Friday, 17 October 2014

Mastermind - Round one - Heat 10

Before you ask, yes, there were two more recidivists in tonight’s show. Not that this is really here or there, but it is something I find to be of interest.

It was one of the two virgins who kicked off tonight, though. Rod Allday was answering on The Thames Path. Now, I had a feeling that this was one of those rounds which is a little unusual, and the kind of thing you’d only take if it was really a special interest, and therefore we’d see something special. Unfortunately for Rod it didn’t quite work out that way. It just seemed that in a lot of the questions in the middle of the round the setters were asking aspects that Rod hadn’t considered at all, and he racked up no fewer than 6 passes. We see it happen from time to time, and it’s just one of those things. As it was Ron did well to rally from his mid round slump to push himself up to 7 points.

Diana Muir has twice previously been a first round contender. In 2010 she answered on Gertrude Jekyll, and was a little unfortunate to lose by a single point, with her score of 23 not being high enough to get her a repechage slot. She returned in 2012 but was unable to do better than third in her heat this time. Nothing deterred, here she was back for a third bite at the cherry, this time offering us Monica Dickens as a subject. It was a round that seemed to promise quite a bit more than it delivered. I don’t know if Diana had concentrated more on her life, but dome of the book details troubled her, and in the end she had taken the lead, but only by a single point with 8.

The second first timer of this show, Hywel Morgan, looked to be one of the youngest competitors in this year’s competition. He was answering on the music of Steve Reich. Steve Reich in the afternoon? Yes, I am that ignorant that I was hitherto unaware of his work. The same could not be said of Hywel, though. His performance was considerably better than either of those we had seen before. John chided him gently for passing on one question – haven’t seen you in the chair yourself, yet, John – but all the same 13 points was a very good return from the round, and with 1 contender yet to come he had a 5 point lead.

Our final contender of the week, Neil Crockford, has, like Diana, appeared twice before. As long ago as 1975 Neil reached the semi final in the series won by the late John Hart. Then in 2005, Pat’s series, Neil returned to finish 3rd in the Grand Final, being beaten by 2014 Brain of Britain Mark Grant, and the great Pat Gibson. That’s some company to keep. He was certainly the runner with the best track record in the field, but he didn’t make things any easier for himself with his specialist round on Thomas Chatterton. It was never a bad round, but topping out at 9 you did feel that he was leaving himself a lot to do int eh General Knowledge round, trailing by 4.

Now, I actually felt that Rod’s general knowledge round started rather well, but it can’t have been quite a minute into it when the gears really started grinding, and the right answers began to dry up. 8 isn’t a bad score, but it’s not great either, and in all honesty it looked to be a bit of a struggle. As indeed did Diana Muir’s. She scored 7 in GK last time out, and this round was much on a par with that. It was one of those round where there were a lot of things which you’d hear if you’re a regular quiz player, but you probably wouldn’t know otherwise, and to be honest Diana was having to work hard for every point. She finished ahead of Rod by virtue of her extra point in the specialist round, but it was fairly clear that she wasn’t going to be making the semi finals this time around.

So on to the two rounds that would sort out who was going to the semi final, and who wasn’t. Neil’s task was fairly clear. He had to post the highest GK score that he could, to place Hywel within the corridor of uncertainty and hope that this would be enough to do the trick. Going for the win was by far his best chance of a semi final slot, since he needed a massive GK score to give him a chance at the repechage. For the first minute to 90 seconds he looked as if he might well get a score of anything up to 15. The last minute didn’t prove to be quite so fruitful, and in the end he scored 12. This took his total to 21, and meant that Hywel needed 9 to win outright. Hmmm.

Well, Hywel looked a little shaky with his first answer, but then very good with his second, and actually that was a pretty good metaphor for the whole round. There were some easier questions that went begging, but on the other hand Hywel also produced some very good answers to other. He managed to hit double figures, which was enough to get him home with a little bit to spare, ending up with 23. Well done, and good luck in the semis.

The Details

Rod Allday  The Thames Path 7 -68 – 0 15 - 6
Diana MuirMonica Dickens8 - 08 - 316 - 3
Hywel MorganThe Music of Steve Reich13 - 110 - 623 - 7
Neil CrockfordThe Life and Works of Thomas Chatterton9 - 012 – 0 21 - 0


Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

Well done Hywell for holding onto that lead. It seemed to me that the pressure was getting to him by the start of his GK round; I'm not sure what expectations he might have had going in, but some amazing competitors can't buy a 5 point lead at the start of that round.

Likely, he'd have been reassured by the first two GK rounds, but then he was seemingly unnerved by a target of 9 to win. As you say, Neil needed to put him into the corridor of uncertainty, and I think he just about did. I'm equally certain that he did know a few he missed, especially the first, and in normal circumstancs he'd have had them easily.

Still, a win's a win, and being able to hang on like that will hopefully be a confidence boost to the next round - he could have collapsed, but didn't. As a first go in the competition for a young man, that was impressive.

(Succinctness has never been a strong suit in my writing, comments included).

Hywel Morgan said...

Thanks, Dave! I entered with zero expectations. I'll confess, appearing on your blog was one factor in applying.

Not sure what happened on the first question, think I was expecting something else on Reich. As Adam said, a win's a win I guess.

Please continue writing such a great blog!


Londinius said...

Hi Adam,

Don't worry about length of comments. Long ones, short ones, we love 'em all. Did he put him into the corridor of uncertainty? Maybe, although it is such a surreal experience sitting in the chair there's lots of things can unnerve you - although I don't say for one minute that Hywel actually was unnerved.

Hi Hywel

Many congratulations. That was an impressive display on Specialist, and an impressive display of keeping your head on the GK round. what you did, playing each question on its merits and answering what you knew was exactly what you must do on the show.

Thanks so much for your comments about the blog - it always makes my day to hear that people actually read it, and even more so when they enjoy it.

If I can beg to differ with Adam a little - a win isn't just a win on mastermind. A win on Mastermind means that forever more you are (at least) a Mastermind semi finalist. I know people who'd give their eye teeth to be able to say that.

Dan said...

I once calculated that around 200 in total could call themselves Mastermind finalists. Made me feel better about not being one of the 40 or so winners (yet)

mawnanman said...

I've only just discovered this blog and very impressive it is! Congratulations Hywel - a worthy winner. I knew from chatting beforehand that Diana and Neil had been on before but I didn't realise that they had each been on twice and that Neil had been so successful previously. My subject wasn't my first choice but I was asked to change from 'Middlesex' because apparently the setters had had difficulty in sourcing questions when it was used previously in Celebrity Mastermind. I've walked the Thames Path so I plumped for that. However, I realise that it's a very broad subject and the right questions just didn't come up. Perhaps I should try again with a narrower subject as I know I'm capable of a better performance.

Londinius said...

Hi Rod

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment, and thanks for your kind words about the blog.

Now, that does make sense, what you've said about the specialist subject. I had that happen in my first appearance - all 4 of my subjects on the application were rejected.

Another go? Why on earth not? That was what I did.

Adam "Addy" Lewis said...

If I may correct an apparent misunderstanding, when I said "a win's a win", I did not mean to in any way denigrate such a fantastic achievement as reaching the Mastermind semi-finals, and I apologise if my comment came across in that way.

What I meant was that the matter of victory is more important than the margin - I believe, though could again be mistaken - that many players would be as happy with a win by one point as by ten, that was all.