Friday, 21 November 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 14

Right then. Let’s start with recidivists v. virgins, and the final score in tonight’s match was a 4 – 0 whitewash for the virgins. Now, Mastermind doesn’t always offer something for Dave in the specialist subjects, but I have to say that our first specialist subject of the night, offered by Gordon Fyffe, did tickle my fancy a little. When I was a kid, back in the late 70s, my mate Neil Adam introduced me to the music of Pink Floyd (Neil, if you’re by any chance reading this, and you fancy dropping me a line, I’d love to hear from you). For several years I was a big fan, and even went to see them performing The Wall at earl’s Court on the 17th birthday. Now, I managed 8 of these questions, all of which leads me to suggest that poor old Gordon was pretty much done in by nerves, since some of the questions he missed he obviously knows. I feel for anyone who has that reaction to being in the chair, and the worst thing is that you just can’t know how it is going to affect you until you try it.

I kind of lost patience with and interest in the various Star Trek spin off franchises, and was never a watcher of Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise, so John Clatworthy’s specialist round on Deep Space Nine offered me little – which is exactly what it delivered. John made short work of 10 of these questions, and didn’t pass on any of the others either. As I said, not having watched the show I can’t comment on the difficulty or otherwise of the questions, but that looked like a pretty good round to me.

Now, I’m far more of a Frank Herbert than a James Herbert man myself, so I didn’t expect anything from the Novels of James Herbert. This was the subject on offer from our third contender, Pamela Woods. Now, Pamela didn’t look particularly nervous as she sat down, but for the second time in this show we saw a round which I can only think was seriously affected by nerves. You see, in a 2 minute round, it’s not just about how much you actually know, it’s about how much you can call to mind quickly, and recall is a funny old thing. It can be shot to pieces by the stress of being in the chair, and I imagine that’s what happened to Pamela. She scored 4 points.

Bringing the first round to a conclusion was David Greenwood. David’s subject was The Life and Career of President Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt was a truly significant figure of the early years of the 20th century, and one of the most interesting of US presidents. So this round at least added a few more points to my total. David produced the best specialist round of the evening, a round which at one stage promised perfection. Well, David didn’t quite achieve that, but 11 and one pass was certainly enough to put him in the lead at the turn.

It was nice to see Pamela coping so well with her GK round when she returned to the chair first of all. I don’t know whether the break had given her the chance to calm her nerves but whatever the case she adopted the tactic of taking each question on its own merits, and answering as best she could. This meant that while there was never exactly a torrent of points, there was at least more than a trickle, and she reached the mark of quality that is a double figure round to finish with a total of 14.

For Gordon Fyffe, I’m afraid that the agony just continued. The fact is that Gordon’s GK round was just as badly affected by nerves as his SS round. He scored 5 and 10 passes, and Gordon, sir, you have my sympathy.

With the best will in the world, after the Specialist rounds the contest was only ever going to be between John and David. John started his round like an express train, but we’ve seen before rounds which start out full of eastern promise but in the end peter out. This didn’t quite do that, but the bulk of John’s 11 points were accrued during the first minute and a half. Yes, a total of 21 required was probably just enough to place David within the corridor of uncertainty, but you still fancied he would do it. He did too. David’s 14 wasn’t the best GK round we’ve seen, but it was good, and certainly good enough to get him over the finish line with quite a bit of daylight between himself and the chasing pack. So well done David, and as always, best of luck in the semis.

The Details

Gordon Fyffe Pink Floyd5 - 15 - 1010 - 11
John ClatworthyStar Trek: Deep Space Nine10 – 0 11 – 0 21 - 0
Pamela WoodsThe Novels of James Herbert4 - 110 - 314 - 4
David GreenwoodThe Life and Career Of Theodore Roosevelt11 - 114 - 425 - 5


Dasypus said...

My husband asked another good question, and I'm going to punt it to you and hope something comes back! Why is it, when professors/lecturers are on Mastermind, they do not seem to choose specialist subjects within their area of study? I'm sure, for instance, that my friend in the history department who studies the history of Chinoiserie could have an amazing round on Defoe. But people always seem to go way outside their areas. Is this enforced in some way by the show?

Londinius said...

Hi Dasypus, and welcome to LAM.

The answer to the questions is - yes, it pretty much is enforced by the show.

The thinking behind it goes something like this : - in every specialist round there is the potential that something can go wrong and the contender can end up with a low score. Now if a contender is let's say a teacher or lecturer, and they get a particularly low score in their own area of study, then this can be very embarrassing. So there is an element of 'saving people from themselves'.

I didn't know this when I made my first application. I teach English in a comprehensive school for a living, and when I made my first application 3 of the 4 specialist subjects I put on my application form were writers. All of these were rejected at the audition for the reasons I've outlined above.

Your friend in the History department is alright by me being a lover of Defoe. There's so much more to the man than Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders - wonderful as they are.

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.

Stephen Follows said...

Surely, the thinking would be the opposite: someone who studied something for a living, and was therefore able to spend all day on it, would have an huge unfair advantage over somebody who spent their working life doing something completely different and could only mug up his or her specialist subject after work or at weekends. I very much doubt that the production team care about embarrassment - after all, as reality TV has taught us, it makes damn good television.

While we're on the subject of unfairness, I wish John Humphrys would stop rewording answers when the contestant has already got them right - Mr Clatworthy was done out of an extra question because Humphrys used up a couple of seconds saying 'crow' when he had already correctly said 'corvid'.