Wiganer Pat is Euro-quiz king for the second time

Pat Gibson
Pat Gibson

It was the one prize that eluded him for years.

But now Wigan super-brain Pat Gibson has been crowned European quizzing champion for the second time in a row.

In a nerve-shredding showdown at a hotel in Venice, the Swinley-based TV Egghead was run very close by two Belgian rivals and only secured victory with the last few killer questions.

Pat, Mastermind’s Champion of Champions who rose to fame by hitting the Who Wants to be a Millionaire jackpot, said that doing this double after missing out so many times on this title would not dim his thirst for further wins.

He said: “Greed is a terrible thing! You keep wanting to take part and you keep wanting to win. It’s like a football team: you win four trophies and you want a fifth.

“This had always been a problematic competition for me up until last year. I had entered nine times and was in the top three without winning.

“Last year I finally broke my duck and it was quite a contrast with what happened in Venice. After the first round I had a 14-point lead - which is freakish - and it meant that there was a little room for the odd slip in the second, deciding round.

“This time I was two points off the pace and there were only 11 points between all those who got through to the end game, so it was very tense.

Fortunately I found my best form and with only five points to go I had a small lead.

“Two of the remaining five questions were so difficult that I figured that while I didn’t know the answers no-one else would either - which turned out to be true - and so when I got two of the other three correct I had squeaked through by a couple of points.

“It was an absolute grueller, but I was very happy.”

The Irish-born father of two had already won the British Quizzing Championships title again earlier this year and came third in the World Champs - a competition he his won four times before, once with the highest ever score in its history.

As Pat described, the Euros are divided into two parts. The first resembles a school exam in which hundreds of contestants fill in a written paper containing 100 questions.

The top 10 then go through to part two in front of an audience with a question master and projector for illustrations. Questions are asked in English but, so as not to put those for whom it is not their first language, answers are flashed up in all the tongues of the finalists. Questions are answered in five-question bursts with contestants handing in their answers for marking after each section so a running tally can be kept.

It was Pat’s first trip to Venice and he arrived two days early to have a look round and, as expert quizzers do, absorb as many of the sights, sounds and facts about the place as possible for future reference.

When asked how he stores up so much information for these quizzes, Pat puts it down to being a voracious reader, trawling newspapers every day and looking things up whenever a thought occurs to him and making copious notes.

The system has served the former Tote IT wizard well whether when taking part in local quiz leagues in Wigan and St Helens, on BBC2’s long-running Eggheads shows where he is one of the most difficult-to-beat opponents, or in the days that he took part in those big TV contests.

Pat was the fourth contestant to win the top prize on Millionaire back in 2004 and is also a former Brain of Britain.

Eggheads returns for a new series in the new year.