Quiz #43 - Sunday 5th March, Turf Tavern Carlisle
The first quiz of the week started with optimism from the QM that I might win it, as there were relatively few teams. I'm still convinced such optimism is misplaced, though it's flattering all the same. Some justification for it came with my best picture round so far, as I scored 6. Okay, so a couple of them I had help for - the team next to me were rather loud with their deliberations. I can't help that I overheard and it put ideas in my head though, especially since a couple of them were pictures I hadn't even glanced at yet. Remember, folks - keep the volume down if you don't want to accidentally help the competition!
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capitalise on current events as I laboured to just 4. I only had two from the first of the top 5 lists - songs with "China" in the title", but could have had all 5 from the most populated cities in 5 given countries. I say "could have" because there were a few 50-50s, and a couple went the wrong way. Shame, but none in the 3 I got.
Alpha Links next, and after last week's misfortune, it was back to business. The American word for a courgette - zucchini - gave me the start of the chain immediately, and only Aviator sunglasses eluded me. They were relatively tame questions, but then I do know about things like Game of Thrones and Dick Dastardly. I've also visited Bletchley Park twice, and thus seen a real Enigma machine. The connections round took a couple of answers for me to get, but I eventually worked out that they were all things you can hold and gained a full house of 5.
The GK Wipeout would end the contest, and I suppose I should have seen a disaster coming here, sooner or later. Not many questions fell my way anyway, but the problem was a standard geography question, the only two countries in South America that don't border Brazil. I deliberated over answering for quite a while, but decided that it was worth it as I only had 3 other answers. I gave my answer - to the wrong question. Shockingly, the countries I actually gave were the two landlocked countries on the continent. I have no idea how I managed that, but it's annoying.
On the plus side, there was no real consequence to it. I finished last, but 2 points behind of 4th, 5 behind of the teams tied 2nd, and 11 behind the winners. There's nothing I could have done about that. Not a bad start to the week!
Result: 29/55 (52.73%), 5th/5
Quiz #44 - Monday 6th March, Kings Arms Dalbeattie (K)
I was a bit wary of going into one of K's quizzes alone, but those fears were immediately allayed when I got the chance to join Big Tam's, and it was the 3-man version of the team again. That didn't help us win last time, but perhaps on the second go? It was a solid start at least, with 17/20 on GK to our credit, and we followed that with a perfectly reasonable 7/10 on sport. Unfortunately I don't have the question sheets on hand so I can't give specific examples of what we faced.
Round 3 was another split round, like he did last time. Science and Nature, unplayed music and pot luck all had 5 questions each; we managed all of the former, 4 of the latter and 3 of the second. No complaints there! What followed was a rare picture round, which we had not seen here for quite a while. Most of them came okay, including Gary Barlow of Take That, who distinctly resembled Justin Beiber in his youth! The age of the picture proved who it was, however. Again, a couple escaped us, and this unfortunately would be the measure of the night.
Now with true or false rounds at this quiz, you have to assume there are landmines present in the questions. We knew a couple of them to be certainly true, but also spotted a couple of falsehoods - the gang from A Clockwork Orange had its name reversed, and the idea that the Great Wall of China can be seen from space is a common myth. We chanced that the rest were all true, though I wasn't certain on that. I was right there - the first half were all true, the second were all false. I've known the entire round to be true or false though, sometimes with a single exception, so this was nothing unexpected and we still had 7.
Played music meant that my contribution to the night was effectively over, and my occasional value in getting more modern tracks wasn't required here. We started well enough, and even I knew several of the earlier ones, but we couldn't maintain momentum and were restricted to 10/16.
I don't know where we placed, but it wasn't top 3. It was relatively close, but we were still 5.5 away from the win, which the odd question here or there wouldn't have given us. The team were surprised by the low score on music, but even a full house there wouldn't have been enough for the win. I won £6 on the bingo though, so walked away with a profit!
Result: 61/81 (75.31%), unknown(not last)/unknown
Quiz #45 - Tuesday 7th March, Ship Inn Dumfries
It was back to normal at the Ship Inn, with the Quizlamic Extremists returned. Half of them, anyway, as per usual. It was nice to be back with the usual team, however fun it has been joining forces with the Newbridge Caravan Park for the last couple of weeks. We started solidly with 6 on GK, which was similar to what other teams got. A round on Scottish history, I recognised - from the Granary, a while back. That meant I could predict a couple of the questions, but things like Annie Lennox's first band I just couldn't remember. Still, our 3-way tie on third had become a 3-way tie on 2nd, a couple of points behind the leaders. I'm not sure if they were the NCP, but probably they were.
