The Withington Pub Quiz League


22nd November 2023


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Clean sweep for all 8 WithQuiz teams


(sorry the website update is a bit late this week - other stuff took over on Thursday)

WIST Champions Cup

KFD beat Flying Horse

Prodigals beat Alexandra

Railway lost to Ethel Rodin

Smart Alex lost to Bards


WIST Lowly Grail

HMRUFC lost to Albert

Horse & Farrier lost to Opsimaths

History Men beat Wandering Star

Electric Pigs beat Tiviot via walkover

WIST Champions Cup

KFD beat Flying Horse

KFD edge a close contest

Kieran describes a wonderful evening with the Flying Horse

One of the great pleasures of inter-league evenings is visiting new pubs and experiencing the atmosphere and vibe of a hostelry which is not on the workaday league rota.  Over the years we've had many such evenings: epic battles with Chunky in The Pineapple, a total-chasing in The Tiviot (which was demolished by the wrath of god shortly afterwards), tussle after tussle in the Alexandra (within walking distance for Martin and me), and many other memorable nights in The Printers, The Heatons Rugby Club and, best of all, the wonderful Travellers Call.   

So, tonight the Flying Horse got to savour the semi-overheated (Barry removed at least one layer during proceedings) Living Room of The Griffin in all its ordinariness.  We had hoped to add the Gatley barn to our list of venues, but the Flying Horse are tight on numbers and had requested an away fixture so that they didn't have to provide a QM - more on him later.  

It was the most enjoyable quiz evening we've had in many years.    Our opponents were - Rachael alert -  the most convivial of companions and a damn fine quiz team to boot.  We took a lead in the Stockport format, were pegged right back in the written round and after that there was never more than one point in it until David scored our second and final two on question five of the last round.   

The events of last Sunday in Buenos Aires mean that Bogota Bob's beloved continent is once again facing uncertain times and so it's fortunate that he now has a couple of months on his hands without quiz interference to work what magic he can.  Tonight's news indicates he might want to take a side trip to The Hague as well if he can squeeze it in.  Those of you who are old enough, which is pretty much all of us apart from Prodigals Michael and Richard, will remember the Tom Lehrer quote "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize".  Well as you probably understood at the time, the Kissinger business was all a snow job.  People like Bob, and there are very, very few people even remotely like Bob, move in the shadows and the half spaces and if they're ever glimpsed in public it's fleeting and at the very edge of the picture.  But they accomplish......stuff.

So, we wished Bob a happy everything from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day including the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which Barry, being a heathen, doesn't understand.  And we hope we'll see Bob healthy and safe in a couple of months when he'll tell us not one word of what he's been up to in the intervening weeks.   

It looks like the Cups may well provide our best chance of silverware this season and the WithQuiz clean sweep tonight means that we won't have a new world to conquer in the semi final.  Alexander the Great and Eric Bristow would weep at such a prospect.

We're setting next week, don't think I've left any hostages to fortune in this report but we'll find out once the reviews are in.  

And finally this from John Palmer, the exceptionally genial (and knowledgeable) leader of the Flying Horse:  

"Excellent quiz, very enjoyable.  We arrived with no expectations but were surprised to find ourselves in contention until the last five or six questions where KFD got their first twos to edge us out.    Chapeau to the QM."

Thank you, John, for that and for an excellent evening.  Chapeau indeed to the man in the hat.  Go well and we'll see you in the New Year.   

Two of the four M&S Oscars


Prodigals beat Alexandra

The Prods get the better of the habitual 'European' performers from The Alex

Jimmy gets his Carlows and his Wicklows muddled

Convivial evening as per usual down the Albert Club as we hosted some of Stockport’s finest.  Kate had eyeballed them as regular winners of a Monday night quiz she takes part in, so we knew we were in for a tough test.  Our recent upturn in fortunes continued and we led 35-25 after the Stockport rounds.  With four rounds in the WithQuiz format to see us home we managed to grind out the win - though we did have a bit of a shocker on the innovative triple run-on round.  Mainly down to me blurting Carlow where my Granny 'Mad' Maggie Murphy hailed from, rather than the required Irish county.  

Stella as QM was her usual gracious self though she did blot her copybook by not dishing out the sheets provided for the written round.  Thankfully there were no ten point deductions for this particular offence.  

Afterwards, the talk turned to the price of fish and the dearth of decent chippies in the Manchester area - though the Atlantic Fish Bar in Chorlton, and Armstrongs of Prestwich (home of the jumbo cod) were mentioned favourably in dispatches.  

Now that's what I call a Real eyebrow


Railway lost to Ethel Rodin

Another close run thing - but Ethel prevailed

James tells how every one of Ethel's members played a part

Wow!  A clean sweep for WithQuiz.  Probably not the healthiest of outcomes for the future of this particular competition, but something we can be collectively proud of.

The Stockport league style questions are all conferred meaning that a standout quizzer (such as The Railway’s 2022 Mastermind champion Alice Walker) has the potential to carry a team to regular success in their league.  However, the way our WithQuiz questions are presented gives the rest of the team nowhere to hide, and so the quiz becomes a proper team game.  It certainly felt that way.

