Saturday, 29 July 2017

University Challenge Round One - Heat One

Round One – Heat One - Edinburgh v. Ulster

OK, dearly beloved. As I promised, here’s the review of the first heat of the series.

The first of 28 teams this series to be introduced in the first round were Edinburgh, represented by John Heaton-Armstrong, Stanley Wang, Philippa Stone and their captain, Innis Carson. Their opponents were Ulster, who were Cathal McDaid, Kate Ritchie, Matthew Milliken and their own skipper, Ian Jack. Incidentally, JP announced Ulster as the most senior team in this year’s competition, with an average age of 50. One always thinks that an older team like this should have a built-in advantage, although in practice this does not seem to be the case. Time would tell in this contest.

Both teams rather sat on their buzzers for the first question, which was a list of creatures with largest wingspans for their kind, followed by Howard Hughes Spruce Goose. It was skipper Ian Jack who took first blood for Ulster. 2 bonuses on travel guides seemed a decent return from their first visit to the table. Again, both teams gave ample though to the five letter greek prefix commonly used in relation to the internet before Ian Jack took his second in a row with cyber. A set of bonuses on Shakespearean quotations about fate and destiny were by no means gimmes, but they might have managed two rather than the one they did. Now, with the next question on maths it was well worth waiting, as the details poured on – French scientist – contemporary of Lavoisier – and then the clincher – an equilibrium point in astronomy is named after him. LAGRANGE! – shouted I, and immediately commenced my lap of honour before Stanley Wang buzzed in with the same. 2 bonuses on Britain and Australia were taken – had they had a sports specialist on the team they might have had a full house. The first interruption of the contest came with the next starter as John Heaton-Armstrong recognised a description of Afghanistan. Biochemistry both offered and delivered nothing for me as you might have guessed, but Edinburgh also failed to add to their score. The picture starter showed a map of a famous voyage of the 1830s. All the teams had to do was give the name of either of the most famous members of the expedition. It took a couple of moment’s though before Ian Jack offered Charles Darwin, correctly. They took two bonuses, and I’ll be honest, I didn’t get the first one myself either. This gave Ulster a small lead of 55 – 30 at the 10 minute mark.

I’d say Stanley Wang came in too fast for the Bibblical feast in the next starter. Had he waited and heard ‘occasion of first miracle’ he wouldn’t have offered the Last Supper, and may well have given Ulster’s correct answer of the wedding at Cana.Works supposedly written in prison began with the two old chestnuts – Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, followed by Malory’s Morte D’Arthur – both of which Ulster missed. I proclaimed that Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress would complete the trinity, but I was wrong, as the last was clearly De Profundis by Oscar Wilde, and that was the bonus that Ulster managed to get. Borth John Heaton-Armstrong and I guessed that the Sundarbans relate to the river Ganges. Edinburgh certainly knew their stuff on Geography, taking a full house on states of Mexico. The next starter saw Stanley Wang correctly identify the term parity. Ironically, one bonus on contemporary poets put them just 5 points away from parity with Ulster on the score board. For the music starter we had the second version of the Blackadder theme, and Ian Jack identified it as the work of Howard Goodall. Three more Howard Goodall TV themes brought an easy full house, and stretched the lead to 30 points. Matthew Milliken came in too early for the next starter. Describing a bush named after a long necked long legged bird, he buzzed in with the bird – crane. It fell to Stanley Wang to supply the name of the bush – cranberry. Animals whose common name closely resembles their scientific names – eg Gorilla gorilla – gave them 10 points, which, together with the Ulster penalty brought them back to 5 points behind. Incidentally, there is only one creature whose scientific name is exactly the same as its common English name. No? It’s boa constrictor. Thanks Q.I. A great early buzz from John Heaton-Armstrong identified the Fourier prediction about the seas turning into pink lemonade. Somehow I think he might have been drinking something rather stronger when he came up with that prediction. This gave Edinburgh the lead, which they extended through a fine full house, mainly due to skipper Innis Carson. Thus inspired, Ulster skipper Ian Jack hit back with an early buzz of his own to identify a definition of the term isotonic. Bonuses on US Nobel laureate Jodie Williams (didn’t she have a couple of hits in the late 80s?) brought Ulster a full house and ensured that they had a lead at just past the 20 minute mark, albeit a slim one, at 115 – 110.

