The Londoner Challenge

On Thursday night, I found myself on stage in the lecture theatre at the Museum of London taking part in a University Challenge style N v S v E v W quiz organised by London’s überwebsite Londonist. Having been asked to captain the North London team, I was seated in the traditional captain’s position of second from the right.

When I’d agreed to this I’d assumed that the other contestants would also be random people who maybe knew a bit about London. How wrong I was. Despite teams apparently being selected anonymously based on applicants’ love of their quadrant of the capital, we seemed to be facing teams with Mastermind finalists and people ranking in the top 20 in World Quiz leagues.

Andrew, Abby, me, Mark

There were two semi-finals, with the winners battling it out for overall glory. We were up first against Team East. It was a fairly one-sided affair. My team of Mark (our only hardcore quizzer), Abby, Andrew and myself won comfortably against East’s team, captained by the Londoneer’s Pete Stean.

The buzz around the auditorium was that Team South and Team West were the two top teams with Team South the out and out favourites thanks to the presence of Jesse Honey, the current World Quiz champion (who knew there was such a thing?) who was also the 2010 Mastermind champion, and Paul Steeples who is also a Mastermind finalist.

For my money (and this may have been because I was in the audience rather than under the spotlight), this was the marginally easier of the three contests. South beat West fairly comfortably in the end, although the margin wasn’t as big as ours.

Despite having posted the highest score so far, there was no question that we were the underdogs in the North v South final. We held our own early on, and were able to get our fair share of the starter questions, but eventually the superior general knowledge of Pete Watts’s (The Great Wen, Time Out) team came to the fore and they consistently scored more heavily when they got their bonus questions.

So, we lost the final, but I think we can be proud of ourselves for doing well against a team of serious quiz people. At least we knew that Hampstead was the deepest tube station on the network, though there were disappointingly no questions about the relative merits of Kilburn’s Sunday lunches or the status of local planning applications!

I believe Londonist will be publishing the questions at some stage, so I’ll add that link here and you can see how you would have done on the buzzer!

  • Well done team North! Looking forward to checking out the questions…

  • Good effort team N London!

  • Paul Steeples

    Jonathan – I’m afraid the influx of serious quizzers is probably my fault. I’m a regular reader of Pete Watts’s Great Wen blog, saw his appeal for team members and put a link on my Facebook page. Lots of people I know do quizzes, and naturally they relished a chance to participate in something of this quality. All the teams had someone I knew on them – two on South, two on West, two on East and one on North (Mark, who you mention). At least three other people I know applied to play but weren’t chosen. I hope you don’t think we were ringers or that we spoiled the evening for you. I really didn’t know that Jesse Honey was applying to be on the South team, although I do know him. And respect to Matt for a wonderful set of questions. All the best, Paul Steeples

    • Hi Paul,

      No need to apologise – was just a surprise when Mark told me about this a couple of days before. I like a challenge, so it was interesting to pit our wits against some of the best quizzers around (and I'm very glad we had Mark on board!). Congratulations on what was a well-deserved win.