Quizzing has brought me a number of good things in the last two decades, but I would have to say that the best thing it has brought me has been some wonderful friends. If you’re a regular you may recall me mentioning my dear friend, the late Allan Coombs on more than one occasion. Allan used to say that the best question you can ask is the one which makes people go “D’oh! I should have known that!’ when you give the answer. I can certainly see where he was coming from with that. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s the best kind of question you can BE asked, though. I will admit that I’m extremely fond of being asked the kind of question where you don’t actually know the answer, but you can use what you do know to help you work out what you don’t.
Yes, I am in danger of rhapsodizing over another win in the club last night. Well, that’s a danger I am willing to face. We’ve been going through a good patch at the club this year, but as they say, form is just temporary. Brian’s quiz last night was another cracker, a testing quiz in many ways, and absolutely none the worse for that. There were a couple of questions where I was pleased with myself for dredging up the answers. Before I get to them, though, there was this question -
Where was world champion welterweight boxer José Napoles born?
I should probably explain that while I can in no rational way defend it, boxing is one of my favourite sports, and I have read voraciously on the subject, and still watch it whenever I can. So often when I hear the words ‘the next one is on boxing’ then I think – ho hum, here we go. I’ll tell you why. You always hope on a banker subject that it’s going to be a real stinker, because it could well be points in the bank for you, but nothing for anybody else. But most of the time, certainly when it comes to boxing, the questions aren’t going to be at specialist level, and have to be easy enough to give non-fans a shot at an answer. Now at least with this question, you had to know a bit about José Napoles, who, despite being a great, great boxer from the 70s, is certainly not as high up in the general consciousness as the following Leonard – Duran – Hearns and Hagler era, and certainly nowhere near as high up as the heavyweights who were contemporaneous with him. Then even if you do know about Napoles, you have to know that although he fought out of Mexico, he was in fact born in Cuba. Nice question.
Back to the ‘memory dredgers’. There were these two -
Which was the world’s first atomic powered surface ship?
Now, I’m sure that the majority of readers will have given the answer straightaway, but we were really struggling, until I had a mental flashback of the name ‘Lenin’ from a page in, I think, the Pears Quiz Companion. Correct answer. The other was,
Which TV serial from 1985, scripted by Troy Kennedy Martin, featured Yorkshire detective Ronald Craven?
Had Brian given a little more information – eg – which starred Bob Peck and Joe Don Baker – or even that it featured a character called something like Darius Jedberg (Baker’s character) - or that the theme was written by Eric Clapton – or that it was remade as a film with Mel Gibson in 2010 - then I’d probably have had it a little quicker. As it was, the only thing which came to mind from the mid-80s was Edge of Darkness. Correct.
A couple of good ‘dredgers’ like this will always put me in a good mood. But then to top off the evening, we had this one, which is the sort of question to which I was referring earlier.
In German football, what is called an Elfmeter?
For all I know this is a dead easy question which has been doing the rounds for a while, but I have certainly not heard it before. I didn’t know, and German is not one of my languages, but I know enough of the absolute basics to know that elf is German for 11. So essentially we have something called an 11-metre. The only thing that occurred which was likely to be called an ‘eleven metre’ was a penalty kick. Correct.
Well, it’s back from the sublime to the ridiculous next week, since it’s my turn to be QM again. Again, if you’re a regular you may recall me mentioning the annual MayDay in Melincryddan Quiz. This is the annual quiz which made me a born again quizzer in 1995. I won’t bore you with the details all over again, but suffice it to say that it is an event which is dear to my heart, not least because the trophy was renamed the David Clark Mastermind 2007 Trophy, and I’ve been question master for the last three or four years, and have already been ‘booked’ for 2015. While I’m on the subject, many congratulations to Jan Dacey, Sian Thomas and all the rest of the winning team who maintained a very high score throughout all the rounds and won going away from the field. Brian did ask whether I was going to recycle this quiz in the club next week, but no, I’m not going to recycle it – different quizzes, different formats, different clientele – I’m sure you know what I mean.
Actually I’ll tell you another thing I won’t be doing in the quiz on Thursday. I was having a chat with a quiz mate a couple of days ago, and we were talking about those questions which are impossible to answer the way that they are worded. For example – which is the world’s largest snake? Alright, we all know that the question master is going to give the answer – the anaconda – and it’s not necessarily wrong. But it’s not necessarily right, either. For the anaconda, as you know, is the heaviest snake. The reticulated python, though, is the longest. Which did he mean? Probably the heaviest. . . only you can’t be absolutely certain, can you?
So as I say, we were discussing such things, and one of us – I can’t remember who – suggested trying to write a whole quiz made up entirely of such questions. The idea isn’t without its appeal. It would certainly be a novel way of trying to put a quiz together for the club. But there’s the rub. When you put together a quiz for the club, you’re doing it to give people an evening’s entertainment – not to show off how clever you are (or otherwise), and not for your own amusement. So that one has been put on the back burner for now.