Monday, 12 December 2016

Weekly Round-Up W/E 9th December

I'm an emotional person, I'm the first to admit that. Winning, losing, it means a lot to me one way or the other. But of course, emotion doesn't lend itself well to objective analysis, which is part of why it's good that I don't do these round-ups during the week, as I'd inadvertently bias my discussion of what really happened. Weeks like this are a good example of why I take this approach.

Hmm. I need better introductions. That's on my list, I suppose! For now, on with the review.

Monday's Quiz

My departure from the team "Big Tam's Appreciation Society" was delayed another week thanks to the cold weather. Understandable, as the other couple in that team live in a nearby village that drive to Dalbeattie from in poor conditions. All to my benefit though, and we hoped to repeat last week's victory. Again, we decided to answer based on our instincts, only this time we managed to not stick to that for very long, unfortunately. Still, 15/20 on general knowledge is decent in K's quiz, and better news followed with 10/11 for a connections round. I was surprised one team failed to realise that birds was the link, but then with these rounds a couple of wrong answers can be all that's required to send you down a false path. If you're looking for the wrong thing in the first place, you can easily talk yourself out of other right answers.

On which note, the round that ruined our evening. Like last week, there were 20 answers to clues we needed to match up. This time, it was the numbers 1-20 in answer to various questions. To begin the story with it's ending, we got just 5. The reason was infuriating - a trick question. "How many months of the year have 30 days?". Obvious answer - 4 ("30 days have September, April, June, and November"). Correct answer: 11 (the months with 31 days have 30 by definition). K has done that question before, and there was no reason at all we shouldn't have seen it. Especially as I was sure an obelisk had 4 sides. I even drew a picture of one in my notebook to prove it. But such was our blindness to the months question that we decided the base counted as a fifth side. Meaning that 5 wasn't an option for "Which number is "fresh breeze" on the Beaufort Scale"? I've done an audio list on that very subject (, but couldn't remember it! We went with 6 there, which I was sure was too're getting the picture.

Basically, we snowballed out of control because of that one stupid mistake, and we knew at the halfway point in the quiz that it was already over for us. Demoralising, to say the least. In fairness to ourselves, we recovered well after it. A picture round was good for 8/10, another connections round gave us 12/15, and we got a full house on page-to-film adaptations at the end. In the end, we weren't as far away from the rest of the pack as we feared, but that in itself confirmed the damage done by the numbers round. Not the best of ways to end things, if that actually does prove my last outing with Big Tam's.

Result: 65/91 (71.43%), outwith top 3 (only top 3 placings declared)

Tuesday's Quiz

As my reviews so far indicate, my Tuesday team works far better when it's fully present, as we all provide different things. The last two weeks have only seen three of the five of us there, effectively wrecking our chances - which is nothing against any of them as individuals, merely a reflection upon the quality of the other teams and the difficulty of the quiz. To my relief, I saw that the subjects looked favourable: geography, history and film/TV among them. No sport or food & drink! It didn't take long for my spirits to fall through the floor though when I learned it was unlikely any of the team would make it. This wasn't totally confirmed until the start of the quiz, but alas I was alone for the first time in a while there. Since August in fact, as on other occasions I've joined the Dumfries +35 social group as a guest, but they were themselves surprisingly absent for the first time in a while.

It started reasonably well, with 7/13 on general knowledge. That's where the good news ends, however. I can't sugarcoat this, it was a carcrash. I can blame lots of things on it, including the overal difficulty of the quiz (reduced substantially from the previous week, I have to point out), my teammates being absent, and my lack of confidence caused by recent results overall. But I'm loathe to do more than briefly acknowledge such things, because the fundamental reason for my failure is that I'm just not good enough. I don't say that to seek sympathy, or to martyr myself at the altar of self-pity; it's just a fact. It drives me to improve, but admittedly on the night it just left me depressed and self-hating.

I didn't get more than half marks on any other round that night, and not even a mere 10 question music round (as it was the specialist subject) saved me. They were Disney songs, and I got many of the right films but in the wrong order unfortunately. My failure to study Christmas music this year - again - once again messed me up on the picture round, which was cryptic clues to them. I should have done better on geography, and even history let me down. I'm not as concerned with TV/Film's low score, if only because I'm always trusting to luck on the TV side and it's fair to say I've had little enough of that of late.

I have to say, I'm levelling no criticism whatsoever at the quiz itself, aside from my preference about the length, which goes beyond the last bus for several of the regulars. It was a great quiz, it was my own performance I'm furious about. I was last by a margin of 7 points, and it's difficult even to write this as a consequence. But if defeats like this don't motivate me to do better, then I might as well just give up. I'm certainly prepared to put the work in to avoid nights like this.

