Saturday, 11 March 2017

Weekly Round-Up, W/E 03/03/2017

Apologies that last week's blog is late! It's been a busy week and I've not managed to get it done before now! This week's round-up will also be posted today, I hope.

Quiz #37 - Sunday 26th February, Turf Tavern Carlisle

I've done the Turf's quiz often enough now for a pattern to be starting to emerge. My 3 results prior to this one indicated that most of my points would come from the Alpha Links round, with the Picture round being effectively a write-off. It's never a good thing to rely on one round, because sooner or later, you'll inevitably roll snake-eyes on it, tanking your score.

This was on my mind throughout this quiz, and picture round did indeed go according to the form book when I got 3. Joe Perry was a rather obscure snooker player to choose for that sport, but as I do follow that sport, I was glad of the point that I knew others might miss. I was nervous going into Current Events as I didn't think I'd followed the news very closely last week, but I needn't have worried since I managed 7 for my best score on the round yet. Of course, I wasn't to know that until the end of the quiz.

The top 5 lists yet again went with the most populated cities in a given location, Spain this time. Spanish was the language I studied for 5 years in high school, but my knowledge of its cities is rather limited. It's one of those cases where football knowledge can help, but unfortunately I don't have much of that either. Still, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville were pretty obvious. Missing Valencia was a fairly bad mistake, but I just couldn't remember it. The other half of this round was to do with the most common pub names in England that begin with the letter R. I have to doubt the QM's assertion, in response to my quip about being from the wrong side of the border for this question, that the most common pub names are probably the same on both sides; I just can't see any Scottish publican thinking that "Rose and Crown" would be a sensible name here! In any case, I was restricted to 2.

I was wary about assuming I'd do well in Alpha Links again, though conscious that I needed to, and duly it wasn't to be. The questions just didn't fall, and I had only 4. Cricket followed by music was a nightmare start which just set the tone. Connections was also a bust, and I only managed a pair. 

This meant I was faced with a potential difficult decision or two when it came to gambling on the Wipeout round. In a rare bit of luck, the first four questions were all answerable - albeit the third, the square root of 576, required a bit of working out. The fifth was the sort of question where I'd have had a brilliant, correct answer in a normal quiz; it was the victory over Russians in which cannons were captured from which Victoria Crosses would be made. Now this to me was probably Sevastapol, as a famous win over the Russians in Victoria's reign would have to be during the Crimean War. Was I heck going to put 5 points on the line for it here though! I did add a fifth, though I left the last four alone.

Ultimately I managed 26, which was not my lowest score on the quiz and which still left me comfortably placed. The QM wants me to win this quiz; to be honest, I think I've got a chance if I can get a few extra points on the pictures one week. Time will tell, but for now, this was an acceptable start to the week.

Result: 26/55 (47.27%), joint 4th/8

Quiz #38 - Monday 27th February, Kings Arms Dalbeattie (A)

I must admit that it takes either bravery or stupidity to knowingly attempt A's quiz alone, and I'll further confess to being possessed of something of both. Granted, my highest solo score last year did come at one of these quizzes, but I've experienced some humblings too. Big Tam's were at full strength, as were No Kan Do, and the Stooges were absent, so there were my team options gone.

My fears seemed to be realised right away with a disastrous GK. 3 just isn't good enough, though these were tough. Fortunately I had and took an immediate opportunity to redeem myself with a film round - I got all 10. 6 months ago I would have missed a couple of these, but that just shows how my knowledge is improving, so there's no denying that I earned these. That could not really be said about a round on homophones that followed, since it was the exact same round on homophones I got 9 on at the Granary last week. Still, that's hardly a slight on me, and the free 10 points (the last would not elude me this time) were much appreciated. 23/30 at least ensured that my score would be somewhat respectable when the curtain closed, especially considering that my standards for this quiz are lower than for others.

Sport was never likely to help me continue that mini-run, and to be honest 3 is fairly typical for me on the subject. The best I can say is that Big Tam's got the same score, and that I avoided the trap of the "highest possible break in snooker" question. The answer is 155, because of the free-ball rule. That is, if your opponent fouls and you can't see both sides of the target ball, you can play on any ball and call it a red. Therefore if you get a free ball with all 15 reds still on the table, you can thus get such an extra red, then the colour, and then go on to make a normal maximum, 147, giving 155 in total if the extra colour is a black. Of course, actually getting a free ball with so many target balls on the table is close to impossible, thus the feat has never been achieved in recognised competition. Still, it's possible in theory at least, and that complicates the question.

Moving on, arts and literature followed, and 6 was acceptable. The 7 I got at in the night's other GK round was welcome also, compensating somewhat for my first round disaster. When all was said and done, I therefore had a very healthy score for a solo effort! Nowhere near the winners, but that was no matter. I wasn't last, I heard too.

