Friday, 27 April 2012

Mastermind - Semi Final 6

All too soon we come to our final semi final of this year’s series. So let’s cast an eye over the runners and riders for this final group one qualifier.
Mark Wyatt – 31 (3) – 7th on unofficial list
Quentin Holt – 30 (0) – 9th on unofficial list
Simon Alvey – 29 (4) – 15th on unofficial list
Eliot Wilson – 28 (5) – 20th on unofficial list
Sarah Waller – 26 (7) – 26th on unofficial list
Yes, as you can see we had a more balanced roster for this show than in some of the others. Difficult to pick a winner based on first round performance , since only 3 points separated the top four of tonight’s contenders. Mark Wyatt looked to have the whip hand, and yet both Quentin Holt and Eliot Wilson outscored him by 2 on GK in the heats. As is often the case, the contender who handled the pressure best was probably going to win.
Eliot Wilson was the last of the high scoring runners-up to go in this year’s semis. He lost out to finalist Gary Grant in heat 14, although his was the performance of the night on GK. Back then he answered on the life of Enoch Powell. Tonight another politician, albeit a rather less controversial one, in the shape of Harold Macmillan. In 2 minutes in the heat he’d managed 13. Tonight he managed the same score off half a minute less – a serious performance, which, bearing in mind his GK prowess, looked likely to give him a real shot.
In heat 24, LAM reader Quentin Holt won an exciting show by scoring 15 on both of his rounds, just beating Julie Aris on pass countback. Then he was answering on The London Olympics of 1908 and 1948. Tonight he offered us Sir Isaac Newton. 12 questions – 12 correct answers, and then the buzzer after the last question. Quentin couldn’t answer straight away, and so John asked him “Shall I tell you the answer ? “ I felt like giving Quentin a standing ovation for saying “No, give me a minute!” and then even more for dredging up the correct answer. That took some nerve ! A perfect 13 , if anything an even better round than he managed in the heats. Can’t do much better than that.
On paper Sarah Waller looked like the underdog in this show, much as it pains me to dismiss the chances of a fellow teacher. But then these games aren’t played on paper. Sarah won heat 7 answering on the life and work of Antonia Forest, but tonight her specialist subject was the History of the Cayman Islands. Full marks for an original subject there. She didn’t quite manage a 13 , but she managed 12, and that’s proportionately better than her 14 off two minutes in the heat . Well done for that. Dark horse she might have been, but she was giving herself every opportunity of pulling off an upset.
The highest ranked of tonight’s contenders was Mark Wyatt, who won Heat 9 off the back of a perfect round of 18 on Nick Drake. Proportionately that would take some matching in tonight’s round on Band of Brothers, and maybe he didn’t quite manage that. Still his thirteen and one wrong answer was pretty good – certainly good enough to keep him up with the two leaders going into the GK round. 4 contenders down, and it still looked like anyone’s game.
The last contender to go in the specialist rounds in the semis, then , was Simon Alvey. Simon won heat 6 on The West Wing, scoring 15 points in the process. Tonight his subject was a far more traditional one , the English Civil Wars in the 17th century. I’m afraid that Simon couldn’t match the scores we had already seen. It seemed to me that he made an error in an early question which played on his mind, and it was a while before he could pull himself back into the round after this. He scored 7.
Which of course meant that he returned to the chair first in the GK round. He’d scored 14 off 2 and a half minutes in the heats, so is obviously no slouch, and to be fair he started very brightly with this set. A little becalmed at halfway he just failed to register double figures for the round and finished with 16. Sarah Waller came next, and she too kept her composure, and picked off what was there to be answered. Her tactic was to answer what she knew, and pass rather than guess what she didn’t/ It’s a valid tactic, and it brought her a further 9 points to give her the lead on 21. You sensed that it probably wouldn’t be enough, but it’s a respectable semi final score, be in no doubt about that.
Three contenders headed the table at the halfway stage with 13 points, and Eliot Wilson was the first of these to go in the second. He required 9 points of his own to take the lead. He started very crisply, and seemed to be seeing the ball in flight well, as it were. However he too slowed down as the round continued, and rather surprisingly he too scored 9, the third contender in a row to do so. It’s perfectly respectable, but it’s not the kind of 2 minute total you need to be posting to give yourself a realistic chance of winning. Still, for the third round in a row the bar had been raised, and now stood at 22.
I had a sneaky feeling that this was going to be Quentin Holt’s night, and so I can only apologise to Quentin if this in any way put the mockers on him. We’ve seen that he is capable of putting in a very good performance on GK – witness his performance in the heats. I’m sorry to say that it didn’t come off this time. It didn’t work out for him, and he finished with 19. It happens. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can end up having a ‘mare if it’s not your night.
It was all down to Mark Wyatt, then, to go out and grab the round by the scruff of the neck. He needed 10 to win outright. Now, he’d scored 13 off two and a half minutes in the heat, and with 30 seconds less time, it looked as if it could be close. Well, it could have been, but it wasn’t. Mark is a very good, quick, crisp answerer – if such a word exists – and he never looked in the slightest trouble throughout the round. He made it with some time to spare, and eventually breasted the tape with 12 points for a total of 25. Well played , sir !
So that completes the semis. We have to wait for the final, though, since the snooker is on, and heaven forbid that Mastermind should have the temerity to get in the way of that. I’ll be posting a preview shortly.
The Details
Eliot Wilson The Life and Times of Harold Macmillan 13 - 0 9 - 4 22 - 4
Quentin HoltSir Isaac Newton 13 – 0 6 - 019 - 0
Sarah Waller History of the Cayman Islands 12 - 1 9 - 5 21 - 6
Mark WyattTV Series Band of Brothers 13 - 0 12 - 2 25 – 2
Simon Alvey The English Civil Wars in the 17th Century 7 - 0 9 - 4 16 - 4


