Christmas Quiz 2016: Solutions

This year's questions were set by Pete Large, Tim Paulden, and David Edelman. Questions 8 and 12 courtesy of Puzzle Donkey.

This instalment of the quiz was particularly challenging, and the clear winner from RSS members, with an outstanding score of 92%, was Paul Southern. Andrew Garratt came second with a very creditable score of 82%.

Amazon vouchers (worth £100 and £50 respectively) are on their way to the winners courtesy of our quiz sponsor, Minitab.

Answers are shown below.



1. Let’s Go

I spend £120 on my first visit, £150 on my second and £200 on my third. What’s the smallest number of spots I could have seen?

(3 points)

Answer: 15 spots. 9 to land on Pentonville Road, 3 to land on Electric Company, 3 to land on Marylebone Station, in the standard UK edition of Monopoly. An ingenious alternative solution of 11 spots, involving a fortuitous Community Chest card, was also accepted (Visit #1: Roll double 1 [Community Chest], draw the 'Go back to Old Kent Road' card, buy for £60, roll double 1 [Whitechapel Road], buy for £60, roll double 1 and go to Jail; Visit #2: Roll double 1 [Electric Company], buy for £150; Visit #3: Roll 2 & 1 [Marylebone Station], buy for £200) though this answer relies on doubles not leading to another roll when leaving Jail, which is a rule adopted in the Monopoly World Championship, but not in the standard British rules.

The question title – Let’s Go – refers to the start of a game of Monopoly, where we start from the square named Go.


2. Straight Sets

Complete the sets:

  1. Richard (after Randolph), George, James, [one item]

  2. Margaret, John, Ruth, Bridget, Susan, [two items]

  3. Study, IV, Hound, [one item]

  4. Bryan, Matt, Michael, Eddie, [one item]

  5. In order, y, z, a, f, p, n, [two items], c, d

(2 points each)

  1. John. Members of The Beatles (Paul McCartney’s first name is James, Ringo Starr’s is Richard, and he replaced Pete Best whose first name was actually Randolph).
  2. Titty and Roger. Crews of the Swallow and the Amazon in the Arthur Ransome books. Nancy’s name was actually Ruth, Peggy’s was Margaret, and Vicky’s (the Ship’s Baby of the Swallow) was Bridget.
  3. The Valley of Fear. These are the four Sherlock Holmes novels – the three represented in the question are 'A Study in Scarlet' (with the word 'Study' appearing in scarlet), 'The Sign of Four' (written as a Roman numeral), and 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' (with the word 'Hound' written in a Baskerville Italic typeface). The markers particularly appreciated entries which represented the 'Valley of Fear' in a suitably cryptic form – for example, the word 'Fear' printed in a valley shape or the word 'Valley' printed in a font denoting fear.
  4. Leonardo. Nominations for Best Actor Oscar at the 88th Academy Awards ceremony in February 2016 – Bryan Cranston, Matt Damon, Michael Fassbender, Eddie Redmayne and (the winner) Leonardo DiCaprio.
  5. µ, m. Conventional prefixes used for fractional SI units: y=yocto, z=zepto, a=atto, f=femto, p =pico, n=nano, µ=micro, m=milli, c=centi, d=deci.


3. In a Daze

What connects the following?

  • a Newtonian perspective on TE, HF (twice), AC, and CL

  • a scene captured by Vincent and Claude, one year apart

  • a collection containing 1914 (1964)

  • a mercurial judge

  • a campaign against the butcher on Mount Road

  • a dark blue saint

How is the title relevant?

