Saturday, 5 August 2017

Weekly Roundup, W/E 28/07/2017

Usually, I have something to say before I get into the meat of a weekly roundup.  Today, I have nothing. Which isn’t strictly true, I have a huge amount to say, but none of it is strictly relevant to this, the week before last. I was at QuizFest last Saturday, see, and my perspective has been significantly changed by that. Before I can review the week’s quizzes that followed that, I’ll need to put up a separate post explaining what I mean. For now, I’d prefer to reflect on things as they actually were, before all this.

I suppose I do have something to say in that regard. The week before this one was utterly chaotic, and that didn’t really change as this one started, since Monday was to be my 3rd quiz and I was woefully underprepared. The quiz itself was ultimately written, but as Sunday’s first quiz of the week loomed, it still wasn’t fully printed. An inauspicious beginning, but I shall reveal what happened beyond those busy hours…

Quiz #137 – Sunday 23rd July, Turf Tavern, Carlisle

This time, unlike last week, there was no major gig on in Carlisle and it was back to normal in terms of parking. Convenient, since I hadn’t allowed any extra time to get there! M must have been working as it was only myself and J. Didn’t see many of his other friends there either, though JDSS were in attendance. 3 of the regulars plus one other, that I could see. We’ll beat them eventually, I’m sure it can be done even with Other J there! He’s the guy who has won this quiz solo, remember.

We didn’t make the best of starts, unfortunately, being restricted to 4 on a tough picture set. I always make a point of looking up people born on this day, and found it was the obvious Daniel Radcliffe this time. Current events was much better though, as we put ourselves above the average with 7.

The top 5 lists were potentially critical to our chances here, and the first was a kind set about words. It wanted the 5 words that can be made from the letters “arts”. That’s obviously one of them, and rats, Tsar, star and tars followed in quick succession. The other list was sport, which is unfortunate, but tennis, which is better. Specifically we were looking for any 5 of the 6 countries which have, between all players, ever won 8 or more Wimbledon men’s singles. The first 4 – USA, Switzerland, Australia and UK – were very obvious if you know your tennis, which meant a decision about the last. We eventually went for France based on their strong pedigree in the sport and their large number of current top 50 players, even though none of them has been a serious contender for Slams in the Big Four era. That was correct, Germany being the other, and we’d considered that as well. Job well done!

Alpha Links ought to have been better, but it seems we traded some of our usual points in it in exchange for our 10 on the lists. 5 was disappointing if I’m honest, and we were unfortunate on the connections round too, getting just 3. In fairness, one was a mistake I’ve made before – mixing up Leonard Pierce with Leonard Rossiter – and the other was always going to be an educated guess on the title of a collection of books with the name Raj in it, since it was about 19th century India. The connection itself was Big Bang Theory Characters.

Wipeout time, and we needed to be careful. We were confident we had a decent number of points but there were plenty of guesses in there too, so we couldn’t afford to be blasé here. 7 of the first 8 fell to us quite easily, reflecting the general recent trend towards easier Wipeout questions recently (with the Alpha Links becoming consequently and not coincidentally harder) and we decided against a 95% chance on the last. We’d have been right but no matter.

Our final tally of 36 wasn’t quite enough for the podium, as we finished 4th on a high-scoring night, but for just the 2 of us it was an excellent score, I’m sure my best ever with only one teammate. JDSS won with 43 of course. A great score that I’m very happy with, so we were just unlucky with the placing. Nothing to be done about that!

Result: 36/55 (65.45%), 4th/11

Quiz #138 – Tuesday 25th July, Ship Inn, Dumfries

After a 2 week absence, S & A returned to the Ship Inn tonight, and we were joined by B. D was meant to be with us but ended up not showing. Fair enough, his company is always much appreciated but not all that common these days. Most of the usual suspects were in attendance, including the lawyers who appear to be back as regulars which is good to see. The regular host, however, was not there. This worried me as the unfortunate incident in which we were unjustly accused of cheating occurred when his replacement took the helm last time. I was wary but A was unconcerned, and I’ll say it now – while the quiz ended in farce, it was not his fault at all. Technical issues that I’ll explain later couldn’t be pinned on him, and he apparently received the quiz itself only minutes before the start time, which explains the slow pace and overrun. Given that my own quiz started late and overran in circumstances that were much more my fault, I really couldn’t complain. I admittedly did a bit, but I don’t ultimately blame the host.

