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Brian's Reaction Test - 10th November 2021

2021 Reaction Test

Fingers on the trigger boys!

It seems like an absolute age since an event was actually run at a club night, but Wednesday the 10th November saw that end when Brian put on one of the most popular events of the year with his Reaction Test, a very simple and easy to understand challenge that virtually everyone took part in and an event that really brought something that had been missing back to the assembled members at Swalwell Cricket Club.

It was one of the most basic of concepts: watch the lights and then press the button when they went out; a task so simple it didn't even have to be thought about, but it was one of those events that brought everyone together and reminded them all just what had been lacking since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic: a little bit of fun, something that everyone could take part in and a welcome revival of that competitive spirit that we had all been missing on a Wednesday night.

In total virtually everyone took part, a good take-up of nine competitors each determined to beat the clock, but more importantly, beat the rest. Each competitor had two runs of three starts each, their best accumulative time to count. It was just as well, too, as a number of club members received penalties for touching too quickly or not at all.

The results were surprisingly close, showing that the difference between old and young was not what might have been expected, bringing the following result:

1 Phil 0.734 seconds
2 Andrew Pollard
3 Brian
4 Trevor
5 Gordon
6 Tosh
7 Alastair
8 Ken
9 Jimmy
10 Mac

A great win for Phil, beating Andrew into second place by a shade over three hundredths of a second, with Brian third less than two tenths adrift (probably not really helped by Jimmy trying to show him a video mid-attempt). A great fourth place for Trevor, eliciting a punch in the air and a triumphant shout of 'My best result of the year!' from him.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all current members who took part, this result allowing Brian to overtake Tosh for the lead and possibly take the Championship title at the last gasp, pending any event in the remaining two weeks. Many thanks to him for putting the event on, it was really nice to see everyone getting back into the spirit of the Wednesday night events and hopefully see the revival of more regular club night activities.

Colin's Cryptic Quiz - 14 April 2021

2021 CRF Cryptic Quiz Rd3

Colin's Cryptic Quiz Collection - Rd 3

It would be very easy to just sit back in your armchair during the pandemic and stare at the television, amusing yourself by watching some of the dreadful drivel on offer these days. With hundreds of channels to choose from, broadcasting up to 24 hours every day it is not surprising that the quality of many of the programmes is simply awful, and so such a course of action (or inaction) has very little to recommend it, especially when it comes to stimulating the mind.

Luckily, though, Whickham and District Motor Club have some very resourceful members at hand to provide the exact stimulus needed to prevent such vegetation of the cerebral mass, one of which is Colin Fish, who regularly puts on events to get our club members' thinking caps on and work out the answers to his variety of challenges. And thinking caps were very much the order of the day on Wednesday the 14th April 2021 when he put on Round 3 of his Cryptic Quiz Collection with a fresh set of perplexing pointers to try and confuse everyone into getting the wrong answers.

In typical Colin style, as always he put in a few dead easy ones to get members into the swing of the quiz; "He laughs but hates roundheads" was obviously the Cavalier, the simple "Sounds like one of the Fab4" could only have been the "Beetle", whilst "----LasVegas, film" could only have been "Viva". First three down, this was going to be simple, except some of the other clues were just not so. The challenge of course was to work out just how the clues were framed, in order to analyse what the answer was: for example "Not in a china shop but stuck in a USA rut" suggested the answer was something to do with "Bull", and the second (and clever) part of the clue suggested "stuck in a" might mean "contained within" the following words "USA rut" which was an anagram of "Taurus" (the Bull, in astrology). Neat, but cerebrally taxing.

With his customary total of 30 clues altogether, it was no easy feat, but still achieved a good entry of nine competitors bringing the following result:

1 Peter Metcalfe 25/29
2 Phil Raffel
3 Richard Taylor
4 Tosh and Brian
21Furthest cleanest
5 Mac Cliff
6 Guy Wickham
7 Peter Heatherington
8 Simon Jennings
9 Gordon
DNF due to family bereavement

A superb win for Peter, collecting maximum points once again and beating his last Cryptic Quiz result by emulating his win on Colin's Christmas Cryptic Special; a great second place for Phil Raffel closely followed by Richard Taylor in third. All three scoring well with only a few dropped answers between them.