Result: 24/66 (36.36%), last place

Wednesday's Quiz

Last week, I had a disaster on Tuesday and then even worse on Wednesday. So I was wary of saying "at least it can't get worse". Good thing, too, because it did. My apparent spiral out of control was only to continue at the Granary.

The reason was the first round - Christmas music, again. I knew a Christmas round was coming, I didn't think it would be music as that was what we had last week. Only last time it was questions about Christmas songs, this time it was a case of identifying them. From the first line only, printed. Band, song and year of release, 20 questions for 60 points in total. The background music playing didn't make it easy to think, though the QM did agree to my request that it be turned down a bit so much credit for that.

My partner for this was every bit as annoyed at our failure to do well here as I was, especially because many of them turned out to be X-Factor songs and she's long been a big fan of the show. Still, it wasn't an easy round by any means, and we seriously doubted we were the only ones to struggle. Especially given the overall low scores last week, when 40/50 questions were on music.

Our hopes that this was the Christmas round for the night were sadly unfounded however, as the Film & TV round we actually had expected turned up as well. We got 6/20, and had little chance of doing any better than we had unfortunately.

The last round was also TV, this time spinoffs, and it was much better, with 9/10 restoring some much needed dignity to the night. In the end, we avoided last place by two teams, despite our mere 7/60 on the first round, which says a lot for how some teams got on. The last round was not easy, I have to say, unless you knew your stuff, and I benefited from specific knowledge of quite a few of the shows that came up.

Still, 22/90 was by some distance - 5% in fact - my worst result of the entire year. And this comes on the back of last week's quiz at the same venue having been my second worst, now bumped to third worst. If nothing else, it does all but ensure that my worst overall result will not be a solo effort, which is oddly reassuring in its own way!

Result: 22/90 (24.44%), 10th place

Thursday's Quiz

One last chance to redeem my week loomed, at the Anchor. At this quiz too, the team has been much depleted recently, and that subject was actually discussed. There's a number of reasons, all private, but for now we're certainly not two full teams of 6 anyway. We did look like we might be 7, which would force us to be teams of 4 and 3, as the quiz is strict on the size, and we have had discussions on the subject with the QM's before. It was a late start, and our 7th man was due to come half an hour after the scheduled start and 10 minutes after the actual start. We agreed that we would be as one if he didn't show by the end of the first round, which he didn't. Which was advantageous in its own way, not that I mean to imply I was glad he couldn't make it.

Unfortunately, however, we showed why big teams aren't always at an advantage as members can disagree on the right answer. Twice we changed from the right answer to the wrong one, leaving us on 4/8. The reverse happened on entertainment in round 2, not changing answers we should have, perhaps because it was the same person suggesting it and this time we doubted her judgement! 3 or 4 missed points out of 16 is a lot, and we were already on the backfoot. How often have I said that this past fortnight?

For once, however, things got better. Brand slogans for chocolates gave us 6 (despite a clue to one question - that one of the chocolates wasn't still made - actually proving incorrect, thus accidentally throwing off a few teams), and my own extensive knowledge of the USA helped us to 7 on Americanisms. This round was a bit controversial because there were no half marks given. They wanted the American equivalents of British terms, and that meant the full terms, it was decided. So "smoke stacks" for "chimney", not just "stacks", and "thumbtacks" for "drawing pin". We missed the former of those, having put stacks, but got the latter due to my luckily putting "thumb" in brackets just before handing the sheet in. Many others were not so lucky, it seemed.

Our joker round this time was the picture round, which was a gamble on my own knowledge of web logos. Fortunately, I didn't falter, and had 7 of them instantly. The last I wasn't sure of, but was established as being Mumsnet by another in the team, which I agreed with as being the only remotely sensible option. It was and we bagged a full 16. The last round was cryptic clues to high street stores, and a magnificent team effort on some tricky clues got us 6. I'm quite sure, again, that there were some missed answers here, though it was a great round.

Overall, we could be proud of ourselves tonight whatever happened. Despite our early mistakes, we rallied, and only dropped 3 marks from 32 in the final 3 rounds. This was rewarded with victory - by the tiny margin of half a point! You really don't get any closer than that, and there were so many little moments in the quiz that made that difference. My adding "Thumb" to "tacks", someone giving a celebrity's first name when we couldn't think of both (which gave us half a point), last minute answers from various one moment was more or less important than any other. Great result, and much needed.

