Saturday, 11 February 2012

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 13

Last night we had another double header, and I have to admit that I saw this first show as very much a curtain raiser to the return of our own Gary Grant in the second show. Nevertheless, let’s consider this first show on its own merits. Malcolm Sumner kicked off the evening with the Life and Career of Bing Crosby. I was disappointed that he wasn’t asked the old chestnut – what’s the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney ? ( Well, Bing sings, but Walt does’nae. Say it in a Scottish accent. Very well, please yourselves. ) This was a fine round – alright, he was given the chestnut about White Christmas coming from the film Holiday Inn, but I have no problem with the odd chestnut in a specialist round. I managed 4 myself on this, which pales into insignificance against Malcolm’s 16.

Pat Barker interestingly described herself as a retired dogsbody. The subtitles only transcribed retired, funnily enough. Her subject was Eastenders. That’s one of those heads you win, tails I lose subjects. People who don’t know any better point to subjects like this as ‘proof’ that the show is dumbing down , and yet preparing properly for one of these is a hell of a slog, I should imagine. Yet even if you do well on such a subject, you possibly don’t get the credit you deserve anyway. Pat managed a good 12. It seemed to me that there were a disproportionate amount of questions about the last few years, but then that may just be my mind playing tricks on me.

Our next contender gave us a much more traditional sort of specialist subject. Diana Muir was answering questions on the Life and Work of Sir Joseph Banks. Banks was probably best known for his voyage with Captain Cook. As I expected, the Botany Bay chestnut came out, although not as the first question of the round. I managed a couple of others as well- the William Bligh question was a little bit of a gimme too. Overall, though, I felt it seemed like a difficult round, and Diana did pretty well to get into double figures.

Finally John Tanner, with the slightly macabre subject of the executioner Albert Pierrepoint. I make no bones about it, there were only two of these I could answer. One of these was Pentonville Prison. As for the other – well, towards the end of the round John was asked for the name of the Acid Bath Murderer. A bit of an old chestnut that. “John Haigh !” – I shouted. “Neville Haigh.” answered John, possibly using the christian name of Neville Heath by mistake, and missing out on the point. That’s a point for any aspiring contender to note. Had he just given the surname Haigh, I’m sure he would have got the point, although John Humphrys would probably have answered “Yes, JOHN Haigh.” Notwithstanding this, John still managed a highly competitive 14.

I found it difficult to assess the relative difficulty of the first two GK rounds. Without wishing to be horrible in any way, neither Diana nor Pat ever managed to gain enough of a momentum in their rounds to get through a large amount of questions. Diana did briefly take the lead with her total of 17, and Pat, who also scored 7 in her GK round, raised this to 19. John Tanner started very positively, but the mid round doldrums, which are so common in a 2 and a half minute round – saw him becalmed, and in the end he managed to cross the line with 11 points. That actually gave him 25 – not a massive score, but a pretty decent one. So anything in double figures would guarantee Malcolm Sumner the win. As GK rounds go I thought his was pretty gentle, and while it wasn’t the quickest that we’ve seen, he was always on target to achieve the 26 he needed with at least 20 seconds to spare. In the end he posted the highest GK score of the night with 12, to win with 28. For his last question, when asked who composed the theme music of the film “Bridge On The River Kwai “ he replied “Ahh. . . “ but couldn’t finish it with “. . . rnold “ which is what I think John was waiting for. Still, a good performance, even if it does mark him out as more of an outsider than a dark horse for the final.

Malcolm Sumner Life and Career of Bing Crosby 16 – 1 12 – 3 28 – 4
Pat Barker Eastenders 12 – 2 7 – 2 19 – 4
Diana Muir The Life and work of Sir Joseph Banks 10 – 0 7 -2 17 – 2
John Tanner Albert Pierrepoint 14 – 0 11 – 0 25 – 0


contentedofcheltenham said...

