Friday, 23 December 2016

Merry Christmas

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All that is left to say is I hope you all have a Merry Christmas! Thanks as always for reading, and here is to a great festive period. I will be back in 2017 and I hope the New Year is a good one for all!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights: The Dun Cow, Sunderland

Image result for the dun cow sunderland 
Venue: The Dun Cow, Sunderland
Time/Date: Sundays from 8pm

 The Dun Cow is another one of the superb Real Ale pubs in Sunderland. Located next to the Sunderland Empire Theatre it is a local gem, and the Quiz Night runs each Sunday from around 8pm. It is run by the same Sunderland Echo Quiz League player who takes charge of the Ship Isis Quiz Night on a Monday (See previous review).

It is essentially the same format with pictures, music and 30 general knowledge questions as well as a chance to win beer vouchers. In fact, reading it back, many of the comments I made about the Ship Isis quiz apply here. Its well thought out, every question is interesting and I certainly take something away from it. There is no cheating, fine ales and a good atmosphere.

I am told that when the upstairs of the pub, which was once a restaurant, returns to being part of the pub, the quiz will be moved upstairs which will make it even better, but either way, for good quality questions, there are no better quiz nights in the city centre on a Sunday!

Current North East Quiz Nights Rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. The Ship Isis, Sunderland - Mondays
3. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
4. The Dun Cow, Sunderland - Sundays
5. The Plough Music Quiz, Cramlington - Sundays
6. The Blagdon Arms, Cramlington - Tuesdays
7. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays
8. The Lambton Worm, Sunderland - Sundays

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Quiz Reference Book of the Year

Coming out late in the year is irrelevant. There can only be one contender for this, and that has to be the Seventh Edition of Trevor Montague's A-Z of Everything. I think most quizzers will already be aware of this book, and many of you will have 7 editions, but with 1300 pages of quizzing gold this is worthy of a place on any bookshelf.

For anyone new to the world of quizzing, this is a perfect place to start. Another monumental effort by Trevor and an update well worthy of the £26 asking price.

Side Note:

I just wanted to add an honourable mention somewhere to a superb book released by Alan Connor this year. Entitled "The Joy of Quiz" it really is worth your time, giving good coverage to the hobby.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights: The Plough Music Quiz, Cramlington

Image result for the plogh cramlington
Venue: The Plough Music Quiz, Cramlington
Time/Date: Sundays from 8pm

Unless I have not been looking hard enough, there are not a great deal of choices when it comes to Music Quizzes in the North East. I attended one a number of years ago which was so niche that it put me off for a while, but when I noticed that the same venue that hosts my favourite pub quiz of the week, The Plough in Cramlington, also hosts a Sunday Night music quiz, I decided to give it a go.....and certainly didn't regret it.

This is another superb quiz night in a superb venue. As mentioned in the last review, The Plough is located in the "Village" part of Cramlington and serves a superb selection of ales. There are around 10 teams in attendance most weeks for the Music Quiz and on the whole it is superb!

The night starts off with a picture round, that doesn't try to be too clever and gives you a good shot at doing well. A general knowledge round of 10 questions follows which are usually fairly gettable. In fact, it is pitched well as my usual non-quizzer girlfriend was able to clean up on the modern questions, on which other teams noticeably struggled.

The music round followed which involved twenty intro's...1 point for artist and 1 for track and there was a great range of tracks. Plenty I kicked myself on, plenty of songs I was pleased to get and again, plenty for non-quizzers who are being dragged along......This round though is one of my only two little bugbears with the quiz itself. This round is worth 40 points in all....The rest of the rounds barring the Who Am I? round is out of 40 meaning over half the points are available here. I understand it is a music quiz, but giving 1/2 a point for each would seem more balanced. Either way, that's just me being picky....great fun!

Another picture round follows which the quizmistresses varies.....recently it has been name the drummer, anagrams and Before They Were Famous before a second General Knowledge round. The music general knowledge questions were fun, gettable and well put together to cover a mix of era's so certainly no complaints there.

Now, before I go into this last bit, don't get me wrong, I loved this quiz. Its fun to play and certainly nothing will stop me re-attending but there is a Who Am I? round at the end of the quiz that is worth up to 25 points. It is staggered with clues from 25-20-15-10-5.....meaning there can be a huge turnaround in the last round. So you could win every round yet loose the quiz on this final one. I have been lucky in that my guesses have turned out right, for example, this week elevating us from 6th to 3rd but I can imagine there is going to be a week were a lead turns into a lowly finish based on a bad guess/going in too late.

