Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year and Thankyou for continuing to read and comment on the blog!

2013 has been a mixed year for me in quizzing. With a lot of hard work but into revising and learning I have definitely became a better player in the last 12 months in all forms of quiz. My main achievement have been a rise in the scoring at the GP's and I highly doubt I will rise at such a rate again. Pub quizzing has improved as has my contribution to the team in the league. The major disappointment was of course Brain of Britain but I cannot complain as not only was it an achievement in itself getting onto the show but having recorded Eggheads and Only Connect as well this year I have certainly had a 2013 to remember.

All the best for 2014!


Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope everyone has a wonderful day tomorrow whatever you may be doing!

Monday, 23 December 2013

Brain of Britain - My evening recording....

Well, my episode has aired now and you will have heard me somewhat crash and burn on my appearance on this years Brain of Britain. I knew in applying for the show and taking part this year I was trying to run before I could walk, but when the chance came to appear in a show I have been a fan of for years, I couldn't turn it down. The score I ended up with was pretty much what I was expecting but despite a tinge of disappointment I enjoyed the whole occasion.

I headed down to the very impressive Media City complex in Salford on the Friday morning with a stay in the on-site Holiday Inn to look forward to. The call time was 5pm and after a short time waiting around in the lobby we were taken to the studio for recording. I say studio, the Salford episodes were recorded in a hall usually used for the BBC Philharmonic orchestra. Walking to the studio my first little shock was seeing the queue to get into the recording as an audience member! A little intimidating.

After being given the brief run down, we set off on a rehearsal game but with time running on, and a mix up with security who were double booked (with the Jeremy Kyle Show of all things), I had to carry my rehearsal out in front of the audience. For one reason or another, I was very nervous. This was the set up (see below) with the audience of about maybe 250-300 sitting from where the picture was taken.

Despite progressing well in all aspects of quizzing, evidence by my performances in GP's as of late, I am developing a nasty habit of freezing and getting overly nervous whenever there is an audience of any sort. It happened earlier in the year at the York vs Sunderland head to head which was on a stage and has happened in all my TV/Radio recordings to date.

The rehearsal was simply 2-3 rounds of practice questions and as far as I recall, I actually managed to win the rehearsal which I thought would put me at ease but as soon as the music kicked in so did my nerves. The Livingstone question was a total mind-fart and from then on in I was on the backfoot. I was quizzing against some strong players and the standard, apart from me was very high!

The only question I was a little disappointed not to get was Livingstone...the others I genuinely didn't know. I certainly didn't expect Rachael to pass over Vectis for my only bonus of the day. I was well beaten and I knew going in I was running before I could walk so to speak.

But the whole experience was fantastic, enjoyable and out of the three TV/Radio shows I have now done...this was probably the one I enjoyed most!

I would recommend to anyone giving it a try and I look forward to returning in 5 years!

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Brain of Britain - Heat 3

My episode of Brain of Britain airs tomorrow on BBC Radio 4. Tomorrow I will post a run down of the experience recording it.

Friday, 20 December 2013

British Quizzing Assosiciation (Quizzing.co.uk) New E-Books

Quizzing (who run the monthly GP's around the country, World and European Championships etc) have began trialling an idea to release the questions used at such events in an Ebook format. Hopefully it will be a success as this will be a great way to access the questions used, and much easier than relying on the postal system.

The first trial book is....

And as with all Kindle Ebooks you don't need a Kindle to read it, simply download the kindle app to whichever device you are using and you are set!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas University Challenge

I always enjoy this Xmas run of University Challenge so its great to see it back this year. It all kicks off tomorrow (Friday) at 7.30pm and runs through to the final on the 3rd of January.

The line up this year for anyone interested is...

St Hugh’s, Oxford: Dame Liz Forgan, Chair of the Bristol Old Vic and National Youth Orchestra; Suzy Klein, writer and radio presenter; Alex Hibbert, polar expedition leader; and Rowan Pelling, Daily Telegraph columnist and broadcaster.

King’s College, London: Anne Ashworth, Assistant Editor and Property Editor of The Times; Rory Bremner, comedian and writer; Susan Hill, author of books including The Woman In Black; and Arthur Butt, Professor and Director of the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences at the University of Portsmouth.

Leicester: Sue Cook, novelist and television presenter; Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party; Heather Couper, astronomy writer and television presenter; and Nigel Henbest, science writer and broadcaster.

Reading: Jay Wynne, weather presenter; John Simpson, former Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary; Cornelia Parker, Turner Prize-nominated artist; and Joan Smith, columnist for The Guardian and The Independent and human rights campaigner.

Sussex: Alice Arnold, broadcaster and writer; Simon Fanshawe, comedian and campaigner; Claudia Hammond, psychology writer and broadcaster; and Rob Bonnet, sports broadcaster and producer.

Keele: Francis Beckett, contemporary historian and biographer; Maggie Atkinson, Children’s Commissioner for England; Ian Moncrieff, former Rear Admiral and Chief Executive, UK Hydrographic Office; and Steve Jackson, co-founder of Games Workshop.

Southampton: Jason Cowley, Editor of The New Statesman; Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts; Baroness Claire Tyler, Liberal Democrat peer; and Stefan Buczacki, horticulturalist and botanist.

Kent: Fi Glover, writer and television and radio presenter; Robert Wade, screenwriter and co-writer of five James Bond films; Rebecca Lenkiewicz, playwright and film, television and radio screenwriter; and James Wong, television science presenter.

Aberystwyth: Dr. Timothy Brain, former Chief Constable of Gloucestershire; Chris Leek, British Mensa board member; Elfyn Llwyd, barrister and Plaid Cymru MP; and Dan Jarvis, MP and Shadow Minster for Justice.

