New Adventures in Quizzing

Whatever else one can say about running quizzes for a living, it’s not that often that you find yourselves risking life and limb to bring knowledge and entertainment to the people.

However, my first corporate quiz of the year, in Eastbourne, turned into an awfully big adventure. First of all, the journey itself turned unexpectedly into a bit of a blizzard, and then, when we arrived at Eastbourne, though there was no snow lying on the ground, there was a howling gale, sheets of rain, and there was our venue – at the very end of Eastbourne Pier (the client had certainly chosen somewhere spectacular!).

We braved our way down the walkway, and after finding a couple of locked doors, made our way into the extremely nice venue and began to set up. After a while we were joined by the quiz organisers and we awaited the participants.

Suddenly, I was ushered over and informed that the pier was to much of a safety risk, and, if I agreed, the venue for the quiz would be changed to a nearby hotel.

Now, usually, we’re pretty scrupulous about making sure the venue which the client has chosen suits the needs of the quiz, and in this case, we were using the venue’s equipment, rather than our own, so I was hesitant, but assured that the hotel could provide a good sound system.

And so it proved – the slippery walk back along the pier gave merit to the decision to change venue, and I very quickly set up in a spare function room of the hotel for over 100 people.

The sound was good, the quiz was only a little delayed and seemed to be a success. It was a good example of how flexible one occasionally has to be. Admittedly, I’ve never been instructed to change the venue of the quiz before at the last minute, but the timings, the numbers, the difficulty level, the subject, the quality of sound can all be altered at very short notice, and it is up to us to adapt and still provide a high quality, seamless, professional service.

Even though this was my first quiz of the year, there wasn’t thankfully, too much ring rust and I managed to get through the Battle of Eastbourne Pier unscathed.

Making History: Murray vs Federer Wimbledon Facts

We’ve gathered a handy list of facts and figures to help you be the expert in your living room during the 2012 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Final between Andy Murray and Roger Federer. If you want to print this off to have it to hand during the match, we’ve made a print-friendly version for you.

