Saturday, 19 April 2014

Mastermind 2014 Grand Final Preview - (take two)

I can only apologise to those of you who read my previous posting of this preview. Dan Adler very kindly pointed out to me that I had my finalists wrong, and had not done Brian Chesney his due. Brian – I can only apologise. So then, let’s have a look at the finalists: -

As you can see, we have Brian Chesney out heading the table with 24 in his semi, while only two points covers all the other 5 contenders. In this way it resembles last year, where we had a similar situation. One of the things I always look at when I’m trying to weigh up who I think are the most likely winners of a Mastermind Grand Final is the GK scores of both first round and semi. While you can have a ‘lucky’ set of questions in one of the rounds, the chances of a contender posting two good GK scores without really having a very good general knowledge are slight. On this score, I like the look of Brian Chesney and Roderick Cromar, scorers of our two highest semi GK rounds among the finalists. This isn’t, though, always the most reliable of indicators – last year being a case in point. In last year’s final we saw Aidan McQuade post a very good GK score, to move from joint third at halfway, and overcome a three point deficit. Aidan’s GK scores in his two previous shows hadn’t really given any indication that this was likely to happen. So working on that basis, all of our finalists reached double figures in their semi-final GK round, and if one of them hits an absolutely purple patch, then it could be anybody’s game.

There is also the question of previous experience to throw into the mix. I have gone on record as saying that I do believe that it gets easier to handle a round in the chair each time you do it. That’s just my opinion, and as always, feel free to disagree. Still, if there’s any validity to this point of view, then Hamish Cameron could do very well. Hamish is, I think, the most experienced Masterminder of them all, and certainly is either record holder, or joint record holder for the number of semi-final appearences. I’d be delighted for Hamish if he won, and believe me, if he gets it right in GK he can certainly do it. I refrain from tipping him for the win, though, because his scores can be a little inconsistent on GK. Michael McPartland has done his time at the broadcast quiz coalface as well, being a double semi finalist, and a competitor in Only Connect and Brain of Britain as well. Clive Dunning has also contested Brain of Britain, and Roderick Cromar, University Challenge. No shortage of experience then, among our finalists.

As much as last year, then, I think it’s pointless trying to pick a winner from this field. All of them are capable of winning this contest if they have prepared their specialist subject thoroughly, and if the question in the GK round fall the right way. That’s a big if, and if you can predict with 100% certainty who is going to win, then predict next week’s lottery numbers for me as well for an encore. SO nobody gets burdened with the Clark tip this year, because I can’t call it. Who gets burdened with the Clark support, though? It’s very hard for me, because I know for a fact that we have at least 4 LAM readers in the final, any of whom would be a very worthy winner. I don’t know whether Hamish ever reads LAM, but I can’t help wanting him to do well as well. As I think I’ve said before, Hamish was the stand in for my final, despite having posted the third highest score of the semis. I admire his perseverance and determination, to keep going in pursuit of the title despite a number of semi final set backs. As for Brian, I wish him every success as well. Gentlemen, I wish you every success, and can only hope that you all enjoy(ed) your final as much as I enjoyed mine.


neil wright said...

Not sure about the idea that experience is any help in the final. Off the top of my head I can think of 6 winners for whom it wasn't their first attempt:- Kevin Ashman; Ian Bayley; Chris Carter; Gary Grant; Geoff Thomas and yourself. I may be missing some but all the others must have been first timers. Does it help to have the frisson of excitement the first time round or is a more relaxed approach borne from experience to be preferred. Personally, I feel I relax as the series progresses and my scores suffer as a result.

Londinius said...

Hi Neil,
Many commiserations. My feeling about experience is just my opinion, and it's something that would be difficult to prove or disprove. To be fair, winning it on your second (or third, or fourth . . . ) go is a pretty extreme example. Mind you, I would like to add Robert Gibson to that list as well. I have no recent figures on multiple contenders and their relative success or otherwise, but I did write about it in a post at the end of 2008 - there's a link to it here if you are interested.

On Multiple Contenders

Your point certainly shows that we are all individuals, and the same experience can affect people in different ways.

Thanks for leaving a comment, and once again, well done on your mastermind performances this year.

neil wright said...

Thanks for the kind words. I can't help but feel disappointed and that I would have had a real chance in the final. For the record, my previous appearance was in 1978 when I scored 31 in the heat, 28 in the semi and 26 in the final. The time limits were different then, of course.
It does seem too close to call for the final which is slightly bizarre as it was recorded back in November. I wonder how more information doesn't leak out in advance and had my suspicions when you described my performance in the heat as , possibly, a flash in the pan.
One factor to consider here is the choice of specialist subjects, or rather, the order you play them. Whilst you can no longer win by virtue of your performance in the specialist round, you can certainly lose it here. I wonder whether anyone has been brave enough or confident enough to leave their best subject for the final? Personally, I put my best subject forward for the semis as I was worried about the shorter time limits. I was right to be worried but it still wasn't enough to get me through. If I had got through it would have meant some fairly intensive cramming on Roman Emperors, but with a clear two months between semis and final that would probably be just about ok.
Incidentally, Daniel Adler was planning on doing Richard Wagner in the final and seemed quite happy with that prospect. He was even asking John Humphries whether his German pronunciation would be up to it.

Stephen Follows said...

'He was even asking John Humphries whether his German pronunciation would be up to it.'

Well, Paxman's wouldn't, that's for sure.

Dan said...

To be fair to JH, his German proved to be better than his Italian ...

Londinius said...

Hi Guys,
Sorry it's been a couple of days since you posted.
Neil - yours is a fascinating question - so much so that I've actually decided to make a new post about it.