Friday, 22 February 2019

Mastermind 2019 Heat 18

Right then, Dearly Beloved, another Friday evening Mastermind. You may be interested in a little research I did before last night’s show. I averaged out all the scores from the first 17 heats of last season, and then the previous 17 heats of this season by way of comparison. The average scores for both GK and SS were almost exactly the same – just slightly over 11 points. However, what was noticeable was that last year, by this stage of the season, not one contender had scored lower than 7 on GK. Already this year we’ve seen 8 contenders score 6 or less. I hoped that this number wouldn’t increase during last night’s show.

Lynne Francis kicked us off with The Children of Queen Victoria. Lynne first appeared in Mastermind in Isabelle’s series a couple of years ago, where she offered us Transatlantic liners. She was a little off the pace in that show. As for her subject last night, well, way back in the mists of time, during the champion of champions series, the daughters of Queen Victoria was my nominated subject for the final – and as stand in for that occasion I had to learn it anyway. So I expected to retain enough to have a decent stab at this round. It was a more than decent stab, actually. Admittedly under no pressure and sitting in he comfort of the Clark front room, I scored 12. Lynne, on the other hand had 10 and 3 passes – perfectly respectable but there were at least a couple of missed opportunities for her there, I felt.

Our next contender, Keshava Guha, is a familiar face to those of us who’ve been following the current season of University Challenge. Keshava is one of the stars of the Goldsmith’s College team who were so unlucky not to make it to the quarter finals after one of the best fightbacks we’ve seen in many a long year. Keshava was offering us the Novels of Penelope Fitzgerald, or Penelope Who, as she is affectionately referred to in LAM Towers. After 15 perfect answers delivered in quick time, he passed on the very last after the buzzer, which led to a rare expression of sympathy from John. Notwithstanding, that was a virtuoso demonstration of how a well prepared contender can rip the guts out of a specialist round.

Third to go was Gaetana Trippetti. She was answering on The Doors – that’s the band, in case you were wondering. Now, I liked The Doors, but I obviously didn’t know anything like as much as I thought I did about them since I only managed 2 points in the whole round. Gaetana did quite a bit better than that. She scored 12 and no passes – a very decent score, but one which left her 3 points behind Keshava.

Ian Orris, our final contender last night, was one I recognised. A quick check through the LAM archives revealed that he took part in Jesse’s 2010 series, where he was unfortunate to be in the same semi final as Jesse, to whom he finished second. Ian is also an Only Connect alumnus, so plenty of experience there. Last night he was answering on Karl Gustav Mannerheim. He was quite as accurate as Keshava had been, but he was just as fast, and amassed a fine score of 13. Somehow two points behind just seems nothing like as daunting as 3 points behind, and at this stage I did feel that we had a two horse ace on our hands. To be fair to Lynne Francis, though, she started her GK round as if she believed that she was still very much in contention. And to be fair she maintained pretty decent momentum all the way through to finish with a very good 14. Had she only done slightly better on her specialist she woulda been a contender.

Gaetana never really convinced with her GK round, and well before the blue line of death had completed its circuit it was clear that she wasn’t going to beat Lynne’s score. She added 9 to her total to finish with 21. Perfectly respectable, no issues with that.

So to Ian. Now, if you looked at his GK scores in his two previous visits to the table, you’d see that they were good, but not amazing scores. Well, last night, starting off two points behind Keshava, he produced a round that was very good indeed, his best by some distance. 15 points and 1 pass put him on 28, and left Keshava looking up at a mountain that he had to climb. To put it into perspective he needed 13 correct answers and no passes to earn a draw, and 14 to win outright.

He certainly started brightly enough. The first 7 questions were all accompanied by Keshava’s customary head nod as he knew the answer, and before we knew it he had taken his total to 22 , needing only 7 more with a lot of the round left. However the next three questions escaped him, increasing the pressure. He took two of the next four – now only 5 away from safety. Two more incorrect answers came, then two correct ones. You began to feel that time was slipping away for him now, though. He had two questions left, but failed to correctly answer either of them, leaving him high and dry on 26.

The Goldsmith’s man might still make it to the semis via the repechage places, but no question that I an Orris will be making another semi final appearance. This was a seriously good performance, and his chances will have to be taken seriously. Well done to you, sir.

The Details

Lynne Francis
The Children of Queen Victoria
Keshava Guha
The novels of Penelope Fitzgerald
Gaetana Trippetti
The Doors
Ian Orris
Karl Gustav Mannerheim


Stephen Follows said...

She was a seriously good novelist, Penelope Fitzgerald, and as another English teacher, I'm always surprised that she never appears on the GCSE or AS list. (They're almost all quite short, as well, which generally seems to help.) Try 'The Beginning of Spring' or, my favourite, 'Human Voices'.

Dan said...

You have to fancy a Grant v Orris final - both very fine quizzers from QLL

Londinius said...

Thanks Stephen, I'll bear your recommendations in mind. Dan, it all depends on the draw for the semis.

Keshava said...

A few thoughts:
1. Stephen is right (well, I would think so, given that I chose her as my specialist subject). Penelope Fitzgerald is brilliant, and in addition to the two he'd named, I'd say "The Bookshop" is a fine place to start (it's scarcely 30,000 words). I'm not surprised that she isn't chosen for GCSE/A Level, though; the books are a bit enigmatic (and the later ones, formidably intellectual). I wonder how they'd go down with teenagers. We had to read "The Gate of Angels" on my Goldsmiths MA. The five students over 40 loved it. The four under 30, myself excepted, didn't take to it *at all*.
2. As a contestant, I found the format did reduce stress during the specialist. As a viewer, I find it a bit ridiculous, particularly the dramatic walk bit.
3. This is not false modesty: my preparation for the specialist was very insufficient. The questions fell my way. I suspect one of the advantages of youth on Mastermind is that a little easier to recall something you've just read (I reread all the novels in the week before the shoot). From speaking to Ian in particular before the show, I could tell how underprepared I was.
4. Once I saw Ian's round, I knew that I hadn't the slightest chance of catching him, and was playing for a repechage slot at best. The reason is simple: I am not British, I have lived a total of 14 months in the UK (and am now back in India). I wouldn't expect even a British quizzer as experienced as you, David, to turn up on an Indian quiz show and beat our equivalent of an Ian Orriss. I knew there'd be questions that were easy for a regular contestant that would be quite beyond me, and so it proved (Bob the Builder, Iron Duke). And while I might have scored 15 on specialist and 11 on GK, I was much more proud of the latter; not being British, getting Tony Drago and the Compleat Angler right were, if you will, my lap of honour questions.

Mycool said...

Ian Orriss (note spelling) also reached the semi-final of Brain of Britain 2014. After a brilliant score in the heat, he fell by the wayside in the semi-final to David Hesp, who came second in the final to hardy perennial Mark Grant.