Saturday, 25 February 2012

Mastermind - First Round - Heat 18

On with the second show. First into the chair was Joyce Wilson. Joyce was answering questions on The Human Body. Joyce had a low score of 4. Sometimes you see a contender fail to do as well as they would have hoped because there seems to be a difference between the contender’s understanding of what the subject entails and the question setters. This may have been the case in Joyce’s round. Without wanting to be horrible, though, I have to say that the questions seemed pretty fair to me. I managed 7 , just from general knowledge, and quiz knowledge. Ossicles and sartorius for example have both been asked in quizzes I’ve attended in the last couple of months. It may well have been nerves, and if the nerves get to you, then there’s nothing you can do. However it may have been a lack of preparation. Weeks and weeks of preparation for your specialist subject is no guarantee of success, but a failure to prepare is asking for trouble. Well, whatever the case, John certainly seemed to be feeling the pressure himself. When asked her last question , which was something along the lines of – what name is given to joints named after the fluid which cushions them, Joyce answered “joints “, and John even prompted her with “Which type of joints ? “ The poor man seemed very upset. Joyce on the other hand managed a smile at the end of the round, and I always salute people who manage to treat the two imposters just the same when they leave the chair.

Ian Jones offered the Life and Works of James Brindley. I had my lowest specialist score of the night with 2. Having said that , I scored a point on the question which saw Ian drop a point he could have had. Asked about the engineer who had also designed the Eddystone Lighthouse, Ian answered JAMES Smeaton, and didn’t get his point since the answer is JOHN Smeaton. Had he merely answered Smeaton, as I did, he’d have had his point, I’m sure. Remember, it’s first names for show, and surnames for dough. Still, 12 was a good score and gave him a chance, even if it did put the repechage threshold beyond anything but an excellent GK round.

My favourite SS round of the whole night came from Ewen McPherson. He was answering on the Soviet Space Programme. I’ve said before that as a nipper during the late 60s and early 70s I was a little bit space mad at the time, and a lot of this stuff has still stuck. As a result I was delighted with my 10 points on this round. Granted , some of these weren’t all that difficult. The second Russian in space – the name for the three man vostok – the name of the cosmonaut who was killed when the parachutes on his capsule failed to open – the first man to do a spacewalk – the first manmade object to hit the surface of the moon for example all could be got without real in-depth knowledge of the subject. Not that I blame Ian for this. He knew the difficult stuff as well. However as a small point of technique, when asked for names Ian insisted on giving the full three names , first name, patronymic and surname. This used up valuable time when I’m sure that just the surname would have been accepted. It might well have bought him the time for another question.

Our last contender , Chris Cummins, will have been recognized by many viewers for being a member of the Strategists, Grand Finalists in the 3rd series of Only Connect. “That’s the winner !” I confidently announced to no one in particular. Chris answered questions on the TV career of Victoria Wood. I managed 5 answers on the AS Seen On TV series, but although I remember watching Wood and Walters back in the day, I couldn’t recall any of the details which were asked for. Chris, who wouldn’t even have been born when that series was broadcast , I’m sure, had no such problem. He scored 15, and Gypsy Rose Clark for once looked to have made a pretty safe prediction.

Joyce, having gone first in the first round, had been sitting for a long time waiting to get back in the chair, and she could have been forgiven for brooding over her specialist . Not a bit of it. She kept a ready smile, and didn’t seem too upset at all, even though things weren’t honestly all that much better in the GK. She ended with 9, but kept an admirable calm throughout the whole experience. Now, I said that Ian needed an excellent GK round to make a realistic run at the repechage board at the very least. Well, that’s exactly what he produced. I found the GK round sin this show slightly easier than the previous, but it’s all subjective anyway. Ian kept his composure, kept the correct answers coming, and whacked in 15. A score of 27 and 1 pass certainly gave him the chance of a repechage spot at the least , provided that it wasn’t beaten by both of the remaining contenders.

Which was by no means a given. Ewen started on 12, as had Ian, and so needed to equal his score with no passes to go into the lead. Well, he passed on 4, and although he too had a fine GK round, it wasn’t quite as good as Ian’s. His 13 put him 2 points back on 25. For the record I scored a point more on Ewen’s than on Ian’s – 19 to 18. In order, then, to beat the Clark curse Chris needed to score 13. That was a challenging total, even off a two and half minute round. Chris has been in pressure situations on telly shows before , though, and he knows how to handle it. It wasn’t a better round than Ian’s, but it was pretty much as good – 15 points and 3 passes enabling him to reach the magical 30 point mark. Very well done Chris ! Well done Ian as well. I don’t know whether he’ll stay on the board until the end of the first round, but he certainly earned his place there for now.