Result: 42.5/56 (75.89%), winners.

Overall Thoughts

Fairly obvious what I thought of the week, I think! It started badly, got considerably worse, but ultimately improved at the last minute. It's not been an easy week for personal reasons too, if truth be told, and I definitely think that played a part in my mindset. It doesn't seem wholly coincidental that my better performance on Thursday reflected my feeling better in myself than earlier in the week, though as I said earlier, no single factor explains anything.

Still, that last result was tremendous, and something I desperately needed. Having made quizzing my life, having allowed it to take over, inevitably that means the bad results affect me more than they might, say, someone just doing it at most once a week or two. It was a deserved result, reflecting a great performance, and it's something I can build on, I'm sure. Onwards and upwards, if you'll forgive the cliche!

Best Answer Given

I've not taken as many notes on these as I normally do, so I've forgotten a few, but one that sticks in my mind is getting Bangladesh as a country whose flag consists of a single solid circle on a solid background. Various of my answers from Thursday count, with the arch enemy of "The Mandarin" (it's Iron Man) certainly being one not too many at the quiz will have gotten right.

Worst Answer Missed

It was a team effort to miss it, but the trick question from round 3 on Monday. See above for the detail on that, I've said enough there. I also have to include failing to get "Herald of Free Enterprise" as the ferry that capsized in 1987, in Tuesday's history round. I was furious about missing this, as I knew the name was "X of X X" and couldn't fill in the blanks. Such mistakes show how shaken I was at the time.

Most Interesting New Fact Learned

Poison gas was used for the first time at the 2nd Battle of Ypres in WW1.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Weekly Round-Up W/E 2nd December

Another week has passed, and another 5 quizzes! How have they gone? Well, it's been tough, that's the one-word summation. Of course, I like a challenge, and it's not my place to decide what sort of challenge the QM's should set. So let's look at the week in more detail. I said I wanted a win this week; did I get it?

Monday's Quiz

The King's Arms has two QM's, whom I'll abbreviate as A & K. They have different styles of quizzes, and usually alternate week by week. Last week, it was A's quiz, three of the next four, including last week, this week's and the Christmas quiz on the 19th, will be by K.

As it happened, I was back with Big Tam's, as their other couple had not yet returned. That was a good start. We resolved, after last week's problems, to play instinctively, and only go against a first answer with extremely good reason. On general knowledge, this saved us from talking ourselves out of two correct guesses - that would be the right strategy, then! 16/20 felt comfortable, and eased us into the quiz.

Much of the quiz went similarly, and while we got things wrong, it wasn't stupid mistakes we should have gotten right. I overcomplicated my thinking on a food & drink question, but compared with my errors last week, I wasn't beating myself up over it. Particularly impressive was a film round where we had 20 of them, and a list of colours missing from the titles. We worked through it methodically, taking out the ones we knew for a certainty, then the ones we knew after certain others had been eliminated, and finally worked out the remaining ones. There were a couple we weren't certain on, but even those we could be reasonably confident, and we got the full 20.

I'll admit to an ethical question here, as I saw the subject on the QM's list as he was taking the entry fees. It wasn't explicitly announced (as they are sometimes), but knowing it meant we could think of all the films we could with colours in the titles. I could understand people objecting somewhat to this, though of course I utterly abhor cheating and would never do that. There was no material gain from it, merely a subject name (and even that wasn't a guarantee of anything), plus others could have seen the clipboard the QM was making no effort to conceal. But I feel obliged to mention it all the same.

After 5 rounds we were sitting on 71/80 and sensed a tight finish, with the final played music round deciding all. Unfortunately, that wasn't done this time. In it's place, a Family Fortunes round, whereby we had 15 questions and needed to work out the top answer (who the 100 people were...not a clue). A potential 45 points on offer, descending 3-2-1 for the top, 2nd and 3rd answers. I've got to be honest here, I'm not a fan of such rounds in a quiz. To me - and I emphasise that it is my personal preference - it's a party game, and could have affected the outcome of a tight quiz. The 45 points on offer against the 80 from the previous rounds was also a factor.

As it happened, we got 36, and won. Nonetheless, despite the fact we'd have likely not won after the music, it seemed a better way to end the night. I can't say why it wasn't done though, perhaps the player wasn't working, and in any case, I say again that I'm talking about my preferences and not judging the quiz or its master. We got our win anyway and I'm certainly not arguing with that.

