Friday, 15 March 2013

Mastermind - Semi Final 4

There was stiff competition for Mastermind tonight in the shape of Comic Relief. Still, being a fan of Mastermind is not a fairweather thing, and so I left the rest of the family watching the telethon downstairs, and I retired with the laptop to watch on the iplayer.

I enjoyed Christine Plume’s round on David Niven. I loved Niven’s books, and this alone was enough to bring me half a dozen points. I’ll be honest, I thought Christine was right when she said that Niven’s first words on screen were ‘ Alright, I’ll go. “ but I bow to the superior knowledge of the setters. Christine outscored me by one, taking 7. A fair return for a 90 second round but not, I am afraid, one which would give her a realistic shout of getting a place in the final.

It seems like a very long time since we saw Shahab Mossavat’s specialist round on Terry Venables. It is a long time ago. Tonight he offered a real contrast , so much so that John felt compelled to make a comment to this effect as Shahab announced his specialist subject of King Edward III. I struggled to make much headway with this set, managing a less than impressive 4. Shahab, though, posted a highly competitive 9 and no passes.

Now, when Mark Skinner announced that his specialist round tonight was going to be on the Pixies, I did a little bit of a double take until I realized that he was talking about a band with whose work I am unfortunately unfamiliar. I thus posted a big fat zero myself. Mark, who incidentally had managed a score of 13 in the heats on his specialist round of Tintin pulled a very good round of 12 out of the bag. That’s equivalent to 16 or 17 in a 2 minute round – very good quizzing indeed. One pass hardly looked all that damaging either, at this stage.

Many people would never dream of trying mastermind in their own language. This makes Didier Bruyère’s win in the first round all the more remarkable considering that English isn’t his first language. Back in the mists of time he won his heat on the Curies. Tonight his specialist subject was The Life of Giuseppe Garibaldi. Ah, I feel a song coming on –
“Revolutionary biscuits of Italy
Rise up out of your box
You have nothing to lose but your wafers
Yum yum yum yum yum”
If that means nothing to you, then do yourself a favour. Rent a DVD of the Young Ones and watch the University Challenge episode, it’s just one of the delights of that particular show. Still, back to the round. Didier’s GK is excellent, so he could afford to be a little behind, but ideally would want to get as close to Mark’s score as possible. 9 and no passes left him with a bit of work to do, but not out of it by any means.

The Flashman Novels have been featured as specialist rounds on several occasions, in fact the great Chris Hughes once took them on, and the latest to do so was Chris Cann . He looked somewhat askance when his second answer was ruled wrong, but recovered rather well. As had Didier he scored 9 and no passes. It was shaping up to be another tight show.

Christine had the dubious honour of kicking off the GK round. As it was she did rather well, too, really only with the last 15 seconds of the round letting her down when she looked set for the early teens. The 11 that she did score was enough to push her score to 18, which looked a few short of being enough to put the others into difficulty, but then surprises can happen sometimes. Shahab’s round was certainly a bit of a surprise. He picked up 4 points fairly quickly, but then they started to dry up. He had obviously made up his mind to answer everything and not to pass – a sensible tactic that if you can do it, but the trouble was that other right answers just wouldn’t come. He leveled out at 14 points overall, and that’s where he stayed until the end of the round.

As I said before, Didier Bruyère is a fine quizzer, and has an excellent general knowledge, and so I expected him to go into the lead. It has to be said, though, that he found this round rather more tricky than his GK round from the heats. He’s an old hand, though, and kept his head even when the fifty fifty guesses weren’t coming good for him. So much so that he managed to add 10 points and no passes to his score to take the lead with 19. It looked, though, a rather precarious lead, and I have to say that I didn’t think his prospects of making the final were all that great at this stage.

I didn’t think that Chris Cann was the more likely of the two remaining contenders to overhaul his score, though. He kept the answers coming, but not enough correct ones to bring him more than 16 points. As a side note, it didn’t make any difference to the outcome of the show, but I am almost certain that Chris answered “Moss Hart” when asked for Richard Rodgers lyricist collaborator. Well, I’m sorry but Moss Hart was a critic and playwright, and NOT the same person as Lorenz Hart, who was the lyricist. Chris was given the point. I’m just a little surprised that this was not reshot and edited out.

Only Mark Skinner remained, then. He answered his first 3 correctly, and only needed another 5 to take the place in the final as of right. The points, although they didn’t dry up completely, proved hard to get from this point onwards. By the buzzer he wouldn’t have known how close he had come until John announced that he’d scored another 7 points to take his total to 19. You could tell by his face that he knew the passes he had accrued were going to tell against him and he was right. He’d only accrued 3, but Didier hadn’t any, making him the winner, and bringing him the place in the final. Hard lines, but well played, and especially well played Didier. Bonne chance !

The Details

Christine Plume The Life and Films of David Niven 7 – 111 - 218 – 3
Shahab Mossavat Edward III 9 – 0 5 – 0 14 – 0
Mark SkinnerThe Pixies12 - 17 - 219 – 3
Didier BruyèreThe Life of Giuseppe Garibaldi9 – 0 10 - 019 – 0
Chris CannThe Flashman Novels of George Macdonald Fraser9 - 07 - 116 – 1

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