The Details

Joyce WilsonThe Human Body4 - 15 - 19 – 2
Ian JonesThe Life and Works of James Brindley12 - 015 - 127 – 1
Ewen McPhersonThe Soviet Space Programme12 - 013 - 425 – 4
Chris CumminsThe TV Career of Victoria Wood15 - 215 - 330 – 5


drgaryegrant said...

Proving that the 'Wikipedia Challenge' is no substitute for actually knowing something of your subject, I scored 8 on the Soviet Space Programme to your 10, after 30-40 minutes' reading.

Speaking of actually knowing your subject, I also managed the - I suspect never to be repeated - feat of getting 100% of somebody else's specialist subject questions, by scoring full marks on the Human Body. I won't add to your probably fair remarks on Joyce's performance, except to state that having done anatomy and physiology for 2 years at university, she can count herself lucky that I wasn't the question setter. The questions could (some would say should) have been substantially harder if one claims 'specialist knowledge'....

Londinius said...

Hi Gary

With regards to Joyce Wilson - well, nobody deserves the kind of opprobrium which some low scoring contenders have had in the past. In my opinion - and I stress that this is just my opinion - she didn't prepare properly for her round. She missed things which I thought were pretty gentle questions. Still, there we are.

drgaryegrant said...

You're right - I think anyone who has sat in the chair will know how terrifying it can be, so fair play to anyone brave enough to try (especially in an age where by going on telly at all you risk 'trial by Twitter'), but I have to agree re preparation.

Unlike the poor sod who did 'ancient and primitive boats', who may well have read up on entirely the wrong things, there was nothing in that quiz that should have been unexpected to someone doing 'The Human Body' - indeed the point I was making were that, Broca's area apart (which for me was a 50/50 because Broca sounded more French than Wernicke), the questions were a bit on the easy side.

One last thing, Dave - do you think there is any mileage in suggesting that the average scores are any less this series than in the last 2 years? It just seems like we haven't had the usual number of top performances - I can recall only Andy Tucker and John Benyon thus far. I know that you usually do an analysis at the end of R1, so maybe we'll see then.

Londinius said...

As you say, we'll see at the end of the first round - with six heats left it might be jumping the gun if we start thinking about that now. To be fair, we did see some exceptional scores last year.

bj said...

Interesting point on the standard of the GK that Gary makes there... I was also thinking that GK was a bit tougher this year. I got 20 in my heat last year, and would have got 20 on several other sets too last year. I think I have only managed that once this year. It is difficult to know exactly what you would score in the studio when you are simply playing at home. But on the 8 sets of GK on Friday I reckon my scores ranged 10-16 and I had six scores in the 12-14 range. That is certainly a few points down on what I was getting last year. But then maybe I am just getting worse.

Horsey_Heroes11 said...

I think Andrew Hunter, who won my heat this year, should get a mention – his score of 17+16 was a very good performance.

Because I’m a bit sad like this, I’ve been keeping track of the scores from the past 2 years and, it does seem like this year is slightly lower scoring than last year. After 18 rounds of last years competiton, the average scores were: 12.7 for SS, 11.5 for GK and the overall average score was 24.3.

This year so far, scores are: 12.4 for SS, 10.8 for GK and 23.2 overall.

And looking at the extreme ends, last year at this stage, we’d had 12 total scores of over 30 and so far this year, we’ve had “only” 8 of them.

At the other end, last year we’d had 16 scores of less than 20 and this year there have been 20 of them.

On GK, at this stage last year, we’d seen two 20+ GK scores but this year, the highest we’ve seen has been 18.

I’m not sure if this means that the questions are more difficult this year or if last year saw an exceptionally high calibre of contender?

Ewan M said...

Like Brian I was starting to wonder if I was getting worse as my scores on the GK sets have been more inconsistent this year than last. I do think the GK questions are a bit harder than last year and the variation in difficulty between sets seems a bit wider too.

The slightly harder GK questions have been offset by seemingly more accessible SS sets this time round. I've had a few fairly decent scores on SS recently, including double figures on the recent football stadia set. I scored 7 on the human body set. Science is one of my weaker areas so it struck me that this was a particularly accessible set and there were one or two that I missed (islets of Langerhans for instance) that many quizzers would have snapped up.