  1. Andy Murray will be the first British man to play in a Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles final since 1938 (74 years)
  2. The last British men’s singles finalist at Wimbledon was Bunny Austin, who lost in straight sets (6-1, 6-0, 6-3)
  3. The man who lost to Bunny Austin in the 1938 Wimbledon semi-final was the German Henner Henkel, who was killed during the Battle of Stalingrad.
  4. Henkel had however beaten Bunny Austin in the final of the French Open (the French Championships as it was called then) at Roland Garros in 1937.
  5. Andy Murray has been in Grand Slam Finals before (Grand Slams being the four major tournaments – Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open). He lost in the US Open Final in 2008, Australian Open Final 2010, and Australian Open final in 2011.
  6. Roger Federer has played in 24 Grand Slam finals, winning 16 of them.
  7. Andy Murray has not won a set in any of his Grand Slam finals so far.
  8. He lost to Roger Federer in the first two of those Grand Slam Finals, and Novak Djokovic in the third.
  9. Four other players – Fred Stolle, Jaroslav Drobny, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi – have played and lost their first three grand slam finals.
  10. All of them went on to win at least two Grand Slams (although Ivan Lendl lost a fourth Grand Slam final before going on to win his first of eight titles).
  11. Lendl, however, never won at Wimbledon, losing twice in the finals – to Boris Becker in 1986 and Pat Cash in 1987 (both in straight sets).
  12. Ivan Lendl has been Andy Murray’s coach since the start of 2012.
  13. Two other British men have been in Grand Slam finals since 1938 (but not at Wimbledon). They are John Lloyd (who lost the Australian Open Final in 1977) and Greg Rusedski (who lost the US Open Final in 1997)
  14. If Andy Murray wins Wimbledon, he will be the first British man to win a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry in 1936 (76 years).
  15. Fred Perry won Wimbledon for the third time in 1936.
  16. The last British Grand Slam title was Fred Perry’s victory in USA later in 1936 (the third of his US titles).
  17. Perry also won the French once and Australian once.
  18. Fred Perry was World Table Tennis Champion in 1929.
  19. There have been more recent British successes in women’s Grand Slams than in men’s.
  20. Virginia Wade won the women’s singles at Wimbledon in 1977 in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee year (having won the US Open in 1968 and the Australian Open in 1972).
  21. Sue Barker, the host of the BBC’s Wimbledon TV coverage, won the French Open in 1976.
  22. Other British female Grand Slam winners since 1936 include: Ann Haydon Jones, Christine Truman, Shirley Brasher, Angela Mortimer and Dorothy Round Little.
  23. British players have fared only a little better at Doubles in recent history until Jonathan Marray, with his Danish partner Frederik Nielsen, won the men’s doubles the day before Andy Murray’s singles final..
  24. That doubles victory by Marray was the first at Wimbledon for a British man since 1936, when Pat Hughes and Raymond Tuckey won, and for Nielsen the first Grand Slam victory of any sort by a Danish man (although his grandfather Kurt reached the Wimbledon twice, in 1953 and 1955).
  25. Roger Taylor won the men’s doubles at the US Open in 1972 with South African Cliff Drysdale.
  26. In Mixed Doubles, Andy Murray’s brother, Jamie, won the Wimbledon title in 2007 with Jelena Jankovic of Serbia.
  27. The last all British doubles victory at Wimbledon was in 1987 when Jeremy Bates and Jo Durie won the Mixed.
  28. At Wimbledon, Andy Murray has always done at least as well as the previous year since his Wimbledon debut (with the forgivable exception of 2007 when he didn’t play through injury).
  29. In 2005 he reached the 3rd round, in 2006 the 4th round, in 2008 the Quarter-Final, in 2009-2011 he reached the Semi-Final, and now in 2012 he has reached the Final.
  30. If Andy Murray wins, he will remain as  World Number 4, behind Djokovic, Nadal and Federer (although Federer will overtake Nadal as number 2 even if Murray wins).
  31. In head-to-head matches, Murray leads Federer 8-7, although they have never played on grass
  32. Federer has beaten Andy Murray on both occasions that they have played in Grand Slams (both times in Finals)
  33. Federer leads Murray 4-2 in finals in general (including the Grand Slams)
  34. If Federer wins, it will be his 17th Grand Slam title, taking him even further clear of Pete Sampras who won 14 Grand Slam titles.
  35. If Federer wins, it will be his 7th Wimbledon title, equalling the record held by Pete Sampras and William Renshaw.
  36. Federer won Wimbledon for the first time in 2003, and then won it in each of 2004-2007 and again in 2009.
  37. Federer’s winning streak of five consecutive Wimbledon titles is matched in the Open Era (since 1968 when professionals could play) only by Bjorn Borg.
  38. Just by reaching the final, Federer equals the record of 8 Wimbledon Finals held by William Renshaw in the 1880s. However, most of Renshaw’s “finals” were under the old Challenge format, under which every other played competed in the draw, and the winner took on the reigning champion.
  39. If Federer wins, he will regain the World Number 1 spot that he held for a record 237 weeks from February 2004 until August 2008, and for 48 weeks from July 2009 until June 2010.
  40. Federer will also equal Pete Sampras’ record for total number of weeks at world number 1, a total of 286 weeks, a record that he should then hold by himself a week later.
  41. Federer and Sampras only played once at Wimbledon, in 2001, when Federer beat Sampras in the fourth road.
  42. Federer lost in the quarter-finals that year to Tim Henman, who went on to lose to Goran Ivanisevic in a rain-affected three day semi-final before Ivanisevic won the famous Monday final against Pat Rafter.
  43. Roger Federer is married to former tennis player Mirka Vavrinec, whom he met while both were competing for Switzerland in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
  44. Federer has twin girls called Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, who were born in July 2009.
  45. Federer’s father is Swiss (and Federer was born in Switzerland) but his mother was born in South Africa, and thus he holds both Swiss and South African citizenship.
  46. Federer speaks Swiss German, German, French and English fluently.
  47. In 2003, Federer was deemed unfit for compulsory military service in the Swiss Armed Forces because of a long-standing back problem.
  48. Despite this back problem (which caused him to call the trainer on to the court during his fourth round match at Wimbledon against Xavier Malisse), Federer has a remarkable fitness record.
  49. Federer has played in 51 consecutive Grand Slams, reaching the quarter-finals or better in the last 33, which is well ahead of the previous record of 27 set by Jimmy Connors.
  50. Murray has had injury problems of his own, and was born with a bipartite patella, which was diagnosed when he was 16, after which he stopped playing tennis for six months.
  51. Andy Murray’s girlfriend is Kim Sears, who is the daughter of Nigel Sears, who is the coach of women’s world number 12 Ana Ivanovic
  52. Murray’s mother is Judy Murray, who is captain of the Great Britain Fed Cup team (the women’s equivalent of the Davis Cup).
  53. His parents separated when he was nine years old, and Andy and elder brother Jamie lived with their father Will, who is  in a relationship with Sam Watson, an optician.
  54. Andy attended Dunblane Primary School, and was present during the 1996 Dunblane school massacre.
  55. “Deferred, well-being demon” is an anagram of “Federer – Wimbledon Legend”, while “Murray Wimbledon disappointment”  is an anagram of “Moribundly swampier and impotent.”