Result: 109/125 (87.2%), 1st place

Tuesday's Quiz

After Monday, I was feeling confident here, though less so when I realised that once again, we'd be depleted in numbers at the Ship Inn. One couple was absent last week, and it was the other couple this week. Their strengths differ, but overall they're all four very good so materially I didn't feel the team was weaker than last week - though we do benefit from our combined knowledge as a five-man team. The first round assured that the quiz was going to be...interesting, at least.

By "interesting", I mean ridiculously hard. Of the 8 teams present, capable of scoring 80 points between us on general knowledge, only 2 of us actually scored at all - and at that, it was 3 in total. Two came from me, and I'd learn the next day that the other team got their point the same way I did, from a question previously asked at the Granary.

We were certain that our "lead" would not survive, especially as the ever-disastrous sport only gave us 1 (better than our 0 last week!) and the usually-reliable TV & Film only yielded 2. Yet on 5/30 after 3 rounds, we were amazingly still in the lead, with the 8 teams sitting on a combined total of 19/240. One team was still on 0.

Honestly, this was the hardest quiz I've ever done. It was very fun, especially as every team suffered together (0 on general knowledge is honestly something I never expected to see from any of the teams present), though I'm hoping the difficulty will be lowered slightly next time!

Fortunately, things improved slightly after the first half, and we were in the lead until the last round, though the difference in knowledge of 70s music between us and our rival the Newbridge Caravan Park decided the result in the end. They got 19.5/20, we got 6 - enough said. We still came third though, and a podium finish at that quiz is respectable. Especially after last week's catastrophe. Just need to see what this week brings us!

Result: 29.5/63 (46.83%), 3rd place

Wednesday's Quiz

If one thing was assured, going into the Granary's quiz, it was that things could not possibly by any harder than the night before. Okay so we'd never won, but we did very well last week and sooner or later were surely going to get our hands on the winner's prize, right? Well, I have a degree in risk management, and should therefore know better than most that it can always, always get worse.

As per usual I was only with one other person, though she's generally pretty strong on music. 90's music looked hopeless for me then, especially as a double-round, and unfortunately it proved so for my friend as well. This was thanks in part to the emphasis on the early years of the decade, which we both freely admit to being before we got into music properly - there was nothing at all from 98 or 99. We got 3/20, which was exactly where I was at this time the night before. Surely not again?

Yes, again. I mentioned last night that TV/Film is a strong point, but the TV side is less so. My two worst answers of the week came in this round (see below for details), but it's perhaps understandable that I was rattled after a night and a half of such high difficulty since the end of round 5 on Monday. 4 just wasn't good enough, and we knew we had a lot of work to do even to achieve our own minimum target of 50%.

The last round was another doubler, and it was, again, on music. The quiz is doing a Christmas round ever week until the day itself, which shocked most of us there, myself included, as it was only November at this point. I'm not sure why music was chosen for it this week, as it unbalanced the quiz in favour of that subject, I feel. Again, that's a point of preference, and I do admit to having benefited from biases in favour of film rounds before, but 40/50 questions on one subject felt a little much.

We came up with some decent answers from somewhere to get 8 of them, which nonetheless left us with my 2nd worst performance in a quiz of the entire year, my absolute worst with a team, and we only narrowly avoided the bottom spot. Horrendous. The only saving grace was 3 teams of the 12 finishing below us, and since I pay little heed to other teams except in terms of whether we've won or not, it's not really relevant to anything.

Result: 15/50 (30%), 9th place

Thursday's Quiz

Expectations at the Anchor were understandably lower than my sheer desire to get past the last two disasters, and they weren't helped by the knowledge that a birthday in the team removed at least two of our number. As with last week, we were severely depleted, and again only four of us attended, though a different four (save myself) from last week's reasonable success.

Sadly, it was another awful GK performance to start wth, just 3/8.  The many gaps in my knowledge clearly rearing their ugly head, it seems. Film & TV was better this time, and without wishing to boast I had a lot to do with that. 5/8 was still average, however, which about sums up our night. Again we picked the worst round of the night for our joker, which is becoming an annoying habit, and severely restricted our score.

My despair is evident no doubt even in this writing, and our mid-table finish does not, I think, fairly reflect our poor performance. We missed a few key team members who would have known some of the questions, got things wrong we shouldn't have, and in general couldn't bring our A-game along. That's no reflection on the team, I hasten to add, and certainly not on the excellently written quiz itself; I gave some good answers but was culpable on some mistakes too, and we couldn't always agree to go with what turned out to be the right answer.

Alas, etc.

