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EQC 2008 National Teams Championships

Report, results and analysis

Report

May contain spoilers

The first contest of EQC 2008, the National Teams qualifier on Friday afternoon, was in a sense the most critical, at least for many of the national teams. England and Belgium were expected to occupy two of the four top positions and go through to the semifinals, leaving only two places for the remaining six teams. Last year’s championships saw a fierce fight to make the cut, when only one point separated fourth-placed Norway from the next team. This year, at least four teams – Finland, Wales, Estonia and Norway – were expected to mount serious challenges for the semifinals and a chance of doing some giant-killing versus England or Belgium. Also, simultaneously with the National Teams qualifiers, 15 teams (of which four were Norwegian) were up for a chance to win the Aspirational Cup, a kind of «UEFA Cup» for non-national teams.

Partly due to last year’s photo-finish, the 2008 qualifying round was expanded from 60 to 100 questions, in five rounds of 15 and one round of 25 questions. The following is an eyewitness report from within the Norwegian team…

Round 1

The championships kicked off briskly with a question about the name of Enola Gay’s pilot. This was a good start for the Norwegian national team – 1 correct out of 1 possible! Iblis, Islam’s version of Lucifer, however, was a mystery, but then followed a few questions that weren’t impossible at all, and Norway managed to amass a total of 11 out of 15 points in the first round, giving us the lead! England, Belgium and Finland were hot on our heels with 10 points. A couple of Aspirational teams impressed as well: England C and Belgian-Hungarian Anarchy were the only teams to know the name of Kandinsky’s fiancée. The Smurfs and England C were in the lead with 9 points, the smallest possible margin ahead of Norway B and C.

Norway in the lead for the first (and last) time

Round 2

If round 1 was promising for the Norwegian teams, round 2 turned out a bit of a reality check. The national team, like the B team, finished with a mere six points out of 15. England and Belgium showed how it should be done, with 10 and 9 points respectively. Our only comfort was that the Finns were having a hard time as well – their three-man team had to settle for five points. Estonia, on the other hand, were only one point behind.

Some strong answers in the second round: The Smurfs took the evening’s first solo point, as they were the only team to know the name of the bird related to the kagu, while England were alone with a Melbourne Cup-winning racehorse. England, Finland and Estonia all knew the Swahili word for Africa’s centuries of suffering through slavery and colonialism.

Round 3

The third round was another shocker for Norway; only four points didn’t bode well for a place in the semis. Finland grabbed the opportunity for passing us, and with their nine points they won the round alongside England. Both Belgium and Estonia stopped at five, while Wales achieved the round’s third best score with six points, closing in somewhat at the top five teams.

Belgium and North East Anglia were alone in recognizing the poker player Chip Reese. England, Norway B and Team USA got the best-selling fiction writer behind the character Mike Danger, while three Aspirational teams – England B, Belgian-Hungarian Anarchy and Põlva – were the only ones to come up with the chemical compound xylene.

The table after three rounds:
England 28
Belgium 25
Finland 24
Estonia 21
Norway 21
Wales 18 Hungary 16 The Netherlands 15

Wales do well in a tough round

Round 4

After the great start everything seemed to have collapsed a bit for the Norwegians, locked in a tough fight against Estonia for the fourth semifinal place. In the fourth round we appeared to get back on track a bit, with eight points, including within-team solo points from all four members. But Estonia refused to be shaken off, and posted the same score! England and Belgium were in a class of their own with 11, while Finland equalled Norway and Estonia’s eight. Wales, The Netherlands and Hungary got 6, 7 and 3 respectively, and now only Finland, Estonia and Norway appeared in contention for the two «vacant» semifinal spots. In the Aspirational Cup, Belgian-Hungarian Anarchy and Norway B both posted excellent scores of 9, the latter beating the A team in this round.

The Netherlands got the third solo point of the evening, being the only ones who dared to give an «obvious» answer to the animal supplying us with provolone cheese. The Princeton astronomer with an eponymous space observatory was recognized by England and Norway B, while an inkjet art-printing technique was only known by Belgium and Estonia. The female hip-hop artist with the album Chyna Doll was also a toughie, giving points only to England, Finland and Lars & The Medics.

The table after four rounds:
England 39
Belgium 36
Finland 32
Estonia 29
Norway 29
Wales 24
The Netherlands 22
Hungary 19

Round 5

The close Norwegian-Estonian race continues in the fifth round, with some margin the toughest round of them all. Norway fear the semifinal slipping away with the apparently low score of five points – but Estonia turn out to be even worse off, only scoring three. England wins the round with eight points, while Belgium end up with six. So do Norway B, who are now equal with their A team, and who appear to qualify to the Aspirational semifinals alongside The Smurfs, England B and Lars & The Medics.

