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!