Friday, 26 January 2018

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 24

Right, here we are at the last heat. Now, I can’t swear to it that my workings out are 100% accurate, but I believe that going into the show, if all 4 contenders scored better than 26 and 6 passes, then they could all qualify for the final. If one contender scored less than 26, then any other score of 26 would be good enough. Well, that’s how I worked it out anyway.  

Our first contender, Ken Morland, offered us a round on the TV show Red Dwarf, which made me ask myself an interesting question. Suppose you were a contender on the show, who had put real time and effort into preparing your subject? Suppose then you got a set of questions which, well, not to put too fine a point on it didn’t really test your knowledge? It doesn’t happen often, which makes it stand out a bit more when it does. I know enough about Red Dwarf to know that this question set, the vast majority of which were about specific details from some pretty well known episodes, were not all that testing to be honest. I haven’t watched an episode of the show for years, but I got 10 of them sitting in the Clark armchair. I don’t blame Ken – he can only answer what he’s asked, and he did so perfectly. But I wouldn’t be surprised if he himself was a wee bit disappointed that he wasn’t put to more of a test, judging by the perfect answers he gave to the few more difficult questions in this round.  

Faced with the daunting task of following that round was Andy Davies. To be honest I did think that his round on St. Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha might scupper my chances of a halfway decent aggregate, but actually a smattering of historical knowledge, geographical knowledge and knowledge of the natural world brought me another half dozen to make a 20+ score a distinct possibility. Andy’s 9 was of course a lot better than that, but sadly a few seeming gaps in knowledge resulted in him being five points behind, and that’s just too big a gap to make up under normal circumstances.  

I wonder if Sarah Jane Bodell, our third contender, was originally a Kentuckian? I ask because I felt I detected a hint of an accent there. Well, that and the fact that she was answering on the History of Kentucky from 1792 until the present day. Once again, on paper this one didn’t promise me a great deal, but again, a wee bit of knowledge about American politics and History, together with those gimmes on Colonel Sanders and the McCoys, brought me another 6 points. This put me on an aggregate of 22, and meant that 5 on the last subject (on paper my second best of the show) would bring a record aggregate for this series. As for Sarah Jane, well, unlike Ken she didn’t quite manage a perfect round, but it was still a very good one, and with 13 on specialist there was every good chance she might be able to get a place in the semis.  

Now, a confession. I have known for a few weeks that our very own Neil Wright, LAM reader and previous semi-finalist, was taking part in this heat. Kindly, Neil made sure that he did not let me know how he had got on. His subject was the Roman Emperor Tiberius. For the first 8 questions or so I thought that Neil was going to put on a perfect performance. I wasn’t – I’d already had three wrong by this time – but just a couple of the questions in the round tripped him up. In the end, he scored 10 – and I know enough about Tiberius (thanks to Tacitus, Suetonius, and especially Robert Graves) to know that this was a good performance on this set of questions. However it did leave him 4 points off the lead. As for me – well my 6 was good enough to give me a new record specialist aggregate for this series of 28.  

First to return to the chair, then, was Andy. I didn’t think that he started his round particularly well, missing a couple of gettables. However that changed and he picked up momentum through the middle part of the round. At the speed he was going he looked likely to get as many as 14, but a couple of hiccups on the way to the line saw him finish with 12, and a total of 21. Perfectly respectable, but it was never going to stay the top score for long in this show.  

And so to Neil. Neil has proven his worth on GK in previous appearances on Mastermind, so I felt pretty certain that he would put in a high enough score to give him at least a good shout of getting to the semi finals. I was right. Neil added a further 16 points and 1 pass in what was an excellent demonstration of how to handle a Mastermind GK round, one of the best we’ve seen all series. As a point of interest, there was one question which seemingly put us both off our stride. When John asked for the name of the family to which potatoes, tomatoes and several poisonous species belong I answered ‘solonaceae’ while Neil answered something similar. Neither of us were given a point since John answered ‘Nightshade’. I looked back at the show on the iplayer, though and John does actually ask for the common name , so fair enough.  

Sarah Jane Bodell does have a bit of TV previous herself. She was a member of a good University of Warwick team that competed in the 2012 series of UC. So it wasn’t unreasonable to expect that she might go well, and remember, she had a 3 point head start on Neil. Without wishing to be horrible, it was clear before the one minute mark that she wasn’t going to match Neil’s round. But then, she didn’t have to. If she could manage 13 of her own, then she’d be pretty much guaranteed a slot in the semis. Well, she actually scored 12 and no passes. Which, if my working out is correct, put her into equal 6th place on the repechage list. How the production team decide who goes through – I have no idea.  

All of which probably suggests to you that Ken Morland outscored her – and that’s true. Did he outscore Neil, though? Yes, and no. Yes, his overall score of 28 gave him the win with a little bit of daylight between himself and Neil. No, in as much as his GK round was not as good as Neil’s. Having said that, I really enjoyed watching Ken work his way through his round. When you’re in the chair answering against the clock there is a tendency to snap out an answer so you can get to the next question, but Ken gave each of his a bit of thought, and you could watch him working out some questions as he went along. That takes quite a bit of presence of mind.  
So, we know for a fact that Ken is in the semis – well played, sir. I believe that Neil’s score puts him into the semis as well – but over to you on that one, Neil. As for Sarah Jane – well, if my calculations are correct, then the coin is in the air on that one.  

