The Alpha Christmas Quiz 2013


To celebrate their tenth Christmas, Alpha members decided to meet for Breakfast. It was a masterly exercise, because it got everyone involved, whether they wished it or not.

They didn’t arrive together. Geoff, the chef, was first, and proceeded to greet the others as they arrived. Bear in mind that the members had never seen each other before. When Sue arrived, there were whispers of “Sue,” and “Who,”  An enhanced whisper of “Who’s Sue” was heard, and Geoff duly reached for his classic reference of “Who’s Who.” That shut him up for a few minutes.

Clare, on the other hand was concerned about the seating plan,. “Where,” asked  Clare, “is my chair?”. The reply was “Over there,” followed by, “but take care.”. They all gave it a glare – and a stare, and decided that was fair, but enough.    Others had arrived, and Geoff, who by this time had refreshed himself with pure desert water to solve a problem with hiccups during his greetings.

But Hakim observed that Margaret Ramsey’s book mentioned nothing about punctuation by hiccups, so Geoff threw a challenge – “How do you represent a hiccup?”

Kim, wondered if a colon:ist was the right person to answer, so instead she suggested that perhaps they should say grace.

“Would grace have a capital G or a small one?” wondered Suzanne, who, having not yet quite conquered France, might be regarded as a semi-colon;ist.

“If it’s a capital G, should Grace be in single quotes, or double?”

“Or none at all?”

The questions came thick and hard, and Chris endeavoured to bring sanity to the discussion.

“Stop!”, he called, “ and if it’s in quotes, and it’s the last word in the sentence, then should the stop be inside the quotes or outside?”

Hakim pondered. “That’s two stops in one sentence. I don’t think Margaret Ramsey would like that, either.”

Then Christine, our pristine leader, (lucky rhyme, that!) asked if everyone had arrived. “Where was Fran, for instance?”

But Fran was in the bran as it was breakfast, and she’d been working a night shift. When she heard her name mentioned, she said, “I’ll make a dash and be with you all.”

But it was Rosemary who really made a breakthrough. Very keen on detail, and her sharp eyes spotted an anomaly – “there are quotes in the oats” she exclaimed, “but without an exclamation mark as you can’t mix tenses in a single clause”.

This was accompanied by a vigorous nodding by Rose, who knows. “Do you think you could write a story with the oats as the main character, and the Alpha members as the environment?”

“Like the oats betting the adjacent quotes that they’d be preferred and eaten earlier.” But this crumb of creative writing fell to the floor.

Then Zena, yet again unable to decide, thought she’d try a bit of everything. Success didn’t elude her, for she announced the perfect answer. “I’ve found ellipses in the Rice Krispsies!”

So all our plates were heaped with them – even Stephen’s – from now on.

“Do you know what printers call the exclamation mark?” asked Sally

”Answers ranged from ‘No-o-o’ to ‘No!!!’ and even ‘No! No! No!’

“A screamer,” replied Sally.

All the Alpha members looked at each other and said “Screamer?”, “A Screamer!” and “Fancy that”.

Olaf took up the theme for the comma man, although his hearing is none too good. “Did you say ice cream with a fancy hat? Bit early in the day, I should think. I’m ready for marmalade. Pass the Margie for my toast, will you?”

Then Christine, observed (a bit less pristine than before), “I don’t think that should be a question, Mark.” All the Alphas stopped eating their breakfasts, and decided to grill Christine, making her even less pristine. But she had, as always, an answer. “I think it’s time we had another European amongst our ranks. Perhaps he’ll be a German, Deutsch mark.”

On cue, the door opened, and in walked the most glamorous, beautiful woman you’ve ever seen. As she was neither German nor called Mark, it just emphasized the creative thinking of the group.

“Did someone say host?” she asked.

None of the Alpha members thought to correct her by saying ‘Host for Toast”, so she continued.

“I am good looking, intelligent and very rich. So I am letting you enjoy Christmas by looking at me, while you pit your thoughts against my intelligence, and you may gain a share in my wealth – a whole point for the annual Alpha contest.