Speaking of which, there was a bit of controversy again, in that the winners were supposedly Big Tam's with 54.5. As noted above though, they lost 7 points on Sport alone, so I'm fairly certain they actually only got 44.5. A great score, no question, but that would only have put them in 3rd. It doesn't affect me of course, but I was marking them and I know they didn't get 5 10s. I'm not complaining or judging anyone, simply noting the potential mixup.

Result: 39/60 (65%), unknown (outwith top 3, not last)/8 

Quiz #39 - Tuesday 28th February, Ship Inn Dumfries

Once again my usual team were absent, and this time I'd known about it in advance. Fortunately, I was again able to join the NCP, which again was a split team. Mostly, I was with the same people as last week, and we started well with 7/10 on GK. Both our teams had taken the bull by the horns, and my side was just a point behind the other, which led the contest at this early stage.

Sport was our subject for round 2, and this proved surprisingly fruitful for me, especially given I had noted to the team that I was unlikely to be of much help. The first several questions immediately rolled off the tongue though, including one that is now becoming a classic - the winner of Britain's first medal at the Rio Olympics. There were a few two-point question in the mix, so this was out of 14 rather than 10, the latter figure being our score. The others fell a bit by the wayside on this one, and we now led them by 4 points, and our closest rivals by 3.5.

This situation would be reversed on, of all things, geography, however. To be fair, we just overthought a few things, and a couple of times we had the correct answer and then changed our minds. It happens. We still had the lead after this round, but were now tied with the other team. That remained the case after the pictures, which was another map of Europe. I was delighted to redeem my Austria/Czech Republic mixup from last Thursday, and relieved that one of the team was about to make the same mistake before I pointed out that Austria has a border with Italy. Gettng these the right way around also guaranteed us Slovakia, and my memory of where Bulgaria sat ensured that those eastern nations were placed in the correct order. Both of us had a full house of 15, which put daylight between us and the other teams.

The specialist round was always going to be brutal, however, since it was hotel chains as chosen by the QM himself. We both fell to tied second after managing but a pair each. We further knew that we would be unable to win on music, as proved the case last week and indeed this week. Our 21 was by all means respectable, but their 24 was unbeatable. I can't tell the order of the other teams, but that looks likely to have been the best round in the room too.

There's really no argument about the result here, I think it's a fair reflection. Both of us faltered on one round, and they just managed a couple of extra points where it counted. A 1-2 for the teams is always nice to see, and hopefully I'll be back fighting next week with my own guys.

Result: 55/89 (65.12%), 2nd/8

Quiz #40 - Wednesday 1st March, The Granary Dumfries

One of the things I like most about the Granary's quiz is the variety of it; since there's no fixed structure, only a baseline 50 questions, you never get the same quiz in consecutive weeks. Round 1 was one I can't recall having seen before. It was a history round of sorts, in that we had 15 groups of four things to sort into chronological order. They ran the gamut from battles to inventions to Olympic venues to Dr Who actors. A run round, spoiled only by us not getting the answer sheets back at the end, which meant that the answers were a mere stream of meaningless letters.

Still, I knew that we had gotten some right, guessed a few and made at least one stupid mistake (on US presidents, of all things). It was the kind of round that exposes the lack of breadth of knowledge within the team; my own knowledge is certainly strong and varied, but I'll be the first to admit that it's incomplete, and my teammate's own strengths are relatively specialised. That's meaning no disrespect to her of course, but we could really have done with a couple of other bodies with knowledge of other things, and that holds true most weeks at the Granary. Our 9/15 was nothing to sniff at though, especially given I was confident we'd gotten a few right that others would have gotten wrong.

Round 2 was 20 GK questions, and it's been well-established by now that we only tend to score averagely on such rounds. This, it has to be said, was a tough round. A few questions came easily, a couple were well-guessed or worked out, but a few more eluded us, among them the odd unfortunate mixup such as Tanzania for Kenya with regards the location of Serengeti National Park. To be fair on that one, Serengeti itself is partially in Kenya, even if the Park isn't.  I'll call our 11 par for the course, ultimately.

The final round was also 20 questions, for an overall 55 for the evening, with the subject this time being food and drink. That's not a great subject for either of us, though I was hopeful that I might see a question or two that I'd written myself in last week's set. I also couldn't help but regret that I'd done food and drink before seing these, as there were certainly a few usable questions here. By "usable", I mean of course "difficult", and the first two or three went immediately begging. We seemed to improve a lot after that, however, and by my own tally we had 15!

I'm not totally convinced that's correct, but it must have been up there, surprisingly. That meant our score was a bit lower than last week, but it felt harder earned and more deserved, given that I'd heard a couple of last week's rounds before. It also saw us place better, especially considering there were more teams than last week. We're under no illusions that it may be months more before we win this quiz again, but our scores are generally, gradually, improving, and we're happy about that.

Result: 35/55 (63.64%), joint 3rd/19

Quiz #41 - Thursday 2nd March, Anchor Hotel Kippford

I'm going to start at the end wth this one: last week, I joined the Disciples, scored well but tied for 2nd, 1 point behind the winning team. All of those things happened this week, too, though it was a different team member who was absent to allow me a space, and the overall score was lower. That was reflected generally, however, effectively proving that it was a harder quiz.

It started badly, with a carcrash on GK. I made a criminal error on the first question by giving Local Access Network rather than Local Area Network as the expansion for LAN. I had it written down as well and still repeatedly missed it. I can only assume I somehow confused it with Random Access Memory, but it frustrates me because that's the sort of error I'm trying to stop making. I could have had a point later in the same round, however, if I hadn't been overuled by the team as to the correct spelling of Pharaoh. Our 4 overall felt lucky, and we struggled to a 5 on geography after that.

A link round connected by "Charlie" was better as we went to 6, which was also what we scored on an initials round which I'd recommended for our joker round. I've the type of analytical mind that does well when given an extra clue, such as the first letter of the answer, though the team were more confident on Dingbats which was the picture round. I can't argue with that, as it's a strength for me as well, and the initials turned out to be TV shows which is why we missed a couple.

Unfortunately, we blew it on the joker. These were tougher than we were used to seeing, and we could only manage half of them. That's unusual between 6 of us, especially given that this is a team that actually likes them (my Ship Inn team vehemently hates them). That just left us sport to try and get over the line, and as I've already revealed, we couldn't quite do it. 6 was still good though; certainly it's better than many of more scores on it have been. 

It was a shame that we fell so agonisingly short again, but the scores overall were lower. A few coin flips here and there, including in our selection of the joker round, and it could have gone the other way. As I tend to point out at such times though, our correct guesses could have also gone against us - so it evens itself out.

Result: 36/56 (64.29%), joint 2nd/9

Quiz #42, Friday 3rd March, Laurie Arms, Haugh of Urr

This was only my second visit to the Haugh, a small, insulated vilage nestled cosily between Dalbeattie and Castle Douglas. Last time I was able to join a couple of nice old ladies and I had the notion that I might do so again. Of course, I don't know the place, and I had no way of knowing who might be there. They weren't, so I assumed I'd be playing solo, until the somewhat awkward "Should I ask if I can join them, maybe glances in their direction will somehow lead to conversation" situation I was in with a couple sitting nearby resolved itself with our tables being combined. They were new to the area - they moved here from Burton-on-Trent, of all places. That's near Ashby-de-la-Zouch, where I grew up 25 years ago! An amazing coincidence which gave us things to talk about immediately.

They seemed a nice couple, and their lack of local knowledge wasn't a huge issue, though it did cost us a point on GK. As I pointed out, however, "local" in this area can mean a lot of things, as my region is extremely broad - it's over 100 miles from one end to the other, so I didn't have it either. We got most of the others for 8. One of the pair was a teacher, which is always an advantage.

"The natural world" followed, and it was basically science and nature, with a couple of geography questions thrown in. We had 7, and went better than that with 9 on sport. The husband in the pair appeared to be a football fan, and got most of those, while I made a couple of contributions myself. The penultimate round was our joker, entertainment. We chose that figuring that our combined knowledge would get us most of the answers, and it did  9/10 for 18/20. There was a mix of questions, but between us we got them.

Those rounds are consistent at this quiz, with only the last changing. We were told it was "dates" which turned out to be things like Mother's Day, Shrove Tuesday, etc. I worked out Easter Sunday because I knew April Fool's Day was a Saturday; I looked that up to see if I was in the office and could therefore consider pranking the people I work with. Unfortunately we missed Remembrance Sunday, not realising that November 12th was close enough that it probably was the nearest Sunday to the 11th.

No matter though, our total was a solid 51/60 after that final 9/10. It was a high scoring quiz but we finished 3rd. Typically of recent quizzes I've done, we were only two points away from the win. A nice evening with a nice couple who seemed happy for me to join them again. I'd love to do that, though I believe the first of the month conflicts with the quiz at The Grapes until July now, and I have to say, I'll always favour the latter. That's no disrespect to the Laurie Arms, it's a decent quiz, but it's a straight choice and I can't deny my personal preference. I don't doubt I'll be back, however, and a visit on a light summer's evening might be quite nice!

Result: 51/60 (85%), 3rd/8

Week in Summation

After last week's controversies, this was a fairly unremarkable week, if I'm honest. I don't mean that in a bad way; it was very enjoyable, there was some decent scoring and I met some lovely people. I just don't see anything here making my proverbial highlight reel at the end of the year, is all. It could be that my memory is just already fading because this post is late, but I honestly can't think of anything else to say!

Total Score: 242/375 (64.53%)

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