Monday, 19 August 2013

When is a specialist subject not a specialist subject!

This weeks Mastermind has drew one major talking point, that being the Olympics based specialist subject that was chosen. Now, before I start the fault here does not lie with the contestant but with the setters. Basically, and I am sure if you saw the show you agree, the set was more like an "Olympic Themed" round of a pub quiz than what you would expect for a specialist round on Mastermind.

Reading on various quizzing forums and facebook pages the reaction seems to have been the same. The common score seems to be, like me, every question right apart from the Pip Funnell one! Considering how low I usually score in Mastermind rounds I think I have an idea on is testament to how accessible this set was. I am sure the contestant was pleased with the set but in a way all those months of preparation I imagine learning obscure facts and runners-up etc and he got presented with a set he could have probably score the same on without research!

What also made the set more comfortable, was that with it being a popular subject shorter questions could be asked. Humprheys did not have to spend time reading long questions which give background information (for the viewer at home of course and could cut straight to the point.

Congratulations go to the wining contestant but do others agree that was as far from a specialist round as you can get? There was a round on Football Grounds last year which I criticised but in my years of watching the show The Olympic round has lowered the bar considerably.


  1. There have been 3 soecialist subject rounds in recent years that have stood out and made me think "that was unexpectedly easy." This one, the one on football rounds that you mentioned, Dan, and a round on Celtic FC last year were the subjects in question. I scored double figures, not quite the clean sweep bar Pip Funnell that others are claiming, but far nore than I'd expect to score on any SS without wiki prep, esp a specialist subject that I'm not even that interested in. When it comes to sport I'm a football fan first and foremost and I barely bother watching the Olympics bar the marquee events such as the 100m. Much of it was pub quiz standard general sports knowledge. I follow Scottish football but I'm no fan of the Old Firm so scoring doiuble figures on Celtic FC was unexpected. I'd have expected to have done quite well on football grounds having visited all but one of the Scttish league grounds and 20+ English grounds, but that struck me as a particularly gentle round also. There seems to be a common thread here. Perhaps I should pick a football topic for one of my SS rounds if and when I finally audition for MM. Possibly the history of the team I support, Queen of the Souh, would be a decent choice, though my Dude Abides team-mate David Gow (who was runner up in one of the heats in the last series) had that very subject rejected for aome reason.

  2. Hi Dan.

    I made this very same point in my review on LAM. I hate to criticise Mastermind, but that round stuck out so much that I had to say something.
    For me it seemed as if it was a round compiled by someone who doesn’t know the subject well enough to understand what would make it a genuine test of in depth knowledge. Either that or it was a deliberate attempt to give the viewers at home something that they could answer. I absolutely hate it when I see comments such as the show is dumbing down. In my opinion this is mostly complete poppycock, but then a round like this unfortunately gives fuel to the argument.
    In my opinion
    * The round was made easier by the majority of the selected questions being about gold medalists
    * Even when a less mainstream sport was asked about , they tended to be about the obvious superstar, such as Malcolm Cooper – Cooperman – in the shooting.
    * Several questions were phrased to make them easier, or asked for the easiest piece of information. For example, why the hell they decided to ask for Tim Henman’s name rather than Neil Broad for the 1996 Men’s Doubles silver medal I have no idea. Too easy. Rebecca Romero – how many times have we been asked in pub quizzes which sport she won her silver in before winning gold in cycling? As I said in LAM – a better question would have been to ask for the name of the British cyclist she beat in the final, who took the silver.

    I want to stress that I don’t blame Colin Foster at all. Good luck to him, he chose the right subject, obviously. I wouldn’t mind betting that he walked away a little disappointed that he hadn’t been asked something a little more testing in his specialist round. I mean, imagine if you spent 6 weeks revising for the round, and then just got asked that set of questions.
    I was tempted on LAM to invite people to submit their own set of 20 questions on British Olympic Medalists 1960 – 2012. Any takers?