But I guess that's the way it rolls.....

Overall though, a fantastic quiz, I would recommend it very highly and its so refreshing to have a music quiz of this quality in the area!


Current North East Quiz Nights Rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. The Ship Isis, Sunderland - Mondays
3. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
4. The Plough Music Quiz, Cramlington - Sundays
5. The Blagdon Arms, Cramlington - Tuesdays
6. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays
7. The Lambton Worm, Sunderland - Sundays

Friday, 16 December 2016

Quiz Book of the Year

I often find it easy listing which Quiz Book I have enjoyed the most from the previous twelve months but this year there is a toss up between three very good books indeed.

The Telegraph Pub Quiz Book

Written by Gavin Fuller (who I believe is still the youngest Mastermind Champion?) this book collates 200 quizzes of 20 questions each from the Telegraph each week. A superb collection that I througholy enjoyed working through and each quiz taught me a number of things. Very little filler, some great questions and a good way to get your head round all those chestnuts that come up time and time again

The Mammoth Football Quiz Book

This seemed to slip under the radar a little when it was released this year. The title is rather offputting, but simply put, this is one of the most fun quiz books out there. The questions must have taken years to write as each one is crafted with thought and effort. I consider myself a good sports quizzer, and even better if its football, but every page had me thinking and kicking myself. When the first page of a quiz book has you racking your brains, and those brains are still being racked to the last, then you know its worthwhile. Don't let the title put you off!

The Times Quiz Book

This came out rather late in the year so at the time of writing I am only 30% our so through it. But when a quiz book is released by the European and World Quizzing Champion Olav Bjortmont you would be foolish to ignore it. Little more needs to be said other than quizzers of any level or interest will have fun with this title

Thursday, 15 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights - The Ship Isis, Sunderland

Venue: The Ship Isis, Sunderland
Time/Date: Mondays from 8.30pm

The Ship Isis is one of the finest pubs in Sunderland. Great venue, fantastic ale and always a friendly atmosphere. Their quiz night runs each Monday and is one of the finest in the city.

It is put together by a player in the Sunderland Echo Quiz League so the questions are always well thought out and of a good standard. The night kicks off with a picture round and a music round, with the quizmaster often jigging things around to break from the norm. For example, when I last attended the picture round was of songwriters....the music round then involved identifying which of the faces wrote which of the songs. So for example...the picture was Billy Bragg and then during the music round he played Kirtsy MacColl's version of "A New England" and you had to attach the picture to the song. Great stuff!

The general knowledge questions are fun, interesting and challenging and with a jackpot round thrown in there are plenty of prizes to be won. Food is provided at the interval with games of Card bingo to add to the winning potential.

All in all, an excellent quiz night which I would highly recommend and that I aim to attend much more of in 2017.....even if it means quizzing alone! Great questions, great format and no visible cheating.....pretty much everything you need in a quiz night!

Current North East Quiz Nights Rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. The Ship Isis, Sunderland - Mondays
3. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
4. The Blagdon Arms, Cramlington - Tuesdays
5. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays
6. The Lambton Worm, Sunderland - Sundays

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Quiz Event of the Year: Redfest

Its getting close to the end of the year so I thought I would add together a few posts of what I have enjoyed most in the World of Quiz this year. And I will start of with my favourite Quiz Event of the Year, which this year, by a country mile, was Redfest.

Occurring in November 2016 at Bramwall Lane in Sheffield, the event was put together by Redtooth as a three day celebration of Quiz, Darts and Poker. With a fantastic range of entertainment, plenty of beer, a great location.....oh and of course superb team, individual and keypad quizzes it was a very memorable weekend.

You can read my full recap and thoughts of the event HERE and safe to say I will be first in line when tickets for the 2017 event go on sale.

A credit to all involved and hopefully, a regular addition to the annual calendar.

