Friday, 17 November 2017

Mastermind 2018 - Round One - Heat 16

I couldn’t help thinking back to a comment left by Mycool on the review of heat 14, asking us to spare a thought for Brian Chesney, runner up in both Mastermind and BoB. For there he was last night, another former finalist having another tilt at the title. We’ll come back to Brian shortly. Meanwhile, let’s start with Darren Smith. Being a teacher, Darren was saddled with the burden of support from the Clark sofa. He was answering on The Vicar of Dibley. This is just my opinion, so please feel free to disagree, but from my vantage point the round got harder as it went along – I rattled off the first 7 answers, but then struggled to find many more as the round progressed. Darren, though, was hardly phased at all, only missing out on one to end with an excellent 14.  

Andrew Gregory, our second contender, offered us something altogether more serious, in the shape of George Orwell. I will admit that I’ve only ever read two of Orwell’s works – “Animal Farm” and “1984”, and I missed one of the questions on those, so I was impressed with Andrew’s command of the full range of his oeuvre. In the end he finished with 12. Normally I would have been confident that this was a score which would keep him in contention. However, with a score of 14 on the board, and Brian still to come, I did feel that this might leave him a little short.

Our third contender, Hugh Williams, was answering questions on Roman coinage in Britain AD 41 – AD 402. This was one of those subjects where the armchair viewer could pick up a few points without knowing a huge amount of the subject. I know little or nothing about Roman coinage, but I do know a bit about the Roman Empire period, and the Roman occupation of Britannia, and this was enough to take my specialist aggregate to 20 after three rounds. Hugh did absolutely fine with a score of 11, but in this particular heat, even a couple of gaps in knowledge were always going to leave you amongst the backmarkers.  

So to Brian. Brian was in the agonising position of coming second on pass countback to my friend Clive Dunning in the 2014 series. To the best of my knowledge I’ve never met Brian in the flesh as it were, but he’s always struck me through his demeanour that he is more than able to treat the twin imposters of success and (relative) failure just the same. Certainly he gave a perfect display of tackling a specialist round on Harold Wilson, giving us a nerveless and perfect 15 from 15. As for me – well, I needed 7 to raise the highest aggregate total for this series. . . and I managed 6. Such is life.  

Going into the GK round, then, it looked pretty obvious that this heat was going to be won by a high score. Brian looked favourite to provide it. Still, nothing was guaranteed. Nobody knows everything, and if you get a rogue round where you get a run of questions you don’t know and can’t guess, then anything can happen.Hugh returned to the chair, and started very well. For the first half of the round he was cruising along nicely. However he then hit a patch of turbulence, and the answers dried up. Never mind. He scored 10 to take his score to 21, and having double figures in both rounds he had acquitted himself well. Judging by his expression he’d really enjoyed his Mastermind experience, and that’s always good to see.  

Andrew Gregory, I think, knew he was going to have to set a terrific score to give himself the chance of a win. And let’s be fair, he wasn’t far short of a top drawer performance. The main thing with a Mastermind GK round is to take it as a marathon rather than a sprint, and make sure that you keep picking off the answers that you do know, and keep guessing the answers that you can guess. In the end, Daniel had added a praiseworthy 13 to his total, to set the bar at 25. That’s a good Mastermind score, and in many cases it will give you the chance of a win.  

Certainly it was too good for Darren Smith. He had a massive 14 already in the bank at the start of the round, but this meant that he would still need 12 to go into the lead without resorting to pass countback. His round never quite looked as good as Andrew’s, and he ended with 24. Again, it’s a double figure round, and 24 is the kind of score which means you can leave the show with your head held high. Tonight, though, it was not going to be a score to take him to the semi finals.  

In my heart of hearts I was pretty certain that Brian would make short work of throwing in the best GK round of the night, and that’s exactly what happened, and in fact it turned out to be amongst the best GK rounds of the series so far. What I was most interested in was what Brian was going t do with the questions to which he didn’t know the answers – was he going to go all out to avoid passes this year? Well, there’s an old boxing adage I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, that states you gotta dance with the one that brought you. This basically means, you have to stick with the style that brought you success, and this is what Brian did, maintaining speed and momentum while accruing 15 correct answers and one pass.  

Congratulations to Brian, a fine performance which serves as an excellent statement of intent – best of luck in the semis.  

Darren Smith
The Vicar of Dibley
Andrew Gregory
George Orwell
Hugh Williams
Roman Coinage in Britain AD 41 – AD 402
Brian Chesney
Harold Wilson


neil wright said...

Brian Chesney must be one of the unluckiest of quizzers but these things have to come to an end eventually, don't they?

I didn't meet him in my 2012/3 Mastermind series where he lost the final on passes but certainly recognized him for the BoB semis in 2015. Fortunately we were in different semis on the same day and, as we both won, met again shortly afterwards for the final. I was never in contention but Brian led from the start with only Nigel Jones close. I think Brian led by two going into the final round but Nigel had pulled some back when the final question fell to me. (I am always in seat 4 on BoB). I got it wrong, the fourth player gave the correct answer but then changed his mind and gave another answer. Russell Davies then asked which answer he wanted, he guessed wrong but it was fairly clear that his first answer had been correct. It was then a straight race between Nigel and Brian on the buzzer and Nigel won. And that extra point meant that Nigel won by one point.

Now, I believe that Russell should have accepted the first answer. That would have resulted in a draw and a sudden death play off. That would have been a far more satisfactory conclusion. Incidentally, I understand that both Nigel and Brian have been invited to take part in "Brain of Brains" after the coming series of BoB, so maybe the BBC is trying to redeem itself.

On top of that, I believe that Brian also came second in the Grand Final of the second series of the new Fifteen to One. Surely his luck must change?

George Millman said...

Darren could actually get to the semi-finals, if we're including people who didn't come second in their heat (no one ever seems sure how that works). Given that he avoided passing, he's knocked Didier and Traci out of the running.

Stephen Follows said...

Just for the record, the highest scoring runner-up from the three previous BoB finals is now invited to Brain of Brains, alongside the three winners of those finals, to make the number of contestants up to the usual four. This was first done three years ago, when David Stainer took part, and, as far as I'm aware, will continue to in future programmes. With his score of 20, Brian was clearly the highest-scoring runner-up, well ahead of Mike Penrice, who scored 15 in the final last year.

neil wright said...

What I want to know is, if Brian should win Brain of Brains, can he still compete in subsequent Brain of Britain's?. Not entirely disinterested party here, as we might be in competition again next time.