Sunday, 21 October 2012

Mastermind - Repechage Runner Up Slots

Chris Quinn’s fantastic GK performance on Friday night, which led to him coming third in his Mastermind heat with 27 once again raises the issue of the repechage semi final slots.

I’ll put my cards on the table now. Mastermind proper has always been a knockout competition. Granted that Sport Mastermind had just heats and finals, with the 6 highest scoring heat winners progressing to the final, but this isn’t Sport Mastermind. This is just a personal view, but I would hate to see any situation where heat winners weren’t given automatic passage to the semis. Not that I think that this idea has ever been on the table, anyway.

With regards to the repechage slots in the semis, though, this is a whole different ball game. Taking the historical perspective, for nearly all of the Magnus era, a semi final was kept purely for the four highest scoring contenders who didn’t win their heats. (Granted things were a bit different in 1997, but that was a truncated series anyway). It could – and it did happen on at least one occasion – happen that 3 of the 4 repechage slots would go to players who had all contended in the same first round heat. Then when BBC Mastermind was revived with John Humphrys in 2003, no repechage slots were allocated at all. Only heat winners went through to the semis, and this situation remained the same until Jesse’s 2010 series.

This situation was not altogether satisfactory for fairly obvious reasons. If we take the 2007 SOBM 3 contenders all scored 29 in losing their heats ( Chris Jones and Howard PIzzey in the same heat ! ) yet were out despite such fantastic performances. SO the idea of semi final slots for the highest scoring runners up was revived, and revamped. Due to the larger number of heats and contenders, there were now 6 slots allotted to runners up. Also, there would be no special semi allocated to the runners up, instead they would be mingled in amongst the heat winners. It wasn’t clear at the time whether these places were just open to people who placed second in their heats, so I put out an open question, and to his credit Jon Kelly, the Producer emailed me to confirm that these slots were only available to those who placed second in their heats.

Since then Jon has moved on, and the new producer is Mark Helsby. He may well have decided , as is his right, to change policy on the allocation of runner up slots. Still, presuming that the policy has remained the same, I take the li9berty of showing you a table of the performances of all of those contenders who did not win their heats so far :-

Name Subj Score Passes
Chris Cann The Savoy Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan 29 2
John Wheeler The Shipping Forecast 29 5
Helen Marshall Catherine of Aragon 28 3
Paul Whittaker The Life and Career of George Harrison 27 2
Chris Quinn The Novels of Roddy Doyle 27 3
Alan Sharp Everest Mountaineering 26 3
Nathan Joss The Life and Times of Elizabeth I 26 3
Nina Featherston Guns n’ Roses 25 1
Philip Walters Dr. Who - 1963 – 1989 25 1
Andrew Hunt The Life and Work of Caspar David Friedrich 25 2
Bart Smith The Life and Career of Fanny Craddock 25 5
Kevin Baker Sir Ian Botham 24 1
Philip Wharmby The History of Rome until 1944 24 3
Rosalind Winter The Completed Novels of Jane Austen 24 4
Laurie Handcock The British Alpine Club 24 5
Andrew Granath Gladstone 24
Roland McFall Radiohead 23 5
Hazel Humphreys The Life and Work of Dave Allen 22 3
Chris Kirk General Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn 22 3
Ian Copping The History and Geography of Arkansas 22 3
Les Wallace Extinct Fauna of the Ice Age 22 5
Graeme Marley The Sherlock Holmes stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 22 7
Alan Haddick Shakespeare’s Comedies 21 7
Jackie Phillips The Story of Moses in the King James Bible 19 4
Sarah Lefevre The Goodies 19 6
Xavier Woodward Boxing World Title Fights since 2000 18 6
Matthew Clarke Eddie Merckx 18
Nathan Scott Wittgenstein 18
Nick Gunatilleke Battles of the American Civil War 17 7
Barbara Bell The National Parks of England and Wales 15 9
Now, the contenders who placed second in their heats , and thus are definitely eligible for semi final places are those in italics. At the moment, the top 4 actually all did come second in their heats. However the next two are Chris Quinn and Alan Sharp/Nathan Joss ( same scores and passes ) , none of whom came second in their heats.

Now, it may well be that another two second place contenders will beat Chris ‘ score, in which case the argument is purely academic. It’s not a pointless one, though. Basically, my thoughts are that if you have the rule that just heat winners go through it’s harsh, but it’s the way that it is. After all, that’s the way that knockout competitions usually work. If, though, you recognize that you can lose some great contenders this way, and you want to have highest scoring loser slots, then don’t do it by half measures. Have the highest scoring runners up, regardless of where they placed in their heats. It makes sense to me, but then it’s just my opinion, and as always, feel free to disagree.


jim360 said...

I think you're right, especially in a quiz like Mastermind when there's no direct competition. Your question set is your own, no-one is opposing you to answer those questions, so it should be those people who answer the most, as far as possible, that go through.

It is indeed a shame if people with scores higher than other heat winners don't get through.

tabstop said...

I'd even go a bit farther than jim above and opine that the top scores should go through, regardless of whether they won their heat or not. Mainly because for Mastermind I have a hard time even saying "won their heat" without giggling, since you could just about tape everyone's segment independently and splice it together in the editing room.

But I'm a Yank and I have no respect for the tradition, so what do I know?

DanielFullard said...

Hi Dave

DanielFullard said...

Hi Dave

I won't say how I know this, as I don't want to get anyone into trouble or ruin future episodes, but it appears this year we will see the top 6 "highest scorers" into the next round. Regardless of whether they were 2nd or not.

Now we know for sure



Ewan M said...

Good news if true. Chris Quinn's GK round was the most impressive of the series so far. It would be a great shame if the series lost such a strong player at such an early stage. A potential series winner if he can improve his specialist subject performance?

Londinius said...

Hi all,

Agreed jim.
Hi tabstop and welcome to LAM. Don't worry, we welcome all contributors. I know where you're coming from, but I'd hate to lose the knockout element of the show. I didn't like it in Sport mastermind where some of them could win their heats, but that was as far as they could go.

Dan, the reason why I posted was Chris' tantalising facebook comment on Friday. So what you say does not come as a total shock. Well, that's well and good . If you're going to have highest loser spots, then it makes sense that they go to the HIGHEST scoring runners up, not just the highest scoring second place contenders.

Hi Ewan. Yes, Chris is a potential winner of ANY quiz he participates in. I'd lay odds that he won't repeat that specialist performance again in a hurry.