Friday, 12 December 2014

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 17

I allowed myself a little chuckle as last night’s first contender, Carys Logan, settled into the chair, when I thought that she said that her specialist subject was the Life and Films of Gary Grant. Now, my erstwhile skipper is a man of many talents, but I didn’t know he’d branched out into acting. But no, it was in fact Cary Grant. As usual with an actor round there were a few gimmes – I’d never have had any right otherwise, but enough tough ones to almost stop Carys in her tracks once or twice, and so bearing that in mind she did rather well to rally enough to make 9.

Former semi finalists really haven’t been in short supply this year, and David Sutherland was just the latest to make a reappearance. Back in Jesse’s 2010 series he won his heat, but didn’t have the happiest of times in his semi. Last night he was offering us the C.S.S. Alabama. The Confederate warship is one of those subjects which you feel that a contender would only take if they have a special interest in the subject, and feel confident that they are unlikely to be caught out. David’s round of 11 was certainly a perfectly good one, but it wasn’t perfect, and it did allow just a little bit of room for another contender to head him at the turn.

Ewen McPherson was our second recidivist last night. His subject was the Masters of Rome novels of Colleen McCullough. Now, I will be honest, if you are going to take a series of novels as your specialist subject you have to know them inside out. I’m not saying that Ewen had not worked hard on preparing for his round, and I’m not saying that he does not have a deep knowledge of them. Not having read them myself I’m not in any position to comment on the difficulty and/or fairness of the questions. However the fact is that Ewen failed to answer as many correctly as he succeeded in answering, and he scored 7.

The man with the famous name, Rod Laver, finished off the specialist round with Marc Almond and Soft Cell. What a round it was. Rod had time to pass on one question, and still answer 16 questions correctly. It proves that it can be done this series, and would have put him in a good position in any heat. In this one it gave him a 5 point lead at the turn, and we were going to have to see something extraordinary if he wasn’t going to win.

Ewen’s GK round was a good demonstration of how frustrating a Mastermind appearance can be. Ewen’s answers showed that he is a good general knowledge quizzer, and he comfortably accrued 12 points to push him up to 19. Unfortunately though it still meant that he only led Rod by 4 points – a case of shutting the stable door, if you like. Carys was unable to match this in her round. She actually started very well, but there was a string of wrong answers and passes during the second minute, which took away all of her momentum, and meant that she was only able to equal Ewen’s overall score of 19. She still managed double figures on GK though.

David had the opportunity to make a second semi final, but being realistic it was either going to need a brilliant GK round to set a high enough score to give him a chance of a repechage slot, or a good enough one to at least put Rod into the corridor of doubt. It wasn’t a bad round at all, when you got right down to it. There were good answers throughout the round, but a few guessables which went begging as well. This meant that David levelled out at 11, which I thought just wouldn’t quite be enough to put Rod into the corridor of doubt. Which goes to show how little I know . . .

There was little or no hint that Rod would struggle to find the 8 points he needed to win outright, and the first couple of questions provided him with a couple straight away. After that, though, the nerves really set in, and what followed was actually a grim old struggle, with points being clawed in singly. It was tortuous at times, and as a viewer you genuinely started to fear that maybe Rod wouldn’t do it. He reached 22. Then one more answer followed, and he was through with hardly any time to spare. Congratulations Rod – you were made to suffer for your place in that semi – and best of luck.

The Details

Carys Logan The Life and Films of Cary Grant9 - 310 - 419 - 7
David SutherlandThe C.S.S.Alabama11 - 211 - 522 - 7
Ewen McPhersonMasters of Rome novels by Colleen McCullough7 - 112 - 219 - 3
Rod LaverMarc Almond and Soft Cell16 - 17 - 523 - 6

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