Catchphrases of famous people proved very tricky, especially as the likes of Dr Seuss and Bruce Lee were included, so we only haf half of those. Dingbats are usually quite good for me if not the rest of the team, but recently the subject hasn't paid out good dividends and so it was again as we only picked up 12 from 18. We were punished for this, and now languished in 4th.
Now what followed was the specialist subject, and I've alluded in the past to the difficulty of these subjects. This has been perceived negatively by myself and other regulars at the quiz for some time, particularly since the QM changed quite a while ago. The point of the round is to give the previous week's last placed team an advantage, but the questions are deliberately so difficult that this simply doesn't happen. It has in fact been boasted about that any attempt to research the specialist subject will be wasted effort, because the questions will deliberately avoid the kind of things that one might look up. Tonight was a case in point - the 7 teams collectively managed just 18/70 points on this round. The team who chose it had 4, which was bettered by none, and we had only a single point. I've been forced to raise this directly with the QM, because I honestly think that another normal round would make more sense than a specialist round which is designed to ensure the teams get as few points as possible. I mean no disrespect to the quiz or its host, because I honestly think both are great - but this round is an issue and I know for a fact that I'm not the only person who feels this way.
While I am being, and I regret to say it, negative, I'm also going to admit to having queried the length of the quiz. The last bus back for a few people is at 10pm and this quiz finishes at 10.30. For a quiz that starts at 7.30pm on Tuesday, that's very late, and with 6 rounds, there's no real need for it that I can see. Again, no disrespect is intended, but I believe that it's a factor in less people coming to the quiz than there could be and that I'm not alone in feeling this way. Several regulars need to leave before the quiz is over, which is concern.
Moving on, music has done me few favours no matter which team I've joined, and I was unable to break this streak this time. Going into the final round, we were still in 4th, 11 points behind the leaders but at least more or less assured of not coming in last. We actually gained a placing with our 17/30, making this my 3rd consecutive 3rd place finish. That's pretty good going, and I'll leave it at that.
Result: 48/88 (54.55%), 3rd/7
Quiz #46 - Wednesday 8th March, The Granary Dumfries (K)
The Granary's quiz started with the surprising news that the usual host had the night off, so his duties were being covered by the guy who usually does this in such situations. That seems to be pretty seldom, though there have been several-week periods when it's happened in the past. They're infrequent enough that it was not my intention to separate them from the usual Granary quizzes in my stats. That changed after this one, which I cannot in good conscience include with others at this venue. I'm afraid I have very little that is positive to say about this quiz.
I'll start with the sugar before I move to the vinegar: the QM is clearly inexperienced at hosting such events. I believe he is a DJ by trade, and despite the similarities, they are very different jobs. The Granary's usual host has, I believe, a decade of experience, and has an almost military level of efficiency. Those are no easy shoes to fill, and I don't know how much notice the guest host had, as he appeared to arrive quite close to the starting time. The fact that the host had prepared played music rounds, which seldom ever feature in this quiz, does however indicate that he was aware that he'd be doing it that night. It's not an easy quiz for an inexperienced host to do, because there are a lot ot teams, it runs quickly and smoothly to a high standard. I can fully understand someone getting flustered in the attempt, and things not going wholly to plan.
Unfortunately though, I'm also a consumer, and I cannot hide the fact that the usual standards of this quiz simply were not met tonight. It was a shambolic farce, from start to finish, and if there were entry fees then I'd have wanted them refunded.
The late start was forgivable, though it was indicative of a clear lack of organisation. In an attempt to make up for lost time, he raced through the 10 GK questions in short order. I barely had enough time to write down the answers before the next question came, and that was despite knowing most of them. In general, they seemed easier than usual, and the structure of the round confirmed that this was not a quiz that was pre-made by the usual host. I was surprised to see as many as 3 film and TV questions, considering no less than 3 other rounds in the quiz were already confirmed to be on those subjects. Ultimately, we had 8 whch seemed pretty reasonable.
Marking at this quiz is usually a simple matter - we hand the sheets into the QM, who marks them and hands them out personally. No strict time limit is called on handing the sheets in, presumably because it's just known that you need to get them in quickly, and by the honour system everyone does. This time, "5 seconds left" was called what felt like 20 seconds after the last question was asked, and it was impossible to say how serious the host was being. More of an issue than that was the way they were returned - he simply left the pile of papers beside him and got the teams ourselves to come up and get our sheets. It looked and felt a mess.