Honourable mentions go to -

Brunton Shield - The Sunderland/North East vs Scotland event is always an annual treat

Quiz in the North - Continues to grow and grow, with a huge diversity in setters and always enjoyable

Lightspeed Quiz - Monthly buzzer action with a great crowd and superbly high standard

Monday, 12 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights - Blagdon Arms, Cramlington

Image result for blagdon arms cramlington

Venue: The Blagdon Arms, Cramlington
Time/Date: Tuesdays from 8.30pm

If you are wondering why my North East Quiz Night reviews are focusing on Cramlington and Sunderland that is because, I live in Sunderland and my other half lives in Cramlington. I do intend to widen the scope soon once I have exhausted these two areas but anyway....

In the part of Cramlington considered the "Village", The Blagdon Arms hosts a quiz each Tuesday night at around 8.30pm. There usually tend to be 5-10 teams involved and it seems to be once of those quizzes where everybody knows everyone else, so its a very friendly atmosphere.

The format is fun, starting off with a picture round that doesn't just involve peoples places....outlines of flags, maps, film posters and all sorts have featured in recent weeks so it makes a nice change. There is also a music round which I am finding increasingly rare and its well pitched with 10 songs from a mixture of eras.

There are 5 rounds of questions with a loose theme (10 questions per round) and a Who Am I? round (You know the sort...starts with hard clues and works it's way down). There is a joker available to play (which you can do after the round for a change) and a jackpot questions.

It all flows well, a good range of teams and stiff competition and it all makes for a very good quiz night. There have been some terrific questions over the weeks I have been attending and I can't really fault it.

Current North East Quiz Nights Rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
3. The Blagdon Arms, Cramlington - Tuesdays
4. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays
5. The Lambton Worm, Sunderland - Sundays

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Only Connect - Contestant Call

Victoria Coren Mitchell
Only Connect are currently looking for teams and individuals for their next series. The link to apply is HERE
I can't recommend the show highly enough. Of the broadcast quizzes I have been involved in, this has been the best experience all round, the team are great, the venue is great and its a show well worth doing. It has been doing so well since it moved to BBC 2, often the second most watched show on the channel after the beast that is University Challenge, so why not give it a go!
I am just waiting the time when they allow teams from our series back on and I will certainly be re-appyling

Saturday, 10 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights - Lambton Worm (Wetherspoons), Sunderland

Venue: The Lambton Worm (Wetherspoons), Sunderland
Time/Date: Sundays from 7pm
I have never been to a good pub quiz in a Wetherspoons pub but this perhaps the closest I have come. The Lambton Worm is located in Sunderland City Centre and like all Wetherspoons is always busy. I initially went down for this quiz many weeks ago, and seeing no one in the designated area decided to sample the real ales instead. I returned the next week and low and behold the area was empty again apart from one team, but it appeared that the quizmaster was setting up.
We joined and it turned into a two team quiz.....picture round, 60 questions, 2 jackpots....over in 38 minutes!!!
Good points - The easiest £50 I have ever won in quiz, some decent questions and meant I still had time to walk up the road to another quiz
Bad points - Rushed, uninterested quizmaster and no answers given out.
I find it hard to judge this quiz as part of me liked the fact that they just rattled through the quiz, making me think on the spot but even though £50 was won (as well as two £5 bar vouchers) and there were some good questions. But they had clearly bought them in/printed them off and the barman who had the task of doing the quiz seemed to be in a rush. But not giving the answers out and only giving the scores is a tad unforgivable!
Maybe with more teams, they will spend more time on it but as I said above, I have never been to a well attended/good quiz in a Wetherspoons and don't expect to anytime soon!

Current North East Quiz Nights Rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
3. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays
4. The Lambton Worm, Sunderland - Sundays

Friday, 9 December 2016

New Edition of "The A-Z of Everything"

I am sure many quizzers reading this own at least one version of Trevor Montague's A-Z of Everything, an essential reference work that is now in its Seventh Edition. The scope of the book and the effort that must have been put in to produce it doesn't bare thinking about, and with 1300 pages of quizzing gold, it is well worth the asking price. I was only aware of the release of the 7th Edition today due to noticing it on Trevor Montague's Facebook pace, but my order was placed straight away and see below for a link to Amazon.

Thursday, 8 December 2016


I was put off Speed Quizzing some years ago, when I attended a rather badly run event in a local pub. The questions were all either family fortunes type or nearest the pin guessy games which kind of turned me off this style of quizzing. The other fact was simply that there were not many Speed Quizzes at all in the local area. However, recently a quiz host who plays in the Sunderland League, told me she was going to turn her quiz night into a Speed Quiz. I was unable to get a team, so headed down on my lonesome to try it out.....and enjoyed it massively!

