The Withington Pub Quiz League


15th November 2017


WQ Fixtures, Results & Table

WQ Teams

WQ Archive Comments Question papers

Results & Match Reports

The Opsimaths lost to Compulsory Mantis Shrimp

The Charabancs of Fire lost to Albert

Dunkin' Dönitz beat The Bards of Didsbury

The History Men lost to The Prodigals

The Opsimaths  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 and friendly.

After 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 Jeremy.

Richard 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 this.

(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 five so 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.")

Tom 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.

On 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.

All 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 1921:

'Wearing showy bellbottom pants and sporty haircuts; hoarders, self-aggrandisers ....dandified and well fed.'  Surely there is nothing to add."

....and 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 baited breaths!

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.  Mea culpa!"

Dunkin' Dönitz 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.  Kieran reports....

"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.   

The 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 performances 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.

Three 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 just 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.

After 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?

Next 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.

We continue to miss our inspirational super-star David Rainford who is still in hospital.  Get well soon David!"

....while Ivor sends this....

"This lower 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 himself. 

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 have 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 thoughts....

"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."

Quiz Paper Verdict

This week the paper was set by The Electric Pigs.

The average aggregate was 74.5 just below the season's average of 75.8.

Another good paper full of diverse subjects and engagingly varied ways of seeking answers.  The level of difficulty seemed just right with (we thought at the Albert Club) a slight advantage to the team going first.  We had plenty of chat about the subject matter during and after the questions which taxed QM Hilary in her attempts to keep order, and irked time-keeper Jitka.  We finished a bit later than desired (about 10.35 I think) but we'd had loads of fun on the way.

My own favourite round was Round 5 which contained a wonderfully timely theme - especially given these days of faux patriotism used as a cloak for the disdain of those who are different from your average Daily Mail or Daily Telegraph reader.  Real patriotism involves sacrifice for others - not sacrificing others for oneself.  And what's more just as Brian had spotted the theme for this round and hurriedly shared it with the rest of the team, I got the one about the Everton goalie - so could slot home Gordon West who even Shrimp James had never heard of.  On the downside - later on in the quiz - I did manage to work out that 'eight' had all its letters in alphabetical sequence!

The paper went down well in other parts of South Manchester as well....

Ivor comments....

"Andrew Simcock was present to see how his Pig’s paper was received and not many brickbats were thrown - not even by Anne.  There was a combined score of 75 with just 8 unanswereds breaking 4-4.  The themes were all detected (eventually) though looking for horse colours rather than browns in Round 1 did mislead us for a while.  We knew we would struggle in Round 8 with no Mancunian natives but it was Round 7 that really did for us."

....and Mike O'B....

"I'm not so sure it was wise to go first - but despite this the scores were tight all the way through and the aggregate suggests that there were plenty of points on offer."

....and Damian....

"Tonight's paper was full of interesting and varied themes and topics which, by and large, we all enjoyed.  As usual, the (Manchester themed) Bingo round met with our complete approval and we even managed to do quite well on it this time round!  Going first it was a good job I spotted the Manchester theme at the last moment before being tempted to plump for 'History' (good on the general, crap on the local) and veered off to pick 'Science' instead (more confident on Manc scientists) and so saved my place on the team by scoring my only two of the evening!"

....and, including his own personal gripe, Kieran....

"You really can't ask for three answers to the first part of a paired question and only one for its companion.  On the other hand, the number that scores its own value in Scrabble was a great WithQuiz question - and was, of course, put away for a two by (you can't keep him out of the action tonight) Barry.  A personal gripe would be that the construction of the ****ing airport relief road has made my commute to work a total misery for the last three years and I still didn't get the points because I located one end of it in Poynton.  The traffic there is as bad as in Hazel Grove but the Poynton branch is a different road.  Apparently.  Hell does not have enough eye gouging, organ burning, testicle slicing torments for everyone from the planners to the navvies involved in that abomination." 

....and the Dave Barras Question of the Week award this week has been nominated by Dunkin' Dönitz and goes to Round 7 Question 2:

What is the only number that is worth itself as a Scrabble score?

For the answer to this and all the week's other questions click here.

Albert Club Quizzes

I hope you find these quiz rounds enjoyable.

Do let me know which types you enjoy most.  I have plenty in my archive and will let you have a couple each week as long as there is an interest.

Here are the answers to the 2 rounds of Albert Club monthly quizzes I set you last week....

