Revivified legend of the box Mastermind has seized the imagination of the trivia-spouting nation, which means there’s more competition to get into the scary chair in the first place. Your secret weapon: knowing how the system works. Here’s the format, in a nutshell.
Running through the basics
- You’ve got your host, Jennifer Byrne.
- You’ve got your competitors, four of them (including you).
- One by one, you climb into the chair to be asked all about your special topic.
- You have two minutes to answer as many questions as possible, and if you don’t know the answer to a question, you can skip to the next one.
- This is followed by a general knowledge round, which works the same way as the specialist round except that it’s 90 seconds and the questions aren’t all about the topic you’ve spent your life studying up on. (Which means passing on questions might be more common… )
Sprinting through the "Pass" parade
If you definitely don’t know the answer to a question – or, more usually, you doooo but it’s just not coming to mind – you can choke out a “pass” and everyone will move on. Everyone that is, except you; a decade from now, rewinding that bit over and over again, hissing the correct answer at your on-screen self. Anyway, you can pass whenever you like, saving precious seconds, because Jennifer doesn’t tell you the correct answer immediately. But if it comes down to a tie… whoever has the fewest number of passes wins. So it’s potentially worth having a crack anyway.
Collapsing at the finish line
Assuming you’ve vanquished the opposition in the opening two rounds, you’re the hero of your heat! The winners on each night from Monday to Thursday come back for a battle royale on Friday, with an eye to winning the overall prize at the end of the season. If you do that, you can officially put “Mastermind” on your LinkedIn profile under “previous experience”.
Cashing those winnings
Umm, there’s no prize money. You’re playing for pride, glory and the smugness that comes a decade from now when you make everyone watch your stellar performance in the black chair for the umpteenth time, mouthing the correct answers along with your on-screen self while you eat popcorn from the specially designed glass bowl you got for triumphing over all you surveyed.
Mastermind returns to SBS on weeknights at 6:00pm from Monday, 29 July.