Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Letter To Santa

What Christmas Gifts would you buy for the Discerning Quizzer ?

Or for the undiscerning quizzer, for that matter. Have you noticed how discriminated against we are as a group , when it comes to Christmas ? Perhaps you’ve never looked at it this way before, but consider this. If you are a dedicated football fan, then there’s a whole range of branded merchandise available for every team in the football League.There’s equipment. There’s DVDs. Table football. So lets forget football, then. If you’re a golfer, for the sake of argument, then your nearest and dearest are spoilt for choice, from your billionaire uncle who can buy you an electric buggy, down to the poor relations who can buy you something to scrub your balls . Boom boom – I’m here all week, ladies and gents.
At the risk of labouring the point, though, it just seems to me that with most other hobby obsessions, it does make you an easy person to buy presents for. Not so quizzers. What it boils down to is a choice between : -


I don’t want to be accused of being someone who automatically rubbishes new quiz books without giving them a fair crack of the whip. I don’t actually think that the vast majority of quiz books out there are bad as such. However they’re not good. The fact is that the majority of them are so desperately samey. If quizzes are one of the pastimes that you are most interested in, then the majority of these just won’t do, because they will be full of questions you have heard hundreds of times before. Alright for a social pub quiz, but not the sort of thing to prevent you from dozing off in front of the Queen’s speech.

I do have one new book recommendation. Its not a quiz book as such, but an invaluable and enjoyable quiz resource. In October, Trevor Montague’s
“A to Z of Britain and Ireland : (Almost) Everything You Ever Needed to Know About the History and Heritage of these Islands(A to Z series ) “
was published, and it’s a belter. You know that anything that Trevor writes is going to be thoroughly researched, and written with the quizzer in mind. What I really like about this is that it’s a damn good read in its own right. You don’t have to use it just as a reference. I found that I was browsing it for several hours at a time. The biggest compliment that I can give it is that its as good as Trevor’s A- Z of Almost Everything, and A – Z of Sport.

Perhaps you’re looking for a good quiz book. My best advice is to wait until Olav Bjortomt’s eagerly awaited book is published. Having had a sneak preview I can confidently say that this is going to be an absolute corker. Still, if you can’t wait, then I can point you towards a few books which I have praised in this blog before, all of which are easily available second hand, through Amazon Used and New. I can heartily recommend : -

Magnus Magnusson’s Quiz Book
Magnus Magnusson’s Family Quiz Book
The Prince of Wales Quiz Book
Bamber Gascoigne’s Universally Challenging Quiz Book
Jeremy Beadle’s Miscellany

All of these are several cuts above the average, and will ask you questions that will test you, and more than that, will interest you.

Other Stuff

Yes, other stuff. Do stop me if I’m getting too technical. Interactive DVDs then. If you enter a search on Amazon for quiz DVDs then you’ll get a list of over 100. I can’t say that the vast majority of them light my candle. Most of them are either specialist music, TV or film games, or versions of TV game shows, or DVD versions of middle of the road quiz books. By this I mean the kind of book that calls itself “The Best / Biggest/ Hardest quiz book ever, when it clearly isn’t. Basically, if you’re more of an Entertainment or Sports quizzer then an all rounder, then this is the kind of thing that you might actually like. The talkSPORT DVD was enjoyable enough to play, and I’m sure some of the film quizzes out there on DVD are alright.

Interactive DVDs form the main bulk of the quiz games out there. Time was when you could buy any number of board based games which came in on the coattails of Trivial Pursuit. All of these that I ever played suffered from the same fundamental flaw as the British version of Trivial Pursuit – in my opinion the questions were desperately uneven, and many of them were crap.

However, if your finances can afford it, then I do have one recommendation to make. If you – or your kids – have a Playstation 2, or a Playstation 3, then there is a game for it called Buzz, which I can almost guarantee will get your juices flowing. Buzz is a game for up to 4 players. Each of you has a handheld buzzer – hence the name, geddit! – which has a red button on top, and 4 colour coded buttons underneath, with which you can answer the multiple questions. Basically each game is a quiz show in your own living room. When the original game came out you were pretty limited to entertainment categories, but now you can get far more versions. Be warned, though. For a quizzer the game is addictive.

Gifts that Money Can’t Buy

An open letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa

Its me, Dave. As you know, I’ve been a good boy all year – well, alright , most of it. I wouldn’t normally bother you, but there are a few things that I’d really like for Christmas which I’m afraid my nearest and dearest won’t be able to buy for me. So I’m asking you , would you bring me : -

1) The Return of 15 to 1

Yes, the return of 15 to 1 to television. Since it left our screens some 6 or 7 years ago there really has been nothing to touch it. 15 to 1 was the quizzer’s quiz, and it’s a matter of regret that I never applied to go on it. This makes it one of two gaping holes in my quiz CV, the other being University Challenge. Alas, the success of “Deal or No Deal” means that Channel 4, at least, won’t be bringing it back any time soon.

2) The Revival of the quiz Leagues in Swansea

Its only since I stopped playing League quizzes that I realised how much I love it. My friends in Swansea tell me that the League is still going, but there’s only a relatively small number of teams involved, which is a real shame. As I said earlier in the year, I’d love to play regularly for any team in the Bridgend League, although I guess that guesting for a team for a couple of games is a non starter after what happened last year. If a team asked me , on the proviso that I’d have to be able to commit to playing for them for the whole season, I think that in all probability I’d agree like a shot.

3) BBC schedulers to realise that they have a little gem in Mastermind

Self explanatory, Santa, I should think. Just get them to leave it alone, and let the whole series go out on the same day, and the same time, without breaks until its over.

4) For there to be a 4th series of Only Connect, and for the filming to take place on a day that I can manage to make it.

Yes, Santa, I know that only 2 series have been shown on TV so far, but they are in the process of making a 3rd. Unfortunately my team just could not make it on the day which was available for filming, and so we had to give up on our application. Such a shame.

I will understand if you can’t manage to give me any of this – after all you only specialise in miracles. Still, do your best, eh ?



PS – we’ve opened up the fireplace this year, so don’t forget your asbestos underwear when you come down the chimney.


Rach Cherryade said...

We always get bought pop quiz games by well-meaning relatives who know we're very involved with music but haven't quite worked out that this isn't the kind of music usually covered by pop quizzes, I think we must have nearly every pop quiz released in recent years, I'm expecting a deluge of quiz-inspired gifts this year with all the UC goings-on!

Oh, I have some Christmas quiz questions for you if they might be of any use, I compiled them for a quiz last year, you've probably seen all of them but I can send them over in case any might be of use! Where should I send them?

Londinius said...

Hi Rachel,

Can you email them to me at

Thanks a lot