There are times when Greg could be said to fill the 'Alice role' for us - and of course, he often does - but the rest of the team (tonight Roddy, John and I) all made full contributions.

The first round saw some very high scoring - essentially shared between both teams - with the only difference between us being Faisalabad.  Every other question was answered; we got two bonuses and they got three.  Ethel are a good conferring side, and everyone had something to offer here.

Second round was nine all.  John and Roddy suggested the obscure Vaughan Williams opera (obscure to me, even as an RVW fan) and The Railway got Lutyens when we went for one of the Scotts.  Neither team got Singer Sargent, although we had 50/50’d him with Whistler.

The WithQuiz rounds then just about played into our hands, and the two-pointers made the difference.

Mike, you must show a view of the spectacular Cosmati Pavement on the website (see below, James).  I knew this from trips to Sicily and Italy, where Cosmatesque floors are always a rare and special treat.  

Just running on and on and on


Smart Alex lost to Bards

A thumping victory for the Bards sees them into the next round

WIST Lowly Grail

HMRUFC lost to Albert

A comfortable win for the team from the Sun

Crinkle-cut O'Brien sniffs out some dodgy crisps - again

I must deal with the really important issue first.  Last night I examined the crisp packet of the brand on sale at HMRUFC.  Unlike the crisps available at The Sun In September  with their la-di-dah Lady Clare potato varieties the Piper Crisps I analysed claimed to be "using the best quality, locally sourced potatoes, working with unique ingredient partners creating bold flavours".  The cheese in these crisps is from Lye Cross Farm at the foot of The Mendips.  All this smacks of wokery to be deplored as much as the faux aristocratic tone of the Sun in-house brand.  Be warned I will be subjecting the crisps at each quiz venue I visit to the same in-depth critique.  You have all been warned. 

Madame X: a cold shoulder in France


Although we won every section for the first time in this competition it was by slim margins until the final round of the WithQuiz section.  The opening round of 30 questions was the toughest I have come across and the Rugby Club had the same problem.  The triple run-ons were frequently challenging but interesting - L S Lowry in tandem with Roy Cooder!  The 'Oscar Round' demonstrated how quickly we forget even the most modern of films.

All in all a pleasant evening spent in good company (and I am not referring to The Albert!).

Edwin's gift to Manchester


Horse & Farrier lost to Opsimaths

A smash and grab by the Opsis - with the emphasis on 'smash'

Mike was munching his crisps on the bench and saw it all

A very hospitable team from Gatley's own Horse and Farrier welcomed us to their upstairs quiz eyrie.  Whereas the downstairs has been modernised, equipped with TV screens and treats for passing dogs the upstairs looks a bit like the Scottish hotel rooms I visited in the 1960s - functional and nowt else.  Never mind it was a most enjoyable evening in good company.

After Round 1 the Opsis were well ahead and that lead just kept on getting larger.  It did seem a bit unfair that we could easily cope with Stockport-style rounds demanding team conferences for every question, whereas the H&F team found it difficult to adapt to the more complicated regime of WithQuiz rounds.  Perhaps it's the focus we have to give on deciding whether or not to confer that sharpens our act.  When all you ever do is chat amongst yourselves the added task of deciding whether to confer or not is hard to get used to. 

Whatever, the home team were well beaten but most gracious in defeat.  Thanks too to their QM who clearly found the WithQuiz style a whole new ballgame.

So Emma, Nick, Howell and Brian march on.  Next week we play Ethel at the Club with top spot at stake.

From Wales to England and back again


History Men beat Wandering Star

The History end their losing run with a convincing Cup win

Ivor reports on someone else's blurt - for a change

Readers will know we have lost all six of our league games this season and more firmly fixed to the bottom of the table than ancient discarded chewing gum.  So it might be forgotten that we are actually the defending champions of the Lowly Grail which we won handsomely against the Opsimaths last season.  As traditional in first rounds we had a game against a Stockport team, the Wandering Stars.  We have not previously met in any contest and they were excellent company.  They soon got used to our strange ways with QM Steve keeping order with a light touch and good humour prevailing throughout.  

The first 30 questions resulted in a tie 26-26 with one unanswered per team and two steals each (Gerry as setter will be delighted at that balancing act) but we pulled ahead in the written round 12-4.  The WithQuiz format often favours WithQuiz teams because, as Charlotte from the Wandering Stars noted, there is the element of jeopardy as to whether to go for the two or confer for the one - and the Stockport format does not provide this extra element of tension.  Of course WithQuizzers also have a degree of tension - especially if you are a blurting Historyman who has to cope with vituperation from one’s own colleagues.  Fortunately there was only one blurt tonight and it was not me, so Anne did not have to say “You are an idiot” but rather “I am an idiot”. 

We were delighted to find that the miasma that haunts our lucky seats and which usually results in us throwing away leads in the final rounds has at last lifted as we ended the game with six consecutive twos and two steals to achieve the highest score of the eight matches.  Perhaps the chewing gum will loosen in our remaining league games. 

