 0
Sally Jones15 - 2 10 -125 - 3
Gareth Kingston16 - 08 - 024 - 0
Jenny Dunn13 - 011 - 324 - 3
Shrirang Raddi16 - 08 - 424 - 4
Hugh Brady13 - 111 - 424 - 5
Paula Keaveney14 - 110 - 524 - 6
Ara Varatharaj16 - 07 - 123 - 1
Nicholas Flindall15 - 18 - 423 - 5

So - with only two heats left there are at least 4 of the finalists in this list . Who would you pick ? Before you start putting your money down, I would like to sound a note of caution. In the last series, if you did this same exercise, and set out the first round heat winners in a table ranked first according to total scores, then separated those with the same score by taking into account the total passes, then out of the top 10 performers in the first round, only 2 won their semi finals. This was partly due to the fact that there were two very top heavy semi finals. In the first semi final last year, three of the 4 contenders had all scored 30 or more in the first round, and in another semi final two contenders had scored 30 or more, and one had scored 29 in the first round. Even then they were all beaten in that semi by someone who had scored much lower in his first round. So I guess what I am trying to say is don't read too much into relative positions and scores - but it is interesting to compare.


The quiz in the rugby club was actually good fun on Thursday - yes, we did win, how did you guess ? I was particularly pleased at remembering who Ireland's first Grand Slam team captain was ( Karl Mullen ) and for correctly guessing which the first Bob Dylan song ( as in song written by Bob Dylan ) to top the UK charts was ( Mr. Tambourine Man by the Byrds )This quiz was a connections quiz - that is, in each round three of the questions would have answers which had a connection. 'Kick Yourself For Getting It Wrong Connection' of the night was this one : -
1) Which US General burnt Atlanta during the Civil War ?
2) Which english painter is widely reckoned to be the finest ever painter of horses ?
3) In George Orwell's 'Animal Farm' what is the name of the pig whose dream leads to the animal rebellion ?

1) William Tecumseh SHERMAN
2) George STUBBS
3) Old MAJOR

So what would you say the connection is ? Not easy if you don't see it at once , is it ? Its actually Fawlty Towers - Polly's surname is Sherman - the reputable one of the two builders is Mr. Stubbs, and of course Major Gowan is the hotel's longest term resident. Maybe a little bit specialist , but you can't get by on a diet of bread and butter all the time. Good stuff.

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