Saturday, 26 September 2009

Questions of the week

Every now and then you'll go to a quiz and hear a question that will set you off on a train of thought, part of which will inevitably be "What the hell is he asking this for ? ". In this week's quiz in the Aberavon Rugby Club there was a set of no less than 8 of them.

The question master for the evening, Brian, is one of the founders of the quiz, and the acknowledged organiser, arbiter, and all round good egg. In each one of the eight rounds one of the questions was,
" A leading motor insurance company ( he probably said which one, but I can't remember which it was ) has announced a list of the three most popular christian names among people who buy particular models of car. So, the Renault Megane is most popular with women named ( these are just examples, I can't remember which the ones he gave were ) Hayley, Sophie and which other name beginning with J ? "
That's just an example off the top of my head, and the model and names are probably wrong.

As I said, there was one of these in each round, making up a total of 8. For the record we got two of them through pure blind luck - and I'm sure all of the other teams were about the same. Therefore it probably had no huge bearing on the outcome of the quiz. It did set me thinking, though. Firstly, who would ever think to do this kind of research to collate all the data to come up with this ? Secondly, why ? Thirdly, when you've produced this useless piece of information, why send it helpless into an uncaring world ? ! I just find it interesting that the people working for the insurers had a) the time, and b) the inclination to even think of coming up with this information in the first place.

That set of questions aside, it was always a quiz where bread and butter was going to win against brilliance - that is you were more likely to lose by failing to get answers you should know, than by coming up with answers to really obscure questions from nowhere. I must admit that one question did lead to a bout of post mortem googling when I got home. It went something like this,
"The plant thrift featured on the tails side of which pre-decimal british coin from 1937 until production of the coin ceased in 1967 ? "
The percentage answer to a pre decimal coinage question is
The threepenny bit
and in this case that was the answer given. The only problem was that I distinctly remember being given my very first pocket money as a nipper in the shape of two threepenny bits. Both of these had a portcullis design on the tails side, the precursor of the design on the current one penny piece. So I argued, we changed the answer, and duly lost the point. Googling proved that yes, thrift did feature on the coin, but it was replaced with the portcullis in 1953.

Finally, this multiple question from the Duke of Wellington quiz last Tuesday.
Between the end of 1986, and the end of 2002, 86 successful space shuttle missions were carried out by 4 space shuttle vehicles. Name them for a point each.
Good question. 1986 saw the Challenger disaster, in which the space shuttle Challenger blew up shortly after take off. The other three original working space shuttle vehicles were Columbia, Atlantis and Discovery. I had an inkling in my head that Challenger had been replaced by one built pretty much from spare parts called Endeavour. Which proved to be the correct answer.
Why I mention the question is that the team we were marking had
down as one of the answers. Which, if you don't know Endeavour, is actually a pretty decent shout. Enterprise did and does exist. It was actually the first shuttle ever to be built. Originally it was going to be called Constitution, but a huge campaign ensured that it was named after the USS Enterprise from Star Trek. Ironically though, being the first it would never go into space. It was only ever built for flight tests in Earth atmosphere - readers old enough may remember it being launched off the back of a jumbo jet - and never had engines or a heat shield. After the Challenger disaster NASA considered refitting it for space, but the cost would have been considerably more than building Endeavour out of spare parts. Now it is on display at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum


LisaH said...

If 2 people tie for the last repechage place we were told that the one with the higest audition score would go through! Also people have implied that to get a repechage place you have to finish second in your heat but I didn't see that in the rules....

Londinius said...

Hi Lisa

Ah, I see ! I suppose that using the audition scores is probably as far a way of doing it as any, especially if everyone was asked the same set of audition questions.

I'm fairly sure that throughout the series John has said that the six spots go to the six highest scoring runners-up, which I take to mean second place in the heats. Time will tell.