A good buzz from John Heaton-Armstrong identified the word sycophant. Bonuses on the Sykes family, which unaccountably didn’t mention Eric, brought a single bonus. So to the second picture starter. Matthew Milliken won the battle to identify Yul Brynner, then comedically ran his hand over his own hairless pate. 3 more actors who won Tonys and Oscars for playing the same role on stage and screen saw them fail to identify Joel Gray – best known of course for being Baby’s real life father from “Dirty Dancing” – misidentify Paul Schofield but get Rex Harrison to take the narrowest of leads again. Edinburgh’s buzzmeister, John Heaton-Armstrong, won the race to identify the German province of East Prussia. One bonus on the films of Martin Scorsese gave them back a lead of 10. Here’s a tip. If you’re asked about a great Victorian novel, and you don’t recognise the names or plot, then your best bet is to say “Middlemarch”. I did, so did Kate Ritchie, and we were both right. Bonuses on words containing the latin word ergo brought ten points, which was the extent of their lead. This had turned into an absorbingly nip and tuck contest, with both teams inflicting body blows like two heavyweights who are into the last 5 rounds, and know that they need to catch the eyes of the judges, because their bout will end in a decision. Now, I’m sorry, but knowing under which King the South Sea Bubble burst is a bit of an old quiz chestnut, and one of the teams should have had it. Almost inevitably it was Edinburgh, in the shape of Innis Carson, who correctly answered Tacchycardia for the next starter. A full house on the highest mountains of continents based on their geographical coordinates left Ulster needing a two bonuses on the next starter and hardly any time to do it. They got th starter to be fair, with Matthew Milliken recognising a quotation in Alice through the Looking Glass about the poem Jabberwocky. That, however was that, as the gong went leaving Ulster trailing by 5 points. The final score was 165 – 160. Congratulations to Edinburgh, but also to Ulster, who have an excellent chance of a repechage slot with that score. Great opening to the series. 

Jeremy Paxman Watch

It was during the contemporary poetry bonuses that we had the first ‘come on!’ of the series. First of many, I hope.

As Matthew Milliken made his gesture, and reaped its award of laughter, JP milked the last dregs from that particular bovine, saying, “No-one is saying anything.” 

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

Cranberry takes its name from crane.

University Challenge 2018: Round One - Heat two

There's me blethering on about Only Connect and Mastermind, totally oblivious to the fact that UC restarted a couple of weeks ago! Apologies to the first 4 teams involved, and I will review the first match when I can.

Meanwhile: - 

Trinity College Cambridge v. Bristol

Trinity were represented by Matthew Kingston, Owen Petrie, Rahu Dev  and their skipper, Maya Bear. Especial mention for Rahu Dev whose from Chiswick where I was born 53 years ago.  Bristol’s team were Oliver Bowes, Kirsty Biggs, Tom Hewett and captain Sam Hosegood.

