Thursday, January 21, 2016

19th January–Away to the Royal Oak

This was the Lemmings’ first visit and we’d be very happy to return. Following a recent refurbishment it is now a community-owned pub with warm and welcoming staff and four hand pumps including two beers from microbreweries that we’d never heard of –  Bridestones from
Hebden Brtdge, an excellent brew at only 3.9%: and a superb pale ale Man Up  from the nearby village of Timbersbrook where the cause of the dreadful fire is still under investigation.
The game was the half-way point in the competition and it was good Co-op pub buyout underway in Staffordshireto be playing old friends. The questions were different in various ways: the Specialist set by the Plough Horntails broke new ground in many ways, sport in particular, and were very well received; and the General Knowledge had a spectacular history – the Sutton Club were unable to set them for various reasons and the problem was passed to Mark as secretary – but as he was playing on the night he could not do them and asked for help from his former colleagues who produced an excellent set of well-balanced probing questions.
At the end of the Specialist the Lemmings were behind by 14 points (66/52) Nick in particular having had a difficult run; the Lemmings fared rather better in the General Knowledge winning by 83 to 79 but insufficient to take the game losing 145 to 135.
Individual scores were Bob 15/15, Wendy 9/12, Nick 3/21 and Tomo 12/15 conferred points were 12/11 with 1/9 pass-overs. The home team collected 6/9 pass-overs.

The evening closed with an excellent selection of very tasty sandwiches – many thanks to the the landlords whom we wish the very best of luck, to the home team who are always a pleasure and particularly to the non-League question setters who did a remarkable job.


AAD said...

On a night of FA Cup 3rd round replays, the obvious venue for anyone wanting to see plucky amateurs put to the sword was the Ox-fford, where the “C” hosted the Robin. The venue has changed considerably, with a plush makeover of the type that can precede an eviction notice for quiz teams. Fortunately, the attentive and pleasant vibe given out by the management suggested otherwise.
AADs pessimism was not by specialists from the Plough Horntails. In two previous efforts I had a 10% success rate on their questions. By round 7 there was a serious chance that I was going to fail to meet even this standard, without thinking that the questions were inherently flawed. However, peculiar things were going on all around and far stronger quizzers than I were struggling against a tide of difficult questions and some self-inflicted wounds (not helped by the attribution of the Ironbridge to Brunel, rather than Abraham Darby in the questions). My cosmic punishment for requesting populist sports was Chariot Racing. A reasonable number of answerable questions were scattered amidst the “nasties” and the Robin made the most of these to reach the break 3 ahead. Mercifully the Dogs offered several “easies” and allowed me to get off the mark. Our improbable lead may have hinted at some imbalance, I didn’t feel it, but that isn’t to say it wasn’t there.
The General Knowledge questions saw the natural order of things gradually resume and the “big beasts” of the Ox-fford C settled into their rhythm now able to string together long strings of 3s, whilst I was able to raise my score into the inconspicuous mid-20s. By the end of the 10th round the C had inched ahead and the gap eventually opened to somewhere in the mid-20s. The questions were more friendly than the specialists with a few exceptions (and sometimes so gentle as to induce fear of double-bluff – the Angel Gabriel and the Japanese Red Spot standing out in this respect). My final question gave me déjà vu –words sounding the same and having different meanings. Like last year I offered “homophone”, like last year the sheet said “homonym”, like last year it was generous and informed opponents (thanks, Caroline) that got me my three points. Just to clear it up – homonyms are two words spelt the same with different meanings (“bear fruit”, “grizzly bear”), whereas homophones have different spellings (“bare all”) – both met the demands of the question. However, given what we had heard regarding the origin of the questions, the final word has to be one of gratitude to the volunteer who stepped in and allowed matches to go ahead with a decent set. We departed the scene leaving the C deep in debate over whether the mark awarded should be 0 (for the team who failed to set), 10 (in gratitude to the volunteer), or somewhere in between to reflect genuine merit– my own leanings were towards a 7. I suppose that the serious question is how is an appropriate message sent out that setting questions is not an optional exercise?
Our very effective, but convivial opposition left me with my favourite moment of light relief of the season. Our QM, Graham of the Weaver was compelled to go the first verse of Madonna’s sado-masochistically themed “Justify My Love” complete with reference to running naked in a rainstorm. As I mentally rehearsed the running order of my old “The Immaculate Collection” cassette, Tim Massey chimed in with “It’s all in the delivery, Graham” to much merriment. The point sacrificed by getting mixed up with “Vogue” was well worth it as it gave Alice (who I suspect had no hope or intent of arriving at the correct answer) the opportunity to request a repeat of the question before letting Graham off the hook after the opening line.
As expected, our points tally stays stubbornly at 2, on a night when we knew that the Oak and/or Lemmings would pull ahead, but an enjoyable evening was had and there were glimmers of hope for the two relegation dogfights that come next.

Lord Flame said...

We too enjoyed the questions, without appreciating the drama, or maybe trauma behind the scenes. Maybe the notification about being responsible for question setting could be sent out a couple of weeks earlier - I know it is in the pack at the start of the season, but we went into panic mode when we got the nod a fortnight before the due date.

