Hello and welcome to a special edition of my weekly roundups in which I'll be covering my holiday to the gorgeous and amazing city of Nottingham! For non-Brits, it's a city of a bit over 300,000 that lies somewhere in the middle of England, and which is most famous for its association with Robin Hood. Living in a town carried by its own obsession with a national hero (Robert Burns), the omnipresence of the legendary outlaw in the town isn't weird to me.
I visited for the first time last September, and it's interesting to consider how things have changed in that time. It was the first time I'd ever done 6 quizzes in one week, and the first time I'd ever travelled specifically for the purpose of quizzing. I'd never been, and didn't know what I was doing. But I loved it, so I had to come back!
I actually did return to a few of the quizzes I did last time, but a few were new, as this time I didn't travel beyond the city itself. As I wasn't writing this blog last time, I'll need to explain the format of each quiz as I go (with one exception - Wednesday). So this blog might be a bit longer than usual, though it should also be quite informative, I hope!
Quiz #104 - Sunday 24th May, Trent Navigation, Nottingham
My holiday began with the longest journey, as it happened. Not long after my 6 hour trip to get to the city, I was walking a mile or so beyond the city centre to this scenic pub nestled beside the River Trent, for a quiz that at 7.30 starts quite early in the evening. It was one of my returning quizzes, and I attempted to settle the nerves I always face when going into a quiz I'm not familiar with by sampling the delicious food. I was expecting it to be busier in there, as there was a gala day to raise money for a local hospice. Perhaps all the action happened before I arrived! There were still half a dozen teams, however. Due to the charity events, the quiz had a "doctors and nurses" theme to it.
I started doing the quiz alone, but eventually summoned up the courage to ask another individual quizzer if I might join him. That wasn't easy, given my social anxieties, but it felt great to join him. He was actually a University Challenge contestant back in the 1970s, which I found fascinating. For his part, he was fascinated by my journal in which I record all the details of my quizzes. We'd both started the first round separately, but found our answers - and knowledge generally - syncing quite well.
The quiz started with a picture round - so far, so traditional. 10 pictures of TV doctors, and after some confusion it was eventually clarified that it was the character names being asked for. One was from the Simpsons (Dr Nick Riviera), and asking the voice actor's name might have been pushing it! Interestingly, the second half of the first round is a question about each of the pictures. In Dr Nick's case, we were asked for his catchphrase, for example. The Simpsons also gave me the name of Frasier Crane's brother (Niles), but in general, we struggled on the questions. We ended up with 7 of the pictures and 4 of the questions, which seemed an okay start.
Next up was 5 questions on events that happened that day. These were tough, though we fared a little better on what would have been a 5 question GK round that was bumped to 6 with a bonus point. We had 3/5 on the former, 4/6 on the latter. If the whole quiz was GK, I'd have fancied our chances.
After a half time break, the specialist round was very obviously doctors. Normally it's 5 questions, but it was actually 10 this week, thanks wholly to a question on the top 10 actors in the Carry On series. We were asked for 3, with a point for each, and an extra point for each unique answer given, essentially making the question worth 6 points. We got 5 on that question with 2 unique answers, and 8 in total.
Played music is normally a connections round here, but there was no bonus point for that this week for obvious reasons. My little brother's childhood obsession with the Cartoons' song Witch Doctor gave us the first 2 points easily enough, but we struggled thereafter and only managed 4 in total, one more of which was also mine.
That left the last round, a multiple choice GK round that is deliberately harder than the other rounds. To be honest we were in our element here, and for at least a couple we didn't need the clues. It felt very good to get a full house, which meant we finished in 2nd place. That was a great start to the week. However nervous I felt going into the quiz, I was bouncing out of the place. My teammate was such a nice guy, and we did very well together. The music round was the only letdown, and there's nothing we could do about that as it's not our area of expertise.
Result: 35/56 (62.5%), 2nd/6
Verdict On the Quiz: This is a really good quiz, that deserved to be busier than it was, though I can't say if that's how any teams are usually there. The picture round with its questions is a really interesting way to do it, with the questions making it sometimes possible to get a picture that was unclear otherwise. There's a good mix of rounds and questions, it's well hosted and efficiently run. I'd definitely like to be able to do this regularly, though the pictures and music would make it a tough ask solo. With a team, I reckon I could do quite well here. I've definitely no need to look elsewhere for a Sunday quiz in this city.
