Sunday, 13 August 2017

Weekly Roundup, W/E 04/08/2017

In my last post I wrote...a lot. A lot changed for me in the hours and days after the epic QuizFest. Obviously enough, by the time I started my next week's quizzing, I hadn't processed all that. I left the quiz on Sunday, but as expected, I was hungry and eager to get to one on the Monday. Just to be clear, I did a quiz every day this week; 3 in the New Forest area, one in Stafford on my way back home...and one back at home, at the Laurie Arms on Friday.

This could be another long review, especially as my holiday means I'll need to explain the format of the quizzes I went to, but fortunately I have a lot of good things to say about my week. So let's get to it!

Quiz #140 - Monday 31st July, Fox & Hounds, Lyndhurst

This is a rural area, and there isn't the abundance of choice for quizzes one might find in a big city, but this one was advertised fairly prominently, and as a well-attended quiz, no less. The village it's in seems like one of the bigger urban areas of the New Forest, relative though that description is. A community hub, one might say.

The pub itself is very typical of those in the area, at least the ones I visited: cosy, homely, the sort of place where one could easily lose entire evenings at a time. As plenty of the locals doubtless do. This one is definitely a restaurant too though, and a very good one at that. After sampling that aspect of the place, I was able to join a large family team, with 7 people including a couple of friends and myself, for this quiz. I'm always nervous going into a pub alone, and was especially so after the previous night, but I got a team early and was immediately and warmly welcomed. This team apparently had a strong pedigree at the quiz, which was further reassuring.

The quiz itself was a Redtooth quiz, which made it even more familiar because the Turf Tavern in Carlisle is in this style. It did have a couple of twists though, and as this blog may have new readers, I'll explain it as I go through anyway.

The first round at a Redtooth is a picture round, of a variety of mostly people from different fields - sport, music, etc. I usually struggle on these rounds, and despite our numerical advantage we still missed a few of these, finishing with 7/10. Now in Carlisle, this quiz is marked altogether at the end. Here, it was round by round, and half points were allowed, too. An interesting change, which means that I have a full league table for the quiz.

Round 2 is current events, and we were better here, with a strong 8. After the first round, we were tied first, but dropped to 2nd now. No matter, there was time yet! Rounds 3 and 4 are lists of 5 things. The quiz keeps them as one round, but I separate them as the subjects are inevitably different. The first set was the top 5 best selling artists of all time who aren't from the USA or UK, as there are only 5 in the top 30. ABBA was obvious enough but we only managed one more, despite naming all of the others in our discussions. Unfortunate. The 2nd list was much easier, simply 5 British English words that we had to give the US equivalent for. Coriander/cilantro was the only remotely difficult one there, but we had that too for a full house. We now tied for the lead again, having apparently exchanged a point between this round and the previous with the team sitting across from us.

Alpha Links is normally where I shine - all the answers begin with consecutive letters, but you're not told where the sequence startes. Unfortunately, at this quiz it's a music round! Played, at that. It alternated between song title and artist name for the sequence, but we still needed to give both. We found it brutal, but did get most the answers, little thanks to me with my meagre knowledge of the field, with our 7.5 surging us into a 3 point lead.

The hidden link connections round followed, which is where 4 answers are connected by something, question 5 being what the connection is. I can't remember what the first question was, but "Jack" was in the answer, immediately suggesting playing cards as a connection. Now I used exactly that connection in my last quiz, and I included a question on Ace Ventura, the Jim Carrey film character. Such a question came up here too, which for me confirmed it. I was able to work out the actress Queen Latifah once that had been confirmed, and the family patriarch got the band The Gypsy Kings for the last. Nope, I've never heard of them either! Great work between us for a full house and the same lead as before.

The last round at these quizzes is general knowledge wipeout, where one wrong answer means you lose it all for the round, but where a full 10 points gives you a bonus 5. Since we had a decent lead, we decided to play it very cautiously. Excessively cautiously actually, as we could have had 8 but went for just 4 of those due to niggling doubts. As it happened, there was no issue with us doing that, as when the dust settled our lead was still unchanged, and we had won!

I have to say, it was a great evening. It's a lovely pub filled with great people, and to win the quiz was the icing on the cake. I wasn't able to contribute as much as I'd have liked but I definitely did help, so I'm happy with that. This was an impressive start to the week, I have to say.

Result: 38.5/55 (70%), 1st/10

Quiz #141 - Tuesday 1st August, Coach and Horses, Cadham

The next day, I was exhausted as I'd spent a long time wandering the streets of Southampton, though there's no such thing as too exhausted to quiz, as far as I'm concerned! This pub is slightly more rural, though it is directly on a main road. I was very surprised to see familiar faces walk in - the same team I joined the previous night! Needless to say, we were only too happy to join each other once more. There were 5 this time, as there was one different friend and a couple who weren't there.