Result: 32/56 (57.14%), 5th place

Friday's Quiz

This left Friday as the sole means of a result to be proud of, and I was happy to be back at The Grapes in Springholm. This fortnightly quiz is very obviously run by a man who loves quizzing itself, and who isn't just doing it to get punters in. The love and respect he has for it shows in the quiz, and I only wish I had a consistent team to bring along. Which again is no disrespect to the teams I usually serve in a mercenary capacity, but as the QM himelf has noted, a consistent team is almost always a stronger team.

I'm not going to go over each of the 9 rounds in detail, but we made a disappointing start to the first 20 questions, getting 12 when we knew others were ahead. Songs from musicals as the second pair's specialist subject gave us a full 10 however, and one of my team was not prepared to let anyone else in the room forget that we got 17 there; normally she adds extra numbers to our score to pretend it was that good!

General knowledge was the subject letting us down, yet again this week, as we always got above 50% on the specialists. The last round, usually harder by design, just epitomised it, and my week really. With all the teams bar one within 4 points of each other, it was all up for grabs on the final 10 questions. We got just 2, leaving us third out of the five of us. The QM noted we'd "thrown it away" at the end, though this surprised me as we couldn't have been leading going into the last round.

The score was a lot more respectable than others this week, so in that respect I was certainly happy. Being that close to ending the week with a second win, however, stung a little. Bookending 3 carcrashes with two impressive victories would have given the week a different overall flavour, I think. Oh well, no luck there!

Result: 57/90 (63.33%), 3rd place

Overall, it was a week to forget, in truth. The win on Monday was solid, but it was largely downhill after that, Friday being a missed opportunity as I noted above. I shouldn't feel too downhearted about Wednesday considering my weakness in music, but at the same time, accepting a weakness means allowing myself to fall victim to it again in the future. So it does and should hurt; I must improve on the subject, and plug those holes in my (usually strong) general knowledge. It was one of the harder weeks of the year, granted, and I gave some impressive answers, but evidently not enough of them.

It's worth adding that the overall result looks decent, but this should be considered in the context of most of the questions falling in the first and last quizzes, which saw the best performance. This shows the problem of such statistics, as that 63% disguises all the mid-week issues.

Hopefully next week will be better - but I've said that before! Time will tell!

Overall Result: 242.5/384 (63.15%)

Best answer given:

Any of the five I got from the first 3 rounds at the Ship Inn would count, though to pick one, I'll say Linda McCartney as the guest star in the Simpsons who got a dedication at the end of the episode U2 guest starred in. It was such a specific question, and yet such is my knowledge of the show, I got the answer. Guessing that Walt Disney's fear - suriphobia - was that of mice was another good one. It made ironic sense for the creator of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

Worst answer missed:

Chris Barrie as the actor who played Rimmer in Red Dwarf, and Craggy Island as the setting for Father Ted. Both shows I know well, but the misses reflected my state of mind by that point in the Wednesday quiz. Criminal nonetheless, however, and we needed every last point there. I even got the former's first name right and couldn't dredge up the last.

Most interesting fact learned:

Matches were known as lucifers when first sold.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Weekly Round-Up W/E 25th November

I'm going to try and make this a regular feature of this blog - a summation of how I've gotten on in my weekly quizzes. I'll also try and make another post about other things at some point during the week.

To establish some guidelines, it is not my intention to ever name any individual who has not given my their explicit permission to do so. I will name venues and locations. This blog is public and may be linked anywhere by anyone. I'm a straight talker but you will not see me unfairly criticise anyone or anything, especially publicly. The contents of this blog may overlap somewhat with my Twitter account, which is public, though probably not my Facebook account, which is not. Anyone who asks may have my Twitter details, but not those for Facebook unless I know you. Right, enough disclaimers.

Monday's Quiz

Monday at the Kings Arms in Dalbeattie was perhaps the last time for a while I'll be teaming up with Big Tam's Appreciation Society, a team of two couples whom I often join if one couple is absent. This has been the case for the last few months, so I've had consistent teammates. It's been fun, and it will be interesting to see if I will routinely join other teams, or if I'll go back to mostly doing the quiz alone going forwards.

We hoped for a good night to end the run, but I never quite felt settled in the quiz. We were scoring relatively well by neutral standards, but that can mean either "superhumanly" or "disastrously" depending on the quiz; dynamics of different quizzes is a subject for a future blog post. In this case, every point counts, as it's usually a high scoring night. Two things specifically determine the winners here: not getting the easy questions (that everyone will usually get) wrong, and being the only team to get the fiendishly difficult ones right.

