got well and truly thumped by Compulsory Mantis Shrimp
in the back room of the Albert Club. It was a
case of the 'Opsis' losing to the 'Polys' as the
range of knowledge displayed by the collective
Shrimps was gobsmacking. When James correctly
unearthed all three hat-trick strikers born after
the Premier League was launched (Round 2 Question 1)
there was a spontaneous round of applause.
Bloody hell - they even got the Herman's Hermits
question right! Rachael, James, Tom, Richard
and Adam (there was a little bit of substituting at
half time) were unstoppable. Next Wednesday
the Shrimps visit Fortress Griffin and this should
be an epic struggle.
In response to this cerebral assault
The Opsimaths were on poor form - not just with our
lack of appropriate knowledge but our bad judgement.
We got The Oxnoble and Black Sabbath answers, but
blew both through faulty conferring. We did
get a slightly harsher 'rub of the green' with seven
unanswerable questions to the Shrimps' four, but our
opponent's massive 15 twos to our paltry 5 shows who
was really in charge. Talking of which Hilary
was on excellent form in the QM chair - firm, fair
the customary gift of a round of drinks from winners
to losers and the reading of the spares, we fell to
chatting about all things WithQuizzical and, in
particular, the appeal of our quiz league to
potential quizzers slightly younger than the average
age of current team members. Clearly the
WithQuiz standards and modus operandi appeal to the
Shrimps and they are keen to spread the word amongst
current Manchester University University
Challenge hopefuls that participation in our
league will make them more likely to succeed against
liked the fact that we have our own folklore in the
League which conveys a sense of history and
permanence. We had a good laugh over the
legendary 'worst WithQuiz question ever' set back in
the 1980s: "Who was the most famous F1 racing driver
of all time?". I struggled to remember the
answer given by the setters way back then. Was
it Juan Fangio? Maybe someone can confirm
(Since writing the paragraph above Kieran has
emailed me with this:
"The answer to the most famous F1 driver of all time
was Alberto Ascari - two world titles to Fangio's
obviously a personal favourite of the
setters. You attribute the question to Rabbi Lionel
on the Team Archive page and you may well be right.
Whoever it was, in the same quiz they committed the
even more heinous question crime of asking 'What do
you call a bloke with a shovel on his head?' with
the answer given as 'Doug'. Clearly they
hadn't quite got the idea even if our question
papers then weren't the things of beauty they have
become over the years. No wonder Rabbi Lionel
didn't last long.
But surely the worst question of all time,
acknowledged as such on QuizBiz in the immediate
aftermath, was Mike's immortal 'How old is Huw
Edwards?'. I was editing the paper that week
and can only offer complete desperation as the
reason I let that stinker through. I think the
hue(w) and cry for Mike's blood after that one may
have influenced his decision to scarper to Madrid.")
made the interesting point that in cosmopolitan
places such as Manchester people move on making the
organisation of quiz teams that much more difficult.
By contrast in rural areas (the Sett Valley was
cited) people stop in the same community for much
longer and the local quiz team becomes a cemented-in
part of the social fabric (or put another way they
can't get out of the valley so they end up joining
in the local pub activities). Richard made
some very appreciative comments about the standard
of our league compared to what he knows of the Quiz
League of London (QLL) where super-competitiveness
can spoil the pure enjoyment to be had from airing
knowledge for it's own sake - as well as denying
the fun of the related social exchanges.
question topics - rather than any preponderance of
trash culture from bygone eras, the Shrimps' main
concern was the relative absence of science and
maths questions. We did agree that it was
harder to fit science and maths topics into themed
rounds but nevertheless we should try and redress
this imbalance where possible.
these comments play into the piece I've written at
the foot of this page, which in turn was sparked by
the comments of James (of Ethel Rodin) and Gerry on
the message board last week. Do have a gander
and comment back to me or to the message board.
The Charabancs of Fire keep getting on the wrong end
of close encounters - this time at home to Albert.
There was only one point in it at the death as
Mike O'B explains....
"The scene was set for a thrilling
encounter right from the start when Gerry tossed the
coin and asked me to call without remembering to
cover the coin with his hand. Even the Albert
wouldn't pass up the chance to get something right."
And how shall I describe the Charas?
I think I will leave it to Leon Trotsky in his
critique of the reactionary elements in Russia in
'Wearing showy bellbottom pants and
sporty haircuts; hoarders, self-aggrandisers
....dandified and well fed.' Surely there is
nothing to add."
Damian weighs in from the losing side....
"Father M has decided to institute a new ruling that
whoever fails to score at least one two will be
confined to the bench for the following week's
outing. Even this desperate measure to
increase the attraction of bunking off for a week
failed to produce the desired effect as each Chara
managed to notch up at least one two on tonight's
paper. As a result our reverend captain is now
scratching the few surviving hairs on his venerable
bonce to come up with a more certain method to get
us off his team. He has threatened to invoke
the Holy Spirit once he has paid a visit to the Off
Licence to re-stock. We await with collective
As the scores show, this was a
close-fought contest that went right down to the
wire. We led confidently in the first 2
rounds and then got clawed back by our increasingly
confident opponents. From there on we never
quite managed to regain the initiative. We
could at least have managed a draw If only I had had
the guts to go for 'Homburg Hat' when asked for the
link between Anthony Eden, Tony Hancock and Procol
Harum; a classic example of too much information
deterring me from coming up with the correct answer
- but I should have guessed and gone for it anyhow.
continued their upward spiral following their defeat
on the first day of the season; this time with a
comfortable victory over The Bards of Didsbury.
