Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Quizzing: A British Past time



In Jane Austen's first novel, "Northanger Abbey," the characters "quiz" each other, almost to distraction.

Today, British pubs will often host a weekly "quiz night," and the same was the theme of many of my Oxford college's MCR (graduate student body) activities.  BBC quiz shows are proliferating.  There is "News Quiz," "Egghead," "Round Britain Quiz," and, my favorite, "Only Connect."

This is how they work: three-four individuals with stores of random, detailed, and arcane information will group together in a team and choose the nerdiest of them all to be the captain and give themselves a name to be proud of.  This group will then compete against others to see who has the quickest recall of bits of information when prompted by game show hosts.

The questions posed to the various groups somewhat mirror what we in the States call "Trivial Pursuit" and can fall into categories of science, sport, pop culture, music, and history.  But the ways in which the questions are twisted together are made to be more and more complex.  For instance, in "Only Connect," one round is composed completely of sequences, wherein the competitors must guess the last bit of the sequence and explain why.

One sequence question was particularly amusing, and should be known by all non-convert Mormons: Name the last in the sequence of "skull, scapula, tibia,_____"

(Answer: phalanges.  The connection: the bones listed in the Primary song known by every Mormon child: "Head, shoulders, knees and toes...")

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