Friday, 23 October 2009

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 8/24

It’s a been a week where we’ve been served up an embarrassment of quiz riches, what with UC and BoB on Monday, AYAE throughout the week, and now this tasty dessert to round things off for us. What a show this was too ! Almost everything you could want from one edition of Mastermind, whatever your reasons for watching. Served up, I might add, by 4 Mastermind newcomers.

Chaz Early was the first into the chair tonight. His specialist subject was The Life and Career of Bill Hicks. I have to hold my hand up to the fact that I’m really not familiar with either the life or work of Mr. Hicks, but apparently he was a controversial American comedian during the 90s particularly. I loved the description of him posing as a journalist during the Waco siege, all the time holding a blow-up dinosaur. However, I’m getting myself sidetracked here. Chaz Early didn’t, though. His was one of the very finest specialist rounds I’ve seen for a long time, no passes, one wrong answer, but 18 correct ones delivered at lightning pace. Highly impressive.

A lesser man than John Cooper , our second contender, might have been disconcerted by such a formidable gauntlet being thrown down. However Mr. Cooper proved himself equal to the task. In Mastermind you don’t have to win the specialist round, but you need to keep yourself in contention. This he did admirably scoring a fine 16 points on George Frederic Handel. Sharp and crisp answering promised fireworks in the GK round.

Julie Duff, answering third on the Mont Blanc Massif found herself with something of a mountain to climb, should you forgive the rather obvious pun. She has the experience, as she described her own experiences of scaling the mountain herself. She seemed a little tentative, but then most of us would if we were following the two virtuoso performances which preceded her round. She scored 10 and no passes. In other weeks she would have still been in contention at the halfway stage, but not this week, alas.

Evan Williams brought the specialist round to a dramatic close with the Life and Work of Isaiah Berlin. He suggested that modern politicians could learn a lot from Berlin, particularly the lesson that there are two sides to every story. Amen to that. Mr. Williams obviously cares a lot for his subject, but I think that nerves drew him down into a mortal pass spiral, and so I shall not add any more to his pain. He scored 3 points.

There was some comfort that he could draw from his GK round, though. Despite starting off seemingly locked in the same pass spiral, he did manage to haul himself back from the brink, and in a heroic effort pulled himself up to respectability with a fine last minute . He finished with 11 points. Julie Duff put in a good performance on her GK round. It was never going to be enough to bridge the gap to the leaders, but then that’s not always the main point anyway. She equalled her specialist score of 10, and thus joined the ranks of contenders who have managed to get into the 20s.

John Cooper then strode to the chair and it was game on. I thought that all of the GK rounds tonight were very fair and even, and I have to say that John Cooper displayed the same snap and decisiveness that he had shown in the specialist round. At one stage I thought that the symbolic 30 point barrier might even be broken. Still, he managed 13 more points for 29, a hefty target for Chaz Early to beat. Mr. Early gave it a good old lash too. He had a 2 point lead after round 1, and he needed both of these as he scored 11, after seeming with 3 or 4 questions to go a dead cert to score 30. So to a passes countback, in which Chaz Early, playing like a pro, won, having answered every question, while John Cooper had passed on 3.

A great show. Commiserations to John Cooper whose score would have won many a show, although I wouldn’t feel too downhearted, since surely that 29 will earn him a semi final spot too. Both he and Chaz Early have shown that they need to be taken very seriously in the semi finals.

The Details

Chaz Early The Life and Career of Bill Hicks18 - 011 - 0 29 - 0
John CooperGeorge Frederic Handel16 - 113 - 229 - 3
Julie DuffThe Mont Blanc Massif10 - 010 - 220 – 2
Evan WilliamsThe Life and Work of Isaiah Berlin3 - 108 - 411 – 14

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

John Cooper29 – 3
Ian Scott Massie26 – 2
Les Morrell26 - 3
Colin Wilson25 - 0
William de'Ath25 - 4
Vishal Dalal23 - 4


Jon Worden said...

Although Evan Williams had a brain drain, I admire his courage of actually appearing on the show.

Londinius said...

Well said sir. I agree entirely.Nerves can do terrible things to you when you sit in the chair, and as I said in my post,he deserves a lot of credit for the wayhe managed to pull himself back from the brink in the last round of his GK.

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

Stuart said...

Wow; found Chaz Early mentioned here through a quick trawl of MM half-term reports gone by. I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but Chaz starred in a highly-rated one-man theatre show on the life of Bill Hicks a couple of years back; he must be one of the leading authorities in the country on that subject. Shame about the second round. I must see if his heat is on youtube...

(My interest in his work is increased by the fact that he was in the year above me at school, and we acted together in the Gang Show of ooh, 1980 or somesuch at Croydon's Fairfield Halls. Great to see him doing well.)