Stirling: Paul Lewis, presenter of Radio 4’s Money Box; John McLellan, Director of the Scottish Newspaper Society; Muffy Calder, Chief Scientific Advisor to the Scottish Government; and Richard Lochhead, MSP and Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment.

Emmanuel, Cambridge: Simon Singh, science writer; Mary-Ann Ochota, anthropologist and television presenter; Rory McGrath, comedian; and Hugo Rifkind, columnist for The Times, The Spectator and GQ.

Gonville and Caius, Cambridge: Lars Tharp, one of the experts on Antiques Roadshow; Quentin Stafford-Fraser, technology entrepreneur; Helen Castor, historian and television presenter; and Mark Damazer, former Controller of Radio 4 and Master of St Peter’s College, Oxford.

Christ Church, Oxford: Andrew Graham-Dixon, art historian and presenter of The Culture Show; Mehdi Hasan, author and Political Director of The Huffington Post; Lord Michael Dobbs, Conservative Peer and author of the House Of Cards novels; and Adam Boulton, Political Editor of Sky News.

Lancaster: Matthew Fort, Food and Drink Editor for The Guardian and Great British Menu judge; Ranvir Singh, Daybreak news presenter; Roger Ashton-Griffiths, actor; and Brian Clegg, science writer.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Celebrity Mastermind

A new series of Celebrity Mastermind begins on Monday evening with a run that takes it all the way through to January 10th. Never the toughest of quizzes but I usually enjoy watching it

A-Z of Everything - New Edition

I am sure many people reading this blog will be familiar with the reference works produced by Trevor Montague. His main work, The A-Z of Everything, has just been released in an updated version in a new Hardcover A4 style. As always any of his works are worth a look!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pub Quizzing 2013

As 2013 draws to a close I always tend to find myself in a reflective mood. Looking back across the year I think I have been to more pub quizzes this year than in any other and maintain that the best way to become a better quizzer is to actually quiz as much as possible. 

My quizzing this year has, of course, mainly took place in my home city of Sunderland. Fitzgeralds Quiz on a Thursday Evening has remained a highlight. 

The quiz takes place at 9pm each Thursday and although it has changed this year to include a music round, it still remains one of the finest quizzes in the area. Plenty of General Knowledge, a good range of teams, a total handle on cheating and more importantly some fine real ales. They also started a Sports Quiz this year which I attend a few times but clashing with the Quiz League means I have not been able to attend it as much as I maybe would have liked but it is certainly well worth a look.

Monday Nights have usually involved a Red Tooth quiz at one of Sunderland's finest pubs...The Isis. 

As you can see this is a brilliant pub in the city centre with a traditional feel and the best range of ales on the city centre.The quiz is Red Tooth which I know a lot of people are not too keen on but under new stewardship, the standard Red Tooth quiz has improve dramatically this year and again this is a pub that has a good mix of regular teams, a good host and a handle on cheating!

Various other quizzes I have tried throughout the year. Chaplins in the city centre has a good following and is organised by a close friend of mine, but the excessive cheating takes away any enjoyment and with it being on the same night as Fitzgeralds quiz there is only going to be one option for me.

The Kings Arms quiz on a Sunday continues to be a written quiz with 50 questions and all afternoon to try them out. There has been some great questions but the lack of answers on the day, the lack of a host and the lack of a score unless you go back the next week takes some of the fun out of proceedings, but certainly  a quiz which I will venture back to in 2014.

However, for want of a better phrase, Pub Quiz of The Year has to be a quiz I attended during a short stay in Edinburgh in the summer at a small city centre-ish pub called The Barony.

Ran by a top quizzer and with a great simple format, this is the type of pub quiz I wish existed in Sunderland. Proper quiz questions, well thought out teasers and (when I was there) a good quiz-keen crowd makes for my favourite Pub Quiz night of the year!

In 2014 I hope to try out a few other quizzes I have yet to sample including an Iphone/Ipad quiz which seems to be doing the rounds nationally as well as trying to find some decent quizzes further a field. 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Linkee App

You may be wondering where you have heard/seen the name Linkee before. Earlier in the year this game was featured on Dragons Den and is a basic game of connections. Four questions, one connection. Very simple seemingly (the full game is on my Christmas list so hopefully Santa will be able to use Amazon to order it for me!).

Anyway, the reason for the post is that the Linkee App has been released today on the Android and Apple stores. Its free and comes with a basic 240 levels. I haven't made it to the end but there is a "Shop" so I imagine more can be bought. I have played my through some levels and even though the first few were stupidly easy it is getting more interesting as it goes on! Well worth a look.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Fifteen-to-One is back!

It was rumoured after the recent celebrity special that Fifteen to One would be returning to our screens and a quick read of the report HERE confirms that! Sandi Toksvig I think will make a great host although I hope the daytime version is closer to the old show than the celebrity versions are likely to be. Even though its only 20 episodes I am interested to see how this works out. I imagine there will be a fair few applications for this of which I will certainly be one.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Brain of Britain 2014 - Starts Tomorrow

Just in case you may have missed it, the 2014 series of Brain of Britain starts tomorrow on Radio 4. Far and away my favourite broadcast quiz and there are plenty of familiar faces from the world of quiz taking part this year. I recorded my episode back in November which I think is due to air on the 23rd December. More nearer the time.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Show Me The Telly

It is easy to miss ITV's new daytime quiz show Telly Addi....I mean Show Me The Telly as it is tucked away at 4pm. I remember the contestant call going out for this fairly recently and was surprised to see it make it to the screen so early. The premise of the game is 3 "TV Fans" play against 3 "Tv Celebs" one of whom is always the captain Chris Tarrant. Questions are asked on various aspects of TV with head to head games against the Celebs and so on all leading to the contestants trying to earn time for the final in which they must answer a dozen or so questions to win £2,000.

I enjoyed the first episode, mainly for the novelty, but after only a week I have just about give up. Again, I know this show isn't aimed at being for quizzers but here is my views anyway.

The first thing, like many day time shows, is that at 1 hour of screen time this is way too long. Sky Plus helps reduce it but still it is a good 15 minutes or so before the first question seems to be asked. Each contestant gets a good few minutes talking about themselves and each Celebrity obviously gets their much needed screen time. The questions are few and far between, laced with clips of TV shows. Generally on the most part, even as someone who doesn't watch a great deal of "fictionalised/reality" tv shows I found it very easy indeed. Even the final round for the money was particularly hard. I imagine a good quizzer would breeze this!

Richard Bacon is a good host, Tarrant is quite entertaining but the range of guests has been very uninspired. With easy and often boring questions and too much chit chat and filler, this is not something I will be bothering to watch!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Quiz Up App

A new app has been released on the Apple Store - Quiz Up. And quite frankly, its rather good. The App is free and has a database of thousands of questions on hundreds of topics. You compete with other players in head to head games of 7 questions with the person answering the most, or fastest, winning! Gets quite addictive after a while!

If you decide to download it give me a shout and we can have a few games!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Brain of Britain 2014

Well, after 2 years of trying and months of waiting I finally will be heading to Salford tomorrow to take part in Brain of Britain 2014. I know I am running before I can walk so to speak, and ideally I should have waited another 5-10 year before even thinking about trying this.....but the chance presented itself this year and there is no harm in giving it a go.

My expectations are low. I fully expect not to make it out of the heat and will be unlikely to score anything close to double figure (1 point will do me at this stage!) but more than anything its been one of my ambitions to appear on the show since I started taking a keen interest in quizzing. If I score 0 and embarrass myself then so be it but I intend to enjoy every minute of it!

With Only Connect, Brain of Britain and Eggheads recordings this year I am pleased to have finally had some experience of broadcast quizzing. I just hope the mental blanks I have had on previous occasions don't return too heavily on Friday.

I believe if all goes to plan the broadcast date will be 23rd December 2013 with the new series beginning a few weeks earlier on 9th December.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sunderland Echo Quiz League - Week 3

The last game before the winter break tonight -

Newbottle v Colonel Prior
Museum Vaults vs Penshaw Catholic Club
Hastings Hill vs The Isis

Questions being set by Chaplins with a week off for Ashbrooke.

If anyone local is keen to join the league then send me an email to fully234@hotmail.com and I will pass it on to the league chairman.

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #1

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #1

1 -  Pears Quiz Companion

No surprises to regular readers but for the second year running it has been the Pears Quiz Companion which has proved most useful to me this year! I have recommended it numerous times on here so you may have read my praise before. In terms of being concise, relevant and useful this book takes the prize. Wherever I have been quizzing from the BQC to Pub Quizzes to the League learning this book has played a huge part in my huge gains in knowledge this year.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #2

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #2

2 - A-Z Of Britain and Ireland

This title is another from Trevor Montague and this time focus on a county by country guide to the UK and Ireland. Packed with useful information about the past, present and future of each county it has proved invaluable in UK quizzed this year.Quite a tome to work through but certainly worth it!

Friday, 22 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #3

Most Useful Reference Books 2013

3 - Brewers Dictionary of Phrase and Fable

Out of all the books on my list for 2013, this is again probably the one I have "enjoyed" using the most. The book is essentially an encyclopaedia of all kinds of wonderful information from mythology to modern day culture and everything in between. I actually find it hard to summarise what this book actually covers as it is so varied. A read of one of the thousand-plus pages in this book will certainly give you at least a new bit of information to consume.

Again, as I mentioned regarding another work this is one of those books you will dip into looking for one piece of information and end up hours later finding yourself consumed. Ideal for learning, setting and just reading for enjoyment I cannot fault this work and it will be of endless use to me for many years to come.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sunderland Echo Quiz League - Week 2

The fixtures for this week in the Sunderland Echo Quiz League are -

Penshaw Catholic Club vs Newbottle
Hastings Hill vs Chaplins
Ashbrooke vs The Isis

The Prior have set the question and Museum Vaults (the team I am part of) has a week off.

If anyone is interested in joining the league or just observing a match send an email across to fully234@hotmail.com and I will put you in touch with the league chairman.

Further details of the league can be found HERE

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #4

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #4

4 -  A-Z of English Literature

I mentioned this title a few weeks back on the blog and it makes an appearance on the end of the year list! Far from being  what other people might consider "a boring a-z of lists" this book is presented in a witty, funny and engaging way which makes help remembering the content actually easier. David Rothwell has done a great job of covering key aspects of English Literature ranging from important figures, novels, plays and literary terms. Easy to read, plenty of great facts and ideal for building literature quiz knowledge. 

Busy few days...

With filming for the next series of Only Connect and Brain of Britain coming up, as well as possibly the British Open Grand Prix event in December, I have a very busy few days coming up so please bare with me on the lack of posts. I have set a few to autopost but should get some time next week for a report on my day filming Only Connect!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #5

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #5

5 -  1001 Inventions That Changed the World

Over the course of the last year I have used a fair few of these works. You may well have seen them lining the shelves of the major book retailers with the series covering all sorts of areas from History to Art to Movies. I could well have included 1001 Days That Shook the World on this list as I have used that several times this year too but out of the titles in the series I have 1001 Inventions That Changed the World edges it!

