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.