Friday, 1 July 2022

Thursday night at the rugby club - the old fashioned way (but not the old, old fashioned way)

I enjoyed being quiz master again at the rugby club on Thursday night. You might remember how with my last quiz I ‘cheated’ by downloading an old quiz from before covid, changed a minimal number of questions and recycled it? Well, on Thursday evening I delivered a quiz that I’d put together properly in the ‘old fashioned’ way.

Of course, when I say the old fashioned way, I don’t mean the old, old fashioned way. When I first started compiling quizzes for the club in 1995 I didn’t have the net to use. So I’m not claiming that I didn’t use the net when I put Thursday’s quiz together. What I did do though was first of all gather my questions in the categories that I wanted. Then I wrote them out carefully. Then I put them into rounds. Then I road tested them. What I ended up with wa a quiz where the questions must have been pretty clear since there were minimal calls for repeats.

Which doesn’t mean that there were no mistakes. Purely through my own carelessness and stupidity I wrote down Midnight for Moonlight. The error was noticed, and it wouldn’t have made a difference to the final outcome anyway. Just goes to show though, at the end of the day you’re only human.

The outcome was interesting. The quiz was won – and to be honest, by a very large margin – by a team who were boosted by the return to the quiz of my friend Rob. Rob was runner up in Brain of Britain a few years ago. Yeah, I know, serious quiz pedigree. Now, on the one hand I could be mean and sour and sulk about the fact that with Rob back it is extremely unlikely that I’m going to be able to stretch my unbeaten run at the quiz to a full year. I must be starting to grow up a bit though, because that isn’t honestly how I feel. It was just nice to see another of my quiz mates, who I haven’t seen since before covid, and to see that he’s well, and still playing. I’m pretty sure we’ll have some good old tussles ahead of us.

The other thing that struck me, though, was how well Dan and Jess did. Adam and Fran weren’t able to make it on Thursday, which left just the two of them. Now, when you consider the fact that it wasn’t just the way that I put together the quiz that was old-fashioned, I was surprised and delighted with how well they did. They placed 4th overall out of 6. Every other team had the advantage over them in terms of numbers, and I would say that in every other team it was an advantage to have at least 1 over-fifty year old playing with them.As it was, they ended up only a few points behind the 2nd and 3rd place teams who were only separated by a point. There’s no doubt in my mind now, they are becoming quizzers, whether they like it or not. I think that they like it. Jess is question master next week, and Dan the week after. Really looking forward.

Sunday, 26 June 2022

New Show - One Question

Heaven be praised, we have a new show to review, and you don’t have to put up with more of my witterings about the quiz in the rugby club this week. Of course, if you actually want to hear about the rugby club . . . no, let’s put that on the back burner for later.

So the new show in question, then. This is Channel Four’s One Question. In terms of quizzes Channel Four did give us the greatest tea time quiz ever in the shape of Fifteen to One. But that was a long time ago, and I can’t off the top of my head think of any Channel Four quiz since which has been absolutely essential viewing for me. But let’s give this one a fair crack of the whip.

The USP of One Question is that the contestants literally only have to answer 1 question to win £100,000. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as that. The mechanics work like this. A couple – they may be friends, cousins, whatever – come and sit down with host Claudia Winkelman. After a bit of toing and froing she announces the question – for example – What is Circle? – The contestants are then faced with a board which has 20 possible answers. Only one of them will actually be a circle. So, for example, one clue would be – the 19th word of the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This is actually diamond. At regular intervals Claudia asks the contestants to get rid of wrong answers. If they get rid of the right answer instead, then it’s thanks for playing anyway but you leave with nothing. Yes, there’s a couple  more rules – once you’ve got 12 answers left you get a clue you can use when you need it. When you’ve got 6 left, Claudia can get rid of 2 wrong’uns, but it costs £25k But there’s not a lot more to it than that.

It's a simple game, and sometimes that’s a virtue. Not sure that’s the case here, though. No, you’re quite right, this really isn’t my sort of thing. Still, let’s try and find some positives. Channel Four, in years gone by may well have turned to Davina McCall to present this, and I’m sorry, but I can’t stand Davina McCall. I do like Claudia Winkelman. I love Strictly, and she’s the acceptable face of the show, compared with wooden old Tess Daly. There is some challenge working out the wrong’uns. And, er, that’s about it really.

