Saturday, 27 November 2010

Mastermind - First Round Heat 14/24

It’s back to the normal routine this week following last week’s celebrity shenanigans for Children in Need. First into the chair was Matthew Coombs. He had chosen as his subject the Special Air Service. This round started a little hesitantly, but once he got into his stride Matthew didn’t look back, and sped through the rest of the round to finish with an excellent 16. To put that into perspective, it left him needing 11 in GK to put himself onto the repechage board at least. That’s not a huge hurdle in a 2 and half minute round, but time would tell whether he could manage it or not.

Sally Jones is a returning contender. She’s probably better known for her stints on BBC Breakfast Time a few years ago, but in Nancy’s series of 2008/9 she won a first round heat with the short stories of Saki, and was second to Nancy in her semi final, when she took the life and career of Billie Jean king. A good bit of previous form. I can understand why you’d want to have another go if you get to the semis, and you’re only beaten by the eventual series winner. Tonight Sally took on “The Novels of Evelyn Waugh” and I’m afraid it did not go well. Sally got an early one wrong, and that seemed to drain her of confidence. Her usually highly reliable memory just refused to furnish her with the facts she needed from the relevant books, and she struggled through to score 3.

Our third contender tonight also has a bit of previous form, although not in Mastermind. Student Edmund Dickinson was the star of the St. John’s Oxford team in the 2006 series of University Challenge, and was also one of the members of the Oxford University Quiz Society whose letter was printed in The Independent was published following the controversial decision to disqualify the 2009 Corpus Christi winning team. The Oxford University Quiz Society has produced some superb quizzers, and so Mr. Dickinson certainly needed to be taken seriously. His subject was Formula 1 1960 – 1980, and with such a relatively short time frame, as you might expect the questions were very testing. It didn’t matter, since he raced away to a fine 15.

Robin Ball’s specialist subject, “The Life and Career of Charlie Chaplin” was my favourite this evening. I read Chaplin’s autobiography about 10 years ago, and I still remembered enough to get my fair share of answers. Robin looked terribly nervous in the chair and I’m sure that nerves must have affected his performance. Some of those he missed of course he would have known – for example that the dancing bread roll sequence is from The Gold Rush. He finished with 5 points.

The contest for the win and qualification for the next round was a two horse race, then. Still, Sally and Robin had their rounds to complete first. It must be hard knowing what to say to a contender returning to the chair in this situation. Personally I feel that the least said is the better. John was only being nice, I’m sure, when he said to Sally that he bet she was kicking herself for picking a novelist who wrote so many books. But I can’t see that it would have made her feel much better. Likewise when he told Robin that he had picked a tough subject. In 2008/9 Sally managed 10 in both of her GK rounds, which is not at all bad, and gave her the hope of maybe 12 or 13 in this one. Well, she didn’t quite manage that, but did score 11. John called her score of 14 ‘highly respectable’ with forgivable hyperbole. Certainly respectable, John. Robin too finished with 14, adding 9 on GK.

Edmund Dickinson needed 12 to put himself onto the repechage board. He did considerably better than that. He was by far the pick of the contenders on GK tonight, and rushed through a good set of questions to score 15. That was a good performance. More importantly it set a really challenging target for Matthew. Make no mistake, scoring 15 on even a two and a half minute round isn’t easy. You need knowledge, obviously, but you also need rhythm, huge concentration and not a little presence of mind. Matthew couldn’t manage it. In the end he could only muster another 9 correct answers, to finish with 25. Now that, John, IS highly respectable, but it wasn’t enough to put him onto the repechage board. So well done Edmund. A good performance, and good luck in the semis.

The Details

Matthew Coombs The History of the SAS 16 - 09 - 425 – 4
Sally JonesThe Novels of Evelyn Waugh 3 - 311 - 314 – 6
Edmund Dickinson Formula 1 1960 – 1980 15 - 115 – 330 – 4
Robin BallLife and Films of Charlie Chaplin5 - 29 - 314 – 5

Current Highest Scoring Runners-Up

Nick Mills – 34 – 4
Hamish Cameron – 30 – 2
Anne Skillen - 30 -7
James Collenette - 29 – 2
Duncan Byrne – 27 - 2
Ian Packham - 27 – 7

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