Friday, 18 August 2017

Weekly Roundup, W/E 11/08/2017

It's all very well talking a good game about hope and optimism for the future, what I want to achieve, etc. Until I actually do anything it's all just words on a page. Last week I backed up those words with a very successful holiday trip. But that's nothing I can make a comparison against, because those were new quizzes. Consistency, that's the key to accurately judging performance over an extended period.

So last week was perhaps a better test of the "new me" as it were. I wasn't expecting miracles, but I was hoping for a strong performance, and a better attitude regardless. Let's find out how I got on with those quizzes.

Quiz #145 - Monday 7th August, Kings Arms, Dalbeattie (K)

Monday's quiz was a competition, so not a conventional quiz as such, despite the venue. The Sunday quiz didn't happen at the Turf this week as the host was away, and he won't get someone else in to do it as things stand, which is fair enough. I had other plans regardless, which makes that the 2nd Sunday in a row. Okay, so I was exhausted after a busy weekend so I was indulging with pizza at my parents' house...I think I'd earned the break, after last week, to be fair.

So my first quiz was at the Kings Arms, for the town's Civics Week. This is a big event and a prebooked quiz. My intention was to join a team if someone didn't show (unlikely, but possible) or else do the quiz with the proprietor. As it happens, half of BTAS weren't there, which meant I was joining a very strong team with a great reputation, and with whom I've done some serious damage in the past. This was optimistic. Naturally, much of the usual opposition was present, as well as a few guests, including people I know from nearby Kippford. Interesting!

There were 140 points on offer in the night's quiz, and we knew we were looking at a requirement of about 120 for the win. BTAS did win it about 4 years ago, but I'd never been at the event, having missed it last year due to my holiday and the year before because I knew I'd not have a team. K was, as expected with the big events, the host.

We started as per usual with GK. This looked a fair bit better than it ultimately proved, and I must admit I was a little disappointed to only get 14/20, though looking at the questions, it's not so bad. They were deceptively hard, there were a few questions that looked a lot simpler than they appeared.

Round 2 was called “In the garden” and was mostly plants and such like. There were some low hanging fruit for us to pick off (some of which you doubtless want to throw at me for using that phrase) and the others managed to get most of the rest, for 12/15. Dingbats followed and we cruised through those almost quicker than we could write them. Only one proved troublesome, but we corrected ourselves after nearly going wrong and got the lot. Appropriate that “good looking” was the last obstacle towards 20/20!

Sport came next, and it’s the big weakness of all three of us. Even so, we thought we’d done a little better than 5/15, and we would have if not for 3 50/50 decisions that I went the wrong way on. Very frustrating, and we knew our chances of victory were essentially over. Oh well, it happens, and we were hardly going to give up the fight at the half way point just because of one disastrous round!

A break followed, and after it, cryptic pop groups. We went into the round all guns blazing and came out with 18.5/20 for our efforts. This was much better, and there were a few missable answers in there too!

Round 6 was a lot of fun. It was based on The Chase, and thus multiple choice. Basically, it was funny questions, which in the case of this show also means “difficult” though usually with one answer that can be outright ruled out. No, the last word in the expression “Softly softly, catchee…” is not “crabs”! Unfortunately, the German skier Fanny Schmelar was not included, probably as she’s too well known by now. We did very well here with 13/15; our fortunes were improving!

Unfortunately, two brutal rounds remained: anagrams and played music. Worse news about the anagrams, they were local places (the towns being easy enough, the streets less so), and neither my team nor myself are born and bred in the area. We did what we could, and did surprisingly well with 11/15. I’ll very gladly take that.

I started well on the played music, recognising the opening to Living on a Prayer and remembering Lou Bega as the singer of the Macarena. After that I did rather less, but we still managed 14.5/20 overall.

That mean we were someway short of the target we thought we needed of 120, which wasn't a million miles away from the actual winning score of 116.5. Second was 113.5 and third was 108. If you've been keeping score, that last one was us! I'm honestly delighted with that score, there were a lot of teams and we had to fight tooth and nail for it. No real surprises about the winners of the shield, The Tourists, or True Blue coming in 2nd. These 3 teams are a decent even money bet at any given quiz at this venue. My winning run was over but my run of podiums continued for one more day. A solid start to the week!

Result: 108/140 (77.14%), 3rd/unknown

Quiz #146 - Tuesday 8th August, Ship Inn, Dumfries

The Ship Inn represented a true return to normal quizzing after holidays and competitions. As such, it also represented my first major test of my new, more positive attitude, too. I hate being negative about quizzes, I really do, but honestly, expecting nothing at this particular quiz is the best way not to be disappointed. More on that later. 

My team was S & A, who were back after a couple of weeks, B, & D. Strong team, and a few of our usual foes were absent. The flip side to that was the NCP packing a single but powerhouse team, with a long-absent ally returning. 

I was determined to see the difficult questions at this quiz as a challenge, but some of them were simply unanswerable. No team did better than 5 on the GK, though none worse than 2. We were tied 2nd on 4.5. Geography is usually a bit better for me, and despite a couple of unfortunate misses we took the lead with our 6, a point ahead of the next best team. No idea where any given team who weren't us finished tonight, by the way. TV is always a worrisome category for us because S & A don't have a TV and none of the rest of us watch it much. Several of the questions did fall quite well though, and we matched the last round with a 6, though we fell to 3rd, half a point behind the two leaders at the half way point.

