Saturday, 26 August 2017

Weekly Roundup, W/E 25/08/2017

It's still too early to say if I'll keep on writing general posts about my quizzing life, as I have done the last few weeks, but I'd like to think that I will. That means I can perhaps keep these posts, long enough already as they are, somewhat focussed on what they're meant to be about. Of course, there will inevitably be overlap, as my life and quizzing are one and the same. Still, day-to-day pub quizzes are but one aspect, albeit the primary one, of my quizzing activities, and it's nice for these to have their own place in the blog.

Where was I at the end of last week, again? Just checking last week's roundup...oh that's right, my 150th quiz and a damp squib of an evening. So that's my starting point. Here goes with this week's reviews...

Quiz #151 - Sunday 20th August, Turf Tavern, Carlisle

After last week, an auspicious start to this week would have been most welcome. My expectations were low, however, as I knew my mind would be focussed on the quiz I was writing. And because I knew I'd be starting the week alone at the Turf. M & J were both working, and the rest of J's former crew don't really come anymore. At least a couple actually work at the venue, and I've just not seen the others lately. Going solo doesn't usually stop me though, especailly at this quiz, where I've proven I can score relatively respectably even sans teammates. As far as the opposition went, JDSS were present, but I'm not familiar with the other teams.

With nothing really to lose, I did what I could on pictures, but that was little enough as per usual and I was stuck with 3. To my credit, I got the closeup of footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, which pleases me. Current events was a mixed bag, with a few stories I actually remembered seeing and a few I had no clue on - 6 was my total.

The lists were clearly going to be crucial, and they were an interesting set. The first was the top 5 most populous Australian cities, which I actually looked up fairly recently for reasons I can't recall. I remember my former tendency to always forget Brisbane, so put it immediately after Sydney and Melbourne. To be fair, this was an easy set, with Perth and Adelaide being the others - the other state capitals, Hobart and Darwin, are far smaller. So I got all 5. The other list was the 5 decathlon events that happen on the first day of the event, and these were pure guesses after the 100m. I knew the events right enough, or most of them, but not the order. 2 correct guesses gave me 8 in total for the pair of rounds.

Alpha Links next, and teammates certainly tend to help here. I got a tough answer here in the shape of hexadecimal, but missed the obvious Madame Tussauds later on. I got 7 in total and was happy enough with that. The connection would have been a certainty with friends, but alone I was lost as it was breeds of terrier. I keep mixing up the first ever marathon in the US between Boston and New York; to be fair I've never heard of a Boston Terrier. I only had 2, which was unfortunate.

The GK Wipeout remained, and I was naturally not inclined to gamble too much. The biggest issue with quizzing alone, I find, is the lack of a wall to bounce ideas off of, and either confirm hunches or discount idiotic first thoughts. Like putting Kilamanjaro and not K2 as the world's 2nd highest mountain. At least I had the good sense not to go with it, though not enough to actually put K2. I played it fairly safe with 4, but got them all.

That meant I ended up with 30, a respectable score, though lower than the host was expecting. But then, the QM here is certain I'm going to win the quiz alone, and I've made clear that I don't see that happening. The quiz is growing in popularity, and as it does so, the standard will inevitably increase, just as it did with the Ship Inn. I'm not bothered by that though, or really by what I missed here. The pictures will always be my downfall and there's no easy way to improve at those. I was 14 points behind JDSS, so the pictures alone didn't make the difference, but they didn't help.

Incidentally, this was the 2nd week in a row with allegations of cheating, as the team who finished 2nd on a tiebreak were caught having cheated on the Wipeout. They're friends with the host which is probably why they lost some points rather than all...I'll leave it, I said what I needed to on the night but won't go into it here.

So I was disappointed with my placing, but happy enough with my score, ultimately. Not the result I wanted, as such, but as good of one as I could have reasonably expected.

Result: 30/55 (54.5%), joint 6th/8

Quiz #152 - Monday 21st August, Kings Arms, Dalbeattie (P)

The Kings Arms quiz was an unusual one this week in that while I got to join BTAS, it was a vastly reduced form of the team. In fact, only one of them could make it, and she came knowing that I was going to be there. There was a hope that the less regular couple might make it, but alas no, so it was just the two of us. That was an interesting prospect, being that myself plus BTAS make for a very strong team, BTAS being one of the strongest teams at the quiz anyway, but we were only 2 of us against the many strong teams of 4. This was a chance to potentially prove myself, since there was no way that my teammate alone could realistically get a winning score in such an evenly matched quiz.

The host this week was P, which meant we were facing a list-based quiz, as is his style. 5 rounds of 20 questions it was, the first being GK. We started strongly here with 15 in what was to be a pressure-filled night. 