For what it is, this isn’t badly executed. But I don’t really like what it is, and that’s the problem. It’s a non-adversarial show, and one of the pitfalls of non-adversarial shows is that they can end up concentrating on the contestants and not the questions. You know what I’m going to ay here. This sort of thing brings out the misanthrope in me. I’m very happy when someone wins and I really don’t wish them any misfortune. But I don’t wish to watch two people going ‘Oh my GGGGOOOODDD! I dunno babe!!!!!!” for three quarters of an hour.

Too slow, not enough questions, and if you’re stuck with a pair of particularly annoying contestants (bear in mind that this is Channel Four, so chances are you will be) a bit tedious. Thanks but no thanks.

Friday, 17 June 2022

I hope you've recovered . . .

 Yes, I hope you've recovered from the celebrations that I'm sure you were holding on Wednesday evening. What celebrations? Why, the 1th Anniversary of me winning a TV show not entirely unconnected with the words 'pass' and 'I've started so I'll finish." Oh, and my 8th birthday as well (the coincidence of the two occurring on the same day being possibly the main reason I can remember the exact date of the former. Well, if you didn't remember, then don't worry, I forgive you. 

What's that? Oh, you've been waiting for me to tell you whether I behaved myself at the quiz last night? Well. . . to an extent, yes. I did make a point of staring at the team who were blatantly using phones while they were doing it, but that was about as far as it went. Also, I volunteered to do the quiz in a fortnight's time. Sort of. Well, what happened was Dai made an appeal for someone in our team to do the quiz, and Jess beat me to it. She stood down though to make way for her aged parent, and grateful for that I am. In the past there have always been at least two teams capable of winning on a given night. With the best will in the world. . . well, the fact is that we've won most weeks. In fact the only quizzes we haven't won have been the ones where I've been QM. And the team did actually win won of those too! In all honesty I think that the others need to have a chance of getting a win. Hopefully not the cheats, though.

I'm wondering whether I should leave alone the connections and just do a straightforward, no frills, bog standard quiz. Sometimes these are the ones that go down best of all. And sometimes they aren't. . . 

I don't know if you remember a post I made some time ago about being a quiz mentor. No? Oh, do pay attention 007. Anyway, as I said, it was my birthday on Wednesday, and Jess and Dan bought me a mug printed with "Quiz Mentor" on it. Yay! Also, they bought me a personalised parker pen with 'Boycs Team Captain' on it! How good is that? 

Friday, 10 June 2022

You only remember . . .

 My dear, late quiz mentor, Alan Coombs said many things over the years about quizzing which have stayed with me ever since. In most things he was right on the money, too. However, he once said words to the effect of - within a day of playing in a quiz, the only questions you'll remember from that quiz are the ones you had wrong, but chances are you'll give the same wrong answer the next time it's asked. The only issue that I would have with this now is that I'd say that you also remember when you have a correct answer, and the QM gives a different one, and you know it's wrong.

Yes, I am thinking about something that happened in the rugby club last night. Dai Norwich (so called because a) his given name is David and b) he's from Norwich) asked the question, 

"Which band was Roy Wood in before he formed Wizzard?". The answer to the question that he gave was "The Move". For the first time since returning to the rugby club quiz last August my hackles really arose. "Point of order, Mr. Norwich," (or words to that effect) I replied, "but Roy Wood was in the Electric Light Orchestra - ELO - immediately prior to leaving to form Wizzard."

"Well, sorry, " he in turn replied, "but the answer I have is the Move, so it's The Move." Now, yes, on the one hand, as question master he is quite right to stick to his guns. If that's the answer he has written down, then that's the answer he has to stick to. However, on the other hand, he's in the wrong for not having checked his answer. Because, being charitable, at the very least his question allowed for more than one answer since Roy Wood was in more than one band before he formed Wizzard - in which case both answers should have been allowed. Being uncharitable, I believe that the chronology was that he was a founder member of ELO before The Move finally ended, then The Move ended, then he left ELO just as the were starting on their second album, then he formed Wizzard. In which case ELO is the correct answer to the question the way that it was asked. 

D'you know, it worries me that it matters to me. I didn't get into an argument with Dai or with anyone else, but I did make a point of shouting out "What about ELO? He left ELO to form Wizzard", which occasioned the answer I've quoted about. Up until now that's the sort of thing where the most I would have done since August is to get up and have a quiet word one to one with the QM. I don't like it that winning or losing matters to me at the club. We haven't lost since August 2021. I don't like it that I'm getting angry when I see another team cheating on their phones, even though they never win. So I am going to keep a very close eye on myself next week, when Dai is doing the quiz again. 

Behave yourself, Dave. 

