Saturday, 20 April 2019

Mastermind 2019 First round heat 24

Well, we got here at last, Dearly Beloved, the 24th first round heat out of 24. First to go was Jenny Delaney. Jenny was answering questions on Henry VIII. This was, well, not an easy set, no, but certainly a very fair one, as I reeled off 8 of the first 9 answers. I only got one of the next 5, mind you. Leah took the next 4, and only faltered on the last one. 13 is a cracking good score for a 2 minute specialist round these days, and it really lay down the gauntlet for the contenders still to come.

Leah Massey was answering on Britpop, and once again I started the round pretty well, but ran out of steam quite a bit earlier than in the previous round, and levelled out at 5. Leah did better, but sadly not that much better. Missing out on Pulp’s “Common People” and Blur’s “Parklife” – two of the easier questions in the round I would have thought – certainly didn’t help her cause, and with a score of 7 she was to all intents and purposes out of the competition.

My own weakest round of the whole show came with Jack Blenkinsopp’s round on Christopher Isherwood. Let’s put it this way, not only have I not read anything he wrote, I haven’t even seen the film “Cabaret”. So under the circumstances I was lucky that guesswork brought me the three points that it did. Jack managed a fighting ten, which left him 3 points off the lead but at least in with a shout if the GK went well.

Bruce Horton, our final contender, I recognised from a few years’ back. As a former semi finalist I predicted to Mary, who hadn’t managed to get out of the room while the going was good, that Bruce was the person to beat in this show. Well, if he was going to make it to a second semi final he was going to have to do well in the GK, because his round of 9 left him 4 points behind. A decent round of 6 gave me an aggregate of 23.

So to the GK round. Whenever a contender has an underwhelming specialist round like Leah’s, you always hope that they’re going to bounce back and give a rousing GK performance. This sadly she didn’t really manage to do. Her 8 is not a disastrous performance, but it’s a modest one and there’s not a lot more that you can say about it than that.

In his last first round performance, Bruce had an even more modest specialist performance, but he won his heat through a barnstorming GK performance. He didn’t get that in this show, but he did get a pretty decent one. 12 points are not to be sniffed at, and had he only scored a few more in his specialist, or so I thought, he’d have a pretty good chance of going through. However with two contenders to come, I really didn’t think he was going to make it this time.

Well, Jack Blenkinsopp came very close to the target. He needed a minimum of 11 points, which he duly got. He also needed to avoid any passes. 1 pass would give us a potential tie break situation, while more than that would leave Bruce in the lead. He took two passes.

So it only remained for Jenny Delaney to apply the coup de grace. She didn’t even need a double figure score to win, 9 would win outright, and 8 with no passes would win. What happened though, was that Jenny seemed to become almost paralysed with nerves as the round progressed. Sometimes you watch a low scoring round, and you feel it has nothing to do with nerves, and sometimes it clearly seems to be nerves, and this was what I felt about this round. The upshot was that Jenny became unfortunately another contender who failed to score more than 7 on the GK, and ended with just 4.

Well done to Bruce, who would have been forgiven for thinking that he had next to no chance after his own GK round. I certainly felt so. And farewell, then to the first round. I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ll return to the point I’ve been making that there have been just too many contenders who have posted low scores on GK, and hopefully that’s a trend we’ll see reversed when the show’s new production team takes over next series. I’m not trying to be horrible to the people who scored 7 or less on GK, since they absolutely have a right to apply. However, I do think that the production team have a duty of care to ‘save some contenders from themselves’.

The Details

Jenny Delaney
Henry VIII
Leah Massey
Jack Blenkinsopp
Christopher Isherwood
Bruce Horton
The Royal Navy In The First World War


Keshava said...

I thought this heat was there for the taking for Jack Blenkinsopp – if you know your Isherwood, that was a soft round, and two of those that he missed were very much the equivalents of "Common People" and "Parklife" in the Britpop round.
To be fair to him, I think it is always difficult to combine the life *and* works of a prolific writer. I recall a semi-finalist last year whose subject was Kazuo Ishiguro; he clearly knew the novels well, but struggled on the biographical questions.

Londinius said...

Hi Keshava. I don' know my Isherwood, so I couldn't say about that round. However I do always feel that when you're approaching a specialist subject round: -
a) you cannot afford to take your own knowledge of the subject for granted. If you have what you consider to be a deep knowledge of the subject, that's a bonus, and of course it's better to take a subject which you already have a knowledge and hopefully a love of. But you must be prepared to work - work hard - to prepare for it.
b) Try to cover all possible areas of the subject. If you take a named person - a writer in this case - then you cannot limit yourself just to the works themselves. Believe me, even if you work your socks off there's every good chance that the setters will find something you might not have covered.

I always try to be fair and to avoid being unfair in my comments. But it is a particular bugbear of mind that I don't like seeing contenders who seem to have skimped on their preparation. As the old saying goes - fail to prepare - prepare to fail.