The former is why we were unsettled; the first question, I rushed into and the other didn't pick up on my having chosen an excessively obvious answer, and we got 7 on Geography. Two 10/10 scores (including on the critical last round) didn't change that we incorrectly doubted our own accurate instincts twice more. Ultimately we finished 2nd with 50/60, surprising ourselves, but I stick by not having truly settled from the start. The fact that we'd have won without those mistakes justifies this feeling, I think. Such is the nature of the hobby, even with a score I'd kill for at certain other quizzes.

Result: 50/60 (83.3%), 2nd place

Tuesday's Quiz

The Ship Inn in Dumfries is a quiz we of the team with no fixed name (there's a prize here for the best team name, so we change it every week in an attempt to win it) have been relatively dominant of late. It has, however, become a little more difficult recently, which has lowered the scores all around. It also saw us end a "5 wins in 6 quizzes, the other being a 3rd place finish" run with a crash to barely off the bottom for two weeks, before scraping a win from nowhere last week. Could we repeat last week's effort? No, we could not. Admittedly we weren't helped by two of our number being absent, putting us on the back foot from the start. Fair play to our rivals, the Newbridge Caravan Park; they were there in force, so we knew we were up against it.

The first 3 rounds at this one are my usual hunting grounds, as two of the other three are pictures and music - my usual car crashes. Bad weaknesses for a mercenary quizzer to have, but that's a matter for another post. Round 1 is always general knowledge, and a score of 0 last week by one team didn't stop them finishing 3rd, so it evidences nothing, necessarily. Still, we hoped for better than 4.5. Yet this was infinitely better than Scottish Rivers and Sport, which gave us just two between them - both on the former. We weren't the only strugglers, however, as just two teams had double figure scores at this stage, sitting as they were on 15 and 10. 

See what I mean about differing dynamics? The night before, I lamented the loss of 3 points, whereas this night we could barely string that together.

The picture round was fine, the chosen specialist subject (picked by the last placed team the week before) gave us a respectable 5 on the city of Nagasaki, and the played music was a struggle despite my team being good on the subject. There's more points on offer for pictures and music, so lost ground earlier can at least be made up, and that kept us well clear of the bottom. Ultimately we finished with 37.5, in the middle of the pack, but far behind the NCP who won comfortably. Well done to them, though we'll be back with a vengeance this coming week!

Result: 37.5/85 (44.12%), 5th place.

Wednesday's Quiz

Wednesday at the Granary, Dumfries is a quiz I've never won in over 2 years of trying. There's no limit on the team size, and I'm usually only doing it with one other person. We call ourselves "Two's Company", a shortening of our "Three's Company" when we're three people, a name which stuck after we used it and won a substantial sum on the Killer Question. The first subject being the dreaded sport (a notoriously difficult subject at this quiz) didn't bode well for our quest for a first win, but we scored 6, and could have had 9! Amazingly, three 50-50s went the wrong way in that round. Before we started, we'd have definitely taken 6, but we wanted more after the fact.

Fortunately a Star Wars round gave us the full 15 on offer; film is one of my better subjects, so this was appreciated. Back down to earth we came with a round on pubs; this time three guesses came off, though they were the only answers we got at all. Another film round gave us 8, and Disney a respectable 6 to finish. We ended up 3rd, a great result all things considered. We could have gotten 2nd, but first was well beyond us - with a team of 12 taking the win, there's no shame in that. Next week, perhaps... (as I've said every week for over 100!)

Result: 38/55 (69.09%), 3rd place.

Thursday's Quiz

My week ended with its longest journey, to the Anchor in Kippford. The Motley Crew's lineup changes a fair bit, and this time I went knowing most of the regulars wouldn't be there. Two were though, as was the father of one, so we still had a strong-looking lineup. The subjects didn't look too inviting at first, with two TV rounds, music and food & drink. The others were confident on the last of these for our joker, and I wasn't confident enough on any to make an impassioned case for it. I did however think I might have been good on the TV theme tunes round; hindsight is a wonderful thing, it turns out.

That I was taking a note of the scores already indicated to the father in my team that I was a serious quizzer and I proved it early with several good general knowledge answers. As feared, the first TV round was hopeless for me, but the theme tunes one gave us a full 8/8. Before it started, I told the team two questions that I was sure would come up in one form or another - "I'll Be There For You" by the Rembrandts as the theme to Friends, and "Approaching Menace" as the theme to Mastermind. Both are classic questions and both featured. I should have pushed for it as the joker!

We struggled after that, with our joker sadly being our worst round of the night, with just 3.5. We ended up finishing third in a close contest - and as with Monday, a couple of untrusted guesses we should have made would have seen us comfortably win. Twice in a week? I must learn from that. Not bad overall though, and the team retains its record of winning money in each quiz so far this season.

