Friday, 18 September 2009

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 4/24

After last week's feast of familiar faces it was business as usual for this series, with 4 more newcomers to what John Humphrys called "The notorious black chair - it may look comfortable, but it certainly won't feel it. " Well, yes and no. It actually is rather comfortable as I recall, although you'd never call facing a round of questions in it relaxing. Exciting, yes, challenging, certainly, but not relaxing. Actually our Mr. Humphrys has caused a little stir this week, by being quoted in the London Evening Standard as saying that his job on Mastermind is really "money for old rope". I can't make up my mind here whether John is being facetious, disparaging, or actually rather self-effacing. Alright he may get paid a nice salary for doing it, but the show is something that brings a lot of pleasure to people, and I don't care what you say, its not a job that any old Tom Dick or Harry could do.

Sorry. I shall dismount from my high horse, and continue with the review. Our first contender was Maud Robinson who chanced her arm with Oscar Wilde tonight. In her filmed insert she explained that her appearence was meant as a tribute to a favourite aunt, who had been a fan of both Oscar Wilde and quiz shows. A woman of taste IMHO. I don't know if it was nerves, but once she'd made her way to 8 points Maud Robinson was caught in the gravitational pull of a pass spiral, which she was unable to extricate herself from before the end of the round.

Journalist Gavin McEwan was next in the chair. He was offering the Germanic languages. Quite appealingly he described the way most people had been giving him blank looks whenever he told them what his specialist subject was going to be. Despite the fact that he almost always gave the impression that he was surprised when one of his answers was correct, a great many of them were, and he scored 14 on a notably difficult subject, with many awkward words and phrases to trip him up on pronunciation. Good round.

Mike Wilkin won the prize for the most strikingly dressed contender on tonight's show. He sported a magnificent large bow tie. His subject was the History of Jazz Music from 1917 to 1930. My initial reaction was 23 years really isn't that much, however my second thought was with such a relatively narrow subject he could expect to be bowled more than his fair share of bouncers, to use a cricketing analogy. He picked his shots, and padded up well to finish the round in good shape, with 13 points and no passes.

However the pick of the specialist rounds tonight was that of banker Vishal Dalal. Mr. Dalal answered on the Life and Films of Akiro Kurosawa, a director whom he said had been hugely influential on film directors throughout the world, including Stephen Spielberg and Sergio Leone, to name but two. Well there's no way I'd argue with him after a round like the one he produced. He fairly whizzed through the questions - not quite a perfect round, but very close, with 16 and 0 passes.

Poor Maud Robinson spent the first half minute or more of her GK round trying to extricate herself from the pass spiral into which she fell in her previous round. However she did manage to emerge, bloodied but unbowed, adding 6 to take her score to 14 and 10 passes.

Mike Wilkin earned a good deal of sympathy when he was completely stymied by the question which asked which insect pest takes its English name from the Spanish word 'cucaracha'. He knew it, and he knew that he knew it, but it just wouldn't come. In the end he passed, making a rueful gun to the temple gesture with thumb and forefinger. It was all going to be an uphill struggle after that, but at least he reached 20.

Gavin McEwan rather impressed with his GK round. When you look at the questions he answered correctly he really covered rather a lot of ground. 12 isn't the highest GK score we've seen so far this series, but it isn't bad going at all, and it pushed his score to 26, which would put him handily placed for a runner's up semi final spot if Vishal Dalal could come up with the goods.

Mr. Dalal and still answered very quickly in his GK round. However as the clock ticked down it looked fairly certain that the target was going to remain a little beyond his reach. 7 and 4 passes gave him a total of 23 and 4 passes. I may well be wrong, but I have to say that I'd be surprised if that gives him one of the semi final spots. Sorry, and Mr. Dalal, if I'm wrong I will be delighted for you.

So congratulations Gavin McEwan. Here's a thought. As far as I know, we've never had a scottish Mastermind champion - although I stand willing to be corrected on this one. Indeed, my Clark grandfather from Dundee possibly makes me as scottish as any champion. Could Gavin McEwan be the first ? He's certainly taken the first step.

The Details
Maud Robinson The Life and Work of Oscar Wilde8 - 66 - 414 - 10
Gavin McEwanThe Germanic Languages14 - 012 - 426 - 4
Mike WilkinThe History of Jazz Music 1917 - 193013 - 07 - 320 - 3
Vishal DalalLife and Films of Akiro Kurosawa16 - 07 - 423 - 4

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
William de'Ath25 - 4
Vishal Dalal23 - 4


Unknown said...

Hi David

This is Vishal Dalal - am a regular reader of your blog. Thank you for your kind words. I guess I had the same problem as another friend of mine who was a semi-finalist from last year (Shrirang Raddi - who encouraged me to apply to MM ) - not enough knowledge about British politics/pop culture etc..

Am going to try again hopefully after I know the difference between Buckingham Palace and Buckinghamshire :)

Thanks once again :)

Londinius said...

Hi Vishal !

Thanks so much for taking the time and trouble to comment !One of the greatest pleasures of doing the blog is that it puts me into contact with fellow Masterminders such as yourself, as well as quizzers, and those who enjoy quiz shows.
I'll be honest, I did think that you might do it at the half way stage. Your tactic of firing away with the answers as quick as possible is one I can completely agree with.

I do take your point about lack of knowledge of specifically British topics counting against you - as you say I think that Shrirang found this last year. Having said that he did get to the semi finals which is a terrific achievement, and there's lots of quizzers who'd swap their eye teeth for that. I think you're very modest too. If I recall correctly your correct answers on GK covered a wide range of topics - you've clearly got a general knowledge grounding there, even if the British culture questions etc. did trip you up a little.

I'm glad that you want to have another go. I'll keep my eyes open for you ! Good luck, and once again, thanks for dropping by.