Friday, 13 October 2017

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 11

4 Mastermind virgins took to the chair tonight, as far as I could see, and treated us to an object lesson in some of the essential and unchanging realities of life in the black chair. I’ll get to that in due course.

I was surprised that I know so little about the films of James Cameron, considering that I’ve seen at least a few of the films that were mentioned in Kyle Nagundra’s round. Yet this wasn’t enough to get me more than the 4 points I managed. Kyle, on the other hand, gave a pretty textbook demonstration of one good way of tackling your specialist round. He had prepared thoroughly, and so even if he sometimes did take a moment’s pause before producing his answer, when it did come, it was correct. An opening score of 14 always looks as if it could put the other contenders on the back foot, and this is just what Kyle produced. Good round. 

Traci Whitehead offered us a subject about which I knew even less, Georgia O’Keefe. This was a round in which Traci never really built the momentum that you’re going to need if you’re going up against a score of 14. I think she allowed a wrong answer early on play on her mind a little bit, and when that happens it can be difficult to dredge up the information that you need. On the other hand – and I admit that I myself know next to nothing about Georgia O’Keefe – on the other hand a couple of the questions she had wrong were of the sort I would have thought that you’d expect to get right. Which brings me to one of the unchanging realities of the show. Over-preparation, that is, preparing so thoroughly that you cover every conceivable aspect you could be asked about your subject, is no guarantee of success. Allowing for the occasional rogue easy round, like the Oscars round a couple of weeks ago, if you leave gaps in your preparation, then you are likely to have them exposed. As Traci walked back to her own seat, having scored 7, I sadly thought that her status as a genuine contender in this show was over. 

It's been a few weeks since the last teacher on the show, so I was rooting for David Cheshire to put on a barnstorming performance in his own round on Guns ‘N Roses. He certainly didn’t do badly, and managed 11. At 3 points behind Kyle he certainly wasn’t out of it, but he’d need a really good GK round to put him in with a realistic chance.

This task was made none the easier when retired solicitor, Terry Quy, put in a sparkling round to score a perfect 14 from 14 on King Henry IV. This wasn’t an easy round either, since I know enough about the subject to know that the questions weren’t easy, but sadly not enough about it to answer many of them correctly. 

So let’s just think about this for a moment. As the half time oranges came out, Traci was a full 4 points behind 3rd place, and a total of 7 points behind the joint leaders. To be blunt, you could have named your own price on her winning. So what did she do? She returned to the chair, and put in one of the finest GK rounds we’ve seen in this whole series. Traci scored 17, and took her total up to 24. Oh Traci, Traci – at the very least you obviously have a very good general knowledge, and frankly, it looked to me like you’re a proper, serious quizzer. Why leave things to chance with your specialist round preparation? Well, nonetheless, that round meant that all of the others were going to have to get into double figures on GK, and that meant traversing the corridor of doubt. Respect.

First to try to make his way through the corridor was David Cheshire. For the first minute or so he looked like he’d do it as well. Sadly, as we’ve often seen happen in the past, he was stopped short by a couple of questions in the middle of the round. When you’re chasing, if you lose momentum, then the task ahead of you assumes greater proportions with each successive question, and it’s very difficult to keep picking off what you know, and keep making plausible guesses. In the end a GK round that had started promisingly never really delivered, and David finished with 20. 

Let’s consider another of the unchanging realities of life in the black chair. It’s no good answering at 100 miles per hour if the majority of your answers are wrong. Kyle Nagendra did not deliver us an express round. What he did do, though, was maintain his pace, and build during the last minute of his round. What he also did well was not to panic when he had an answer wrong. His score accumulated steadily, and he had his 25th point before the blue line of death started snaking around the score. He finished with 12 on GK, and 26 overall. 

So, allow me to make a golfing analogy. Which would you prefer? Being the leader in the clubhouse as the last pair are facing up to the 18th hole, knowing that a wayward putt would make you the champ? Or facing the final hole knowing that par will get you a play off, and a birdie the title? Terry Quy’s position was essentially the latter. He knew exactly what he needed, and he gave it a lash. On this occasion, though, he could achieve neither eagle nor par. His 8 left him some way short, and he finished with 22.

So,, well played Kyle. A win for thorough preparation, and cool-headed, sensible play in the general knowledge round. Good luck in the semi finals. As for Traci, well, anyone who can score 17 in a GK round has to be applauded, and has to be taken seriously as a contender. You have my sympathy, and should you decide to pass this way again you could just do very well.

The Details

Kyle Nagendra
The Films of James Cameron
Traci Whitehead
Georgia O’Keefe
David Cheshire
Guns N’ Roses
Terry Quy
The Life of Henry IV


Dan said...

Traci is a proper quizzer - plays in QLL. There’s a knack to choosing and learning a specialist subject, for sure. Cracking GK round though - should be much better next time.

Paul Gilbert said...

Random trivia...

This is the second heat in a row that a contestant called Kyle has been victorious. Such a coincidence has happened on 2 previous occasions in the Humphrys era (note that I am going by the first name as used on the show):

June-July 2005 saw Mike Abbot and Mike Palfrey victorious in successive weeks (both with a score of 23 incidentally).

Autumn 2012 saw Mark Roberts and Mark Grant win successive heats, but they were not in successive weeks as there was a week with no show in between (possibly due to Autumnwatch).

What makes the Kyle coincidence more remarkable is that prior to these last couple of shows, no Kyles had appeared at all in the Humphrys era.

Londinius said...

Hi Both
Dan - "There’s a knack to choosing and learning a specialist subject, for sure." Certainly agree with learning. The majority of specialist rounds do demand that you try to cover all the bases. Even if you leave nothing to chance, there's still likely to be something which will find you out. I couldn't have worked harder on any of my specialists, unless I'd taken sabbaticals from work. Yet I still never managed a perfect round - one wrong answer being my best. But I think it's worth spending the time, and almost becoming obsessive over your specialists because it is the one thing you can do which will have a significant impact on your chances of success. I know that this is teaching my grandchildren to suck eggs, but the fact is that even if you have my maximum preparation time of 12 weeks (between first round and semi final in 2007) - the chances of making a huge improvement in GK in this time are limited. There's an old saying in boxing circle - you gotta dance with the one that brought you - meaning you have to stick with the style which has made you successful. Well with GK, once you've successfully applied, you have to trust that it will be good enough to carry you through the competition. If it isn't, then there's work for you in the years ahead to improve it.

I do feel for Traci, since that GK round was SO good, she would be a very serious contender with a good specialist round. But a good specialist round just doesn't happen in a vacuum. It only comes with a lot of intense work.

Paul - great stats!