The next round was the inevitable pencil-drawn map, as we've seen in each of P's previous 3 quizzes. Twice we had the Med, last time Central and South America, this time I expected Africa or Central Asia. Nope, Canada! My teammate used to live in the USA, and spent a lot of time travelling around the country while there. Shame her husband wasn't with us, as he apparently knew a lot more than we did about Canada! We were helped by my knowing a handy mnemonic for the Great Lakes - Sargeant Major Hates Eating Onions - which is the lakes largest to smallest and also west to east. I was taught that by a friend just the 2 days earlier! The lakes were among the places we had to name, so that gave us an easy 5 points. The rest did not come so easy, though by the time time ran out we were getting more confident. With a few minutes more, we would have gotten a few more, I think, but alas only ended up with 9.

That was pretty much a disaster. The next round was an interesting history one, on disasters and their dates. 10 disasters, 10 points for naming the events and another 10 for the years. One of these, the Herald of Free Enterprise in 1987, was planned for my next quiz! So afterwards I had to take that question out. Infuriatingly, I couldn't remember the year, and there were a few other misses a well. We later reflected more on the Canada round, but our 10 here scarcely constituted an improvement! 

So far, so terrible, and sport was next. Oh, joy! It was, again, a round of two parts, this time unconnected. The first was to name 10 of the 12 test cricketing nations. Between us, we got them all, and if pushed I could probably also have named Ireland and Afghanistan as they were only recently promoted. Zimbabwe took a while to come, but we got there! The other set was the events in the decathlon. Ha, thought I. I couldn't remember them all, missing the pole vault, but got the other 9 for a very welcome 19/20.

The last round was 3 more lists. The 7 deadly sins were easy, the 4 cardinal virtues less so, as it's been a long time since I listened to or read my own list of these. There was a bonus point on the last, for getting the 5 outermost planets in the right order. All of them fell to us except for 3 of the virtues, which presumably everyone else struggled with too. So 18/21 to finish, or 37/41 considering the last round as well.

That was a storming finish, and we were well rewarded for it with a seriously impressive podium finish! Our 3rd was 6 points behind the Has Beens, who did very well to come 2nd behind the Tourists, who yet again won, albeit only by half a point this time. I was very, very happy with this. We clearly both did it together, and we earned our bronze (non existant) medal.

Result: 71/101 (70.30%), 3rd/unknown

Quiz #153 - Tuesday 22nd August, Ship Inn, Dumfries

It was good to be going back to the Ship Inn, having not been there last week. I hadn't received a text from S & A indicating that they would not be there, and they were duly there before me. We were joined by B, but the absence of R & D meant that musically we were likely to struggle again. In terms of the opposition, the NCP were present, albeit without a certain key member, but they were enough to form two teams. The pharmacists were absent, and the lawyers seem to have stopped coming again. Shame, and I could speculate but won't.

I've criticised the GK rounds here before, but I have to say that I really enjoyed this week's. They were tough questions, no question, but seemed fairer than usual, with the parameters much more reasonable. We hit the post a couple of times, and could ultimately be a little disappointed with only getting 4, but that's hardly atypical for the round. The spread was very close, 2-5, and we were in a 3-way tie for 2nd.

Sport followed, the dreaded sport, and we were never getting anywhere with this. S flat out doesn't care about it, and actually argued that I shouldn't either when I mentioned that I need to be getting better at it because I have ambitions of being a serious quizzer. S believes I shouldn't bother because I'm not interested in most sports, but as I pointed out, my interest in the subject doesn't mean anything in terms of its importance. We'll never agree on that, though!

The 3rd round was science & nature, which is usually much better for us, and it was again tonight. We got 7, but again the issues with the questions came up again, because a couple were just not reasonably answerable. A question about the orbit of Neptune, for example, simply cannot ask for an exact answer with no leeway and no indication as to what it might be. That's a badly written question, I'm sorry to say.

After round 2 we dropped to 3rd, but moved back to a clear 2nd after round 3. It was back to dingbats for the pictures, and again we performed solidly but imperfectly with 11/15 on a round with no theme. That meant little change at the top end of the table, and we remained 2nd, 1 point behind the leaders. Who I assume, but don't know, were the NCP.

The specialist round this week was a composite of questions from other specialist rounds this year. A few of the questions we recognised, but didn't mean we could remember the answers, and there was even less context for a few of them than there had been the first time. We only got 3.5, but couldn't have expected more. Again, that's typical for the quiz.

It says a lot that we were only half a point behind 2nd and 2.5 behind 1st with our 29.5 points so far, but we still had music to come and could reasonably expect to drop a few places after that. Which is what happened, and there's no point in crying over spilt milk about that. 12 was poor, but I could hardly help and it was 2 better than last time out anyway. 