First blood then fell to Tom Hewett of Bristol, who, after due consideration, knew that the natural phenomenon in the title of a DH Lawrence novel was the rainbow. I always thought when I studied English that DH Lawrence only wrote one and two thirds good novels, being “Sons and Lovers” and the first two thirds of “The Rainbow”. Never had the guts to say so in my finals, mind you. Bonuses on things connected with the number 1000 saw Bristol fail to take any of a very gettable set. No, really and truly, if you hear a criticism of slavery ascribed to a British MP, then you slam the buzzer and go for William Wilberforce. Oliver Bowes zagged with Pitt the Younger – coincidentally subject of a William Hague biography, as was Wilberforce, allowing Rahu Dev to zag with the right answer. Bonuses on dogs in children’s literature brought two bonuses, and the lead. Kirsty Biggs was first in to say that B F Goodrich patented a conveyor belt in the form of a Mobius strip. That I’d like to see. Physics bonuses saw captain Sam Hosegood score with a long punt guess on the first, but the other two went begging. The Bristol skipper was very quickly in to say that Holden Caulfield mentions David Copperfield in the opening of The Catcher in the Rye. Bonuses on Hanif Mohammad brought both of us just the one bonus, knowing his world record first class score was eventually eclipsed by Brian Lara. Then we came to the first picture starter, and we saw the entrance to a public lavatory with the words Dynion and Merched. Welsh people and those in Wales such as myself yelled out “Welsh!”, and Owen Petrie was very quickly in with the correct answer. More of the same saw Trinity take 1. Thus right on the cusp of the 10 minute mark we had a tied game, both sides 35 apiece. However Bristol seemed at this point to have the advantage on the buzzer, if not on the bonuses. 

A very good early buzz from Oliver Bowes saw him identify the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from their weapons – ooh, Matron. Potatoes in art did them no favours – they might well have been expected to get Van Gogh’s Potato Eaters at least. I have no idea how I knew that Osmium and Rhodium are in the platinum group, but that didn’t stop me from making the traditional lap of honour around the living room. Sam Hosegood correctly had Iridium and Palladium. Films about writer’s block again saw Bristol fail to make the most of a set of bonuses, taking none of a tricky set. At this point they were comfortably beating Trinity to the buzzer, yet failing to take anything like a meaningful lead. A lead which was cut by 15 when Matthew Kingston correctly identified Walter Tevis’ story, “The Man Who Fell to Earth”. Bonuses on the Lloyd George coalition government saw the first full house of the competition, and actually gave Trinity the lead. This brought us to the music starter, and Oliver Bowes was very quickly in to identify a Mozart horn concerto. He knew his music, did Mr. Bowes, for he quickly rattled off a full house of bonuses. Nobody got the next starter, about events of the 1070s. Now, I didn’t know that Mintaka, Alnilam and Almitak are the stars in Orion’s Belt, but when Astronomical feature was mentioned I soon guessed it. As did Sam Hosegood. Kate Greenaway provided a second consecutive full house, and one sensed that Bristol had decided to stop messing about and get on with the job of winning the contest. The increasingly impressive Bristol skipper knew that Rey, or Rhagae was a former name of Tehran. Biology saw Bristol return to bad old ways. The sphygmomanometer is an old quiz chestnut, and maybe they might have known myo- as a prefix referring to muscles. Well there we are. Made little difference considering that Sam Hosegood was in very quickly for the next starter, knowing HDL stands for High Density Lipoproteins. How could I forget? That old favourite King Zog of Albania made his first appearance in this series in the next set of bonuses. I was pleased with myself for digging up Skanderbeg (not literally. That would be gross.) I had a full house, Bristol took one, and just approaching the 20 minute mark they had put on 70 unanswered points, to lead by 125 – 60. 

