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.

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