Anyway, to the quiz itself. The unlucky loss of a half point was the only notable incident in a tough but typical GK first round, in which we got 5.5 for a mid-table position. Rounds on “Culture” have been seen before, and this time it was basically Arts and Literature, so that’s what I’m calling it. 5 is a fair reflection, and it saw us jump to joint-second, the same 2.5 behind the leaders that we were before. The next round was Science & Nature, which ought to have favoured us and did, our 7 not changing our own placing but closing the gap to just half a point at the half-way stage.

We jumped over that gap on a large picture round of fictional dogs, on which we scored 26/32. Now A claimed, and I may agree, that we thought we scored more than that, but it honestly wasn’t worth disputing, especially given the pressure the QM was under and the length of time things were taking. Our lead was only half a point, and this was before the specialist round on Vin Diesel films. That should have been better than usual, but “better” doesn’t mean “good” and 4/12 was a more or less standard score on these rounds. That left us 2nd by 2 points, behind the lawyers.

And that, my friends, is where my scoring ends for this quiz, and what I consider to be the final result of the quiz. The reason is that the music round nearly didn’t happen because the sound system completely broke down. To his credit, the QM made a valiant attempt at salvaging it, but it just wasn’t happening. I can’t fault him either about trying to come up with a last round on the fly, which he did: 5 questions on various subjects, worth 5 points each. Aside from the fact that we knew little of what was being asked, the scoring of this new round would play havoc with my stats, and it was unclear what the final result was anyway. It was all a bit chaotic, so I’m taking the executive decision to ignore this last round in terms of my statistics. 

That’s an unfortunate end to the evening, but I honestly feel sorry for the QM here. Having had a bad day the night before, I have every sympathy. Interestingly, the number of questions was largely the same as it usually is, thanks to an unusually large picture round.

Result: 47.5/78 (60.90%), 2nd/7

Quiz #139 – Wednesday 26th July, Granary, Dumfries

One more quiz to go this week ahead of departing on holiday for QuizFest on Thursday evening, and our ranks were bolstered for it by J, who had made the trip from Carlisle. I felt bad that I could neither be there early nor leave late, but I was alas far too busy for that, thanks in part to visiting family. He was okay with it though.

J’s a smart guy, and a very useful addition to our team, and demonstrated that in the first round, on alcoholic drinks, helping us to a pleasing 8. Sport followed though, and that is never a strong subject for us. J is better on it, but it was specifically 2015 sport which made it harder. I’ll never begrudge a 6 though, not on that!

The one thing I enjoy hearing less than “sport” at this quiz is music, and that was what followed – general unplayed music. I did actually know a few of these though, and L got many of the rest. Between us all we had 9, and that is exceptional. A sequences round followed, and at least one miss I really should have gotten – the first letters of the months of the year. Oh, and square numbers, that was a criminal error, even with my not-great maths skills. 7 correct answers was some solace, however, going into the final GK round.

Again, this was a good team effort, and we exceeded our typical 60% score on these for a 9. That put us joint-3rd, having scored our best ever out of 50 questions. And that’s from over 2 years of doing this quiz together! Of course, in the year I was doing it alone I’d not have bettered that either. As with Sunday, a record score was not enough for a win, but we did come joint-third, below two teams who achieved what I believe is the first ever tie-break in my time at this quiz. It was decided on a coin-toss since the teams didn’t want to split the money, which is fair enough. We beat some great teams for this score, and I’m very happy with it. It’s a good example of why I didn’t take note of my finishing positions last year, though I definitely made the right decision by starting to keep them now.

Result: 39/50 (78%), joint-3rd/14

Week in Summation

Two record scores that were not rewarded in terms of positions, and a score slightly below the overall average that nonetheless reflects well on a chaotic but solid and challenging quiz. That’s the TL;DR version of this week! Perhaps I should start including those! 

This week was definitely an improvement over the previous one, and I think I generally recovered from being so frazzled by the end. I’ve said it many times, quizzing is a mental game as much as a physical, but weirdly my actual performance didn’t seem too affected by my stress levels, as it clearly was the week before. That’s good to see, and potentially speaks to my resolve, or at least my determination to not embarrass myself at QuizFest.

It meant I was able to attend the event feeling like I was playing well. “Confidently” I’ll never say, but a couple of strong recent scores under my belt gave me a much needed boost. Overall, this was definitely a good week.

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