Friday, 18 October 2013

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Ten

Well, talk about the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. After last week’s group of death we had quite a change of pace this week. I should imagine that both last week’s runner up and 3rd place contenders will have cast maybe a rueful smile seeing the scores of all the contenders this week. But then that’s the meaning of the phrase ‘the luck of the draw’.

Unusually three of tonight’s subjects were pretty much to my liking. The first of these – Asterix – was offered to us by Richard Holness. I’ve always had a fondness for Asterix the Gaul. I think that the translator(s?) of Asterix is/are amongst the great unsung heroes of the comic book world. I’ve read a couple of them in the original French, and the way that the English translators preserve the humour, while using some very English wordplay, is terrific. So I wasn’t unhappy to get 4 on this set. It seemed hellish wide-ranging too, and asked for what sounded to be some pretty obscure details. Under those circumstances, and the ubiquitous needlessly long questions, Richard’s 8 seemed a pretty good performance to me, but the chances always were that this was going to leave him with a bit of a mountain to climb in the second round.

Pete Collin’s subject was the second one where I fancied my chances of getting anything up to maybe half a dozen. Robert E. Lee was the military mastermind who kept the Confederate Army in the American Civil War , even thought it was the Union who seemingly held all the aces. Pete obviously knew his stuff – a lot more than I did, too, since I had 4 and he had 11, which was the best specialist round of the night. If he could answer as crisply in his GK round, then he was going to be in with a decent shout.

My least successful specialist round tonight, as I knew it would be, was that on the life and work of Puccini, which was undertaken by Daniel Adler. I scraped 1, more by luck than judgement. Daniel, like Pete, certainly gave the impression of knowing his stuff. However a couple of answers caught him out, and prevented him from getting into double figures. No doubt, a good round, but as we’ve seen an exceptional round on specialist can get you 14 or even 15 at the moment. If our last contender managed anything close to that, then the game might be over by half time.

Our last contender was Betty McAlister, and Betty , well, Betty was offering us King George IV. Which, as it happens, was my specialist subject in the semi-final of the 2007 SOBM. Some of the questions which Betty was asked were asked in my round as well – Mrs. Fiztherbert and George Brummel for example. Betty started well enough, but she really did seem beset by nerves after having a pass. She rallied enough to take her score to 9, so at least she was still in the game. As for me, I managed 10, which gave me a non wikied total of 19, which is my highest unwikied for a while.

If one of the contenders could take the GK round by the scruff of the neck, then he or she could blow the rest out of the water, and indeed, each of them needed to go for the win, since a repechage slot looked unlikely with the relatively modest first round scores. First to give it a lash was Richard Holness. He made a pretty good job of it too. I’ll be honest, I do often think that all the GK rounds in a particular show are much of a muchness, but I found Richard’s round harder than I found the other contenders’. This is just a personal thing, and by all means feel free to disagree. His 13 gave him 21, and in normal circumstances you wouldn’t expect this to be enough to win a place in the semis. However tonight you had the sneaky feeling that maybe this could give him a chance. Daniel Adler was next to return to the chair. His round was almost as good as Richard’s, and bear in mind that he did have a one point cushion from the specialist round. His 12 put him level, and suddenly the number of passes that both contenders had accrued began to look very significant indeed.

Betty McAlister returned to the chair, and I’m afraid that the nerves seemed to come back again. She never established any rhythm, and when the buzzer finally sounded she had taken her score up to 16. All of which left just the one contender, Pete Collin. To put his task into simple terms, with 11 points from the specialist round, he needed another 11 points from two and a half minutes of general knowledge to make all arguments about passes redundant. That looks like a relatively easy total to reach – when you’re relaxed, on song, and answering in your own chair at home it is. It’s a different kettle of fish when you’re in that chair. Once you know you need a double figure total it can start to play on your mind a bit, and if you start missing questions, or passing, then it can play on your mind a lot. I still thought that Pete could do it up until midway through his round, but the passes were building up, and the clock was unforgiving. In the end Pete managed 8 for 19, a couple of points short.

So it all came down to passes. Neither Richard nor Daniel had been at all profligate with their passes, and indeed there was only one pass in it. Richard had passed twice. However Daniel had only passed once. That’s how slim the margin between victory and other thing can be. Congratulations Daniel – good luck in your semi.

The Details

Richard Holness Asterix8 -0 13 - 221 - 2
Pete CollinRobert E. Lee11 - 18 - 719 - 8
Daniel AdlerThe Life and Works of Puccini9 -0 12 - 121 - 1
Betty McAlisterKing George IV9 - 37 - 716 - 10

Repechage Table ( if 3rd or 4th place players are eligible as they were last year)

Steven Broomfield 30 – 1
Beth Webster 28 – 2
Ron Wood 28 – 3
=Carol O’Byrne 27 – 2
=Peter Russell 27 – 2
Andrew Teale – 27 – 5


Dan said...

Thanks. I'll need it - no-one was more shocked at that result than me.

Londinius said...

You played smart, Daniel, but not passing unless it was absolutely unavoidable, and well done for that.Do you mind if I ask what was/is/will be your specialist subject for the semis?

Dan said...

I am doing the Philip Marlowe novels of Raymond Chandler. Get Wiki'ing!

bj said...

‘the luck of the draw’... or rather "the luck of the producers' whims". It's not actually a draw of course. I think it is clear that the producers are currently working on the premise of groupings of contestants that will result in close games, which is I think perfectly fair. We have to remember that MM is first and foremost entertainment.

Dan said...

I think the groupings are more about providing an interesting mix of specialist subjects in each programme. As you say, it's all about entertainment.

Londinius said...

Hi Brian,

I don''t know the current producer, but Jon Kelly's comments tallied with what Dan says - Jon said that their first concern was to get the right mix of specialist subjects in each show.

Having said that, mind, with three very serious candidates for semi final places in the one show last week you can't help wondering

Horsey_Heroes11 said...

I agree that a good variety of specialist subjects is probably the main driver of the heat line ups, if only because the producers won't have much info to go on when trying to determine the potential scores of most of the contenders.

Sure a few each season are experienced quizzers but it seems like the vast majority of contenders are "talented amateurs" who won't be known outside their local pub quiz, if that even.

The producers will have their scores from the initial 10 question telephone audition plus the 20 questions face to face audition to go on (assuming the process is still the same as the one I went through a couple of years ago...) but that is all - and that's a really small sample to use to try and predict actual performances with any accuracy.

I also think that a good demographic mix is a secondary consideration for the producers (you rarely, if ever, see 2 women in the same heat...)

mayerlman said...

Well done, Dan, and good luck in the next one!

Roger (your fellow contestant on Counterpoint)

Dan said...

Roger! I was most disappointed to go to the CP final and find you weren't in it. What happened? It's actually because of my defeat last year that I filled in the form for Mastermind at all. So it's you I have to thank, I suppose.

Dan said...

Jeff - I think I did a pub quiz once, but it was a long time ago. I did have a go at Counterpoint last year. Roger can tell you about that.

George Millman said...

What would happen with the six highest-scoring runners-up if there was a tie on passes? It could happen, if Andrew Teale is knocked out and then someone beats 27.