The Details 

Ken Morland
Red Dwarf
Andy Davies
St. Helena, Ascension Island and Tristan da Cunha
Sarah Jane Bodell
The History of Kentucky 1792 - Present
Neil Wright
Emperor Tiberius


SJB said...

I'm curious, besides Colonel Sanders and the McCoys, what were the other four you got from the Kentucky round? :)

Londinius said...

No problem - they were the afore mentioned Sanders and McCoys, and the others were
Cumberland Gap
Ohio River
Chickasaw (that was a guess)

neil wright said...

I felt that, compared to previous efforts, I was under prepared for my specialist subject. In the past, I have probably overdone it but I just had difficulty finding the time on this occasion. I didn't even get round to re-reading Tacitus' Annals, one of the principal source works.

However, I managed some effective last minute cramming which almost got me there. The ones I got wrong tell the story:

"Pater patriae" schoolboy Latin should help answer this, but I have never formally learnt any Latin. I knew the phrase 40 years ago when my subject was Julius Caesar. Cicero was awarded it by the Senate for his part in putting down the Catalinarian Conspiracy in 63 B.C. but all my texts had only the English version this time round. I came up with "pater familias" but I knew it was wrong and passed.

Amphitheatre collapse: The place was Fidernae and I read this in Suetonius a few days beforehand. He said 20,000 dead and I remember thinking; How could a place I have never heard of have an amphitheatre so big that 20,000 could die? but then I forgot the name of the place.

The other question related to the trial and execution of Silanus. I took the view that, as I was short of time in revising, the treason trials were so complicated and detailed that I would be best to miss them out and so I did.

On the GK round, I wasn't particularly bothered over the Nightshade question. I hadn't even noticed that it asked for the common name of the FAMILY. My answer was Solanum, but the subtitles didn't pick that up. Solanum is a GENUS, so clearly wrong. I was assuming that Solanacae would have been an acceptable answer, once I started Googling. The thing that exercised me was that both the tomato and aubergine are members of the genus Solanum. I think this was a poorly worded question, which would have been better put as"What is the common name for the plant family Solanacae, which includes the tomato and aubergines as well as other poisonous plants"

I didn't think that 26 and 4 passes was likely to be sufficient to get through to the semis, but this was recorded back in July so only a few shows had been televised by then. If they show the semis in the order of recording, mine should be on in 3 weeks time, assuming no Women's Football or Welsh Rugby Internationals get in the way. Specialist subject will be "The Wines of Burgundy"

Claire Slater said...

It just goes to show the luck of the draw. I won my heat with 25 and 4 passes yet would have come last in yours. However much you can prepare your specialist subject, you have no control over your fellow contestants' preparation or the GK round

Jazzy Jon said...

Neil, do you play in the Wirral Quiz League?

I am the chairman and we're always on the look out for new players and teams.

This links to our site but let me know if you have any questions.

neil wright said...

I am afraid that I don't currently have the time to devote to quiz leagues, Jon, but it is something I keep under consideration.

Jazzy Jon said...

Okay, well, we only play once a week either a Monday or a Tuesday evening from September til April so if things change do get in touch. I'm sure you'd be a valuable addition to any team in our league.

Londinius said...

Hi All,

Neil, thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. With regards to Pater Partiae, I did study Latin once upon a time, and it was the only one of yours I got that you didn't.

Claire, the nature of the show is that sometimes people don't win with scores that would have won other heats, and that's just the way that it is. I imagine this is why Jon Kelly decided to reintroduce repechage semi final places - I remember having a chat with him during the 2007 SOBM, and he was considering it then. Look at it another way - Jenny Ryan and myself were two of the three highest scoring first round losers in 2006. Had I been given a semi final slot then, I doubt very much that I would have reapplied in 2007, and this missed out on one of the greatest experiences of my life.

Paul Gilbert said...

With 9 female semi-finalists, this series has equalled the Humphrys-era record (and almost certainly the all-time record given that there were only 16 semi-finalists in the Magnus era) set in 2006, although that series only had 24 semi-finalists as there was no highest-scoring losers rule:

Year - # Females in SF - # Females in Final
2003 - 4 - 0
2004 - 5 - 0
2005 - 6 - 0
2006 - 9 - 1
2007-08 - 7 - 2
2008-09 - 6 - 1*
2009-10 - 4 - 2
2010-11 - 7 - 2
2011-12 - 4 - 1
2012-13 - 6 - 1
2013-14 - 6 - 0
2014-15 - 7 - 3*
2015-16 - 6 - 1
2016-17 - 8 - 3*
2017-18 - 9 - ?

* = series had a female champion

2003 had 16 semi-finalists, 2004 to 2008-09 had 24, 2009-10 onwards have had 30.