The Joy of Quiz | Penguin

17 May 2016

Update 2 Nov 2017: Now in paperback.

My book The Joy of Quiz has been published. Here’s the blurb:The Joy of Quiz, Alan Connor

• An absolute must-read for anyone who loves quizzes. Alan knows everything, knows everyone, and writes beautifully too. I loved it! (Richard Osman)

• Alan Connor has the mind of an entertainer and the soul of a quizzer. I can’t think of anyone better placed to lead readers through this weird, wonderful, competitive and dastardly trivial pursuit (Victoria Coren Mitchell)

A jaunty journey into the world of the quiz, from the question editor of BBC2’s Only Connect, sometimes in the form of 300 excellent quiz questions

In 1938 Britain started to quiz. Since then, quizzes have become ubiquitous entertainment from pubs to primetime, suffered major criminal investigations, created unlikely folk heroes and been subjected to the rigours of question checkers.

The Joy of Quiz tells the history of quiz and its makers, wonders how we came to make a game out of remembering scraps of information, looks at the tactics of professional quizzers and reveals the shadowy worlds of setters and checkers.

Along the way, it asks questions such as ‘What is a fact, anyway?’ and ‘Whatever happened to prizes like sandwich toasters?’

You can order from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, at Google Play etc…

★★★★★ Connor, like all the best quiz masters, is a genial, companiable host… He writes with wit and fluency… Above all, Connor succeeds in communicating the joy of quiz without taking it all too seriously. An absolute delight. — Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday

Book of the Day: Connor, whose last book was a charming look into the history and culture of the crossword, has again succeeded in explaining the enduring popularity of a curious pastime. The Joy of Quiz offers an entertaining sideways social history that takes in debates over quizzing and public morals, government oversight, and – I’ve started so I’ll finish – the strange things otherwise ordinary people will undergo to win a round of drinks. — John Gallagher, Guardian

Book of the Month: Alan Connor’s hugely entertaining book… gives us a cheerfully fascinating history of the whole quizzing business — Reader’s Digest Recommended Read

An absolute treasure trove of good stuff — Stuart Maconie, BBC 6Music

Today programme, Radio 4, 25 Oct 2016, with John Humphrys and Anna Ptaszynski [audio] [video]
Radcliffe & Maconie, 6Music, 4 Nov 2016
Mark Forrest BBC Radio show, 7 Nov 2016
Signing at Blackwells Holborn Book Quiz, 6.30pm, 10 Nov 2016
Talk, Richmond Literary Festival, 7pm, 24 Nov 2016 [slides]
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Guildford, 7pm, 1 Dec 2016
The Monocle Weekly, Monocle Radio, 4 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Birmingham, 6.30pm, 7 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Brighton, 7.30pm, 14 Dec 2016
Mid-Morning Show, BBC Radio Leeds, 5 Jan 2017
Radio 2 Book Club, Radio 2, 6 Mar 2017
Boring Conference, 6 May 2017 [tickets]
Kew Bookshop Playful Quiz Evening, Tap on the Line pub, 8pm, 11 May 2017
Talk, Festival of Learning, 7pm, 7 June 2017 [tickets]
Chiswick Book Festival, Waterstones Chiswick, 7pm, 13 Sept 2017 [and prize quiz available at all events]
Weekend, World Service, 4 Nov 2017
Mid-Morning Show, BBC Radio Leeds, 13 Nov 2017
Post-Christmas Quiz with Boatman, 6.45pm, 25 Jan 2018, Blackwells High Holborn [tickets]

alan_connor_bbc_radio

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned in the book:

The Joy of Quiz

How to solve Cryptic Crosswords during Coronavirus

20 March 2020

Looking for a distracting hobby that takes a chunk of time? 

Maybe one with a bottomless supply that you can access without going out into the world?

But you find cryptic crosswords baffling?

Here’s a selection of understandable explainers from the Guardian (if you prefer, your local bookshop can get my book for you).

And another thing: crosswords are best learned with a friend or family member. Beginner-friendly puzzles: Observer Everyman; Guardian quiptic; Telegraph; Times2.

Cryptic devices

Right, these are the bits of business like anagrams that you find in cryptic clueshidden answersdouble definitionssoundalikesinitial lettersspoonerismsCockney rhyming slang; containersreversalsalternate letterscyclingstutteringtaking most of a word

Bits and bobs

You also come across abbreviations and whatnotRoman numeralsNato alphabetGreek letterschemistryabbreviations for countriespoints of the compassplaying cardscapital lettersapostrophescricketalcoholthe churchdrugsmusicanimalscarscitiesriverswhen the setter’s name appearswhen the solver appears

Individual letters

A surreal set of “interviews” with the alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKL

Top 10 Crosswords in Fiction

10Brief Encounter
9PG Wodehouse
8The West Wing
7Martin Amis
6Madness’s Cardiac Arrest
5Rubicon
4Alan Plater
3Inspector Morse
2Lord Peter Wimsey
1: The Simpsons

Interviews with setters

What makes these people tick: Paul; Enigmatist; Anax; Tramp; Boatman; Arachne; Rufus; Shed; Puck; Pasquale; Morph; Orlando; Gordius; Audreus; Philistine; Otterden; Doc; Crucible; Picaroon; Nutmeg; Chifonie; Screw; Chalicea; Knut; Styx; Marc Breman; Azed; Navy; Smurf

Random bits and bobs

100 years of crosswords; commentary from the Times Crossword Championship; rudeness; plagiarism; David Nobbs; Steve Pemberton

Richard Osman’s House of Games | BBC2

7 October 2019

Series three of House of Games; 100 episodes.

See also: my book for Penguin, The Joy of Quiz

Richard Osman’s House of Games | BBC Books

2 August 2019
Book of Games

I am proud of this book, which comes out on 17 October.

It has some games from the TV show, and some new ones and, with a couple of exceptions, all new questions. There are some imaginary behind-the-scenes conversations and general nonsense.

Blurb:

Do you know how many post boxes there are in the UK? Could you guess how many times the word ‘goat’ appeara in the King James Version of the bible? Fancy playing a game of charades where all of the books, films and plays are entirely made up? Now, look around the room. Is anyone there the kind of person who’ll say ‘I just don’t understand this’, when faced with something that’s not just perfectly easy to understand, but is … well, fun? Ask them to leave. Have they gone? Good. Now welcome inside the House of Games.

Hotel California | BBC News

23 August 2018

030301gold_house.JPG

A Smashed Hits about (the) Eagles’ Hotel California:

“Vaguery is the primary tool of songwriters,” Frey told a journalist during a 2003 pro-am golf tournament in California’s Pebbel Beach, where he was partnered with Huey Lewis. “It works, it means whatever the listener wants it to mean.”

Sources: History of the Eagles; Hit Story: It All Started Because Of Rattlesnakes; Rockin’ ‘Round The Round, SF Gate; Jennifer Parker’s McBusted: The Story of the World’s Biggest Super Band and this lovely data collection from Southern California Public Radio.

Trump, double-negatives and politics | BBC News

23 July 2018
double negative

A quick piece for the BBC about double negatives:

It’s hard to understate how often we find ourselves using two negatives when we don’t mean to – in fact, this sentence begins with a common example

See also: