RSS Christmas Quiz 2019: Can you crack this year's puzzles?

Written by Tim Paulden on . Posted in Features

For the last 26 years, the Royal Statistical Society has published a diabolically difficult Christmas quiz to entertain puzzle fans during the festive break.

Cracking this year’s challenge, devised by Dr Tim Paulden, will require a mixture of general knowledge, logic, and lateral thinking - but, as usual, no specialist mathematical knowledge is needed.

NB: The deadline for entries has closed. We'll publish the solutions on StatsLife shortly.

 

 

 

Three helpful tips for budding solvers:

- You may make use of any tools or resources you wish to help solve the problems, including books, internet search engines, computer programs, and so on. To keep the quiz fun for everyone, solvers are kindly asked not to post any solutions online until after the quiz has concluded. Thank you!

- Answers should be briefly explained to receive full credit - the number of points available for each question is indicated in brackets. You may find several of the question titles to be helpful; for full credit, these titles should also be explained.

- This year, each of the sixteen answers contributes a short letter pattern towards an overarching sentence. Solvers who correctly determine this sentence will earn bonus points. Please refer to the bonus question at the end of the quiz for further details.

Entries are welcomed both from individuals and teams of up to five people. Two sets of prizes are on offer this year: (a) Entries submitted by an RSS member, or by a team that includes at least one RSS member, will be eligible to win £150 (for the best entry) or £50 (for the runner-up) in Wiley book vouchers; (b) Entries submitted by a non-member, or by a team of non-members, will be eligible to win a one-year subscription to the print edition of Significance (for the best entry) or an one-year online subscription to Significance (for the runner-up). In addition, the quizmaster will once again be making a £250 donation to charity, which will be divided equally between good causes selected by the ten highest-scoring entries.

Answers should be sent by email (with “RSS Christmas Quiz 2019” as the subject line) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to arrive before 19:00 GMT on Monday 13 January 2020. If you are an RSS member, or your team includes one or more RSS members, please provide the relevant RSS membership number(s) in your email, so that your entry can be considered for prize set (a). The quizmaster’s decision is final, and in the event of a tie, the prize-winners will be selected at random from the highest-scoring entries.

Good luck!

Q1.  WELCOME TO THE TWENTIES  [5 points]

The glittering New Year countdown clock in Rome runs into an unfortunate fault less than four minutes before midnight (see image). The fault means that the speed of the clock's second hand will increase by 25% every time it passes the minute hand, at the precise instant that the two hands are pointing in the same direction. (The clock's hands all move continuously, rather than in discrete ticks, and the speeds of the minute hand and hour hand are unaffected by the fault.)

At the stroke of midnight - which, luckily, is governed by the position of the hour hand - revellers notice that the second hand isn't pointing upwards, but is instead pointing almost exactly to one of the sets of numerals on the edge of the clock. Which one?

 

Q2.  Y.I.  [4 points]

In what context might you have seen the entries in the table below?

14:  A, B, C, E, E, S, S, Z

15:  -

16:  S, S

17:  A, A, C, D, G, N

18:  F

19:  B, B, N, T

20:  -

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer to two letters in the natural way.)

 

Q3.  CHOICE CUTS  [7 points]

Identify the two-letter pattern that can be removed to transform:

- a 13th-century English sculptor into a Swiss folk hero

- a 60-year-old animated heroine into a tyrant’s daughter

- a celebrated game designer into a director who married his lead vampire

- an Emmy-winning jazz trumpeter into an actor who voices a mud-loving puppy

- a South Shetland Islands feature into a 1960s political musical (which inspired another)

- a member of a famous 17th-century group into a copywriter who created a Christmas icon

 

Q4.  DISPOSSESSED  [5 points]

What does the diagram below depict? (Note: The positions of the blue regions are not precise.)

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer to two letters in the natural way. If sources conflict on the nomenclature, please use the version that appears latest alphabetically.)

 

Q5.  BPHGG LOEOO URDBE RNOTS  [10 points]

Decode the three quotes below. Who uttered them?

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer to two letters by taking the initial letter of the person’s first name and last name.)

DIYBI PTMDT HHXVV CGTTW EYJAT BEBTH PMALH EHWED TAPYY HISPJ BBMDS XHBIM PVIIH WOYEB ISHSI XSTEA HBHXV PIWHV IYIWO WHLID DATHH YPBYE OPMIT HGIDI HIBEV EVDPT HSPTG IMNPW IVHXP HIWEN

HYMYM DEHEW IMWIT PVIIB IZYPM EHJPP DSVDM KPLEY TBIWP DHBHD IYDYI VITIB PANCB HCKIT JMTEB JWHTD CDISV CSDII BBPPH TQYXD TIKHD HETWY THSWT CHKIJ HDIWQ WAMJH WEHPP YWWAI BIIQP YYBLI QHIPO EDDBW TEYIY MATCQ TYIYO TEKPJ SDPHH BDMYM DTIYX HPYPJ OHAIT VBIAO IIHEE GIWSD HIEBI WIHDD TEHWP DHWAV IPEHA EEHBW TIWWD IHEVQ HEDBH TTWOW EPEHO IDCBH XYCEH KCIIT JKYIT HWIIA TMMHI DYPSJ

HPHTB SQPSW PTAIM PWECD PDSHD VXSXM IEXSI DGQQE TSTAD XPGEN CIIJH WFEBJ BJYHI BEMTP HXEWI EHSMX EYSBB IIHEY MMWKE VTEIX TDHHL PIDPJ BVHOO JMJTI YBNSP HJNCI KVXTP IWTTI BAJDD

 

Q6.  NO TROUBLE  [4 points]

Which two letters might you see intertwined in the centre if P (GC), Y (WC), R (QC), and B (MC) appear around the outside?

 

Q7.  MERRY HEX-MAS  [6 points]

As a special Christmas treat, Sisyphus has been granted a break from his usual rock-pushing duties. Instead, he has been asked to work up through the 2853-times-table (i.e. 2853, 5706, 8559, 11412, and so on) until he finds a number in which every digit is a six. Eventually - much to his astonishment - he succeeds. Determine how many sixes appear in the number that he finds.

(For the overarching sentence, convert your answer into hexadecimal - e.g. 171 would become AB.)

 

Q8.  PEN-NAMES  [7 points]

Identify the initials (first name, last name) shared by the writers of the following:

- A lengthy novel whose 29 chapters add up to 120, and whose title is also divisible by 29

- A re-imagining of a legend from a yellow book, in which a group visits a series of bizarre islands

- A book with a powerful title whose initial letters are entirely logical

- An award-winning novella whose name comes from a late 19th-century poem

- A recent book that opens on 25/12/2018 with Scarlett reading a 26-word sign outside a pub

 

Q9.  A.N.T.M.  [4 points]

The current year, 2019, consists entirely of ones when written in a particular fictional system. Identify the individual whose invention apparently sparked this system.

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer in the natural way.)

 

Q10.  SUBLIME LIFTER  [6 points]

Identify the number of the event that subsequently received a four-character nickname which appears to equal a square. The month of the event is a song by an artist whose first comprises a primitive four-letter word (in the language of a related number) followed by the answer, and whose second is built from other such numbers.

(How is the answer linked to a prime-numbered element of a work featuring elsewhere in the quiz?)

 

Q11.  A CHRISTMAS CAROL  [7 points]

What name connects the three stylised images below - and how?

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer in the natural way.)

Q12.  CALL ME  [6 points]

Who might you reach at the following numbers?

473467976484

642423522463

326227835526382

9224425434262547

72663455

339273667866

5833529

3742786589

37265427737

7383734784

2363342828623722824

What name connects all of them - and how?

(For the overarching sentence, reduce the name to its first two letters only.)

 

Q13.  TIME SIGNATURE  [5 points]

Some surprising numbers have started to appear on my CD player:

02:00, 02:32:30, 01:31, 13:10, 23:20, 00:30

Can you identify a character who might be able to fix it?

 

Q14.  SUPER NATURALS  [4 points]

The sequence of natural numbers below represents the opening sentence of a book. Can you identify it?

3,6,5,5,3,3,3,7,11,5,2,2,4,3,3,5,2,3,2,1,4,2,3,4,4,1,4,4,4,1,5,2,9,8,4,1,6,7,4,4

(Hint: Someone clued earlier in the quiz has a parent whose name is reminiscent of the book’s author.)

 

Q15.  BROUGHT TO LIFE  [6 points]

Identify the creator of the work represented in the image below:

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer in the natural way.)

What is the festive connection between this creator and the creator of an earlier answer?

 

Q16.  DON’T WORRY  [4 points]

Identify the name of the obscure addition by C, N and G that changed 12 from 232 to 1235.

(For the overarching sentence, abbreviate your answer in the natural way.)

 

BONUS QUESTION: OVERARCHING SENTENCE  [10 points]

The sixteen questions above (Q1 - Q16) have been designed such that each answer contributes a short letter pattern (after abbreviation, in some instances) towards an overarching sentence. To reveal this sentence, rearrange the sixteen patterns into an appropriate order, after performing an alphabetic shift on one of them.

What is the sentence?

How is the sentence connected to an individual clued earlier in the quiz?

Finally, can you find a hidden reference somewhere to a work in which the sentence plays a key role?

 

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Christmas Quiz

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