These books are far from being just a collection of lists, rather they give key and concise background information on the subjects covered making them informative, easy to read and coupled with the illustrations and nice presentation, this is a great book to read and ideal for learning vital quiz information!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #6

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #6

6 -  Oxford Companion to English Literature

I went to town big style on Literature this year and picked up a wide range of books on the subject. It was however perhaps the Oxford Companion to English Literature that proved most helpful quiz wise. It is worth raising the issue here that it all depends on the way you learn! I like Encyclopaedia style books such as this and find it easier to learn from them.

This covers everything including authors, characters, key works, literary terms and has proved a gold mine of information for both setting and answering. My new copy is now battered due to the amount of time this title has been used this year and I can attribute a lot of my gains in literature knowledge to this!

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Sunderland Echo Quiz League Season 2013/2014

This week marks the start of the 2013/2014 season of the Sunderland Quiz League. The league will start this year with 8 teams and takes place on Wednesday Nights at 8pm. This will be my second full season in the league and I have really enjoyed the quizzing, meeting some great people and, of course, it makes a great excuse for a midweek pint!

The games taking place this Wednesday are -

The Prior vs Ashbrooke
Chaplins vs Penshaw
Museum Vaults vs Newbottle

We also have The Isis and Hastings Hill playing in the league but they are setting and having a week off this time around.

New players are always welcome so if you are in the area and keen to see what the league is all about, by all means pop down to anyone of the games. If you are interested, email me your details to fully234@hotmail.com and I will pass them on to the league chairman.

Full season fixtures can be found HERE

Monday, 11 November 2013

Pressure Pad - BBC

Pressure Pad began on BBC last week in the 3pm slot on BBC One. Hosted by John Barrowman, Pressure Pad pits two teams of 5 against each other in a string of one to one contests leading to final.....think Eggheads and you are close.

However, rather than standard quiz questions to gimmick here is a large "pressure pad" which you can see in the above picture. As far as I can gather there are about 8-10 different variations on the rounds which range from having to answer questions to keep a sliding bar away from you to stepping on parts of a UK map to identify locations. Throw into the mix multiple choice answers, list based questions and link the answer to the question challenges and it is quite varied which so far has been its main appeal. I think in terms of the format and variety Pressure Pads must be commended.

However, the one down side for me personally is a)the standard of questions and b) the selection of teams. Without sounding patronising the show is clearly not aimed at quizzers, indeed I know of a team of good quizzers who were rejected at the last minute for this after being promised a place, and that shows. The novelty of the show is keeping me watching thus far and I am far from being bored of this show but with good quizzers and tougher questions this could be so much more!

Friday, 8 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #7

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #7

7 -  A-Z of British and Irish Popular Culture 

Being a fan of the other works in this series I had no hesitation in adding this to my collection at the start of the year. As with all of Trevor Montague's books it goes into great detail on the subject given. This book has proven useful to me in all types of quizzing for the League to the GP's to the standard pub quizzes. Covering all aspects of entertainment including TV, Film and Music there is little in this book that you won't find useful. Well worth a look"

Lightspeed Quiz Round 8

Here are the videos from the latest Round of Lightspeed Quiz. Again, I was unable to attend this one but there are some cracking questions in here and some very very close games.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #8

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #8

8 - World Almanac 2013

Continuing with the series of Reference works which I have found most useful in Quizzing terms this year and I come to a book I was given for Xmas from my Sister. It was a surprise present and it was a book I hadn't really considered buying before, but now I expect I am going to be getting it annually! I have posted links above to the 2014 version which is of course the latest in the series but it has been the 2013 version I have been using this year.

Indeed, for the first 4-5 months of the year this hardback tome rarely left my desk. The first 100-200 pages or so were a lot of in depth results of the US Election but other than that everything else has been extremely useful. Covering events from the previous 12 months is just the tip of the iceberg as this book serves as a great reference guide to all major quizzing topics. In some places it is better than the standard bearers of the genre as it tends to be a little more concise (which is often better) when it comes to certain areas.

Its well indexed, easy to pick up and find information and well presented and has been one of my favourite books of the year. I assume the 2014 version will keep up the same quality and could not recommend it enough!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Eggheads : My Day Filming Eggheads Part 2

So there we are then. After filming way back in March our Episode of Eggheads (Chaplins Smilers of Sunderland) has aired. A few days ago I posted of my account of the day as a whole, omitting the results and questions etc, but now the show has aired I can continue that one from the moment we stepped into the studio.

As mentioned, the introductions were filmed first and after meeting the Eggheads the studio was set to record. We knew nothing about the money at stake until Jeremy Vine announced it in the recorded section. I assume they do this to get a genuine reaction out of the teams when the money is high. We certainly were not expecting £40,000 and we may have thought about our subject choices more has we known :) I only really knew Adam before the Eggheads audition. He is a local quizmaster and picked some players from the various quizzes he attends so I really didn't know what to expect. It was a rather strange experience in that sense. We had quizzed together the week before to get to know each other a little.

Either way it was on with the quiz and everything seemed to go over in a blur. Contestants know nothing of the subjects prior to the show. We had made a plan on the train going down and nobody wanted to do Geography so I took it as my second option (Arts and Books being the other). I am a very keen sports fan and have had great sports results in various quizzes so ideally wanted to take on one of the big guns on Sport. However, one of our team mates was also keen on sport, and being the passive one, I gave it up.

Not being at all confident on Geography I was at least though pleased one of my subjects came up so I could have a one to one match. The Eggheads film in the same room for these. You are taken down the corridor to a room with a couple of crew members, two big cameras and a long bench with the contestant on one end and the Egghead on the other. The rest you may have seen (It will be on iplayer of course for the next week).

