Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Interview with David Clark

A new feature for this year on The Quiz Addict is going to be a series of interviews with folk who have been lucky enough to win some of the most prestigious quizzes in the land. Where better placed to start than with David Clark of course who was Mastermind champion and has appeared on Brain of Britain, Eggheads and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire amongst other things. He has a very lively blog at Life After Mastermind

Do you remember the first quiz you ever attended ?
The first social quiz I attended was in January 1988. My son had just been born, and a friend of the family turned up on the doorstep to take me out to ‘wet the baby’s head’ . He took me to the Railway Club in Port Talbot, where there was a free for all social quiz  for beer tickets. Then we were invited to play in a head to head team quiz n the back room, later that evening. I was hooked.

Of all the TV shows that you have been on, which one have you enjoyed the most ?
Unfair question. I doubt that ANY experience in quizzing will ever approach the Grand Final of Mastermind, 15th June, 2007. That is my finest experience in quizzing, full stop. To a different extent I have enjoyed every show that I’ve been on. Come and Have A Go and Millionaire were fantastic because you were treated exceptionally well for the whole day. Brain of Britain ( radio, I know ) is just great fun, and its pretty fast and furious. I enjoyed Are You An Egghead tremendously. But for best fun of all, probably Only Connect, which was a pure pleasure from start to finish. But nothing will ever touch the Mastermind Final of 2007.

If you could appear on any TV show, past or present, regardless of the money, which would you choose ?
Easy . 15 to 1. It ended before my career as a TV contestant began, and it’s one of two glaring gaps in my quiz CV. It was a very strong contender for the title of the finest pure quiz show of all time.

I would also add University Challenge to this. I know that I missed the boat, and there’s no way that it would happen now. I have no plans to go back to University, and do some kind of qualification to give me the chance of getting on – that just wouldn’t be playing the game. But I regret not even trying when I was at Uni.

What advice would I give to young players in the early days of their quizzing journey ?
Buy the “Be A Quiz Winner !” ebook – available on Kindle from Amazon, or on CD from my own web store.

Other than that – go to two or three quizzes a week. Watch the good , serious quizzes on TV. Read a quality newspaper everyday. Be ruthlessly honest about your own knowledge. Use your critical faculties to work out what you need to know, and then learn it. Or alternatively, if you are enjoying your quizzing anyway – then that’s enough.

What inspired you to begin LAM ?
Boredom. That and the fact it allowed me to combine two loves – writing and quizzing. I never thought that anyone would read it, and it didn’t really matter if nobody did, because I saw that it would at least allow me to work it all out of my system. Part of the motivation was giving myself a place to moan about quizzes I went to, and quizzes on telly. Then people started to read it and comment, and that kind of half success is very encouraging. I’ve never in my life ever managed to keep any kind of journal for more than a matter of weeks. LAM has been running continuously now since July 2008.

How have you acquired the General Knowledge you hold ? Do you have any study patterns ?
a)         Partly by having had a good education. For example I was one of only 4 pupils in a year group of over 200 at school to learn latin. You’d be surprised how many questions even a rudimentary knowledge of that language can answer for you.  Partly by being a devoted reader. From a very early age I’ve devoured books. Partly from being addicted to good TV quiz shows from quite an impressionable age. Partly from being gifted with a memory that retains bite sized facts . Partly from playing in up to 4 quizzes a week for over 20 years. Partly from deliberately learning some stuff for quizzes.

b)         I do now. Before Mastermind, no. The closest I came to studying was compiling quizzes regularly for the Aberavon Rugby club . I would still recommend this as a good and relatively painless way of improving your ability. For MM to learn my SS subjects I used the flashcard method. I worked through my main books chapter by chapter. Using my question master’s eye, every time I found a fact that could make a question, I put an asterisk by it in the book. At the end of the chapter I would write each asterisk on a flashcard, as a question on one side, with the answer on the other. Then I would test myself. For improving quickfire response times it’s a pretty good method. Since starting to play in the league in Bridgend I have been studying pretty hard too, working on my weakest areas – of which there are distressingly many.

Do you have any ambition left to achieve in your quizzing career ?
In all honesty, I don’t know. I mean, I have short term ambitions like retaining the league and cup titles in Bridgend this season. That matters to me. I don’t rule myself out of appearing on TV again in the future. I’ll be writing more about that in LAM in the future. I could apply to go on Brain of Britain again from next year, and that was a lot of fun. However there would be no point in doing so if I didn’t think I had a decent chance of doing better than I did last time. This would mean I’d have to think that I could win the whole thing, and at the moment I don’t really think I could. I would like to attend more grand prix, and try to get a decent ranking, but it’s a question of time and money. The main ambition, and the only really sensible ambition for any quizzer is to keep loving my quizzing – which is something I’ve managed to achieve for

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