Saturday, 30 January 2016

Mastermind - First Round Heat 23

Show 23

What a nice surprise to see LAM reader and correspondent Roger Canwell back again last night! Roger was a finalist in Nancy’s series in 2009, and a semifinalist in Aidan McQuade’s series in 2013. So a highly experienced and successful contender, and I have to be honest, I felt for the three Mastermind virgins who faced him, in the same way I felt for Graham Barker’s three opponents in last week’s show.

The first of these was Martin Wightman. He picked the first of two subjects about which I thought I knew something. I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this very blog before that I was 5 years old when I was got up in the middle of the night to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon for the first time, and like many other boys of my vintage I was space crazy for a while. Some of these questions were straightforward, but by no means all of them and I thought that I’d done pretty well to score 9. Not as well as Martin, though. A score in the teens on specialist at this stage of the game is a great score, and although he had some stiff opposition in the shape of Roger, he at least had given himself a great chance of making a game of it.

Roger offered us the second specialist round I liked the look of. I’ve had an interest in the Great Train Robbery ever since I read Piers Paul Read’s book about it some 20 odd years ago. Again, though, while my 8 looked good, it paled into insignificant against Roger’s perfect round of 14. Speaking as someone who came close, but never actually had a perfect round, I can assure you just how hard it is to do. You have to give 100% in your preparation for the show – and if you do, then you can always at least get close. With GK yet to come, Roger was a short price favourite as far as I was concerned.

Fair play to Austin McHale, he gave us the third double figure round of the night with QPR – the ‘Super Hoops’ – 1966 to present day. Look, I have to come back to the point I made a couple of weeks ago. Back then we saw a round on Aston Villa 1947 – present. Now it’s 1966. What is it with these dates? This is not a grouse aimed at the contenders. They have a right to ask for whatever subject they like, it is up to the production team to decide whether they can do it or not. But I would have thought it was not unreasonable to expect a contender to answer on the whole history of a football club. Whatever the case, Austin’s 12 kept him in the game.

Lorraine Kitchingham had the unenviable task of having to follow those three performances. She was answering on the Alex Delaware Novels of Jonathan Kellerman. To be honest she did not look comfortable at all throughout the round, and I wouldn’t be that surprised if nerves robbed her of a few points. As it was, though, a score of 6 meant the worst of all possible worlds. She was out of any realistic chance of winning AND she was going to have to make a quick return to the chair for the GK round.

At least Lorraine did manage to gather herself a bit and add 8 to her score. Just before her round started, John made the observation that there are over 30 Alex Delaware novels. Now, I know that he was only trying to be nice, but it’s an indirect way of drawing attention to the fact that Lorraine had not done well on her specialist subject, and as such, I’m not entirely sure that it was the best thing to say as she was starting her GK round. If you feel that you haven’t done well enough on a round, there’s nothing really that anyone can say right at that moment to make you feel a lot better. Austin’s job as he returned to the chair was simple – post a high score , put the other two into the corridor of doubt, and hope to hang on. Simple to say that is, not quite so simple to execute. Was it a bad round? No, certainly not, but, and this is crucial, it was an unconvincing one. 9 points put the target at 21, and this particular show was never going to be won with a total of 21.

Now, Martin, when he returned to the chair, began extremely well, and was answering like a serious, regular quizzer. Ultimately the round didn’t quite live up to its early promise. The last minute or so was tough going as Martin ran out of steam, and in the end he just managed to make double figures. So did this mean that Roger was home and dry?

Well, no, not necessarily. Roger needed his own 10 to win outright, and yes, that’s well within his capabilities. But funny things can sometimes happen when you’re in that chair. Roger, though, is an experienced hand at this game now, and he knows that a 2 and a half minute round is a marathon, not a sprint. So although he picked up some wrong answers along the way he just kept on picking off the answers, and there was still a little time left on the clock as he hit the target, going on to put a little daylight between himself and Martin.

So well done Roger! Good luck in the semis – lovely to see you back again.

Martin Wightman
Apollo Space Missions
Roger Canwell
The Great Train Robbery
Austin McHale
Queens Park Rangers 1966 - present
Lorraine Kitchingham
Alex Delaware novels of Jonathan Kellerman


dxdtdemon said...

There was a time when a contestant did the Chicago Bears from 1920-1960, which was most of their dominance except for the mid-80's. It seems that they like to write questions about when teams are dominant, as more books, websites, etc. are written about that then the times when the teams are in a down phase.

jeffgrimshaw said...

I was that contender who took the Chicago Bears (the period was actually 1920-1970) !!

The reasons why it was that period are as follows:

1. My original proposal was "The life & career of George Halas", who was the founder, owner & coach of the Bears from 1919 until 1967 when he retired from coaching (but continued as team owner until his death in 1983.)

2. When I attended my audition up at broadcasting house, the production team suggested, that while George Halas was a valid subject, did i want to think about broadening it to include the team history.

3. I said that wad fine, but given that the bulk of my research to that point had been on the period of his coaching career, would it be ok concentrate on the earlier history of the team?

4. I put forward the period 1920-1970 for 3 reasons: a) it was almost exactly his coaching career, b) 1970 marked the end of the "old NFL" - they merged with a rival league and virtually doubled in size after that season, and c) the 1920-1970 period gave a nice "round number" look of 50 years of history (I know it was technically 51...)

Hopefully hat explains a bit about how the process worked and the (relatively small amoount of) horse trading that goes on about the specialist subjects.

Unfortunately I came 2nd in my heat (25 points, 15 on the Bears, 10 on GK) and failed to win a repecharge spot so didn't get to try any other subject as I think we would have had to do more negotiation on my subject for the final as the team had already indicated that I might need to think again...