Day 1: To Tartu we go

November 10, 2012 in EQC, Quizzes

The Irish team: Padraic Fanning, John Nolan, Derek Cray, David Fay and Lorcan Duff.

This year’s European Quizzing Championshipsare taking place in Tartu, Estonia. Ireland are respresented at this quiz festival by a team of five people: myself, Drek Cray, Lorcan Duff, Padraic Fanning and David Fay.

Getting to Tartu is a challenge in itself. It’s Estonia’s second city but Estonia isn’t that big a place. Thus, while Tartu does have an airport, it is only serviced by flights from two destinations – Tallinn and Helsinki. I didn’t see the point of flying to Tallinn and then on to Tartu, when Tallinn is all of two hours away by road and, unfortunately, there is no easy way to get from Ireland to Helsinki. Well, certainly no way at times that suited us.

Two of the team arrived in Estonia on Thursday night, staying in Tallinn before making their way to Tartu yesterday morning. Myself, Padraic and Derek were even more efficient. We left Dublin at 6.45am and flew to Riga, the captial of Latvia. Air travel can be a bit mysterious at times. Why does it take practically an hour to fly Dublin-London and it took us just 2 hours and 35 minutes to fly from Dublin to Riga?

Not that I’m complaining, of course! Stage 2 of our plan involved the hiring of a car and this went off without a hitch, no pun intended. We have a little Opel Corsa to call our own for the weekend. It’s not doing much right now though – it will stay in the hotel carpark until we depart tomorrow morning.

It did earn its corn yesterday though, covering the 245km in under 4 hours. It was actually 267km – a wrong turn straight out of the airpot sent us the wrong way up a motorway. It took 11km before we could find a turning spot!

The journey across Latvia and Estonia was unlike anything you’d find at home. These countries are very flat, full of mature forests and definitely more sparsely populated than home. We saw more radio masts (they do seem to like/need radio masts) on the journey than houses. Even though most of the journey was on a two-lane road, I’d say we only passed through about 10 villages/towns on that whole route. And only two of them were even the size of a town at home. The rest were blink-and-you’ll-miss-them places.

Ok, so let’s get on to the quizzing. We arrived at the venue just after 4pm, which gave us plenty of time to get checked-in to the event and, in my case, checked-in to the hotel. The Championships are taking place in the Dorpat Convention Centre which has a hotel in its environs. We were all supposed to be staying here originally. Unfortunately (for us, if not the organisers) the event proved so popular this year that several quizzers were relocated to other hotels. Alone of the Irish contingent, I was lucky enough to be left with a room in the hotel right beside the venue. My travelling companions decided to leave their bags in my room and worry about getting to their hotel after the Nations Cup.

The Nations Cup qualifier kicked off at around 5pm. It’s basically a table quiz as you’d know it. This one, however, featured the highest-powered teams you’ll ever see. For instance, immediately to our left were the Scottish team, backboned by Anne off The Chase and Barry from Eggheads.

Teams consist of four players which gave us a problem this year as we had five. Derek was the man to draw the short straw and he put his name down for the ‘matchmaking’ service provided by the organisers to create teams for the Aspirational Cup. Love that name. I also love the name Derek’s eventual team took. They consisted of a Hungarian, an Irishman, a German and a Swiss. Noticing that these initials spelt HIGS, they named themselves the Higs Boozers. 🙂 Fans of coincidences might like to know that the German on his team was none other than our old friend Holger from last year in Bruges.

We got off to a dream start. The first five rounds feature 12 questions each and we scored 10/12 in round one! Pre-tournament favourites England beat us with 11, as did the Netherlands but, still, joint-third! Come on!

Of course, it goes without saying, things didn’t continue in this vein. Inconsistency was definitely our problem. We scored an 8 and a 9 in two of the remaining 12 point rounds, but we padded out this section with a 3 and a 4. The final pair of rounds feature 20 questions and, again, we started well. In round 6 we scored 15/20 – joint-third highest score in that round in the room.

By this stage, we were in 10th, just two points behind Germany and the home team in joint-eighth. However, we couldn’t push on and jump over either of those as we scored a disappointing 9/20 in the final round.

Our final score was 54/100, a massive improvement in our score from 12 months ago. However, this jump in points only saw us move up one in the rankings. Comfort can be taken though. There were more teams in the Nations Cup this year – 15, an increase of two from 2011. Also, we now qualify for the 9th/10th place knockout quiz!

This takes place around 4pm today. That’s after the individual quiz, which takes place in the morning. I’ll report on both of those things later.

You’d probably like to try some questions. I had just typed up a collection of 10 of them for you to try but, an accidental press of the back button later, I wiped them out. 🙁 I’m afraid I don’t have time to type them again as I need to get out to that individual quiz. I promise I’ll put up a few from both quizzes later.

In the meantime, I have created a photo gallery on Picasa for pictures from the weekend. It will grow as time goes on. Here’s what’s in it right now:

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