Quiz #105 - Monday 29th May, Malt Cross, Nottingham
Monday's quiz was one I had been to before, but at the last minute after I accidentally found myself in a student music quiz on my last visit. I remember feeling very comfortable here, surrounded by people my own age, in the sort of place I'd be a regular at in general if I lived in the city, not just for the quiz. Those feelings were definitely enhanced by this visit. I found a team, 3 people who initially mistook me for the quizmaster. They are regulars, in fact two of them actually work at the pub, but the QM rotates at this quiz. I didn't speak to the guy who did it last time, as he was sitting upstairs, but we did see each other and I think he recognised me. Notably, all the hosts seem to stick to the same format, unlike my regular Monday quiz, at which each host does their own thing.
Before the quiz starts, pictures are handed out. Unlike most quizzes, where they're a round unto themselves, in this case, questions about them are scattered through the quiz. Sometimes its as simple as "Who is this person?", other times they're more cryptic.
Round 1 was 10 questions on GK, and we started very strongly with 9. A current events question about a tennis player meant one of the pictures had to be Maria Sharapova, and one of the team brilliantly worked out 3 pictures of a 90 degree angle, a Mercedes Benz and a model's face to be the politician Angela Merkel (the model being Elle MacPherson). I liked these guys a lot!
Rounds 2 and 3 were both music, the former being general questions, the latter being played introductions with a connection. The connection itself is the last question of the general round, which is the kind of thing that raises semantic questions over my stats - I'll record it as 2 rounds of 10 as per the way they've done it. My team are better on music than I am, and we got 8 of the questions, one of which was the connection, and 7 of the played music. I'd have gotten 4 of the played ones alone, but those being "Fight For Your Right To Party" by the Beastie Boys and "Waterloo" by Abba, I'd have gotten the connection. We weren't sure exactly what word to use, but "Conflicts" was exactly that used by the host.
The specialist round this week was really interesting - Greek letters. Cue me trying to hastily write as many as possible. The theme covered both questions and answers; a picture of a Beta Max tape, the actress Catherine Zeta Jones and the location of the Mississippi Delta were all included. The latter came from a selection of 4 circled areas on a map of the USA, and I was very happy with getting that one. We got 8 in total.
TV & Film rounded out the quiz, and between us we managed all 11 points here, having gotten the bonus for recognising the dulcet tones of Kim Jong Ill from a sound clip, in addition to the film, Team America: World Police. A strong finish in a strong performance at a busy quiz, though we were restricted to 4th place. That's out of 16 teams, however, so it's very impressive I don't mind saying! Especially since the 1st place team got an incredible 48 points.
Honestly, this was one of the best nights I've had at a quiz in a long time. The team were amazing, the quiz was amazing, it's a rare example of the sort of pub I can genuinely see myself almost living in (I don't drink, so I tend to need a reason to be there)...in general, I loved it! Given some of the team work there, I hope they'll still be there when I next visit so I can join them again!
Result: 43/51 (84.31%), 4th/16
Verdict On the Quiz: Honestly, my favourite quiz of the week, and one of my favourite ever. Amazing that I'm saying that of a quiz with 2 music rounds, which makes it very entertainment heavy when you factor in Film & TV, but it honestly just works. The use of the pictures is inspired, the setting and hosting both terrific. Everything is really good there, and with different hosts, you get something different every week. I did the quiz solo last time (embarrassingly getting 0 on played music) so I've experience of that as well and I still really enjoyed it. Definitely one I want to go back to.
Quiz #106 - Tuesday 30th May, Ocean Tavern at Annie's Burger Shack, Nottingham
My Tuesday quiz was a new one, as I decided against returning to Ashby-de-la-Zouch this time. I don't know what other quizzes there are in the area on a Tuesday, but seeing that there was a James Bond round at this one meant I had no need to look further. The venue is a pub beneath a burger restaurant that clearly looks like a pub in its own right. If any of my old Glasgow friends are reading this, the Tavern reminds me a lot of Bamboo with more seats. Ah, the old AltNation days! But, I digress. After the best burger I've ever eaten, I descended to the quiz.
There I was surprised to learn that the "specialist subject" was actually the focus of the entire quiz! So I took a big risk, and decided to do the quiz alone. It meant no socialising, but the chance for glory was too much to pass up.
We started with 20 pictures of characters from the series, and we needed the full names of the characters, and their films. In typical exam style I managed to blank on a couple, but ended up with 19 of the 20. I'd have had the full set except that I got Major Amasova's first name wrong. I was given it right, but we did need both so I couldn't accept. The host appreciated my honesty. There were tough questions there, I know the subject well enough to say that.
Round 2 was GK, and the only non-Bond round in the quiz. I was furious with myself later on in the evening for my errors here, but that's a discussion for another day. I got 4/10, missing at least 3 that no serious quizzer can be excused for missing. A shame.