Result: 36/56 (64.29%), 3rd place

Overall, despite the high placings, it's been an average week, disappointing in some ways. I could have started and ended the week with a win, and we're much better than our score in the Tuesday quiz. On Wednesday, we could have done little more and I've no complaints about another great quiz there. I'm doing five quizzes this week, and I'm hoping for at least one win between them. We shall see!

Overall Result: 161.5/256 (65.21%)

Best answer given:

There's a few candidates for this one, but I'm going with knowing that Approaching Menace is the Mastermind theme, especially since I correctly predicted the question before the round started. It was a guess, but picking "Britain's smallest pub" as the significance of The Nutshell pub, based on the name, was a good one too.

Worst answer given:

The first question of the week, of all things: Brussels as the location of the EU parliament. It's Strasbourg, and I knew full well both cities are well associated with EU, but stupidly went for the obvious former instead of remembering that it's the EU Commission based there. Unfortunately, as noted above, my teammates failed to spot the error and went with it. To be clear, I don't hold them accountable for that one. I'm trying to improve my answering speed, but there was no excuse for me not thinking about that for a moment longer.

Most interesting new fact learned:

The one that sticks in my head is the axilla as the scientific name for the armpit, even though that's not particularly interesting to me. Potentially useful, however, so I'll stick with it.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Welcome to the World of Erudite Esotericism!

Hello, and welcome to my blog!

I'm Adam Lewis, also known as Addy, or by my online aliases, Erudite Esotericist and Quizzing Ronin. I'm 30, Scottish, work in finance for my local authority (standard 9-5), and I'm an avid pub quizzer. Some may call me obsessive, but personally I prefer the word "dedicated". I'm actually a mercenary quizzer in that I generally go to pubs on my own, travelling far and wide to get to them, and offer out my services to any quiz team looking for a little extra support. Where I can't find such, I do the quiz myself!

I've done quizzes since childhood, and pub quizzes since I turned 18, but it's only really since August 2014 that it's become my primary hobby. Until a year and a half prior, I'd been in Glasgow nearly a decade, where I did them quite often. Life circumstances caused me to move back to the town where I grew up, and my friends had all moved on from the place. After 18 months of struggling to socialise, I decided I had nothing to lose by doing something I enjoyed alone; I did okay even by myself, started to meet people and make friends, and so what started as a way to get out of the house once a week has become the fundamental basis of my lifestyle!

This blog is a place for me to discuss my adventures in this capacity, including the quizzes I do, how I get on, the things I'm doing to enhance my performance, and anything else to do with this great hobby that I can think of. Possibly also other things too (I'm certainly open to suggestions) but mostly this. This post specifically is an introduction, I suppose, and I'll try and post regularly once a week at least.

First things first: I'm naturally fairly intelligent, but my long term memory is what gives me an edge, and I need to back that up with studying. To this end, I've been creating audio study guides which I can listen to on the go. And putting them on Youtube in order to share this with others! This here is the introduction video on my channel, which fundamentally consists of simple, basic lists of useful facts and information. I'd love it if you could watch, like, comment, subscribe and share! I'd especially love requests for lists that I could create in future; I have plenty of works in progress naturally, but I'd prefer to prioritise the ideas of others if they might be of benefit.

To give you an idea of what I do, here is my two week schedule. I live in Dumfries, in SW Scotland, and on Mondays I travel about 15 miles (25 minutes by car) to Dalbeattie for the quiz there. Two quizmasters alternate week by week there, with very different speeds and styles; tonight I left the house at 7.50 and was home by 10. Next week will be a longer, slower quiz, though no less enjoyable. I'm a pure mercenary there, and have no permanent team. Due to illness, I've been a long term aide to a team over the last few months, but I'll be back to solo efforts within the next week or two.

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are local quizzes, both in Dumfries town centre, and thus I can walk. "Takeaway Tuesday" has become the fashion at the former, so I'll precede the quiz by going to the Chinese takeaway next door. This pub only reopened a year and a half ago, and the quiz started with it. When it was still sparsely attended, I did it alone by necessity, as I was too strong to join the other teams. Nowadays it's busier and harder, so about 6 months ago I finally joined a team I'd been very friendly with since the start. We tend to do well there, and there has been the suggestion that I might guest-host it if the regular quizmaster could do with some assistance one week.