Hi, David
I was the fortunate winner of Heat 13 on Friday (Malcolm Sumner, Bing Crosby round) so thought I would post a few insights. First of all, thanks for the immense effort you put into this blog; it’s a real labour of love and required reading for any serious quizzer. As you surmised, my own GK has suffered from not being on the regular ‘pub quiz’ circuit any more; watching ‘Eggheads’ and setting a weekly current affairs quiz for my sixth form tutor group doesn’t confer quite the same degree of match fitness!

Was pleased to do justice to my musical and cinematic hero and even received a congratulatory message from the Bing Crosby Fan Club! As the filming took place mid-July (the day after end of term) my preparation time was limited to one weekend (quick reading of three biographies) so glad I’d chosen a subject where I had some prior knowledge – good enough for about half the questions. Bing starred in over 60 full-length films, usually playing interchangeable versions of himself with names like Jeff or Jim, so decided I would only memorise the big films or ‘character’ roles, which paid off with the question on Bing’s character in the ‘Stagecoach’ remake. Questions on the name of his chauffeur and the church where he married his second wife were obscure even for diehard fans and I was glad I’d filed them away under ‘unlikely-but-possible’.

I had no recollection at all of many GK ‘misses’ so the questions (and my answers) were as much a surprise to me as to the viewing audience! The Seikan Tunnel (Japan) and ‘A Man of Parts’ (about HG Wells) were both guessable, I’d forgotten the ‘Tornado’ (UK’s newest steam loco) and the Malcolm Arnold / film theme connection was new to me (though I pretended to JH – out of politeness – that it was on the tip of my tongue).

Fellow-contenders were lovely: Pat Baker is a telly quiz veteran but admitted this was the ‘big one’, Diana Muir was seriously jetlagged and could have won on another day as could Pat or John Tanner. A ‘charm’ of production assistants was the most appropriate collective noun, and the only Southerner-style gripe was the trek to Salford, although having the hotel literally next door to Media City made the day itself very convenient.

(Re the ongoing debate on the specialist subject round, I try to ‘prepare’ with 15 minutes on Wikipedia and see how many questions I can ‘predict’ – usually about 40%. Has definitely made first half more enjoyable, though I realise that this would appeal to quiz addicts, not ordinary punters! That’s why I personally chose specialist subjects with a broad-ish appeal.)

Was relieved on my recording that there would be no half-way ‘banter’ but in retrospect feel that this may put subject choices in some kind of context without the fatuous waffle of other quiz shows (excluding the witty and courteous preamble on ‘Pointless’!)

Londinius said...

Hi Malcolm, and welcome to LAM

Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment, and especially for your very kind comments about LAM. I blush at your use of the the phrase 'immense effort'. As you say, it's a labour of love, but also a source of great pleasure.Immense effort it's not, but as a teacher yourself I don't need to tell you about the difficulty of finding time to write midweek, but we all have our crosses to bear.

Yes, you certainly did justice to Bing. It's very nice that the Fan club contacted you. It's the sort of thing that used to happen a lot in the days of Magnus, but I don't know that it's very common now.

I doff my metaphorical cap to you over managing to prepare in just one weekend. The least amount of time I spent in preparation for any of my subjects was 3 weeks, for the Grand Final in 2007. Granted, I wasn't working all day everyday, but I was doing a couple of hours each evening, and even more at weekends. Then there was every break time and lunchtime at school as well .

Now, I did think that Arnold really WAS on the tip of your tongue - the Ahh was just a coincidence, then !

I like the idea of looking up the specialists on wikipedia prior to the show, and aince this is half term week I shall definitely be giving it a go on Friday.

I've given my opinion about the interround chats , so I won't spend too much time going over old ground here. Suffice it to say that I didn't miss them one little bit when I playd in Champ of Champs and we didn't have any.

Malcolm, I hope that you don't mind, but I've taken the liberty of copying most of your comment, and posting it as a seperate post, since I think that it would be of great interest to regulars, who might have missed it here in the comments. If it's a problem, just let me know, and I'll remove it.

Once again, thanks for popping by