Friday, 11 May 2012

Mastermind Grand Final

I have no idea why this happens, but whenever I start to watch the Mastermind Grand Final I start to get nervous, far more nervous than I did in my own final. Of course, there were three LAM readers playing, one of whom, Gary, was my skipper in Only Connect, so I had my favourites I was rooting for. Having said in my preview that I was hoping in my heart of hearts that Gary would win I was hoping that this wouldn’t bring down the curse of the Clark sofa. Well, within the hour I would know one way or another.

Mark Wyatt opened the batting with the Life and Works of JMW Turner. Mark has been a very strong performer on Specialist all series, scoring a perfect 18 in his heat, and 13 in the semi, which was the joint highest semi specialist of any of our finalists tonight. This wasn’t quite a perfect round, but it was a very good one for a final. 15 and 1 pass meant that he would be in contention at the halfway stage.

I said in my preview that Maya had exceeded my expectations in getting to the final, and to be fair, from her filmed insert she seemed to have exceeded her own as well. Maya scored 12 in her specialist in the semi, when she offered owls. Tonight we had a complete change of pace with her specialist subject of alchemy. It seemed to me that this was very much one of those out of left field subjects, which could go very well for you. The other side of the coin though is that it’s the kind of subject that if you don’t do really well, you end up doing the opposite. Maya made an error, and knew she made an error on her second question, and she never really recovered from it. Her 6 points scored were 6 points more than almost everybody sitting at home scored, but in real terms it meant that her bid for the title was over.

Every year one of the contenders seems to win first prize in the insert lottery. This year no less than three contenders could claim to have done this. David Love was one of them. Answering on the comic songs of Tom Lehrer, David was whisked away to Boston. I’ll be honest, I enjoyed the wee snippets of Tom Lehrer in performance which were slipped into the film, and I could have watched more of them. Still, there was still the serious business of the round to get on with. David has been a rock solid performer all series, with a fine 13 in the semi, and so his 14 in this round was no less than I expected. Second place at this stage, but handily placed nonetheless.

The first of our LAM contributors tonight came next. Nick Reed has been one of the surprise packages of this year’s series. I must admit to being a little bit taken aback by his admission in his film that he doesn’t play in organized quizzes. You certainly wouldn’t have known this from his GK performances in the heat and the semi, where he knocked out our own Gruff in a tie break. Nick has been a high scorer in specialist before. However in his film he did say that his subject The Levellers was the first subject in which he had no level of expertise to begin with. His score of 12 was nothing to be ashamed of at all, a good performance, but in terms of winning you really don’t want to be more than a couple of points behind at the halfway stage. Ideally, you don’t want to be behind at all if you can help it.

Gary Grant was a veritable vision in black. Actually that’s wrong, since due to the darkness of the background the only bits of him you could actually see clearly were his head and hands.Gary’s film showed him on the north coast of Scotland, which made him the second candidate for winner of the filmed insert lottery. I have to take my hat off to Gary for being absolutely candid and frank about how much he wanted to win. In my filmed insert in 2007 I was actually asked the question myself, and I fudged it, thinking – if I tell the truth, that I’d give my eyeteeth to win, and think I’ve at least got a pretty good chance, then if I don’t win, that film will come back to haunt me. – Ian had the guts to say he wanted to win last year, and now Gary had done the same. An omen ? Well, Gary’s subject was whales and dolphins, and he treated us to the finest specialist round we’ve seen all series. Gary goes at 100 miles an hour when he’s answering. So when he produces a perfect round, you get something remarkable. In this case a 19 point round – that’s a Hall of Fame score. A fantastic performance which in all probability blew the previous 4 contenders out of the water. Only Andy Tucker remained in the first round.

If you read my review you’ll maybe remember that Andy and Gary were my two tips for the top. Andy too seemed to have drawn a lucky ticket in the shape of a trip to Baku in Azerbaijan. Andy is a very modest chap – this is the first time I had the slightest inkling that he has been a British Ambassador – an Ambassador to Azerbaijan no less. Like Gary, Andy too made no secret of the fact that he would like to win – there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of there. I thought it was a lovely touch to pay tribute to Kevin Ashman, and particularly to the late Sir David Hunt, winner in 1977, himself a very distinguished diplomat. As for the round, well it was a good one, no doubt about that. Not quite as fast as Gary’s, though, and not as accurate as Gary’s, and in the end he score 14 and no passes. Advantage Gary.

