I'm starting this post by making a one-off exception to my "no names" policy: hello Robert! You said you'd be reading this, and you did ask for a shoutout, which I was going to give anyway. You can tell me when I next see you if you've read this.
I'll be closing that loophole which gave you access to where you first saw this blog, incidentally, so please bookmark or take note of the address if you wish to keep reading. I also link to it every week on my Twitter, which is and will remain public: https://twitter.com/quizzingronin Anyone is welcome to follow me there, though please note that unlike the blog, I do Tweet about other things, including my political opinions which may differ to yours. And on that note...
Quiz #20 - Sunday 5th February, Turf Tavern Carlisle
A quick note: as regular readers may have noticed, my "week ending" dates are Fridays as I write these reviews on weekends. Saturday/Sunday quizzes will therefore always be included in the following week's round-up.
This was a venture down to Carlisle that I'd been hoping to do for a few weeks now. Surprisingly, it's actually closer than Kirkcudbright (where I occasionally quiz in the summer on Thursdays) and the travel time is similar to both Kirkcudbright and Kippford at 40 minutes each way. So I might make such trips a regular addition to my roster.
The venue is a Hungry Horse, which is basically like any other chain pub/restaurant of the Wetherpoons-type you've ever been to. The quiz is a Redtooth, which means readers of this blog who aren't from Dumfries & Galloway may even have done this exact quiz this week. Please do let me know your score if you did! What I knew was that this would be
The first round was pictures of people, never a good round for me. I had two, should have had a couple more, but moving on! Current events was better as I do pay attention to the news, so I had 6. Two lists of 5 things followed...one was a complex darts question that no one, even the QM, could even understand. I blagged a few points, which is better than I did on a question about Oscar nominations. I planned to look those up, but really should have done so immediately. Bottom line - 4 from 10. between the two. The marks were only given at the end of the quiz, but I knew that I was in big trouble at the half way point.
The next round suited me better - the ten answers begin with sequential letters, only it could start anywhere and you're not told where. "What do koalas eat?" gave it away on Q2 though. Fleur de lis wasn't one everyone would have got, and I gave a good answer for "K". The question was "Small citrus fruit, citrus japonicus, usually used as a garnish". The first three words imply kiwi fruit, but that's hardly Japanese, so kumquat was the answer. The rest of the round went similarly and I had 9.
Hidden connections rounds I love, though the 5 question version is tough. The connection was salads, but I needed the muppet Waldorf to confirm both it, and the primary ape from Planet of the... (Caesar). A valuable 5 points. The last round is general knowledge - wipeout version. 5 bonus points were on offer for a full house, but one incorrect answer means a 0 score. As the former has never been achieved in the history of the quiz, and as I'm never in a million years going to attempt all 10 answers, this is just a 10 point round for my recording purposes. I could have had a couple of others if I'd remembered, and might have gone for a couple more if there were no risks, but as it was I went for 5 I felt confident on and got them. The team I was marking went for 8 and wiped out 3 times, so apparently weren't so cautious.
Ultimately, the second half of the quiz saw me get to 30/55, just 4 points away from winning. That might speak to low scores generally, possibly due to other teams wiping out on the last round, but with a slight improvement I might have a shot at this quiz. I'll be back this week, weather dependent.
Result: 30/55 (54.55), joint 4th/6
Quiz #21 - Monday 6th February, Kings Arms Dalbeattie (K)
After last week's heroics at A's quiz, would K provide similar glory? Simply put, no. I could already tell that my winning streak was over, even though the last two quizzes were new ones. Mentally I've not been as on top of things as I was last week, and the performances weren't as good. This was a classic case of the score not indicating a solid performance - at least on my own part.
Team-wise, A's own team had too many people this week, so they split in two and I joined them. Among them was a regular from the Kippford team, albeit one who has not been there for a while. Intriguing all the same.
