Friday, 29 August 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat Three

Well, this series continues to surprise, delight, and even shock. I wondered whether this third heat would, like its two predecessors have an even split between Mastermind virgins, and Mastermind recidivists. The short answer was yes, it would. Not only recidivists, but recidivists returning for a third series. Let’s have a look at the specialist rounds.

My friend Les Morrell, brave enough once more to take up arms against the curse of being supported from the Clark sofa, first appeared in the 2007 SOBM, where he reached the semi-final – not my semi before you ask. We first met in the heats, where Les’ heat was being recorded immediately after mine. Les reappeared in Jesse’s 2010 series, where he was beaten by a single point in the first round, but still earned a repechage slot in the semis. Les won his semi and went on to take his place in the 2010 Grand Final. This year Les was offering us Bobby Moore. An exceptionally good round it was too, with only the name of Bobby Moore’s character in the so-bad-it’s-bad Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone movie “Escape to Victory” failing to add to his total. I notched up 11 correct answers – not all through my wiki work, I hasten to add, although a good few were, but I also had a few good guesses, such as Jimmy Greaves being his 1966 room mate. – Well done Les – I thought – should be halfway there now.

First of the virgins was Jeremy Renals. His subject was the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. Jeremy didn’t have quite the perfect start to his round. However after the first couple of questions, woosh! He was away. Jeremy managed 14, one less than Les. However he hadn’t passed, and as we saw last week, in a tight contest the passes can be absolutely crucial. As for me – well, I found it a difficult subject to wiki, and if you checked out my post with the questions you’ll know that I posted fewer about these than other subjects. So I wasn’t unhappy when the couple of things I wikied, a decent knowledge of a couple of the stories I have taught in the past, and the odd good guess brought me 6 points. Running total for me – 17.

Chris Grandison, our third contender, was the second newbie of this heat. His subject was the TV series “Our Friends In The North”. This was a 1990s BBC drama series which received many plaudits when broadcast, and has been rated as one of the most important drama series ever on British Television. I had never seen it. Which gave me problems when approaching the round. Not Chris, though. As had Les, Chris produced an almost flawless round, helping himself to 15 points, for the expense of a single pass. As for me – well, not all of my 6 points were taken from questions I had picked out, but they all came from my reading of the Wikipedia entries about the series, and the specific episodes. Running total – 23. This left the target for the last round at 8, which would break last week’s aggregate record of 30.

Back for a third series was our last contender of this heat, Susan Sworn. Susan, like Les, reached the semi finals in the 2007 SOBM. Like Les, she went on to compete in Jesse’s series in 2010. Unlike Les she didn’t get past the first round. In both of her last two shows, Susan scored brilliantly in her specialist rounds, yet couldn’t hold onto a lead in GK. So I predicted that she would produce a hell of a specialist round on Richard the Lionheart. Let’s be fair – I wasn’t disappointed, either. Susan sat on the edge of her chair, and veritably shot the answers back at John, almost as quickly as he’d finished asking them. In the end she finished with 17, and it’s difficult to see how she could possibly have scored much more in this round. A hugely impressive performance. As for me – well, wiki-derived questions, wiki reading, and prior knowledge brought me 11 points, to set my new specialist aggregate record at 33. Unless there is the most incredibly fortunate and favourable set of subjects in any of the remaining shows, that aggregate is not going to be beaten by me for a long time.

It’s pretty hard lines if you score an excellent 14 points and no passes on specialist, and still find yourself in 4th at half time, but that was the situation that Jeremy Renals had to deal with. Deal with it well he did, too. It wasn’t the fastest GK round we’ve seen, but Jeremy kept his head well, and applied the tactic of answering what you know correctly, guessing what you don’t, and not letting anything you get wrong put you off. Not easy to do. 11 points meant that Jeremy had set the bar at 25, a total that might well be beatable, but was certainly enough to put the other contenders into the corridor of uncertainty.

