City hosts Scottish leg of notoriously tough challenge

Brian Pendreigh has set up the quiz championship in memory of his friend Max Thomson
Brian Pendreigh has set up the quiz championship in memory of his friend Max Thomson
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IF you are baffled by Eastern religions and lost on the finer details of Saudi fashion, now is the time to pick up those encyclopedias and get swotting.

The World Quizzing Championship will come to the Capital for the first time next month, with participants descending on Edinburgh’s Voodoo Rooms.

The championship – organised by the International Quizzing Association and taking place in dozens of locations across the world – is known as a notoriously difficult challenge, with even seasoned competitors struggling to answer more than a third of the questions.

Organiser and quizzer Brian Pendreigh said: “The questions are tough – every answer you get is like scoring a goal in football.

“For people who are used to the pub quiz, it’ll be like doing the Edinburgh Marathon if you’re used to going out for a Sunday jog.

“You’ll be up against some of the best, and there are very few events where a punter can play against the best in the world.”

Proceedings will have a sombre note, with the Scottish team competition named after Max Thomson, who died in January.

Mr Pendreigh said: “It’s a tribute to Max really. Not everybody at the event will know him, but he was an absolute regular at his quizzes at the Harbour Inn and the Old Inn in Davidson’s Mains.”

Mr Thomson, a transport planner from Leith, took his own life aged 49, only two days after he appeared on TV helpping his team win the BBC’s Eggheads programme.

Mr Pendreigh said: “The quizzing community is quite tight-knit and I think Max’s death sent shockwaves throughout the UK. He was certainly well known in Edinburgh.

“He was on TV several times and never lost. If he offered an answer at all, you knew it would be right.”

Mr Thomson’s sister, Laura, who is headteacher at Victoria Primary School in Newhaven, said: “I think it’s a very fitting tribute. We were really quite touched when Brian spoke to us about it because it was something that gave him so much pleasure.

“Brian was explaining it’s quite a feather in Edinburgh’s cap because it’s the first one of these they have had.”

Voodoo Rooms director Ewan McNaught said he hoped the event would boost the popularity of quizzing in Scotland.

He said: “I don’t think quizzing in Scotland is quite as high- profile as it is down south.

“There’s a pub quiz circuit but it’s not really organised as such. I think this event will raise the profile of organised quizzing in this country.”

Jane Allen, managing director of the International Quizzing Association, said the event would help change the public perception of quizzing as the preserve of nerds and beer- bellied pub dwellers.

She said: “We see quizzing as a mental sport – our quizzers are properly competitive.

“They need to be up on world affairs and politics, and they are constantly reading encyclopedias, maps and making sure they’re up to speed on whatever’s going on sports-wise. Plugging the gaps they call it.”


1: In Latin this word means a female animal used for breeding. In Geology it is the natural material surrounding a metal or gem. In Biology it is the intercellular substance of a tissue. The commonest use of the word, however, is in Mathematics. Also appearing in the title of a film with superb special effects, which word?

2: Which part of the body might a doctor examine using an Otoscope?

3: In 1927, a famous sports team was created by Abe Saperstein. Originally known as the Savoy Big Five, they have played more than 20,000 games under their current name, notably against the Washington Generals and the New York Nationals. What is the name of the team?

4: Where would a Saudi man wear a Ghutra, Iqal and Tagia?


1: (The) Matrix 2: Ear 3: Harlem Globetrotters 4: Head (cloth, cord and skull cap)