The Withington Pub Quiz League


18th December 2019


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A confident debut as setters for the Turing Testers provides a high-scoring victory for the Shrimps...

...and defeat for the Prods at the hands of third-placed Ethel means the Shrimps just have their red noses ahead in the Christmas Charts

KFD beat Electric Pigs

Charabancs lost to Bards

Albert beat Opsimaths

Mantis Shrimp beat History Men

Prodigals lost to Ethel Rodin

The Mystical Nativity


KFD beat Electric Pigs

KFD move up to fifth after a low-scoring contest

Kieran, wearing his 'X' on his sleeve, sends this...



For those of you still angrily wondering where the hell the generation that was going to save us went last Thursday I have the answer.  It rocked up in Heaton Mersey (Stockport, Labour majority 10,039) and it lives in East Didsbury (Manchester Withington, Labour majority 27,905).  Too late to save the red wall, or decency, or truth, or anything approaching values and responsibility.  It was enough (just) to secure a third win on the bounce for KFD.  Eat that Blairites!

The Census in Bethlehem


A night of debuts, for the Testers as setters cheekily opening up with a round on debuts good and bad - and for the latest off the production line of the KFD academy (or crèche).  Barry McNorton, still doing the family business no favours at all as his anti-virus failed yet again to protect him from whatever has been ailing him for several weeks now, was joined by David, who has fallen victim to an infection which has already ruled him out of City's game against Leicester on Saturday and has thrown the Christmas schedules into serious doubt.  Young Liam® had commitments elsewhere so what to do?  Going more Frank Lampard than Tinkerman the answer was easy; send for even younger Thomas (21) and even even younger Elizabeth (18).  Yes they're my children and, since Martin is the nearest thing they've ever had to a godfather, KFD was essentially a family affair tonight.  

Inverted defiance


Thomas made a far more impressive impact than the hapless Middlesbrough manager (20th in the Championship) did in Madrid, swiftly putting away the calamitous centre back for a two on his first ever WithQuiz question, and following that up with an assured grasp of online music magazines and American Gothic art.  He was also well across all kinds of 'Stans' and bloody Tudors.  The latter was a collaboration with his sister who knew everything there was to know about Henry VIII & Co. six months ago when she took her 'A' level exam but still managed to dredge up Robert Aske from wherever she'd buried him the moment she'd walked out of the examination hall.  And The Killers too, and Cardi B (who Martin thought had named herself after an item of clothing), and pretty much every spare.  It was really unfortunate that she copped for 5 of the 17 unanswereds (9-8 against us) on her own questions.  Ah, The Killers, "Is there room for one more son?"  Well probably but he lives in Hull and isn't planning relocating back home anytime soon.  Young Liam® still has a chance of more game time this season then. 

Sporting defiance


Opting for the wrong Pliny in the 'Xmash' round suddenly shrunk our lead to being uncomfortable but then Gary 'Mr  Coventry' Donely's failure to spot his home town's carol swung things back our way.  We definitely had the right team members for the non-standard nature of many of the questions and, had either David or Barry been fit we may well not have won.   

Completely irrelevant to the quiz but my three children and I voted in four different constituencies last Thursday, in Stockport, Manchester, Hull and Newcastle.  All voted Labour (if any of you didn't don't tell me!) and all returned Labour MPs.  Sometimes you have to hold on to the small consolations.  

So the first half of the season done and a 5-5 record.  Not what we're used to but looking at the league table the times they are a changin' as I may have mentioned a few weeks back.  My last match report of 2019.  Is there room for one more son?  Maybe.  Is there room for one more gag about James Cleverly and the fallacy of nominative determinism?  Oh go on, I need to laugh every week or so.  And so this is Christmas and what have we done? Bloody good question.  We've been bang average but we'll come back in the new year and try to do better. There's probably a lesson in that somewhere. 

While everyone's lost, the battle is won.

With all these things that I have done. 

See you in the new year.

If you can hold on.......

The ball-tamperer of Oz


Prodigals lost to Ethel Rodin

Ethel knock the champions off top spot

Anne-Marie's brief thoughts from the Albert Club...

Tough quiz but tremendous effort from TT for their first quiz.  Best team won. We only had one steal and that was in the last round.  Ethel are tough opponents.

Albert beat Opsimaths

A tightly fought match just goes to the home team

Winning skipper Mike O'B...

The quiz itself was a strange affair especially in the first half as the scores swung wildly; at times we were 8 ahead and then 9 behind.  In fact for most of the quiz I thought we were losing. However the final aggregate of 70 shows that generally the questions were fair. Never mind I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunity to refresh our stock of insults after Christmas.

