Friday, 25 November 2016

Mastermind: Round One: Heat 20

Now this, ladies and gents, was a good show and a good contest.

John H. does seem to have a bee in his bonnet over the GK rounds. In the past he’s made observations I’ve disagreed with in his opening comments, along the lines of the GK round being the one that the contestants fear, a sweeping generalisation if ever there was one. Likewise, his assetrtion last night that you cannot prepare for a GK round is understandable, but wrong. It’s very much a question of timescale, and how you actually target your revision. Still, let’s not get bogged down in that for now.

You have to applaud any contender who manages a perfect round, and that’s exactly what we were served up by our first contender, Ian Fennell. I wonder how many people applied to answer questions on the late David Bowie for this season? However many, Ian picked this plum, and given the opportunity he grabbed it with both hands. From early doors it was clear that he was going great guns, and I’ll be honest, it looked as if John could have continued asking him specialist questions for the full half hour and he wouldn’t have dropped any. That’s great preparation making a great performance.

Which is an observation we might well make about Alan Diment’s round on Edvard Munch as well. I turned to Zara, my middle daughter, who had ignored that the show had started and thus not vacated the living room, and observed that the answer to the first question would be The Scream. It was, and so that was my work done for the round. Alan, I noticed, often gave a little smile as he produced correct answers to his questions, and as you can tell by his score, there were an awful lot of smiles in the round. Another brilliant performance.

In any other week Chris Rabbitt’s round on Postwar British Motorcycles would have left him well in contention by the time that the half time oranges were being handed out. 11 was a good score on such a searching round. Me? I managed 2 – the Triumph Bonneville, and also that Geoff Duke rode for the Norton team. I knew that because a dear friend who introduced me to quizzing used to manufacture replica Nortons, called Manxman, in a room in the downstairs of his house. Sadly he passed away a few years ago, but I couldn’t help thinking of him.

Karen Fountain, then, would have had every justification had she felt daunted coming to the chair, seeing her opposition all in such fine fighting form. She too had prepared herself thoroughly though, and ended with a great score of 13 on the Occupation of Jersey, 1940-45. This was the only round on which I failed to add to my aggregate. My best round of last night’s specialists was the Bowie round, where the first half of the questions were kind enough to allow me to get about half a dozen. Well done to all of last night’s contenders, since this is the first time we’ve seen an aggregate over 50 since Daniel’s heat, which I think was heat 5.

So to the GK. Chris Rabbitt, unlucky to be a couple of points adrift in 4th, manfully stuck to his task, and built up a score of 20, and I’m glad he got out of the teens. It was no more than he deserved, for having put up the show that he did on specialist if for nothing else. 20, though, was never going to be enough in last night’s heat. So to Karen. Being realistic, I reckoned that a score of about 25 in total would be necessary to put the boys into the corridor of doubt, and to be honest, right up until the last 20 seconds or so it looked like Karen was going to do it. At this point though the round just refused to go any further, and a string of questions to which she didn’t know the answer brought her a little short, at 23. Nonetheless, that’s a performance which falls into the category of giving Mastermind a good old lash. Well done.

Ian Fennell’s task, while not crystal clear, was still pretty straightforward. Go like billy-o, put as many points on the board as possible, and let the devil take the hindmost. Unlike most of the last few heats there was a realistic chance that last night’s second place might achieve a repechage score. What Ian produced, then, was not a fantastic score, but it was what I would call a decent quizzer’s score of 13, and when you put that together with his specialist score, that gave him a highly useful 27. That could have been a winning score.

No, alright, it wasn’t, but it did mean that Alan Diment had to produce a terrific round in order to surpass the target. Which he proceeded to do, putting on a fine 15 to end with a great overall score of 29. According to John he only just did it. Cobblers. With no disrespect intended to Ian, two clear points represents daylight between first and second. That, sir, is one of the best performances we’ve seen for quite some time in this series, and if you reproduce that form in the semis, then you could go a very long way.

Well done and thank you to all of last night’s contenders. Great show.  

The Details

Ian Fennell
David Bowie
Alan Diment
The Life and Work of Edvard Munch
Chris Rabbitt
Postwar British Motorcycles
Karen Fountain
The German Occupation of Jersey 1940 - 45


Dan said...

Pretty sure 27 is good enough for the semis this year ...

Paul Gilbert said...

This is the first time that the top 6 highest-scoring runners-up table has changed since Heat 9 in September (when Steve Lacey scored 28).

However, this is nothing compared to last series, when there was no change to the runners-up table after Heat 6.

Ian F said...

Thanks David. Having been on both Brain of Britain and MM this year, I just want to say thanks for your blog which I browsed extensively in preparation. A tremendously useful source of information and advice. Very well written too.

I actually applied to MM with my specialist subjects in September last year, when things were pretty quiet on the Bowie front, so I don't know if I was at the head of a Starman stampede. His death brought out the fact that he really mattered to a lot of people and I felt I would be letting them down if I made a half-hearted effort. A welcome excuse to spend many weeks immersively reviewing Bowie's career. You're right, I could happily have carried on for half an hour!

I tried to prepare as much as possible, but I didn't anticipate the 'temporal disorientation' of the black chair. Determined not to pass I found myself groping for an answer that was just out of reach. It felt that 4 or 5 seconds had gone by. I realised that I wasn't going to get it and I didn't even have time to come up with a deliberate wrong answer so...'pass'. Watching it I realised all this actually happened in less than a second. So there's a lesson for next time - you've got just a bit longer to consider the answers you feel you do. I would have got two other GK questions if I'd taken a couple of extra moments to work them out (Sinai peninsula, anti-cyclone).

So I can now claim to be one of the (presumably) small band of people who have sat in both the Millionaire Hot Seat and the Mastermind Black Chair as bona fide contestants. I would say the Black Chair experience was much more pleasant. Sitting there in the dark, surrounded by a psychedelic lightshow, being given general knowledge questions by a well-modulated voice coming through a nimbus of spotlights - surely the equivalent of a spa treatment for any quizzer! Having heard John Humphreys' voice on Mastermind for so many years, it felt a bit unreal at first to hear him read out a question in the expectation that I (yes, me) would answer him.

Anyway, (retrospective) best of luck to Alan in the semis. I'm keen to see how he got on.

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone and thank you for leaving comments.

Ian, many congratulations on your performance, and commiserations if you didn't make it to the semis. Thank you for not saying either way. Likewise, many thanks for your comments about the blog - if it helps anyone at all then I'm very grateful.

As one of the small band you mention, personally I found the Mastermind chair far less nerve wracking than the Millionaire hotseat - hence my less than stellar performance in the latter.

Best of retrospective luck if you did make it to the semis, and thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.