I knew the first question but wanted to get settled in the room a little, and under instruction of course to prolong answers, stretched it out a little. My reaction to the St. Moritz questions was quite genuine, I went purely on the Winter Olympics idea but for all I knew they could have all been Ski resorts! One that was in my mind there was no changing. My confidence was definitely boosted with Dave getting one wrong and when I picked up on his wrong answer even better!

My luck was then over. I panicked a little on the last question not really knowing it  and having nothing to go on. I realise this was quite a bad miss. My chance to win was gone and it was tiebreaker time.

Again the first question was gettable in the tiebeaker...I had a pneumonic to remember the order of the countries and whether it was observable or not I could see myself running through this. However, the classic case of remembering the wrong pneumonic leading to the wrong answer. A bad answer I know but after fluffing the pneumonic I couldn't regain focus.

The second Tiebreaker question I thought was tough. Got no where near it and Dave answered his to win the match. Disappointed to lose, two questions I definitely should have had but it was back to the studio for the rest of the game.

It was odd watching the rest of the game on TV as I have so little memory of it. One answer, I won't tell you which, has resulted in 8 months of stick for one of the team but everyone enjoyed it. John was unlucky as his pop music knowledge is superb but the music questions didn't fall right and Judith had a far easier set than Anthony but I don't want to sound like a moaner. We were well beat but enjoyed the day!

That left Derek on his own in the final. Had one of us made it it could have made the difference. It was odd again watching on TV as all you can see and hear in the other room is Jeremy Vine. It is easy saying this in retrospect but I found the final set to be quite comfortable, whether or not I would have said the same had I been alone I do not know, but we had given Derek too much to do.

Then that was that! A great day, a disappointing result but no regrets about doing the show. It gets a lot of criticism from the Quizzing community but I am glad to have taken part in an episode of Eggheads and really enjoyed my first experience of Television!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Chaplins Smilers vs Eggheads - Friday - 6pm - BBC Two

Well, after months of waiting (8 months to be precise) our episode of Eggheads airs at 6pm Friday 1st November. Chaplins Smilers, representing a pub in Sunderland, take on the Eggheads. 

I may have mentioned it a few times.....but it's my first TV appearance, of I hope many more to come. My account of the day is a few posts below and after the show my account of the contest itself will appear.

Revenge of the Egghead - New TV Show

Firstly read the official contestant call below which is also on this site HERE

Revenge of the Egghead (working title)

| BBC Two

The makers of Eggheads are looking for lively, intelligent and competitive personalities who would like to take part in a brand new BBC Two quiz programme.
Thousands of pounds could be won and we're holding nationwide auditions now.
Revenge of the Egghead (working title) is produced for the BBC by 12 Yard Productions.

It appears that this show is going to star CJ in a show that sounds similar to The Chase. There was an email sent round with a better description that indicates that is the kind of show it will be but I can't seem to find it in my inbox!

Either way this will be something of a controversial choice in the quizzing community as CJ is, either rightly or wrongly, considered to be one of the weaker Eggheads in terms of general knowledge and already a few moanings have emerged on Facebook. It will be interesting to see how this pans out and whether it will be a replacement of Eggheads or run alongside it.

Liverpool Echo Article on European Quiz Championships

The European Quiz Championship takes place this weekend in Liverpool and there is an ineresting article in the Liverpool Echo HERE

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I don't want to be the moaner but....

When it comes to playing in pub quizzes I tend to keep quiet if I notice any cheating etc. I have a little mumble to my girlfriend who is usually my only team-mate and all is soon forgotten. Two weeks ago however at the local quiz I attend on a Thursday I broke a habit of a lifetime.

The quiz is usually chat free with evenly matched teams and a friendly atmosphere. Although the quizmaster disappears between rounds very rarely does anyone cheat. Every team can just about see each other, most teams play every week and I know of at least 2 teams who would challenge any cheating. All's well and good.

The quiz was very busy 2 weeks ago and a team of students came in at the last moment. Huddled round a small table in the only part of the quiz not visible to all teams. The first round of the quiz is a tough set of 20 written questions which you are given 30 minutes to do. Usually 14-15 points wins the round as it is  very hard indeed in places. The students clearly took one look at the tough questions and almost in sync, all 8 of them began googling. Incidentally they scored 18/20 winning the round by 3 points over some very good teams. Only two teams noticed this cheating, the quizmaster was absent.

So prior to handing my first round sheet in I decided to write "Obvious cheating for team in the corner" on the bottom. It is too close an environment for me to have a word with the quizmaster without anyone hearing and a) I don't want to be seen as a moaner and b) I didn't want to annoy the team of students and create an atmosphere.

Because we are regulars the quizmaster made an announcement after the round...the students scored 1 in the next round and ended up last in the quiz by a long distance.

Without my intervention I imagine they would won every round, the jackpot and the quiz itself!

However, this week something happened again which gave me the dilemma.....to moan or not to moan? I don't my moaning to became an irritation for the quizmaster, I don't want to look like a bad loser and I certainly don't want to be known as the moaner of the quiz. A music round, worth 10 points in a 50 point quiz, comes last and the dominant teams are all of a certain age. Prior to the music round the quiz gained about 10 new players who these teams had drafted in just for the music round. No entrance fee, no part in the rest of the quiz.

So the question is, should players moan/raise issues within a quiz even if it means annoying other players and getting a reputation of "taking it a little too seriously"? Or should we let it slide?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Five Faces

Hopefully a new feature of the blog. "Five Faces" is a simple picture quiz. Identify the famous faces!

Answers in the comment box below.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #9

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #9

9 - History Year by Year

I am a huge fan of the DK series of works and was given this book as a gift earlier in the year. If you are thinking "another history of the world" then maybe it is worth having a look at this title. As with all DK books its superbly presented, full of colour and life with plenty of illustrations, diagrams, maps and timelines to back up the facts given. Like many of you I am sure, I have a wide range of books on the same "History of the World" theme but I happen to think that this title is much more accessible, interesting and enjoyable than some of the more heavy tomes.