AAD noted the Japanese flag question; the recipient in our quiz went into panic mode and conferred

The Roddy Llewellyn question missed the opportunity to ask: Who did Private Eye describe as having a small part in Charlie's Aunt?

0.125 as a vulgar fraction is a f****** eighth

If the new elements question had fallen to the Oxford C, Graham missed the opportunity to ask them to name them, rather than just how many there were

Many thanks to the rescuers

AAD said...

The new elements question was an annoying because I acturally did know the names, just not the correct number. The C passed it over and I shouted out 6 because I knew that ununtrium (113) and ununoctium (118) were there and assumed that there were four others in between. I even knew that Livormium and Flevorium were 114 and 116, but didn't realise that they had been officially recognised before - which I suppose makes sense as they have got permanent names.

Alan Levitt said...

Does anyone else think it is a bit of a worrying precedent having questions set by outsiders? Joining the league involves some responsibilities. I know teams can have problems occasionally but every other team has managed to provide questions for the night. Can anything be put in place to prevent this happening again in the future?

AAD said...

I had hinted at that - if the message is "don't bother to set, someone else will step in to the breach", then madness lies within. Perhaps there were genuinely unusual reasons, but, otherwise, I think a point(s) deduction would be appropriate - even though the team had had to set in the cup last week - a case of bad luck and nothing more.

Undoubtedly, the final outcome was better than fixtures having to be cancelled.

On a different note and harking back one week, my wife saw a photofit of the Park Tavern knifeman and told me to make sure I had an alibi in place. Fortunately, was occupied in the Robin at the same time!

MW said...

The e-fit image of the Park Tavern incident man is easily findable on the Macclesfield Express website. AAD has done well to secure his alibi; there is a spooky similarity...

With regards to this week's events, it was indeed a close run thing to get a set of GK questions produced at short notice. I do have some sympathy with the Sutton Club’s situation which led to us having to bail them out. All manner of problems combined at the same time to make life difficult for the Club including the staging of the Sutton Club Annual pantomime which also meant a change of venue for the Sutton Mutton team’s game (oh yes it did…), one team member being on the other side of the world for an extended period and a whole variety of other personal issues which are often easily dealt with in isolation, but not so easily en masse.

That all said, we certainly don’t want this to set any sort of precedent. This incident must be no more than a “one-off” and I will say so on next week’s News & Views. I would also agree that we can incorporate something into the rules from next season onwards to ensure a penalty applies in future to any team which falls short of their obligations in anything but circumstances that can’t be helped.

It is fair to say that almost every week brings its own difficulties in some way, shape or form in getting this particular show on the road - teams being unable to supply the requisite number of Question Masters being far and away the most common (and very often last-minute) issue. This week is one that I’ll be happy not to see again though! I’ve been doing this little job for almost 18 years now and we’ve never had any team that hasn’t supplied questions in all that time and given what I think is the unique nature of last week’s scenario, I hope we won’t again.

The GK this week were set as a favour (and at no cost) for the League by a professional event organiser I know through my previous working life. They were done with less than a week’s notice and with not much more guidance as to the sort of questions required than being pointed in the direction of Nick’s blog where several years of previous questions can be found.

Obviously, the Sutton Club won’t be entering the “Cars and Vans 4U” contest, but it is a good indication that the questions were pretty well received in that they would have been in the “Top 10” entertainment table otherwise. The Plough Horntails’ Specialist questions did even better and will be the 6th best appreciated thus far.

We played the Dolphin and had a very entertaining and convivial game, just coming out ahead by 7 points in the end. Both teams gave a few away and one of my team gave away the “Japanese flag” three points by going for white as the colour of the circle. No names mentioned…

Glyn said...

With all due allowance to the Sutton Club's circumstances (I have no idea what came up so I don't want to be insensitive) we're the told the fixtures at the beginning of the season and I find it's worth making a start on them a month ahead to allow plenty of time, if fixtures permit. The two-week vetting should have sounded a warning somewhere if the questions were not ready. And if all else fails the setters might recycle wholesale a set of questions from many years ago from Nick's diligently maintained - I wouldn't want this to happen too frequently but it would have avoided needing to get others involved and might be worth bearing in mind as back up.

MW said...

I think it was unique set of circumstances last week – I very much hope so, anyway – but recycling some of the older sets might indeed be an answer. There is getting on for 10 years’ worth of stuff on there now. The only drawback might be that some of the questions stand the test of time better than others, but that would have to be part of the job to pick and choose. I bet a few quiz setters lift a few from Nick's blog whilst we’re not looking...

I will also try and get the "reminder" letters out a bit earlier too. Apart from the first few weeks of the season, most of the remaining teams have several weeks (or even months) worth of notice as to what is required, but I think a lot of people tend to leave it all to the last minute. People see the initial details of what they are doing (and when) from the initial “Information Pack”, but human nature then allows you to put all that to one side! I suppose some people find that deadlines are a great focuser of the mind, but if you are in the position of having lots of notice, some preparation early on wouldn’t be a bad idea. Of course questions come up and would need to be changed, but if you’ve done the bulk of it, that makes a big difference.

I’ll incorporate some of this into the rules / guidance for next time.