Seemingly in cruise control now, Bristol’s Tom Hewett recognised a quotation about the Impressionists – I was a big fan of Mike Yarwood, myself. Cosmology saw me getting annoyed with myself for not quite dragging up the name of Lemaitre. The bonuses gave little to any of us. The second picture starter showed us a Gillray cartoon clearly showing George III and Napoleon Bonaparte. There was a notable pause before Oliver Bowes buzzed in with the correct answer, which led me to wonder whether Trinity were just reeling at this point. More Gillray cartoons followed, of which Bristol managed two. Tom Hewett knew that Autolycus appears in “A Winter’s Tale”, and a set of bonuses on European monarchs in History brought a further 5 points. That made 120 unanswered points, and even though 4 minutes remained it would take a comeback of Lazarus proportions to see Trinity win now. Sam Hosegood answered some Physics thing correctly, and paradoxes gave them a rare full house. Tails well up, and with the scent of victory in their collective nostrils, Bristol forged on with Oliver Bowes recognising that Cuba is contained in the word incubate. Two bonuses on hexagons followed. At last Trinity managed to get a word in edgeways with Owen Petrie identifying Orthoclase Feldspar as being on the Mohs scale of hardness. So was Danny Dyer, once upon a time. Words or names ending in the letter I brought them two bonuses, and took them to the brink of respectability. Nobody knew the Deutscher Bund for the next starter. Rahu Dev gave them a chance of making triple figures, knowing that Gondar is in Ethiopia. Monasteries refused to help much, with a single bonus taking them to 95. A fabulous answer from Sam Hosegood identified Disobedience as the second noun of Paradise Lost, and that ended the competition, with Bristol winning comfortably by 230 – 95. 

Hard lines Trinity. As for Bristol, well it’s difficult to tell much from first round form. Trinity weren’t great buzzers, and I felt Bristol were profligate with bonuses. Nonetheless a score of over 200 has to be taken seriously. Well played.  

Jeremy Paxman Watch 

The great man seemed most amused by the name of the Cerberus like dog in the first Harry Potter book, namely Fluffy.

There was a rather lovely moment when JP decided to add a syllable all of his own invention to the blood pressure measuring device, calling it a sphygmomanoMOmetre. Nice try Jez.

As with most of the last couple of series, there was no real edge to JP’s performance, which is fine, and at least he commiserated with Trinity.  

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week 

By population, Ethiopia is the largest landlocked country in Africa

Friday, 28 July 2017

Mastermind 2017/18 Round One Heat One

Mastermind 2017-18 – Round One – Heat One

Welcome back, Mastermind. I’ve missed you.

It was a recidivist who kicked off this latest series, Only Connect finalist and MM semi finalist Chris Cummins. Recognising him instantly I immediately burdened him with the tag of Clark sofa favourite for the night. After all, he did well enough way back in Gary’s series in 2012, and he’s had 5 years to work on it since. His round on Paul Simon was a very good round, which was almost perfect, but saw him earn the Humphrys’ expression of sympathy for getting the last question of the round wrong. Bearing in mind his ability in GK, the Clark 50p looked to be pretty safe.

Still, you never know and there were three contenders still to enter the lists. Next up was Charis Hughes. AFIK Charis is a Mastermind virgin, and she offered us the feature films of Hayao Miyazaki. Gesundheit. Sorry. Now, the thing about a subject like this one is it’s a huge, literally huge body of work to learn. A quick google search reveals that Miyazaki has made more then 20 films. That’s hours and hours of films, not just to watch, but essentially to learn. Tall order, that, and it puts Charis’ score of 10 into perspective as a good score. However it meant that, in order to win outright, she’d need to be 4 points better than Chris on GK. That’s not even thinking about what the final two contenders might achieve.

In Sarah Stewart’s case, that was quite a bit. Her subject was the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna. Now, I’ll admit, the ill-fated Romanovs in the late 19th and 20th centuries are something I became interested in after reading Tom Mangold’s “The File on the Tsar” in the late 70s, and so I did think I might get a couple of these. Well, I was right, I did get precisely a couple, but apart from these two questions I was out with the washing on this set. So I don’t really think there were many gimmes, which again put Sarah’s score of 11 into context. I had yet to change my opinion about Chris’ chances of winning, but I was enjoying seeing contenders who had prepared well for their SS rounds.

