The Withington Pub Quiz League


24th January 2024


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Ethel squeak another win to increase their lead to 6 points; Albert leapfrog the Prods to go second after the Prods lose at the Griffin

Ethel Rodin beat Opsimaths

Albert beat Charabancs

Bards lost to Electric Pigs

KFD beat Prodigals

Ethel Rodin beat Opsimaths

Ethel just get the better of a low-scoring match to keep their run going

Mike reports from an unusually busy Ladybarn Club

Yet again the Opsis just missed out in a long, close, tense match.  'Hebrew' rather than 'Latin', 'Milei' rather than 'Milau', getting Philomena Cunk's alter ego off the tip of my tongue ... all might have meant a 'famous victory' report rather than a 'just missed out' one.

Don't get me wrong Ethel are hot right now but curiously Greg, James, Roddy and John (so good to see John playing again replacing Geoff, who is still unwell) found the paper not at all to their taste and struggled to build on the 5-point lead they gained in Round 1.

How! to get on: Dineage dynasty


The Opsimath line-up of Nick, Hilary, Brian and myself just kept clinging to Ethel's petticoat until it looked entirely possible that we might overhaul them at the end only to fall short by 2 points.  Unlike the rest of the quiz the final pair were dispatched by Greg (Nadine Gordimer's birthland) and me (Slovenia's borders) in a flash with 2 twos, and so no overall impact on the scoreline.

It was just about 11pm when Ivor, the guest QM-setter, fired the final volley and brought the lengthy evening to a close.  As ever Ivor was an excellent QM adding the sort of flourishes to the answers that could only have been acquired from the detailed research needed to dig out the question content.  As Nick sagely observed at one point when Ivor had to admit he wasn't sure who one of the answers was, "too obscure to have his own Wikipedia page then!".  History Man David was on hand to provide moral support whenever Ivor felt under fire - and when all else failed Ivor threatened the teams with an encounter with Anne who "was waiting in the car park".

Well done Ethel!  As they used to say when United kept winning those titles back in another century, it's not the big crushing victories that make for champions but the low, close and dirty scrapes where you just cling on to a lead.

A pair of Nellies


James rejoices in a Hebrew bonus

Neck and neck for most of the match, Ethel suddenly went 5 points ahead after R7, then 6 as we conferred Q1 of R8.  From thereon we tried hard to talk ourselves out of scoring any more points - until gratefully picking up the ‘Hebrew’ point that Opsimaths had turned their back on.  Finally Greg secured victory with a 2-pointer (one of only 3 for him last night, and one of only 10 in the whole match).

Our previous match with the Opsimaths this season had been something of a runaway victory, whereas this was a rather more tense affair.  Any setting team who specify a target number of points at the beginning, put themselves forward for scrutiny, or indeed, as was the case in our match, some jovial ridicule.

Competing with an unusually rowdy post-funereal clientele at the Ladybarn Club it did need someone with a big voice - and Ivor had kindly stepped in as QM, well supported by David (who kept averting his gaze as we rewarded his efforts with a series of ‘nul points’.).  Two pretty strong teams struggled with this paper - but we did note at the end of the evening as Mike dished up the scores from around the grounds that others managed to break the 40 point barrier.  

Penrhyn Gwyr at sunset


Albert beat Charabancs

Albert move up to second place with a game in hand on their closest rivals

Damian's down

Needless to say not a good night for us and, although we have sadly come to see losses as our norm, this was a particularly bad one.  We were never in a position to take the lead at any point.  Albert outscored us in every department (e.g. 8 twos to our 5) - but it was their massive number of steals (10 against just 4 for us).

Then there was the distraction of Jeremy's flaming red trousers that really sealed our fate (they reminded me of a pair of a similar colour I once wore to college many years ago - and got endlessly mocked).

Although we normally look forward to, and do reasonably well on, Historymen questions this was definitely not one of those occasions.  Not an enjoyable experience for us at all I'm afraid albeit the Albert were their usual charming and convivial company acting the role of smiling assassins to perfection.  Even QM Mike added a sinister grimace or two.  

Better late than never


When 5 become 4 become 3 become 2 become 1 


Bards lost to Electric Pigs

A welcome win for the Pigs puts them just one point adrift of the Bards

One Mad Fish


KFD beat Prodigals

KFD get back to winning ways

Kieran tells how a 6-year losing streak comes to an end


This time I can use it.  Just shy of six years since we last vanquished tonight's opponents (curiously also by 15 points).  We finally ended our worst sequence against a single team in 30+ years of WithQuiz.  Ten straight defeats, then a high-scoring draw at the club seven weeks ago.  To be fair I must point out that the youth wing of the Prodigals all-conquering team from a couple of seasons back (Michael and Richard) weren't available last night and that's a bit like City having De Bruyne and Haaland missing at the same time (just like the last five or six weeks when City have won every game!).  Still a win's a win for all that and we're not having any asterisks placed next to those two beautiful points.

Pre-match I had the usual selection decision to make, Thomas or David for seat three?  One way leads to filial angst and the other to meaningful stares from Nicola (David's wife who would like her hubby to enjoy his Wednesday evenings be out of her hair on a regular basis).  I'm far more scared of Nicola than I am of Thomas but still blood is thicker and all that and the result shows that I made the right choice.

... and yet another Nelly


At one point in the first half Thomas was pretty much playing the Prodigals on his own: darts, American football, baseball and, weirdly, the Armenian quarter of Jerusalem all fell our way thanks to him.  We won Round three 10-0 collecting bonuses on all of the Prodigals questions and that was pretty much the end of the contest.  Thomas only scored a single two but he was by far our MVP and that points up the value of a breadth of knowledge throughout the team and the rewards to be had from knowing when to confer.  

The Prodigals, going first, got significantly the worst of the unanswereds, seven as opposed to two for us but with such a big margin of victory that didn't make a difference to the final result.  

Following in TINA's footsteps


It was good to see Bob for the first time since Henry Kissinger still stalked the Earth and he was in fine form, Bob that is, not the war criminal.  Now he's off again doing Bob things for the next seven weeks.  If you read the international pages of the half decent papers closely over the next couple of months you'll likely get an idea of where he is and what he's been up to.  

Burnley at the Etihad next Wednesday thanks to the good offices of two fixture scheduling computers, and then our WIST semi final against the Bards who've beaten us in two finals of that cup and once knocked us out of three different competitions in the space of five weeks.  And of course there was HH gleefully and very aptly pronouncing "Nemesis" some thirteen years ago to signal the end of an era and the league shifting on its axis.   

We've no chance of retaining our league title so WIST is our best hope of silverware this year, and we may not even qualify for next season's edition.  Selection decisions ... "Nicola, about David and his (and your) Wednesday evenings ..."

I wonder what's making them all want to vote for me?


Quiz paper set by...

... The History Men

Average Aggregate score 67.3

Strange!  An aggregate of 70 or more in three of the matches but a meagre long-drawn out 58 down in Ladybarn.  Clearly a paper that suited some but very much not others.  As always with the History Men there was plenty of fascinating content but - at least in our case - plenty of 'never heard of him/it/her' answers.  We had a massive count of 16 unanswered questions and only 10 twos.

The paper seemed to contain an unusually high proportion of questions constructed along cryptic lines (e.g. "What connects...") for which Ivor blamed me and my Albert Club quizzes of which he has been a loyal supporter over many years (BTW next one is this coming Monday).

One question gave us lots of interesting stuff about a current amateur golfer who had had to give his winnings to the pros he had defeated - only for us to be asked about a totally unrelated other amateur golfer from many years back.  As for topics I think TV and geography made pretty strong appearances whereas - apart from a long ago Blackburn Rovers - football was  only present in its American form.  But that was just us - elsewhere points tumbled in.  So, thanks History Men for keeping us all entertained with your erudition.

... and this is what James thought ...

To be fair, the quiz was equally difficult for both teams.  A problem with setting generally difficult questions is that the occasional very easy question then makes a big difference when the  overall scores for a round are 3-2 or similar.   

The I’m a Celeb themed round was a good idea, however, it was also one that was largely lost on the majority of the room, and it’s worth reflecting how many of the winners quickly returned to total obscurity within the strange world of populist entertainment.  

Despite the fact that neither team dredged it up, I thoght the 'Kings of Leon' question probably the cleverest question of the week (I had gone for Motley Crüe as a random but vaguely tenable guess).

Grange Hill head honcho


... and from Damian's point of view ...

We found tonight's paper a bit of an ordeal and a real toughie.  Obviously t was well constructed and had plenty of variety on offer but there were some rather complicated and wordy twists in the themes (e.g. the rhyming couplet question that even befuddled QM Mike resulting in him deciding to offer a spare).

A little too heavy on sport and MPs for our liking.  Not having bothered to watch I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here since Series 2  rendered that theme pointless to us in all senses of the word.  We liked the geography questions but there were a little too few of those sorts of questions to help us along.

I have a particular caveat (no, not the usual one) about the darts question.  Wasn't it the late, great Sid Waddell that famously shouted out the prolonged "One Hundred and Eigggghhhtttyy" whenever a player scored top marks and not the person given in the answer or did I just misremenber this (admittedly not an impossibility for me these days)?

TUC supremo  in the 1980s


 Question of the Week

James really liked the the one at Round 3 Question 4 which offered some highly unlikely bedfellows as cryptic hints ...

What connects a US Indie band, named after the grandfather of three of the founding members, with Alfonso IV the Monk, Sancho the Fat and Peter the Cruel?

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

Monk, Fat and Cruel - Sex on Fire


...and also

Following this week's matches we head into the WithQuiz winter break (no matches next Wednesday January 30th).

The Opsimaths are taking this opportunity to head off to Abu Dhabi for a bit of light training and a few exhibition matches whilst Howell is sorting out all the 'January window' transfer business.  So, beware History Men we will be back refreshed and firing on all cylinders for our WIST Lowly Grail tie at the Club on February 7th. 

What's more the WIST paper on February 7th will be set by veteran Opsimath setter, Brian McClintock who will of course step down from the team for the evening.

As a result the rest of the Opsis have allowed Brian a   break from setting duties for the league paper the following week.  So, prepare yourselves for a novelty - a non-Brian Opsimath paper on February 14th!

Cunk - Bolton's Wandering historian