Another excellent cryptic quiz from Colin, following in the footsteps of his previous events and with as challenging clues as he always provides; points in the Club's Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this result bringing Peter that crucial bit closer to Tosh in second place, chasing him down all the way to the final places in November.

Many thanks to Colin for putting the event on, his Cryptic Quizzes always test everyone's thinking caps and are so much better than simply watching TV!

Peter's Pretty Pictures - 31 March 2021

20210331 Picture Quiz

A picture paints a thousand words....

One of the great games to play as a child was 'Connect 4', a game that taught the young mind to not only aim for the win but to develop a planning mind-set that would allow that win to be achieved. In truth, Connect 4 was little more than noughts and crosses plus one, but it certainly gave millions of young minds the opportunity to plan ahead. The natural progression of this would be the development of logical thinking, where the obvious gave way to the analytical, something that has now progressed to the genre of modern warfare strategy video games; all designed to make the young mind work for its living.

Peter Metcalfe may not have been thinking so esoterically, indeed he may have simply intended to provide some light entertainment, but whatever his thoughts, the picture quiz he hosted on the 31st of March 2021 was a great example of the process of joined-up thinking, where he used the medium of the picture to create words and names as answers to a number of questions. It is a concept that has been used for thousands of years, going back even further than Egyptian Hieroglyphics, where pictures were pretty much ubiquitous.

Peter expanded on this concept to create a great little 10-page Picture Quiz consisting of twenty-five image-based clues to produce the names of Formula One or WRC drivers and Teams, any of which could have been past or present. With some pictures being obvious and others very much not so, it was up to the competitor to work out exactly what the picture represented and string the parts together to result in a final name. Whilst some were easily worked out from only a picture or two, others required a little more of a strategic approach to produce a result, but all were very achievable with just a little thought and application.

In what was a thoroughly enjoyable event, six competitors took part to produce the following rather eyebrow-raising result:

1 Colin Fish 25/25
1 Brian Townsend
1 Gordon Bradford
1 Guy Wickham
1 Tosh Townsend
6 Mac Cliff

With a somewhat surprising five-way tie for first place, the event would definitely have benefitted from some sort of tie-breaker, but was nevertheless a great little event and one that everyone who took part really enjoyed. It was in a way something of a shame that Mac's single wrong answer dropped him to an effective sixth, however he did at least pick up some points in the Championship, something those who decided not to take part would never gain.

Many thanks to Peter for putting the event on, the picture quizzes are always a welcome addition to the club's Superstars Championship, bringing as they do a slightly different aspect to the normal type of event. Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this event allowing the top five to gain a massive hike in their points to the detriment of those competitors who decided not to take part.

Next event is another of Colin Fish's Cryptic Quizzes, so time to get your thinking caps on and prepare for another brain bashing as you try to work out just what on earth Colin can come up with this time!

Tosh's Wily Wordsearch - 17 March 2021

20210323 Wordsearch

Not exactly WYSIWYG...

Sometimes you might think that What You See Is What You Get, whereas at other times everything is not always what it seems to be.

This was certainly the case when Tosh put on his slightly different Wordsearch on the 17th March, as it looked like he had inadvertently left the answers on the pdf to the quiz. One or two competitors did think to ask if it was a mistake, but a careful reading of the accompanying email did state that although there was a definitive list of car parts included in the square, it wasn't to say that others were there to be found. For those that read between the lines, it was a golden opportunity to score extra points.

And extra words (and points) were indeed found in abundance; as the smarter competitors soon found that words like 'headlamp' could also be broken down into 'head' and 'lamp', in the same way that 'seatbelt' and 'handbrake' could provide extra words. The 45 suggestions in the original supplied list were indeed found by everyone, but others went further, some of course much so. Who knew that although 'oil' was in the list it would appear no less than three times? Colloquial terms such as 'speedo' and 'dash' were also allowed as they are in such common usage, although Tosh did draw the line at the term 'air'

In line with most of the virtual events this past year, Tosh also allowed subsequent submissions of results as members discovered more words than they thought, although even he was surprised at just how many were eventually submitted, with the grand total at close of play being 72 valid answers, producing the following result:

1 Colin Fish 67/72
2 Brian Townsend
3 Peter Metcalfe
4 Stephen Laverick
5 Mac Cliff
6 Martin Wilks
7= Gordon Bradford
7= Susan Ledger

An great win for Colin, managing an astounding total of 67 and probably causing himself as much eyestrain on this event as he puts the rest of us through on his Table Top events; a great second place for Brian with a great effort and only three words behind, these two almost in a league of their own and a clear eleven words ahead of Peter, who still managed to find a significant extra number of words in the square, and clear enough of the chasing pack who were all within a point of each other down to seventh place.