The pictures this week were a real chance for me to shine, being video game characters. 13 fell extremely easily, one more I could have had but didn't, but the other I had no chance on. 13/15 was extremely good, though we only increased our standing to 2nd, the same half point behind the now outright leader. The specialist round...sigh. I've no choice but to address this at the end of the review, again. International airlines, a disastrous round, 2.5/10 leaving us still 2nd, albeit in a tie, let's move on. The usual played music was left, and it seemed even harder than usual. 9/30 is poor even by our recent standards, especially with our numbers, but I don't think we could have done much better really.

It meant we finished 5th, in a closely fought quiz but well clear of the 46.5-48 points the top 4 teams had. I don't think we could have done a huge amount better, really, and I honestly left the quiz actually feeling a lot more positive than I usually do; my positive thinking worked!

Unfortunately, that speaks better of me than it does the quiz. There's no point in me beating myself up over things like played music questions, because I'm just never going to do well on those. I'm going to try improving my music knowledge, but even if/when I do, it will likely always me my bogie category. The pictures were fine tonight but often are difficult. Again, that's not something that concerns me.

I do have a slight issue with the structure, because the quiz is heavily biased in favour of music and pictures. The music round is worth as much as the first 3 question rounds altogether, and the pictures are certainly always at least, and usually more than, 10 questions, making those early rounds to some extent irrelevant if one does strongly on the pictures and music. But there's an element of personal preference in there, so it's not something I actually judge the quiz on.

I have a bigger issue with the quality of the questions. It's really hard to say this, as I genuinely really enjoy the quiz, I'm speaking publicly online and because as a host myself I know how hard it is to write questions. But some of the questions are flat out unanswerable, particularly in the specialist rounds. Like questions asking for a quantity of something, like a size, length or weight, and requiring an exact answer without leeway, or even any indication of what it is. 

The specialist rounds are particularly bad for this. One question this week was "In what year did Air Costa start operating?" This doesn't work as a question. There's no indication of when it might be, except that it's obviously after the early 1900s, or even where. The name implies it's a Spanish company, but it's Indian. There's no way to read into the question, and no way of possibly knowing the answer without extremely specialised knowledge of airlines. Such questions are typical of these rounds.

I'm not bringing this up to drag down the quiz, far from it! I like the quiz a lot, and wouldn't go if I didn't. But I know I'm not alone in holding these opinions and I'm fairly sure the difficulty is a factor in certain teams no longer attending as regularly. I do think there are legitimate issues that need to be brought up lest the quiz itself be threatened. Hopefully they will be, in time, though directly addressing this with the host has gotten us nowhere in the past, and my offering to guest host the quiz just to give the guy a break, has not worked either.

Again I must point out, since it's now been somewhat lost, that I left the quiz feeling positive. My mindset was a lot better than it had been, and I definitely enjoyed my evening.

Result: 41/85 (48.24%), 5th/8

Quiz #147 - Wednesday 9th August, Granary, Dumfries

Okay, last quiz of the week, and potentially a more realistic chance of taking genuine positives even from mistakes. As per usual it was me and L against the world, with the usual suspects such as Sporting Quizbon predictably standing between us and glory. Apparently, J was intending to join us but couldn't make it. Honestly, if he'd said he was coming before I went on holiday then I'd forgotten, or else he forgot to tell me. There's always a place for him in the team, of course, along with anyone else who may be interested in bumping up Two's Company somewhat!

The first round was an interesting one, the jobs of fictional characters. There were a few landmines, with some teams apparently falling into the easy trap of putting detective instead of doctor for John Watson. That one we got, but unfortunately we missed a few others. Hit the post a few times, like putting TV producer instead of theatre producer for Kermit the Frog, so we only got 5.

Islands are not my best area of geography, but it's a category I know I need to - and will - brush up on. This one definitely presents an opportunity for future development, so although I'm disappointed with my 5, I either got a little unlucky or just didn't know these. It wasn't easy, in truth; ones I expected to see like the Galapagos, Christmas Island and Easter Island didn't turn up, but those do appear almost every time on a round like this, so I've no complaints about it being mixed up a little.

The same applies to the next round, a fascinating but difficult round about the countries that ancient civilisations were located in. History or geography? I'm calling it history for my statistics, but it's an example of both. There were a few gettable ones here - I wasn't going to miss Cambodia for the Khmer for example - but I can't say I know anything about the peoples of ancient Burma, so I missed those. This is a subject I'd definitely enjoy studying more, so I'm happy despite only scoring 6.

The quiz ended with 20 questions on general knowledge, which, yet again, presented a good opportunity. The first half felt a lot tougher than the 2nd, but ultimately our scores were the same on both. In general it was a mixed bag, but we ended up with what is a pretty typical 12 on these rounds. I definitely want to boost that, but I can't say I underperformed, either.

So we finished on 28, joint 5th, one point ahead of Sporting Quizbon. We were far enough behind the winners - on 36 - that I'm not concerned in the slightest, and I honestly have no regrets. Yes, it would have been nice to get at least some of the ones we missed, but there were plenty I just didn't know and the subjects didn't fall kindly for L. Still, a great night, loaded with potential.

Result: 28/50 (58%), joint-5th/14

Week in Summation

This week was always going to be a bit unusual, what with the Sunday quiz not happening, the Monday one being a competition, and my new approach to it all. On the whole, I'm happy with the results! The scores are nothing to sing and dance about, granted; one podium and two below par results that reflect missed opportunities. But there's also room for hope and optimism, and my attitude is a lot better.

If I can keep this up - and that is a very big if that requires permanent surveillance - then better things may yet come. One week alone says little, but the positives shine far brighter than the negatives, and I'm cautiously optimistic going forward.

Total Result: 177/275 (64.36%)

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