Friday, 17 April 2009

Mastermind Semi Final 1 / 6

Mastermind - Semi Final 1/6

At last the semi finals begin. Tonight we got a fair spread of contenders, leading off with Richard Smyth - who I apologise for calling Smith last week. Yes, it was Richard who won the last heat , and here he is back again tonight. Last week he scored a superb 17 on British birds. This week's round on Scott's last expedition wasn't quite so high scoring, but an impressive 15 put him into a great position, and gave the other three contenders something to think about.

Gillian Taylor scored the highest individual round in her round on the Romney Marsh novels in the first round. Like Mr. Smyth, she couldn't quite match this tonight, but also like Mr. Smyth, 15 and 0 passes on her round on Blakes 7 was an impressive performance.

Shrirang Raddi won heat 17 in February, answering on The Kashmir War. Tonight saw him offer a good traditional type Mastermind subject, the School Stories of PG Wodehouse. In the first round heat Mr. Raddi achieved the rare feat of scoring 100% correct answers . He looked set fair to repeat this, but one pass just caught him out. It did seem to me that John Humphrys was repeating back a lot of his correct answers in this round, and may well have cost Shrirang another point, as he might well have squeezed another question in. Still, 13 and 1 pass meant that he was only two points behind at the halfway stage.

Edward Pearce won heat 15 back in January, on the life and work of A.E.Houseman. Tonight he gave us The Popish Plot, another more traditional subject. 14 points was a good score , although interestingly, like all tonight's contenders his specialist subject score was just a couple of points less than his score in the first round heat.

John Humphrys seemed surprised when Shrirang told him that P.G.Wodehouse is very popular in India, and wondered why Wodehouse is not more popular in Britain today. I think it may have something to do with the way that Wodehouse was persona non grata as far as a level of British society was concerned following some of his broadcasts made during world war II. However I digress. Following his successful appearence in the first round heat, Shrirang told me this: -
"One problem is that if you were not brought up/ schooled in the UK, there are some questions that you would just have no clue about, and wouldn't even be able to make a guess. Things like British geography, 70s TV shows, 60s hit songs and so on.
But the show is great fun overall and the BBC organisers are friendly and professional. Participating in UK Mastermind was a very enjoyable experience for me. "
Well said, Sir.
Shrirang's GK round was nothing to be ashamed of, and as much as he enjoyed taking part, I'm sure we'd all congratulate him for reaching the semis, and thank him for the enjoyment he and the others have given us.

John Humphrys allowed Edward Pearce to just get on with talking about Titus Oates, and very interesting he was too. I had no idea that the infamous Oates lived on into William III's reign, and had a comfortable old age, being particularly fond of watching trials, of all things ! 12 points and 1 pass put him on the brink of the final, and gave Richard Smyth and Gillian Taylor the task of requiring 12 points of their own to beat him.

Richard Smyth had the first go, but before he did he gave a very balanced assessment of Captain Scott as being in reality something between the Edwardian portrayal of him as a Boy's Own Hero , and the revisionist view of him as a bumbling amateur buffoon. Apparently Scott never viewed it as a race to the Pole against Amundsen, and in fact did the best he could to put Amundsen from his mind. I could have listened to more of this. However the serious business of the General Knowledge round began, and Mr. Smyth's tactic was just to blaze away. This meant that he got a few wrong, but he kept pushing his score on. Unbeknownst to him, I'm sure, he had 26 and no passes , which would have been enough, as John Humphrys began to ask the last question. This he knew the answer to, and finished with 27 .

Gillian Taylor is apparently a writer of western stories, and she let it slip that in one of the stories two of her characters were named Darrow and Keating, after the actors who played Avon and Vila in Blakes 7. Gillian won a tie break in her heat, and to avoid another one she needed to score 14 on General Knowledge. She had scored 9 in her heat, so this did look a bit of a tall order. 8 brought her to 23.

So well played everyone, and congratulations to Richard Smyth, first finalist of the 2008 series.

The Details

Richard Smyth Scott's Last Expedition15 - 0 12 - 0 27 - 0
Gillian TaylorBlakes 7 15 - 0 8-023 - 0
Shrirang RaddiThe School Stories of P.G.Wodehouse13 - 1 8 - 321 - 4
Edward PearceThe Popish Plot of 167814 - 012 - 126 - 1

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