Friday, 15 February 2019

Mastermind 2019 - Heat 17

Another first round heat, then, dearly beloved. One which interestingly saw me gain my highest aggregate total on the combined specialist rounds, certainly of this series, and possibly of all time. I’ll come to that.

The first of these specialist subjects was Best Picture Academy Awards 1928-1970, and it was offered by Jodie Underhay. Not all that often, but every now and again you’ll hear a specialist round where you think – this is absolute meat and drink to a decent, regular general knowledge quizzer – and this was such a round. There was such a round a few seasons ago on British Olympic Gold medal winners which you might remember. Now, I don’t blame Jodie for this for one minute, but for anyone who plays in quizzes regularly a majority of questions in that round have been asked over and over again in General Knowledge quizzes. I’m not trying to be horrible, but in my opinion that was a comparatively easy round. Jodie could only answer the questions she was asked, which she did extremely well, scoring 14. I had 13.

So to our second specialist – Greek Mythology. As it happens, I won my first ever Mastermind competition answering on Greek Mythology. This was Elthorne High School Mastermind in 1981. I wasn’t even going to enter it, but Mr. Browning, head of the 6th form and one of my English teachers said I should enter with Greek Mythology because whenever references to Greek mythology were made in Shakespeare I always understood what they were referring to. Yes, I did win, thanks for asking. Back to last night, the subject was being offered by Nifthy Jamaldeen. Now, as it happens Mrs. Londinius was watching with me, and we both commented how nervous Nifthy looked sitting down into the chair, and then he hesitated on answering his occupation. So we weren’t entirely surprised that he struggled with his round. The poor fellow seemed quite badly affected by the chair. I felt that as a round, it was tougher than the Oscars round – I scored 9 on a subject that I actually know better than the Oscars – but even so Nifthy missed a few which were easily gettable – the Argonauts being possibly the most obvious example. Whether his score of 6 was due just to nerves, or just to not having prepared well enough, or a bit of both, well, only he could say.

Teacher Sarah Skelton gave us a round on Joseph Bazalgette. Joseph Bazalgette was an unsung hero of my home city, London, although he became slightly less unsung when an episode of the brilliant Seven Wonders of the Industrial Age was devoted to his construction of the London Sewer system. He did a lot more to create modern London than most. As such, I knew a bit about him. When you add to that the number of questions which weren’t so specifically about Bazalgette as about London – the Chelsea Embankment and the Woolwich ferry, for example – I managed to take my own total for the round to 9. Sarah went one better, which was a perfectly respectable performance, but put her 4 points behind at the halfway point.

Last but not least, then, we had Pat Williamson, who was answering on the History of Manchester and Salford. This was another one of those rounds where a good general knowledge can bring the armchair punter points, even though you don’t really possess any great knowledge on the topic. I’ve only ever visited Manchester to appear on Mastermind or act as a stand in – although what I saw of the city I liked very much. Yet I have a good enough general knowledge to pick up all the stuff on C.P. Scott, Orator Hunt, the Pankhursts etc. to get 8 out of this round. All of which meant that I amassed a ridiculous aggregate of 39 for these 4 specialist rounds. In a way I’m quite annoyed with myself for not managing to squeeze out one extra point to take it to 40, but there we are. Pat’s score of 11 put her in with a shout, but meant she’d have to produce a good GK round to have a chance.

Nifthy returned to the chair for his GK rounds, and if his specialist had been nervy, I’m very sorry to say that his GK looked even more so. There’s no way of sugar coating this, I’m afraid. Nifthy scored 2 on his round. He shook his head, and looked absolutely devastated, and even more so as he sat back down in his chair on contenders’ row. I’m sorry to bang on about this, but I have to make this point again. We can’t know how Nifthy performed in his audition, but if there was any indication that he might struggle to perform in the GK round, then was it really fair to put him in this position? The poor guy looked as if he wished the ground would open up and swallow him up as the final scores were read out at the end. For the record, he was the 6th contender just in the heats shown so far in 2019 to fail to score more than 7 on GK. What does it prove? It doesn’t prove anything, but it certainly suggests that there may have been a relaxation of GK qualification standards – if indeed this is a selection criterion still.

