Friday, 25 April 2014

A Good Pair of Connections

There’s something reassuring about going to the Thursday night quiz in the club when Brian is the question master. He’s such a good one that you just know that you haven’t got to worry that he’s going to make some of the simple and occasionally ridiculous errors that other question masters can make, and he isn’t going to pack a quiz with obscure and boring questions about his own areas of interest. No, Brian is a terrific question master, and he always produces a good quiz. However, sometimes, well, sometimes he will put together a quiz which has something a bit extra – an x-factor if you like. I felt that last night’s was one of them.

Yeah. Alright, my team did win. Would that I were a nice enough person to say that this wouldn’t make the slightest difference to my enjoyment of a quiz. But I can’t pretend that it doesn’t matter. There we are, that’s me and I’m stuck with it I suppose. Last night’s quiz was a connections quiz. I’ve written about these before, and I’m sure that you know what I’m talking about. I take a certain amount of pride from having been the QM who introduced the format to the rugby club quiz 19 years ago. I didn’t invent it, mind you, I nicked it from Geoff Evans in Neath, and he probably had it from somewhere else. There’s nothing new under the sun, and there’s nothing wrong with using a good idea you’ve heard from somewhere else, as long as you don’t try to pass it off as your own invention. Basically, in its classic form, you ask three seemingly unconnected questions, and then a fourth question which asks what the connection between the previous three answers is. Alright, sometimes you can use four answers, or five, and when I do one I like to end with a whole round connection, but as I say, three is the magic number normally. Brian asked two particularly interesting connections last night, and I would like to share them with you.

1) Who won the Tour de France in 1988, despite what seemed to be a positive test for a banned substance?
2) Which English philosopher and political theorist is best known for his work ‘Leviathan’?
3) Which rapper’s real name was Stanley Kirk Burrell?

Now, the 2nd and the 3rd of these questions really aren’t that difficult for a quiz regular, and being a long term devotee of the Tour de France the first posed no problems for my team either. So, the answers were: -
1) Pedro Delgado
2) Thomas Hobbes
3) M.C.Hammer
So far, so good. Now, my feeling is that in most cases, if you get all three parts to a connection set, then the connection should be fairly obvious. Well, we looked, and looked, and were just about to put the paper in with the connection unsolved, when it finally came. The first answer was the key for me. I was sure it was more likely to be Delgado which connected, than Pedr0. In which case, well, you had tennis player Jamie Delgado, which looked unlikely. Alternatively there was the late, great Roger Delgado. Roger Delgado played The Master to Jon Pertwee’s Doctor. Lightbulb moment. Jack Hobbs was nicknamed The Master – and as for M.C.Hammer – well, M.C. is derived from Master of ceremonies. Cue relief, and a full house of points for the round.

It was a terrific connection set, because it demanded a little more brain work from you once you had the constituent parts. There was another set of a similar nature which sadly we didn’t work out. See how you fare with this one: -

1) The Tsar Kolokol is the largest what in the world?
2) The Park Royal Brewery in West London was owned and operated by which company until they centralized their operations in Dublin in 2005?
3) Which song begins with the lines – Listen to the ground/ There is music all around/ there is something goin’ down and I can feel it ?

Once again, nothing too extremely difficult. OK, so Park Royal is partly in the London Borough of Ealing, which is my home town, but even if it wasn’t the mention of Dublin in the question is a pretty good clue. So we had: -

1) Bell
2) Guinness
3) Night Fever by the Bee Gees

If the answer hasn’t occurred to you straightaway, give yourself a moment or two to think about it before you read the answer.

Ok – have you got it? As I said, we didn’t. It works like this: - Martin BELL was nicknamed The Man in the White Suit – Alec GUINNESS played The Man in the White Suit in a fantastic Ealing (Ealing again!) comedy, and in Saturday NIGHT FEVER, John Travolta was a man in a white suit.
Sometimes when we get asked for connections and we can’t see them I can think that they’re unfair because they need a huge amount of mental agility to be able to twist the three answers into the necessary contortions to make the required link. Not so this one. However we just couldn’t run along the rails of the necessary train of thought. We did consider that Guinness might link with Alec Guinness, but didn’t pursue it further than that.

It’s a funny thing that in last night’s quiz, if you include the Man in the White Suit as one, there were actually three questions connected with the London Borough of Ealing. The Park Royal and Ealing comedy ones I’ve already mentioned, but the other one was actually a news question I noted down in last weekend’s set, about the M and M hairdressers in South Ealing. Which is not necessarily as great a coincidence as the quiz I attended in 2007, in which there were questions about Henry Ford – George IV and London Bridge – all in the same 10 question round, and all of which were specialist subjects for me in Mastermind. The series had already been recorded at the time, but not yet broadcast. Weird.

Going back to Brian’s quiz, as I say, on a scale of 1 to 10 it was an 11. However it does confront me with a problem. It’s my turn as QM next week, and I have to follow that. I’m using the connections format, but with a twist, and you never know, it could well be lead balloon time. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Unknown said...

Isn't it Jack Hobbs (no 'e')?

Londinius said...

Hi WJ - yes, of course. although Thomas was with an e I think. I'll correct the post now.

Ben Dutton said...

Had the 1st connection, not the second (and I love the Ealing comedies too!). Very rarely get to use connections in my quizzes as the crowd don't like them but I dream of doing a round of mini connections which, when you have the answers, form a new connection all of their own.

Londinius said...

Hi Ben
That would be right up my street. But as you say, the average punter in the street- or in the pub - wouldn't probably go for it. But yes, that is certainly an idea to conjure with for a future quiz. said...

I used to attend a lovely quiz in a Shefield pub called Fagan's.

It was always 20 questions, all with a link, or theme to them. In one quiz, the answers to the apparently unrelated questions all contained the title of a Radio 4 programme, in some way. My team mates spotted the connection, so Phil was on the ball when the question master reached the last question. The QM just shrugged, and said 'I'm afraid I haven't written anything for number 20'. The answer, of course, was "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue".

Londinius said...

Hi Gillian

I love that. Mind you, it's the sort of thing which might get a question master lynched. Off the point completely, I think the closest I have ever seen a question master come to being lynched was in the Port Talbot Railway club, not long after I started in the late 80s. He asked something along the lines of, "In the 1950s and 60s, who played football for Scotland and cricket for England?" Cue much scratching of heads, and random guesses until he gave the answer, "Denis Law and Freddie Trueman". Mind you - he was also the one who asked, "Which British Summer Olympic Gold medallist exposed his genitalia durng the presentation ceremony?" - to which the answer was, of course, Foxhunter.