(5 points)

Each answer contains the abbreviated names of two days of the week, written consecutively:

  • Uncommon Friends – The description refers to the book 'Uncommon Friends: Life with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh' by James D. Newton.
  • Willows at Sunset – The title of an 1888 painting by Vincent van Gogh, and also an 1889 painting by Claude Monet.
  • The Whitsun Weddings – A collection of Larkin poetry, published in 1964, which included the poem MCMXIV (= 1914).
  • Simon Frith – The sociomusicologist who has chaired the judges of the Mercury Prize since 1992.
  • Neil Statue Satyagraha – A famous agitation during the Indian Independence Movement which sought removal of the Mount Road statue of Colonel James Neil - the 'butcher of Allahabad'.
  • Saint Frithuswith – Patron saint of Oxford.

The question title - 'In a Daze' - is a pun on 'Inner Days'.


4. World Series

  1. The 71 observed values range from 2 to 120. What is the sum of the six observations in London?

  2. Which series starts: 100, 200, 300 and ends many items later with 36, 37 and 38?

  3. Averaging 77.5, what might start with music or sin and end with ignorance, woe, crime, pain, hell or worse?

  4. Revised up from 104 to 106, where is the difference between a miracle and a surprise only minimally greater than that between a domesticated bird and a bear?

  5. What started with a cat and a lake and finished with fruit and a dog? And what’s the connection with caribou, leather jackets and a single man?

  6. In what context can you find one in France, two in London and three in Leicester?

(3 points each)

  1. The intended answer was 418. These are the goal times in minutes of all goals scored in World Cup Finals. The 1966 Final in London saw goals in the 12th, 18th, 78th, 89th, 101st and 120th minutes. Whilst no entrant arrived at that answer, an alternative solution based on the ASCII character values of the letters in the word 'London' (and reflecting the coincidence that the question could be manipulated to contain 71 non-space characters) was so in the spirit of the quiz that it was also accepted.
  2. Numbers expressed in Roman numerals arranged lexicographically. The series starts C, CC, CCC and ends XXXVI, XXXVII and XXXVIII.
  3. Shakespeare’s sonnets. These are numbered 1-154, thus averaging 77.5. Sonnet 8 starts with ‘Music’ and Sonnet 62 with ‘Sin’. Sonnets 78, 44, 124, 139 (and 141), 129,  and 84 end with ‘ignorance’, ‘woe’, ‘crime’, ‘pain’, ‘hell’ and ‘worse’ respectively.
  4. Haydn’s symphonies. The first catalogue of these had 104 entries, but two more have since been discovered. In that catalogue, the Miracle is no. 96 and the Surprise no. 94 (a difference of 2), while the Hen is no. 83, and the Bear no. 82 (a difference of 1).
  5. The Labours of Hercules. These started with slaying the Nemean Lion, and slaying the Hydra (which had its lair in the lake of Lerna), and ended with stealing the Apples of Hesperides and capturing the three-headed dog Cerberus. Caribou, Leather Jackets, and A Single Man are albums by Elton John, whose middle name is Hercules.
  6. Richard I is buried in France, Richard II in London and Richard III in Leicester.


5. Pretty Maids …

If Nicholas had 81, Jordan had 20, Lee had 17, and Rory had 54, how many did Eldrick have? How does Martin and Jason’s finish in Springfield this year explain the title’s relevance?

(4 points)

Tiger Woods (whose first name is actually Eldrick) had 281. The numbers are each golfer’s longest stretch of consecutive weeks (weeks ‘all in a row’) as World Number One – the other golfers in the question being Nick Faldo, Jordan Spieth, Lee Westwood, and Rory McIlroy.

The complete phrase indicated in the title is Pretty Maids All in a Row, which, as well as being from the nursery rhyme Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary, is a song recorded by the Eagles. Martin Kaymer and Jason Day both scored eagles on their final hole at the 2016 PGA Championship, played in Springfield, New Jersey.


6. The Year in Numbers

Where this year did we see the following?