It meant we dropped to 5th, the same finish as last time, but couldn't really have done anything more. 9 points behind the winners, with music being pretty much the only round that matters when it comes to the prize money. A shame, but hey. that's just the way this quiz works. A good evening all the same, and I really do mean that!

Result: 41.5/85 (48.82%), 5th/8

Quiz #154 - Wednesday 23rd August, Granary, Dumfries

It's fair to say my fortunes had been varied this week, and of all quizzes to go to finish on a high, the Granary is a gamble at the best of times. Hey, I like the unpredictable nature of this quiz, and it's a quiz that often presents learning opportunities, even though it also occasionally functions as a firing squad. Last week we were all pretty much gunned down by the brutal rounds, and I was keen to stop L repeatedly insisting that "at least things can't be as bad as that!". To no avail, as I heard it repeatedly.

As far as the opposition was concerned, the Roofrax were present and correct, but Sporting Quizbon were not. Interestingly, 3 of the NCP were here! It was a coincidence though. Sadly we could not persuade them to join us, and they went for it themselves. For my part I kinda cared about beating them, but that's just me.

The first round in a quiz we were really hoping would be better than last week was...TV characters. Unseen characters, specifically, which meant that you pretty much needed to have seen the shows in question to have any chance at all. We got 2, and one of those was a guess. Sheridan from Keeping Up Appearances sadly didn't appear in this round either.

The next round took us from bad to worse, with song lyrics. Surprisingly, I actually did know a few, though having written a parody of Bohemian Rhapsody I'm well acquainted with its opening line. We got 5 in total, sadly mixing up Robbie Williams and Ronan Keating. The music playing in the background helps none in these situations...

The last 3 rounds were interesting, in that they were all different flavours of GK. Now I don't distinguish between terms like "pot luck" and "trivia" in round designations, but all three did feel different. Pot luck was the first, trivia was the second, and a round actually called general knowledge was the last. I could have done with a few more points than I got, but I can't really say I disgraced myself by any means. Must, must, MUST memorise the layout of a dartboard though!

We started with a 6, improved that to a 7, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get a glimpse of the NCP scoresheet after that as we handed in our sheets in same time. We were pretty much neck and neck, with maybe us a point or two ahead. If we were, we lost it on the last, as we got 5 to finish with 25.

That put us equal with the NCP, in our usual midtable position. The Roofrax won a 3-way tie breaker after all three finished on 33. We were never getting close to that, not with 2 on the first round. I honestly felt pretty happy with how we did, especially after that impossible start. On the backfoot, heading squarely for a repeat of last week, we gave some solid answers to tough questions, and at least restored respectability to our score. 18/30 is the standard 6/10 we usually get on GK, and my overall baseline. I left with my head held high, and a philosophical outlook as to the missed chances.

Result: 25/50 (50%) 6th/10 

Week in Summation

I can comfortably and confidently say that my change of outlook after QuizFest is here to stay. After quizzes like some of these, in the past I'd have been incandescent with rage at myself, but now, I'm taking it much more on the chin. Yes, there are areas to work on, but the specific areas I should be studying aren't necessarily immediately apparent from these quizzes alone. I can't judge my overall performance as a quizzer on the basis of the Ship Inn, for example. I need challenges, but fair ones that genuinely reflect true ability. The ordinary pub quiz is designed as entertainment first and foremost, of course, and as such simply cannot do that.

In terms of the results themselves, again they weren't great. After my superlative week away, I've not really brought the thunder in the same way that I'd have liked to, but luck is a factor in that. I've not had much in the way of clear cut, solid opportunities to rake in points, and ultimately there haven't been many rounds that feel in themselves like they should have resulted in significantly higher scores. Where I've lost points that I should have gotten them, it's been a few at a time, not a whole round at a time.

There's some positives here; that Sunday score was very decent in itself, and Monday was fantastic. Wednesday I was largely on my own at a quiz where I really need at least one, ideally two, strong quizzers on side if I'm going to realistically challenge for the win regularly. It's great when J appears, but that isn't frequent for understandable reasons, and even strong teams like the NCP can struggle there.

There is also, of course, the mental impact of this being a week where I was focussed on writing my next quiz, and if I were to look at those weeks, I strongly suspect I'd see a correlation to that and weaker performance. Hard to say. I don't know. Maybe next week will be better, we'll just have to see! For now, I'm reasonably satisfied with my week's work. Moderately, anyway. I had fun, for sure, and that's ultimately the single post important part of it all.

Total Result: 167.5/291 (57.56%)

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