Friday, 7 November 2008

Chess on Mastermind Part 2

Well, in the end I did get to see Mark Hannon answering questions on Bobby Fischer on Mastermind tonight. Despite not having access to my own TV, I managed to watch via my computer using a TV tuner card. Isn't modern technology wonderful?

Mark Hannon did extremely well, scoring 13 points (and no passes) on his Bobby Fischer questions. I think he failed to get two of them - one, on the number of consecutive games Fischer won in the 1971 Candidates Matches - he said 20 when the answer was 13 (I think he misheard the question and added the games Fischer won at the back end of the Palma 1970 Interzonal). And he couldn't remember which piece Fischer had sacrificed against Spassky in one of the key 1972 match games (the answer was bishop and he said rook - for my part I cannot remember which game was being referred to). But 13 was a very good score under pressure (I think I got about 11 - under pressure of the glass of wine I had drunk shortly before). The questions were a good deal fairer than the last time chess featured on Mastermind. There were one or two tricky ones (where he had to remember the opening variation played in games) but he rose to the challenge.

But it was a case of "the operation was successful but the patient died." Mark piled up another 12 points on the general knowledge questions (some very tough questions in there) to score a very creditable 25 points overall. But another contestant just pipped him to first place, scoring 26. Never mind - the honour of chess was maintained.


  1. Cracking game. I thought that the Le Mans questions were a little on the easy side (did I detect a little sneer on Mark's face afterwards?) but the winner was very good at general knowledge and as a professional carer he deserves a bit of luck in life.

  2. I got the question about the 13th game wrong because in the critical position Spassky is fighting Fischer's 5 passed pawns with his rook, but Fischer actually sacced a Bishop for some pawns earlier.

    As John said I got confused I was thinking of the twenty game streak from the interzonal to the 2nd game with Petrosian it was annoying because I'd prepared Fischer quite deeply and I knew the facts behind these two questions and I could have won had I got them.

    Still I enjoyed mentioning names like Tal and Smyslov in my answers.

  3. On a related 'chess in the media ' theme, the recent WCC gets a comic going over in The Times Online's excellent 'The Bugle' - episode 51.
    Its at about 33mins 50secs in :

  4. I think he misheard the question and added the games Fischer won at the back end of the Palma 1970 Interzonal

    I don't think that would actually work as a question anyway because there are a couple of ambiguities - the Panno game abeing one and (I think) Matulovic being the other, because it came in a second session and thus not quite in the strict order of the rounds.

  5. I had an amazing coincidence today the day after the show went out I went to play in a chess tournament today and there was a 73 year old American chess master called James Sherwin there who was one of Bobby Fischer's opponents in one of his most famous games, almost all the rest of the have passed away by now. So I got him to autograph the game - Game 1 in Bobby Fischer's 60 Memorable Games arguably the best chess book every written.

    While the day before I recorded it I got to see Boris Spassky at the Hay on Wye book festival.