Well worth a look, an ideal gift for quizzers too!, and another great entry in the DK series.

Friday, 25 October 2013

My Day Filming Eggheads...Part 1

After just over 8 months the episode of Eggheads we filmed way back in March will air on Friday 1st November on BBC 2. One of my big ambitions this year was to appear on a TV Quiz Show and Eggheads marks my TV debut. The whole process was rather fast from the audition to heading up to Glasgow to film but it was a very enjoyable day all round. I will post another blog entry up after the show.

12 Yard had booked us on an early train from Sunderland up to Glasgow with very little time on the change over at Edinburgh so the trip up to the studio was a little rushed. We did though manage to sort out on the train who was doing what subject. Sport was my strong point and I would have fancied my chances against any of the Eggheads on that subject, but we had to play as a team so I settled on Arts and Books and Geography. Our game plan was to divide the subjects between us and then it was a matter of luck as to who got chance to take an Egghead on one-on-one. I think if we realised how much money was possibly at stake we may have played differently but the stage was set and we arrived at the studio on good time!

12 Yard were fantastic to use all day! I was half expecting to see some other teams competing but we were taken to the green room straight away and given our instructions. We pretty much had the whole room to ourselves with some snacks laid on and an "intimidating" lists of the Eggheads achievements. We were told who the 5 Eggheads would be, wardrobe came in and decided which of our 5 shirts they wanted us to wear and we were given some time to relax. It seemed as if two "runners" (is that the term?) were assigned to look after us all day and make us feel at ease. From the minute we arrived to the moment we left they ensured we have a hassle free day.

"You're very pale"....Gee, Thanks! It was soon into make-up, a first for me, and long after everyone had finished I was still in the chair getting all sorts of bronzer and such like on as, I kept getting reminded by the make up artists, I was very pale skinned. And then without further a do it was into the studio...

It was a little surreal walking into a TV studio for a show I have been a fan of for much of its ten years on air. It was a little smaller than I imagined but much wider if that makes sense. The distance between contestants and Eggheads is, as you can see from the picture above, further than appears on TV. We got seated and settled in, our faithful "runners" making sure everything was fine. Then it was time to film the introductions which is done without the presenter or Eggheads in the studio.

After the introductions were over and done with, it was time to meet Jeremy Vine. He came and introduced himself to the team before the arrival of the Eggheads. It was of course my first experience of Television but Jeremy Vine was a true pro, giving us a genuine greeting, taking time to talk to us throughout the recording about our jobs and interests and made time to talk to us about the game at the end of recording.

Following this was the arrival of the Eggheads who greeted us before taking their seats. I had met a few of the Eggheads before as they attend the GP events I often attend and it was a nice touch that Barry recognised me from this. After the recording the Eggheads came back over and had a good chat with us before our time was up. All very friendly and genuine which made the whole experience even more enjoyable.

We had an excellent day in Glasgow filming our episode and I will post further comment on the actual quiz contest next week after it has aired!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #10

Towards the end of last year I ran a series of posts highlighting the reference books I had found most useful the year before. As we are approaching the final months of yet another year I will be repeating the series. There will be some books pop up here that were on last years list as I have continued to use many of the same points of reference but also some new titles that I have found useful.

There will be a separate thread coming up in the next few weeks recommending some other useful reads but this series is purely works I would term "Reference Books".

This year has seen massive improvements in my quizzing and these are some of the books that have helped me along the way.

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #10

10 - Passing Time in the Loo Volume 1

Funnily enough this years list starts with a book I found out about as a result of publishing my list last year. I was recommended this title and it has turned out to be very much 'quizzing gold'!

I have the Kindle version but the link above is to the paperback version which is the same. In hindsight I would have bought the Paperback version as any reference book on Kindle tends to be rather hard to navigate although the nature of this book makes it a tad more easier than some of the others. 

I found the first section of this book to be particularity useful as it contains synopsis of famous novels which has helped to get key information about books to stick. From reading through these I have scored points in all ranges of quizzes from pub quizzes to the British Quiz Championships and time and time again on TV quiz shows. Its very easy to read, nicely set out and concise.

Being a quizzer who also works full time I simply do not have the time to read the amount of literature I would like to. I would hope at some point to read the full novels that this book focuses on but realistically that may never happen so a book like this is invaluable. Well worth a look!

Possibly my most read Kindle title of the year!

I look forward to spending time in the future with the further volumes of this...hint hint Santa!

Farewell Millionaire

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is no more....(Taken from the Guardian site). The last series was pretty darn abysmal!

ITV is to axe Who Wants To Be A Millionaire after Tarrant bows out

Million-pound TV quiz to end after 15 years as host Tarrant calls it a day
  • The Guardian
'It's time for me to move on,' says Chris Tarrant. Photograph: ITV
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is to be axed after Chris Tarrant said he wanted to step down as the TV quiz's host, announcing: "It's time to take a break."
The 67-year-old has been with the show since its launch in 1998 and said he had reached a point where he wanted to call it a day. ITV has said there will be no further specials beyond the ones which have already been planned.
The groundbreaking show was the first to offer a million-pound prize, even if it was rarely reached, and became a major global hit, inspiring the Oscar-winning blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire.
Announcing his departure in a statement, Tarrant said: "It's been a huge part of my life for 15 years and I've loved every minute of it, but it is time for me to move on from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
"It's been the most remarkable journey and I consider myself very fortunate to have been associated with Millionaire from its inception.
"ITV have been fantastic in their support from day one and to see its huge success has been thrilling."
The show was a hit when it launched, appearing daily on ITV with Tarrant proving to be a master of building tension.
In recent years, it has been used more as a platform for fundraising celebrity specials.
Tarrant went on: "The calibre of the celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Sir Alex Ferguson, Simon Cowell, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Terry Wogan, Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, etc, is just one indication of how much this show has touched a nerve with everybody.
"But of course so much more rewarding for all of us has been, not just the celebrities or even the million-pound winners, but all of the ordinary men and women whose lives have been changed - sometimes forever - by being on the show.
"Thank you all for sitting opposite me. I am privileged to have been a part of it, but do now feel that it is time for me to call it a day."
Referring to his cliffhanger catchphrase from the show, he said: "I've worked ridiculously hard these last few years and to quote myself, 'It's time to take a break.'"

