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 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 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 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!