Christmas Quiz 2012! - Spectator Blogs

22 December 2012

It’s that time of year again! I’m away to Jura for Christmas tomorrow so posting – indeed internet access – is likely to be light. I trust all readers will enjoy a splendid Christmas. Best wishes to you all. To tide you over, here’s this year’s edition of my now annual Christmas Quiz. As with previous editions – 2009, 2010 and 2011 – it’s not meant to be simple but there’s more glory in attempting it without recourse to Mr Google. Answers will be published in the New Year but are also available on request ( You might also catch me on twitter (@alexmassie) where you can ask for hints or whatnot.

1. In what sense might the road to Rome, a vernal American composition and the location of the South’s surrender each be found on your phone?

2. The Scots have theirs arranged in threes, the Irish in fours and the Welsh in fives. So who, respectively, can be recognised by their singles and doubles?

3. What city links Brian Friel, Bruce Springsteen and George Cukor?

4. Humphrey Bogart in Massachusetts, James Bond in Berkshire and Harry Flashman in Warwickshire share a dubious distinction. What is it?

5. One seems like something that might have to be borne by a monarch, the second had a bookshop at number 84 nearby. Cricket’s former custodians give you the third while the fourth sounds like a wetland place of worship. Where would you find these and what sum would you need to purchase them?

6.  A sports ground whose owners appear to be in the wrong borough, the founder of the Lion City and the fellow who introduced a medical man to a most singular individual might all be at home in Connecticut. How so?

7. What is the connection between Antonio Salieri, George Patton, Truman Capote and Sir Thomas More?

8 A Yorkshire city, a dry biscuit and the namesakes of, respectively, a British Field Marshall and a noted lexicographer are among the 67 who have been fourth in line. How so and who are they?

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9. What connects England in 1385, Scotland in 1513 and Sweden in 1718?

10. 80 is the first, 92 the seventh, 93 the eighth and 94 a ninth that is no longer in the same category. Identify these and explain how 52 is ours.

11. German black and its English opposite and the German (or Dutch) for bird were three wrong ‘uns spinning from Africa. But the fourth of them, who shares a name with the creator of Yoknapatawphna County, was the greatest of all. Who are they?

12. Where would you find a thrice-thwarted British tennis player, a so-called Spartan General, Lear’s son-in-law and one who succumbed to “sharp medicine” with some stoicism?

13. Whose thirds were, respectively, Scottish, English, Polish and Heroic?

14. In whose affair might you hear a soldier’s final tune sounding across a patch of ocean? Another couple, similarly involved, gave versions of their story with a perished bird and at a railway station respectively. Who are they?

15. When did the Shannon run into the Chesapeake?

16. Victoria’s successor, Leonardo’s enigma, a recently defunct American car marque and a Canadian rush for riches are baked-in so to speak. How so?

17. One sounds almost vulpine and a gardener might need another. Another proved essential at Agincourt while yet another shares a name with an English dramatist. Why was trouble their business?

18. What was done by Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, Adolf Hitler in 1936, Richard Nixon in 1960, Charles de Gaulle in 1968, Emperor Hirohito in 1972 and George W Bush in 2002? Who would you expect to do it in 2014?

19. Jack Sparrow’s ship, Portugal’s hero of 1966 and a much-decorated American star at the Folies Bergere are each alike and rare but not, perhaps, as valuable as a sacred Mormon text. How so?

20. Black for Italy, Green for Romania and Blue for Ireland. What?

21. In which British city might an Anthony Burgess novel take you from an undistinguished American president to a badger’s ford via a noted mathematician?

22. Where might Teddy Roosevelt’s boys meet fleece-chasers in pursuit of someone whose grandfather gave his name to a particular cup of tea?

23. Who are Barmy, Stilton, Pongo, Tuppy and Bingo and where might you find them having lunch? And which of their friends was considered “brilliant, but unsound”?