The quiz itself, I must say, was far simpler in style: 3 rounds, 70 questions. The first was 30 advertising slogans, which was followed by two rounds of 20 GK questions. Truth be told, I prefer quizzes with fixed subjects, but once in a while, I'm perfectly okay with just a mixed bag of questions. There was also a break with free food inbetween, and at the end, a raffle for some of the local meat. Makes sense, for an area that thrivs on the quality of its produce!

There isn't a huge amount to say about the quiz itself, so this will be relatively brief. Advertising slogans are things I could do with learning more of, though there's so many that it's hard. Doesn't help that I watch fairly little TV, and fewer still adverts. I was able to get a few of them, and the older members of the team a few more. We ended with 20/30, which was a fair but slightly disappointing return.

The GK rounds were both solid, and I definitely felt I contributed far more than the night before. My confidence seemed to have been growing, and that's a clear positive. In both rounds we got 16 from 20, finishing with 52. It was a close quiz, and an extra point here or there would have made the difference. All of it, actually, as we finished tied 2nd, one point behind the winners.

Last place was 44 and the other scores were 45 and 46, so we were well clear of the bottom half, but agonisingly close to that second consecutive win. I'm not complaining though, it was a great score at a very fun little quiz. Sometimes, there's no need to overcomplicate! Shame I definitely won't see that team again this time, but a fantastic experience to join them twice, and I'll treasure the memories.

Result: 52/70 (74.29%)

Quiz #142 - Wednesday 2nd August, Wheatsheaf, New Milton

I've spoken at length about QuizFest in this blog. Its organiser is a local quiz promoter from this area who does a lot for quizzes up and down the country. Quiz Britain is his organisation, and for a small fee you can have your quiz listed on a website visited by millions a year! He also hosts his own quizzes, and it was on Wednesday that I took the opportunity to visit one.

I've got to say, this was an unusual experience; I'd made an impression on Saturday, quite clearly, and was treated like something of a celebrity! It was very flattering, and I felt very honoured, though in truth it did feel like there was something to it as I knew I'd been playing very well recently. The question was, could I justify the hype?

I had the chance as I joined the organiser's wife's own team, and was very welcome within it. I joined them after eating some of the best sausages I'd ever eaten, that is. Really really fantastic food in this place.

The format was rather unusual as well. We started with a sheet of paper that had both dingbats and pictures of actors on it. I proved myself from the start by blasting through the dingbats, most of which I'd seen before. We got 11 on those and all 10 of the actors. I didn't know all of those but I definitely got a couple the others didn't, like Steve Buscemi and Ethan Hawkes.

The GK was 20 questions, and played music, with a connection, was interspersed throughout. A top 10 list was also included part way through, and there was a half-time break on top of it all. So it wasn't a straight forward quiz, but it was a very fun one.

The GK fell fairly well for me, and I was able to impose myself on it quite nicely. Even where I didn't outright know an answer, I could usually contribute to the discussion. That was also the case with the list, which was the top 10 Spanish speaking countries that aren't Spain. We correctly worked out that it was South America we needed to be looking at, as Spain did not have many colonies in Africa or Asia. Most of South American that wasn't Brazil made the list, but we mixed up our Central American countries and somehow forgot Cuba. We finished on 7 though, which I'm happy with.

The music is the team's downfall, apparently, and I can't pretend I was any help. 2. Let's move on. The GK saw us finish on 16/21, which was much better. In fact, this quiz was marked by round, and we won! We were 2 points ahead of the next best teams, who were tied both of them on 15. We'd also won the dingbats/actors hand out with our maximum score. From my notes, the next best scores were 16 and 9, though the latter certainly seems on the low side so I'm not sure on that. My stats will only account for the GK anyway.

This was a really fantastic night. It was an unusual quiz but a great one. I was treated like a celebrity and lived up to the hype by winning. I couldn't be happier with how it went, and that's a terrific feeling to have! A superb end to my stay in the New Forest.

Result: 16/21 (on GK alone, 76.19%), 1st/11

Quiz #143 - Thursday 3rd August, Star & Garter, Stafford

The New Forest is about 7 hours away from me, so I split the journey home as I'd done on the way down. This time though, I was able to go to a quiz on the Thursday night. My stop over was in the market town of Stafford, a place that...well it seems like it's seen better days. It's just my opinion, but I won't be rushing back.