One surprising thing of note was that at least two club members emailed Tosh to comment on the event but didn't submit any answers - a strange case of events as most of the answers were actually supplied. Still, as they say - there's nowt as queer as folk.

Many thanks indeed to Tosh for putting the event on, it was a slightly different Word Square search this time and perhaps one that caught a few out with the subtlety of the instructions; maybe a bit more clarity would help next time.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this event allowing Brian to take the lead in the table, whilst Colin Fish moved up significantly into fourth, leapfrogging both Guy and Gordon. As was suggested in the last report, this Wordsearch was indeed slightly different from normal, but next event should be more straightforward, as it is another of Peter's excellent Picture Quizzes; will it be cars, will it be people or places, or will it be something else? You will have to take part to find out...

Colin's Cryptic Quiz - 3 March 2021

20210303 CrypticQuiz

Talking at cross purposes...

One of the nice little presents that Santa Claus brought to entertain us over the Christmas Holidays last year was Colin Fish's Christmas Quiz, and it was an excellent way to spend a few hours over the festive period.

The following two months went by surprisingly quickly to find us in March 2021, and a bonus for anyone who enjoys the challenge of working out just what goes on inside the head of a man who puts together those types of events, with Round two of Colin's Cryptic Quiz. The format was just the same as his previous event, albeit raising the bar slightly with some more tenuous links and suggestive clues to try to tempt you into putting down an incorrect answer. The big challenge of course was to try to get inside the head of the man, as that would give you the best chance of getting the right answer, but that would prove to be a task in itself.

With his standard three sections of Makes, Models, and then the combined Makes & Models Colin had once again produced a series of testing words and phrases to test all our analytical abilities; some appearing to be blindingly obvious, whilst others certainly did their best to boggle the mind.

The aim, of course, was to provide a challenge that would last the week. Making a quiz that was easily completed would not have been a difficult task, but giving enough of a challenge to provide a meaningful result was a task in itself, and one that Colin relishes. It was because of this that some of the clues were easy enough to give a comfortable feeling of initial success, whilst stringing us along enough to really make us think about the more difficult clues. The 'Sewing Machine' suggested 'Singer', the 'Welsh/English Channel' bringing forth 'Bristol', whilst the 'Curved Sword' was obviously a 'Scimitar'.

However, 'Not a Red Mail Van' could have suggested anything from Postman Pat to DHL, whilst it was actually an anagram of 'red mail' that produced the answer Daimler. One of the most wonderful clues was the glorious 'Sounds like a welcome, from a German and a Scot, yes?' which produced the wonderful 'Hyundai'...

With 'Italy's No. 1' bringing forth 'Uno' and 'Twelve Signs of the ------' resulting in 'Zodiac' there were enough clues to appeal to those who knew the modern and remembered the classics, but the overall result showed a good understanding of enough clues to deliver the following result:

1 Tosh and Brian Townsend 28/30
2 Peter Metcalfe
3 Guy Wickham
4 Gordon Bradford
5 Mac Cliff
6 Peter Heatherington
7 Nick & Judith Grasse
8 Simon Jennings
9 Martin Wilks

[Ties were decided by furthest clean method]

An excellent win for Brian and Tosh, getting almost all the answers correct except two, causing them both to groan a little at missing the NSU and Jetta; a very strong second for Peter, only missing out on the top spot by virtue of the 'furthest cleanest' marking system; a great third place for Guy, only a single point behind Peter but showing why he is always such a strong contender for the win. The following four places also very close together, proving the quiz had been targeted just right to bring out the best in all competitors.

Many thanks indeed to Colin for putting the event on, one can only imagine how long it must take to think up so many different ways to conceal car makes and models into both an interesting and entertaining quiz; his events are very much appreciated by all who take part.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this event allowing Guy and Gordon to move into equal fourth place in the table, whilst it was really good to see Nicholas and Judith having a go: they could well have been fourth on a different day. The next event will be Tosh's Wordsearch, where it may be a slightly different one from normal: however you have to wait another week to find out!