I have to say that of all the General Knowledge rounds I struggled most with Maya’s. I thought that her 14 was a tremendous performance. Ironically it did give her the lead, albeit that this was only by a single point, but at least it had the effect of taking her to 20 points. Look – you have nothing to be ashamed of if you get to the Mastermind final in the first place, but anything in the 20s therein is totally respectable. Nick followed her into the chair, and it’s sad to say, but he had his most difficult GK round of the series. A number of his questions were what I would call old quiz chestnuts, which you wouldn’t necessarily know if you’re not a regular quizzer. This should take nothing away from what has been a fantastic series for Nick. By his own admission he is not a quizzer, and has pretty much come from nowhere to make the Mastermind Final, taking notable scalps in the process. Well done to you, Nick.

You just knew that David Love was going to set a total. He managed 12 in the semis, but to me he has really been Mr. Consistency in this series, and I felt sure that he would do better than this. Indeed he did. He seemed a little surprised that some of his more speculative answers were correct – but really had no need to be so. If they’re right, it doesn’t matter how much of a guess they are. David whacked in a hefty 14, to take him to a fine score of 28, and now at least Gary had a target to aim at.

A target which I felt certain would be surpassed by Andy Tucker. Now, at this stage, you would have forgiven Andy had he lost a little composure. Gary’s score had made him overwhelming favourite at the halfway stage, and it looked unlikely that Andy would be able to overhaul a 5 point deficit. All the more credit then for whacking in an excellent 16 points, to take his own score to 30. Make no mistake about this, Andy had actually put himself in with the chance of a win. When the target reaches 12 points, then that is what I call the corridor of uncertainty, after all, how many times have we seen really good quizzers struggle to rattle off enough correct answers to win once the total required reaches 12 and over ? Andy had done everything he could, and you cannot do more than that. Respect is due.

Like Maya, Mark Wyatt found himself served a tough GK round as well, and he found it pretty hard going. I’m not surprised. The first few questions rather knocked the wind out of his sails, and he never really got any momentum going at all. Well, it can happen. Mark is a Mastermind finalist, and nothing can take that away. It didn’t work out this time – which doesn’t matter. Just being there was an achievement in itself.

So Gary, even without the lucky shirt , or the pink shirt, returned to the chair, probably knowing in his heart of hearts that he would never have such a good chance to win Mastermind – and I know from conversations we had a couple of years ago in the Only Connect dressing room just how much he wanted to one day do this. He must have still felt under intense pressure at this stage – but I knew better than most that he could cope. Of the three of us in the Radio Addicts Gary dealt with the pressure of the grand final better than any of us. He produced a round , then, every bit as good as Andy’s – in fact statistics will show that it was slightly better since there were no passes. In terms of how good a performance that was, well, the record for a Humphrys Final is 37, held jointly by his two predecessors Ian Bayley and Jesse Honey, followed by my own predecessor, Geoff Thomas who scored 36 in 2006. That’s a hell of a group to find yourself among. I’m so delighted to have a Scottish winner as well. Fred Housego was born in Dundee, but I believe that he is the only previous Scottish winner, and even then Fred was more often referred to as ‘London Cabbie Fred” rather than Scottish born Fred.

Many congratulations Gary ! I offer special commiserations too to Andy. As John said scoring 30 would have won some past finals, but congratulations on a string of fine performances this series. Finally congratulations to all 96 contenders who gave is good entertainment this season, and to the production team for the same reason.

The Details

Mark Wyatt The Life and Work of JMW Turner15 - 14 - 619 – 7
Maya DavisAlchemy6 - 214 - 220 - 4
David LoveTom Lehrer14 - 014 - 028 - 0
Nick ReedThe Diggers12 - 08 - 620 - 6
Gary GrantWhales, Dolphins and Porpoises19 - 016 - 035 - 0
Andy TuckerThe History of Azerbaijan – 1919 – Present Day14 - 016 - 130 – 1


HughTube said...

Well done to Dr Grant!

I didn't see the first few specialist subject rounds (I'll have to watch it because I love Tom Lehrer) but I felt Andy Tucker's questions were very long indeed, which made it a shame that he couldn't get into the game. I don't mean at all to detract from Gary Grant's performance, which was obviously excellent and deserving of the win.

One of the many reasons I could not win this show is that I would be compelled to correct John Humphrys' pronunciation of Bryde's Whale.

Anyway, well done once again to the winner. Are we going to get a full set of Radio Addict Mastermind Champions?

Jack said...

Yes, very well done to Gary Grant; a well earned win. I was routing for him throughout.

