Friday, 29 October 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 11/24

Right then, my friends , what have we learned since last week ? Well, for one thing we’ve had it from Jon Kelly, the producer of the show no less, that only those who come in second in any given heat may be eligible for one of the six highest scoring runner up slots. So with that cleared up , lets get on with the show.

Hazel Humphreys ( no relation, I’m sure ) answered on tonight’s most obviously popular culture subject, the Life and Career of Richard Pryor. If I did an ‘interesting fact that I didn’t already know of the week’ slot in these Mastermind reviews, as I do for University Challenge, then tonight’s would be that Richard Pryor helped write “Blazing Saddles “ and was originally going to play Bart in it. Hazel knew it, and quite a lot more besides. In fact she took the first 11 questions on the bounce, although she wasn’t going all that quickly, and levelled out at 13 by the end of the round. Good performance.

The name Malcolm Pryce might not instantly ring any bells, but you may well have heard of some of his Louie Knight novels, such as “Aberystwyth , Mon Amour”. This set of works was the subject taken by Tony Wheeler. Tony too correctly answered all of the first 11 questions he was asked. He was answering a little more quickly and crisply than Hazel had done, and this meant that he was able to stretch his score to an impressive 15 by the end of the round.

Sometimes its nice to see a good, old-fashioned sports subject being offered, and Peter Reilly did just this with “The Grand National since 1960 “. A wide ranging round this one was. For example, if you’ve been quizzing any length of time you’ll have been asked which fence is known as the Foinavon fence, or in which year did it happen, or which horse was the favourite etc – but would you know which horse actually began the pile up ? Peter did. Admittedly he only took the first five in a row, but never let this panic him, and kept adding on the points throughout the round. He too ended with 15 and 1 pass.

Mike Foden had been to the chair before. Mike is a confirmed quizzer, whom I know through the net, and we last saw him on Mastermind in Nancy’s 2008/ 2009 series. Then he was answering on Kazimir Malevich. Tonight he gave us The Life and Works of Robert Doisneau, who John helpfully explained was a photographer. Checking back on my 2009 review, I said at the time that it was “difficult for me to judge how fair the questions were. Some of them seemed rather long-winded, but maybe that was just my imagination. “ Well, apparently lightning does strike twice in the same place, as I thought that Mike’s questions did seem long winded again tonight. He still managed to get into double figures, though, with 10.

So once again we had 4 contenders who had all prepared well for their specialists – well done for that. However it’s a point for discussion how much you could, or should, prepare for the GK rounds, and this is what lay ahead of the four of them. Mike returned to the chair first. He knew that five points is a tough gap to bridge, but in a two and half minute round the opportunity is there to set a challenging target. He gave it a lash, but never quite got into a sustained rhythm. Again, though , he managed double figures for the round, and set the target at 20. Hazel Humphries looked a pretty good bet to take over the lead, having a 3 point lead over Mike at the halfway stage, but she really did seem to struggle to impose herself upon this GK round. For a moment I thought that she mightn’t quite get there, but in the end she did just enough to get over the line, scoring 8 for a total of 21.

Tony Wheeler‘s objectives then were to a) score 7 to put himself into the outright lead, b) score 12 to put him onto the highest scoring runners-up board, c) to score a huge total and try to secure the win. Obviously he would have hoped for option c., and he started off crisply and cleanly enough. However the wrong answers began creeping in, and in a GK round rhythm can so easily be lost. Maintaining that rhythm can be more crucial than you might think. He achieved the first option comfortably enough, but fell a little short of anything more, scoring 10 for a total of 25.

I’ll be honest, I’ve twice gone last in the chair in the GK round myself, and I never enjoyed chasing as much as I enjoyed setting a target. But it does have the advantage of letting you know exactly what you need. Peter Reilly I think could at least see that he didn’t need a perfect, or even a barnstorming round to put him through. What he needed to do was keep his head, and keep answering, with the likelihood being that if he could do that , then enough correct answers would accrue by the end of the round to put him through. Sometimes it’s as simple as that, ladies and gents, for that’s exactly what he managed to do. In the end he scored 12 , for a total of 27. Well played.

The Details

Hazel Humphreys The Life and Career of Richard Pryor13 - 18 - 121 - 2
Tony Wheeler The Louie Knight Novels of Malcolm Pryce 15 - 110 - 2 25 - 3
Peter Reilly The Grand National since 1960 15 - 112 - 3 27 - 4
Mike FodenThe Life and Work of Robert Doisneau10 - 110 – 6 20 – 7

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Duncan Byrne – 27 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Chris Harrison - 26 – 1

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