Friday, 7 February 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 22

I believe that there are many reasons why people apply to appear in a series of Mastermind. Some undoubtedly are playing because they believe that they can win, and some of these do. Some play because they want to test themselves, to see how good they actually are. Some, I’m sure, just want to see for themselves what the experience is like, and maybe some want something to tell their grandchildren about. Whatever the reason, I don’t believe for one moment that any contender goes into his or her heat without any preparation. When it goes wrong, then it may be for a number of reasons – a misunderstanding between setter and contender of the parameters of the subject – an attack of nerves – a bad answer at the start of the round setting the tone for the rest, and so on. It can happen, and all you can do is sympathise, and maybe think – there but for the grace of God . . . Thankfully we don’t see contenders suffering like this all that often in a series. It’s certainly extremely rare for all of the first three contenders in the same heat to have this happen.

The first of these was Becky Shaw Simms. Her subject – The World Snooker Championships from 1977 – was one of those that maybe looked easier on the surface than it proved to be in the studio. I mean, while many of us could probably have a stab at the classic 1985 final, try answering about some obscure match from the second round in 1994, for example. I wouldn’t say that it seemed as if there was any one moment where things went wrong for Becky, but she just didn’t quite manage to really build any momentum. A total of 6 for the round was less than she would have hoped/

Kate Morris was answering on the musicals of Lerner and Loewe. If I’m honest I’m more of a Rodgers and Hammerstein man myself, so I didn’t expect to score particularly highly. It seemed to me that Kate’s confidence took a knock from the first question, which asked where one of the musicals had its pre-Broadway run. I don’t think she’d covered this aspect of the shows, and I do think that the realization of this fact played on her mind throughout the rest of the round. She scored 4.
While we’re on the subject of Kate’s round – was it just me, or was there a mistake in one of the answers? When Kate was asked which soap star had her first big break in the 1947 production of Brigadoon, I had the distinct feeling it was Noele Gordon. When John gave the answer I was sure he said Michelle Gordon, and when I checked on the subtitles it said the same. Yet it was Noele Gordon, and she was never as far as I know Michelle Gordon. Unless someone can inform me differently.

If I wasn’t confident I could answer much on the musicals of Lerner and Loewe, I was extremely confident that I couldn’t answer any of the questions about the novels of Cara Black. Not only have I never read any, I’ve never heard of them either. Sorry Cara – no disrespect intended. It’s my ignorance, no fault of your own. I wouldn’t like to say what it was that prevented Jon posted a big score on his round. Maybe it was just the overall vibe of this particular show – who knows? Whatever the case, Jon couldn’t really establish any rhythm of his own, and ended with 5.

There’s two ways that I would think you could react to the situation if you are in Rae Donaldson’s position, having watched the chair claim three specialist subject victims in succession. Either you can mentally rub your hands together, and get on with a job which has suddenly become a lot easier for you – or you can worry so much that the same thing is going to happen to you that it actually does. Rae adopted the former, and, answering on King Philip II of Spain, posted a fine 13.

Well, alright, you could probably have named your own odds on Kate, Jon or Becky at the halfway stage, since it was going to take a hell of a performance for anyone to post enough of a score to put Rae into the corridor of uncertainty. But then that’s the thing about Mastermind – sometimes it happens. First back into the chair was Kate. I have a feeling that John was only trying to be sympathetic by drawing attention to her difficulties in the specialist round, but I tend to think that it’s a case of least said, soonest mended in such cases. Mind you, maybe I’m wrong, and maybe it helped, for Kate went on to produce a pretty good GK round, where she showed a good breadth of knowledge to add 12 and push her score to 16.

Jon, who came next, didn’t quite manage to get going any better in his GK round than he had in his specialist, falling a little way short of double figures. What I can say, though, is that he did manage to give a wry smile as John announced his combined score of 13. There’s something to be said for being able to ‘treat those two imposters just the same’. Becky managed a couple of wry smiles during her own round as well. Like John she tried to keep momentum going by passing rather than guessing – and that’s a valid tactic – but in the end she too fell a little short of double figures. All of which meant that Kate couldn’t finish worse than 2nd, a fitting reward for the GK round.

John pretty much admitted that Rae was going to win, and to his credit didn’t really try to build up any tension as Rae’s round began. Having the luxury of needing only 4 to win outright Rae could afford to take his time and make sure of his answers, and as a result he comfortably accumulated 14 points. A good round, and a good performance. Best of luck in the semifinals.

The Details

Becky Shaw Simms Snooker World Championships 1977 to present6 - 2 8 - 714 - 9
Kate MorrisThe Musicals of Lerner and Loewe4 - 712 - 616 - 13
Jon WilkinsNovels of Cara Black5 - 78 - 513 - 12
Rae Donaldson Philip II of Spain13 - 114 - 327 - 4


Andrew B. said...

There was another mistake, I think - the answer to one of Kate's passes (children's laureate - Michael Rosen) was never given.

Londinius said...

Hi Andrew

I didn't notice that myself. It's funny, because I know from personal experience that the team are pretty meticulous about this sort of thing.