  1. (4.65 * 10^7) + 1 decide the matter

  2. A family reaching 600 in October

  3. An ordered set of 87 triplets starting (46, 37, 38) and ending with 10 instances of (0, 0 ,1)

  4. Robert become the 113th

  5. 1944 break the record by 147

  6. Harmony achieve a distinction previously held by the British Queen and two Olympics

  7. 105 according to Kim, 12016 according to Cesare and 2769 if Marcus is to be believed

(2 points each)

  1. This was the registered electorate for the Brexit referendum.
  2. The 600th episode of The Simpsons was transmitted in the US in October.
  3. The medal table from the 2016 Rio Olympics.
  4. Bob Dylan (born Robert Allen Zimmerman) became the 113th person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
  5. The Eurovision song contest, won by Jamala (Ukraine) with the song 1944, which scored a record 534 points, surpassing the previous best of 387, achieved by Alexander Rybak (Norway) in 2009.
  6. MS Harmony of the Seas took the record for the largest passenger ship in the world. Previous holders of this distinction include the SS British Queen and the two Olympic-class liners, RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.
  7. Calendars. In North Korea, 2016 was 105 in the Juche calendar implemented under Kim Jong-il. 2016 is 12016 according to the Holocene calendar proposed by Cesare Emiliani and 2769 according to the Ab Urba Condite calendar which counts years from the founding of Rome, asserted by Marcus Terentius Varro as being 21 April 753 BC.


7. Two Before M0

In what way are these uncommon?

  • a novel by Murakami

  • procrastination, according to Debasish Mridha

  • M0

  • moonlight in France

How is this related to the question title?

(5 points)

In modern Western music, the most frequently occurring time signature is 4:4 – four beats to the bar. This is known as the common time signature. The clues refer to pieces of music which are not in ‘common time’.

The indicated novel is Norwegian Wood, also a song by the Beatles in 3:4 or 6:8 time. Procrastination is ‘a way of living in the past’ according to Mridha. Living in the Past is a song by Jethro Tull written in 10:8 time. M0 is a measure of money supply. Money is a song by Pink Floyd in (mostly) 7:4 time. Moonlight can be translated in French as Clair de Lune, a composition by Debussy in 9:8 time.

Money also appears as the first song on the second side of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon album. The song two before that (that is, the last but one song on side one), is Time, thus explaining the title’s link to the question.


8. Primes over Seven

Numbers multiply, that divisible;

These have what’s four;

By four triangle remainders;

Numbers left, sides seven.

(5 points)


Firstly, from the title we look at the words in positions that are prime and are over 7 – ie the words in positions 11 and 13. These say 'triangle numbers'.

Then, looking at words in positions that are triangle numbers – 1, 3, 6, 10, 15 – we read 'Numbers that have four sides' (i.e. square numbers).

The words in the square number positions – 1, 4, 9, 16 – say 'Numbers divisible by seven'.

The words in positions 7 and 14 say 'What's left'.

The words that are left (i.e. not yet used) say 'multiply these four remainders' and are in positions 2, 5, 8, and 12. Multiplying these numbers together gives 960, which is the final answer.


9. The Clue’s in the Title

  1. Who, in the news this year, started 1964 as 7 and 4 and finished it as 8 and 3? 

    In a similar vein:

  2. Where went from 4 to 8 in 1939 and again in 1949?

  3. Where was 5 from 1971 and then went to 10, 8, 2, 3 and 5 in 1997?

  4. More tastefully, what was 4 and 6 in the UK from 1960 until 1998 when it went to 9?

(2 points each)

  1. Cassius Clay (6, 4) changed his name (via a brief interlude as Cassius X) to Muhammad Ali in 1964.
  2. Siam changed its name to Thailand in 1939 and reverted during World War II before making the same change in 1949.
  3. Zaire became the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1997.
  4. Opal Fruits changed name to Starburst in 1998.


10. (Not the) X-Word

A simplified version of the usual puzzle. No grid, just 15 cryptic clues. Each answer should then be transformed to another word using one of two variations on a very simple substitution already indicated in this question.