drgaryegrant said...

I felt from Quentin Holt last night. There's someone who certainly has the ability to be a finalist or a winner, and I have to (having known he was also in the semis) say I was a little surprised to turn up to the final and not see him in one of the other seats. He got a tricky set, and momentum plays a massive part in these things - it's clear that a few consecutive wrong answers played on his mind. He did however keep up his tactics - ones I fully agree with normally - of barking out answers quickly and not passing. Maybe in hindsight he thinks taking a second or two to regain his composure might have been a better thing to do? It all reminded me of my own 'pass spiral' in 2008. Nevertheless, I'm sure he'll be back and all the more dangerous for his experience.

Well done to Mark, however. And I did enjoy the Twitter comment that Eliot, complete with his new spiv-tastic 'tache since our first round meeting, had become the first person in the history of MM 'to come dressed as his specialist subject'. No comment from me! But somebody who would have done Jim Clark in the final is alright by me...

A final word, too, for John Beynon - a couple of years ago he got knocked out by coming second in one of the semis, whilst scoring a total that would have seen him win any of the other semi-finals - and this year he did exactly the same thing. Now there's a man who is owed some luck.

Londinius said...

Hi Gary

Best of retrospective luck for the final. I take your comment about John Beynon - in some ways it's like what's happened to Hamish Cameron. Five times on the show ( I think ) a semi finalist on multiple occasions, yet never a finalist. In the 2007 SOBM he scored the highest score of the series in the heats, and his semi final score of 28 and 3 passes would have won four of the semis , but not, alas, the one he was in. Knockout tournaments are exciting, but they can be cruel sometimes.

Andrew B. said...

In the 1997 series, the highest scoring semifinalist did get through to the final - though that series may have been unique in that respect - and she (Anne Ashurst) then went on to win the final.

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew

You're right about the 1997 series. It was very much a shortened series, due to the fact that it was the last Magnus series, and for all anyone knew at the time, the last series ever. AFIK it was the only series where a highest scoring runner up semi finalist went through to the final. Ironic that the person who benefitted should go on to win the final. I suppose it also shows that form in previous rounds will only tell you so much as well.

Q said...

Thanks for the report David. As Gary says, I never really got going in the GK round and I agree that a moment’s pause to bring clarity to my thoughts would have helped. However, even if I had been going at full tilt I think there were just too many answers I didn’t know. I was actually very tired as well which didn’t help my concentration. Well played to Mark though -  a clear winner.

Overall, I found the whole thing a rewarding experience. There are a number of factors that are out of your control in Mastermind. The number of questions you get in the Specialist Subject round, the relative difficulty of the General Knowledge sets and of course, who you are up against in your particular contest. All I can do is look after those factors within my control; preparation of a good Specialist Subject, improvement of weaker GK areas and getting myself in the right frame of mind to handle the pressure of the chair. I am hopeful that my experiences this time will put me in good shape for a future appearance.