The Wednesday one I've never won in 2.5 years of attempts, though this is partially because there's no limit on team size and I usually only do it with one other person. Unlike any of my other quizzes, there is no fixed format in terms of subjects (though 50 questions is seldom exceeded, and 5 rounds of 10 is the standard layout), which makes it varied and interesting.

My Thursday quiz only runs during the winter, November to April, and is in a gorgeous village called Kippford, about 3 miles beyond Dalbeattie (I drive through the latter town to get there). I started it last year, alone, but half way through the season fell in with a large team that usually splits in two (randomly, so actual team setups change every week) to stay within the size limits. I've become their "secret weapon", though the team was quite strong anyway. It remains to be seen how we'll get on in my first full season with them, though from the first four quizzes, I've come 2nd once and won twice, and the part of the team I wasn't in was 2nd last week. During the summer months I'll sometimes travel as far as Kirkcudbright (35 miles each way) for a quiz there, but that's a long, expensive journey to do every week on top of all my others.

My Friday quiz is fortnightly in the village of Springholm about 15 miles away. Fortnightly because on the other Friday, they do a bingo night. The quiz is 90 questions, with the odd numbered rounds being general knowledge and the others on a theme. The quizmaster insists on coming up with all rounds himself, taking no pre-written rounds from online or quizbooks, which gives the quiz a real authenticity. It was the first quiz I went to alone, but found a team on the first night and stayed with them for ages. It's broken up more recently, so I float around, but there tends to be a couple of people I usually join. I'm recognised as one of the better quizzers there, but my lack of a solid team has long held me back there, and I no longer win as often as I did in the early days.

This Friday is the bingo week in Springholm, so I'm doing four quizzes, and going back up to five next week. As you can see by that, I have a busy routine!

In general, my week nights revolve around quizzing. Leaving the house around 8.15 to go to work, I'm home around 5.30. I leave the house for the quiz at this time each respective night of the week: 7.45, 6.15, 7.00, 7.30, 8.15, and am usually back between 10 and 11 from all except the Friday quiz, in which pub I usually stay until well after midnight talking to the landlord.

This might sound excessive, but the alternative is spending my evenings doing little or nothing; it's impractical and expensive to visit my friends in Glasgow too often, especially during the week, and it feels wasteful to sit around watching TV or lazing online every evening. Admittedly, doing so many quizzes can cause occasional conflicts with other activities, and it pretty much leaves me my weekends for recovery and also for the likes of housework.

Still, it feels like I'm using my time productively by doing this, and I like to think I'm getting better at what I do. I've been keeping statistics for my performances through 2016, and once I've done some calculations on them I should be able to quantify what, if any, improvement I've actually shown.

This will do me nicely for now by way of introduction. If anyone is still reading this - thank you! Means more than you know, especially as I do tend to ramble. I'll post again towards the end of the week, perhaps with an update of how I've done this week. Tonight went well, but I'll have more to say then. Bye for now!

Post Script: I plan to end each post with my best and worst answers given, and the most interesting facts of my recent quizzes. In this case, I'm giving these for last week rather than tonight.

Best answer given: Knowing that Androcles was the slave who helped a lion according to the ancient fable; I was quite pleased with that. I also knew "Mea culpa" as the Latin phrase meaning "Through my fault". Finally, being able to remember "Campbell" as the Donald who broke the land speed record. All three actually came from last Friday's quiz.

Worst answer given: Or "nearly given" as the case may be. From the same quiz, I nearly gave Kentucky as the state that named a fried chicken dish and a biscuit (Maryland is the correct answer). On Wednesday, at a charity quiz I did in lieu of my normal one, I also nearly gave Rupert the Bear rather than Paddington Bear as the fictional character living at 32 Windsor Gardens. Not knowing that isn't so bad in itself, but as I pointed out at the time, I missed out on about £100 because I didn't know it the first time I was asked, and it's come up at least twice since. Mercifully, teammates were on hand to correct my hasty mistakes before we submitted. In both cases, I knew full well what the answer was after actually thinking.

In terms of pure mistakes, on Thursday I didn't go with "Humane Immunodeficiency Virus" as what HIV stands for; I clearly knew it, had it in my head, but got hung up on why that wouldn't be abbreviated as HIDV, despite no one else having a clue. Instincts: trust them!

Most interesting new fact learned: This wasn't from a quiz, but "melanic" being the opposite to albino was fascinating. It makes sense that there would be an opposite, but I'd never thought of the idea. Tonight's quiz taught me that the highest mountain in South America is in Argentina (I thought I'd know that but didn't), and Friday's that the first team out in the Olympic opening ceremony is always Greece (again, that shouldn't have been new. I did know the hosts are always last at least).