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EQC: Epilogue

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.

uldisUldis. 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.
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EQC: 2015 photos

November 10, 2015 in EQC

EQC: Best fifth place ever

November 8, 2015 in EQC

Not for the first time on this site, I will proceed to pen a blog about that most often ignored of finishing positions: fifth place.

After the morning’s exertions in the individual quiz (FYI England’s Olav Bjortomt comfortably retained the title) and an afternoon stroll around downtown Rotterdam (thanks to the world’s speediest tour guide, Lorcan Duff) we reconvened in the venue for the awaited fifth/sixth place playoff between Ireland and the Netherlands.

It was a joy to watch, from an Irish point of view, as initial nerves were steadied by the team getting out in to an early lead and remaining there. It wasn’t the most comfortable game to watch (and indeed live tweet) as the room wasn’t much bigger than the miniumum needed to house the two teams and the officials. Indeed, yours truly had to stand for the duration!


We’ve had close run things before. Here, the boys faced in to the final question set with a 54-48 lead, knowing they only needed one correct answer to secure the win. Personally, I’ve been involved in three matches which were lost on the final set of three. Thus, there was a joy, more beautiful for its rarity, when it turned out that they knew all three of the answers! Suddenly it was over, and fifth place was secured on a comfortable looking final scoreline of 63 to 48.

Congratulations to Lorcan Duff, Mark Henry, Kevin Jones and David Lea for achieving Ireland’s best-ever finish at the European Quizzing Championships! Next year: the semi-finals? No pressure.


After dinner, I joined with Kevin, Mark and Scottish quizzer Galen Chung for the club quiz. This is another table quiz (just like the Nations Cup qualifier) but with no proscription on the makeup of teams. Thus there can be some incredibly powerful groupings in action. Our team, the Celtic Warriors, were in the middle of the pack throughout the night, and that’s pretty much where we finished, in 15th place. Still, we had a lot of fun. It’s nice to have a quiz like the Nations Cup but without the pressure.

Finally, those of us who wanted to, sat the Hot 100 world ranking quiz. That’s EQC for you – a group of quizzers sitting down to do a quite hard paper quiz at 11.30pm. 🙂

The pairs event takes place this morning and I intend doing that. Albeit, I don’t yet have a partner. So, excuse me now whilst I head off to the ‘lonely hearts’ club at the front of the main hall, where I will hopefully meet someone else in the same boat…

EQC: Individual quiz morning

November 7, 2015 in EQC

Lunchtime on day 2 of the 2015 European Quizzing Championships and I’m sitting in the main hall, waiting for the finalists in the individual quiz to take to the stage.

Our own Lorcan Duff was almost one of them. The top 10 finishers in the morning’s paper quiz (think: Leaving Certificate) qualify for the final. As you can see here on the official results page, Lorcan’s 68 points was good enough for 12th place – just two points away from the final. So close!

Our results were: J-12th Lorcan Duff (68), J-20th Kevin Jones (64), J-29th David Lea (63), J-45th Mark Henry (59), J-49th John Nolan (58). Just a 10 point gap there between the five of us and I almost caught Mark Henry!

I take solace where I can find it…

Anyway, more to come later, including some questions for you to try.

EQC: A good day 1 for Ireland

November 7, 2015 in EQC

Day one at the 2015 European Quizzing Championships was an undeniable success for Ireland.  At its end, the Irish team stand guaranteed of their highest finish yet in the weekend’s main event, the Nations Cup.

Their 58 points in the opening event, the Nations Cup table quiz, saw Team Ireland finish in sixth place. This qualified them for a playoff against the auld enemy (that’d be Scotland) for the right to take part in tomorrow’s 5th/6th place final.  In a tight match, they emerged victorious by 40 points to 38!

Ireland now faces the host nation tomorrow, knowing that they are guaranteed a record finish for an Irish team – the previous best was 8th.  The Netherlands themselves finished 8th in the table quiz but then went on to surprise 5th place France in their semi-final.

Team Ireland: Kevin Jones, Lorcan Duff, David Lea and Mark Henry.

Team Ireland: Kevin Jones, Lorcan Duff, David Lea and Mark Henry.

Yours truly also took part in the opening table quiz, on a hastily-formed Aspirational Cup team alongside two Scots and a Latvian (the only one here this weekend, alas). Our team, Erasmusbrugh, was in a different league altogether – we scored a pretty disapointing 38, for a 20th place finish. However, under a new system introduced last year in Bucharest, the top 24 teams now get to face the knockout question set. Rather than finding separate rooms (and indeed hosts) for all these quizzes, this new system sees all teams back in the main hall, facing the questions in a table quiz fashion.

Once again, we were way back on what Team Ireland achieved. However, our 24 points was enough to defeat our head-to-head competitors, Levon and the Stokers, in the much-coveted 19th/20th playoff. 🙂

Erasmusbrugh: Mark Rae, Uldis Adsalons, Neil McCaskill and myself.

Erasmusbrugh: Mark Rae, Uldis Adsalons, Neil McCaskill and myself.

The night then concluded with a fun quiz hosted by a very funny Dutch lady, from the hosting committee. I’m sorry to say I have forgotten her name but, if I find it out today sometime, I will amend the article.

She presented the quiz in the ‘Dutch’ style, which reminded me nothing so much as school excercise books! One round featured answers where we were already provided with the initial letter and also told how many letters the word included. For another, she provided a list of colours in advance of the questions, telling us that each answer would involve at least one of these. I subbed in for David Lea on the Irish table for this one. We had a good bit of craic but finished down the running, somewhere around 8th place.