"The Bards made the short trip from
the cricket club to Heaton Mersey as the only team
in the league with a winning record against us since
'Nemesis' six and a half years ago. They leave,
still with a winning record, but the margin has
narrowed. We've had huge battles with Tony &
co. down the years. Twice in their trophy-gathering
seasons they've beaten us three times in three
different competitions in the space of four or five
weeks so it was especially satisfying to be able to
raise our colours at the end of the evening in this
season's first encounter.
Bards took an early lead but we levelled by the end
of Round 3 and were ahead at half time only to be
all square again after Round 5. We'd stretched our
lead to four at the start of the final round and
were confident of success - and then Barry, after a
week in Rome and disciplined
prior to that, decided it was time for what is fast
becoming a signature blurt, locating Greater
Manchester's highest point in some random UMIST
building. FFS! I know he only does it to
annoy because he knows it teases, but my face at
that point was a picture of tortured agony and my
blood pressure through the roof. I should make it
clear that, week in week out, Barry is our best,
most consistent player - David Silva to Martin's
Aguero, but he isn't half making it edgy at the
sharp end of the evening these days. Fortunately,
our childhood diet (Barry again to the fore) was far
more unhealthy than our guests and so we knew the
ingredients of Manchester Tart when they didn't -
and the pass-over was immediately given back to us.
points ahead and five questions left, enter the John
Dalton Mathematical Scholar of 1981. I'd told
Martin to pick the science question in the
Manchester Bingo round partly because he knows
everything about every scientific Nobel laureate
associated with Manchester University, and partly to
stop Bard Jim getting a two on said question which
he undoubtedly would have done. Imagine my
delight when it became obvious after the first few
words what the answer was and Martin duly stroked
home his benefactor's name (£100 in old money) for
the two that more or less guaranteed us the win.
Imagine Martin's disappointment when, on Googling
post quiz, we discovered that there are TWO John
Dalton Mathematical Scholars each year (one first
year and one second year), two John Dalton Chemical
Scholars and even a John Dalton prize for Natural
History. Barry should try for the latter
to really put Martin's nose out of joint. And
the scholarship has only increased to £150 from £100
over thirty six years - scarcely worth bothering
with. Which apparently was Martin's attitude
to attending lectures once he'd been crowned with
the great man's laurel wreaths.
our visit to the splendid Travellers last week our
home fortress is looking down at heel, unwelcomingly
overheated and generally no longer appealing. I
know it's one of the founding venues of the league
but we're seriously considering relocating at the
end of the season if not earlier. We don't play
there after 21st February so we may be in the last
days of an iconic league venue. Thinking of Upton
Park I suggested we needed a new home built at
someone else's expense and handed over to us all
ready to go - and we should get Karren Brady on the
job (as it were). Whereupon bitter Red Barry
made a crack about my now living in Stockport so
that it wasn't even my council taxes that helped
build the Etihad (it was actually - I lived in
Manchester back then). I'm sorry Guildford
boy, Lowestoft to your core, you're playing the
Manchester born and bred card against me?
Whalley Range, Withington and Didsbury for forty
plus years and not taking any of that from a sci-fi
cockney red! We're a very harmonious team
really and we do all love each other - honest Barry
we do. Just cut the blurts ok?
week the Griffin again and unbeaten league leaders
Mantis Shrimp. Should be some game - and Anne
Marie and the Prodigals, please no pop music after
1989, but plenty before is ok!"
The History Men lost in the Red to The Prodigals
who're starting to get their act together.
Victorious captain, Anne-Marie sends this....
"Good fun this evening at the Red
Lion with the History People. The Prodigals
were inspired by watching fellow Prodigal, Michael,
in the Mastermind final recording the day
before. Obviously can’t let you know the
outcome but it will be worth watching.
continue to miss our inspirational super-star David
Rainford who is still in hospital. Get well
....while Ivor sends this....
table clash resulted in a great victory for the
Prodigals. However, win or lose, we always have an
entertaining evening with plenty of laughs though
sadly for the first two rounds these emanated from
another table in the Red Lion snug and included a
woman who must have been trained by Stentor
We were actually ahead at one stage and only two
points behind before our usual collapse in the final
two furlongs. Sheikh Mohammed would probably
us put out to grass (or just put down). The main
problems tonight after extensive analysis were:
1) The Prodigals knew more answers than we did,
2) Unlucky seat positions: Tim getting football and
pop singers for his first three questions,
3) Unexplained brain failure: Optician David
forgetting about Daltonism, Tim knowing Heights of
Abraham but unable to think of a 19th Century novel
ending in 'Heights'
4) My honorary Everton supporter status shown up by
failure to suggest Romelu Lukaku as a promising
youngster and Gordon West as a legend."
....to which QM Mike H adds a few
"Question setters should take care to balance their
questions. If one team is asked for a
three-part answer, the other team should get a
similar question with a multi-part answer.
The worst possible question for Tim would involve
football and pop/rock.
And yet again an immensely enjoyable evening - both
teams were a great pleasure to be with."