Ireland at the European Quizzing Championships 2014

The European Quizzing Championships 2014 were held in Bucharest, capital of Romania, between 31st October and 2nd November. Ireland was represented at this tournament by five quizzers: Lorcan Duff, David Lea, Dave McBryan, Kevin Jones and Mark Henry.

Since Nations Cup teams are of 4 people only, straws were drawn to determine who would play for Ireland in the Nations Cup. Mark Henry drew the short straw, so he formed a team with three strangers and took part in the Aspirational Cup instead (a parallel tournament consisting of teams of players not taking part in the Nations Cup).

The rest, as they say, is history, as Mark and his team only went and won the Aspirational Cup! Even more impressively, they beat the top two teams on the way to victory. Mark kindly wrote his account of the weekend, which you’ll find below.

Meanwhile, Team Ireland managed to finish 10th in the Nations Cup, an improvement of 2 places on their position in the 2013 competition.

My weekend at EQC 2014

Mark Henry

Last weekend the 31st October – 2nd November, I was fortunate enough to attend the European Quizzing Championships in Bucharest. I felt it would be a good chance to gauge my quizzing progress since my first EQC in Liverpool last year. I was looking forward to the social side of quizzing along with the chance to visit a new city for me.

I travelled over to Bucharest with my fellow quizzing enthusiast Kevin Jones on the Wednesday evening. I had a day to sample a very underwhelming Bucharest and a chance to get my brain in motion for the competitive quizzing ahead. We were based in the 5 star Intercontinental Hotel – a luxury oasis in a rundown city.

The winning Intercontinental Drift team from the Aspirational Cup 2014.
(L-R) Todor Milal, Gerard MacKay, Leslie Shannon, Mark Henry

The first competition on the Friday evening was the Nations Cup. As I was ranked fifth of five on our contingent, I knew in advance that I wasn’t going to be competing in the Nations Cup. I had my green jersey on for our team Lorcan Duff, David Lea, Dave Mc Bryan and Kevin Jones, but I was delighted to be playing in the adjoining competition, the Aspirational Cup. My team members in Intercontinental Drift were the ebullient Leslie Shannon (of Jeopardy fame), Gerard MacKay (recently on 15-to-1) and Todor Milal of Serbia. I knew win or lose it was going to be great fun.

In the Aspirational Cup, we get the same questions as the Nations Cup. It’s often the toughest of the week so it’s great to have the support of a team starting off.

We started very well and at halfway we were in 10th place overall (including the Nations Cup teams) but more importantly we were in 4th place in the Aspirational Cup standings. In the second last round, we scored a disastrous 3/10 and thought our chances were blown.

However, when the final scores were called out we were still in 4th place with 51 points. We were the happiest team in the room – as we were one of four qualifiers for the semi-finals of the Aspirational Cup. In the qualifying rounds of the Nations Cup, the quiz giants of Belgium and England led the way as expected. Ireland A finished in 10th place with 47 points. The lads were very disappointed with their finishing position but they improved two places on last year. There are no bad teams and you have to keep getting better just to stand still.

Next up for us that evening was our semi-final of the Aspirational Cup. We were up against the number 1 seeds KranAmerica, featuring Dorjana Sirola, Ed Toutant, Paul Paquet and Mark Ryder. We were losing all the way and there was destined to be only one result. However, we turned it around at the end to narrowly get to the final! A big shock, especially to us!

Next morning was the individual quiz. I was hoping to improve on my 58th place last year. The celebrations of the night before took their toll as I trundled to 98th place and 43 points. A big disappointment. David Lea was the top Irish quizzer in 25th place. Congratulations to Olav Bjortomt, who was crowned the new European Quizzing Champion.

A few questions from the individual quiz:
(Answers at the bottom of the page)

  1. An English corruption of “Lo Monthang” (meaning The Southern Plains of Aspiration) the answer here is a word that may make you think of wild horses and/or cars. Now located in Nepal, what name is commonly given to the former Buddhist kingdom (also called Kingdom of Lo) that was founded by Anne Pal in 1380?
  2. Now the Senior Vice-President of Design at Apple, which Englishman has designed many of Apple’s products including the MacBook Pro, iPod, iPhone and iPad?
  3. Which German philosopher and historian suggested the cyclical theory of the rise and decline of civilisations which would indicate that the Western Hegemony would falter in the next century as discussed in his book Der Untergang des Abendslandes (Decline of the West)?
  4. In August 2014, the Iranian-American Maryam Mirzakhan became the first ever woman and the first Iranian born person of either sex to win which prestigious award (first handed out in 1936)?
Mark’s Aspirational Cup winning trophy

Time to refocus. Intercontinental Drift had come from nowhere to be in the Aspirational Cup final against England B (Kathryn Johnson, Paul Steeples, David Stainer and Paul Sinha). On paper we hadn’t a hope. Our best score in the individual was behind all of England B’s scores. Paddypower had paid out already. It was looking to form as we trailed 32-20 at halfway . With a bit of help from questions about Famous Yugoslavs, American TV and Irish Olympians, we stormed through in the second half to win 61-43. My very first trophy in quizzing. Together with my superb teammates Gerard, Leslie and Todor, we received our trophies the next day alongside my quiz idols.

And so to the final day, and I was playing with Kevin Jones in the pairs competition. We were seated with the four-time European Pairs Champions Kevin Ashman and Pat Gibson. Seeing Kevin and Pat get 35/36 in the first three rounds was one of the highlights of the weekend. Kevin and myself were very satisfied as we finished 23rd out of 65 pairs, and all the Irish players finished in the top 25 with their partners.

A few questions from the pairs competition:
(Answers at the bottom of the page)

  1. In science fiction, what is the name of the most famous and probably the only son of Amanda Grayson?
  2. The rules for which group of events at the Olympics stipulate that certain participants must be a minimum of seven years of age at the time of the Olympics?
  3. Which river flows right past the Vincente Calderon stadium?
  4. The lack of what has become commonly blamed on an affair between Sofia Kovalevskaya and Gösta Mittag- Leffler? (Though there is no evidence there ever was such an affair.)

All in all a fantastic weekend. The general consensus is that it was streets ahead of EQC 2013, helped in no small part by the organisation of Jane and Chris, their team and a brilliant venue. Roll on Rotterdam next year. I can’t wait!

Individual Answers

  1. Mustang
  2. Jonathan Ive
  3. Oswald Spengler
  4. Fields Medal

Pairs Answers

  1. Mr Spock
  2. Equestrian (horse minimum age 7)
  3. Manzanares
  4. Nobel Prize in Mathematics