Prize Quiz Winners

On Friday 22nd June, we ran a special Prize Quiz. The questions and answers will stay online until 10th July if you want to take a look, and see how well you think you did. If you desperately want to know your exact score, then put your name in the comments box, and we’ll let you know. We are also trying to find a useful way of publishing the full results table without publishing people’s email addresses!

We had almost 500 people taking part, including people called Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, Hugh Jarsz, Similar, Googlemouse, Peter Crouch, Diana Dors etc. – which is just fine for those who wished to participate anonymously. None of those people would have won a prize even if we had known who they were (but one or two were pretty close). Many thanks for taking part so enthusiastically – we will do it again later in the year.

We didn’t forbid the use of Google or other looking up, although we did discourage it, and we’d like to thank Tom Scott for being a control participant for persistent Googling throughout. It was very interesting to see how quickly it was possible for someone who is an extremely skilled tech-type person to complete the quiz whilst looking up on every single question. Tom did it in 12 minutes, but still got a few wrong – we did promise that some questions were rather awkward to look up!

So, the prizes, which took into account score, completion speed, and completion time with those who submitted their answers before 16:15 (15 minutes after it went live) being in contention for the top prizes. [actually it went live at about 15:59 according to our software].

First Prize, £50 goes to Brian Pendreigh with 34 out of 40, and a completion speed of 10m 3s, and a submission time of 16:09:25 Brian is a freelance freelance film journalist and author and writes on these subjects for The Times and Radio Times, as well as being a familiar name from various TV and radio quizzes.

Second Prize, £20 goes to Craig Element with 34 out of 40, and a completion speed of 11m 23s and a submission time of 15:10:41.

Third Prize (one of several third prizes), £10 goes to Iain Thoms with 32 out of 40, and a phenomenally fast completion speed of 6m 29s and a submission time of 15:06:43.

Commiserations to a few other people who also got 32 points and submitted before 16:15, but you were all nailed by Iain’s phenomenal speed!

Third Prize, £10 goes to David Renfree with 39 out of 40, and a completion time of 18m 02s but a submission time of 16:17:53, just after the 16:15 cut-off for the top prizes.

Third Prize, £10 goes to Gary Male with 39 out of 40, and a completion time of 20m 44s but a submission time of 16:20:20. Gary co-devised and wrote questions for a game show for Reading University student television called Accumulate! which came 3rd in a poll for best gameshow of the year a couple of years back, along with Daniel Peake.

Third Prize, £10 goes to Dave Mattingly, with 38 out of 40, and a completion time of 21m 15s and a submission time of 16:20:46. This was earlier and faster (only just in some cases) than a few other people with 38 out of 40 who submitted after 16:15, with special credit for the fact that David is from the US (and lives in the US) yet still managed to thrive in a quiz which had a fair few Britishisms in it.

Third Prize, £10 goes to Fiona Murray, with 39 out of 40, which was the highest score of those who submitted after the second cut-off time of 17:00.

There is one other prize winners who we are waiting to hear back from following an email to them to confirm their details – we will update this post as and when.

£100 Prize Quiz Announcement

At 4pm on Friday 22nd June, we will be running a £100 Prize Quiz in addition to our normal Friday Quiz. The quiz will go online here at 4pm UK time on Friday 22nd June. We will also post the link on Twitter and Facebook shortly before the start time of the prize quiz.

The prize quiz will be in a similar format to the Friday Quiz, only with more questions and with the added excitement of time pressure to submit your answers.

Everyone on the Friday Quiz mailing list will receive a one-off notification shortly before the prize quiz opens, and prizes will be awarded based on accuracy and speed of responses submitted. If you don’t want to miss out, please sign-up to be on the Friday Quiz mailing list.

We won’t be able to stop anybody from using google, wikipedia etc, and as such there is no point in us declaring it not allowed. It is up to you whether you play using your brains or your internet research skills. Ultimately it is only a bit of fun with a fairly modest prize attached. However, we will have a good number of questions that may be tricky to look up online, and there is the added element of time pressure since the bigger prizes will go to those who submit most quickly, thus countering, to an extent, the time available for internet research.

We haven’t 100% finalised how the prizes (most likely payable as Amazon vouchers) will be allocated, but it will be something like this:

First prize of £50 will go to the highest score submitted by 4:15pm (with time of submission of answers being the tie-breaking factor if needed).

Second prize of £20 will go to either the second highest score submitted by 4:15pm or the highest score submitted between 4:15pm and 5pm (with time of submission of answers being the tie-breaking factor if needed), whichever is the higher.

Three third prizes (of £10 each) will go to the highest scores submitted after 5pm (and before the quiz closes at the end of the weekend), or the highest scores as yet unrewarded from those who submitted before 5pm. These may well end up being  consolation prizes for those who weren’t available at 4pm, or the more modest prizes for those who want to take the time to look up answers.

[and we reserve the right to give out prizes as we see fit, even if it ends up being nothing like the above – the one thing we will guarantee is that we will give out at least £100 in prizes to those we think deserve it!]

Introducing a Question Writer

My rather grand title at QuizQuizQuiz is Director of Question Writing. It’s grand but it is essentially accurate. I look after our quiz question writing – I do a fair bit of it myself, and I marshal the troops for the rest of it, using other QuizQuizQuiz staff and trusted freelancers where required. One way or another, I make sure our question writing commitments are fulfilled. I do writing, delegating, fact-checking, collating, editing, proof-reading, adapting, sometimes even translating – whatever the project requires.

I run lots of quizzes too, but the question writing is my main thing. It is, if you will, my profession. There are other professional question writers around, but, I suppose, not all that many. Amateur and semi-professional question writers – well, there are thousands and thousands. I imagine most people reading this blog have had a go at writing questions for a quiz at some point or another. So if I share a few thoughts about the process, hopefully there’ll be plenty there that people will recognise and some which will be new.

I enjoy writing quiz questions. Which is lucky, as I’ve written 10s of 1000s, perhaps as many as 100,000 in all forms. Not all of those are world-beaters. Questions I write can be split into two basic categories – “pub” questions with no answer choices and “machine” questions which are multiple choice (though there can be crossover). In general, the latter are mass-produced and a lot quicker to write, though this is not always true. The most I’ve ever written in a day was 350, which I think is quite a lot. They were all on golf. I also wrote a similar amount in one day on Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Conversely, the fewest quiz questions I’ve ever written on a day where I’ve given myself over whole-heartedly to question-writing is about 15. Conclusion: some questions are harder to write than others.

Obviously, there are more memorable questions to be written in the “open” pub quiz format than the multiple choice format, but both can be extremely satisfactory in their own way and present enormous challenges in their own way. I’ve had to write large numbers of questions on subjects where I’m (to quote Adam on ‘The Apprentice’) out of my comfort zone – having good prior knowledge of a subject beforehand does make a big difference. I won’t give too much away, but let’s just say I’ll be quicker writing questions on Football for an 18-30 British demographic than questions on Business for 16-18 year old Indian students. But I have done both and, I think, done both well.

Generally, I’ve got better and better at it as I’ve gone on. Precision, uniformity, clarity and knowing the likelihood of people getting the right answer have all come more and more naturally to me. The down side may be that being a bit more watchful means I take fewer risks on questions and write in a more methodical way than I did at the start. I’m more likely to think about what might be interesting to other people than to write something that I myself find interesting.

I occasionally see or hear other people’s questions and think “gosh, that’s clever” and think my own questions a little dry by comparison, but that’s pretty rare and just a symptom of occasional overkill. On “pub” questions, I take real care in the phrasing of the question, in making the answer the part of the interesting fact that people will recognise, on dropping in clues which people won’t realise are clues, on not leaving people high and dry. I’ve moved further and further away from “know it or don’t” questions, which is a shame in a way, as, of course, what distinguishes a good quizzer is knowing things that other people don’t. A good quiz question is different, though. It’s about giving everyone some kind of chance.

For mass multiple choice quiz question projects, the skills are very different, but one that remains, is being able to judge what people know. We usually write these questions with difficulty levels, so it’s all rather scientific (30-50% of people should know these 100 questions, that kind of thing). The more I do this, the better I get at it. Sometimes i’ll look at old projects, see a question and think “What made me put that in Easy, that’s Hard?”, but less and less, and also, what is Easy for one intended audience is Hard for another.

What makes me suitable to be a professional question writer? Well, I like quizzes, always have. I used to look forward to the end of term quizzes at school, I’d pour through Wisden Almanack, Halliwell’s Film Guide and the Guinness Book of Hit Singles when I was younger, not just reading but carrying out my own surveys. I’ve watched almost every minute of every Olympics since 1988. I devised my own formula to work out that Shakin’ Stevens was the most successful singles artist in the UK in the 80s, I made list of my favourite 500 songs, all that kind of stuff. I like the facts, there’s no way round it.

