Thursday, 8 October 2009

Thank you , Birmingham

Birmingham has, in its time, given us many fine things. Think of Bourneville chocolate, think of Balti, think of the Electric Light Orchestra, if you will. In the field of quizzing, one of the fine things that Birmingham has given us is the Lord Mayor’s Mega Quiz.

Its quite an event this. If you’re looking for something akin to a grand prix event, or even a national CIU final, then you’re going to be disappointed. However if you are looking for a quiz event which is more grand than prix, then you certainly won’t be. Of course, you’ll have to wait until the next one, since the 2009 Lord Mayor’s Mega Quiz took place last night.

I can’t be certain whether that will be next year, mind you. I also played in the mega quiz the last time it was held which was in November 2007. The one before that, though was in June 2006. Last time out the team I was with ended up 4th, and the quiz was won by a team containing, amongst others, the pride of Wales, aka David Edwards, the 1990 Mastermind champion. This year David was back with a different team. As for me, I was with three quarters of the oft-conquering Maesglas team. Scribe for the night was Richie Parnell, probably best known for being one third of the Rugby Boys who won this year’s Only Connect. Richie had been part of a multi winning Battle of the Brains team called The Ant Hill Mob, as had second team member Gordon Galliford, a big winner on WWTBAM in the past. Team Captain was the redoubtable Trevor Parry, the doyen of question masters. That’s quite a team to live up to – no pressure there then.

If I say that the Mega Quiz is no grand prix event, I must also state quite clearly that it is a great quiz event. This year attendance was a little down on last time’s, so much so that only 92 teams competed. No, that’s not a misprint. Almost 100 teams came together in the Great Hall of the University of Birmingham to do battle over 10 rounds of 10 questions. That’s not bad at all. You already know that as far as I’m concerned the more questions that you ask in an evening, the more I like it, so this got the Clark seal of approval. The ten rounds were – and apologies if I don’t remember all of these in the correct order –
General Knowledge
Current Affairs
Food and Drink
a pretty broad cross section I think you’ll agree. As for the rounds themselves, they tended to consist of 6 straightforward questions, two or three difficult but gettables, and one or two absolute snorters. In addition to this each team had a joker, for double points, which had to be played on one of the rounds. The rule was that you had to nominate which round you wanted to play it on before the start of the quiz.

A great GK round, a stunningly good TV round, and good rounds on Geog and Sport, and a well played joker on History saw us with a good lead at half time. Our second half wasn’t quite so impressive, but we managed just to hold on to win by two points from previous winners Utopia Limited. You probably know me well enough to know I’d be lying if I said that winning the quiz didn’t matter to me. Although I know it can’t and won’t happen, I still want to win every quiz I take part in. But regardless of that it was a great event to be part of. Compere and question master for the evening was Nick Owen , Breakfast TV’s Mr . Dependable in the old days of TVAM. Yes, I thought he must have retired a while ago too. He’s not been on national TV for a long time, but apparently he’s quite big in BBC Midlands. Very nice if you like that sort of thing. He’d obviously prepared a few quips for the occasion, and this one,
“I’ve just become chairman of Luton Town – Yes ! When I was 10 I asked my Dad to get me a cowboy outfit for Christmas. Now I’m 60 its finally come true ! “ should give you the flavour. He’d dressed for the occasion too, in his tux and his dickie bow, and looked quite dapper. However the effect was spoiled a little when someone shouted “Waiter !” as he walked down he main aisle.

To be fair to him, he performed his main task – Getting On With The Quiz – surprisingly well. Allowing for a half hour half time break he cracked on through the rounds at a fair old canter, which always adds to the enjoyment of a quiz I find.While I'm at it I have to pay tribute to the organisation of the quiz. Collecting all the papers in, for example, was run as smoothly as silk by a veritable army of blue t-shirt clad volunteers. Yes, volunteers. This was all for charity, lets not forget it.

In fact the only drawback to the quiz was that it took place in Birmingham. No , I don’t mean that as it sounds. Birmingham is actually a great city, and I look forward to staying overnight in one of its top hotels as my prize very much. However Birmingham is a good couple of hours’ drive from home, and that’s the bugbear of the quiz being midweek.

Let me leave you with a question they asked. This is a little selfish, since it’s a question I had to really dredge the depths of my memory to find the answer to.
What was the surname of Jim Bergerac’s boss in the first few series ?
You might well be saying Hungerford, but wily old Charlie Hungerford was his former stepfather. It was actually Crozier – Barney of that ilk. I don’t know that I contributed a huge amount to the win, but at least I had that one eventually.

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