Saturday, 4 June 2022

Connecting Connections

One of the compliments I’m most proud of having been paid to me happened when I was at university. My tutor for the Old English and Old Norse course components was a lady called Henrietta Twycross-Martin. And Henrietta really knew her stuff. She was not the sort to suffer fools gladly and was not exactly fulsome with her praise. But as I say, she really knew her stuff. I have no recollection of how the subject came up but I clearly remember remarking how much I liked Tolkein, to which she replied, “Of course you do. You’re a medievalist.” Now, it may well be that she just meant – out of your 8 option choices you’re studying Old English, Old Norse, Old French and Middle English, so it’s clear that you like this sort of stuff – but I’ve always chosen to take it as meaning – you’re one of us. And it was all the more pleasing coming from such an unexpected source.

Don’t worry, I am meandering towards the point, although we’re not quite there yet. So, we’ve established that when I was studying English Literature, it was the medieval stuff that really lit my candle. If we focus on Old English, then I have to ask – what is the single most famous text written in Old English? Probably Beowulf. So let me ask you – what’s Beowulf about? If you say – it’s about Beowulf the hero defeating and killing two monsters and a dragon, well, ding ding, thanks for playing anyway, better luck next time. Or rather, yes, it IS about Beowulf defeating the monster Grendel, Grendel’s more terrifying mother, and a dragon, but it’s far more than that. Beowulf is a beautifully interlaced narrative which interweaves politics, considerations of the nature of duty and honour, and digressions which illustrate the main characters’ past without affecting the narrative. In some ways, it’s akin to the interlace patterns you can see on Anglo Saxon illuminated manuscripts and jewellery. And this kind of interlacing is something I love.

What has this to do with a quiz? Well, after Jess’ quiz on Thursday night we discussed the concept of the connection of connections. That is, you do 8 rounds. In rounds 1 – 7 you’d have 3 or more questions in the round, whose answers are all connected. Then in round 8, maybe the first 8 questions connected, with the 9th answer being the connection between them. Then the 10th and final question would be – what is the connection between the other 8 connections?

The appeal of doing this would be the challenge in being able to create a quiz like this, which would certainly keep me interested while doing it. I have never yet made a quiz like this. Why not? Well, I think it just  wouldn’t be right for the regulars at the club. I’m not doing them down – well, that’s not my intention anyway. But while they’re quizzers in as much as they participate in the quiz every week, they’re not competitive quizzers. They’re not doing the quiz to win at all costs, and they’re not doing it for a serious intellectual work out. They’re doing it for the fun of it, and that’s a healthy attitude. It’s nothing to do with intelligence.

Still, I have to admit it’s an appealing idea, even if it’s not one I’d use for the club. So here's an attempt below:-

1)   Which group were originally called Smile?

2)   Which member of the Warmington on Sea Platoon in Dad’s Army was played by Colin Bean?

3)   Which is the name of the main thoroughfare through West Belfast, often in the news during the Troubles?

4)   What is the connection between you last three answers

1)   How was basketball player Earvin Johnson better known?

2)   The band Clannad took their name from the Irish Gaelic word for what?

3)   Musician John Richie, who died in 1979 aged 21, was better known as what?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers

1)   Which was the largest outdoor venue in Ancient Rome?

2)   In the word RADAR, what does the first R stand for?

3)   What was first published in 1955, following a pub argument about Europe’s fastest game bird?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers?

1)   Which 1988 film starred Tom Cruise as bartender Brian Flanagan

2)   Which was the first film featuring Wallace and Grommit?

3)   Andy Summers was the guitarist in which late 70s early 80s band?

4)   What is the connection between your last 3 answers?

1)   Pt is the chemical symbol for which element?

2)   Captain Flint is a parrot belonging to which fictional character?

3)   What shot is a colloquialism for a police identity photograph?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers?

1)   Which constituency was represented by Mrs. Thatcher from 1959?

2)   Which animator created Wallace and Grommit?

3)   Who played TV’s Ugly Betty?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers?

1)   Who wrote “A Woman of Substance”

2)   What is the Emerald Isle?

3)   Which word can follow fairy, night or head?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers?

1)   Which shark is named after a member of the caring professions?

2)   Which character from the comic 2000 AD has been played on film by Sylvester Stallone and Karl Urban?

3)   What title is given to the chief legal advisor to the Government?

4)   What is the connection between your last 3 answers

5)   What is the connection between the 8 previous connections?

Hmm – it can be done! If I was going to use this in the club then I’d do my best to refine it a little – some bits here are a little bit creaky. The answers are all underneath – you can reveal them by right clicking and dragging the cursor over them.


