I had never participated in a pub quiz before coming to Durham. They were the sort of thing relegated to shows on BBC America, a cultural phenomenon of the British. Of course we have pub quizzes in the States, but it isn’t quite the same thing. There is something uniquely British in gathering a few friends (or at least teammates) together to share a pint and waffle on about general knowledge, historic battles, and romantic novels. So when I attended my first pub quiz last term it was a bit of a novelty. One of those things that you do as an international student to absorb another culture. I didn’t realise quite what I was getting into. Pub quizzes are addictive things, especially when you win.
Now I hadn’t had a lot of opportunity to attend regularly. Graduate school has a way of ensuring total and complete exhaustion at around 7:30 pm every night. When I found myself not yet asleep at 9:00 pm on a Thursday evening I would wander over to Fisher, grab a Rekorderlig, and meet up with some friends to form a team. You’ve all naturally read about our most recent victory earlier in February and I can tell you that you get a bit of a pub quiz high off a winning. It’s not quite the same sort of high off of gambling but it’s pretty damn close. It was after one such victory that I happened to start talking to Jesper. He is the one in charge of running the quiz and he casually mentioned the possibility of writing a quiz.
Writing a quiz? I thought, I don’t know the first thing about writing a quiz.
But as with all good ideas, it sat at the back of my mind and began to gnaw at me. Eventually I couldn’t ignore it any longer and so I enlisted the aid of an experienced quiz attendee, Jeremy, and we set to work trying to confound any would be quizzers who dared to come to Fisher Bar that Thursday evening.
Writing a quiz a very different kind of thing to anything I had ever done. Of course I had been required to write tests and the like when I was teaching, but pub quizzes require a variety of specialist subject areas. The first step is picking a theme. This was actually the easiest part of the process. Seeing as both Jeremy and I are massive fans of Doctor Who it seemed only natural to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of our favourite show by dedicating a pub quiz to it. With that in mind, all that we had to do was come up with questions that weren’t too challenging but challenging enough, that were fun and interesting, and that were accurate. Easy as pi.
A Ustinov Pub Quiz is comprised of eight rounds of eight questions plus a beer round. The evening begins with the picture round. Each team is provided with eight pictures of people, places, or things and must write down who or what they are. As we were writing a Doctor Who quiz, this round wasn’t too difficult. Hey, rather than me tell you about the quiz, why don’t you try your hand at it?
|1) Who is this?|
|2) Name this actor.|
|4) Who is this person?|
|5) Who is this actress?|
|6) Who is this character?|
|7) Who is this character?|
|8) Who is this actor?|
The News Round is next and is comprised of questions from that week’s news cycle.
- Which beloved actor and screenwriter whose credits include Animal House, As Good As It Gets, and Caddyshack passed away on the 24 February?
- On the 23 February, scientists confirmed that the age of the Earth’s crust was between 4.368 and 4.380 billion years old by passing lead isotopes through our planet’s oldest mineral. Which mineral did researchers use?
- This week in whose back garden was a replica galleon found floating on an artificial waterway?
- A cyclist was sent on an adventure this week by his Sat Nav. Where did it take him?
- The Arizona state legislature recently passed a wide sweeping Jim Crow-like bill allowing businesses to discriminate against LGBT customers based on their religious views. This bill was then vetoed by the governor. Which state legislature rejected a similar bill two weeks ago?
- The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowment in the United Arab Emirates recently issued a fatwa prohibiting Muslims from taking a one way trip to which exotic destination?
- Which apocalyptic event was supposed to take place on Saturday 22 February?
- One of the most valuable Twitter usernames was stolen and returned this week. What is the username?
Then comes the Sport Round. Jeremy was responsible for most of these as my specialties lie elsewhere.
- At this year’s Winter Olympics, Great Britain won four medals. What is the record number of medals GB has won at the Winter Games?
- Which US State hosted the 2014 Super Bowl?
- Jamaica returned to the Winter Olympics at Sochi this year. They first participated in the winter games in 1988. In which city were these games held?
- On which player did Manchester United spend £37,000,000 during the January transfer window?
- New rules for the 2014 F1 season has led to some strange car designs. Which animal have the long-nosed cars been nicknamed after?
- Which cricketer was told this month that his international career with England is over?
- In tennis, Great Britain recently defeated the United States in the Davis Cup. Which nation will they face in the quarter finals?
- What two disciplines does the biathlon include in the winter Olympics?
Next is the Music Round. Snippets of songs are played and the teams have to guess the title and artist. Seeing as there is no way for me to put these songs up without also giving away the answers, you may want to try this round out on someone else.
