AS is traditional at this time of year, and in tribute to a former landlady of the now defunct Grandpont Arms, a large number of combatants in the winter quiz leagues gathered at a variety of venues across the county last week to compete for the Mary English Valentine’s trophy.

One of the legs was staged at the King’s Arms, Wheatley, where we were delighted to welcome back the Bicester Civil Service, sadly no longer a participant in the regular league campaign due to work commitments but who, for a period in the early noughties, were virtually unbeatable.

It was perhaps no great surprise, therefore, that they landed the honours at this venue, albeit on countback, having tied 113 all with their dogged and in-form hosts.

In the north of the region, the Sun Inn (Hook Norton) are experiencing somewhat of renaissance period. Having secured back to back victories in the league, a feat no one in Quizland can recall them having ever achieved previously, they now proceeded to land the odds in the tie held at the Blue Boar, Chipping Norton.

In a low-scoring affair they were, like the Bicester Civil Service, the beneficiaries of the countback system, having finished all square with their hosts on 105. Their final round score of 44 handed them the laurel wreath ahead of the Blue Boar with 41.

Home advantage was anything but on the evening, and so it proved at the Woodman in North Leigh, where the home side could only muster 82 points in ending up a massive 30 behind the White Hart (Eynsham) with the Bell (Lower Heyford) a further two points back in second.

The Green Road Club (Kidlington) was the setting for the largest congregation of the night with 11 teams assembled, and it was here that provided the overall winners. Predictably, the outcome was decided yet again on countback as stablemates, the Plough and the Ploughman’s Bunch! (Wolvercote) dead heated on 126. The Plough, as they did in the Sport’s Quiz a month earlier, lifted the silverware courtesy of their heavier scoring in the final round.

That is now three Tabletop successes in a row for the Plough, their share of the pub’s trophy cabinet now beginning to outweigh that of their housemate’s.

The Bicester Civil Service will be turning out again this Thursday as the extended break from the league campaign continues with the annual renewal of the Colin Ross Memorial trophy. This competition has special importance for the BCS as it is held in memory of a former colleague now sadly departed.

Let’s wish them good luck but, furthermore, hope that this temporary reappearance to hostilities could spark a more permanent return in the not too distant future.


  • Which hit record was released in February 1969, under a plain cover, with the words ‘Interdit aux moins de 21 ans’ (forbidden to those under 21)?
  • Who played the title role in the 1971 BBC TV series Casanova?
  • Which literary character’s first affair is with a visiting playwright named Michaelis?
  • Name the two wives of Henry VIII who had been married previously?


Je T’aime; Frank Finlay; Lady Chatterley; Catherine of Aragon, Catherine Parr