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Only Connect to BBC 2

Only Connect's continued success on BBC Four, often topping the 1 million mark, has resulted in the series after next earning a spot on BBC 2. Full story below...

Taken from the BBC Site...http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2013/only-connect-bbc-two.html

Victoria Coren Mitchell (credit BBC/Presentable, part of the RDF Media Group)
Date: 18.10.2013Last updated: 18.10.2013 at 14.17
Category: BBC TwoBBC Four
Only Connect, the hugely popular BBC Four quiz show in which teams compete to find connections between seemingly unrelated clues is to move to BBC Two in 2014.
Hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell and currently in its seventh series, Only Connect has also had 14 celebrity specials since it began in September 2008. BBC Four will host a further series in the spring of 2014 before the move.
Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, says: “BBC Four has a proud tradition of growing successful shows and I'm delighted Only Connect is making the move to BBC Two where I hope it will connect with an even broader audience."
Victoria Coren Mitchell says: "I and the rest of the Only Connect team are hugely excited about our Icarus-like flight towards the sun of mainstream broadcasting. If our wings start melting, I'll just flap harder."
Alan Tyler, the BBC’s commissioning executive says: “Victoria and the Only Connect team have set the gold standard in quizzes. We are all really looking forward to seeing the show in its new home, whilst the hunt is already underway for a successor on BBC Four.”
Only Connect is a Parasol production, series produced by Jenny Hawker. Executive producers are Chris Stuart and Mark Hill. The executive producer for the BBC is Alan Tyler, Executive Editor Entertainment Commissioning. The show regularly attracts over 1m viewers, making it one of the most viewed programmes on BBC Four. In the latest run it also achieved its best ever audience to an individual episode with 1.2m/5.0 per cent (29 July 2013). A final series will air on BBC Four in the spring before the move to BBC Two.
BBC Four has tendered for a replacement show and following short-listing is currently seeing run-throughs of three contenders: The Knowledge from BBC In-House entertainment, Enigma from RDF-Parasol, the company behind Only Connect, and Eliminate The Impossible from Victory Television.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Only Connect Audition

It was off to Manchester on Saturday for my third TV/Radio audition of the year....this time Only Connect. It has all happened rather quickly, after struggling to find anyone else interested I remember putting a comment on a facebook thread sometime ago and low and behold someone got in touch and a team was formed. It seemed to go very quickly for filling out the form to audition stage.

The audition was pretty straight forward in terms of style. I had spent the day before thinking of as many "interesting" facts about myself ready for that dreaded questions but we simply had a relaxed chat about our TV experience and history and went straight into a game. The team had a laptop set up and a bell as they watched us play a version of the game with all rounds included. My team mates were very strong indeed her and were throwing out answer after answer and all seemed to go well. The wall was slightly different, this time being paper based and no indication of right and wrong. Still we managed it and before we knew it the audition was over.

So ....fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

New Eggheads Quiz Book

Eggheads celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and well as CJ returning, they are marking the occasion with a new quiz book. My copy is seemingly in the post so I will let you know my views when it arrives but here is the link to Amazon if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Lightspeed Quiz Round 7

I couldn't make the last Lightspeed Quiz event which was held in Rochdale and just a little too far for me to be able to go and come back in a day without feeling rushed and keeping an eye on my watch all the time. nevertheless here are the videos from the event, some very close games and some cracking questions.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Quiz League Semi Final

The Gown Scott Memorial Trophy has been taking place in the Sunderland Echo Quiz League over the last few months and I posted a league table up earlier in the month, pleased that we had qualified for the Semi Final. This is the "knockout" curtain raiser before the new season starts in full towards the beginning of November.

Hastings Hill has beaten us in the previous weeks and had finished second in the league so perhaps we were the underdogs going into the contest. It was a very tight game, nip and tuck either way. A strong round from us early on however gave us a four point lead that we managed to keep onto. Indeed, Hastings Hill managed to, I think, win all the last three rounds by a single point but it was not quite enough as we won 38-37. 

Some key points in the quiz included the question...

On October 6th 2013, Keith Bristow became the first head of which organisation?

Hastings Hill spent some time mulling over the answer, they seemed to know it was National Crime xxxx but couldn't work out what the xxxx was. Going for National Crime Union allowed us to sneak in with a valuable bonus point for National Crime Agency.

The Sunderland Quiz League is team based questions and everybody chipped in with a range of points. I will try and post the questions up here (after seeking permission from the setter) but there were several I had no clue with but was happy with knowing where the River Douglas was (Its a boys name....was the path to recalling it) and I don't know how I know Bruno Mars hailed from Hawaii but I did.

So that means now we have a Final against Penshaw (the Man United of our league) on the 23rd October.

If anyone is local to Sunderland and is considering joining the league then the Finals night might be a good idea to come down and mix with players, see a game being played and get the idea of what it is all about. If anyone is interested perhaps send me an email to fully234@hotmail.com and I will pass your info onto to the League Chairman.

You wait ages....

