Yes, Nina Simone knew what she was talking – er – singing about when she sang “I’m feeling good “. Birds are singing by my door – BoB is back on Radio 4 – who could ask for more ? You know how I feel. Yes, its half term, and not that, but its Monday which brings its usual cornucopia of broadcast quiz excellence with Brain of Britain, then later on tonight University Challenge and Only Connect.
However its not just the broadcast quizzes which make Monday such a treat for me at the moment. If you’re a regular you might have noticed me mention that I’m playing in the Bridgend Quiz League this year. I’m not going to go on about the individual matches we’ve played so far , but I thought it might be nice to make a couple of general comments now. I’ve said before that it must be a good five or so years since I last played in a quiz league, week in week out, and I’ve really missed it. Bearing this in mind, you might be wondering whether the experience this year could possibly live up to my expectations. Well, I have to say that , yes, it has. I’ve put on record before now my respect for the Bridgend League, and I have to say that my experiences over the last few weeks suggest that it is a respect which is well deserved.
I ‘ve found all 3 teams we’ve played so far to be very friendly and welcoming. The quizzes themselves have been varied, interesting and testing. There’s two divisions in the league, and the team I play for, the Llangewydd Arms, are newly promoted from Division Two, and they tell me that the questions we’ve had so far in Division One have been quite a bit harder than the questions they were used to in Division Two. I can well believe it. The upshot of it is that the teams, most of whom have been playing in the rarefied atmosphere of Division One for some time, are all pretty good, and there’s no easy matches. That’s the way it should be.
The format of the league is a good hybrid of written questions, individual questions and A and Bs. The first 32 questions are given to both teams for written answers , and each of these is worth a point. The rest of the quiz is split between 4 individual questions to each team, and then a couple of rounds of As and Bs. Each of these spoken answers is worth 2 points each, and one for a bonus. I have to be honest, it somehow wouldn’t seem like a proper league match for me if there were no As and Bs . You’ll know , if you have any league experience at all, that one of the most enjoyable parts of any league quiz is the post mortem, where if you lose you will inevitably decide that the matching of the pairs was terrible, or if you win you will decide that the questions were a work of rare genius and inspiration. Being honest when I’ve played in leagues in the past its always worked out that any luck – good or bad – with pairs of As and Bs tends to even itself out over the length of a season.
Playing this year actually has , in a funny kind of way, reminded me a lot of my first experience of playing in a quiz league in Port Talbot in 1988. I was 23 going on 24, and I’d only actually played in my first quiz a matter of weeks earlier, and so I was really conscious of being the new boy, and getting to grips with the League was a challenge. As it is for me now in Bridgend. There were some good teams who you knew were capable of beating you in that League then. As there are now in Bridgend. Every match was one of the highlights of the week. As they are now in Bridgend.
However, having said that , there is one difference. In those days I was very much the novice, and I learned so much from Noel , and particularly from the late Alan Coombs, who went on to become one of my very best quizzing friends, God rest his soul. I was only playing in that one quiz in the league match in the whole week. Now, I guess that I’m ‘father figure’ of the team, and I’m the one playing in three or four quizzes every week.
Have a good week, everyone. I’m sure that I will.