1)   Queen

2)   Private Sponge

3)   Falls Road

Connection - Victoria

1)   Magic

2)   Family

3)   Sid Vicious

Connection – Circle

1)   Circus Maximus

2)   Radio

3)   Records

Connection – Piccadilly

1)   Cocktail

2)   A Grand Day Out

3)   The Police

Connection – Metropolitan

1)   Platinum

2)   Long John Silver

3)   Mug shots

Connection – Jubilee

1)   Finchley

2)   Nick Park

3)   American Ferrari

Connection – Central

1)   Barbara Taylor Bradford

2)   Ireland

3)   Lights

Connection – Northern

1)   Nurse shark

2)   Judge Dredd

3)   Attorney General

Connection – District


Super Connection – London Underground Lines

I’m still not doing something like this at the quiz, though.

Friday, 3 June 2022

- And the winners are. . . er. . . were -

Yes, of this course I’m going to tell you how we got on with the Jubilee quiz yesterday. You don’t think I’d be so mean as to keep you in suspense any more than is absolutely necessary, do you? It was good fun, actually. Yeah, alright, we did win. You know that I’m not always the greatest fan of themes quizzes, but since we all knew that this was going to be a themed quiz, and it was a one off, then that was perfectly fine. So, five rounds of 10 questions, and a picture round. We didn’t get everything right, but we got more right than the other teams did.

Jess overheard a member of one of the other teams, who belongs to that genre commonly known as ‘nice old dears’, who expostulated ‘They cheated!” when our final score was read out. Gotta be honest, it’s not the first time this has happened. I still remember that evening in Culverhouse Cross in Cardiff, when the team who HAD been cheating all night lost to us on a tie break. I can even remember the question – in which year was the RNLI founded? They blatantly looked on their phones – I know because I was watching them – then decided to give verisimilitude to their answer by putting it a couple of years out. The thing was, though, that John did actually know the exact answer. One of them made a point of standing in front of me as I was leaving, calling me an F@!*ing cheat. The landlord did bugger all.

I’m a quizzer, not a fighter, so I walked round him and we left the bar. What else can you do? If someone is going to accuse you without the slightest shred of evidence other than your score, then nothing you say is going to convince them otherwise. So we said nothing, and let her get on with it. I wasn’t looking at the old. . . dear’s face when Jess went on to win the raffle, but I was tempted to say ‘You gonna accuse us of cheating on that as well, love?!” I didn’t. I am mellowing in my old age.


Of course, the jubilee quiz was only the starter course. We went home for a couple of hours after a surprisingly good buffet, then returned for the usual Thursday quiz in the evening. It was my daughter Jess’ quiz, as you may recall I mentioned yesterday. Now, I hadn’t been expecting to win any prizes for the jubilee quiz earlier, but there were actually medals for all of the team. So I suggested that we all wear our medals to see what Adam would say. Adam didn’t play in the jubilee quiz – it’s fair to say that he is not a great monarchist. Well, all I can say is that he didn’t bat an eyelid, didn’t mention the medals, and in the end we gave it up as a bad job.

So to the quiz. Now, if you’re thinking – you’re not going to say anything bad about a quiz when your family do it, well you’re right. I wouldn’t. But on the same hand, I’m won’t offer praise if it isn’t deserved either. And I have to say, that both Jess and Dan have done the quiz twice now, and it’s impressive the way they’re picking up what I think of as the best ways to put a set of connections together. Let me give you may favourite connection that Jess used last night by way of a demonstration.

1)   What was the original name of the band Queen?

2)   Who played Tony Stark/Iron Man in the MCU film franchise?

3)   Which word was originally used in the Roman Republic for an officially temporarily invested with absolute power, in time of war for example?

4)   What is the connection between your last three answers?


1)   Smile

2)   Robert Downey Junior

3)   Dictator

4)   Charlie Chaplin

What I liked about this wasn’t just that all of the answers were clear cut, allowing for no other possibility. It wasn’t just the fact that the connection wasn’t immediately obvious, in the way that -all three answers can follow the word (insert appropriate word) – can be very obvious. But it was well gettable, even if you didn’t know that Chaplin composed the song “Smile”. It’s a good, well thought out connection.

I say this, because there are far more experienced setters than Jess and Dan, who – and I appreciate that this is all in the eye of the beholder and the ear of the behearer – who just aren’t very good at putting connections together despite having done it for years. No names. No pack drill, just in case they read the blog. I’ve no wish to upset them.