As I've said over on Online Writings, I may consider applying for the next series of Mastermind, seeing as I'm old enough now. It sounds like fun.

Londinius said...

Hi Hugh - Hi Jack

Well, Hugh, that's all down to the Legend, whether he feels like having another go. It would be quite something, though.

Yes, it did occur to me that Andy suffered from overly long questions. Out of all of tonight's subjects I would have gone first and foremost for Gary's. I'm not an expert on whales at all, but I still managed 10 of them.

It IS fun Jack, in a sado masochistic kind of way. As long as you actually enjoy the discipline of learning a new subject. It's certainly quite a talking point when you've been on the show.

tuckeraj said...

Thank you David

a fascinating outside analysis once again.

First of all, I have no doubt that Garry is the worthy champion. His focus and drive were admirable, and the speed of his answers earned him the crown.

He also coped with the delay of forty-five minutes for a lighting change far better than the rest of us.

Hugh's comments are kind too.

You may have noticed a very rough edit at the end of my first round.
JH continued "...or did I pronounce it wrongly?" To which the only honest answer was "No, I got the wrong one." Shame they cut it.

Next time you see Garry, ask him why he looked so pale.


Ewan M said...

Great to see a Scottish winner, fantastic performance from Gary, a deserved winner. His speed of recall, as well as the depth and extent of his knowledge, was formidable. Hard luck to Andy Tucker, I have a feeling he could go one better next time, if he decides to give it another go. I've heard a rumour that Andy has Scottish blood too and has been the subject of a transfer bid by the Scottish national quiz team? A top quality signing if true!

Ewan M said...

oh, and thanks to David Love for picking such a fantastic specialist subject. I still have my dad's old Tom Lehrer albums, much prized possesssions I can assure you!

drgaryegrant said...

Thanks Dave, and I hope I managed to keep the result secret from you - I was worried that you might see through my unusually high level of posting this year! The reason I have been critical at times is only because I care about the show too - winning really is the biggest achievement of my life - and I just wanted that win to be fair, and not spoiled by the show not being a level playing field.

Massive commisserations to Andy. Recently we ended up as a 'pair' doing a quiz that Rob Hannah had set, and the fact that he got at least 75-80% of the answers (plus the fact that he usually beats me in the big national quizzes by some margin) just emphasized the point that he is a better quizzer, and that 9 times out of 10 he'd have beaten me. I make no bones about having been tactical all the way through - even the choices of specialist subjects were all chosen with trying to win in mind. I just wonder if all those Azeri names slowed John down a bit on Andy's SS? I wouldn't have scored 16 on his GK set either.

Nick too, was unwell, but I only found that after the show from his wife - to his immense credit, he didn't moan about this once, although if you look closely it definitely affected his performance.

Speaking of looking closely, anyone who taped it is invited to watch the audience to the right as I walk to the chair for GK. My dad starts clapping (the sound was later edited out) at which point he gets clobbered by my mum - hilarious.

Still, I'm delighted to have won, and I remain amazed that my name comes after Jesse Honey and Ian Bayley in the list of winners. Even now it hasn't sunk in. I've always had a competitive streak so I was in 'quiz' solely to try win Mastermind. The plan was always, that if I achieved it I'd retire from quizzing and move on, but I've met so many fabulous people through quizzing - and I miss them. So, I will be at the World Quiz Championships in June. As many have told me, once a quizzer, always a quizzer.....

Thanks to everybody again for your kind words, and I'm proud to have won for both Scotland and the Radio Addicts! Shame I slept in for my interview on BBC Breakfast this morning.....

Londinius said...

Hi Andy.
Commiserations - and yes, it would have been nice if they hadn't edited that last question. It makes a lot more sense now that you've explained it. Well played, though - as I said an outstanding GK round.

Hi Gary - once again many congratulations. We're all really proud of both your achievement, and the manner of your achievement.

No, in all honesty I did NOT know the result. I was sure that you and Andy would be at the sharp end of the Final, but which way it was going to pan out I really didn't know. Many thanks for not giving any real clues that might have given the game away - while it's sometimes nice to have insider information I do much prefer to watch the shows as a fan.

What next, then ? Brain of Britain, by any chance ?

Oh, and one more question, if I may. Why were you looking so pale in the final ? ( see Andy's comment )

drgaryegrant said...

Ha ha, thanks for that Andy :-P

Yes, I (in a moment of madness, and because I was wearing black) had decided to put on some fake tan in the morning of the final. Being a bloke, I did this - shall we say - a touch inexpertly and turned up looking like someone that had been pelted with tangerines by someone with a very bad aim.

