52 Games: Mastermind/2 Minute Drill

TITLE: Mastermind (UK), 2 Minute Drill (US)

DEBUT: September 11, 1972  , September 11, 2000

HOST(S): Magnus Magnusson, Peter Snow, Clive Anderson, John Humphrys; Kenny Mayne

ONE SENTENCE DESCRIPTION: Sitting in a chair, sweating nervously as you answer questions about football for two minutes.

RULES: Depending on which format you want to use, there are different ways to deal with it. The original format, the one from the UK involves two rounds, an introduction round and a general round. In the introduction round, a contestant would introduce themselves, and their area of expertise while sitting in a boring office chair. The player will then be asked questions non-stop about their area of expertise. (For example, someone who’s expertise was “The Simpsons” might be asked about a guest star who appeared on a specific episode). After the two-minutes are up. A new player is introduced and the process is repeated again. Until all players were introduced. In the general round, players will then go back into the chair and have to answer general knowledge questions for two and a half minutes, whoever has the highest score at the end of this round, “wins” the game, and advances to the final, where they can win a nice glass trophy.

In “2 Minute Drill”, three players are introduced,  and in round 1 would have to pick a category and it would be read by a celebrity or athlete regarding the subject. There were 4/5 questions in each category, and players only had 2 minutes to answer all 16 or 20 questions, in the hopes of getting a bonus point if they answer all the questions correctly in the round. The lowest score is eliminated,

In the next round, the two players do not get subjects, and will be asked rapid-fire questions from all 5 people on the panel for the full 2 minutes. Whoever has the highest score in this round wins $5,000 and the chance to double it on one final question, in their area of expertise. No glass trophy, but they do get a cash prize.


It’s a simple concept, answer questions for two minutes. There is tension in the game, but in the most minimum way. They are sitting in a chair staring at the host (or panel) as if they are being interrogated, but instead of a deposition, it’s questions about stuff they enjoy. There is rarely play along in rapid-fire questions though, because if a player answers it before you, it throws away your attempt to answer. All you can do is “think” the answer. It’s a competition after all. It’s a no-frills trivia show.


To repeat, rapid fire does not give you play along. What also doesn’t work is if someone’s area of expertise is in something you’ll know nothing about. I really do not know much about South American Politics, so this 2 minutes will be boring to me to watch. It’s also a show that you might find boring because of the tone of the show and the sometimes monotone voice of the hosts. Even if you enjoy trivia and sports trivia.


It’s not a bad show, but the show didn’t last long in the US, only 3 seasons. The reason Mastermind lasts long in the UK is because of the way they handle the format, with nothing really changing, aside from hosts and subjects, for the years. It’s not so much a “game show” as it is a “trivia competition”. The most questions answered in 2 minutes wins, and the prize isn’t that significant, which makes it worth more, like a stanley cup or the heisman trophy. The trophy is what’s the prize.

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