Well you’ve made it halfway through the quiz! Congratulations! What comes next is the Beer Round. This is usually a fun task that teams complete while the first half of the quiz is marked. The winner of the Beer Round can claim £16 worth of drinks from the bar. Here was our Beer Round task:
The Doctor has faced many monsters over his long life span. Some have been scary, some have been funny, and some have been downright cheesy. For the beer round, your team must design a new Doctor Who monster and describe its evil plans for universal domination. The team with the most original, creative design will be the winners.
Onto the second half! The next round is all about Science and Geography.
- What alloy is made of gold and silver?
- In general relativity, what name is given to the boundary in spacetime beyond which events cannot affect an outside observer?
- Name the three bones in the inner ear.
- Which ancient Greek mathematician, astronomer and geographer was the first person to calculate the circumference of the Earth?
- According to the concept of a ‘city proper’, what is the most populous city in Asia?
- Name either of the two countries that supposedly contain a source of the Nile.
- What is the name of the tallest mountain on Mars?
- When Krakatoa erupted in 1883, what was the farthest distance at which it was heard? (Give yourself 500 miles leeway each way.)
Next comes History and Literature.
- In which century was work begun on the construction of the original Elvet Bridge?
- Which US President had the shortest term in office?
- Who was the only female Emperor in the 4,000 year history of dynastic China?
- What name is more commonly given to the Third Battle of Ypres?
- On which famous transport route does Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot solve a baffling mystery?
- In which classical epic would you find the characters Turnus, Ascanius and Dido?
- Everyone knows who Sauron is, but what is the name of the god who he serves in Tolkien’s Silmarillion?
- What criteria does a novel have to meet to have a chance of winning the Bailey’s Prize, formerly known as the Orange Prize?
Finally we get to the theme round! Here it is friends An Adventure in Time and Space:
- Who was named as the successor to Matt Smith?
- The Doctor comes from Gallifrey but in which constellation is Gallifrey found?
- In which classic story were the Daleks first introduced?
- What happens to a weeping angel when you look at them?
- What is the name of the Time Lady who travels with the fourth doctor? (Extra point for full name)
- In what year did Matt Smith first appear as the Doctor?
- Which English monarch did the tenth Doctor wed in the 50th Anniversary special?
- What powers the TARDIS?
And finally the General Knowledge Round.
- What are the main ingredients of a screwdriver cocktail?
- In which museum would you find the Mona Lisa?
- In what year did the Graduate Society officially become Ustinov College?
- Mustela putorius furo is the Latin name for this popular pet.
- In their first two days on sale in the UK, how many Xbox Ones and PS4s were sold? (Give yourself 50k leeway on either side.)
- Twelve Years a Slave recently won the Best Film BAFTA award. Who directed it?
- The disruption of which atmospheric phenomenon has been blamed for the very cold start to the year in the US?
- In what month will the Scottish Independence Referendum take place?
I’ll be honest, dear Reader, hosting the Ustinov Pub Quiz was one of the highlights of this term. For weeks before hand I watched episodes of QI to learn quiz mastery from the inimitable Stephen Fry. I refrained from starting the night with a whole host of “good evenings” but I definitely tried to keep my energy up (and I even had some good comebacks to a few good natured hecklers). I think wearing my Tom Baker scarf and having my trusty co-writer, Jeremy by my side to help with marking and keep me company helped.
Too soon the evening was over and victory was claimed. All I can say is I am eagerly looking forward to the next pub quiz and writing one more for next term.
Okay, let’s see how well you fared. Here are the answers to the quiz:
1) H.G. Wells
2) Tom Baker
4) Verity Lambert
5) Elisabeth Sladen
6) Doctor Emmett Brown/Christopher Lloyd
8) David Tennant
1) Harold Ramis
3) President Viktor Yanukovych
1) 4 medals at Sochi 2014 and Chamonix in 1924
2) New Jersey
4) Juan Mata
6) Kevin Pietersen
8) Shooting and skiing
Music Round (see above YouTube links)
Science and Geography Round
2) Event horizon
3) Hammer, Anvil, Stirrup
6) Burundi or Rwanda
7) Olympus Mons
8) 3000m – the island of Rodrigues, near Mauritius
History and Literature Round
2) William Henry Harrison (32 days)
3) Wu Zetian also known as Wu Zhao (Wu Chao), Wu Hou, Tian Hou, Empress Consort Wu, Empress Wu
4) The Battle of Passchendaele
5) Orient Express
6) Virgil’s Aeneid
8) The author must be a woman
1) Peter Capaldi
3) The Daleks (or The Mutants/The Dead Planet – alternate names)
4) Turn to stone or become quantum locked
5) Romana (Romanadvoratrelundar)
7) Queen Elizabeth I
8) Black hole/super nova/the Eye of Harmony
General Knowledge Round
1) Orange juice and vodka
2) Louvre in Paris
6) Steve McQueen
7) Polar Vortex
Congratulations Quizlets, you have successfully completed your first Ustinov Pub Quiz. Tally up your points and drink a victory pint!