What3Words Challenge 17 February 2021

2021 W3W Treasure Hunt

Three Little Words......

Over the years whenever the subject comes up about those 'three little words', people generally assume they are talking about the phrase 'I Love You'. I think it's fair to say that those particular three little words did not appear in any significant quantity during the WDMC event of the 17th February, where the important three words were those that led the competitors to a particular 3m square somewhere in the world that then gave them the answers to the 20 questions on his list.

To start with Peter had listed five significant 'points' of interest in the local region with only two of the three 'What3words' - for example Earl Grey's Head in Newcastle: the two words given were spill.remind.____ and only needed the additional word to confirm the competitor was in the right spot. In this case the missing word was waters. The trick was to ensure the 'satellite view' was used in order to confirm the exact point.

For the following ten points Peter had provided a series of What3Word references and also helpfully provided a series of photographs showing various cars competing in a variety of disciplines, each accompanied by a letter of the alphabet; this was to help identify which of the W3W references the particular photograph alluded to. This was a little bit tricky, particularly because on one clue the words were slightly misspelled! However, almost everyone got the answers correct although it might have taken some a bit longer than others.

For the final section, Peter had indulged his love of a challenge to the full, by giving a series of clues to specific places allowing you to identify a spot on the globe, and by using satellite view you were able to pick out the 3m square and answer the question. This gave you the next three answers, but more was to come! For question 19, it was a case of working out the various different possible versions of the combination of the surnames of 3 British F1 or WRC Drivers Champions and by mixing and matching, arriving at a number of points around the world and simply picking the one closest to Whickham Parish Church. (Hint: it wasn't very close at all).

The final question was to use the answers to three of the previous questions to create a What3Words address where the 'treasure' was buried; it was a famous building, but which one?

If you managed to work your way through all of that, and then submitted your answers to Peter as quickly as possible, you would feel rightfully proud to have at least completed the event, and the following all did so with various degrees of success, to finish in this order:

Final results were therefore as follows:
1 Guy 20/20 51 mins
2 Tosh
20/20 1hr 12m
3 Gordon
20/20 111hr 36m
4 Colin
19/20 61hr 57m
5 Brian
18/20 34m

An excellent first place for Guy, getting all twenty answers correct in a brilliant time of 51 minutes and taking top honours with a clear win; a great second place for Tosh, again with all twenty answers correct but beaten fair and square by Guy to garner second place; a fine third place for Gordon, proving that you should never give up in your pursuit of the correct answers, his 111 hours of effort resulting in all answers correct. A good fourth place for Colin, his perseverance paying off with only one dropped point, but commiserations must go to Brian, who stormed through the quiz in only 34 minutes but unfortunately listed the wrong car at Croft and inadvertently focussed on the wrong nipple.

Many thanks to Peter for putting on a superb event that must have taken him hours to prepare, but was very much appreciated by those who did take part. It's not easy finding organisers during the pandemic and our thanks really do go out to those who have stepped up and put events on.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this event dropping Brian out of the lead and seeing Peter close up to within a couple of points of him; Gordon and Guy both moving up the order. With the next event being another of Colin Fish's Cryptic Quizzes we can be sure those places will not stay the same for too long.


Colin's Welsh Wanderings - 3 February 2021

2021 TableTop Round 2 Map


Maps are truly fascinating things. There is a certain type of person that will happily sit down with a map, looking at all the different names and places and just enjoying the fabulous artistry of it. In some ways, it doesn't even matter if that map is from a different country, as long as it is 'interesting'. I have spent many happy hours just following roads and rivers, ravines and ridges just wondering about all the places that are shown.

My map of choice would almost undoubtedly be the Ordnance Survey Map. It may just be that having spent so many hours poring over them over the past four decades I might just be that little bit seduced by their lines and colours, their superb little icons and their broken lines where words cross. The 1:50,000 series maps really are such things of beauty.

Having originated from the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745 the British Army realised they didn't have a good map of the Scottish Highlands, so in 1747 Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson proposed the creation of such maps to keep the jolly old Scottish Clans in check. King George II told him to get on with it, and the rest, as they say, is history. The problem of drawing the undulating surface of the country onto a flat surface did bring about its own problems, of course, which is where Principal Triangulation of Great Britain came in, starting almost half a century later.

