Friday, 10 September 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 4/24

Following last week’s shameless partisanship, I can reassure regulars that I was able to be completely impartial tonight, since I had no prior knowledge of any of the contenders, not that this implies any lack of quality, merely that our paths have not to the best of my knowledge ever crossed.

Enough of such chaff. Kicking off tonight was Shumit Rehman. Shumit was offering a good old Mastermind standard subject, the Academy Awards. This is a very tempting subject, and indeed, is one I might in a weak moment have chosen myself. However, it is also exactly the sort of subject that ought to come with government health warning, since there are so many different awards, that as a subject it is actually really vast. To be properly prepared , I would imagine, would be immensely time consuming. Bearing this in mind Mr. Rehman did a decent , workmanlike job, although he never quite got over quite a slow start. Still 8 is perfectly respectable.

Alex Rainbow followed with The Life of Bertrand Russell. Potentially this could have been a round which would have seen yours truly go pointless, but luckily I knew that TS Eliot wrote Mr. Apollinax, even though I never knew that it was inspired by Bertrand Russell. A good start to the round , after which Mr. Rainbow became rather bogged down on a pass spiral after reaching 6 points. He rallied towards the end, and managed to pull out another couple of points by the buzzer.

Our third contender, Laura Humphreys – no relation to John AFIK – was offering another specialist subject that looked for all the world like a ‘Dave won’t have a Scooby ‘ round, on Vivienne Westwood. However a question on the film for which Vivienne Westwood designed costumes which starred David Essex and Ringo Starr saved me. That’ll be the day. This started with a very impressive straight 10 correct answers, and although it tailed off a little bit in the last half a minute or so, 13 was a good score, and more importantly gave Laura a 5 point cushion over Alex and Shumit, with one contender still to go.

That contender was John Wharton. Like Shumit before him, John was offering a more traditional Mastermind subject , namely Julius Caesar. John shaped up as if he meant business. For the first minute and more his answers were sharp, crisp and concise. However a long pause on 9 betrayed a certain amount of nerves, and though he rallied, he could only equal Laura’s score, albeit that he was behind on pass countback.

To be honest it looked a bit of a long shot for Shumit Rehman, but he gave it a good old lash in the chair. He wasn’t the quickest at answering, but he was picking off the answers throughout the round, and in the end managed a respectable 10. To give himself a realistic chance of the best comeback since Lazarus he really needed to score a couple more, but nonetheless a worthwhile effort. Alex Rainbow, who also started his GK round on 8 did even better, adding 13 to take his score to 21. He had really been let down by his specialist – with another few points in the first round he would have set a score which might have made the last two contenders think twice. As it was he had to be satisfied with a decent 21.His round provided my favourite moment of the show. Alex was asked about which actor played Jerry in New Tricks - he also sang the theme tune. The answer being Dennis Waterman , all three of us who were seated on the Clark sofa spontaneously chanted " Write the theme toon, sing the theme toon . " It takes all sorts, I suppose.

Laura Humphreys then returned to the chair, with the opportunity to take the contest by the scruff of the neck if she could set a good score on GK. As a rough guide, it looks like very high 20s are going to be needed to stay on the repechage board . Well, Laura wasn’t going to achieve that. However what she did do is what you must do – keep answering the ones you don’t know, so that when you come to the ones you do know you won’t drop any points you could have got. She calmly forged past the low target, and added 12 to her 13 from the first round to set the target at 25.

So John Wharton really had no choice. If he scored 12 as well, the best he could do was have no passes which would still only earn a tie break. So the tactic had to be to score 13 or more. Again, he started very well, and again there were a couple of long pauses. But really and truly you have to say that his was the pick of the GK rounds, and 14 for a total of 27 gave him a clear win in the end. Well played.

The Details

Shumit Rehman The Academy Awards 8 – 3 10 – 0 18 – 3
Alex Rainbow The Life of Bertrand Russell 8 – 5 13 – 5 21 – 10
Laura Humphreys The Life and Career of Vivienne Westwood 13 – 0 12 – 4 25 – 4
John Wharton Julius Caesar 13 – 4 14- 4 27 – 8

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Laura Humphreys 25 - 4


Mark Cooper said...

The question about Dennis Waterman saw the same reaction in the Cooper household.

Londinius said...

Hi Mark

I think that they way that John asked the question, with - he also sang the theme song - almost as an afterthought - was deliberately phrased to make you have that reaction. Made us laugh, anyway.

Dave :-)

Ewan M said...

I'm not sure if Mastermind is getting easier or if I'm just getting a bit more knowledgeable, but, taking the extra 30 seconds on GK into account, playing along at home I seem to be scoring much higher in this series than last. I averaged 9 per GK round during the last series, but this series I'm averaging closer to 14, though admittedly with fairly wide ranging scores. On this particular episode I scored 13, 9, 15 & 19 (I got the first 17 consecutive questions on the last round correct, a new personal record by far). 19 strikes me as absurdly high for someone of my limited GK and the spread of 9-19 suggests some disparity in difficulty of the GK rounds. I enjoy watching MM immensely, but it's nowhere near as challenging as University Challenge these days. The winners of last night's UC, Magdalen, were outstanding btw.

Londinius said...

Hello Eugene

I think that the switch to 2 and a half minutes has had an interesting effect on the dynamics of the GK round. Are they easier ? Hard to tell really. There always were shows where either one set seemed noticeably easier or harder than the others. But then its all subjective anyway.

I love Mastermind and UC too, and OC and Brain of Britain for that matter. I think they all represent very different challenges, so its difficult to make comparisons. You certainly get MUCH harder Science questions on UC than on Mastermind or BoB, that I will grant you.

Thanks for taking time to comment,


Londinius said...

Oh yes, and I too was extremely impressed by Magdalen - as you can read in my review of the show, which has now been posted.