The make-up lady had to spend a good 20 minutes wiping it all off....

I should also have commended Andy for his honesty re the pronounciation question. To do that in such an importnt quiz is a mark of the man - well, he is (according to the vagaries of international qualification in Quizzing) a fellow Scot, so you'd expect no less.....

Andrew B. said...

Congratulations to all the finalists, especially Gary for a very impressive performance.

Whatever one's views are on broad/narrow specialist subjects, there was certainly a wide range of them in the final (with chemistry, biology, art, entertainment and history all represented), which is clearly a good thing. What would happen if, by chance, all six finalists had chosen, say, a literature-related topic?

AaronW said...

Just watched it on I-player. Congratulations to all the finalists.

Gary - a very deserving and impressive win!

Since you won specialist and general individually, there's no need to worry about fairness!

My only complaint is if you answer the questions too fast it makes it hard to play along at home lol. A little slower next time would be great. :-)

tuckeraj said...

Apologies to Gary for a) misspelling his name and b) revealing Slapgate. Having once ended up with green hair for a week after an am-dram attempt to look younger, I have no shame!

My Grandma was from Wick and the Gunn cousins are still there, so I will be wearing Navy Blue at international events for the forseeable future, probably in the aspirational team.

Londinius said...

Well, if we're on about scottish connections - my grandy Clark was from Dundee - he moved to London in the 30s during the great depression. One of the many great thing sabout my final being filmed in Glasgow was that I could invite my cousins from Gourock and Newport on Tay to the final.

However I've already said before that since it was Wales that made me a quizzer, and I've lived in Wales for longer than I lived in England, if I was ever good enough to play internationally it would be for Wales.

MashamLad said...

Just a quick note to say thanks for all your generous and understanding comments throughout the series.

I had three very different and equally enjoyable experiences on the recording days, and was simply delighted to have reached the final, despite an underwhelming performance especially in GK. Gary's performance was awesome in the most literal sense, with Andy and David as very deserving podium-mates. And I got a tweet from Billy Bragg after doing The Diggers as my SS, which has pretty much made my life complete!

It has been interesting in all three rounds to meet quiz-leaguers and quiz grand prix-ers. defintely something for me to ponder as I think about, ahem, Life After Mastermind.


dxdtdemon said...

I was hoping that Mark Wyatt's last answer would be accepted so that no one finished last, since everyone played really well. The amount of poise that Gary Grant and Andy Tucker showed throughout the series was amazing, especially Gary's in the semifinal general knowledge round and Andy's in the final after what happened at the end of his SS round. Anyway, congratulations Gary, at least one honorary member of Clan Graham is proud of you.

Also, there's a rumor online that non-champion teams on Only Connect will be allowed to compete in future seasons. Will there be a Radio Addicts reunion?

Londinius said...

Hi Nick - you're very welcome. I'm glad that you enjoyed the final - believe me, they don't come around that often, and you just have to enjoy them. Once again, very well done on a great series.

Hi dxdtdemon
When we competed in OC Peter, the producer of that series, said it was something that they were thinking about further down the line. However I think that the logical conclusion of this line of thought was the successful wall nights which we saw a little while ago.

Who knows what will happen in the future ? I'd never be averse to a reunion, but you'd have to ask Gary and Neil as well.

untruth said...

Hi Dave, Hi Gary

Firstly, enormous congratulations to Gary on achieving his long held aim. It wasn't just that he won, it was also the sheer *style* with which he won it - not many could have answered more quickly, that for sure. Absolutely superb, against some top opposition too.

Hugh - *me* make it a hat-trick of Radio Addict champions? Not a hope in hell, because I'm just not good enough. And anyway, two previous attempts (where frankly, I exceeded my expectations both times) is enough for me. David and Gary are Premier League quizzers, and I'm only League Two at best.

dxdtdemon - OC reunion? Yes please - I'd be there like a shot, if Dave and Gary would have me!


Gruff said...

Nick, you definitely ought to consider the Grand Prix circuit as you would find some kindred spirits there I'm sure. I was interested by your Billy Bragg reason for doing the Diggers. I came close to picking them for exactly the same reason, and had them earmarked for a future tilt at the title. Alas, as in everything you pipped me to it ;)

I've said my congrats to Gary elsewhere, but he really was a worthy winner. And I have no doubt that given a fair wind Andy will lift the title one day.

Now back to reality...