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).