I’m not saying that James Hogg had not prepared for his John Donne round. I don’t know whether he had prepared thoroughly and was undone by nerves or whether he hadn’t prepared, went in on a wing and a prayer, and didn’t do as well as he would have liked. I mention this because, although I only managed 4 on this round myself, it seemed to me that there were questions on some of the poems, at least, which you would know unless either your brain had frozen in the chair, or you hadn’t prepared well enough. Whatever the case, James scored 6, and was out of contention going into the GK.

As for me, well I set my bar for this series on specialist on an aggregate total of 10 from all 4 rounds combined. Hopefully I will beat it before the first round is over. 

To GK then. On reflection, I think James’ specialist round may well have been blighted by nerves, because it certainly seemed to me that his GK was. I somehow doubt that it helped that John drew attention to his modest specialist performance by saying that there was a lot to learn about John Donne. John, I know you’re only trying to help, but in my opinion least said, soonest mended in this case. It just didn’t work for James, and although only 5 passes doesn’t suggest a terrible pass spiral, it looked as if the last half minute was agony for him. He finished with 14. 

Charis had looked happy and pretty confident throughout her SS round, and she maintained her composure throughout her GK round. It’s easy for me to sit here and say this, but if you have a decent general knowledge, and you can keep your head clear during a round, then you can pick off enough low hanging fruit to get a perfectly respectable score, which means you only need a couple of punts or guesses to come in to give you a good score. Charis’ 13 isn’t the highest we’ll see all series, I’m sure, but it was still pretty good, and it meant that Sarah and Chris were going to need double figure rounds to beat her. Job done.

Sarah, to be fair to her, did manage a double figure round, but not quite a good enough one to take her past Charis’ target. She scored 10 to finish with 21. A perfectly respectable score, but she had never looked like getting much more after a rather hesitant first minute. 

So to Chris. What were the chances of him failing to make his way through the Corridor of Doubt? Well, fairly slim to be honest. Think about it – Chris has faced the pressure of the chair before, not to mention his exploits on Only Connect – and as I’ve often said, it is my firm belief that it gets easier to handle the pressure of the chair with each time that you do it. So Chris always looked likely to reach his target, and so he did with a little bit of daylight. Having said that, he only matched Charis’ GK score of 13. Didn’t matter. One point is enough – three is a veritable banquet. 

Well played, and best of luck in the semi finals. 

The Details
Chris Cummins
Paul Simon
Charis Hughes
The Feature Films of Hayao Miyazaki
Sarah Stewart
Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna
James Hogg
John Donne

Mastermind - New Series - BBC Two tonight 8pm

Pretty much what it says on the tin. Again, I didn't realise that the show was back, but I'm very glad that it is. Who will be the successor to Isabelle Heward? No idea - I couldn't even tell you who's taking part this time around. Looking forward to finding out, though.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Only Connect - New Series - Friday 28th July

If you haven't worked it out from the heading, Only Connect's new series begins tomorrow. Looking forward.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Making it easy

I’ve never deliberately tried to ‘scupper’ a team’s chances when I’ve compiled a quiz. For one thing, I would imagine that it’s a far harder thing to do effectively than you might think. For another, though, it goes against the principle which I think should guide you whenever you compile a quiz, You’re not in competition with the teams, no. Any fool can go on the internet and come up with 80 questions which most teams would struggle to answer. What’s the point in that? What you should be trying to do is to produce a quiz which will give as many people as possible an evening’s entertainment. If you stick to this aim, then you’ll have some better quizzes, and some worse quizzes, but by and large you won’t go far wrong. 

I mention this because it was my turn to compile the quiz for the rugby club on Thursday. As it turned out, Thursday was also a red letter day in another way, being the last day of this school year for the good people of my school. Now, I could have told you the result of the quiz before we played. When I’m playing, there are normally just two quizzes really contesting things, my team, and Lemurs, the best team in the quiz. When I play, sometimes we win, more often Lemurs win. When I’m not playing, if Lemurs are there, they win. 