For the members of Whickham and District Motor Club, however, the trials and tribulations of William Roy would be of little consequence as they started out on Colin Fish's second TableTop Rally of the year and sat down with pencils poised and maps at the ready. For this event Colin would again use the area around Llanfair Caereinion with its superb quantity of twisty lanes, rivers and bridges and Colin's passion - a railway line. All of these things he had once again combined in an excellent challenge consisting of four sections; one to three being the main event with the final section being used as a tie-breaker.

In all honesty, the event did get off to a slightly shaky start, with Colin soon realising he had mistyped the instructions for Part 1. Although he quickly realised his error, in his haste to issue an update he inadvertently added extra instructions, making the section once again impossible to complete. One can only imagine his abject horror at issuing an erroneous revision, and so a further amendment was then issued, this time both double- and triple-checked to ensure it was correct and 'do-able'. The sigh of relief from Ouston would have been palpable.

Part 1 was not planned to be that difficult, however for some members it did turn out to be, with the combination of multiple grid lines giving way to a sneaky little map reference mid-way, catching some out, before passing a spot height 109 and then, having managed the hard part correctly, some then made the mistake of crossing SH 144 at the very end.

Section 2 was unfortunately the victim of circumstance for everyone; as what had initially appeared to be a Spot Height on the original pdf turned out to be a gate when viewed on a high resolution image of the map extract, making the solution very much dependent upon the individual's interpretation of the 'dot on the map'. Having reviewed all the entries Colin decided the best solution would be to scrub that section entirely, and file that particular experience away for future reference.

Part 3 should have been so much more straightforward, but then as in all Table Top Rallies, everything is not as normal as it seems. Starting on "GL05 on the B4385 and travel on this road as much as possible BUT only use 1 level crossing" would trip up a few, as the correct solution would be to only travel a very short distance on the B4385 before joining the A458 and travelling to the furthest point West (hinted at by Colin's question regarding Northing 08) where you could re-join the B4385 and then travel back along almost its entire length, stopping just short of the LC in GS 1506. Some didn't see the clue to go quite as far West as was intended, but there was a surprising little twist to the tale, as there were actually two almost identical length routes between SH123 in GS1218 and the junction of the A495 and A458 in GS 0807, resulting in two acceptable routes of virtually identical length. Both, of course, would be acceptable, adding yet another twist to the Table Top tale.

Part 4 would be the leveller for everyone, with what appeared to be the most innocent of instructions: start at SH84 in GS 1512 and go via as many SHs as possible but each one must be higher than the previous one. How simple could an instruction be? For those who thought the gate in GS 0916 was a Spot Height the SH in GS 0718 looked no different - yet this would prove to be the undoing of Peter Metcalfe who listed it as a valid SH even though he hadn't actually passed through it. Such is the lure of the TableTop Rally - it can catch you out when you least expect it.

Having had all the fun of starting with a couple of dodgy lists of numbers, before getting the correct list, this event was actually quite testing, but ultimately it did give a clear result:

Final results were therefore as follows:
1 Tosh 0 Fails
2 Peter
3 Brian
4 Guy
5 Gordon
6 Alan Graham

A really good win for Tosh, who managed to spot all of Colin's clues and convert them to the correct routes; a very close second place for Peter, only coming second due to a misplaced Spot Height in the final section where he inadvertently listed SH 323 on his way to the end of Part 4; the chasing pack of Brian, Guy and Gordon all getting five fails although Brian successfully picked up third place, despite initially struggling with Part 1 until he realised there was a hidden Spot Height in the mix. All were decided on the 'furthest cleanest' rule which just goes to show that even though you may make as many mistakes as all the others it's always best to keep going and do your best.

Many thanks to Colin for putting on yet another one of his superb Table Top Rallies, they may not appeal to everyone but they are certainly very much appreciated by the Competition Secretary, Competition Sub Committee and all those competitors who take part. It's not easy to find organisers for events whilst we are in lockdown, but every time an event is put on it just reinforces what a great membership we have at WDMC, and especially those willing to put events on during the pandemic.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this second Table Top Rally of the season placing Tosh just ahead of Peter with Brian third and Alan Graham stalking him in fourth place, very closely hunted by Guy. With more Table Top Rallies planned for the year ahead - some much more simple and others not so - we look forward to a Maps Championship just as competitive as any other season.

