Saturday, 6 January 2018

Mastermind 2018 - Heat 21

Mastermind 2018 – Heat 21

Hi everyone, and a Happy New Year to all. I’m sorry it’s been getting on for a month since my last post. I just found that things were starting to get on top of me again, and so I needed a bit of time to face down my demons, at least for the time being. Enough of me, though.

The first contender we would get to see in 2018, then, was Steve Rhodes. Steve was offering us the TV series The Royle Family. I have to say that Steve did appear to be extremely nervous – hence giving the answer Henry Norman when I’ve no doubt that he knew it was Henry Normal. To paraphrase John H., that’s what the chair can do to you. Other than that, though, he put on a fine performance to score 13. I’m a bit of a fan of the series myself, and it seemed to me that there was quite a bias in favour of the Christmas specials, as opposed to the regular series. For all that, though, I was pleased to kick off my own attempt at a plus 20 score with 8. 

I recognised Magda Biran as the captain of the very useful SOAS team in a recent series of University Challenge. Thinking back to that, I was fairly certain that she was going to go well in GK. So it was all a question of how well could she do on her specialist subject, Lord Melbourne. For all that this was a very traditional specialist subject, I’ve always said that biographicals make good MM subjects, since they’re finite and learnable within a restricted time frame. Magda had certainly learned her stuff, and managed a 12, which put her only one point behind the leader. She also showed the skill of a TV quiz veteran in avoiding any passes in her round.

Pop groups and artists have become one of the staple SS genres of each series of MM since the 2003 revival, and our third contender, Tim Footman, offered us one of the biggies in The Beach Boys. With my half dozen points on Lord Melbourne, another half dozen here put me on 20. Tom, needless to say, did considerably better than that – twice as well, in fact. He passed on one, and finished with 12. Only a point behind the leader, and level with Magda, I couldn’t help wondering whether that pass was going to be significant. 

This was all speculation, though, especially considering that we still had our fourth contender, Matt Leighton, to go. Matt was answering on British General Elections 1945 – 2017, which may on the surface sound like a bit of a dry, old subject. Far from it actually. Even foregone conclusions like Tony Blair’s second and third election victories are interesting in their own way. I was happy to take five to give me one of my best aggregates of the whole season. Matt as well showed real depth of knowledge to take 11, putting himself just 2 points off the lead, and in contention.

So at the turn all 4 of the contenders were still in it. Matt was first to return to the chair. He’d passed a couple of times in his specialist round, and so it seemed his tactic was to answer at once if an answer came to him, and to pass quickly if it didn’t. That’s a perfectly valid tactic, and it did have the effect of ensuring that he never lost momentum as the round progressed. I dare say that Matt may well have done a bit of quizzing in his time, judging by the speed and breadth of his answers. 11 points was a more than decent return on the round – unlikely to win – I thought – but enough to put others into the corridor of doubt.

Not that it looked as if Magda was in any doubt whatsoever. In contrast to Matt, Magda was not going to pass any questions. She scarcely missed anything for the first minute, and even when she didn’t know the answer to questions she made sensible suggestions, and kept off picking off the majority. There was just a slight hiatus in the middle of the round, but even so she accumulated a good 13 to raise the target significantly.

Tim Footman I did not know before the start of this show. However he is obviously a quizzer, judging by the range of answers he provided while posting a magnificent 17. If he was the least bit daunted by the size of the task he faced in the round he didn’t show it. In fact, Tim actually did something that many people told me I was prone to doing in the 2007 SOBM – he smiled several times while John was asking the question, obviously knowing the answer before the question was finished. As he walked back to the chair, I felt certain that his score of 29 was a winning one.

Nonetheless, Steve Rhodes had been in the lead as the half time oranges were distributed, and although it was going to take a remarkably good round for him to win, it was still possible. I mentioned that he’d looked nervous in the first round, and sadly, this seemed to be the case in the GK. In the end he finished with a total of 20 points. 

So, well played Tim. A great performance which is one of the most impressive of this season so far. On this kind of form he looks a good bet in the semis, and you never know. . . Best of luck. 

The Details

Steve Rhodes
The Royle Family
Magda Biran
William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne
Tim Footman
The Beach Boys
Matt Leighton
British General Elections 1945 - 2017


Mycool said...

As things stand, with three heats to go, Magda is on track to qualify for the semi as a highest-scoring runner-up. There were previously five people on 24 points tying for the sixth repechage place, including Didier Bruyere who lost to Kyle Hobman on passes.

George Millman said...

Mycool - that's if we're to assume that they can only be runners-up if they came second in their heat. There seems to be a bit of doubt about how it's being called - if it's the six highest-scoring non-winners overall, irrespective of where they were in their heat, Teresa De Billot is still in it and Didier Bruyere is out.