K has restricted his regular music rounds to once a month, which didn't stop two unplayed music rounds appearing here. The first was missing words from song titles. I knew a few, but the others were better than me on this. Would that I could take credit for the 17 we got. A round on animals proved quite tricky, with a couple of terms none of us had heard of restricting us to 10/15. The ever-troublesome film & TV was a little better with 11.5, but clues to 4 letter words and advertising slogans gave us 11 apiece. This left the other music round, just general questions, most of which were fortunately known by the others as we grabbed 15 from 20.
By this point, my concentration was shot to be honest. I can't really explain it, but something was off. I certainly contributed what I could in the middle of the quiz, but two music rounds stuffed me. This is not the first time I'll be saying that this week unfortunately. No idea where we placed, but well away from the winners - despite a score I'd kill for at most other quizzes!
Result: 75.5/100 (75.5), unknown/8 (outwith top 3)
Quiz #22 - Tuesday 7th February, Ship Inn Dumfries
Retaining our title at the Ship Inn from last week meant beating a former Mastermind semi-finalist with 4 other appearances on the show to his name. I have to admit I shamelessly fanboy over such people, though I suspect he'd prefer I didn't. We'd beaten him before - along with the rest of the Newbridge Caravan Park (for it is they he joins) - but it was always going to be a big ask, despite this time having 4 in our own team.
Our fourth only joined us after the first round, however, which didn't stop us getting a respectable 5 on general knowledge. I know that's poor elsewhere, but it left us comfortably joint-second, one point behind the NCP. Musicals and the theatre promised much for one of our team who grew up with such things, though the rest of us struggled and she found it harder than expected too. Which is a weird thing to say for this quiz, as it's easy rounds that tend to prove more surprising! Still, our 5 (thanks admittedly to a couple of lucky guesses) kept us in joint-2nd, this time with one team rather than two. It was better than a Scottish geography round, which gave us only 3.5 despite me and another correcting a past mistake from this quiz on the river that Balmoral Castle stands on. Just like last week, we had therefore plummeted down the rankings at the half-way point, this time to second last. I guess the other teams found it easier than we did! Granted, we'd have done better by not mixing up Lochs Lomond and Ness for a couple of points, despite being well aware of the trap.
The pictures this time were gameshows, which was decent for us. Between us all we managed 12 of the 15. Some of them required a bit of working out, one we knew but couldn't get the right name for, one we mixed up and one we outright didn't know. The NCP must have had the same as the gap didn't reduce from 4, but our placing improved. Another late recovery on the cards?
The specialist round suggested it could have been. "Pubs and shops in Dumfries that have closed since 1990" threatened to be the worst specialist round since "Floor coverings" (seriously, that was a thing last year) but was actually really good. It was balanced, fair and the questions made sense. It was joked that "stupid answers" would see some teams deducted points - this was because of the question "Which popular Dumfries pub reopened in July 2015 after a period of closure?". Well, we were sitting in it at the time - the Ship Inn itself! Which we worked out because the quiz started a few weeks later and we've been coming along since the beginning. We had that and another 6, for a decent 7/10.
So by the end of R5 we were back up to second, this time alone, two points behind our rivals. This time, however, they completed a deserved start-to-finish victory. We seriously struggled on music, with 16/30 our worst score for a while. Naturally, my own contribution was minimal unfortunately. We still managed a podium finish, and I'm happy with that. The right team won, and in any case, we picked up the bottle of wine for best team name for the first time in ages, with "Mulligans' Firestarters", which we chose because of a pub that burned to the ground in 2010. It was also a question in R5, helpfully! Great night as always, and we'll be back next week. Mr Mastermind was only making a flying visit to the town, though it's not as though the NCP need him for their wins...
