The Alex City Quiz 2013
The Alex City Quiz made a triumphant return to the London Stock Exchange on
Alex was sadly unable to host the event in person
due to urgent prior business commitments. His place was due to be taken by Mr
Robert Bathurst, but he in turn was detained on a film shoot in Hungary (where
he is playing a dissolute English aristocrat in a Dracula movie: just to show
that the job flow between Eastern Europe and the UK is not one-way, whatever the
Daily Express would have you believe).
Third choice quizmaster
was thus Russell Taylor, Alex’s co-creator, who finally got to speak some of the
words he’s been writing for Alex for over 25 years.
were set by Russell with Marcus Berkmann, author of many books on subjects as
diverse as cricket, fatherhood, quizzing (naturally), and, most recently, A Shed
of My Own, a humorous account of the midlife crisis.
teams who took part were made up largely from the worlds of stockbroking, fund
management and financial PR, with the odd journalist thrown in. The beneficiary
of the evening was the London Stock Exchange Group Foundation, which supports a
range of charities.
The first question of the evening (the
traditional “nice easy one”) was also the only one that vaguely pertained to the
financial world (“Who bankrupted his company 18 years ago today and was played
on screen by Ewan McGregor?”). From then onwards it was general knowledge,
sport, film/TV and a good measure of celebrity culture.
picture round the quizzers had to identify famous people called Sid and Nancy.
The music round featured songs with the word “friend” in the title (Friendship
Works was one of the charities benefiting from the event). The teams confidently
identified Tubeway Army’s Are Friends Electric? and Randy Newman’s You’ve Got a
Friend in Me, but puzzled over Eric Clapton’s 2010 cover of Fats Waller’s My
Very Good Friend the Milkman.
In general an impressive degree of
knowledge was on display throughout the evening. Nine teams knew that the name
of Alan Partridge’s son was Fernando. Eight correctly answered that the island
nation which is reckoned to be fifth most likely to put the next man on the moon
is the Isle of Man (no indigenous talent there, just very generous tax breaks
for space exploration companies). And three teams even identified the world’s
most suggestively named diving club as being in the village of Muff in Ireland.
The host for the spread betting round was as usual David Buik
from Cantor Index, who provided the contestants with a welcome break from having
to actually know stuff (not a requirement in most of their jobs). David made
spreads on arcane facts such as: the length of the world’s longest domestic cat;
and which storey of the Empire State building sea level would rise to if all the
ice in the world melted. The teams then confidently bought or sold the spreads.
Naturally this led to many of them being wiped out instantaneously, but The
Peterhouse Prizefighters (from the eponymous corporate finance boutique) rode
their luck to scoop the eventual prize.
The Snowball Round is a
regular feature of the Alex City Quiz in which contestants are invited to put
their business cards (attached to a £20 donation to the charity) into a bowl.
At the end of the evening a card is drawn and the mobile number on it dialled.
The phone that rang belonged to Matt Penfold of Macquarie Capital, who then
managed to correctly answer a question on Alex and won that day’s framed
With only their wits, dumb courage and a pay
bar for support the teams struggled through a total of eight punishing rounds of
questions. The wooden spoon - actually a copy of Marcus’s The Prince of Wales
(Highgate) Quiz Book - went to Aurora – a team of management consultants (fill
in your own comment here..) - who finished with what was actually a very
credible score of 102 points out of a possible 180.
financial PR firm Pelham Bell Pottinger, fielded two teams, but only succeeded
in splitting their talent pool fatally in two and ended up coming 7th and 15th.
(Worse fates have befallen previous winners – the champions in 2009 were Seymour
The eventual victors also boasted the longest team
name - I’m Not the Quiz Master I am a Very Naughty Boy - and comprised a
disparate bunch of financial professionals. Their victory with a score of 141
points and a margin of five points over their nearest rivals (Still No Idea from
wealth managers PFP Group) earned them the handsome Masterley trophy – an
Oscar-style gilded statuette in the shape of the world’s favourite banker
himself. Sadly they were not permitted to take Alex home (like many bankers he
is a little fragile at the moment) but had to make do with Alex commemorative
The evening raised £4,500 for the London
Stock Exchange Group Foundation.
If you fancy taking part next
year, you can test your mettle on a short selection of questions from Tuesday’s
Q: As the world knows, Sir Bradley Wiggins was voted BBC
Sports Personality of the Year in December. Who came second??
Several British actors have had this unlikely honour: Frank Windsor, Nigel
Hawthorn, Kenneth Branagh, Alan Cumming, Michael Gambon and Alan Rickman have
all done it. Anthony Hopkins has done it twice. Daniel Day Lewis has done it
most recently and perhaps most successfully. What??
Q: The Queen was
Lord High Admiral of the Navy from 1964 until June 2011, when she ceded to an
older man. Whom??
Q: What foodstuff is the speciality of a boucherie
Q: Who may have been the Duke of Monmouth, or an
illegitimate son of King Charles II of England, or an Italian diplomat, or a
valet named Eustache Dauger, or an illegitimate half-brother of King Louis XIV,
or someone else entirely, but definitely died in the Bastille on November 19th,
Q: Who pulled the fastest milkcart in the west?
If you can’t wait till next year: Marcus Berkmann’s quizzing company BRAIN MEN
sets regular quizzes. See their website: