Fiendishly difficult questions

Over at The Guardian and at least some of them aren’t in fact that difficult:

8. When asked why he robbed banks, he apocryphally said, “Because that’s where the money is.” Which US bank robber gives his name to a rule of focusing on areas with likely high returns, or ruling out obvious explanations first?

Well, some on now, everyone knows that’s Willy Sutton.

9. The Oscar-nominated documentary Waste Land by Lucy Walker is about the “pickers” or “catadores” who scavange Jardim Gramacho, an enormous dump in which city?

Rio de Janeiro
Manila
Mexico City

Rio, obviously. The other two are Spanish speaking/influenced, and Jardim is Jardin in Spanish. It’s Portuguese for Jardim to be Jardim. So, err, D’oH!

Some of the others though are pretty tough.

18 comments on “Fiendishly difficult questions

  1. The only one that is fiendishly difficult is the one about American football.

    Everything else one should or could know.

  2. I got 12 out of 15. Getting the last three wrong. There is no way that anyone should claim these are things people should know. Could? Of course. But should?

    I mean, Christa Luding-Rothenburger? Unless she looks like Katerina Witt why would anyone care?

  3. No, that’s one that can be got from logic. What are the muscle sets needed for each sport? Speed skating and velodrome cycling (rather different from Tour and road racing) are actually very similar in their demands. And there’s been several people who have done Winter and Summer by switching between those two sports.

  4. SMFS

    I perhaps wasn’t clear. I was implying that any reasonably aware person should be able to get a third of those (which ones will depend on their interests) and that the rest were ones that if one read the broadsheets & watched BBC documentaries for long enough then would have been made aware of teh answers even if subsequently forgotten.

    Which is why I thought the American football question was fiendishly difficult. For a native Brit you have to go out of your way to know the answer.

  5. Yes, the altitude makes sense.

    However couldn’t one also argue that the late afternoon strong sea breeze coming in from the Pacific would enable San Francisco to host the greatest number of 65 yard kicks ?

    (Or all the typhoon winds down in Miami, Florida ?)

  6. 11 although I’ll admit to some guessing. The American Football Q though had to be Denver simply due to the higher altitude of that city compared to the other two.

  7. Anyone who follows rugby and has seen how far the ball goes at Joburg would have got Denver. There’s no sea breeze in football stadia, certainly not in the sorts of stadia the Miami Dolphins play in.

    I used to get 100% fairly often in these sorts of quizzes and people (who didn’t know me very well) thought I was some kind of genius.

    I didn’t have the heart (or modesty) to admit it was all about having a very good memory, which I once had.

    These days I read less and remember less, so I scored 12, of which I am pathetically proud, and that included two utter guesses and two educated guesses, inc the speed skating one for the reasons Tim gives.

    On seeing the answers I knew two of those I got wrong but I had simply forgotten the facts. I didn’t know about Thos Hardy, which is weird as that’s the kind of trivia I used to hoover up.

  8. Don’t they use a heavier ball in places with higher altitude ?

    High-altitude tennis balls have been introduced on the professional circuit.

    And soccer balls have a permitted range from 420g – 445g which, if used correctly, would negate for the effect of altitude.

  9. Not in rugby, no.

    You can kick a rugby ball further if it’s slightly deflated and / or if you do it in bare feet /trivia

  10. Tim Worstall – “No, that’s one that can be got from logic. What are the muscle sets needed for each sport? Speed skating and velodrome cycling (rather different from Tour and road racing) are actually very similar in their demands. And there’s been several people who have done Winter and Summer by switching between those two sports.”

    And that is how I did it. I had never heard of her either. I also thought about the Denver altitude thing before opting for Miami. Because, well, why not?

    The odd question is why do so few sportsmen make a successful transition between events? You would think that having the discipline and most of the muscles you need for one event would translate neatly into another event. But it is hard to think of a top flight sportsman in one field who has done well in another. Even the vile Michael Jordan was not able to cut it as a second string baseball player in a second rate team.

    But these are actually fiendishly difficult to the point you cannot expect a reasonable person to know them. I used to work with a nice guy who set pub quizzes. And they were crap because they were all things he knew but which no other rational person could be expected to know. In the end the result was more or less random tending to go with the team with the most football fans on it.

    I liked the Hardy one. Also an educated guess.

  11. @SMfS I suspect few people cross over sports because why would you, especially now. I’d say many people might have the natural ability to excel in more than one sport but probably choose the one they enjoy the most and or pays the best and make a career of that.

    In the old days, Dennis Compton played cricket in the summer but now he’d just play football and he would not be allowed by his insurers to play cricket in the one month a year he would get off. Phil Nevile was good enough to play county cricket, and some said Test cricket, but why would he?

    Jeff Wilson played one day cricket but as a Kiwi rugby was always going to pay better, and made him a superstar.

    Viv Richards played international football but for him the cash was in cricket.

    Some people have tried to cross over once their ‘main career’ has ended – eg Nigel Walker – but it’s tough to pick up any sport at say 26 and compete with people who’ve played it consistently since the age of 5 and are also very good.

    Raw physical talent only takes you so far. Walker was a good club player (100 odd caps for Cardiff) and got a dozen or more Welsh caps but did not do as well as he might have had he never bothered with athletics.

    That was in the amateur era. Harder still in the pro era.

  12. Interested – “I suspect few people cross over sports because why would you, especially now. I’d say many people might have the natural ability to excel in more than one sport but probably choose the one they enjoy the most and or pays the best and make a career of that.”

    In recent times we have seen the money change dramatically in some sports. Union is the obvious example. It went from being cash under the table to wads of cash on top of it. Cricket has also changed over slightly longer a time frame. Tennis and Football have changed radically in an even longer time frame – but all of them within a single adult’s lifetime. Famously Vinnie Jones was paid slightly more than the dole to captain Wimbledon in the Final.

    Which is why baseball is interesting – the money is big and mainly the work of one agent in the 1970s. Until then the clubs had an agreement to pay their players peanuts. I think the limit was $50,000 a year or something. But it is one of the few sports where being a slob doesn’t hurt. It is not as if most of them are star athletes in peak physical condition.

    I knew an Australian who played at a respectable level in both cricket and Union.

    If not raw talent, what?

  13. Not sure what you’re asking? I’m just saying it’s not really a mystery as to why more people don’t play more than one sport at a high level. Lots have the natural ability, but it takes x years to become competitive and established in sport 1 and if you cross over at y age to sport 2 you are up against people who largely didn’t cross over and so have similar natural ability plus x years of experience.

    Money as I say just makes it harder still (to move) because if you could play at a high level in a more lucrative sport you probably already would be doing so, and it’s hard to imagine many people giving up a more lucrative sport to switch to a less lucrative one.

  14. A lot of American footballers would make the 100m national sides of weak nations, but not however the USA national squad.

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