Well, we can but hope that Hat Trick and Hindsight will be a little more protective towards potential contenders for the next series. For now, Sarah Skelton returned to the chair for her GK round. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I’m always alert when a teacher plays to see if he or she might be the one to take over the mantle of last schoolteacher to win. Well, it wasn’t going to be Sarah, but nonetheless she posted a pretty decent double figure score with 11 to take her total to 21. Nothing to fear from the kids on Monday morning with that score, Miss.

Now, I mentioned earlier that Pat needed a good performance on GK to give herself a good chance of overhauling the 3 point lead. Well, what she produced was excellent. I was highly impressed not just with the number of correct answers she produced – 15 – but with the breadth and range of her knowledge. I don’t know Pat, but I’d venture a guess that she’s a quizzer. In fact it could have been an even better round apart from the fact that she wasn’t going very quickly, otherwise she’d have squeezed at least another one, and possibly 2 questions in. But whichever way you looked at it, that round had winning performance stamped all over it.

Jodie Underhay, though, had banked that 3 point lead in the first round, so she didn’t need a 15. She needed a 12 and no passes, and that would be enough. Well, the passes came, but so did some answers, and it wasn’t until the last 30 seconds that it became clear that Jodie was just behind the clock, and would not get the 13 she needed to win. She fell a little short, scoring 11 for a total of 25. Nonetheless, a good, all round performance.

So very well done to Pat. With the right specialist subject, and a little more snap with the answers, judging by her general knowledge round she could well be one to watch in the semi finals. Best of luck to you.

The Details

Jodie Underhay
Best Picture Academy Awards 1928 - 1970
Nifthy Jamaldeen
Greek Mythology
Sarah Skelton
Joseph Bazalgette
Pat Williamson
The History of Manchester and Salford


Dan said...

Jodie might have won if she hadn’t asked for a question to be repeated that it turned out she didn’t know. Why do people do this? If you haven’t heard the question (why?), then you just have to to pass (or dummy answer) and move on, and if you have it’s still going to be the same question if it’s read out again. Tick tock, people. Tick tock.

Londinius said...

Yes Dan, as you know, it's all about presence of mind, and when you're under pressure, sometimes your brain does daft things to play for a bit of time. I'll give you an example. In my first round in the 2008 SOBM, I started mentally congratulating myself at the end of my specialist round before I'd answered the last question. I panicked momentarily, and stalled, asking for a repeat. In the time that John said sorry, the buzzer has gone, the answer came to me. Didn't make any difference to the overall result, mind you.

Jodie said...

I’m the one who didn’t win last night! Can’t tell you how much I’m kicking myself anew watching it. I just zoned out for a second when he was asking that football question, it was very odd. You’re right, I didn’t know the answer anyway and probably never would have. I gave a couple of dim answers and wasted time, but never mind. Pat was excellent and a lovely lady, so I’m backing her all the way now ☺️

Londinius said...

Hi Jodie, and thanks for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. Well done last night - unlucky that you didn't quite make it.

Dan said...

It was a respectable score, Jodie - better than four of my five times on the show (including a final). You should definitely try again. There’s a certain knack to “living in the now” when Humphrys is barking at you, forgetting each question as soon as you’ve answered it and just concentrating on the one being asked.

Having said that, you will always remember the ones you got wrong. I still wake up sometimes in a cold sweat about Rob Brydon...

Terrier said...

Ridiculously easy questions on Manchester and Salford for a specialist round, most of them merely GK standard (Hacienda and Commonwealth Games can be added to those cited by Dave). I got 10 and compared notes with a friend who had also done well. Her view was that we had an advantage living in the area, but Dave's 8 suggests that if we did it was only a very slight one.

Imple said...

I've just found this, was trying to look for my episode for my brother to watch. Thank you for writing kindly of me! I'm still annoyed, nearly 2 years later, at my John Snow (vilified by Edwin Chadwick) answer, and at JH correcting my pronunciation of Budapest!