When you’re a quizmaster, and people find out what you do, they often say “Oh, what a great job, what’s your favourite question?”
This itself is a great question, so to co-incide with the dpquiz.co.uk contest to find the world's best quiz question, I asked around my favourite quizmasters and here's what
they told me about their favourite questions. It turns out that cheeky posers and ponderous puzzlers are most popular.
Jon Kutner does a lot of music quizzes and he told me that his favourite lyric question goes back to a classic hit from 1979:
Q. In the Squeeze song Up The Junction, what time did she have the baby?
A. 5.20 am (The lyrics go: “This morning at four fifty, I took her rather nifty, down to an incubator where 30 minutes later…)
The great thing about this question is the double-think-whammy of trying to remember the time in the lyric and then trying to remember the fact that the baby actually arrives half an hour after the given time. Genius!
Martin Cassidy quizzes in Glasgow and loves his cryptic puzzles and was particularly pleased when he solved a crossword-style puzzle at another quizmaster’s gig:
"_ A _ _ _" Clue: "H, I, J, K, L ,M ,N ,O"
Martin says, “this one is immense! Look at it this way H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O is a section of the alphabet (that’s pretty obvious!), but which section? Well, it the section "H" through to "O", or you could say "H" to "O". What’s another way to say "H to O"? … “H20” so the answer is…
Martin admits he’s a die-hard fan of crosswords and loves questions that involve mucking about with letters. Here’s another one of his favourites:
Q. What is the letters in the word STAGNATION have only one anagram in the English language, what is it"?
Martin says “Its a good un, as it requires a bit of thought. Most people will think its something ending in "..ING".
Charles Collins is a quizmaster down in Rome, Italy and has to write questions to cater for an international crowd of Brits, Americans, Aussies, Irish and even Italians who enjoy his weekly quizzes in the Eternal City.
Charles meets the challenge of writing questions to suit the full range of his quizgoing audience by working on the principle that most people know something about UK sport and most people know something about American entertainment. His favourite is a football teaser.
He says "Strangely, my favourite quiz question is pretty easy for Brits, but tougher for my international crowd.”
Who is the only English winner of the European Championship to not be playing in the Premiership?
Charles says "This one makes people start counting on their hands. I love questions that make people count on their hands."
To put a spin on solid trivian James Oakley (also known as Sir James Lord of Quiz) likes a little bit of smut and suggestion in his phrasing to make things spicy. I can appreciate this, and here's an example of one which James came up with recently:
Q - Which of these cocks came first… [pause]: The Aircraft cockpit, the feathered Shuttlecock or Thomas Crapper's Ballcock?
(Cue carry-on style sniggering.)
A - The Shuttlecock
James says he loves this question because the pause allows his quizzers to cleverly shout out names of team-mates or celebrity cocks which does a great job of breaking the ice when presenting in a less formal scene (i.e. for students).
In contrast to Sir James’s blunderbuss of smut, Paul Nik Nak Downie from Essex prefers a subtler knife. Paul told me his favourite is this one:
Q. What’s your religion if you are worshipping in a mesgid?
A. You’d be Jewish (Mesgid is the falasha term for a synagogue, as opposed to masjid, the Arabic term for a large community mosque.)
Obviously, you need to be right on top of your pronunciation if you’re going to ask questions like that!
Iain Clover aka QuizGeezer operates in Kent and told me he uses this cheeky little question once a year:
Q. It is my birthday today, how old am I?
It’s a bit of fun and, as Ian says, “Seriously wrong answers got deducted points !!!!!!!!” Another one of Ian’s questions does an excellent job of suggesting rudeness without ever breaching any guidelines:
Q. What is a four letter word ending in "k", which means to have intercourse
A. TALK !!!!
When I asked a quizmasters for contributions to this article, teasers and posers of a real puzzle-y nature were never far away. Alan Hazlie is another Glasgow quizmaster who likes real mind-benders like this:
Q. In a full 24-hour day, how many times would the hands of a clock overlap?
A. 22 times: [12:00, 1:05, 2:11, 3:16, 4:22, 5:27, 6:33, 7:38, 8:44, 9:49, 10:55, both AM and PM]
And the last word goes to Martin Cassidy who gives another example of the mathematical twisters that get people scribbling with their pens and scratching their heads:
Q. How many times does the number seven appear in the numbers 1 to 100".
A. 20 times
Martin explains why he likes this one: “The answer is 20, but a lot of people put 19, the reason is that they write the numbers out : 7, 17, 27, 37, 47, 57, 67, 70, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79, 87, 97, so thats 19 numbers. Unfortunately for most teams (one of which was a team of teachers!) they forget 77 has 2 sevens in it! Have to admit when I was going over the quiz beforehand I thought I had it with 19!”
So what’s your favourite quiz question of all time? Either leave a comment below or you can enter the competition to win a copy of my book, which is open until the end of April 2010.