Last weekend I completed this year’s Christmas Quiz, continuing last year’s trend of finishing it over the summer holidays (this year, even without a two-month break from work!).
For those unfamiliar with the Christmas Quiz, this is a tradition which I’ve been doing since 2006, when a whim led me to compile a cryptic quiz about the London Underground and send it out in my Christmas cards. Positive feedback and requests for another led to me doing the same again the following year; a few years after that it moved online and now, eighteen years later, it’s become a regular tradition, with a goodly number of people – not all of whom I know personally anymore – doing the quiz every year.
The quizzes alternate between cryptic and other forms (this year it is the latter) and themes have included animals, science, geography, sequences, history, surnames of MPs and, of course, the aforementioned London Underground. Any and all reference materials, including the internet, are allowed and they’re designed so that a casual look through for an hour or two might get 20 – 30, a serious try will typically get into the 50s and 60s, but that it is really quite hard to get in the 80s or 90s (though some do, every year). Teams are actively encouraged, with many people using it as a ‘coffee table’ item over the Christmas period, or involving family, friends or work colleagues.
Each year the quiz goes live on the first day of Advent, with answers out on Epiphany.
Christmas Quiz XVIII is a ‘letters and numbers’ quiz, of the style of Christmas Quiz IV or XII. By this I mean that clues take the form of the first letter and number of letters in each word in the answer, so that Three Blind Mice would be T5 B5 M4 – you are given the series of letters and numbers and have to give the phrase, song title, quotation or otherwise to which it refers. These tend to be particularly popular as people say they are able to try to keep puzzling at questions, trying different options to see what might fit, rather than hitting a brick wall.
The clues are arranged into ten rounds of ten questions each, each round being of a particular category, so you know what you are looking for. This year the rounds are:
- Christmas and Advent carols and songs
- Quotations from films
- Chess openings
- Think tanks
- Poems (first lines)
- Quotations from Monty Python
- Books (last lines)
- Scientific and other laws
- Quotations from people of renown and infamy
No answers are identical to Christmas Quiz IV or XII, even though some rounds (such as poems) are repeated.
For those who can’t wait until December to get their quizzing fix, the back catalogue of the previous seventeen Christmas quizzes can be found on the Christmas Quiz page of the website, I’ve collected the first twelve (with answers) in a book, the Twelve Quizzes of Christmas, which can be bought here, and a friend has turned the first few quizzes into a mobile app(1) which can be found here.
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(1) Apple only, I’m afraid