Friday, 13 April 2012

Mastermind - Semi Final 4

Here’s the run down of how tonight’s contenders did in their first round heats : -

Andy Tucker – 36 – 18 GK – position 1 on my unofficial list
John Marshall – 31 – 15 GK ( runner up ) – position 8 on my unofficial list
Chris Cummins - 30 – 15 GK – position 12 on my unofficial list
Paul Smith – 28 – 15 GK ( runner up ) – position 18 on my unofficial list
Mike Clark – 27 – 11 GK – position 21 on my unofficial list

A pretty fair spread of contenders. On paper Andy Tucker looked very much the man to beat, but then nothing is ever guaranteed in Mastermind – especially in the semis, where you only have 3 and a half minutes to make your bid for that place in the final.

Chris Cummins, an Only Connect Grand Finalist in series 3, began his bid to add a place in the Mastermind Grand Final to his collection by answering questions on The US Masters golf tournament. In the first round heat Chris scored 15 in 2 minutes on the career of Victoria Wood. Tonight he started very confidently, but a couple of passes and a couple of wrong answers meant that he failed to get into double figures, finishing with 9. Not a disaster at all, but the likelihood was that he’d be a few points adrift going into the GK rounds.

In the first round Mike Clark won through on a nail biting tie break, just surviving a brilliant fightback by Ged Meheran. Then his subject had been Seinfeld, and he’d scored 13. Tonight, answering on the His Dark Materials Trilogy he scored 10, which I would say is proportionately slightly better off 90 seconds than 13 off 2 minutes. He answered every question, meaning that there were no nasty little passes to count against him should it be another match as tight as his first.

John Marshall was unlucky to come up against as strong a contender as John Beynon in his first round. Back then he scored a very impressive 16 in 2 minutes on British Speedway 1945 -1970. Tonight he offered us a change of pace, in the shape of Clyde River Steamers 1890 – 1960. I had two of these. I knew about the Waverly – well I’ve actually seen it at Briton Ferry Docks once upon a time, and I guessed about the Walter Scott one. I venture to say that 12 off 90 seconds was pretty much on a par with his first round score, and it meant that he was going to be in contention going into GK.

Our second highest scoring runner up of this show was Paul Smith. Paul lost heat 4 by a single point , when he answered on Aircraft of World War II. Then he’d scored 13. Ironically this was exactly what he needed to score if he was to take the lead in this round. I was pleased to see that his subject was Classical Mythology. Back in 1981 we held a Mastermind competition in my old school – Elthorne High School – in Hanwell, London Borough of Ealing. I’m far too vain not to say that I won the competition, and my specialist subject was Greek Mythology. I still remembered quite a bit, it seemed since I managed 9 of these, which was the same total that Paul achieved.

Finishing off the first round was our top performer from the heats, Andy Tucker. Andy scored a fantastic 36 in the first round, which comprised of 2 rounds of 18. Back then he scored a perfect round on Robert Bruce Lockhart. Tonight , offering the interesting subject of The East Africa Campaign of World War I he didn’t manage perfection, scoring 11 and no passes. The main, thing, though, was that he was only one point off the lead. Andy, like Chris, has also been a grand finalist in another show, Brain of Britain, no less. You fancied at this stage that he had every good chance of making another Grand Final.

Chris Cummins returned to the chair to set a target. 15 off 2 and a half minutes in the heat was a good score, but not the kind which would necessarily blow the opposition away. Actually the 12 he managed tonight is a good score for a semi final, but being 3 points behind at the halfway stage he really needed a couple more to put the front runners into the corridor of uncertainty. He finished on 21. Paul Smith unfortunately became becalmed halfway through his round, and didn’t manage to reach the target. He finished on 17. Mike Clark managed to get into double figures with his own GK round, posting a healthy 10, but it still left him the wrong side of Chris’ score.

Andy returned to the chair, and immediately set about the business of showing us all how it’s done. His 15 off two minutes was at least as good as his 18 off two and a half in the first round heat, and catapulted him comfortably into the lead with a very useful 26. When you’re not the last one in the chair all you can do is give it your best , and set the highest score you possibly can. Andy did all that and some more.

It was comfortably into the realm of the do-able but very difficult for John Marshall. Within the first half minute or so his tactics became clear. John already had one pass, and Andy had none, Therefore passes didn’t matter to John. Even if he scored no passes at all in his GK round he still couldn’t tie with Andy- he had to beat him. It was a close run thing. After the minute mark John dived into a pass spiral. I thought then and there his chances were gone, and yet he picked up speed again. He was on 25 as the buzzer went – so even if he’d answered the last one correctly he’d still have lost on passes. As it was he didn’t give a correct answer, and so finished in second, having pushed Andy all the way to the tape. Well played gentlemen ! Special congratulations to Andy – a very serious contender for the title. Good show.

The Details

Chris Cummins The US Masters 9 - 2 12 - 2 21 - 4
Mike Clark The His Dark Materials Trilogy of Phillip Pullman10 - 0 10 - 0 20 - 0
John Marshall Clyde River Steamers 1890 - 1960 12 - 1 13 - 4 25 - 5
Paul SmithClassical Mythology 9 - 1 8 - 3 17 - 4
Andy Tucker The East Africa Campaign in World War I 11 - 0 15 - 0 26 - 0


tuckeraj said...

Thanks David!

Now that this has been aired, I can respond to Gareth's posts about the other semis.

I remember feeling taken aback at half time. I knew I'd thought about one (wrong) answer and stumbled on another, but knew that John had passed and thought he had got one wrong, so scoring one less was a surprise. The handicap of unequal number of questions had not then occurred to me (though I've since heard mutterings about 2010 too.) Thank goodness I was not in the same semi as Julie or Ken!

In the circumstances, a "no-pass" strategy was the only one open to me, and with luck I could hit a rhythm (and of course get them right).

At the end, I got very lucky as John's pass spiral clearly stopped him picking up some straightforward points. It would be interested to know if he had the target in his mind or no.

John is a fantastic quizzer, and overly modest. I hope he has another pop, either at Mastermind or BoB, because he is finalist standard

Londinius said...

Hi Andy

Many congratulations on a fine performance ! AS you say, it would be interesting to know John's thought processes during that round. I can draw a parallel with my Champ of Champs GK round. I knew that Pat hadn't passed at all. I already had a pass, so I couldn't afford to draw with him, I had to beat his total. So I went for speed, which meant if the answer didn't come straight away I passed. It didn't work for me, anymore than it worked for John. AS you say, there is no reason why he can't come back and do even better in a future series.

Thanks for commenting - I wish you the very best of retrospective luck in the final.

drgaryegrant said...

First off, well done Andy - as I said on social media, I thought that you by no means got an easy GK set - in fact, possibly the hardest of the 5 - and yet you made short work of it.

John certainly looked a very strong player. Given the questions he got right, I'm sure that he must have known the 'Ann Widdecombe', 'Beethoven' and 'guild' answers too - they just didn't come on the night. I always felt, in my experience of two series, it was much harder to chase a challenging total than to try to set one and 'come from behind'. I'm sure there's some good psychology behind that, but I don't know what it is!

There have been a lot of strong players who fell at the semis this year, and we still have two to go. Once again, I'm getting more and more thankful for the fortune I had in my own semi.

Gruff said...

Very well done Andy. What impressed me most was that you did so well without appearing to answer rapidly. You were calm and unflustered. You reminded me of a footballer who always appears to have time and space on the ball. In both scenarios that's not down to luck, it's the class of the individual. Very well done!