Sunday, 19 September 2010

Moral Victories - and Moral Defeats

Do you think that there is such a thing as a moral victory in a quiz ? If you do subscribe to that point of view, then I had both a moral victory , and conversely, also a moral defeat – or would that be an immoral victory ? – in the space of a few days during the last week.

Lets take that moral defeat first. Hard on the heels of last week’s CIU finals, I was quizzing again the very next day, on Monday evening. Yes, I do know that Monday night is University Challenge/ Only Connect night, but that’s what the iplayer is for. I had been invited to join a team for a quiz in Bridgend. The quiz itself consisted of 3 rounds of 20 general knowledge questions, together with a handout of photographs to be identified.

I’ve known David who compiled the quiz and asked the questions for a long time, so I was sure that it would be a good one, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. The team I have joined are league players, newly promoted to the first division of the Bridgend League, and we certainly held our own on the questions. We didn’t win any of the three question rounds outright, though. The Bridgend League and cup champions beat us in both of the first rounds, and while I can’t remember the scores in the third, if we drew with them on that round we certainly didn’t score more than they did. We did well on the pictures though – no thanks to me, I might add – and the other team didn’t do so well. So much so that we were able to squeak home by a point.

Which brings me to my point about a moral defeat. The team were delighted – and I was happy for them too. But I have to be honest, I didn’t half feel for the team who had comfortably beaten us by several points on the GK questions – theirs was a moral victory in my opinion.

They do say that what goes around comes around. I’ve no idea who ‘they’ actually are, but they’re right, anyway. Nemesis was just around the corner for me, in the shape of last Thursday’s quiz in the rugby club. Alwyn was question master for the evening. Alwyn can boast a distinction which none of those of us who make up the other question masters in the rugby club can match. In 1989 he compiled, and published a quiz book. Its called The Movie Quiz Book, by Alwyn Rees, published by Alun Books , ISBN 0 907117 52 X Over 500 good questions squeezed into 47 pages – even in 1989 it was cheap at the price at £2.50. No, its not an achievement I am likely to try to match any time soon, but I am admiring and envious of him for doing it.

We took a lead which we carried through the first 4 rounds of the quiz. However there was no cause for relaxation. We were only a couple of points head of the Lemurs, a team consisting of my friend Rob from our CIU team. Then you have Terry. He is one of the 4 best quizzers amongst the regulars of this quiz, amongst whom I immodestly include myself. Then there are Gail and Claire who both cover areas of knowledge Rob and Terry don't, which makes the Lemurs a team who are even more than the sum of their considerable parts. And . . . they are really good at picture quizzes. So we knew that a lead wouldn’t be enough. When there are 6 teams there as there were on Thursday, there will be a 5 point gap between what the top scoring team gets for the pictures, and what the lowest scoring team gets for the pictures. The team who answers most pictures correctly gets 6, next best 5, and so on down, I’m sure that you get how it works. Begin realistic, we needed a lead of 5 points to guarantee at least a draw.

This looked unlikely when we went behind on the questions due to 2 bad rounds , 6 and 7. Then we played a blinder in the last round, and suddenly found that we had ended the questions with a 2 point lead. Frabjous day and all that. We’d won the questions. However the Lemurs easily overhauled us when the pictures were added on, and they won the whole quiz.

As I said, Monday night’s quiz was great fun, and I was delighted for the boys, but losing on the questions, then winning the quiz on the pictures didn’t really feel like a win. The most galling thing, though, is that on Thursday night, when we won the questions but lost the quiz on the pictures, that didn’t feel like a win either !


While we’re on the subject of Thursday night, I think its worth mentioning that Mary – referred to in some previous posts as Mrs. C. , Mrs. Londinius and, I’m ashamed to admit it , ‘Er Indoors – decided to accompany me to the quiz. I’m not saying that this has never happened before, but its so rare as to make it worth marking the occasion. Our middle daughter was moving away to University in Cardiff the next day, and as she explained – there will come a time in a couple of years when our youngest daughters – twins – may well be doing the same thing, and if I think she is sitting at home on a Thursday evening, then I’ve got another think coming. Fair enough.

Its ironic that we actually lost the quiz on the pictures, since Mary actually made a significant contribution to our effort on this handout. We were outscored by almost all the other teams, but that having been said I thought that we did better than is often the case, and Mary recognised many of them which the rest of us didn’t have a clue about. Hopefully this may offset her ambivalence about quizzes and quiz questions. So I shall be interested to see whether she comes again next week, and if she does then you can doubtless expect some future ruminations on the delights and drawbacks of conjugal quizzing. Can’t wait.


IanJC said...

Do I believe in a moral victory, well if I didn't before after last night's experience I most certainly do now.

I live in Burton on Trent, and last night me and my fellow quizzers took part in the annual Bass Charity team quiz night at the newly opened National Brewery Centre.

I have to admit we all had a great time and the event was really well attended.

The fly in the ointment as it were, occurred in the 8th round when the following question was asked:

" If John Lennon were still alive today, how old would he have been?"

Now it so happens that there are a few celebrations taking place next month, marking what would have been Lennon's 70th birthday (9th October 1940 I believe was the exact date). So we wrote down the answer as 69 years old it being the 23rd of September and submitted our sheet.

When the answers were read out, can you guess what the answer to this one was? That's right 70, well we protested and the QM conceded our point that the question was worded, 69 was the right answer.

All well and good we thought, until the results were announced that is when we were adjudged to have come second by half a point.

As we had already calculated our score to be 1 point more, it was us that were expecting to be declared winners by half a point.

So how had this state of affairs arisen we enquired, and it turned out that whoever was marking our paper with the aforementioned answer had scored it wrong despite the adjudication by the QM.

As the prizes had already been handed out there was nothing we could do but grin and bear it.
Maggie, one of my colleagues, turned to me and said "Well I suppose that's what you call a moral victory", and I thought where have I heard that before?

Londinius said...

Hi IanJC

Blimey - what more do you have to do to get a win ? Definitely 9th October. A thought does occur to me. The Question master is always right is not something I always subscribe to, but at the end of the day once the question master has ruled an answer acceptable , then its not up to the scorer to overrule it. Unless it wasn't consciously done, and it was just incompetence. Not that this would make you feel a whole lot bettr, I know.

However it happened, it makes you want to spit, to coin a phrase.

Thanks for dropping by