The CIU National Final - Alvaston, Derby - Sunday 6th September
If you've been with me for a while now you may remember that a few months ago I posted about the CIU Wales and West of England regional quiz final. That event was a source of much satisfaction at the time, since our team, representing the Trefelin Club of Port Talbot, scraped home to win by a point from the nationally respected Maesglas 'A' team of Newport. I predicted at the time that Maesglas would still, in all probability beat us in the National final. Well, I am now in a position to reveal to you whether Mystic Dave's prognostications have been any more accurate than usual, since the National Final took place on Sunday.
There's something special about the CIU Final, something that really gets the juices flowing. For one thing we didn't quite manage to qualify for it last year, which made us even more determined to do well than usual. For the uninitiated, CIU stands for Club and Institute Union. Every year hundreds of workingmen's clubs and institutes throughout England and Wales, affiliated to the CIU, are invited to join in the competition. Not all clubs affiliated to the CIU ever take part in the regional finals, but a large number do. For example, I've played in at least the last 5 Wales and West regionals and each one has been very well attended. On Sunday 18 regional heat winners and runners up gathered in Derby to contest the final.
If you're like me, the moment you walk into the hall where the quiz is going to take place, you can't help scanning the room to check out the strength of the opposition. And let me tell you, the opposition is always strong, and that's one of the things which gives you the buzz when you take part in the event. Well, on this Sunday it seemed to me that the opposition was stronger than ever. Without singling out individual players, one glance around the room revealed that Ashford Road from Swindon, who have been champions on more than one occasion, were there.If I remember correctly,they were the defending champions, and had two teams, and both of them were full of stars. My God ! Its full of stars ! Sorry - I had a little attack of the 2001's there. Our nemesis, Maesglas A, double champions in the past, were all present in good order. The clubs from the North East came with justly deserved reputations. Also present were Radford Road, in Coventry, a team who had not contested the final before, I think, but they were a team with some well known players of their own.
The CIU final is a funny old quiz. The majority of the rounds have some kind of twist. Full marks on the first, general knowledge round, led us into a false sense of security. Then came the list round. Basically, a CIU list round asks for a list of ten things. You can write down as many or as few things as you like, up to a maximum of 10. For example, in the regional final we were asked the 10 largest islands , by area, in the Mediterranean Sea. For every correct answer on the list, you gain half a point. However, for every incorrect answer you lose half a point. So while its possible to gain a maximum of 5 points on the round, it is also possible to lose five points. The list we were asked for was the top 10 most common pub names in Britain. Yes, everyone knows the Red Lion and the White Hart, and many now know that the Crown has overtaken both of these to become most popular. But who would have guessed that The Swan would make it to the top 10 ? We didn't. in fact we ended the round in deficit, with 3 on the list, and 5 not, to lose a point. Granted, nobody scored more than 2 points on the round, I think, but even so, from that round on it was always going to be an uphill struggle to make a bid for a podium position.
Good rounds on Film and TV, and Sport helped drag us back up through the peloton, although we never really made any impression on Radford Road, and the Ashford Road B Team. By the last round we needed a miracle to do any better than third. The last round always requires you to identify a mystery personality. There are a list of clues given. If you get it on the first set of clues, you get 5 points, on the second set 4 points, and so on. However if you hand in your answer, and its wrong, then thats it, you get nothing. We were a point ahead of Maesglas A in third place, with Radford Road and Ashford Road B duking it out for the top prize ahead of us. Maesglas got the answer on the second set for 4 points, and we took it on the 3rd set for 3.
Radford Road ran out winners, and I hope that Ashford Road will forgive me for saying this was an extremely popular victory in the hall. No disrespect is intended to Ashford Road, who performed brilliantly all afternoon, but their club's teams have a huge reputation in the competition, and have won the title on more than one occasion. Whereas I think Radford Road are new to the competition, and according to one of their members only just managed to qualify for the final. I did say that I wasn't going to single out individuals, but I have to once again offer my congratulations to Gareth Kingston, Craig Element, Nic Paul and Dave Masters. In a way , it was a little ironic that one of the teams finishing below them was Maesglas A, half of which was made up of Richie Parnell and Mark Labbett of the Rugby Boys, who had actually beaten Gareth and Craig in the recent series of Only Connect. If you're going to get your friendly revenge, then do it in style, I say.
Tying up the loose ends, apparently third place was settled by a tie break. Since there was no specific tie break for the quiz proper - and if I'm honest I think that this must have been due to an oversight - I can only think that the tie break for the sports round was used to seperate us. Our guess was way out, but by a combination of circumstances, Maesglas didn't enter a guess in the sports tie break. Thankfully, although we finished 3rd officially, they didn't go home empty handed either, winning the sports round special prize. On the subject of special prizes too I have to say that I personally benefitted from a little bit of luck. On these occasions they tend to offer 4 individual spot prizes during the afternoon. Now, the first spot prize question was,
"How many bridges of all kinds cross the River Seine in Paris ? "
In 2007,when I was learning my specialist subject "The History of London Bridge" for my Mastermind final, one of the facts that I turned up as a by product of the process was that London has a couple less bridges than Paris, which has 38. Thank you very much, and I was a bottle of scotch to the good. Alright, I don't drink the stuff myself, but thankfully other members of the team were good enough to offer to take it off my hands. There's friendship for you.
Good quiz ? Certainly, and a great quiz occasion too. Very nice to be back on the podium at the Nationals. Its been a long time since that happened. In all truthfulness we never felt we were in it after the list round. That's just the way it works some times. So my great unfulfilled ambition, to win the CIU, remains just that at the moment. Unfulfilled. Oh well, there's always next year.