Guy's Picture Quiz - 20 January 2021

20210120 Spider

It's not just what you see......

It's funny how you quite often hear people of a certain age these days saying that all cars look the same.

Whilst I think we can all agree that in order to comply with modern safety considerations there will be certain similar characteristics amongst modern vehicles that has been dictated by a need to comply with such rules, however to say all cars look the same is hardly true today. Cars of yesteryear are often mooted as design classics, with striking features and very clear design elements that have all but disappeared, yet many of those older vehicles were often very similar in appearance.

For the first event of 2021 on the 20th January, however, it would definitely not be a case of all vehicles looking the same; many of the exhibits in question were not actually cars, for a start, and even those that were differed greatly from the others in many ways. There were cars, admittedly, but they were accompanied by various aeroplanes, a bus and a hydroplane just to add a veritable gamut of variety to the competition. Some of those pictured were almost instantly recognisable, whereas others were very definitely not so easily identified.

Each of the photographs had been taken by Guy Wickham, and so none of them was easily found by searching the internet, although Guy had very graciously suggested that was something each competitor would be most welcome to do, since it was just as likely to lead you down a rabbit warren of discovery and delight, especially when finding such wonderful videos on YouTube as those of the 'Beast of Turin' and the Fraser Nash Saloon ‘The Owlet’ - truly awe-inspiring films that made you realise there are people with a deep heartfelt passion for bringing vehicles to life and sharing them with the world.

On the subject of answers, Guy was not interested in the drivers and competitions, but only really the details of the vehicles, what make they were, which particular model, any special characteristics or unusual or peculiar features of the vehicles pictured. And vehicles pictured was what caught out many competitors, as they concentrated on the immediate foreground but often missed those almost hidden in the background; nobody thought to list the mini accompanying the other exhibits in the 'Italian Job' exhibition, whilst only Simon Jennings thought to identify a very clear McLaren Mercedes MP4 in the final picture; perhaps testament to a propensity to barely see past the obvious when taking part in competition....

Everyone of course had the best part of a week to garner their answers together, but at the end the finish was surprisingly much closer than may have been expected, with only a single point deciding the top spot. There was also not much to choose from between the following five places, with only seven points covering 3rd to seventh places. Final results were therefore as follows:

1 Tosh and Brian 73 correct answers
2 Peter Metcalfe
3 Gordon Bradford
4 Colin Fish
5 Stuart Bankier
6 Martin Wilks
7 Simon Jennings
8 Mac Cliff

A superb win and maximum points for Brian and Tosh, this time combining their efforts to take the spoils of victory by a single point from Peter Metcalfe, who showed that although we may only be meeting virtually he still has the ability to finish a very strategic second, thus avoiding the requirement to put on the next quiz. A great third place for Gordon, heading up the chasing pack of five with Colin Fish (a man known as not being particularly fond of quizzes) who finished in a very respectable fourth place.

Many thanks to Guy for putting on a really good quiz with a superb twist; knowing that we could search the internet it made a very enjoyable event and for some a particularly pleasant time watching video clips of amazing vehicles and learning all about their history, where they were famous and in some cases, such as the Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan B2 strategic Nuclear bomber 'The Spirit of Great Britain' which is the last remaining airworthy example in existence. Digging a little more showed it to be converted to SR2 Maritime Radar in 1973 and subsequently converted once again to a K2 tanker variant. Or the Ferrari Timossi Arno XI Racing Hydroplane - originally fitted with the 4.5 litre V12 Ferrari Engine that gave Ferrari their first Grand Prix victory at Silverstone in 1951, an engine that was later increased to 502bhp and in 1953 broke the world speed record for an 800kg boat at 150.19mph - a record that amazingly still stands today.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this being the first event of the calendar year and the second event in the 2020-2021 Superstars Championship and the leader board now shows a three-way tie for the lead position with Brian, Peter and Tosh all on 22 points. The next event is going to be another very different animal with Peter putting on his What3Words challenge, and just like the last time this will be a timed event so everyone will need to keep their wits about them and their fingers and keyboards ready to rock for the 8pm start.

Colin's December Cryptic Quiz - 23 December 2020

2020 Wyvern Image

Cryptic - a meaning that is mysterious or obscure...