  1. Protecting the floor like an excessively enthusiastic hen would do. (7)

  2. Contradiction on what is partly White and partly Blue we hear. (6)

  3. One of three baby pigs playing with head of pigeon. (7)

  4. Filter feeder eases passage through tube. (6)

  5. I miss retail activity, being after the required time. (5)

  6. Attempts to conceal, writes R for example. (5)

  7. Standard tire. Or flat stone. (4)

  8. Copies a model: cuts head off back of necks. (4)

  9. Note to international body defines part-human creature. (4)

  10. Grey haired, giving up part of stockpile. (4)

  11. Head in two main directions: inducing sneezing in those susceptible. (6)

  12. Musical composition for group played backwards fits well in joint. (5)

  13. Confused Scrooge ends up in traps. (5)

  14. Womaniser apparently wants you covered by caviar. (4)

  15. Ears suggest that viral illness is targeting passage. (4)

(½ point for each correct answer before transformation; additional ½ point for each correctly transformed answer)

The question title refers to ‘X-word’. The two variations on the substitution are to replace either the first or the last letter of the answer with ‘x’, as below.

  1. Overlay=overlax
  2. Denial=xenial
  3. Triplet=triplex
  4. Oyster=xyster
  5. Later=latex
  6. Codes=codex
  7. Flag=flax
  8. Apes=apex
  9. Faun=faux
  10. Hoar=hoax
  11. Pollen=pollex
  12. Tenon=xenon
  13. Mires=mirex
  14. Roue=roux
  15. Flue=flux


11. States of Matter

Determine the missing number (a recent addition to the list).

{13, 18, 20, 27, __, 31, 49, 57, 25, 109, 101, 42, 60, 10, 91, 21}

(4 points)

As hinted at by the title, this question concerns US states and chemical elements – specifically, their abbreviations. The numbers identify elements whose abbreviation is the same as the abbreviation of a state: for example 13=Aluminium=Al=Alabama. The list is in alphabetical order of element, and the missing item is 114=Flerovium=Fl=Florida.

The full list is: {13: Al Aluminium/Alabama; 18: Ar Argon/Arkansas; 20: Ca Calcium/California; 27: Co Cobalt/Colorado; 114: Fl Flerovium/Florida; 31: Ga Gallium/Georgia; 49: In Indium/Indiana; 57: La Lanthanum/Louisiana; 25: Mn Manganese/Minnesota; 109: Mt Meitnerium/Montana; 101: Md Mendelevium/Maryland; 42: Mo Molybdenum/Missouri; 60: Nd Neodymium/North Dakota; 10: Ne Neon/Nebraska; 113 Nh Nihonium/New Hampshire;  91: Pa Protactinium/Pennsylvania; 21: Sc Scandium/South Carolina}  

Several entrants pointed out that another element with this unusual property (namely, 113: Nh Nihonium/New Hampshire) had its name formally declared at the end of November 2016 – just too late to be reflected in the question.


12. A Matter of Belief

Fold up the string of letters below so it fits in the grid. Squares of the same colour (except white) must not contain contiguous letters in the string.


Who is the indicated person (of particular interest to RSS members)?

(4 points for the completed grid: 1 point for identifying the indicated person)

The completed grid reads ‘He is buried in Bunhill Fields’ and indicates the statistician Thomas Bayes, associated with the interpretation of probability as the degree of belief.


13. … Comes as the End

How is this quiz, in its entirety, linked with the starting point for the 4.50 from Paddington?

(4 points) 

'4.50 from Paddington' is a novel by Agatha Christie featuring Miss Marple. The first book in which Miss Marple appears is 'The Thirteen Problems' – the number of questions in this quiz. The question title also echoes another Christie novel, 'Death Comes as the End'.

The question setters were relieved that the results would be unchanged whether or not they accepted ‘the A501’ (which connects Paddington with Bunhill Fields via Pentonville Road and Marylebone Road) as a correct answer.

Christmas Quiz

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