Now, nothing was going to change that, and I’d be a fool if I even thought about manipulating the result. Now sure how I could do it even if I wanted to. But as I was compiling the quiz, I did want to try to make the gaps a little narrower – to give the other teams at least a chance of getting decent scores of their own. The obvious way to do that is to make it easier. Yet, although nobody ever complains that a quiz is too easy, I don’t really think that anyone wants a quiz full of everyday, easy questions. So the answer I came up with was this.

I often use connections in a quiz – three or four questions, where the questions are unconnected, but a link can be made between the answers. Well, this time in each round the first question was a news question, but after that questions 2 – 9 were all connected by their answers, with question 10 being the connection itself. 

So how well did it work? Generally the scores were a lot higher than they normally are when I compile the quiz. Hopefully the teams enjoyed it, but there’s no point me asking, since none of them would tell you to your face even if they hadn’t. They’re nice and polite like that. Lemurs always have a double figure lead over the second place team when I compile the quiz, and this was the first time that their lead over the second placed team stayed within single figures.

Friday, 14 July 2017

I'm not proud of this. . . but . . .

Thinking about this, I'm pretty sure that I would hate to have somebody who behaves like I do on one of the teams when it's my turn to do the quiz in the Rugby Club. I take it all far too seriously, and although I know, understand, and fully accept the rule that "The Question Master Is Always Right - Even When He's Wrong" - but there are times I just can't stop myself from disputing.

Now, if a question master gives a wrong answer to a bread and butter question, that's one thing. The sensible ones will see that every side has put the same answer which isn't his, and amend his answer accordingly. Alternatively he'll do what I've done on more than one occasion, put his hands up and say, look, sorry - you may well all be right, and if the answer I've got here is wrong I apologise, I just don't know enough on the subject, but I have to stick with what I've got. I can live with that.

However, there are other times when the QM will ask what seems to you a difficult question, which you feel most of the other teams won't answer. Take last night : -
"Who was the first Scot to be Prime Minister of England and Scotland, in 1762?"
The date was the giveaway. I wrote down the answer , "The Earl of Bute", feeling pretty pleased with myself. The QM gave the answer: -
"John Stuart". To which I replied,
"Yes, known as Prime Minister by his title , "The Earl of Bute". I wasn't making this up, it's true. If you look on many lists of British Prime Ministers, he's one of those Prime Ministers known by his title, in the same way that Henry John Temple is much more commonly known as Lord Palmerston.
"It's not what I've got here." he replied, not unreasonably adding, "So I can't give you the point."

In the cold light of day I am glad that I did not succumb to the urge to stand up, and metaphorically slap him across the face with my gauntlet and suggest that we settle this with pistols at dawn. I did, on the other hand, spend the rest of the evening moaning to my team about the way that we were being robbed of a good point, about question masters who can't be bothered to check whether there are alternative answers to their questions - look, I'm not going to go on about it, but I wasn't very pleasant at all. A couple of times I deliberately ridiculed his pronunciation of a couple of words - mind you, to be fair he did insist on pronouncing Poitiers as Potty-arse, so there was some mitigation. You're quite right if you think that this was all very childish and pointless - we wouldn't have won even if we had been given the point for the answer.

Which is a shame, because, it wasn't a bad quiz when all was said and done, and did have a great hand out - well, great for me, anyway. We were given a sheet of paper with the titles of about 30 quiz or game shows, and the year they first began, and asked to name the first presenter. You know that I love quiz shows, and so this sort of thing was right up my street. In fact, I was convinced I'd have all of them right, until the QM announced - "What's My Line - 1951 - Gilbert Harding." I had written Eamonn Andrews. Thankfully I resisted the temptation to make a comment, on the possibility that this might be right - and I googled it when I got home. Quite right, Harding presented the premiere, but threw a hissy fit when he was handed the cards about the contestants in the wrong order, or something of that ilk.

Is Food and Drink a problem?

