The Withington Pub Quiz League


2nd April 2003


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Braggarts win and stay top

Results & Match Reports

At the top of the table the Braggarts won away at the Royal Oak beating the Pigs by 7 points in what was a close game right up to the final round.  The Braggarts go back to the top easing past St Caths by a single point.   

In third place The Historymen reasserted their title challenge with a 4 point victory away at St Catherine's club against fourth placed Snoopy's.  Snoopy's could still hold the key to the season with their home game against the Braggarts on the final Wednesday of the league season.

Meanwhile at the other club, the Albert Club, both the local teams were playing at home (as indeed were England on the telly).  Unlike Beckham's lot the home teams managed convincing defeats - the Opsimaths to an in form Albert, and the Albert Park to the Brains.  In the league table the Brains and the Albert are now level on 21 points just 3 points adrift of the leading pack of 4.  Probably too late for either of them to challenge for the title but nevertheless a good season out of what were disastrous starts for both of them.

Down at the Red, Dr O'Neil recovered a little of their form, edging past SWMCC by just 2 points.

Quiz Paper Verdict

St Caths set this week and general feeling was that it was a good 'straight down the middle' paper.  The scoring reflected this view with healthy aggregate scores in the 5 matches of 77, 75, 76, 72 and 79.  Alice (Opsimaths) and Roz (Dr O'Neil) commented that there were rather too many mentions of the Nationwide Football league for their liking (Alice got at least 2 questions on this topic).  At the Red an expert was called in after the game to explain to Dr O'Neil what the Nationwide league was.  There was a groan  over the "Hannibal's most famous victory" question (Round 7 Question 4).  The phrase 'most famous' denotes a personal opinion rather than a fact and, in my view, should be avoided by quiz-setters.  Round 6 Question 8 never made it onto the question paper as you will have noticed so, on the website, I have used the first of the spares to fill the gap. 

The Question of the Week

Damian (Brains) suggested that the missing question was clearly the 'Question of the Week'.  Being more understanding of editorial cock ups I have gone instead for Round 4 Question 2 which certainly contained the 'well I never' factor:

 Saudi Arabia and China were eliminated from the 2002 World Cup without scoring a single goal. Which other country shared this unenviable record?

For the answer to this and full details of all the week's questions click here.


The Perfect Quiz Paper 

After sticking my neck out for most of this quiz season on the website and offering views about the quality of the quiz papers set, I have been challenged to come up with what I think is the formula for a perfect quiz paper.

 Well here goes: 

1.    An aggregate score of between 65 and 80 points.  If possible this would be made up of at least 16 x 2 points, 40 x 1 points (conferred or passed over) and a few no scores.  Many more than 80 means the quiz was too easy, and less than 65 means it was too hard.

2.    A fair crack of the whip for both teams.  Unless you've gone for the Bingo format, this probably means paired questions (one of each pair going to each team).  Preferably the second half of the pair should be some distance from the first half so that the likely answer for the second question of the pair has not been discussed just a few seconds before it was asked as part of the process of answering the first question in the pair.  It also means avoiding questions where the answer is one of a few possibilities explicitly mentioned in the question - so that a wrong answer by team one leaves team two with a much better chance of guessing right.  An example of this would be the recent question asking 3 of Dickens’ books to be listed in the order in which they were written.  A wrong answer by team one considerably simplified team two’s task.

3.    Avoiding overpopulation by one sort of question.  For instance 6 questions in one paper about football seem too many.  4 might just be OK.  Themes are OK as long as they are used as a lead into what is regarded as a pot pourri of general knowledge questions.  A whole round where the answer is the name of a film or film actor is not OK, but a round on November 5th that leads to questions on history, chemistry, religion and questions whose answers contain the name of a firework is fine.  However 64 questions derived from a November 5th theme is almost certainly 48 too many.

4.    Not veering too far from general knowledge.  'General Knowledge' is notoriously hard to define but most people have a good feel for what it is and what it isn't.  Specialist knowledge acquired at work (whether in the labs at Christie's, on the bench in Crown Square or in some software company) probably isn't General Knowledge.

5.    No questions that depend on a subjective judgement for getting the correct answer.  For instance ‘Who is the most famous….?’ or ‘Who is the best……?’

