Friday, 18 September 2015

Mastermind: Round One: Heat 7

After last week’s perfection fest in the first round the big question was whether we were going to see anything similar this week. Last week’s heat boasted a symmetrical half virgin half recidivist line up. This week we had just the one, but the recidivist in this case had some serious previous, but we’ll come to that in due course.

First up then was Tom Church, answering on the Baltimore based TV series The Wire. And telling you that it is based in Baltimore exhausts my knowledge on that particular subject. Not so Tom. This season has reiterated just how important it is to thoroughly prepare your specialist subject. It’s pretty much essential to get yourself into double figures during the first round, and this Tom managed, ending up with 11. Alas, I don’t know anything like enough about the subject to be able to say whether the majority of his questions were hard, fair, or gentle.

Right, if you’re a regular reader then you’ll know that the name Mark Grant is very much a name to conjure with. Mark has contended thrice before on Mastermind, being runner up to Pat in 2005, 3rd behind Jesse and Kath Johnson in 2010, and reaching the semi in 2013. That’s not to mention the achievements of holding the Only Connect/Brain of Britain double. Let’s be honest, with that kind of form you’d be forgiven for thinking that as far as the other contenders were concerned they needn’t bother getting changed in the first place for tonight. But TV quizzes can be funny old things. Sometimes funny things can happen. Mind you, there was nothing strange or unusual about Mark’s specialist round on Scott Joplin, and he took the lead with 12 and no passes.

Following that, then, was David Lowe. He was answering on the writer Alan Moore. Ah, Alan Moore, the writer of Watchmen, which I have loved since reading it back in the late 80s. For the third round in succession we had a contender who obviously knew his stuff, and had prepared well, and was only caught out by one or two questions. All of which meant that he scored 11 to put him one point off the lead at the halfway point. Normally I’d have said that this would have put him in with a chance of winning. However, knowing Mark I was pretty sure that any contenders who were behind him going into the GK round could kiss their chances goodbye.

Bringing the round to a conclusion, then was Sarah Clark – no relation as far as I know. Sarah was answering on Beatrix Potter. Maybe I’m wrong, but this looked to me like a round which maybe Sarah hadn’t prepared either as well or as effectively as it needed to be. I don’t claim to be an expert on Beatrix Potter, but it seemed to me that some of the questions which caught Sarah out were the sort of thing you would be expected to know if you had really prepared thoroughly – it just didn’t look like a case of in the chair nerves to me. Sadly at 7 points in total for the round, Sarah was out of contention at the halfway stage.

Which was a real pity, considering that she put on a good performance in the GK round. The highest scores on GK so far this season are 16s from both Jeremy Renals and Alan Heath, and so the 13 she scored was a pretty good total. 20 is certainly perfectly respectable in the current era of the show, but it isn’t the kind of total which is likely to win a heat. Still, 13 for GK was slightly more than Tom Church could muster. Being realistic, either he or David really needed a score into the teens, and probably around 15 to have any chance of either winning, or making a repechage slot for the semis. Tom reached double figures, with 11, but all things considered that really wasn’t going to be enough o put Mark into the corridor of doubt.

Next then was David. Now, I have to pay tribute to David here. Most contenders give little away as to what is going through their mind, and the emotions they’re experiencing while they’re answering their rounds. David looked like a man who was enjoying the experience – and that’s an attitude I can salute. After all, at best your chances of winning any given series are something like 95 – 1 against, so if you’re not going to enjoy it there isn’t a lot of point. David added 10 to his score. All of which meant that Tom’s 22 remained the leading score, and Mark’s target was 10 and no more than 3 passes. Game over.

It was, too, but although Mark scored 13 to take his total to 25 it wasn’t the best GK round I’ve seen Mark deliver. This is intended as a compliment – when Mark is at the absolute top of his game he is capable of ripping through a whole GK round and ending up with a cricket score. There was one little irony in the round and I don’t know if you noticed it. Mark was asked for the name of the cartoonist who created The Fosdyke Saga. The name didn’t come, and so Mark did the textbook thing of not passing, and giving the name of a cartoonist. In this case he chose Lowe. David Low was a New Zealand born cartoonist who created, amongst other thing, Colonel Blimp. And sitting in contender’s row was his near namesake David Lowe. A small irony which I found strangely pleasing.

So Mark is through to his 4th consecutive semifinal, and while no disrespect is intended to any of the other semifinalists so far through, he’s probably the biggest hitter to make the line up yet. Congratulations Mark, and best of luck.

The Details

Tom Church
The Wire
Mark Grant
Scott Joplin
David Lowe
Alan Moore
Sarah Clark
Beatrix Potter


Paul Gilbert said...

Something interested I noticed that Mark seemed to let out a visible sigh of relief when he reached 22 points (obviously knowing that he had won).

As I alluded to a couple of weeks back, Mark Grant is the first person to win 4 heats in the Humphrys era (although he is not the first 4-time semi-finalist, that honour going to Hamish Cameron).

Stephen Follows said...

Indeed he did, and it seemed to me that counting his correct answers as he went along had distracted him to such an extent that he missed out on some surprisingly easy ones (e.g. potassium). Not a strategy I would recommend.

Unknown said...

Five years after the event..but only just happened upon this! Sarah is a personal friend of mine..and I was really proud of her that night..i think Beatrix Potter was her 3rd or 4th choice..she wasn't allowed to do her real choices..(i know this is quite common)..General knowledge showed her in true light.