Christmas Quiz 2015

Please find below the solutions to the 2015 Christmas quiz.

The winners of the competition are (in first place) the team of David Edelman, Andy Grieve, Stephen Senn, and John Smith; and (in second place) Richard Job.

They win £100 and £50 of Amazon vouchers respectively, courtesy of the sponsors Minitab. Thanks to all who entered.




1. Begin (5 points)

What might, in turn, be represented by a Buckeye, a Boxer, a Berkshire, a Brown, a Brahman, a Bengal, a Beveren, a Bearded, a Boa, a Brumby, a Boreray and (in 2016) a Barbary?

Solution: Signs of the Chinese zodiac: Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey.


2. Averages (9 points)

In 2015,

(a) What averaged 1.6 million miles per day?

(b) Who successfully averaged 10.21 m/s, and 10.23 m/s four days later?

(c) Which recorded a mean of 2238 and a median of 0, resulting in 8.6% of the total?

(a) Earth;
(b) Usain Bolt, in winning the 100m and 200m titles at the World Championships;
(c) The Scottish National Party in the General Election, in terms of votes per UK constituency, and percentage of the available seats.


3. Descriptions (10 points)

What adjectives might describe each of the following?

(a) Alexander; Alfred; Catherine; Frederick; and Peter.

(b) Venom; conductor Malcolm; Thomas and George’s bully; and characters played by Buster and Rik.

(c) Joe Bagstock; the creator of Rocky; a singer with a rocky family; one who came in with Richard Conqueror; and one who accompanies Shakespeare musically.

Solution: (a) Great;
(b) Flash (Flash Thompson from ‘Spider-Man’, Malcolm Sargent, nicknamed ‘Flash Harry’; Flashman in books by Thomas Hughes and George MacDonald Fraser; Buster Crabbe, nicknamed ‘Flash Gordon’; Rik Mayall, as Lord Flashheart);
(c) Sly (Joe Bagstock, described as “devilish sly” in ‘Dombey and Son’; Sylvester ‘Sly’ Stallone; Sylvester Stewart from the group Sly and the Family Stone; Christopher Sly, in ‘The Taming of the Shrew’; Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare’s partner in the Jamaican reggae duo Sly and Robbie).


4. Very few people are completely normal (5 points)

In what sense are the following (listed in order of appearance) connected?

Maria Corda (beautifully); Charles Laughton (regally); Douglas Fairbanks (hedonistically); Bette Davis & Errol Flynn (supposedly); Robert Stephens (investigatively); Robin Wright Penn (multiply)

Solution: They appeared in films linked by a common phrase, namely ‘The Private Life of Helen of Troy’, ‘The Private Life of Henry VIII’, ’The Private Life of Don Juan’, ‘The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex’, ‘The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes’ and ‘The Private Lives of Pippa Lee’.  The line “Very few people are completely normal, deep down in their private lives” comes from Noël Coward’s play ‘Private Lives’.


5. Out of Place (4 points)

(a) Explain why, compared with ‘sweet milk’, ‘little cut off’, ‘recooked’, ‘beautiful country’ and ‘tired’, ‘slice’ is out of place.

(b) Similarly, which one of ‘iron’, ‘little blackbird’, ‘black pine’, ‘musky’, ‘tears of Christ’ and ‘white savage’ is out of place?

Solution: (a) Dolcelatte (‘sweet milk’), Mozzarella (‘little cut off’), Ricotta (‘recooked’),  Bel Paese (‘beautiful country’) and Stracchino (‘tired’) are Italian cheeses; Feta (‘slice’) is Greek
(b) Fer (‘iron’), Merlot (‘little blackbird’), Pinot Noir (‘black pine’), Muscadet / Muscatel (‘musky’), and Sauvignon Blanc (‘white savage’) are French wines; Lacryma Christi (‘tears of Christ’) is Italian.


6. (6 points)

Explain the following:

American state (T, U, V) ― American city (C, D, E, F, G) – Chemical element (H, I, J, K) - Roman goddess (L, M, N) - Weapon (O, P, Q, R)

Solution: This represents the five D-Day landing beaches, west to east (Utah (subdivided Tare, Uncle, Victor); Omaha (Charlie, Dog, Easy, Fox, George); Gold (How, Item, Jig, King); Juno (Love, Mike, Nan)
Sword (Oboe, Peter, Queen, Roger)). The lengths of the hyphens or dashes indicate, approximately, the distances between the beaches, and the title suggests the date (6/6/1944).

7. www.capitals.table (6 points)

If Brussels=4, Santiago=17, Buenos Aires=18, Ottawa=20 and Brasilia=35, what is Canberra?

Solution: The named cities are capitals of countries whose internet domain abbreviations match chemical elements in the periodic table with the given atomic numbers (for example, Brussels/Belgium (.be) corresponds to Beryllium (Be), atomic number 4).  Canberra/Australia (.au) corresponds to Gold (Au), atomic number 79.


8. Valuable (6 points)

In 2015, in what context…

(a) …was a valuable Swiss man worth $38million less than a group of North African women, while a woman considering marriage was worth $121million more still?

(b) …was a valuable object recorded as ‘1111’ the second largest ever found?