Result: 48.5/85 (57.06%), 3rd/7
Quiz #22 - Wednesday 8th February, Granary Dumfries
Last week, Two's Company won this quiz for the first time in two years of attempts - longer for me as a soloist. This meant there was a lot of pressure on us to repeat that feat, though none of it came from us; we know full well it might take a long time for another win, but the wind-up merchant QM (I don't mean that as an insult, the guy is great) was keen to joke that it would be shocking if we didn't do it immediately. I should have expected that.
I should also have expected that the fact that Valentine's Day wouldn't be for another week wouldn't stop this being a love-themed quiz. In fairness, VD is actually before the next one, so it made sense. The first round was the sort I love - languages. Specifically, "I love you" in 20 languages, the answers being given at the bottom. Now what I love about this round is that it's all about understanding syntax. Hablo un poco de espanol, but that's it, and I'm not fluent. But if you understand the basic stereotypical traits of the languages, you can tell them apart. Welsh uses w and y in place of most other vowels, Dutch uses i j and k in combination, Polish also uses w and y a lot but also cie, etc.
We got 15/20 and I know exactly where I went wrong. I correctly identified Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish immediately, and pinned down Finnish because Nightwish are one of my favourite bands, but unfortunately I mixed up the other two. I also identified the eastern European ones, Greek, Hungarian and Romanian, but unfortunately got all three confused. Still, I got the others, including the three in the previous paragraph, Russian, Yiddish (which I got from watching Schindler's List with the subtitles on, having eliminated other things it might be), and more.
Next up was a double round - on love songs, naturally. This immediately ended our chances of winning the quiz, though I was able to contribute a couple that my friend didn't get - random Youtube urges that lead one to The Cure can prove useful! It's not just at the Ship that my musical hopelessness is well known, though sitting so close to the QM proved inadvised after this round. We finished on GK, another classic case of a well constructed round that I felt I should have done better than 5 on. My brain freeze on Barnes Wallace was criminal, and there's really no excuse for mixing up my wedding anniversary gifts anymore. I mean no disrespect to my friend but that's the situation where an extra body or two can make the difference, if they do remember such things.
Still, when the dust settled we ended up only 4 points off that second win actually, implying that we did a lot better than the other teams on the first round, since others would have beaten us comfortably on the music. I'm relieved that we weren't closer, as I'd have been mortified if my GK mistakes cost us such a prize. It was ultimately a score to be proud of, perhaps the more so for that music.
Result: 29/50 (58%), joint 4th/14
Quiz #24 - Thursday 9th February, Anchor Hotel Kippford
For the third week running, my usual team were absent from the Anchor's quiz, meaning I've only quizzed with them once in 5 weeks this year (though they were there the week I missed). I joined the owners' team again, which was perfectly fine with me. It seems I have a standing invitation to join them, which is very much appreciated! My loyalty is to my first team, however, so when they return I'll be back with them.
As for the quiz itself, we only managed 5/8 on general knowledge. Could have had 6 if hadn't made a mistake on a Roman numeral question; those are almost always gimmies for me. If I'd have been marking, I'd have given a half, but I wasn't going to push my luck. That feeling was to prove oddly prescient...Our joker choice, left to me, was geography. Seriously, I need to run my stats on the subject and make a dedicated post about it, because I need to answer the question properly. It looked better than the others though, and we managed 7 for 14. Could have been a full house, but, not for the first time, I mixed up Crete and Sicily as the largest of the Mediterranean islands. I should also make a list of "things I've gotten wrong twice before so never again".
Sport was down to the owners' son more than the rest of us, though my bad maths cost us a darts point. 5 wasn't so bad though, I'll usually take more than half on sport. Round 4 was our doom: TV shows, a leading actor from them, and we had to give the character. Too bad none of us had actually seen most of the shows. I only knew Rimmer from Red Dwarf, and only one other came to mind between the others. Sometimes Lady Luck has a forked tongue, and we had no chance on that round.
