Friday, 25 January 2013

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 21

The search for semifinalists goes on. Many are called, but few are chosen. Which is a none too subtle way of introducing the idea that the first of tonight’s contestants was Simon Rundell, a Church of England vicar. Not that any eyebrows should be raised at this, since the 1996 series was won by the Reverend Richard Sturch, whom I met briefly at the Champion of Champions recording. Simon’s subject, well, it wasn’t exactly biblical , being Monty Python. I’m guessing that it had been agreed beforehand that the questions would be limited to the TV series alone, since I didn’t notice any questions about the films or books. I had this one earmarked as my best chance for a decent score tonight, and this was indeed how it worked out, since I managed 9 unwikied. Simon could be quite satisfied with his 12, which meant that he would certainly be in the shakeup.

Second to go was Kate Jamieson. Kate posts from time to time on the Facebook Mastermind club group, and so I was rooting for her to do well. Her specialist subject, The Life and Career of Lord Nelson was a good, old traditional subject which could have been asked in any Mastermind series since 1972 – and I’m sure that it has been several times. Kate started well, but then it seemed as if nerves beset her, and after the first half dozen questions it was a bit of a battle. By the end of the round she had managed 5 points.

Mark Skinner was answering on the original Tintin books by Hergé. – Bet that they ask where the name Hergé came from – I murmured, and thankfully I was right, which provided the first of the 5 points that I was going to earn on this round. Mark gave every impression of being tactically very sound. he had most of the questions right, gaining 13 points, but he made sure that he offered an answer to every single one. That’s good technique if you can keep the presence of mind to do it, and as we know, anything in the teens is a good score.

The last to go in the first round was writer Rob Hemming. He was answering on The Big Five. This was not the old cabal that used to select the Welsh rugby team, but rather the five most difficult animals for big game hunters to hunt on foot. Hmm. Well, anyway, moving on, I scored 5 for the third round running, which actually gave me a better than average first round aggregate of 24 points. Rob fairly snapped out his answers, and for the first 30 seconds or so it looked like we could be heading for a very big score. Oh, don’t get me wrong, 11 is fine, but it wasn’t quite what the round had promised at one stage. Still, he was well in with a chance, depending on whether his GK would prove to be up to scratch.

Kate , sadly, was out of contention by the time she returned to the chair to kick off the GK round. So I was very pleased to see her produce a perfectly respectable double figures round. 10 points put her up to 15. Rob again started as if he meant business, but again he found his run rate slowing after the initial spurt. Still, his 12 meant that the target was set at 23. It wasn’t impossible that he might win with this, but I thought that he looked at least 2 points short of having a realistic chance.

Simon Rundell didn’t start at quite such a rate of knots as Rob had, but what he did do was maintain his momentum. We’ve seen better GK rounds this series than Simon managed, but it wasn’t bad, and it was scored by keeping his head, and picking off the answers that he knew, and as techniques go, that’s a pretty good one. His 13 raised the bar to 25, and he looked to have an even money chance of the win.

I’m always interested to see how a contender will react to being placed within the corridor of uncertainty. Mark was certainly in there, and he missed a bit of a sitter for his first question, which suggested that maybe the pressure had got to him. It hadn’t, though. In many ways he produced a very similar round to Simon’s. Steady, careful, picking off the answers he knew, guessing where he could and passing where he couldn’t. Similarly, he managed to add 13 to his score. Had he only answered 12 he would still have won, but the 13 he managed gave him a clear win, by virtue of the extra point he had scored on the specialist round. Well done, and good luck in the semifinals.

The Details

Simon Rundell Monty Python12 - 113 - 525 – 6
Kate JamiesonThe Life and Career of Lord Nelson5 - 310 - 515 – 8
Mark SkinnerThe Tintin books by Hergé13 - 013 - 426 – 4
Rob HemmingThe Big Five11 - 312 - 423 – 7

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