Answer of the night for our team last night was on a connection as well, and it was Fran who had it. Fran is Adam’s fiancĂ©e. She only comes from time to time to the rugby club, but she’s brilliant in the film quizzes in the Gwyn Hall. I reckon she and Adam could win it on their own most of the time – and that’s no disrespect intended to Dan and Jess because I’m the lightweight in that particular quiz. Coming back to last night, Jess asked this set:-

1)   Which humanitarian society or organisation was founded in the UK on fourth of August 1870?

2)   What name is given to a type of armour forged from interlinked metal rings?

3)   In which 1935 film does Fred Astaire play Jerry Travers, a dancer who comes to London to star in a show?

I’ll tell you the answers. We had chain mail straightaway and were giving consideration to the British Red Cross when Fran spotted that the connection was sewing stitches. Bingo. Mind you, considering that we knew this, it took ages for me to link Top Hat to top stitch.

I’ll be honest, the quiz last night was right up my street. Of course, the question I remember most is the one I got wrong. The question was – where is the world’s largest volcano? Now, I took this to mean – which is the world’s tallest or highest volcano, which I knew is Ojos del Salado in the Andes on the border between Argentina and Chile. However, the largest volcano is Mauna Loa, on Hawaii. D’oh!

Well, there we are, two quizzes in one day, and we’re all still in one piece. Mind you, there was some pretty bad manners from one of the other teams last night, which I didn’t find out about until after the quiz was over. Which brings us back to cheating in a roundabout way. Apparently a couple of the ladies in one of the other teams – and yes, we are back in ‘nice old dear’ territory here, were moaning like hell because they thought Jess was going too fast reading out her questions. After each round Jess made a point of asking if anyone would like any questions repeated, and they never said a word – just went on moaning. We reckoned that they were upset because Jess was not giving them time to google answer on their phone. They do it every week – Jess watched them do it this week, Dan watched them do it last week. Usually they score really well during the first round or two, then either they stop using their phones or the batteries run down, but whatever the case, by the end of round 8, without wanting to be horrible, they’re usually not even close to the lead.

Look, nobody likes to moan at a quiz more than I do. . . er. . . did. As I said, I am mellowing as I get older. But come on! If you think the QM is going too fast, then NICELY say – could you slow down a little bit please? Especially considering that neither of the old dears involved has ever volunteered to compile a quiz or act as QM. Not being funny, ladies, but if you’re not prepared to have a go for yourself, then don’t criticise those who are public spirited enough to do so. Put up and shut up.

Thursday, 2 June 2022

Jubilee and Afternoon Tea

 The story so far. Last August I returned to active quizzing after meeting one of the regulars in the quiz in the Rugby Club. For the rest of 2021 this just meant attending the one quiz in the rugby club on a Thursday night. I began writing in the blog again, and reviewing UC and Mastermind. I'd missed the first few first round heats in UC, but I reviewed all of the rest of the series, and I reviewed the whole series of Mastermind.

Then, a fortnight ago, I ended up playing in three quizzes on three consecutive nights. Alright, none of them was more than 20 minutes away from the house, but even so, it was quite a milestone for me. 

So, now today, I have the prospect of playing in two quizzes on the same day. Both are in the rugby club. The first is a special bank holiday platinum jubilee quiz, in aid of charity. For £10 we gate the quiz, and afternoon tea, Good enough. Then this evening, it's the weekly quiz. Thereby hangs a tale. In my last post I explained that last week's quiz saw my son in law Dan take his second turn at being question master. Very good it was too, and everyone enjoyed it. Well, I say everyone. There was a minor incident. You see Dan used the connection that all of the answers in the last round were linked to Roald Dahl novels in one way or another. The thing is, his wife, my youngest daughter Jess, is taking her second turn at being question master today. She'd already compiled her quiz by last Thursday. Now, Jess and Dan do not tell each other what is going in their quizzes - it stands to reason otherwise they wouldn't be able to play in each other's quizzes, would they? So, it turned out that Jess has also used connections in her quiz. One of which . . . is Roald Dahl. 

Pure coincidence, and just one of those things. Still, it has meant that she has had to come up with another connection since. 

This is the kind of coincidence that is actually more common than you might think. I don't often use in the news questions when I'm compiling for the club any more, but the time was when it was practically de riguer to include an in the news question in each round. Brian and I both did it, and it was quite common to find that he'd used 3 or  of the questions I was planning to use in the week after, or vice versa. It wasn't just in the news questions either. I mean, if you think about it, if something strikes you as a good question, then chances are someone else will have the same opinion.