Friday, 31 August 2012

Mastermind - Round 1 - Heat 4

Tonight, then , was the first time that I took the wiki challenge in any form. As things worked out, it was the very first specialist subject to be offered on tonight’s show. John Wheeler answered on that perennial Radio 4 favourite, the Shipping Forecast. This is one of those odd British institutions, which, although you might never use it yourself, it’s somehow comforting to know that it’s there. If you read my earlier post you’ll know that I’ve been through the Wikipedia page on the subject today, and even come up with my own set of questions. A few of them did occur in the round, and a couple of other things I didn’t turn into questions but could remember anyway from the page came up. I believe that I would have had three of them just from general knowledge anyway, but having taken the wiki challenge I managed 9, which wasn’t by any means a bad return. John scored a praiseworthy 13, which meant that he would still be in the shakeup whatever happened.

Laurie Handcock, our second contender, answered questions on The British Alpine Club. This one I didn’t fancy on my own knowledge, but I didn’t fancy wiki-challenging this one either, so I decided to wing it. I kind of guessed that the name Edward Whymper might give me my best chance of a point, and so I kept trotting this one out until it scored. I guessed another question as well, and so this meant that , with two decent subjects for me to come I was unlikely to have any pointless rounds tonight. Laurie kept his head, and picked his way carefully through what seemed to be a pretty wide ranging subject to score 11. Not out of it, certainly, but probably likely to have some work to do in the GK round.

Tonight’s dive into popular culture was presented by Katherine Palmer, who answered questions on 80’s popsters Duran Duran. This was my second most confident unwikied subject in tonight’s show, and there was quite a bit on offer for those who were never huge fans of the group, but were young in the early-mid 80s. I managed 8 . Which was precisely half the number that Katherine managed. Her 16 was a top notch round, and certainly seemed to put her into pole position, with one specialist round to go.

Shakespeare’s Comedies was my ‘banker’ subject of the 4 on offer tonight, even allowing for the fact that I had prepared for the Shipping Forecast, and hadn’t for this. It’s part of my day job, after all. Of the four of tonight’s contenders I felt that Alan was the most obviously affected by nerves. This seemed a very fair set of questions, and he missed a couple which I thought were very gettable. I’m not saying that 10 was not a good score, but I felt that with preparation a score in the teens would have been a fair one for that round. My unwikied score for it was 12. Yes, I’m pleased with myself for that, but then as I say, it is part of the day job. This meant that my aggregate total for tonight’s specialist rounds was 31.

Alan was first to return to the chair, which meant that he didn’t really have any time for his nerves to subside, It meant that the first half minute or so was very difficult for him. All the more to his credit, then, that he was able to focus, and start picking off the answers throughout the second half of the round. As we always say, anything in double figures is a perfectly respectable score, and Alan’s 11 put him through the 20 point barrier. Unlikely to win, but nowt to be ashamed of. I scored 17 on his round. Laurie Handcock did even better. His 13 points was a pretty good performance, which matched the highest GK round that we saw in last week’s show. It didn’t actually look like a winning score as such, since it still meant that Katherine only needed 9 to overhaul it, but then GK rounds can be funny things.I scored 19 on Laurie’s round.

If Laurie’s round made things a little more interesting, then John Wheeler’s round made things very interesting indeed. In a nutshell, John answered like a quizzer, and his knowledge was pretty wide ranging too. To put it into perspective, his score of 16 is the joint best GK round that we’ve seen this series . His total of 29 meant that Katherine needed to score 14 to win outright, a target which is more than enough to place a contender firmly within the corridor of uncertainty. John’s quick and crisp answers allowed me to really build up a head of steam, and I managed 21 on this round.

If John answered like a proper quizzer, then you have to be honest and say that Katherine did as well. I felt that the crunch came about a minute and a half into the round. She started very well, as many contenders do, but what was to win her the show was keeping a cool head when she had a couple of wrong answers, and picking up again as soon as more questions she knew the answers to came along. In the end she just fell short of John’s round , but a mighty 15 of her own meant that she scored 31, enough to give her the win with a little daylight between her and John. I managed 19 on this round. Well done to John, though, for I fancy that his 29 may well secure him a spot in the semis. As for Katherine , checking back through my records, 31 is the highest first round score for a lady contender in the current first round format that has been in place for the previous 2 series. Highly impressive – well done !

The Details

John Wheeler The Shipping Forecast13 - 216 - 329 – 5
Laurie HandcockThe British Alpine Club11 - 114 - 424 – 5
Katherine PalmerDuran Duran16 - 015 - 231 – 2
Alan HaddickShakespeare’s Comedies10 - 311 - 421 – 7


dxdtdemon said...

I haven't counted the questions yet, but I have a feeling that this group as a whole was stronger than the heat 1 group. If the episodes are aired in the order that they were taped, it seems that John Humphrys asks questions much more quickly in odd numbered heats than even ones. Anyway, good job everyone and I hope that anyone in this heat that doesn't win this series applies again.

Londinius said...

Demon, I personally think that John takes his cues from the contestants. If they answer quickly, then he tends to ask more quickly. I agree that this was a good heat. John Wheeler can count himself very unfortunate that he was in such a strong heat - he would have won many another show. Still, I do think he'll still make it to the semis. As regards Laurie and Alan, yes, their performances certainly don't suggest that they would be foolish to apply again. However thery would need to improve upon their specialist rounds to be in with a realistic chance of winning a first round heat.