The quiz I went to turned out to not be in a restaurant, which I hadn't realised, meaning I went without dinner. Oh well, I wasn't all that hungry anyway. This was a conventional pub, a spit and sawdust kind of place. Typically old-fashioned urban, rather than country village. Not a bad little place, granted, and the kind where everyone is each other's friends. Strangers tend to be welcome but perhaps viewed as a curiosity of sorts. Fortunately, I was easily able to find a team, a local couple with a decent but not exceptional record at the quiz, I believe.

By the time I'd joined them, they'd already ripped through the picture round, which was a mixture of things beginning with the letter Q. I was only able to add one, Quark from Star Trek, but they had 18 of the others anyway. The last was the extinct beast the quagga, which we didn't get. 19 was a solid start though.

The rest of the quiz was pretty simplistic, in that it was 2 rounds of a baseline 25 GK questions. The first had a lot of bonus oppportunities, putting it up to 37 points in total. I was able to impose myself pretty readily on this quiz. Last night had sent my confidence up a lot, and I was helped by the fact that I clearly had a strong team with whom I could work well. I was able to answer a few questions that they didn't get, and thus secured us some extra points.

These were difficult questions, too. The country with an AK-47 on its flag (Mozambique, which I know from the film Lord of War) and the more common name for the Smileodon (Sabretoothed Tiger) aren't things that everyone knows. Apparently, this was a harder quiz than is normal at this venue, which made our strong performance all the more impressive.

In fact, it was strong enough that we finished with 53/72, having gained 21 from 37 in the first half. That discounts a point we were given in error. In the second set, we got 13 of 25 to complete the quiz. By the end, we had stormed to victory by a mammoth 10 points! This tourist had swept in and swept away with the prize! I certainly can't claim all the credit, but I was an undeniable help; I played very well.

I've got to say, this was turning into quite the week! This is what I crave, a dominant performance and a win I fully earned. I even won the Irish Bingo at the end! Loving it!

Result: 53/72 (73.61%), 1st/unknown

Quiz #144 - Friday 4th August, Laurie Arms, Haugh of Urr

I was back home, though my holiday had a way to go yet, in a sense. For now, it was back to business as usual at a familiar quiz. I had a title to defend, having won the quiz last time around. I wasn't sure what was happening with the team, as one of the couples had visitors and there was a notion that one of them might be joining us. This would put us over the limit of 6, so I did have the feeling I might not be welcome. Or, more likely, that I'd be responsible for splitting the team into two 3s. As it was, one of the couple turned up while the other stayed home, so we were 5 rather than 6. Fair enough.

We decided to make GK our joker round for the evening, which goes against my normal inclinations, but which makes sense at this quiz given the broad nature of the rounds here. GK is often a little easier, and there's a relatively high chance of one problematic question coming up that can scupper us in the other rounds. So it's a good option, if only at this venue.

It did us well, too, with only a single dropped question costing us a maximum score. 18 I'll take.The Natural World would have been a better joker though, as we did get the full house there. There was a bit of controversy, however, as the answer to the question "What is rhino horn made of?" was given as keratin. This is true, but keratin is also found in hair, and quite a few teams had given hair as the answer. Us among them, and the outcry from a few teams got hair accepted, which is cool.

The sport round was all one particular team member, though I do think I knew the last 4/5. A mixup over the Milan football teams was the only blip, for 9/10. Entertainment really required our missing team member, and as such we only got 6/10 there. Nothing to be done about that, but this was still a strong performance. The last round was numbers, and I correctly predicted a couple of questions, like the number of bones in the human body, which helped us to what felt like a strong 7.

Last time, we won the quiz on a tiebreaker. Guess what! We had to do the same again this time. This time, it was a rugby question, about the number of points scored by someone with a record. Luckily the other team either didn't know their rugby or misinterpreted the question, as we were significantly closer, and had won! A tense but brilliant end to the week. Just a shame I can't be there next time to try and make it 3 in a row!

Result: 50/60 (83.33%), 1st/13

Week in Summation

What. A. Week. After missing that quiz on Sunday, I won 4 out of 5, including the last 3. Finally, I got 3 in a row, a hurdle I'd been stuck at for as long as I can remember. I was only a single point away from getting the full set of 5 wins as well...I won't even dream about the possibility of that ever happening. It really doesn't matter if it ever does. What does matter is this set of results, which are easily the best I've ever had. 

Clearly, I took the lessons of QuizFest to heart. Improved confidence, a better mindset...granted, strong team mates, but the subjects were often highly generalised so I needed to show off a good range of knowledge to get the results I got. This is probably going to be my best week of the year, and I really can't ask for more than that from a week's work. Mission accomplished!

Total Result: 209.5/278 (75.36%)

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