Ukraine’s (Servant of the People)2


and losing skipper Mike B retorts...

Well, we started the evening by decamping from the frenzied Fletcher Moss (City away at Oxford in the EFL Cup, I ask you!) to the vast cavern that is the Parrswood Hotel where we sat at the other end of the drinking hall from the Shrimps and the History Men.  Mary QMed with aplomb and no little grace and 'The Paddle of Rebuke' lurked ominously in Mike's plastic bag.  As the match unfolded Albert moved effortlessly into a healthy lead....only to be pegged back and overtaken in the final straight....only to edge back into a 4-point lead on the last few questions.  So, a good competitive match.  It did take a long time (the last round started as the bell for closing time was rung) but that was partly due to our decamping delay at the start.

My precious moment of the evening came when Ashton plumped for the 'Rockstars under the influence' pair for his 'pick your own' question in Round 5 only to be told by Mary that the influence concerned was Russian literature.  'Crestfallen' doesn't begin to do the look on his face justice.  However he did manage the answer of the evening on the same pair when he wondered if the Russian novel that inspired a 1968 pop song might have been Anna Karenina inspiring Lily the Pink.

Charabancs lost to Bards

The Bards join four teams on 10 points in mid-table

Damian reports from deepest Withington...

We established a narrow lead after the first round but, from then on, it was full steam ahead for the Bards who steadily pulled away from us round after round.  Not scoring any points at all in Round 3 did not improve our chances but the Bards were, as usual, just the better team.  They scored more twos than us (8-4) and stole more questions from us (7-4).  I counted 11 unanswereds which broke fairly evenly (6-5 to the Bards). 

Tonight's quiz began with a debut themed round which was quite fitting as it was a debut at quiz-setting for the newest team in the league, the Turing Testers.  Incidentally it was our home venue, The Albert, that had been chosen by the Testers to make their debut WithQuiz victory against lil' ol' us earlier this year.

Proceedings did tend to drag a bit in the second half so that it was getting on for 11 o'clock by the time we finished.  To cap it all, our victorious opponents didn't even have to reach into their pockets and buy the traditional round for the losers as our gracious landlord, full of seasonal cheer, had already provided us with one (maybe he was under the impression we had won) so we'll be taking a rain-check on that one, Tony!

My chosen question of the week comes from the cleverly themed and punned 'Partridge in a Pair Tree' rounds (Rounds 4 and 5):

Subject: Defiance

Question: "When ordered to make a sign, prisoner and master blacksmith Jan Liwacz made a deliberate show of defiance, still visible today, by turning the letter 'B' upside down. What words appear on the sign?"

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Clues to D-Day


Mantis Shrimp beat History Men

A standout win pushes the Shrimps top for Christmas

Ivor report...

Our usual pleasant evening in the company of the second youngest team in the league (only an average age difference of 35 years compared with the 40 of last week).  Rachael celebrated Christmas tonight (she apparently has been Christmassy since October) by donning what can only be described as a Mother Christmas costume and hat.

Playing first we were briefly in the lead after the first question but from then on we lost touch and sank to a very impressive Mantis Shrimp performance.  They scored 16 twos to our 6.  We lost, not due to blurting or losing our nerve, or even by getting too many unanswereds (only 4 all night breaking 2-2), but by the unstoppable force of the knowledge displayed by our opponents.  Adam and James both scored 5 twos.

A Merry Christmas to all our friends (that’s everyone) and we're looking forward to the second half of the season next year.

'Still Counting'

Count Buckethead at the 2017 Maidenhead count & Count Binface at the 2019 Uxbridge count - no doubt ashamed to show his face after penning those embarrassing Only Connect intros and outros

(R2/Sp2 & R8/Q4)

...and from James '9-letter' Haughton...

We welcomed the History Men to the Parrswood Hotel for our final quiz of 2019.  Our opponents were most convivial and made it a delightful evening's quizzing.  We took an early lead in Round 1 and never relinquished it, steadily building the gap throughout the rest of the match; 8 points ahead at half time and then 16 at the end - so a sort of symmetry.  The quiz was of course secondary to the real prize of the evening for us Shrimps - free copies of the 2019 edition of A Very Cherry Christmas.

...and absent last night but full of Christmas tidings, History Man QM, Mike, sends his greetings and best wishes to all his WithQuiz friends.

Quiz paper set by...

...Turing Testers

Average Aggregate score 68.2

A little below the season's average score but a paper crammed with inventiveness and knowledge.  Almost every WithQuiz style of round got an outing and there were plenty of 'tip of the tongues' and quite a few laughs.  This was as good a debut paper as we've had.

