November 15, 2015 in EQC
The European Quizzing Championships are over for another year. Rotterdam was nice, if a bit uninspiring. The hotel venue was excellent all round and was located in an area called Brain Park – surely the most apropriate place for an EQC to take place!
Looking back on the weekend, here are my own personal highs and lows – or at least the ones I can remember at this point.
The venue. The room in which the majority of the quizzes took place took a bit of getting used to. It was built like a capital L (albeit one with equal sides). So, whilst it was a bit odd that quizzers situated away from the top table couldn’t see each other, everyone did have a great view of the quizmasters. Apart from that, if your eyesight was struggling from the back of either wing, there were several screens on each side showing you everything you needed to see. The hotel part was nice too. The food at breaks was bountious and tasty. No quicker way to impress me than that!
A record-breaking Cuban. Possibly the best right answer I’ve ever been involved in. It happened during the Aspirational Cup. I’m afraid I can’t remember the exact wording but the question went something like this: “Ubre Blanca (1972 – 85) became a hero of Cuba when she broke two world records in 1982, acknowledged by the Guinness Book of Records. Both of these records were claimed to symbolize the Castro regime’s efforts to modernize Cuba’s economy. When she died she was stuffed and put on display in a climate-controlled glass case. To what did these world records relate?”
Well now. Safe to say no-one had a clue, albeit we quickly decided she had to be an animal, given that she only lived for 13 years and, oh yeah, got stuffed and put on display. After that, we were stumped. Dog, horse, pigeon? How would any record set by those animals reflect positively on the country’s progress? Just as the end of the round approached, I obviously reverted to my youth and hit upon the idea that she might have been a cow. Everyone else quickly agreed (how could they not? we had nothing else) as milk production made sense. Sure enough, that’s what it was. You can read more about her record-breaking udders on wikipedia.
Uldis. The fates obviously decided that I needed to get to know Uldis Apsalons of Latvia. A charming man, who looks like he’s old enough to be my dad, he was very good company – which is a good job as I ended up sharing a table with him at least once on each day of the weekend! For the Aspirational Cup on Friday, I was already set up on a team with two Scottish quizzers, Neil and Mark. As is the case with quizzes throughout the world, one doesn’t depsair in this case – you figure there’ll always be someone in need of a team. This is exactly how Uldis arrived in to our world. As Latvia’s only quizzer at the EQC, he obviously didn’t have any team mates. Mind you, we mustn’t have looked like we had much potential. After introducing himself and telling us he was from Latvia, he followed with “It’s a small country, near Estonia.” Erm, we know…
Anyway, following that unusual opening to our friendship, we got on very well, undoubtedly benefitting from his Eastern-European knowledge: Moscow University’s incredibly tall tower, several questions on Polish sports stars, anything to do with Olympic Handball, these were just some of the topics on which the other three of us hadn’t a clue.
By random draw, Uldis was also sitting at my table on Saturday morning for the individual, along with two Dutch quizzers, Mike Bax and Michael-Dennis Biemans. The four of us got on well and the event flew by for me. I felt like I was averaging about 7 per round (out of 12). My best was a 9 whilst my worst was a depressing 4. I finished on 58, which had me just inside the top 50 (literally: joint 49th!). Our top man Lorcan came agonisingly close to making the final 10. His 68 points saw him finish in joint 12th (alongside former European champion Holger Waldenberger, amongst others). It was just two points off the top 10. One of the three players who scored that 70 points, Paul Sinha from The Chase, has written a very nice piece on his own site about what it was like to reach the final 10.
Being the fifth of a five-person team obviously left me all on my lonesome for Sunday morning’s pairs event. Again, I wasn’t worried. I intended turning up at the top table and informing them of my singlehood and was sure they’d find me someone else who needed a partner. They did: Uldis! We made a pretty good pair actually, lots of different knowledge. We only argued once, over which nation (with a murky past) owned a pictured tall ship. Neither of us knew but I reasoned Chile and, being the person holding the pencil, I wrote it down. Thankfully it was announced as the right answer and, to be fair to him, he patted me on the back and acknowledged it.
49 was a number that cropped up almost as much as my new Latvian BFF. That’s where we finished here (with 43 points), which is obviously only half as good as my finish in the individual. Still, I enjoyed it. Mark and Kevin finished joint-37th on 48 points, whilst Lorcan and David both finished in joint 14th, on 58 points. I say both, as they were actually on different pairs, with Paul Steeples and Kathryn Johnson respectively.
My trip to the airport. Good fortune saw me sitting down to lunch on the final day with Mark Grant and David Edwards of Wales, along with Scotland’s Roderick Cromar. David informed us that he had a rental car and would be driving back to Schipol during the afternoon, probably stopping in Delft for some sightseeing. Did we know of anyone who needed a lift? Having not really enjoyed traveling on my own on the way over (see below), I nobly offered myself, and had a very entertaining afternoon in his company, hearing all about the Round Britain Quiz and getting to test him on the county towns of Ireland. (Let’s just say he knows far more of them than I know the Welsh equivalent.)
Ireland finished fifth! The Irish team had its best-ever finish in the Nation’s Cup. Congratulations to Lorcan, David, Mark and Kevin for three terrific performances over Friday and Saturday. Add that to Lorcan’s excellent score in the individual and Mark Henry’s win in the Aspirational Cup last year and I am genuinely optimistic that we’re heading for a major prize in the years ahead.
Ireland finished fifth but it was nothing really to do with me. Unless being cheerleader-in-chief/live tweeter/the John Delaney of the Irish Quizzing Organisation counted for something? Anyone?Traveling on my own. A combination of the small size of our team and differing schedules meant that I had no company whilst traveling. There are worse fates, I know, but it’s not something I enjoy or have done often. I reckon the last time I availed of air travel without at least one companion is 2007. Also, I wasn’t put in the best mood over the whole thing by my airline informing me about a week beforehand that they were moving the 9.20am flight I had booked forward by almost two hours to 7.30am! Mornings. Not my best time.
Danica McKellar. No one on my team during the Aspirational Quiz blamed me for not knowing the name of the actress-turned-mathematician. They didn’t know it either. Surely, only the top players could be expected to know the name of the lady whose greatest claim to fame was playing Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years? What they couldn’t know (and what I didn’t tell them) was that one of her books sits on the shelf in my house. 🙁
Answers can be easier in other languages. Tough one this and an unavoidable fact of life for this event. Whilst all the questions are called out in English, it is acceptable to answer in your native tongue. Many answers throughout the weekend appear on the big screen with the English version first (and in bold) but followed by the same thing in up to 12 other languages. However, some languages don’t seem very imaginative with their naming. One that caught my eye over the weekend featured the pronghorn. Several of the other acceptable answers for this animal appeared the echo the French version: antelope d’Amerique!
Downtown Rotterdam. Well, it has a nice bridge.
Righto, that’s the end of my highs and lows. At the end of it all, I had a great weekend so I truly am not complaining. Normally, I’d tack a few questions on here but this time I’m going to do something different. On Thursday evening, I used some of the questions from the weekend to test out my colleague Andrew Newman on The Man Show on CCR 946 FM. This, of course, also allowed me to play some of the musical questions too. You can listen to that show right here…