....and then it all seems to come together in what is going to be a very busy 6 weeks or so.

I am of course referring to broadcast quizzes. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that my aim in 2013 was to make it onto a broadcast quiz.

Firstly, the Eggheads show we filmed back in March looks like it is going to be broadcast on Friday 1st November. We are a team called the Chaplins Smilers. I will be putting a full report of my day at the BBC up once the show airs.

Secondly, Brain of Britain preparations continue to go well as I prepare for the 29th November recording date.

Thirdly, next weekend I am travelling down to Manchester to audition for Only Connect! A few people have gave me hints and tips regarding the audition procedure but if anyone else has any useful knowledge to help us get on please let me know!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Quiz Review - Sports Quiz - Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Wednesday 9pm

Usually Wednesday Nights is taken up with the Sunderland Echo Quiz League, but with a free week last week I headed down to Fitzgerald's for the new Wednesday night Sports Quiz. The pub itself is my usual Thursday night quiz venue and is located in the heart of Sunderland City Centre serving a fine selection of real ale.

The quiz kicks off at 9pm and consists of 4 rounds. Pictures, Current Sporting Affairs, General Sport, Football. Throw in a tie breaker at the end of every round (think nearest the pin type questions) and there is plenty to be getting stuck in with. Each round is handed in after completion, which I always prefer and there were half a dozen teams on hand in what is only the third week of the quiz (so not too bad at all).

The picture round was 12 sporting figures to identify. A nice number as I often find some quizzes give way too many pictures which always a) benefits the bigger teams and b) can turn the whole quiz around. The second round is 10 current affairs questions on sporting events of the week. Far from being a boring recap of the papers there were some fun questions in here, some cleverly worded ones and a nice spread of sport. 

Round 3 involved 15 questions on general sports (except football) which was nice and balanced and varied. The quiz rounded off with 15 questions on football and again a nice range of eras and styles of questions.

In all this was a very enjoyable quiz evening and I always like a themed quiz. In fact this may be the first Sports Quiz I have been too but I do miss the themed Music quizzes that seemed to be common place around here but disappeared.

If this were a different night I would certainly be attending every week but as it happens due to the league clash I will be able only to attend on weeks off. Never the less a great sports quiz, in a great pub.....check it out!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Suggestion (Kindle)

I have spent a lot of time lately revising for Brain of Britain (in the hope of actually managing to get a point!) and in last years show there was a lot of Literature questions so I am focusing on that area. David Clark (Mastermind winner and author of the far superior Life After Mastermind Blog) has a wide number of quiz books available and one of his latest titles is the English Literature Book. Coming from a man with considerable experience in both broadcast and pub quizzing you can count on the questions here being very useful in whatever field you intend to quiz and I have found it very enjoyable indeed! Worth a look.

You don't necessaerily need a Kindle to read it as long as you download the free app for the laptop to allow you to use it!

Friday, 4 October 2013

All About History Magazine

I know I have mentioned this before, but the All About History Magazine which is now into its fourth issue goes from strength to strength. It is perfect for revision, very readable and full of useful facts. there is usually a 15-20 page themed section every week (Explorers being the most recent) which I am finding very useful indeed!

I was a bit sceptical but its been well worth spending time with. I would be very interested to know other peoples opinions on this title?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Book Suggestion

Yeah Yeah Yeah - The Story of Modern Pop (Bob Stanley)

Picked this up last week and have been struggling to put it down. A very readable, informative and enjoyable account of the history of pop music. Yes, its been done before but Bob Stanley is full aware of that fact and made his account as unique as he can. It essentially covers the history of the Pop from the first charts in the 1950s all the way through to the 90s but the ground it covers in between is fascinating. Plenty of interesting stories, useful facts and information on the subject. Can imagine its going to come in very useful for quizzing purposes too!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sports Quiz - Sunderland

My favourite Thursday Night quiz, and perhaps favourite quiz altogether, in Sunderland is the one in Fitzgeralds in the city centre. I have mentioned it on previous occasions and found a nice interior show of the pub I thought I would share. As you can see its a marvellous pub and the room above is the home to the quiz itself. Plenty of real ales and good crowd!

Anyway, a local quizmaster and league player has now began a Wednesday Night Sports Quiz in the venue which begins at 9pm. It will be a quiz in good hands as it is run by the same guy who used to run the excellent Thursday Night quiz and having seen the questions from previous weeks I can't wait to play! My main trouble is Wednesday Night is league night so its only going to be a dozen or so times a year I can make this. I will post my views up after this week!

9pm - Wednesday - Fitzgeralds, Sunderland

Monday, 30 September 2013

New Quiz in Sunderland

The Borough in the heart of Sunderland City Centre are now running a new quiz on a Monday night. A few friends attended the venue and spoke very highly of the quiz night. Its a fine pub with a selection of real ales, friendly punters and a good crowd. I am keen to attend the quiz myself so should be there in the next few weeks! I believe it starts at 9pm for anyone interested.

Sunderland League - Gown Scott Trophy Final Standings

The "knockout" stage of the Sunderland Echo Quiz League ended this week. We were defeated by Penshaw, who have topped the group stage of the Trophy by 2 points and with a much healthier Average score.

It means now that the semi finals will see Penshaw vs Isis and Hastings Hill vs Museum Vaults. Should be a good set of games!


The knockout stage will be ending within the next 3-4 weeks so if anyone reading fancies joining the season proper when it begins, or putting in a new team!, then now is the time to get in touch. If you email me at fully234@hotmail.com I will pass on any details to the League Chairman.

I know from some emails/stats/comments I have a few local readers so if you were wanting to simply watch a game to get a taster for the league, and have a few pints with some great people along the way, then get in touch and again I will pass details on.