I've always been very fond of Grandads, they are really quite special people. I was lucky enough to have two excellent Grandads, who always seemed to be much more wonderfully relaxed about things like rules and going to bed times and all the stuff your Mum was quite strict about. My brother, sister and I used to spend our Summer Holidays at my Grandparents in Canvey Island, and I will always treasure those memories as long as I live, especially some of the things we used to get up to. My Grandad had a workshop, and we had free reign over anything we wanted, so I was always sawing and hammering and making things throughout the six weeks and always with his blessing.

One of the other things my Grandad used to do was ask me riddles, and say things in a way that initially didn't make sense. As a young boy I often thought he was just a bit strange but soon realised he was playing his little game of saying cryptic things to see if I could work out what he meant; it was just one of the funny little things he used to do, but it stayed with me for life. I suppose he must have been a crossword puzzle aficionado, but it made my time there an extra bit special.

So when it came to Christmas 2020, and we were all pretty much settled into lockdown mode, the arrival of Colin Fish's Cryptic December Quiz was a nice adjunct to the Christmas holidays, a pleasant little event to while away the time we might have otherwise spent travelling across the country to visit friends and relatives, which of course we were all unable to do as much this time. Colin, of course, is a Grandad himself, so one could be forgiven for thinking it is maybe a time of life thing, but either way, he provided a list of 35 cryptic teasers designed to test our ability to see the answer behind the clues.

There were some fairly gentle ones of course, designed to lull you into a false sense of security, so that as you scanned the column of clues you felt they were not as hard as you might imagine: Ford's chocolate bar was obviously a Galaxy, the boat park almost invariably suggested Marina, whilst Bond's casino could hardly have been anything other than Royale. But as you delved further into the quiz, it became a little more apparent that not all was as it appeared to be; the Pound Coin certainly testing our interpretation, and what on earth was an Old Toe? Worse was to come, with 'Vauxhall's Winged Dragon' catching most people out and the very difficult 'Daimler Dart' - who could have guessed that for one member, knowing the history of Swindon's Wyvern Theatre would have come back so helpfully 30 years later? 'Not a film:- Er, dial M for Murder ? No, a missile' proving to be almost impossible to solve, (although not quite).

Having given everyone virtually two weeks to work out the clues, you could have expected everyone to get almost every answer correct, but such is the quality of Colin's offerings, this one proved to be just as effective as any of his other events, showing a good spread of everyone's abilities and providing a final results table as follows:

1 Peter Metcalfe 31 correct answers
2 Tosh and Brian
3 Mac Cliff
4 Peter Heatherington
27 (Furthest cleanest applies)
5 John Brown
6 Stuart Bankier
7 Gordon Bradford
8 Guy Wickham
9 Simon Jennings
10 Martin Wilks

A superb win for Peter Metcalfe, showing that piano tuning does not necessarily interfere with one's cognitive ability in the way that perhaps those more associated with building sites might suppose; his result almost matched by team Townsend, with Brian and Tosh combining their abilities to try to snatch the victory; a great third place for Mac Cliff, perhaps his own little bit of Grandad mode giving him that tiny little advantage and allowing him to gain that vital extra point to put him just above those clamouring to gain places from fourth to seventh.

Many thanks to Colin for putting the event on, he has been absolutely brilliant during lockdown, consistently creating events for everyone to try and yet still managing to come up with things to fool us all. Absolutely brilliant to see a good ten competitors taking part and trying their best to be the victors, but full marks must go to Peter for his win and to everyone else for chasing him all the way.

Points in the Superstars Championship to all members who took part, this being the first event of the 2020-2021 season it shows Peter as the man putting his initial stamp on the Championship. Whilst we may not be meeting up physically, it is good to know that there are still those in the club willing to continue to put events on to keep the competitive spirit alive and well within Whickham and District Motor Club. Long may it continue!

Tabletop Round 1 - 2 December 2020

2021 TTR1 Map

Colin 1, WDMC 0

The 2021 Maps Championship started with a bang on the very first Wednesday of December when WDMC stalwart Colin Fish put on another of his excellent Table Top Rallies, and true to form although it appeared to be very straightforward it was of course anything but. For those of us who have been competing on Colin's Table Top rallies over the years we all know that although we enjoy the healthy degree of competition, we also realise there is a degree of cerebral machinations involved in trying to work out just how complicated Colin's very simple phrases are really meant to be.