Les needed 11 points himself to set a new total – well strictly speaking 10 and no more than one pass – and this was certainly within his capabilities. He was well on the way to getting it as well, but it was a round that lost its way in the second half. In the end he scored 9 – very bad luck. I know that how important Mastermind is to Les, but he is a man who can stand up to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and will already be planning a future appearance. Go Les!

Being a Mastermind virgin, Chris Grandison’s GK was something of an unknown quantity. It was going to take a round of some quality to put him iin with a shot at a win, though. In a way his round was similar to Jeremy’s. It wasn’t the fastest round that you’ve ever seen, but what Chris was doing was concentrating intently, treating each question according to its merits, answering what he knew, guessing what he didn’t. It sounds simple, but don’t you ever believe that it is until you’ve actually tried it in the chair for yourself. 11 points were needed for an outright lead, and 11 points were exactly what he got. A good performance.

The fact about Susan’s last two GK rounds is that they didn’t go as I’m sure that she had hoped that they would. Both of them saw her fall into what looked like soul destroying pass spirals, and I desperately hoped that history would not repeat itself again in this GK round. She needed 9 points to win outright. It certainly looked do-able, but I felt it would be a pretty close run thing, and that there was unlikely to be more than a point in it either way at the end. Susan certainly looked calm enough for the first part of the round. The danger of going at 100mph in the GK round is that you can end up passing to keep the momentum going, and when you pass at speed, one pass soon leads to another, and before you know it you’re in a pass spiral. Susan seemed to be taking a more measured approach in this round, surely a sensible thing to do. The target was in sight, but then so was the finishing line, and agonisingly, Susan fell just slightly short, scoring 8 to finish on 25.

The three runners up in tonight’s show could certainly be forgiven for casting a rueful glance back at last week’s heat, for all of their scores would have won that heat with some to spare. That’s the nature of knockout competitions, though, and just the way that it goes. Hard lines to you all, and congratulations to Chris. Good luck in the semi finals.

The Details

Les MorrellBobby Moore15 – 19 – 1 24 – 2
Jeremy RenalsThe Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe14 - 011- 325 - 3
Chris GrandisonOur Friends in the North15 - 111 - 026 - 1
Susan SwornRichard the Lionheart17 - 08 - 325 – 3

Repechage Standings: -
Gareth Kingston  28
Alice Mennel   26
Jeremy Renals 25 – 3
Susan Sworn 25 – 3
Les Morrell  24 – 2
Howard Towner   23


Jeremy Renals said...

My, what a dissection. Accurate as well, as far as I can tell. Regards, Jeremy Renals.

Londinius said...

Hi Jeremy,

I love the show, and so I try to do it justice. I call it as I see it, and do try to be fair and as objective as possible. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.

Stephen Follows said...

Susan lost by one point, but had a correct answer disallowed because she gave it in French ('chef d'oeuvre'), rather than English ('masterpiece').

Assuming that the question didn't specify the language - and I haven't gone back to the show to check - hasn't she been robbed?

Londinius said...

Actually Stephen you may well have a point. The only thing I will say about the question is that it did make a point that the word was derived from the piece of work which an apprentice would make to complete his apprenticeship - I'm not saying that chef d'oeuvre didn't specifically refer to this - but I don't know whether id did either. All the same, a rather unlucky one for Susan.

Stephen Follows said...

Hi Dave,

According to French Wikipedia, the derivation is identical in both languages – I gather from other sources that, if anything, it’s actually much clearer in French, because 'chef' can apparently mean 'beginning' as well as 'most important', so that the 'chef d'oeuvre' is the 'beginning of work', and, hence, the end of one's apprenticeship.

Here's the French Wikipedia explanation of the word - 'Le chef-d'œuvre était anciennement la preuve de l'excellence que devait présenter l'artisan pour être promu à la maîtrise dans sa corporation.' (‘The chef d’oeuvre was formerly the proof of excellence which the craftsman had to present in order to be promoted to the level of master in his guild.’ (My translation.))

Pretty unequivocal, I'd say. She wuz robbed.

Best wishes,