Estonia get on the solo list with the country whose tram system was hacked by a fourteen-year-old boy. In a question that tricked many into giving the answer Semiramis, Norway and Danelaw knew the queen for whom the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were made, while the common name ofCarthamus tinctorus proved a Belgian specialty, being given by Belgium and The Smurfs. Belgium also knew the name of a certain brother of Hannibal, as did Nordbiochem and Dirty Jo – and the charming musician who wrote «Cease to Exist» was remembered by Finland, England B and North East Anglia.

The table after five rounds:
England 47
Belgium 42
Finland 37
Estonia 34
Norway 32
Wales 27
The Netherlands 26
Hungary 20

The Estonian teenage hacker specialists

As the last round consisted of 25 questions, only England and Belgium could feel totally confident of qualifying for the semis. Both finished in style, with 16 points each. Finland kept their buffer scoring the same as Norway: 12 points, meaning that Estonia needed 14 to overtake Norway, since the rules stated that the last round would count in case of a tie. But the Estonian team had a troublesome last round, ending up with only nine points, whereas Wales equalled Norway and Finland, and ended up just two points behind the Baltic team.

There were no solo points in the last round. Norway and The Smurfs knew the Polish writer Dabrowska, and the top two national teams managed the question on Glenn Ford. The Smurfs, Nordbiochem and Põlva knew the largest freshwater lake in North-East Asia, and Finland, Norway and Wales knew of a Chilean-Swedish tenor and child molester.

Final results

Qualifier

The official list of results for the qualifier is:

No. Team R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Total
1 England 10 9 9 11 8 16 63
2 Belgium 10 10 5 11 6 16 58
3 Finland 10 5 9 8 5 12 49
4 Norway 11 6 4 8 5 12 46
5 Estonia 9 7 5 8 3 9 41
6 Wales 9 3 6 6 3 12 39
7 The Netherlands 4 8 3 7 4 4 30
8 Hungary 8 4 4 3 1 7 27

Semifinals

The results in the round of semifinals were:

England defeated Norway 67-43
Belgium defeated Finland 77-42
Estonia defeated Hungary *
Wales defeated the Netherlands 43-35

*) We regret that the detailed scores from this match appear to have gone missing, and would be glad to receive them if anyone has them.

Final and placement finals

Final: Belgium defeated England 83-77

England in the final. L-R: Mark Bytheway, Kevin Ashman, Pat Gibson, Olav Bjortomt

Belgium are victorious. L-R: Erik Derycke, Ronny Swiggers, Tom Trogh, Nico Pattyn

Bronze final: Finland defeated Norway 63-42

Deserved bronze medal for Finland. L-R: Tuomas Tumi, Tero Kalliolevo, Jussi Suvanto

Fifth place: Estonia defeated Wales 58-41
Seventh place: The Netherlands defeated Hungary 57-18

Analysis of the qualifier

A total of 820 points were taken in the quiz out of 2300 possible, a percentage of 35.7. The numbers show that this contest was the toughest of the EQC – with some margin. In detail, the difficulty profile, ie the number of questions at each observed difficulty (measured by the number of teams answering correctly) looks as follows:

No question was so easy that everyone got it right, but one question – number 91, on the SI unit for electrical conductance with the same name as a company, was taken by all but one team. Only three teams missed out on each of question 7 (the Olympic sport of father and daughter Elvstrøm) and 88 (the geological period closing the Paleozoic Era). Nineteen out of twenty-three teams got questions 1 (Enola Gay’s pilot), 27 (novel describing a fictional book by Emmanuel Goldstein), 76 (auditing firm formed by a merger in 1998) and 79 (the president of Gabon).

All solo, duo and trio points are mentioned in the report above. In addition, the harder segment of the quiz included as many as nine questions yielding no correct answer. These were:

15 (Italian violin prodigy who wrote the original of «You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me»);
21 (Nigerian author of Jagua Nana);
25 (process of turning liquid into gas under constant temperature);
38 (French physician known for chest-tapping);
39 (sunken city of Nordfriesland);
62 (pseudonym of Queen Elisabeth of Romania);
68 (first discoverer of photoelectric effect);
93 (Japanese avant-garde art group 1954-1972);
97 (seminal 1941 work on psychopathy).

The easiest misses for each of the national teams who reached the semifinal were:

England: 31 (French minister of finance under Louis XIV), answered correctly by 17 teams;
Belgium: 61 (Italy’s leading scorer in football), answered correctly by 13 teams;
Finland: 76 (auditing firm), answered correctly by 19 teams;
Norway: 40 (third largest emirate in the UAE), answered correctly by 14 teams.