Actually, the title reminds me of an old Morecambe and Wise joke during one of the plays wot Ernie wrote. Eric picks up a bottle and does his thing holding up his arm straight to conceal the fact that he is drinking straight from a bottle concealed behind it. The female guest star, shocked, remarks, words to the effect of - surely you're not a hard drinker, are you? - to which Eric replies - not at all, I find it very easy! -

Wrenching myself back onto the subject, in an email conversation with a quizzing friend this week, he asked me whether I felt it was fair to say that Food and Drink is a subject that is problematical even to good quizzers. Interesting question, and I thought I would share my thoughts with the world in general on this one. As always, this really is just my opinion, and feel free to disagree: -

The kind of person likely to be any good at quizzes will probably have picked up a grounding, a baseline of knowledge about a wide range of subjects through education, personal interest, general reading, television etc. This is less likely to have happened with Food and Drink. For example, there are a significant number of popular TV programmes about food and drink, but they’re often just about the preparation of food, and the creation of dishes. With the best will in the world, education, personal interest, general reading, television etc. are unlikely ever to have provided you with the knowledge that the apple is a member of the rose family, aloo in Indian cuisine refers to potato, and Yarg is a Cornish cheese wrapped in nettles whose name is not a Cornish word, but the name of its creators – Gray – backwards. So it really is a subject where the average quizzer would not begin with a decent baseline knowledge, unlike a subject like History, for the sake of argument. This means that it’s a subject where most of us have to do some learning, unlike History.  What complicates this as well is that it’s not the sort of subject that most of us would choose to learn about purely out of interest, and the fact is that there are plenty of even good quizzers out there who can’t be bothered to learn for quizzes, especially anything in which they are really not that interested for its own sake. 

I also think that it’s a subject where the question master’s own lack of knowledge and interest can cause problems. In the traditional quiz subjects, the question master will often know enough to be able to understand the difference in difficulty and obscurity between asking

“Who was the last Anglo Saxon King of England?” and 

“Who was the last Merovingian King of France?” and in practice a question like the latter would rarely if ever be asked in a pub quiz.  It doesn’t always work like this with Food and Drink. For example – you might get a QM ask an easy one like: -

“Which spirit is used in a Bloody Mary cocktail?” – That’s a perfectly reasonable general knowledge question which you wouldn’t have to have specialist knowledge to answer. However the same QM is just as likely to ask: -  

“Which spirit is used in a Red Witch cocktail?” – which just isn’t within the realm of general knowledge so much, and is far more specialist. The QM in many cases just wouldn’t know that it’s much harder than the other question. This sort of thing can bedevil quiz leagues as well.  

However, on the other side of the coin this doesn’t mean that it’s a subject which has to be a problem for the serious, dedicated quizzer, if you’re prepared to put some effort in and learn for it.  With a little thought, it's not that difficult to identify areas of Food and Drink knowledge which pay dividends in quizzes. So I guess I’m saying that where Food and Drink becomes a problematical subject it is because :- 

* The typical quizzer does not begin with the same baseline knowledge of the subject as he/she does with subjects like History/Geography/Sport etc. 

* Question masters as a rule do not have the feel for the subject that allows them to pitch questions consistently, and so it can happen that questions asked on F & D can end up being relatively harder than questions on other subjects.  

* Decent to good quizzers need to learn for the subject but they often don’t bother, because it seems like a bore, and quizzing, after all, is something they do for pleasure. The top quizzers negate the problems with Food and Drink because they analyse what question masters tend to ask, especially the recurring sub-topics , and they learn more than they need to.  

* Therefore my personal feeling – feel free to disagree – is that it’s not a problem subject if you’re just quizzing for fun and don’t mind that much if you win, lose or draw. It’s not a problem subject if you’re serious about winning quizzes and you’re prepared to put the time and effort into learning your stuff. It IS a problem subject if you’re serious enough about wanting to win quizzes, but not serious enough to put the time and effort in and are just relying on your natural ability.