In the Albert/Opsis match before we began I was chatting to Mary and Jitka about who the oldest WithQuizzers might be and Mike O'Brien and myself in our early 70s tucked in neatly behind His Honour from Bardland (an old fashioned sense of chivalry prevents me revealing Mary and Jitka's ages).  And we old stagers were tackling a paper of  the utmost maturity from what I'm guessing were mid twenty-year-olds.  Wonderful!

What were your views?  Kieran's first...

"We found the paper stodgy with too many unanswereds and Bob on his last appearance of the year had to hurry us along, but clearly we're in a minority since the aggregate scores from the other matches are perfectly respectable. The only serious gripe would be that you cannot ask the 'Charlie Chapliny the Elder' question because if the first team plumps for the wrong Pliny (we did) it's a tap in for the other side."

Czeching in as the debutante’s debutante


...and Ivor...

"This was the Testers' first effort at quiz setting for our league and they produced a well-regarded test.  They have recognised how we like novelty and quirkiness and there were really no dull questions at all though a few of us oldies had not the slightest idea about some of them.  Tim and I could only stare blankly at Joe the QM (and co-setter) when quizzed on modern music (i.e. anything after 1975) or anything to do with Youtube celebs (who is this Zoella?).  We also had that not uncommon phenomenon of questions for which we did know the answer falling to fellow team members who did not, or worse, to the opposition who knew the answer for a two.  Our league though is definitely in safe hands as the new generation of setters and quizzers are easily a match for us old codgers."

...and what did Mike O'B think?...

"Hmmm, new setters eh.  I brought along our well thumbed copy of A Thousand Insidious Insults to Hurl At Setters (Albert Press: Manchester, 1901).  But to the team's collective dismay it remained unthumbed (although Eveline occasionally chewed the binding - she has a weakness for old glue).  The themes were original. although we were fortunate to have Ashton as our resident 'Stan' even if the Russian literature pair did prove beyond our capabilities."

...his tongue still sore from an election licking, James gives Ethel's verdict...

"We were impressed by the efforts of the Turing Testers.  If we hadn't known in advance I think it would have been impossible to pick out that this was their first go at setting.  Some of the questions in Rounds 4 and 5 were in the obscure category - but it was generally balanced obscurity.

The 'Twelve Days of Christmas' theme has been done before, of course, but these answers were suitably obtuse and made for some good questions.

In the Run-on round we were trying to guess what might have made a suitable pair to the Charlie Chapliny the Elder one - and came up with the following which you might enjoy:

'Politician born in Karachi on Xmas day 1876 & Cocktail first introduced by the East India Company.'

The answer of course being Mohammed Ali Gin ‘n’ Tonic."

...and Damian adds this...

"We had to acknowledge that it was a fine, well crafted effort for a debut quiz with plenty of variety in topics and themes including the traditional favourites of 'Pick Your Own Subject' and the much loved Run-Ons.  It provided a lot of material for us to confer over."

...and finally James has these observations from the Shrimps...

"We thought The Turing Testers produced a beauty of a quiz - even more so considering this was their first one.  The variety of questions and time periods was wonderfully done.  The themes were superbly handled too, complementing the questions impeccably.  I agree whole-heartedly with Adam's suggestion for QotW, the best run on I can remember.  Great job, TT!"

Question of the Week

Shrimp Adam submits the winning nomination this week (though I'm guessing quite a few of you would have voted the same way).  His choice was the marvellously dysfunctional Round 6 (Run-ons or 'Answer Xmash' as the TT's called it) Question 3...

A 1950 fantasy novel in which Father Christmas gifts three children lethal weapons;

A euphemism coined by Justin Timberlake following an incident during Superbowl XXXVIII.

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

Father Christmas's lethal weapon


...and also

To bring you up-to-date on James' progress on Countdown...

In his quarter-final Octochamp match last Thursday he slaughtered the opposition notching up 9-letter words with each of his first two 'letter' rounds.  Further 9-letter words plus a perfect set of 'number' games followed.  If you want to see Susie Dent drooling well watch it on catch-up.

...and in today's semi-final another crushing victory for James which means he's playing in the Grand Final on Friday at 2.10 on Channel4.  Watch it!

Stop Press (20/12/19):

In today's Countdown final James powered to another glorious victory - this time 110-95.  He's a very worthy series winner after a string of performances that must put him up there with the all-time best of the show's 37 year history.  Congratulations from all your mates at WithQuiz!

‘The Man Who Saved the World’

There but for the grace of God and a Soviet Sub Second-in-command….