Friday, 6 March 2009

Mastermind - First Round Heat 20

Mastermind First Round - Heat 20/24

Well, we're winding down now into the last few of the first round heats, and to this reviewer it looks as if the BBC's active efforts to encourage female contenders to come forward for this series have really paid fruit. For the third week running we have an even spread of male and female contenders. All four, though , are newcomers to Mastermind.

The show begins with Kirsty Rowland offering us The Women of the Special Operations Executive. It seems to me that some of the questions are taken from the very fringes of the subject - such as what was the model of light aircraft often used to drop agents in France - but the contender managed to answer this and 10 others to score a creditable 11. Out of interest I noticed that one of the questions concerned Noor Anayat Khan. As I recall this was the specialist subject of Chris Atkins, currently the highest scoring runner-up of the series, who lost out to regular 'Life After Mastermind' reader James Corcoran.

Louise Mayer , who was next up, is a teacher, so she received a lot of support from the Clark sofa tonight. We have seen that literary subjects have done well in this series so far, and so its no surprise that she does so well with Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. Make no mistake, she needed a very in depth knowledge of the Tales to do so well with these questions. 15 marked her out as a serious contender for the honours tonight.

Biographical subjects also seem to have done well for the contenders who have offered them this series, and so the outlook wasn't bad for Daniel Morrish, who took The Life and Work of Henri Cartier Bresson.It was one of those rounds where my lack of knowledge was such that I could watch but not really participate. Mr. Morrish looked to have done very well, though, and I thought that 13 was a good score which would keep him in contention.

Last up was Ian Volante, who gave us this week's 'your-granny-wouldn't-like-it' subject - the group Metallica. My headbanging days date back to the few years between about 1979 and 1983, and so I am afraid that I just about missed out on Metallica, and couldn't answer any of them myself. 13 was a score that kept Mr. Volante nicely tucked in two points behind the leader at the halfway stage.

So, would we have another women through to the semi final ? Perhaps, but by the end of Kirsty Rowland's round it didn't look like it would be her. The difference between scoring 6 or 7 on GK, and getting into double figures is to some extent a question of rhythm. A couple of questions early on robbed her of rhythm, and although she struggled on bravely she never recaptured it to end on 18.

Daniel Morrish took the chair next. He scored a good 12 to take the lead to 25, and seemed to be answering quickly. 25 certainly put him into contention, although you couldn't help thinking that with two contenders to go another point or two would really have been useful.

Ian Volante made a hugely impressive start to his round. By my reckoning he had all of the first 6 or 7 questions right. However the questions seemed to get on top of him as they went on, and, to use a cricketing analogy, the run rate required of him proved just a little too much in the end, although his tactics of giving an answer to every question is very much one I applaud, and I tried to follow myself. He scored 11 for a total of 24.

With no nurse to talk to this week John Humphrys ignored The Canterbury Tales and concentrated on Louise Mayer's work as a teacher. Nothing wrong with that, either. The target to win outright without a pass countback was 11. That's actually not an easy total to chase. Its high enough to make you have to really concentrate, because you know that one or two avoidable mistakes, or one lapse of concentration could be fatal. So the contender did very well to keep her cool, and plug away at the answers. She edged over the line to win by one, albeit that John Humphrys seemed incredulous that she didn't know that it was Basil Fawlty who said that if his wife went on mastermind her subject would be "The Bleedin' Obvious".

So congratulations to Louise Mayer. I predicted some weeks ago that we would have at least 6 woman semi finalists this season, and this proves me right, as we now have 6, and still there are 4 heats to go, so its not impossible there may be more. If she can repeat or even improve on her score of 26, then she will be in contention in the semi finals. We still have yet to see a score of 30 or more in the series, so I wouldn't be surprised if we see some fireworks in at least one of the shows left in the first round. Watch this space.

The Details

Kirsty Rowland Women of the S.O.E.11 - 1 7 - 118 - 2
Louise MayerThe Canterbury Tales15 - 011 - 3 26 - 3
Daniel Morrish Henri Cartier- Bresson13 - 112 - 425 - 5
Ian VolanteMetallica13 - 111 - 024 - 1

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