In a slight departure from the norm I'm going to begin by quoting myself, rather than anyone else. You may remember that I recently commented that quizzing is a broad church. We saw proof positive of this in the hugely enjoyable Grand Prix event held in the Rhwbina Club in Cardiff yesterday.
The Grand Prix quiz circuit is a series of nationwide quiz events put on by the good people of the International Quizzing Association - UK . Each event is an opportunity for quizzers of all levels of interest and ability to gather, meet, and quiz with and against each other. The organisers make it clear that anyone is welcome to attend and take part, and in my experience of the two events I've been to, this is borne out by the very friendly attitude of everyone involved. Is there any other competitive game or sport where you'd find an event where anyone at all can rub shoulders with impugnity with the very best in the business, and find themselves treated just the same as anyone else there ? For make no mistake, there were plenty of quiz luminaries there, but none of them either received or sought any celebrity treatment or star status.
I took part in several quizzes. In the morning the most serious business of the day takes place. this is the individual quiz, 6 categories each comprising of 30 written questions. From these are derived the points which contribute to each player's ranking within the national statistics. This has nothing to do with quiz snobbery, but rather with the IQAs wish to conduct serious quizzing along the lines of a competitive game with an international structure, like chess. I probably did slightly better than I thought I would, coming 27th out of about 70 competitors.
In the afternoon everyone is assigned to a team for a team quiz. These are based on players' rankings. This is a good idea since it means that each team contains a mixture of quizzers of different abilities, so each team is of a comparable strength. It also means that the more events you attend, the more you get to become acquainted with different quizzers who attend the events. As it happens, two out of the other 6 on my team were Pat Gibson, and David Edwards, both of whom I had met at the Bristol Grand Prix. After a written quiz, we also played three rounds of a buzzer quiz, a la University Challenge. Now, I like all quizzes, if they're good, but I do have a particular fondness for a buzzer quiz. Alas, we only won one of the three matches, but it was a privelege to be able to watch Olav Bjortomt in action as he gobbled up the starters against us in our first match.
As good as the quizzing, though, was the social aspect of the day. As well as refreshing acquaintance with David Stainer, Pat Gibson, Kevin Ashman, Dag Griffiths and David Edwards, it was a pleasure to be able to spend a little time talking with others including Mark Kerr, Rob Hannah, Chris Quinn and others. In particular I had a chat with Ian Bayley. Understandably he didn't offer me any clues as to how he did in Mastermind 2008 - we shall just have to wait until the semis and possibly the final to find out. We chatted about the University Challenge disqualification - I an strongly feels that the disqualification was wrong, and I have to say that I agree with him. But what came across most strongly is that Ian Bayley, as well as being one of the finest quizzers around, is a very nice guy. With regards to University Challenge, the finest exploration of the issue is in this weeks "Weaver's Week". If you have't red it yet, just click on the link
If you have no interest in quizzing, then a Grand Prix event is not for you. Mind you, if that's the case then you're probably not reading this blog in the first place. But if you enjoy playing in quizzes, or even if you just enjoy watching them on the telly, then you would, I'm sure, get a lot out of attending an event like this, regardless of your level of ability.
I must end with a word about a notable absentee, World Champion Mark Bytheway. I'm given to understand that Mark is unwell at the moment. So Mark, if you're reading, do get well soon.
If you read my blog of the 25th February , you'll be aware of what happened when I played for the Aberkenfig Social Club in the cup semi final two weeks ago. Regular "Life After Mastermind" reader, journalist Andrew Pugh, wrote about it last week for one of the local papers in Bridgend. I don't really want to add any more to what I've already said about what happened, but there are two things which seem worthy of mention. Firstly Andrew mentioned this blog, calling it my "popular blog, Life after Mastermind". Thanks Andrew ! Secondly I was delighted to see that he also included my comment from the blog that if any team in Bridgend asked me to play for their team next season, I'd agree like a shot. I'm grateful for that, because despite what happened I would absolutely love to play for any team in the league, and if anything is likely to get the message out to the teams, then a mention in the paper is the best thing I can think of. So , thanks Andrew, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the blog.
Weekend Mini Quiz 6
Round One - The papers
1) Which is the only European newspaper which is in the list of the 10 newspapers with the highest circulation in the world ?
2) Still on circulation, which is the english language newspaper with the highest circulation in the world ?
3) In which UK national newspaper does Jonathan Cainer write the astrological column ?
4) What is the name of the strip in the scottish Sunday Post , which has featured a spiky haired boy in dungarees since 1936 ?
5) In 2005, what name did the Guardian give to the new size format it adopted ?
Round Two General Knowledge
1) Why did BBC reporter Steve Parry hit the headlines during the Beijing Olympics of 2008 ?
2) Who directed the animated Beatles film "Yellow Submarine " ?
3) The 11th century Old english poem "The Battle of Maldon" describes the disastrous consequences of Ealdorman Byrtnoth's decision to allow the vikings to cross a causeway so they could fight them. Of which english county was Byrtnoth the ealdorman ?
4) In which modern day country was Joseph Djugashvili - known as Stalin - actually born ?
5) Which company produced the Ro80 car, which used a revolutionary ( sic ) rotary engine ?
As always answers next week - feel free to email me for answers if you need them before then