I think that most of us quiz obsessives can’t help answering questions when we hear them, and asking them when they occur to us as well. To that extent, then, we don’t so much play in quizzes because we like to, we play in them because we have to. Oh, don’t misunderstand me, at some level I do enjoy pretty much every quiz I play in. However, there’s something about a big quiz event which gets the juices flowing like no other. I think that we all have events in our annual quiz calendars which we look forward to, and which mark milestones in our quiz year. Such a quiz for me is the CIU Wales and West of England regional final.
Normally this quiz tends to take place in April or May. Checking last year’s blog entries I find that in 2009 it took place on Monday 27th April. So for one reason and another I feared that I had missed this year’s competition. What a relief to see that it was in fact being held later in the year – yesterday to be precise – and we were entered. Our skipper Barry was unable to play last night, and so it was with just a little bit of a scratch team that we set off to Bettws last night, our hopes and expectations no higher than a third place, which would qualify us for the national final in September. To be fair we had a very good chance of achieving this.Over the last few years the most successful welsh teams in the Wales and West have been Maesglas 'A' - twice national champions - and ourselves from Trefelin, once National runners up, and 3rd place in the Nationals last year. Up until last year , two superb teams from Swindon had also taken part in our heats, and as the mathematicians amongst you know, 4 into 3 won’t go. Two years ago we failed to qualify for the final in Derby by just one point. I guess that the Swindon teams now play in a different region, since they weren’t in last year’s Wales and West, and they weren’t in last night’s either. So in betting parlance, the two fancied runners were Maesglas and ourselves, but there were a couple of dangerous dark horses in the pack too.
A first point of interest of the night was that it turned out that the questions were compiled by Dave Cornish. If you’re a regular LAM reader you might recall that Dave Cornish wrote “How to Run A Quiz” , which I picked up from a car boot sale a couple of years ago. Same man.
If you’ve never played in the CIU, then it’s a very interesting format. There are several rounds of ten questions – general knowledge – sport – entertainment. Within each round, a series of four or five of the questions will be linked in some ways – either the answers will all be linked thematically, or they all begin with consecutive letters, that sort of thing. There were three handout rounds as well. The first asked teams to supply the top ten most common surnames in the UK. You don’t have to write any answers. If you do , you can supply up to 10. For every correct answer you write down, you gain half a point. Here’s the rub. For every incorrect answer you lose half a point. So it is possible to actually end the round with fewer points than you started. Now, I was actually asked exactly this same question about 5 years ago in the rugby club. So between us we gathered 7 answers, of which we were as certain as could be, and stuck there. Good tactics, which earned us 3 and a half points out of 5. The second handout was a wide and varied set of pictures, where two last minute changes bumped our score from the 17 out of 20 we would have had, up to the 19 out of 20 we did have. The final handout was a mixture of questions, with a mystery personality to identify from a set of clues. The fewer clues needed, the more points scored.
Here’s an Entertainment question for you ? Which cartoon character, whose name begins with D, had a horse called Sandy ? Don’t know ? Well, the answer is at the bottom of this post. I didn’t know either, but John guessed, and that point was enough to put us into the lead. A superlative performance on the pictures gave us another point’s lead, and even though Barry, our sport’s expert was not with us we only dropped one point on sport.
I won’t go on and on about it, but the usual thing for the quiz is for us to end either one point behind our friends in the mighty Maesglas A, or one point ahead of them, as happened last year. Going into the final handout round, we had a lead of a point. Amazingly, when the result was read out, we had won by 3 points. I don’t read too much into that. Maesglas A had a strong team out last night, but I can’t help but think that the absence of Mark ‘The Beast’ Labbett won’t have helped them. If he's back in Derby, then watch out.
Having said that, though, I am sitting here feeling all smug, not because we won, although that’s great, don't get me wrong. Its because as a team, we played so well. Considering we came together very late in the day, we played to each others’ strengths as well as I can ever remember, and that’s unusual. So well did we play, in fact, that with every point we missed, the correct answer had never been on the table. That’s exceptional for any team I’ve played in.
I won’t lie, I’d love to win the CIU Nationals one day, but to be honest, I’m just delighted to be there this year, considering that I thought we’d even missed out on the regionals. Roll on Derby.
The cartoon character with a horse called sandy was Dogtanian !
Congratulations to Andy Langley, from Chesham, Bucks, who yesterday won the 2010 series of Radio 4’s Counterpoint. It was a superbly exciting final, with Mr. Langley managing to break the tape first by answering the very last question. I’m interested to hear that all 3 finalists received ‘handsome trophies ‘ , a nice and worthy gesture, I think. I’m afraid that my lack of musical knowledge means that I won’t be applying to take part in the show any time soon, but its just about good enough that I can appreciate a fine performance and a good quiz when I hear it. Well done to all the contestants in the series, and to Paul and the production team. Good show !
Finally a thanks to everyone who took the time and trouble to wish me happy birthday on Facebook. Cheers !