i Editor's Letter: Quizzes and puzzles


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The Independent Online


I caught a little of Britain's Brightest for the first time at the weekend. Fronted by that ubiquitous new "national treasure" Clare Balding, it was a step up from the average Saturday night quiz fare in the way Mastermind was a step up from Blankety Blank.

Never mind the grammar school v private v comprehensive debate, there is a certain type of mind or intelligence that is brilliant at quizzes − not to mention crosswords and other puzzles. For example, I am good at the former, but have never done a cryptic crossword or sudoku in my life.

It certainly takes a particular mind to set them. Tomorrow, I will be privileged to attend the final of the iQuiz competition at Birmingham's excellent Ikon Gallery in the company of The Independent and i's own quizmaster Simon O'Hagan. Simon has been setting quizzes since his schooldays. He has also attended one of Britain's best-known pub quiz nights (at the Prince of Wales in Highgate) for a decade, where he even sets questions occasionally. He has the sort of "butterfly brain" that used to characterise all journalists and knows quite a lot about quite a lot.

Among Simon's own favourite trivia? That Isaac Newton invented the catflap, or that Delia Smith baked the cake that appears on the Let It Bleed album cover. How did I get through life without such indispensable knowledge?

So, I trust that the 18 student teams of four that have made it through to tomorrow night's final will be swotting up tonight. They will have had a taste of what to expect in their November heats organised by our Student Brand Ambassadors. Thanks to all of you.

I would be swotting like mad if I had a prize of a 14-day trek around the West Coast of America (from TrekAmerica) within reach for knowing Hazel Blears MP once played a street urchin in the kitchen-sink drama A Taste Of Honey. Hope the teams are good friends!