The pictures were dingbats of a sort, picture clues to gun related sayings. I did well to work out most of them, a couple didn't appear to make sense, and there was one we probably should have gotten. We had 6...sort of. We were given 6.5, but at the end of the quiz the QMs decided we shouldn't have had it. It felt cruel to lose the point, especially as it would have given us a share of the prize money, but in fairness I wouldn't have given it if I'd have been marking so I can't be begrudge it too much. Still stings, and not everyone in the team was wholly happy about the decision.
The last round was "famous people", which went better than I expected, giving us 7. The conclusion was a tie for 4th, thanks to the lost half point, though the win was out of the question as a team I wasn't in stormed it by 7.5. The manner of defeat was harsh, the missing points annoying, and the TV round nothing we could do anything about. After my recent dominance at this quiz, this qualified as a disaster. The week was not going to plan.
Result: 39/56 (69.64%), joint 4th/7
Quiz #25 - Friday 10th February, The Grapes Springholm
One last chance for redemption, one last title to try and retain. Could I do it? As with Tuesday, I was trying with the same team plus one, as our guest from last time joined us and our missing ally from last time rejoined us. Team sizes are generally restricted to four but in practice, five isn't begrudged. It didn't start very well, however, with a dismal 3 in a tough set of GK questions. As the pub had a Mr & Mrs thing on at the weekend, that has now passed as of my writing this, the first specialist round was answers linked by titles. It too, was difficult, as we only managed 5.
Another 3 confirmed our suspicions that the GK was deliberately harder this time than last, and another linked answers round little better than before. 17/40...oh dear. The next GK gave us 5, before one of this quiz's special rounds whereby two clues give two answers with one letter different. Some were easy, some were hard, 9 put us back into contention again. This was backed up by a much improved 9 on the penultimate GK. Hidden link rounds are, as I said earlier, one of my favourite rounds, but the very obscure connection was never one I was going to get - old Vauxhall cars. That 6 restored some pride nonetheless, and actually put us into the lead by one point. So we weren't alone in finding the going hard this week.
Unfortunately, there were to be no last-round heroics this time. 9 on the final round, which is always harder than the rest, was an exception only. We were restricted to 3 - the usual winners, the Kirkpatrick Durham team, had 5 and pipped us to the post. It was another unfortunate night, full of missed chances, answers I should have gotten and answers I couldn't remember. My brain was misfiring, as it was on Monday, and with a quiz this well-written and difficult, that cost us dearly.
I take nothing away from the worthy winners, and the quiz itself was excellent as always. But I left a bit deflated and despondent nonetheless. I know I take these things too seriously, but a win would have been really helpful for my psyche, and I screwed it up. A word to anyone who attends this quiz who may be reading this - next time, I'm determined to regain the win.
Result: 49/90 (54.44%), 2nd/unknown
Week in Summation
At the start of the week, I was braced for a comedown from the heights of the previous week. It was always going to be an incredibly tough ask to follow that up, and even an average week would seem bad by comparison. On balance, that's what it was - average. I got considerably less lucky with the subjects this week, a lot more music and TV and a lot less film and geography, which is just what happens. These are subjects I should improve on, but they're big subjects and ones which can't be mastered by the simple rote memorisation of lists of facts.
Looking at things overall, taking a step back, it could have been far worse. That's a lot of why I write these reviews after a few days have passed, because my immediate reaction would be a lot more critical and less reasoned. There are positives to take from this, and I will. They include the demonstration of good language skills at the Granary and Grapes, a strong geography round, and a solo performance that gained the immediate respect of the QM.
As I write this I'm moments away from heading out to the Turf Tavern again for the beginning of another week's quizzes. A new week. New possibilities, both good and bad admittedly. And I'm going out there with some confidence. As I should. It might prove ill-founded, but I'll find out with a drink in one hand and a pen in the other.
Okay so there's other ways to spend a Sunday night, and I've a lot I could, perhaps should, be doing - but time spent in the pursuit of knowledge is never wasted.
Total Result: 271/436 (62.12%)