We moved onto a different kind of GK, that relating to the subject itself. Now as I said, I know my Bond, and these were brutal questions. I was in my element to be sure, but even I had to work hard for it. Things like "How many women did Bond sleep with in Live And Let Die" and "In which film does Felix Leiter get married?" As I'm looking over this right now I'm deducting myself a point as I appear to have been given an extra mark for detail I added but wasn't asked about, oops. I can't take that unfortunately. Still, 10/11 was very good, and only a 50/50 cost me the one point.
"True or False" followed and those are always tricksy. I'm not overly bothered with 2/5. "Audio Clips" was a round I'm still laughing at, in the sense of "If I don't I'll cry". Rather than just the themes, it was themes sampled by other songs - and we needed the film. So it was a case of trying to work out the theme from the noise, and then get the film. One of the sampling song was a German rap, which I somehow worked out was using a sped up Goldeneye theme for. Thankfully, the very obvious Millennium, which used You Only Live Twice, was in there, and I eventually extracted Skyfall for the first one. I'll take my 3 and not look back!
The last round was very unusual - video clips! No idea how I'll classify this in my stats, probably just as a general film round, because it was questions asked about what was seen in the 30 second clips. I spent the time writing down as much as I could about the scenes to try and guess the questions. It didn't help, as I only got 2/6. I'm furious that I forgot that the banker's office in The World is Not Enough was in Spain, though, which cost me the bonus point for the city (Bilbao, which I knew as soon as the country was announced). The others I missed I wasn't getting though.
Overall, the placing is done in "stand up and sit down when your score is reached" fashion; all the more intimidating for me given that I was sitting right at the front. I wasn't in the top 3, but I do believe I was 4th. I can't prove that though and I'm erring on the side of not recording that, as it's how I do things elsewhere. I can't argue with how I did, really. It was an exhilarating quiz, start to finish; as stressful as they come, but in a good way. I'd been thoroughly tested, and not quite passed, and I did have to wonder what might have been if I'd joined a team (I'd have won almost certainly, but it's more the socialising I'm unsure on), but no matter. A great evening all the same!
Result: 41.5/57 (72.81%), unknown (outwith top 3/unknown
Verdict On the Quiz: A very good quiz, definitely unique, both in using video clips and in having the entire quiz be on a single subject. I've got to be honest, I'm not certain I could go along every week if the specialist subject was one I wouldn't be able to handle with some confidence, but the difficulty could vary so I won't judge it on that basis by this week alone. The question setter clearly knew the subject amazingly well here, and I'd be intrigued to see what they could do with other subjects. I also don't doubt I could find a team easily enough, as it's clearly a friendly, sociable place. If the quiz were in more general style with the same format that might suit me better personally, but I'd be plenty happy going along to this regularly all the same. Plus the burgers upstairs are incredible, and I was back for another before the end of the week.
Quiz #107 - Wednesday 31st May, The Lion at Baseford, Nottingham
Finally, a quiz with whose format I was familiar! Wednesday marked the last of my returning quizzes, a Redtooth in a friendly pub a mile or so outside the city centre. My first visit was my first ever attempt at a Redtooth, but now I do one every week on a Sunday at the Turf in Carlisle. QMs are free to change the format how they will, but there were no modifications here so I don't need to explain how this quiz worked.
I remember the food here being pretty good, albeit the American-tinged menu was somewhat sparse (burgers and hot dogs mostly). But alas, by this point in the week my holiday-induced gluttony was getting the better of me, and as I'd spent the day gorging on pizza and doughnuts in the sunshine, I decided against partaking. A wise decision, as it turned out, as at half time there was a free buffet of sausages, chips and bread rolls. Delicious!
Last time around, I joined a team and hoped perhaps the same people might be there again. They weren't, but my invitation for support on the Facebook page got the attention of the host's wife, and I was able to join her team. Apparently they usually only have two or three, but we had as many as eight at one point in the evening. Not that numbers alone tend to decide the outcome at these quizzes, but it never hurts! Okay, on with the show then.
The pictures are forever the bane of my existence, and that remained the case here. Between us all, we were restricted to 5. We did better on current events, though we lost a point because not a one of us was good on sport. 8 was just fine though!
The first of the top 5 lists was Music...joy! I don't know my Bee Gees, though the team were able to get 3 of them. Dustin Hoffman films, now that was better. We actually got a full house on those, thanks in part to my pointing out that intellectualism and the box office don't always go hand in hand and thus Meet the Fockers was probably on their. I'm not massively familiar with the man, but the likes of Rainman and Kramer vs. Kramer were pretty obvious.