Albert Club Quiz - 171030 - I'm a Celebrity - Answers

Albert Club Quiz - 170925 - Question in Every Port - Answers

and here are a couple more for you to ponder.  Answers next week.

Albert Club Quiz - 170925 - Listomania - Questions

Albert Club Quiz - 171030 - Nation's Favourite Poem - Questions

'WithQuiz at 40' News

Make sure you've got Wednesday March 28th in your diaries as this is when we will be gathering to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the formation of our Quiz League.

Celebration Evening

I'm pleased to tell you that Mark and Cheryl Bassett have agreed to be our Guests of Honour on March 28th.

Mark and his wife Cheryl have played for The Prodigals team for many years until just last year when they moved to Vienna where Mark has taken up a post with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  They both keep in touch with the WithQuiz league via the website so will be up-to-date on all our latest news.

Mark's an energetic and enthusiastic speaker and is relishing the prospect of saying a few words on this momentous occasion - as well as acting as QM for the evening's quiz.

As I said last week do please spread the word about this event to any former WithQuizzers you're in touch with.  We want the evening to be primarily a chance to catch up with former friends and team colleagues.

Around Christmas I'll issue team captains with an invitation with full details asking for names of those coming so that we can firm up on numbers for catering and accommodation purposes.

WithQuiz at 40 ….. and beyond?

Last week, via the message board, James and Gerry raised an important issue that’s been buzzing around WithQuiz for a while; namely the reducing appeal of our weekly pastime to younger generations.

Both Gerry and James have first-hand experience of this and I can chip in from my own efforts to persuade children and, now grandchildren, (who’re generally keen on quizzes) to join either WithQuiz or the monthly Albert Club quizzes.  The usual reasons given are the excessive focus we place on popular culture from bygone eras and the general level of difficulty of the questions.  Occasionally they cite the length of each match which leaves little time for socialising and drinking.

We’re rightly proud this season of having sustained our quiz league for so long.  It’s put colour into many a winter Wednesday, for 40 years.  The standards we’ve attained are pretty high compared to the general level of pub and club quizzes.  We’ve been lauded by many who’ve seen the inventiveness of our question papers and enjoyed the banter displayed on our website.  We should pat ourselves on the collective back for this achievement – but we shouldn’t rest on our laurels and there are worrying signs of decay.  We found it impossible to replace TMTCH at the start of this season (Mike Wagstaffe tells me that the Stockport League has also found it difficult over recent seasons and has lost a number of its competing teams without replacements).  Most of us now have first hand experience of young aspiring quizzers politely shunning the invitation to play with us.

So, are there things we should do to reinforce the future of WithQuiz?

I don’t think introducing a more prescriptive regime; whether over timekeeping, question content or ways of settling disputes would do anything other than make the whole WithQuiz experience less enjoyable.  We mustn’t start taking ourselves too seriously.  Having said that here are a few thoughts from me as to how we might seek to address the issues….

  • Setters should think hard before setting popular culture questions (pop music, TV, films, etc.) – especially from 40 or 50 years back.  Questions need to be accessible to most competitors – e.g. Elvis Presley seems OK to me as a subject but not a number three hit from The Swinging Blue Jeans; Dad’s Army is OK but not Meet the Wife.  Of course it’s a bugger trying to decide when ‘here today gone tomorrow’ stuff transmogrifies into general knowledge and we have to accept that often we’ll get this judgement wrong.

  • Setters should seek to make their question text shorter and more succinct.  An occasional three-line question is fine but a whole round of them is OTT.  Not only does it take longer to read but players find it harder to absorb all the information presented and will certainly ask for the text to be repeated two or three times.

  • Let’s have some more comments about the question papers from our younger competitors; it would be great, for instance, to have some honest critical feedback now and again from Shrimps Richard or James, or from the younger element of the Pigs team.  Be sure that I’ll publish any such feedback on the website.

  • We should ask our QMs to continue pressing us for answers with the aim of finishing a match by 10.15pm – and players should be sympathetic to their QM over this.

  • Finally we need to market ourselves in a more systematic fashion – not just before the start of a season when we are one team down.  Most people in South Manchester who enjoy watching quiz shows on TV (such as University Challenge or Only Connect), or take part in the occasional local pub quiz, ought be aware of the existence of WithQuiz.  At present I suspect they’re not.

Do please air your ideas and views either via the message board or by messages to me to be included in the next edition of the website home page.  I’ll place any comments received in the ‘WithQuiz at 40’ section.