6.    Up to 4 questions in a quiz with the ‘well I never’ factor.  Too many of these indicate a question setter who is trying to show off arcane knowledge.  But a few sprinkled around can really enhance an evening.  These are usually the questions that get mentioned the next day at work, I find.

7.    Up to 8 questions which tempt the whole team to confer for a while debating the subject matter and eliminating less likely options to arrive at a preferred answer.  A good example this season was ‘How many of the original founding football league clubs are in the Premiership this season?’.  Too many of these sorts of questions, however, can lead to 'quiz constipation' and very late finishes which can be pretty antisocial.

8.    Make the wording clear and capable of being answered correctly by just one answer.  Incidentally an answer that has to be qualified by a statement such as: ‘only accept ….’  usually means the question wasn’t clearly enough worded.

9.    Keep the wording of the question to as few words as possible but, more importantly, make sure the answer is short.  The best questions usually have one word answers.

10.  A bit of innovation.  However sound a format we have developed for our papers over the years we are all going to get bored by it sooner or later.  Each season it is essential to have a few new ideas for the format.  The SWMCC crossword round this season was a welcome addition.  Last season the Brains floated the 'most northernmost, southernmost, etc' questions.

Please do get in touch and offer your own views on this matter.  As Mrs Merton used to say...'let's have a heated debate'.

Fr Megson

The View from BallyOak 

A Chara,

B'Oak had been given little chance against the metaphysical superiority of Fr. Michael Moore's rampant "Bowling for Albertine" quartet, but the home team's recent trip to Los Angeles to pick up their Oscar and several as yet undiagnosed infections seemed to take its toll.  On a cramped pitch shared with 11 Sassenachs, 11 Turks,4 Opsimaths and 4 Alberts (no relation and, for the 44th year running, no Oscars) the Gaels from the Reeks ran out easy winners and without paying their sizeable bar bill.

At the post match press conference in a hushed broom closet Richard, the League's only "Seeded" player, remained strangely upbeat and suspiciously laid-back.

" When I were a lad people used to sing about leaving their Hearts in San Francisco but I guess we left our Brains in L.A.  Mind you, considering the number of Pina Coladas we downed on the Greyhound bus journey from Bangor in Maine to the west coast (we got off the 'plane at the wrong stop) I guess we gained a psychological victory by finishing in the top two here tonight."  Yes, indeed Richard!

After a brief recess for Richard "to get his crazy head together" he resumed, " L.A. was marvellous and Nicole Kidman gave us all a lovely time, especially Clive.  Which was nice. The city has a lot to offer even to a seasoned and sated connoisseur like myself but I was disappointed by its dearth of medieval cathedrals.  I've been to Wells on a school trip and it definitely had a medieval cathedral and yet I felt that Wells was a smaller city than L.A.  Strange that.  Would anybody like to see a photo of Wells cathedral?  It's no trouble.  I've got one here in my wallet."

At this stage our intrepid reporter made his excuses and left.


This week Aunt Sam devotes her entire page to a dilemma posed by Quintus Garrulous O'Donely, an apprentice Pig insulator from Ballypoke, who writes:

Of late my team has been listless, lacklustre and suffering from low morals.  Nothing new here but it's getting worse.  The team therapist thinks they should get out more often.  Maybe try an evening of social bondage in "Kansas Chicken" or even consider joining a coalition.

What do you think?  Do coalitions fall within the boundaries of Political Correctness?  And if we do decide to coalesce how many teams should we do it with and should we wear paper bags over our heads to protect our modesty and our anonymity?


Well, dear, I always think good coalitions are like good orgies - the more members the merrier and the devil take the hindmost.  46 members would be divine with maybe a few embedded reporters thrown in for good measure.  However times change and downsizing seems to be the new black this season so don't feel too constrained, dear.  I know I certainly don't since I stopped wearing that appalling basque!  2 consenting adults can just about swing it.  I even know of a recent case where my socially inept second cousin over in America managed to coalesce in a deep and meaningful way with his Old English Sheepdog pen pal (but I wouldn't try this in Kansas Chicken!).  So just relax and go with the flow, dear.

As for paper bags, well they are not exactly de rigeur, dear,  but they certainly add a touch of spice, don't you think.

Good luck, dear,  and don't forget to wear rubber boots when you are turning on those piggies!

Kisses and Cuddles, Auntie Sam.