There is an old saying that husbands use when talking to their wives: 'If there are two ways of saying something, and one of them upsets you, I meant the other one'. It would be a foolish man that didn't apply the exact same logic to any of Colin's instructions, as it can always be reasonably concluded that if there is any single instruction that can be taken in two ways, one of which appears to be very simple, then Colin obviously meant the other way.

The first section lulled everyone into a very false sense of security: it was so simple, so obvious, so very clear, that virtually everyone got it spot on. A train and car, travelling to roughly the same point, with nothing of any real significance to make you think there could be any confusion in the instructions. One suspects that most of the competitors spent more time than they should have done looking for the hidden meaning, the 'dirty dog', the not-so-obvious little thing that would make it more complicated than it needed to be, and in doing so result in a fail. But there was none, and everyone thought that perhaps Colin was being kind this time and starting 2021 off with a gentle, easy Table Top.

Oh dear. Oh very dear. What untold fools we were.

Part 2 started well, with a definite start point and easy to follow instructions, leading everyone to the finish at 'Pentre'. This was of course a very calculated and deliberate ploy on the part of Mr Fish, creating the perfect 'Derren Brown' situation by planting the seed in our minds with the word Pentre itself. We had to take note of this word, Pentre, as it was one of the answers. It was in our minds, this Pentre.

Part 3 was one of those sections that didn't quite make sense; go via 144173 to the next grid line - except by travelling to MR 144173 there was no way to get to the next GL. Surely it wasn't a mistake by Colin? He is so careful and particular. Hmmm. For those of us with previous knowledge, it was a red flag moment, which meant there must be another option. Careful investigation revealed it was so: the 144173 was to be read in the same manner as the previous instructions, two separate spot heights linked together and leading South to GL 10.

For those who got that right, they might have been feeling smug; this of course is a very bad move, as Part 4 came back at us with that classic Derren Brown hook that told us to start under the letter "t" of Pentre. We knew where that was of course; we had only just been there. The instructions told us to go via even SHs that added up to 356m. A little careful examination of the area showed that there was indeed a route that fitted that criteria, go South via 84, 86 and 186. Perfect - and so easy to find! The competitors that have done Colin's Table Tops before would have immediately realised that was just too easy, so looked for the less obvious alternative - and there it was: go North instead, and by travelling via 224 and 132 you got the same result in a shorter route. Nailed it, and spotted your clever ruse, Colin. No fool me.

Except that wasn't the case, because Colin had found another 'Pentre' in GS 1115, with a single SHG of 356 only 2.5km away. How much time must that man spend finding different ways to catch us all out? The smug feeling disappeared almost as quickly as it had arrived. Damn the man, damn me for not spotting it myself.

The final insult had to be in the tie-deciders, where the latest letter in the alphabet had to be found on the map under GL14. Amazingly, nobody at all found the letter y of the 'Afon Efyrnwy' - whatever that means. What is it about those rivers and brooks that make them invisible to the competitors? How can we miss them time after time? If you asked the entrants each would say they looked incredibly carefully, yet everyone completely missed it. Amazing. But then Colin knows this.

And so by the end of the week, a consensus had emerged with the results being declared final as follows:

1 Peter 4 fails
1 Tosh
3 Brian
4 Alan Graham
6F Furthest cleanest
5 Josh Bailey
6 Simon Jennings
7 Guy
8 Gordon

A brilliant tie for first place between Peter and Tosh, even though neither of them spotted that fateful y which would have given one of them a clear victory; a great third place for Brian, only the single point behind them, with Alan Graham finishing fourth - wonderful to see a founder member of the club still competing on a regular basis. Another good result for regular competitor Josh Bailey, showing he is as keen as ever for a good season's competition, with Simon, Guy and Gordon all starting their Championship year with good points in the Championship.

Many thanks indeed to Colin for putting the event on, it is very much appreciated by all who take part in his events, and whilst they may not appeal to everyone in the club, there are certainly those who truly appreciate not only the tremendous effort that goes into organising these events, but also love the thrill of pitting themselves against each other to perhaps take Peter's crown in 2021!

Points in the Maps Championship to all members who took part, Peter and Tosh both putting down their markers immediately and setting everything up for yet another promising season....

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