On to Alpha Links and these have been tough the last few weeks. I kinda took the lead on this one, coordinating our efforts. I had an idea that a question about the White Fokker meant the first answer was Biggles, but that was only confirmed at question 5, technically. We worked well together to get a valuable 9. The connection round duly followed, and I recognised a question I'd asked myself in my own quizzes for the connection itself of British Prime Ministers. We missed one, but that was okay.
As ever, the Wipeout round ended the quiz, and it started very well indeed. It seems this round is getting easier! We actually had the first 8, but decided to ignore the last 2. Only the confidence of one of the team on the 7th question was misplaced, and we wiped out. C'est la vie, it happens! And it wouldn't have made any difference to us anyway, with the winning team getting an incredible 54. We could have made the podium, just, with the 3rd placed team being on 39, but 2nd was 45 so there was no overhauling them.
I've got to say, this was another great night! The team are lovely, and since they host the quiz, they might well still be there when I go back. Which I will, and hopefully sooner rather than later!
Result: 34/55 (61.82%)
Quiz #108 - Thursday 1st June, The Grosvenor, Nottingham
This quiz marked a record for me in that it was the shortest distance I've ever travelled to a quiz. Well, aside from the fact that I was 200 miles from home, anyway. This quiz though was in the pub literally directly across the street from my hotel, and it was one I didn't go to last time because I'd pre-planned a quiz in Derby that time. I went this time, though again too full to enjoy the food (I regret nothing - Annie's Burger Shack is anything but a shack and I'd go there much more often if I could).
It took a while for me to find a team, but I eventually asked a group of 3 young people who looked like they might have space and seem friendly. They were more than happy to have me, and a couple of them actually worked in the pub. Strange that that happened 3 times this week! Great group, really nice, though by their own admittance they're there for the fun rather than serious quizzing. The team name was Fact Hunt, which pretty much says it all, though I loved the name.
Indeed, this was very much a lighthearted affair throughout, though not in a bad way. The quiz was very simple - 3 rounds of 10 mixed questions. A 4th round of Family Fortunes ended the night. Now regular readers of this blog will know that I have a decidedly negative opinion on pure luck-based rounds like Family Fortunes, but here, it actually did make sense. Clearly, this was a night out with a few questions being asked and not a serious quiz. I can respect that, and enjoy it for what it is.
Still, it meant that I was the intellectual workhorse of the team, which I later learned normally finishes dead last. There isn't a huge amount I can say about 3 rounds of 10 GK questions, but I actually really enjoyed them, for what they were. They were good questions, the sort of thing I should have known and usually did. I gave some good answers, like the Coldstream Guards as the longest serving continuous regiment in the British Army, which I worked out from the year and the other choices. Our scores were 8, 9 and 7, tying us for the lead in the end.
That left us the Family Fortunes round, which was 15 questions but half points. 3 questions, top 5 of each wanted. The team had grown to 8 at this point, and I largely didn't participate in this round. Since the 1st 3 rounds were worth 2 points per question and the last round was 1 point, I'm reducing them all by half, thus making it 3 rounds of 10 points and 1 of 7.5. We got 9 of the 15 on Family Fortunes, leaving us tied 2nd. Looks like the winning team got them all on the latter, so nothing to be done about that!
I ended up staying in the pub long after the quiz was over, and I had a great night talking with everyone and playing cards. Since a couple of them are staff, we could stay long after the pub was effectively closed. Really great night to be honest. It wasn't the sort of place I'd go to for the quiz, but because of the company, I'll definitely be returning next time. A fun, lighthearted way to end the week.
Result: 28.5/37.5 (76%), joint 2nd/12
Verdict On the Quiz: I've got to judge this quiz for what it is, which is lighthearted, wholly non-serious fun. I'm not sure if the Family Fortunes round is normal or not, but it works for the quiz either way. I did enjoy the questions, they're the sort I can show off a bit on and also learn from. The environs are really nice and the company was great. Sometimes it's good to do something a little different, and this really worked for me.
Quiz #109 - Friday 2nd June, The Grapes, Springholm
And so it was that I returned home, and less than 3 hours after my 6 hour drive (note to self: stop driving on the A1 on Friday afternoons, the traffic will be guaranteed awful), I was back in the driver's seat for a much more leisurely 25 minute trip to the Grapes. It seems a bit weird including it in this roundup, but I do these weekly and I'm sticking to that. As with Wednesday, I don't need to explain the format, at least.
