Friday, 12 October 2018

Mastermind 2019 - Round One Heat Two

Another Friday evening, and another heat of new-look Mastermind. I have to be honest, I don’t think it makes any difference to the show itself, but I think I rather like the way the contenders enter now. The first of these then was Tara Martel. Her subject was Alan Turing. I felt that she had a little bit of a shaky start, but we quite often see rounds speed up as the blue line of doom starts to appear, and she took her total to a very healthy 11. Incidentally, if I did an ‘interesting fact that I didn’t already know’ for Mastermind each week, then this week’s would definitely be that Turing had to agree to chemical castration. Absolutely shocking.  

Second through the portal of portent (yes, I have spent all week thinking that one up) was Mark Hopes. Now, speaking of portents, the last time someone took a bridge as a specialist subject was, I believe, me, in the final of the 2008 Season of Blessed Memory. So I was willing him on, and it seemed to work. Boy, did Mark know his stuff. In fact it was a perfect round right up to the very last question, a fact which John bemoaned as he announced Mark’s score of 13.  

Coming next was Susan Murray, the first teacher to feature in this year’s series. Now, I am still the last schoolteacher to win a series. I’ve always said, and I mean it as well, that I will be very happy when someone else takes the mantle from me. Still, I did realise that this season I join my friend David Edwards as being the joint longest reigning holder of the unofficial title of last schoolteacher to win. David won in 1990, and I’m fairly sure that the next schoolteacher to win was Michael Penrice in Discovery Mastermind in 2001. I only say fairly sure because it’s been a little harder to find out the professions of a couple of the Radio 4 Mastermind champs. Still, even if a teacher wins this year, that will still make it 11 years for me as well. Apologies for that pointless digression. Susan was answering on the films of the brilliant Frank Capra. Films can be a really tricky subject, and the whole oeuvre of one individual can offer question setters plenty of opportunity to catch you out. No doubt at all that Susan knew her stuff, but by the end of the round she hadn’t quite managed double figure and a deficit of 4 points looked quite a large one to have to overcome.  

Finally solicitor Andrew Brewer offered us the third ‘traditional’ subject of the evening in the shape of the Emperor Vespasian. This gave me my best SS round of the evening , but I still only scored 4. So far on both shows I haven’t managed an aggregate of double figures on specialist yet. I know enough about Vespasian to know that this was a really testing set of questions, and so Andrew’s score of 11 was a pretty good one. So well done to all of the contenders. I love it when everyone has obviously done their preparation properly. I can’t help it – I’m a teacher, so what else would you expect? 

“They don’t know what the other contenders have scored.” John announced again as we began the GK round. Yes, fine John, but it really doesn’t make any difference. Trust me, it doesn’t. First back was Susan Murray, and I fancy she may have left the show wondering what might have happened had she picked a different specialist subject. I say this, because she treated us to a fine GK round of 15 to take her total to 24. Another couple of points on Specialist, and she may well have put herself into contention for a repechage slot. As it was, though, it looked likely that at least one of the other contenders would improve upon this score. It wouldn’t be Tara Martel, though. She battled her way through the round, but never quite established the kind of momentum that you need if you’re going to steer your way through the round into a score in the teens. She did manage to get into double figures, and finished with a very respectable 22.  

Now, if Susan had provided us with a very good round of 15 – and she had – then Andrew, in his turn, provided an excellent one. He rattled his way through the first minute or so that well that I did at one point think he might go through the whole round hardly dropping any points and amassing a cricket score. Well, he didn’t quite do that in the end, but it must be said that his score of 17 is a formidable one, and a significant achievement. This meant that half time leader Mark Hopes would need at least 15 and no more than 3 passes just to take it to a tie break. To be fair to Mark it never looked as if he was likely to come close to the required total. He missed some fairly innocuous questions, and as behind the clock even before it reached the one minute mark. Them’s the breaks. I was glad for him that he did make double figures before the end of the round, finishing with a creditable 23. This meant that all 4 of our contenders reached double figures, and all 4 of our contenders ended with a score in the 20s. So even though Andrew was a clear winner – and very well done, sir, for that – all 4 of our contenders had acquitted themselves well, and could walk back through the portal of portent ( see, I did it again) with their heads held high. I like that.  

The Details 

Tara Martel
Alan Turing
Mark Hopes
The Golden Gate Bridge
Susan Murray
The Films of Frank Capra
Andrew Brewer
The Emperor Vespasian


Libra said...

Would anyone here agree that not knowing SS Round scores is proportionately more of a pressure factor for the lowest scorer.
S/he knows they are furthest behind, because they start GK Round first, but they don't know whether they are slightly behind, or need a minor miracle.
The high scorer - as in previous competitions - knows their own score and what they need to win.

Stephen Follows said...

I agree: it also means that they're still getting over the shock when they start their GK round, which hardly seems fair.

Londinius said...

Interesting idea. Let me play devil's advocate, though. If you're last, let's say you go in knowing that you're 6 points behind, and so need a minor miracle to win. Maybe that's a demotivating factor. Whereas not knowing how far behind you are - maybe that might act as a spur - thinking that you might be really close, for example?

This is just speculation, since I haven't played Mastermind under these conditions.