Friday, 15 October 2010

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 9/24

How quickly records are broken when a new format is instituted. Following the fireworks from LAM reader Brian Pendreigh last week I had no expectations of seeing anything quite so remarkable tonight. However, the presence of two well known and most able quizzers in tonight’s line-up raised the intriguing possibility that we might well see pyrotechnics for the second week in a row.

Chris McHarg began the show by answering on The Solar System. We last saw this as a specialist subject in the 2009 semi finals when my Only Connect captain Gary Grant made rather a good fist of it, despite being a subject he found less than fascinating. Chris tonight struggled with a couple of questions, but was very sound on the planets themselves and their natural satellites, and scored a good 13 and 1 pass . Indications were that we were in for an impressive set of specialists tonight.

However, having said this I had no idea that Pamela Woods’ round on American comedian and actor Andy Kaufman was going to be anything like as impressive as it turned out to be. Some people have the erroneous idea that entertainment subjects are somehow easier than others. They’re not. I’m not an expert on Andy Kaufman, but there seemed to be the same amount of obscure and difficult stuff in this round as you would get in any other. All of which made Pamela’s perfect 19 correct answers from 19 questions more remarkable. It was a stunningly good performance. You always felt that John could have asked her another ten minutes worth of Andy Kaufman questions, and she would still have had them all right.

The first of tonight’s well known quizzers was Mastermind veteran Hamish Cameron. We last saw Hamish in the semi finals of the 2007 SOBM, where he was unlucky to meet Stewart Cross in the semis. Stewart had the highest score of the semis, and so even though Hamish had the third highest score of the semis – mine was second highest, thanks for asking – he only got to be the stand in for the final. Hamish has actually made the semis 3 times in 5 attempts, but has yet to make it to a final. His subject for tonight – The Scottish Covenanters – looked like it could leave him some way short tonight. His 13 was a good score, but even in a 2 and a half minute round a six point gap can be extremely hard to bridge.

The other well known quizzer was Iwan Thomas. I’m sure that I’ve seen Iwan on shows in the past, although I don’t recall if we’ve ever met in person. He offered us the second entertainment subject of the night , The Byrds, and you have to say that he started brilliantly. He was answering very quickly, and very correctly, picking off the first 9 questions on the bounce. The rest of the round was good too, if not quite as impressive as the first part. Iwan scored 14, but did pass on the last question. Would this be a cause for regret later on ?

John paid tribute to a high set of specialist scores, before Chris returned to the chair. I have to say that I thought he was probably out of the running bearing in mind Pamela’s lead, and the strength of both Hamish and Iwan. Still, even though he never really got into a good run at any time of the round, he did keep picking off the answers he could, and by the end of the round had reached double figures.

Hamish actually posted the highest score in the whole of the 2007 SOBM in the first round, where he’d scored 33. Part of this was a 15 on GK, and so I expected him to set a very challenging target. I wasn’t disappointed. The best scores we’ve seen so far this series on GK were Brian’s 20 points last week, and Paul Steeples’ 17 in heat 2. Hamish shaped up like the Mastermind old hand that he is, and kept the answers coming throughout the whole round, maintaining the intensity throughout the extra half minute. By the end he’d added 17 more points to set the bar at 30 and 2 passes.

If Iwan was at all daunted by the prospect of having to match Hamish point for point in GK in order to take the lead, he certainly didn’t show it. What followed was remarkable. I may be mistaken in this, but I believe that the previous GK round record was 22. Certainly this was the GK score managed by both Jennifer Keaveney in her 1986 final, and Chantal Thompson in the 1990 final. Iwan’s 23 was the highest score ever achieved in a GK round, and it equals the 23 in specialist set by Jesse in the Champion of Champions series. OK – so Iwan had 2 and a half minutes. Even so it is an incredible achievement, and a record.

Pamela returned to the chair. She had put in an incredible performance in her specialist round, and yet still faced the prospect of needing to score 18 just to draw. With all due respect that looked unlikely. However a much more realistic 12 would put her into outright second place, and this might be doable. Well, she gave it a good try. She kept answers coming, and slowly, gradually crept up to 30 points. Alas for her, the end of the round came before she could secure second place. The 11 points she scored put her equal with Hamish, but the 6 passes put her behind. So its Hamish who goes onto the highest runners up board, and you have to say that at this stage, a third of the way through the first round, he looks good value for a record fourth appearance in the semis. But the last word must be for Iwan Thomas. That, sir, was an outstanding performance. Many congratulations.

The Details

Chris McHarg The Solar System 13 - 110 - 623 – 7
Pamela WoodsThe Life and Career of Andy Kaufman19 – 0 11 - 630 - 6
Hamish Cameron The Scottish Covenanters 13 - 017 - 230 - 2
Iwan ThomasThe Byrds14 - 123 - 037 – 1

Current Highest Scoring Runners Up

Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7
Chris Harrison - 26 - 1
Laura Humphreys 25 – 4


Will Jones said...

Excellent performance from Iwan, although Finnish isn't a country and Papua New Guinea isn't an island.

Londinius said...

Hi Will

Yes, I did notice those two, but they must have fallend within the range of what was felt to be acceptable as answers to both of those qestions.

As you say, an excellent performance.


Anonymous said...

I was getting even more pedantic than that! You'd think the author of Lost For Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language would know that it isn't "the Lebanon" or "I Pagliacci". It's just "Lebanon" (unless its a Human League song) and "Pagliacci". Two erroneous articles in the same set of GK questions!

This illustrates why I would be no good on Mastermind. I'd waste too much time picking the questions apart rather than answering them.

Andrew B. said...

In the Magnusson era, the repechage semi-final was for the highest scoring losers, not the highest scoring runners-up - wonder why they changed it.

Londinius said...

Its a good question, Andrew. The repechage is a relatively new thing for the Humphrys er, last year being the first. It differs from the old Magnusson repechage in key ways. Firstly, there are 6 highest scoring runners up, not 4. Secondly, they each go into a different semi, rather than having one semi specifically set aside for runners up. Finally, as far as I understand it, only those who are second in their heats are eligible for one of the 6 places.

I think that this makes it clear that the runners up semi places are a new development, as opposed to a revival of an old arrangement. I'm presuming that Jon Kelly and the team considered all of the pros and cons of various ways of doing it, and decided that this was the best option for them.

Not a lot of help in answering your question, I know, but that's the way I tend to look on it.


paulphi said...

Hello Dave,

I asked 'highest runner-up' question at my heat of Mastermind to one of the researchers.
They said it was the highest six of any position.(ie technically all four from one heat could progress). Whether this is correct or not, I suppose we need to wait for the semis , but that was my understanding

PS Cracking score Iwan -v.impressed

Londinius said...

Hi Paul

Thanks a lot for this. I honestly thought that i'd heard only 2nd places were eligible. That changes everything - I'll post to that effect soon.