My team was 4 strong tonight, this being a quiz where the teams tend to change every week and the names apply to individual groupings more than whole teams. This week, I again had the man I refer to here as I on my side, meaning we would together attempt to defend the title we won as a pair last time. I's wife was also present, which is a rarity, and we had D from the Kirkpatrick Durham lot, who was here for the first time in a while as well. D is the one I know from back in my days in the Dumfries Chess Club 15 years ago.
Our opposition took the form of the KPD3, the Teddy Bears who included M, the other half of the Damned United (I is the other half, and they hold the quiz record with the 73/90 they got earlier this year), and a couple of visiting teams. Unknown quantities there, along with the established heavyweights. I later learned that the difficulty had been impacted somewhat for the benefit of the visitors, but it was clearly subtle as I hadn't noticed during the quiz. I believe it wasn't so much made easier as just balanced, really.
Winning this quiz is always a challenge, and I feel it helps a lot to impose yourself early, because you never know when you're going to come unstuck on a tricky specialist round. It's become the norm for the first question in each GK round to be on current affairs, and we unfortunately missed it this time. That was just about the only blip though, as we surged to 8. The specialist round was actually one I'd heard before - amazing, given that I know the host to write almost all his own rounds. It turned up at the Granary recently, and the surnames of all the answers were male first names. Last time it gave us only 5, but we had a much stronger 9 this time. 17/20 is a very strong start.
We needed it, too, as we couldn't maintain it in the next set. The GK questions just didn't fall for us and we only got 6. The specialist was a specialist of this quiz - words beginning "No", "Can", or "Do". I really should have recognised Dominos Pizza from a description of the logo, given how much pizza I consume, but oh well. 7 wasn't a disaster, but with the Teddy Bears having only gotten 12 on the first set, they got 16, greatly reducing the gap.
Time to turn up the heat, then, and we did so in style on the third set. We put the GK to the sword after a long discussion about the makeup of the Village People saw us eventually land on 6, though none of us could accurately name all 6. The only glitch was the country of origin of Limburger cheese, which no one was too bothered about missing. The specialist was homophones, which was no surprise to me and I, because we'd been talking about that sort of round with the host after the previous quiz. We bulldozed our way to a full house of 10, giving us 19 in total.
Time for the final pairing, and the specialist was obviously going to be a connections round since it always is these days. First came GK of course, and it was another strong round: 8, with only a couple of near-misses costing us. The connection we managed to work out relatively early as Olympic host cities, though we changed our mind on a couple before getting them right. Confirming the connection certainly helped, though we initially thought possibly winter rather than summer games. Again, my knowledge of US geography proved useful as we got 9, leading to the Teddy Bears rather unsportingly (though in jest of course) returning our paper in a scrunched up ball, having gotten the connection but only 3 others. They're good guys and we all saw the funny side.
That left the final GK, and two teams could apparently technically win. We had reason to believe we were among them. It's usually a harder round, and so it proved again - it was our lowest score of the night, with 6. That included a 50/50 miss by me and a couple of great answers too.
The final result was that we had won - by 11 points, again! If you've been adding up the scores as you go (nothing stopping anyone doing that, I suppose...) you'll see that we finished with 72/90, just 1 point off the record! It really was a fantastic night, a superb performance by all 4 of us, with some great deductions, inspired guesses and excellent use of applied knowledge. I is actually unbeaten at this quiz since February, his only non-win being a non-appearance since his return from a long holiday abroad. Individually I reckon he's the best quizzer in the house, though we all played our part and I've a deserved reputation myself.
My old sparring partner R will be returning next time, so I believe I and I will be at opposite ends again, but that winning run of his has to end sometime. Mine is hopefully just beginning! What an end to a stunning week!
Result: 72/90 (80%), 1st/6
Week in Summation
Of course, this has been a truly amazing week, and I've loved...well not quite every minute, in that I always make things more stressful for myself than I need to, but close to it. It's all been really worth it, definitely. I haven't made immediate plans to stay in contact with anyone I met this week but I'll definitely be hoping to see a lot of them again, at the fantastic quizzes I did. Fair enough, my only win came after the holiday was over, but that took a lot of application in a difficult quiz after a tough long journey. Besides, I came close enough to wins elsewhere, being on the podium and clearly beating some highly capable teams along the way.
I've learned a lot this week, and gained in other ways too - it has done wonders for my confidence, though also my ambition. I feel like I can really build on this, and hopefully go back next year a far stronger quizzer and more confident person. So yeah, could hardly be happier!
Total Result: 254/346.5 (73.30%)
Total Result Excluding Friday: 181/256.5 (70.57%)