Friday, 10 April 2009

Mastermind - First Round Heat 24/24

The Last First Round Heat

Its been a long old haul, but we’ve made it at last to the end of the first round. The big question was whether we were going to see our first 30 point haul of the series. Well, the omens were good if the specialist scores were anything to go by. All of the contenders had prepared well, and all of them had decided upon the tactic of answering everything and thus avoiding passes. It’s a good tactic, but it takes a huge concentration.

Writer Christopher Argyle kicked off with two naval battles of 1914. It seemed to me that some of the questions were rather on the technical side, but this was all grist to the contender’s mill. 14 is a good score, and so he was in the running going into the second round.

Richard Smith’s lightning fast round on British birds was one of the finest that we’ve seen this series. A few of the questions were of the kind that might get asked in your local general knowledge quiz, but most of them required detailed knowledge of the subject, and Mr. Smith certainly wasn’t found wanting. 17 in the specialist round put him into a commanding position.

Susan Walker can count herself unlucky to be lagging four points behind the leader at the halfway stage. In many another week 13 would have put her well into contention. One long pause for thought possibly cost her another point, but even so this was still a good performance on a wide subject, Barbara Hepworth.

Last then was Steve Howe. I believe that John Humphrys said that Mr. Howe is from Brentford. I’m an Ealing boy originally myself, so he received fulsome support from the Clark sofa tonight. I studied Anglo Saxon literature as part of my degree, so I was particularly interested in his subject – Anglo Saxon kings 871 – 1016. Believe me that 15 was a good score on this subject.

Susan Walker returned to the chair. John Humphrys stuck to the subjects in all four of the pre- GK chats tonight, so she was able to explain that, in her view , Barbara Hepworth was the most important British sculptor of the 20th century. She may well be right, and she added 7 to her score to finish with 20. Christopher Argyle did slightly better and added 9 to his score, to set the bar at 23. From the moment he left the chair, you never really thought that 23 was going to be enough to win this week. Steve Howe had an interesting chat with John Humphrys, during which he made the point that English history didn’t start with William the Conqueror who was French, but with Alfred the Great, who was German ! Not strictly true on either count , as he well knew, but a funny line. 11 gave him 26, a score which would have been good enough in many other heats, but looked a little too low for this one. So it proved, and at one point it seemed as if Mr. Smith’s lightning reactions would bring him the 13 points he needed to score 30. However a few wrong answers at the wrong point of the round robbed him of a little rhythm, although he easily scored the points required, and then some more, to finish with 29, joint highest score in the first round with John Beynon, and regular “Life After Mastermind” reader James Corcoran.

So, folks, that completes the first round, and very enjoyable its been. We certainly can’t blame Jon Kelly and the production team for the arbitrary way the BBC treat it on the schedules. I’ll be posting a review of the first round, and a preview of the semi finals in the next couple of days.

The Details

Christopher Argyle The Battles of Coronel and The Falklands 191414 - 09 - 123 – 1
Richard SmithBritish Birds17 -012 - 029 – 0
Susan WalkerThe Life and Work of Barbara Hepworth13 – 0 7 - 1 20 – 1
Steve HoweAnglo Saxon Kings 871 - 101615 – 0 11 - 426 – 4

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