Celtic Nations 2015: day 1
Day 1 of the 2015 Celtic Nations kicked off at 10am and, from then until after 9pm, was full of quizzing. Personally, it also contained some major disappointments, along with minor triumphs for yours truly.
The day began with the first set of international matches. These featured the hosts taking on the defending champions Scotland. As I mentioned yesterday, the way the event works is that for each of the international matches the nation not taking part is in charge of the questions. Myself and Lorcan Duff wrote this first set of questions (I’ll upload them later, if you’d like to give them a go). I took charge of the A match, featuring the like of Anne Hegarty (from The Chase) and 2014 Brain of Britain champion Mark Grant, whilst some of my team mates hosted the B, C and even an informal ‘D’ match. I’m glad to say the feedback on our questions was very positive (even the ones which were deemed “a bit hard” for this august group!). In the A room, Wales got off to a terrible start and never could catch up; Scotland ended up winning by 10 points.
Straight after this match everyone was in action in the weekend’s individual event. This saw us all taking on a 100-question paper over 75 minutes. The questions were good, hard, as one would experience at the EQC itself. To be honest though, I felt the 75 minutes was a tad long. You know what you know. At the end, Mark Grant successfully defended his title, comfortably so, as his 79 points total was nine ahead of Scotland’s Rob Hannah. Ireland’s Mark Henry has been in great form in the Hot 100 lately and he carried this in to the individual quiz, emerging at the top Irish player on 67, which was good enough for fourth overall. Our new player Hugh Brady had a terrific debut: his score of 62 saw him finish in ninth, just two points behind Dave McBryan and one behind Lorcan. The top eight players from each nation contibuted points to the overal competition, based on where they finished. My own 52 points was only good for 21st in the room but it did see me contributing some points to this table.
After a break for lunch, the championship was parked for an hour or so, as we all took part in an adhoc team quiz. The teams for this were created from the final standings in the individual and it made for a competitive event. Whilst some of the teams had four players, most had three. I was paired off with my team mate David Lea and Alan Morgan of Wales. We were in touch right through until the final two rounds before eventually fading and finishing joint-fourth. Ireland’s Dan O’Malley was on the winning team however, alongside the already-mentioned Ms Hegarty and Scotland’s Michael Clark. They each received a mug – the standard prize for everything this weekend!
Ireland’s teams for the pairs event were: myself and Lorcan, Mark and Kevin Jones, Derek Cray and John Groarke, Dave L. and Hugh, Dave McB. and Dan, Karen Crofton and Paul Philpot. This was a tough quiz. Divided in to five rounds of 20, round one saw myself and Lorcan score a not-so-magnificent nine! We steadily improved, I’m glad to say, eventually scoring a frankly amazing 17 in the final round. Cue old GAA cliche: we didn’t want the game to end. 🙂 Anyway, our storming finish saw us jump right up the standings, finishing fifth overall and the top Irish pair – albeit just one point ahead of Mark and Kevin. Again, the finishing positions in this event contributed points to the overall table.
Ireland finally got to take to ‘the field’ in an international match at 6pm. The less said about my B team’s performance in our match against Scotland, the better. Myself, Mark, Hugh and Dan were very much in touch against a powerhouse team of Anne H., Andy Tucker, Ross Goodwin and 2015 Mastermind champion Marianne Fairthorne until the half-way point. Then, a misjudged category selection by ourselves – in which we were asked to identify a selection of French monarchs who died whilst taking part in sporting events – saw the wheels come off the wagon. We collapsed to a 20-point-defeat.
For the subsequent match against Wales, Kevin Jones came down from the A team (who had, alas, also been defeated, by 11 points) with Mark taking his place at the top table. We took on David Edwards, Ewan Thomas, Sean O’Neill and Gareth Aubrey. During my last appearance at the Celtics two years ago, I was on the wrong end of a one-point defeat to Wales in an A team match. I’m not going to sugarcoat this but I’m afraid the exact same thing happened again. 🙁 We lead for the entire match this time. Indeed we were 11 points ahead with just two categories remaining. Unfortunately we chose badly and ended up facing questions on members of the raccoon family. Wales pinched two of these from us (worth three points each) and then scored two out of three in their own final category, about Greek paradoxes. An 11 point lead became a 45-44 loss in the blink of an eye. Even the losing bonus points this narrow margin gave us didn’t soften this particular blow.
There was some great news from the A game though. Mark turned out to be what the top team needed as he, alongside the two Daves and Lorcan helped Ireland to its first ever win in a top class international match! They too had a bit of a scary finish but, luckily for them, had already been 17 points ahead going in to the final pair of categories.
Back to myself and, thankfully, one doesn’t get too long to wallow in self pity around here. 20 minutes later we all lined up for the qualifying round in the 15-to-1 event. As there were three semi-finals, the goal in this round was to finish (or survive, more accurately) in the top five and thus qualify for the final. I drew #1 in the semi-final but thankfully survived what felt like a very obvious location to make it to the big match itself! I was joined in final by my fellow Irish players Dave L., Dave McB (who has some history in 15-to-1, of course) and Kevin.
In the final, I drew #10. Again, I’ll kill the suspense right off and reveal that I didn’t win. However, I did survive until there were only about seven left, eventually being defeated by questions on some of the lesser-known United Arab Emirates… and Taylor Swift. The final three in the event were Scottish pair Michael Clark and Iam Thoms, alongside Wales captain (and chief organiser of the event) Gareth Kingston. Michael had been my neighbour in the final (he was #9) and I was delighted to see him emerge as the winner at the very end.
The official quizzing drew to an end at this point. Well, it was something like 9.30pm at this point! After a badly-needed fuelling stop (involving a very expensive burger) I was good to go for some of the informal events. Strangely though, I ended up not quizzing at all. Instead, along with about 15 others, I spent the next 2.5 hours playing a game of Cards against Humanity, organised by my team-mate Karen.
And that was that. Quite the day. Here’s today timetable:
10am – 11am Ireland v Scotland A, B, C
11am – 12pm Ireland v Wales A, B, C
12pm – 1pm Scotland v Wales A, B, C
1pm – 2pm Prizegiving for A/B/C events
Scotland are miles ahead in the overal championship. We though do stand a great chance of not finishing last, something we have unfortunately done for the past two years.