Image result for speed quizzing
Speed quizzing involves using your mobile phone as a keypad. No pens, no paper and no cheating is the motto and that is essentially how it works. It is very easy to set up...a quick download of the app, log in with a team name and you are up and running. I imagine it is easier for the host too and more fun for the players as you get instant feedback on the answers and ongoing totals.
The rounds varied from numbers, multiple choice, picture rounds and pressing the first letter of the answer. When the questions are done well, as they were at the quiz I went to, it is very fun. In the right hands, Speed Quizzing is a unique, engaging and fun experience! I keep using the word fun a lot, but in all honesty (and this is coming from someone who averages 4-5 quiz nights a week), I had so much fun at this Speed Quiz!
There was a buzzer round (in which you were the only one to answer if you buzzed first and the other teams decided to agree or disagree), a jackpot nearest the pin round and a music round was due for inclusion but didn't happen. All very fun!
The one thing I would say, there is an advantage to playing alone or in small teams in this kind of thing. Each question is 10 points with a bonus 5 for the fastest player. So for example, when a picture round showed Michael Chang I was able to buzz, hit "M" and get the bonus. Someone playing with me would have had little chance to see the picture and I am assuming in some cases the reverse would happen. I managed to come second overall, but a lot of that was due to the advantage I had of playing alone.
There were a few grumbles in the pub, mainly perhaps from those used to cheating their way to victory, but I hope to see it more regularly!
What are your thoughts on Speed Quizzing? Ever tried it? Do you think it could be the answer to stopping cheats?
Note: For those in the area it is Chesters in Sunderland that are running Speed Quizzing. I believe Tuesday 13th December is the next one but will try and post up when I know for sure

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

North East Quiz Nights - The Plough, Cramlington

Image result for the plough cramlington

Venue: The Plough, Cramlington
Time/Date: Wednesdays from 8.30pm

I am going to kick off this review of the pub quiz that takes place at The Plough in Cramlington each Wednesday by saying one is going to take some beating. This is by far and away my favourite quiz I attend at present, and the only shame is that it falls on a Wednesday night, the same night as the Sunderland echo quiz league so I don't get to play in it anywhere near as much as I like.

The Plough is located in the "village" part of Cramlington and is a Sir John Fitzgeralds pub with a fine selection of ales. The quiz takes place each Wednesday from 8.30pm and is very well attended with at least 10 teams there every week.

There are six rounds to the quiz with a picture round included. This kicks off the night with 20 pictures to identify worth half a point each. This works for me way better than similar rounds which offer a point each as it means even a disastrous picture round doesn't set you back too much.

The remaining 5 rounds are different every week, something I appreciate as you never quite know what you are getting. In recent weeks we have had the usual TV, Geography, Answer begins with "S", name it, its been in there. Ten questions each round with a perfect mix of easy, medium and hard.

There is also a joker to use which you have to play in advance, adding an extra challenge to the night. I am currently on a 5 week streak of playing my joker on my lowest scoring round, which I don't think I could do again if I of these times I will get it right!

My favourite round recently has been the handout round and this could be anything from album covers and song titles to lists of famous ships and you having to put the captains in. The quizmaster makes a real effort to make this fun and it shows.

Add to the mix the chance to win drinks in two "nearest-the-pin" rounds and an ongoing, but guessable, jackpot and you have a great quiz. There is no evident cheating and its a well paced, fun enjoyable night.

Competition is good and the scores are always close and above all else the questions are well pitched. I will continue doing my North East Quiz Nights series for some time yet, but it may be hard to find a quiz night that betters this!

N.B. The Plough also run a Music Quiz on Sundays so stay tuned for my review of that!

North East Quiz Nights rankings -
1. The Plough, Cramlington - Wednesdays
2. Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Thursdays
3. The Willow Farm, Cramlington - Tuesdays

Thursday, 1 December 2016

BBC 4 Quizzing Documentary

The BBC showed a superb documentary last night "How Quizzing Got Cool" which was a lot better than I was expecting. Covering everything for TV Quizzing, the professionals, Quiz leagues etc it is certainly well worth watching if you are interested in Quizzing (which I assume by reading this you are!). And around 45 minutes in a little screen shot pops up of a certain blog...

Here is the link to the show on the iplayer -  Click Here