Before all you Motorsports enthusiasts get excited, this is not some nostalgic look back at Damon Hill and John Alesi fighting it out on the streets of Britain’s pre-eminent city during the late 1980s, it what was the UKs only street circuit course. Oh No! This is all about the British Quiz Association (betcha didn’t know that existed) October 2014 Quiz Grand Prix, which took place in Birmingham and was wot I went to.
I decided to prepare for this momentous event by (a) having a shave on a weekend, and (b) not being hung over. The first was because of the pre-Movember facial hair thing, which takes more effort that you may think; the second because I’m doing Go-Sober-October at the behest of sproglet#2, so it was going to happen anyway.
[Please note: the above was written the night before the GP, as preparation. You may note a change from my jovial-grumpy style when reading on]
Ok, I’ve always thought I was reasonable at doing quizzes but WTF!!!
The morning quiz was six rounds of 40 questions (240 in total) with 31 points per round on offer. This is because the last 10 questions in each round are tie-break questions, much harder and only worth 0.1 points each. However, only your best five rounds count towards your final score so, just like F1 in the 1980s, you get to drop your lowest scores. This meant that the maximum score was actually 155.
Everyone had 90 minutes to answer the questions in a written paper format – it was just like the exams you did at school. Because everyone was sharing tables, people had their bags between them, were hunched over with a curled armed shielding their paper and generally shouting ‘Miss, Miss, David’s looking at my answers – he’s cheating“. I didn’t bother – more fool anyone who wanted to copy my answers.
I got 76.4, which put me 55th in the room (80-90ish people taking part). The winner – Pat from Eggheads – got 120-odd, and you needed 100+ to place in the Top 10, which surprisingly none of the other Eggheads / Chasers in the room did. The fact that the room was full of people who’d made the semi-final / final of Mastermind / Only Connect gives you some idea of the competition, and me some idea of how far I’ve got to go.
Following a lunchtime trip to Eat 4 More, Greggs and McDs (T-Mo* eat your heart out), there was the afternoon team quiz. Teams were randomly selected during the break and I was placed in a team captained by Egghead Dave (yes, really). Now Dave is the Eggheads resident sport expert and (highlight of the day) I managed to out-sport him. The question was to name the 10 British drivers to have won the British Grand Prix since Stirling Moss in 1955. I over-rode him and insisted that Mike Hawthorne and Jensen Button were replaced with Johnny Herbert and John Watson. We got 9 points for that round, only missing out on Peter Collins (we put Graham Hill instead).
This was the high point as we bombed on the Egyptian Hieroglyph round (1 point) and went from fighting for the lead to coming 12th out of 14 (although, still only 7 points off top spot – it was that tight).
Dave then went to The Wellington and I stayed for the final round – The Hot 100. This was 100 questions, of which I scored a barely reasonable 45. Apparently I have to email off my score and it will be used towards calculating my ranking points.
Despite a score of 76.4, and despite the British Quiz Association having been running an Order of Merit since 2007, it turns out I’ve got the 444th highest accumulative score over the last 25 events – Pat and Kevin Egghead have over 22,000 points each!
The next events, as I’m giving November’s European Quiz Championships in Bucharest as miss (it’s November – I’m staying in that weekend and growing facial hair), are Newark in December and Coventry in January. Who knows if I’ll ever be ready for the World Championships in Burton on Trent in June.
I text Lucy on the way home and let her know how badly I’ve done and she promised to help teach me the things I need to know. I came home to this:
Perhaps things are looking up after all!
Footnote: The ‘Britain’s pre-eminent city’ description only counts if you class Britain as a trip down the M6 from Walsall to Coventry and are only counting the cities you find roughly halfway through your journey. Unless of course you take the Toll Road. Just to clarify, I’m not talking about Lichfield. Or West Brom. Which is the best reason to abandon the M6 at Ikea and head down the M5 into God’s Own (Black) Country.
Sample question I got right: Situated where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet, which town saw a raid on its arsenal in 1859?
Sample qustion I got wrong: In the six-part Doctor Who story ‘The Enemy of the World’ (first aired on BBC One in December 1967) who co-stars ad the main villain, the evil ‘Salamander’?