24. What links logarithms with the father of an English parliament and the Clifton suspension bridge?

25. Where do a Spanish wine and an especially successful Olympic cyclist lie south of a sharp cry, a father and – in the local manner of speaking – what sounds as though it must be a large fish egg?

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Show comments
  • Michael Cross

    18 must be presided over winter Olympics; 24 Napier?

    • Terry

      Based on two parts of the clue, the logarithms and the Clifton Suspension Bridge, I would agree with Napier, but I can’t get the third part.

  • BrianOfShepperton

    For question 9, if it were 1485 instead of 1385 then it could be years in which those countries had kings who died in battle.

  • salieri

    10: atomic numbers of elements named after planets – mercury (80), neptunium (92) uranium (93) – and one ex-planet, plutonium (94). 52 is tellurium, from the Latin ‘tellus’, earth

  • salieri

    4: all were expelled from school

  • salieri

    3: Philadelphia, Here I come – Streets of Philadelphia – Philadelphia Story

  • salieri

    and Earl Grey has to be the clue to 22, i.e. the Grey Cup in the Canadian Football League. The Argonauts are Toronto and the Rough Riders (Roosevelt’s regiment) are Ottawa.

  • salieri

    13: Aha, music! Symphonies by Mendelssohn, Parry, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven

  • salieri

    12: all are US state capitals – Austin (Texas), Montgomery (Alabama), Albany (New York) and Raleigh (North Carolina)

  • salieri

    Can’t resist no. 7, naturally: they were all Oscar-winning roles for, respectively, F Murray Abraham, George C Scott, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Paul Scofield (who was also a far better Salieri in the stage-play from which the film of ‘Amadeus’ was rather liberally adapted).

  • Sipu
  • Sipu

    Is one permitted to Google? I never know if quiz etiquette allows that.

  • Sipu

    2 Grenadiers and Coldstream.

  • Sipu

    The first is easy. They are all Apps.

    • Daniel Maris

      Squatters rights. I got there first on that one.

  • Terry

    No 19

    surely every Englishman who was around in 1966 will know that Eusebio was The Black Pearl – so was Josephine Baker (I knew that too). My neice assures me that it is also the name of Jack Sparrow’s ship. I had to look up the Mormon text, which is the Pearl of Great Price. Come on Mr Massie, what regular upstanding guy is going to be familiar with a Mormon text?.


    • Daniel Maris

      I was around in 1966. I don’t remember him being referred to as The Black Pearl. Black was a bit of a no-no word in 1966. Are we sure Mr Massie isn’t the one using Google? It’s probably a translation from the Portugese.

      • Terry

        You could be right, or maybe I invented that bit.
        I just googled Eusebio and came up with “Black Panther” which, unless my memory is still playing tricks with me, is pretty unfortunate.
        No doubt all will be explained.

  • Terry

    1813 – they were ships

  • Tony Parker

    #2 Grenadiers and Coldstream Guards

  • Virginia Brown

    #23 Characters from P. G. Wodehouse novels. They would have lunch at the Drones’ Club. Would even they consider Bertie Wooster brilliant? Jeeves, now, was brilliant.

    • Thick as two Plancks

      The brill guy was perhaps Sir Roderick Glossop, who called himself a brain surgeon but was regarded as the janitor of the loony bin.

    • morpork

      The ‘brilliant, but unsound” character is Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, as described by Aubrey Upjohn, feared master of Malvern House prep school.

  • Learned Lion

    Massie – first class challenge. A week to think about it. Love the Bond reference – not one shared by Blowers

  • Thick as two Plancks

    20. Beer, I expect. Or the colour you go when you drink the stuff there.

    • Daniel Maris

      20 is shirts as in Fascists.

  • Eddie

    Is the answer Kajagoogoo? Or Marie Antionette?

    It’s usually one or the other, I find…

    Too difficult for me – I shall leave it to the sober and dedicated!

    Except No 18: maybe all deputy leaders who then later stood for election and won? (except Hirohito…Oh dear…) Al Gore would be the 2014 equivalent.

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