What else? I’m good at spelling, and can write reasonably well and quite fast, I’m a bit stubborn but just about prepared to take feedback, care about accuracy and truth, but choose my moments to be pedantic. Most importantly, I don’t have many friends, and will happily sit in front of a computer thinking of stuff all day!

The above paragraph may be an idealised version of myself, that’s what a question writer should be, and hopefully what I am most of the time (definitely the bit about not having friends). I’ve been doing it for over 6 years and it’s still enjoyable – yesterday, amongst other things, I wrote 30 questions which we’ll hopefully use for our corporate events in the future, and I’m pretty pleased with about 10 of them. That’s good enough for me.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Quiz etc.

We are very rarely asked to include questions on specific topical events, but the two very notable exceptions to this of late have been the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. It would seem that they are events of such national penetration and interest that a quiz at this time of year that does not reference them in some way would feel hollow.

But more interestingly, perhaps, is that the jubilee is a reason for people to hold their own quizzes – at street parties, dinner parties, schools, etc. – when they wouldn’t normally do so.

We’ve done our bit to help anyone who wants a Diamond Jubilee Quiz of their own (and doesn’t want to write their own quiz questions). You can buy one of our special packs of Queens’s Diamond Jubilee Quiz questions in our quiz questions shop – and if you use the special code TWQ you will get a 30% discount.

Enjoy the Jubilee festivities,  whether or not they include a quiz!

Charity Quiz Night – The Big Give Quiz

We don’t normally post adverts etc., but I’ve now heard about ‘The Big Give Quiz’ from a few different sources, and it sounds like it will be good fun. It is, in particular, an opportunity to feel like you are on a celebrity quiz show special: if you win you get a nice wadge of cash to donate to the charity of your choice from The Big Give list of 9,000 charities. More details below, or you can register here.

The Big Give Quiz

Online charity giving service the Big Give is running a brand new online quiz on Wednesday 20th June at 7.30 pm (GMT).

The Big Give is a not for profit website that helps all UK charities raise funds in new and innovative ways. Their latest idea is to run an online quiz where all entry fees will be donated to the charity of your choice. You must simply register (for £10) and are then given a £10 voucher to donate to any of the 9,000 charities on the Big Give.

Not only do all entry fees go to the charity of your choosing, but if you win you get £250 in cash and a further £500 to donate. This is a great opportunity for all you enthusiastic quiz masters to help raise money for your favourite charity.

If you’re feeling philanthropic, why not register a team now? To register or read more, click here.

Olympic Quiz Nights

We’ve cleared our diaries for the London Olympic period not so that we can go to watch the events (but we will!) but so that we have QuizMasters available all over London and the UK for running Olympic themed quiz nights.

We’ve been working on some specific Olympic inspired quiz night ideas, and our question writing team is coming up with some great questions for any Olympic quizzes – whether corporate quiz events, sports club quiz nights or thousands of quiz questions for a themed game or website. We’ve also published various Olympics quiz packs in our shop for anyone who wants to run their own Olympic themed quiz night.

The approach that we find works best  is to include Olympics themed questions throughout the quiz, rather than having the whole quiz on the one topic. And the Olympics as a broad topic lends itself very well to a quiz night that contains questions not just on sport, but on history, geography, music, movies, TV, technology, and much much more.

If you’re interested – let us know, and get in touch to see what we can do for you.

Pub quizzes over Christmas

Many people like to spend Christmas with family, but just as many people want to get away from family for at least some of the time. And what better way to do that than by going to a pub quiz! I know most pubs are running quizzes as normal this week, but next week seems a bit empty…

Are you or any pubs near you running pub quizzes next week?

In the meantime, here is a Christmas cryptic film for you to solve:

Sir Black Beauty 25/12

And of course you can print out our Christmas quiz to do with friends and family at home

Life After Mastermind

We hope you’ve been enjoying our blog since we launched a few weeks ago.

There are loads of good quiz blogs out there, and we’ll do our best to highlight some of our favourites from time-to-time.

For starters, we think that readers of the QuizQuizQuiz blog will enjoy David Clarke’s ‘Life After Mastermind‘ blog. We particularly enjoy his blog for the blow-by-blow accounts of the main serious UK quiz shows (Mastermind, University Challenge, Only Connect, Brain of Britain – shows that many of our team have done well on) and also for his tales of quiz participation and quiz setting.

‘Life After Mastermind’ also includes great swathes of quiz questions most weeks to keep your quiz brain cells sharp.

What’s your favourite quiz blog?