No Flying Dutchman he


Electric Pigs beat Tiviot via walkover

Unfortunately Tiviot were unable to field a team so the Pigs go through to the next round on a walkover.

Outspoken - or just plain offensive?


Quiz paper set by...

... WithQuiz - Gerry Collins

Average Aggregate score 99.3

Excellent paper from Gerry.  We really miss you Gerry but it's such a pleasure to hear from you every now and again through your wonderful papers.  A distinctive mix of erudition, whimsy and personal prejudice always infuse your setting (as indeed Russell Davies recently got to know on Brain of Britain).

Good balance throughout and plenty of variation in style and subject matter.

I did sympathise with the Horse and Farrier team in our match, however, for having to master the delights of the triple run-ons from a standing start.  The QM appeared somewhat baffled too as to what was going on in that round - though as it progressed everybody enjoyed the juxtaposition of Jonah Lomu and Jacob Rees-Mogg with just a small deer to keep them apart.  Brilliant, too, getting Erling Haaland to cling to Merlin!

However there is one blot to cover ... the question which referred to upskirting (Round 5 Spare Question 2) and another that referred to P J O'Rourke's comments on Irish girls and bikinis (Round 6 Question 6) did, I know, offend some quizzers.  I'm sure that this was not Gerry's intention so on behalf of him and WithQuiz I apologise.  We'll be more wary in future.

Having said that, many thanks, Gerry, for providing a most enjoyable evening.

B-B-Brilliant Stanley!


... and this is what Kieran thought ...

A very good paper from Withquiz's prodigal son, Gerry from the Northern Reeks.  Not many twos but hardly any unanswereds all night and an aggregate score of one hundred points or more in four of the seven matches.  The Oscars round didn't play to our strengths but essaying Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri as a likely quote from Psalm 22 wasn't our finest hour.  Also a quiz set by an Irish Catholic on the sixtieth anniversary of the Kennedy assassination and not even a suggestion of a grassy knoll or triple underpass.  What's the use of being my house's leading expert on/debunker of conspiracy theories when I get those kind of breaks?  Yes, I live alone, how did you know?

... and Jimmy's feedback ...

The quiz itself was nicely crafted, well balanced and had something for everyone to get their teeth into. My favourite question was the run on which featured the Hulme Arthouse cinema.  I was slightly too young to ever get there myself but my older brother Kev (a one-time Prod) managed to catch Tod Browning’s disturbing 1932 film Freaks there sometime in the mid 70s. The Prods are actually thinking of adopting the phrase “Gabba, Gabba we accept you” from the film, as part of our revamped initiation ceremony for potential new team members. Watch this space...    

Taken during Gerry's visit to count the Jaffa Cakes at McVitie's


... and James appreciated the setter's efforts too ...

Thanks to Gerry for the questions - it is not easy to write so many questions and maintain balance and fairness throughout.

A couple of candidates for QotW: Ben Kingsley and whoever it was, was a decent question, even though the 'not Ben Kingsley' part of the answer evaded us all.

The run through answer at Round 5 Question 3 - Merlin (g/ha) Alan Davis was particularly inspired.  However when taken as a whole, this particular round’s answers were perhaps always going to be a series of conferred efforts.  

... and finally Ivor's thoughts ...

There was praise for the quiz from both teams.  I do not think Gerry/Father Megson has ever produced a dull or disappointing offering.  All that transliterating Latin into Gaelic on vellum under candlelight in the Reeks and the organised violence of the hurling pitch are the obvious training requirements for a quiz setter of the first rank.  The triple run-on round was very well received but QotW was the actor who played three roles in the three Godfather films, one of them in the opposite gender.

Corrie Oscars


Question of the Week

This week Ivor opts for the beguiling fact presented in Round 4 Question 4 ...

Before going on to win an Academy Award for best original screenplay, who is the only person to appear in all three Godfather films, playing different characters in each and indeed playing a character of the opposite sex in the first of the trilogy?

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

Godfather: Woman and Boy


...and also

Obviously the results for the WIST Champions Cup and Lowly Grail matches this week reflect well on the prowess of our WithQuiz teams.  However ultimately, added to the dominance of the WithQuiz teams over the past few seasons, these results are bad news for these competitions.  Mike Wagstaffe and myself need to chat as to how we take things forward over the coming seasons.

All I hear from our teams is that they really value the 'European' matches and enjoy visiting different venues and meeting less familiar quizzing faces.  The friendliness of the matches and the courtesy of our Stockport hosts is palpable.  I, for one, would be keen to keep the contacts going.

One observation from me is that it is very easy for our quizzers to adapt to the Stockport quiz paper format, but perhaps harder for the Stockport teams to get comfortable with the more complex quizzing formats we use.  Additionally the matches invariably happen on a Wednesday which is our quizzing night whereas Stockport use Thursdays so the WIST matches are added into their week as extra quiz nights.

So, if you have any thoughts on these issues please fire them at me and I'll add them to my discussions with Mike Wagstaffe.

Pavement Art