All I want you to do is to deduce my name from correctly attacking the clues.

Read on!


My name has exactly 10 letters. Olaf is going to ask me 10 indirect irrelevant questions, and I will reply with the initial letters of a well-known proverb, saying, cliché, idiom, book, play or film title or just a well-used phrase or sentence.  One of the letters will have a *  beside it, and the last letter of that word will contribute to my name.

Were my name a three-letter word, the following questions might have been posed, and I would have answered in the shown manner.

Q1. “How on earth can I possibly find out your Name?”  Answer:  W T A* W T A W.

Q2. “You don’t seem to be overwhelmed by people asking questions – why is  that?” Answer:   T C B T S*

Q3. “You make this so hard for us ordinary folk. Do you know what I should call you?” Answer:  A E* O T P

The answer to Q1 is clearly Where there’s a will, there’s a way.” The third word is starred, but it’s only a single letter so the last letter is also an ‘a’.

The answer to Q2 – with a little thought is – The calm before the storm. The starred letter is the fifth, the word is ‘storm’, so the letter we want is ‘m’

The answer to Q3 is an Ibsen book title – An Enemy of the People. The starred letter is the second, the word is ‘enemy’ and the letter we want is ‘y’.

So we get the name ‘Amy’. Easy, isn’t it?

But my name isn’t Amy, and your problem is on the next page.


Please note: (1) There are some sayings which may have slight variations  e.g. “To have one’s cake and eat it” or “To have your cake and eat it”. If you don’t like my version, see (7) below

(2) In case of disagreements, the hostess’s decision will be final. If you don’t like the hostesses decision, see (7) below.

(3) The name of the hostess should be sent to Olaf by the end of 2013, and should be accompanied by the 10 words indicated by stars. These will be used as deciders only if there is more than one entry getting the name right. If two entries are deemed to be of equal intellectual merit, the first one received will gain preference for the selection of winner. Otherwise, see (7) below.

(4)  As the subject has now been exhausted, punctuation plays no part in this Quiz. If you’re a fan of punctuation, see (7) below.

(5) You may use any friends and relatives to help you, if you’ve got any left after previous years’ Christmas quizzes. If you haven’t, see (7) below.

(6) All the answers are well-known and used in the UK, but I am aware that this may not necessarily be the case for those who live elsewhere. See (7) below

(7) To show you how sympathetic I am, I will utter the word “Tough!” (double quotes and a screamer).


What I want is for you to get my name, and email it to me by the end of this year, December 31st You may indeed guess the name even though you don’t get all the letters, so in case I receive more than one entry with the correct name, please also send the 10 words from which you selected the last letter.

The winner will share part of my fortune (i.e. a whole point towards the annual trophy hunt) approved personally by Christine.


Question 1.  “can you give me an indication of how difficult this Christmas quiz is going to be?” Answer: L L F A N* I A H

Question 2. “If I can’t get your name right, will my life be dull and dreary?”

Answer:  E C H A S* L

Question 3:  “Why have you only got marmalade for my toast this morning?”

Answer: I J T J* Y B N J T

Question 4: . “I could write you the best novel in the world – would that persuade you?

Answer:  A Y C D I* C D B

Question 5: “If you would sit for me, I could paint your portrait almost as well as Whistler, but would you have the time?”

Answer:  I Y W T K T T A A P*

Question 6: “Why are you promising to share your riches with one of us, rather than the whole wide world?

Answer: B T D Y K T T D Y D*

Question 7: “I’ve a friend who is in charge of the Bletchley Park Museum about cracking the enigma code. Can I ask him?”

Answer:  A S* T C A N

Question 8: “Don’t you think some Alpha members will be upset at having their hopes raised and then broken by your method?”

Answer: Y* C M A O W B E

Question 9: “What will happen to my chances if I get only one letter in your name wrong?”

Answer:  G W T W*

Question 10: “I feel that I’ve exhausted all the questions that I might reasonably ask. What else is there?”

Answer:  H* Y R A G B L

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