Round 2 was film soundtracks. Sounds fair enough, and a bit novel for this quiz, except that he refused to say when one track stopped and the next began. In any venue, especially a big open one like this, that's a questionable decision, but it's worse when it's not clear where that divide is. I thought the last part of track 1 was part of track 2, and had to be corrected by my friend. If that sounds bad, it was nothing compared to the QM not even knowing how many questions were in the round! He announced question 13 when I was sure we were at 15, and that continued to the end of the round. He said there were 20 questions, I was sure we had 22, and at least one team thought 23 - presumably because of that perceived split on track 1. Of course, the tracks were not repeated. Farcically, the flustered host realised his mistake - in the list of tracks, it went 10, 11, 12, 11, 12. Evidently he had made up that list before making the tracks, so had indeed made 22. He announced points would be given for the films even if they weren't in the right order. Even the marking was wrong, though this did work in our favour. I just can't understand how it all went so wrong, but we had 14/22 in the end.
The papers were returned in a no less weird way from round 2 on - he called out team names as he finished marking individual sheets and we went up to collect them. I just don't get that. Round 3 was sport, and the round itself was fine (we scored 6), but afterwards he realised that he had forgotten to take a note of the running scores in the quiz thus far. This meant the QM correcting himself by calling out team names and asking us to shout out our scores! I've honestly never seen anything like it, and I hope never to again. Even the QM seemed to realise how bad an idea this was, as he sheepishly abandoned it half way through and decided to catch himself up on the scores at the end of the next round.
Round 4 was a film round that just fell badly for us.5 is poor, but we zigged when we should have zagged a couple of times, and others we didn't know. It was supposed to be film and TV, but there wasn't a single TV question in it. That left the final round, TV soundtracks. Even this was not straightforward, as there were exactly 19 questions for some reason. At least there was no confusion over which was which, this time. We had 13, and only Keeping Up Appearances could we realistically have gotten that we didn't.
Sadly, we were not done with the problems of the night. Only the top 3 scores were announced, rather than all of them - and the scores were completely wrong. I know for a fact that we had 46, because I always keep my scores of course. That should have put us in 2nd according to the scores that were read out. Clearly, we weren't actually second. Clearly, perennial winners Sporting Quizbon were up there - but there is no way they scored as few as the 51 we were told they got. I can only assume an entire round worth of questions were omitted from the final scores, presumably because of what happened after round 3. So I have no idea where we finished and will not be counting the scores announced in my leaderboard lists.
I know I sound very negative here, perhaps almost raving. And yet, my comments are fair, because they reflect what actually happened. This quiz has standards, which were not met. My sympathies for the host are genuine as expressed above, but he made huge mistakes and as a consumer I feel entitled to my sense of aggrievement about that. If I were doing this quiz for the first time, I would never go back. One final comment I will add is that last time he hosted, he made offensive "jokes" about high scoring teams being "nerds and geeks" who "need to get out more". So my expectations were already rock bottom going into this, and I know of teams who boycott the quiz when he hosts. I'll be doing the same next time, I think.
Result: 46/71 (64.79%), unknown/unknown
Quiz #47 - Thursday 9th March, Anchor Hotel Kippford
Okay, a new day means a new quiz, and for the third week in a row I was with the Disciples. We were a whole couple short this time, so it was the third week of a different lineup. GK was, as has been the case often of late, very difficult, and we were restricted to 5. A general round on famous people had promised little among an uncertain list of categories, and proved even worse with 4.
Round 3 was "The Bear Necessities", and that left us wondering. I assumed it would be about famous bears, but such rounds are risky choices for the joker so we decided against it. It wasn't half bad, however, giving us a 7. I was surprised not to see Baloo from the Jungle Book there, but questions about Sooty, Rupert the Bear, and Paddington Bear did appear.
Round 4 was science and technology, and the sort of round I tend to like but which has done me in before. The team were not keen, but it gave us a solid 6. For the joker, there seemed little to tempt us and last week's poor result on Dingbats made that seem a poor choice. It was the best we had, however, and so we entered the breach once more. We went in all guns blazing, but couldn't quite match our round 3 score. 12 was still good, but it meant 4 missed points that might have made a difference.
We finished with a round on "living things" - which meant animals, basically, as it usually does. It was another solid round, but we mixed up "largest eye" with "largest brain" and went for the blue whale - I'll remember that one for the future. As should anyone reading this, as it's likely to appear in a future quiz of mine!
The last two weeks, we tied for second, 1 point behind the winners. This time, we were tied for third, 4 points behind the winners - but we were tied with the team that won the last two times. So those dingbat points could have made the difference, but so could anything else, so I'm taking the philosophical approach. I think I was showing signs of frustration at times, which does tend to become very apparent with this very light-hearted and easygoing team, but I can't help that I take my craft seriously and my increasing winless streak is disappointing. So there's that.
Result: 40/56 (71.43%), joint 3rd/7
Quiz #48 - Friday 10th March, The Grapes, Springholm
So again to the Grapes for the week's last chance of glory. The turnout was massive, as it was a charity quiz for the Kirkpatrick Durham Church, and they were out in force. The KPD often supply the winning team, but their regular attendees are far fewer than those here tonight. A semi-regular actually joined us; it was the first time I'd quizzed with the man, though we used to play chess many years ago when I was in the town's club in the latter days of my schooling. That made us up to a four, as we were unable to persuade our occasional guest member to join us, and one of the regulars was absent.
The stage was set for a good night, and it was certainly that, though we were never in the quiz itself. We started well enough, with 8 on the first GK. Only Nicola Sturgeon's official residence and a line of "My favourite things" eluded us, and the former shouldn't have been a problem for me. Bizarrely, the first specialist round was called "The Bear Necessities". It was totally coincidental that there was one called this the night before at the Anchor, and amazingly, none of the questions were the same. Only one even related to the same bear - Paddington. Our 6 was okay, but we were marking the Teddy Bears, and they had 19/20 I think.
Our fortunes did not improve in R3. In keeping with most rounds this night, I pushed for an answer but was overruled, but that's okay, it happens. We collectively worked out a few answers between us, though could only manage 5 in total. Words beginning with successive letters of the alphabet saw most of them, perhaps inevitably, start "def". Embarassingly, we missed Nicola Sturgeon, though none of us knew her husband's name which was the clue. The other 9 meant we were being consistent, but also consistently below the Teddy Bears.
It was more of the same on the next GK, where I combined a mistake with some decent answers as part of our 6. We made hard work of our 7 on answers with the initials EC or PC, but we had the majority. We failed to identify Elvis Costello as another rockstar not called Eric Clapton as an EC or PC, and despite knowing that one question wanted Postman Pat's real name none of us could remember his surname, Clifton.
The penultimate pair was more of the same, really, as we scored another 14 between them. GK started well as we managed the first 4, but only 1 of the remaining 6. The last two, we couldn't even guess at. The last specialist round though was a hidden link connections round, and I'll be coy about the details because it's a connection I'm going to use myself in future. One of the team struggled with the concept, but fortunately I'd worked out the connection itself on the basis of questions 2 and 4, which helped us to 9 in total. It was a bit frenetic, especially due to the misunderstanding over the nature of the round, but we got there! As did our opponents, mores the pity. In a strange irony, the one question we missed contained the name of one of our team! The same team member who struggled on the subject but who recognised the song required.
That left us the final round only for redemption, but we were quite sure we were out of it. We gave it a go nonetheless, but 6 was never going to be enough. We still managed 3rd overall, and it will be interesting to see how many of those I've had in the last few weeks once my stats are finally updated, but we were 5 points behind 2nd - the strongest of the regular KPD teams - and 9 behind the runaway Teddy Bears. It was another good night, though it was a shame we had no chance of victory right from the start. Always good to see so many teams though, even if few will return any time soon.
Result: 61/90 (67.78%), 3rd/unknown
Week in Summation
Well, it was a rocky week, as my comments make clear. There's various non-quizzing related stress-inducing things going on in my life at the moment, which helps none, and I'm desperate for just a little bit of extra luck to give me a win or two. I'm still very much enjoying it all though, which is the main thing, but a week after the fact, I do still stand by my comments about Tuesday and Wednesday. I oblige no one to agree with me, my views thus remaining my own, but I'm sure I'm not alone in holding them about the events of either night.
It may be considered uncouth to post such comments online, on a public blog, especially one I know has some readers among people I quiz with and even quizmasters. To which I ultimately respond that I'm essentially a consumer of an event, someone who has spent time, money and effort in the attending of said event, and I'm not obligated to hold a positive opinion of it for any reason. In this blog, I review quizzes - I'm quick to praise, and generally restrained for the sake of tact in being negative. This week I saw cause to be open, and I hope I'm not begrudged that right.
The Tuesday quiz at least was still very much enjoyable, as I hope is clear, as has been the week generally. I'l keep soldiering on in my quest for more wins, and I'll keep quizzing whether I get them or not! I've already done 3 of this week's 5 quizzes as of the writing of this summation, and I already have stories to tell from those. As always, they will be told in due course! For now, I'm off to bed (well, after more blog writing anyway), with another quiz awaiting tomorrow evening. Perhaps I'll get a win there, maybe adding to ones I've already had in these 3 days!
Total Score: 285/441 (64.63%)