This morning sees the day kick off with the Individual quiz qualifier at 9.30am. I’ll report back on how we all got on if I get a free moment around lunchtime. If you’re impatient, keep an eye on the IQO Facebook page, as it will also be getting updates throughout the day. Finally, stats fans can check out the official EQC results page.

This could be Rotterdam…

November 6, 2015 in EQC

dutch-windmillThis year’s European Quizzing Championships will kick off this afternoon in Rotterdam.  You can find out more about it via the following link:

After taking a year off last year, I am currently en route to this year’s event.  (Aside: thank you Dublin Airport and your free wifi.)  Ireland are sending a five-person team this year: David Lea, Kevin Jones, Lorcan Duff, Mark Henry and myself.

Guess who’s fifth-ranked out of the group? Yes, ’tis me.  That means I obviously won’t be a member of the Nations Cup team (aside: #coybig!) but I will still get to take part in all the events.

Here’s the weekend’s quizzing schedule:

16:15 National Teams and Aspirational Cup qualifying
20:30 National Teams and Aspirational Cup semi-finals, and placings matches
22:45 Fun Dutch Quiz

9:30 Individual Quiz (part 1)
13:30 Individual Quiz final
15:00 Aspirational Cup final and final round of placing matches
19:30 Club Team championship
23:00 Hot 100

10:00 Pairs Championship
14:00 National Teams final

Stay tuned to the blog here for my reports on each of the events and how the Irish team got on.

Celtic Nations: Day 2

April 27, 2015 in EQC


Team Ireland. Back: Dave McBryan, Kevin Jones, John Groarke, Dan O’Malley, Hugh Brady, Dave Lea, Paul Philpott. Front: Lorcan Duff, Mark Henry, John Nolan, Derek Cray, Karen Crofton.

Done and done.  Some ambitions fulfilled and others frustrated.  The 2015 Celtic Nations championship is done and dusted.

Our own headline is that Ireland finished second.  Out of three.  This might not seem like that much of an achievement but, trust me, it is.  We are the most recent arrival on the international scene from this part of the world and, in the previous two runnings of this event, finished dead last.  Yes, Scotland won comfortably.  Their strength in depth (as witnessed by their constant rotation of players from the A team right down to the C team fairly demonstrates) is impressive.  However, Wales did beat them in the Euros last time out.

An ambition yet to fulfilled is a personal one.  Since joining this scene I have taken part in nine international matches (EQC 2012, CN 2013 and now CN 2015) and lost them all.  🙁  Of those defeats though, two have been by a single point, one was two points and a yet another was by six or so.  Yesterday morning I had another such slap in the face and the team of myself, Kevin Jones, Hugh Brady and Dan O’Malley conspired to lose after being 11 points ahead with two categories to go.  Our Scottish opponents stole two of our final set (worth 3 points each) and then answered two of their own last category.  And thus, emerged as winners by 45 points to 44.

This was the closest Scotland came to defeat in an international match this weekend.  After dodging this bullet, they went on to claim what chief organiser Gareth Kingston called a ‘blue wash’ and comfortably win the championship.

Congratulations to our A team though, who defeated Wales for the second time shortly afterwards.  This team was made up of the Davids, Lea and McBryan, Lorcan Duff and Hugh Brady, who had stepped up from the B team following that Scottish heartbreak.  It capped off what was a very impressive debut from Hugh, who I hope will continue to join us at events such as this.

Yesterday I promised you the questions from the set created by Lorcan and myself for Saturday morning.  Here it is: Scotland v Wales, set 1.

I’ll be back online later with a selection of photos from the event.  As for now though, excuse me while I go and catch a flight.

Quizzing without a break (or a brake)

November 19, 2013 in EQC, Quizzes

Guest blog time. At the European Quizzing Championships, the Irish team was accompanied by Brendan Daly, a radio documentary-maker. Here is Brendan’s take on quizzing’s greatest weekend of the year.

Our embedded report Brendan in action.

Our embedded reporter Brendan in action.

I always wanted to know what Ringo Starr must’ve felt like during The Beatles’ heyday and as I tagged along with 12 Irish quizzers during the three-day European Quiz Championships in Liverpool earlier this month I felt an irrevocable kinship with the drumming mop-top: sartorially inept, intellectually outclassed but generously indulged.

I followed the Irish team to Liverpool with the idea of making a radio documentary about the event and the people who attend it. I wanted to find out a few things: what makes these quizzers, some of whom have travelled thousands of miles, come to a tournament like this? Is it about answering questions or is there something else? And do they know the capital of Azerbaijan?

I’ll be honest: I had my reservations. In his candid autobiography, I, Partridge, Alan Partridge reveals how he frequently breaks into an impromptu braking distance quiz to plug an awkward silence at a cocktail party. Is this what I had let myself in for? Not a chance. There wasn’t a single question about stopping distances or even road safety standards, for that matter.

That’s not to say the questions weren’t bruising. There were questions about magnesium chloride, He-Man, an endangered Kyrgyzstani antelope, Roseanne Barr, an opera set during the first Crusade, an Ecuadorian rap artist, Hermann Göring, and a transgender Bosnian supermodel (not in the same round, mind). Like Ringo’s drumming on ‘She’s Leaving Home’, I was feeling out of sync. What would make anyone want to spend three days of their life holed up at quizzing carnival groping for answers to ridiculously difficult questions?
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