Solution: (a) Art works sold in 2015 included ‘When Will You Marry?’ (Gauguin), $300m; ‘Les Femmes d’Alger’ (Picasso), $179m and ‘Pointing Man’ (Giacometti), $141m.
(b) The discovery of 1,111-carat diamond in Botswana was announced in November 2015, second in size to the Cullinan diamond.


9. In the sky, on the lea (8 points)

What might have inspired whom to write the following, and where has a line been omitted?

“Nature, in tooth and claw,
In lands of palm, of blossom
That sparkled on the field
And on a simple village,
And drowned in yonder living
By hooded doctors.”

Solution: These are lines from poems by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with colours removed. The colours are indicative of a rainbow, with indigo missing. (“A rainbow in the sky!...A rainbow on the lea!”, ‘Idylls of the King’; “Nature, red in tooth and claw”, ‘In Memoriam’; “In lands of palm, of orange-blossom”, ‘The Daisy’; “That sparkled on the yellow field”, ‘The Lady of Shalott’;“And on a simple village green”, ‘In Memoriam’; “And drowned in yonder living blue”, ‘In Memoriam’; “By violet-hooded Doctors”, ‘The Princess’.)


10. Diagram (6 points)

Explain the diagram, and give appropriate row and column labels.

Solution: Elements in the top row can be preceded by ‘Sea’; elements in the bottom row by ‘Water’.  This gives the name of animals (first column) or plants (second column).  Elements in the shaded areas can fall into more than one category (shown by the start and end of the rectangle), e.g. ‘sea lily’ and ‘sea apple’ are animals, but ‘water lily’ and ‘water apple’ are plants; ‘sea snail’ and ‘water snail’ are both animals; ‘seaweed’ and ‘water weed’ are both plants.


11. A Compound of Hydrogen, Sulphur and Molybdenum (6 points)

Explain the sequence: H+O+Mg+Si, H+O+S+Ca, C+O+Ca,…, O+Al, C

Solution: This represents the elements that form chemicals named in the Mohs scale of hardness (Talc, Gypsum, Calcite, …, Corundum, Diamond).  The symbols for Hydrogen, Sulphur and Molybdenum form an anagram of ‘Mohs’.



12. Wielders of Catgut (6 points)

Place the following in order, starting at the beginning:

Jack Sock (USA)
Janko Tipsarević (Serbia)
René Lacoste (France)
Max Mirnyi (Belarus)
Alejandro Falla (Columbia)
William Renshaw (Great Britain)
Alexandr Dolgopolov (Ukraine)

Solution: Dolgopolov, Renshaw, Mirnyi, Falla, Sock, Lacoste, Tilden. The first two letters of the surnames form ‘do, re, mi…’.  Catgut has historically been used in the production of both tennis rackets and stringed instruments. The song ‘Do-Re-Mi’ from ‘The Sound of Music’ includes the line, “Let's start at the very beginning”.


13. Matching Pairs (12 points)

In each question, match up the members of Group 1 to the members of Group 2.

(a) Group 1: Death on the Nile, Frankenstein, North and South, Middlemarch, Wolf Hall
Group 2: Treasure Island, The Horse Whisperer, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Tropic of Capricorn, The Survivors

(b) Group 1: Bleak House, David Copperfield, Mansfield Park, Finnegans Wake, Of Human Bondage
Group 2: James M Cain, Anne Brontë, Tobias Smollett, John Cleland, George Moore

(c) Group 1: Romola, Persuasion, Gigi, Trainspotting, Engleby
Group 2: Police at the Funeral, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, A Room with a View, The Ambassadors, The French Lieutenant’s Woman

Solution: (a) Birth names of authors in Group 1 match surnames of authors in Group 2.

Mary Shelley Godwin 'Frankenstein' Tom Godwin: ‘The Survivors’
Elizabeth Gaskell Stevenson ‘North and South’ RL Stevenson: ‘Treasure Island’
Agatha Christie Miller ‘Death on the Nile’ Henry Miller: ‘Tropic of Capricorn’
George Eliot Evans ‘Middlemarch’ Nicholas Evans: ‘The Horse Whisperer’
Hilary Mantel Thompson ‘Wolf Hall’

Hunter S Thompson: ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’


(b) Prominent characters in the first are title characters in novels by the second.

Esther Summerson: ‘Bleak House’ ‘Esther Waters’: George Moore
Agnes Wickfield: ‘David Copperfield’      ‘Agnes Grey’: Anne Brontë
Fanny Price: ‘Mansfield Park’           ‘Fanny Hill’: John Cleland
Mildred Rogers: ‘Of Human Bondage’   ‘Mildred Pierce’: James M Cain
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker: ‘Finnegans Wake’ ‘Humphrey Clinker’: Tobias Smollett

(c) Set substantially in the same town or city.

Florence 'A Room with a View' 'Romola'
Lyme Regis 'Persuasion' 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'
Paris 'The Ambassadors' 'Gigi'
Edinburgh 'Trainspotting' 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'
Cambridge 'Engleby' 'Police at the Funeral'


14. One, Two (8 points)

Explain the following.














































Solution: Rows and columns represent, respectively, countries of birth and death of English monarchs.  Within each cell, the first column shows monarchs with regnal number I; the second column shows monarchs with regnal number II.


15. The Last Word (3 points)

What is the last number in this sequence?

4, 2, 3, 4, 6, 2, 4, ?

Solution: 8: the numbers represent the number of letters in each word of the question.


Christmas Quiz

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