Back in September I wrote about the quiz show “Tenable” and set a challenge, to name the 10 items contained in various lists. For example: “Name the 10 elements in the Periodic Table that have fewer than 6 letters in their name.” The original piece containing those challenges is here, and the answers are here.
The new series of “Tenable” began on 30 October and the challenge posed in the previous paragraph has been a question in the final round of one episode. It was phrased slightly differently – name the 10 elements whose names have 5 letters or fewer in their name – but it was the same question. If the team had read my earlier pieces, and memorized the answers, they could have won the jackpot. As it turned out the team captain was the only player in that final round. None of his colleagues had answered enough questions earlier in the show to make it, and nor had they added any money to the final pot. The captain was playing for £500, the sum that Warwick Davies offered for not building up any prize money during the show.
Maybe the show was filmed before my September Blog posts, so the team couldn’t have used any of my challenges or mnemonics to revise for it. However, other episodes have featured information that I wrote about last year and at the start of this year, including a jackpot round which asked the following: “Name the 10 States in the USA that contain the letter D”. I had never noticed that there are exactly 10 such States, but if the team had memorized the list of 50 (and they could, using the mnemonics in this piece) they would have won some cash. Here they are, from memory, and my main challenge is to see if I can get them in alphabetical order: Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, North Dakota, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Dakota. Well, not quite in alphabetical order, but that’s the full list of 10. The team gave some wrong answers, including Detroit (it’s a city, not a State), and went home empty-handed.
A similar thing happened in another jackpot round in the first episode of the series. The question: “Name the 10 countries of the former Soviet Union that do not end in –stan”. This piece, with a mnemonic for the former Soviet Union, lists all 15 countries (including the Stans) and I now know that there must be 5 Stans. The team gave a number of wrong answers, including Serbia, Slovenia, Czechoslovakia and Romania, and didn’t win the £8,000 on offer. The mnemonic UTALK 2 MRBEG, which works for me, tells me that there are two countries each beginning with the letters UTALK and one each beginning with MRBEG. So, being able to recall the following would have won that team £8,000: Ukraine, Armenia Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Russia, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia. (They only had to leave out Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.)
There are, as you’d expect, plenty of lists for which I do not have mnemonics or other tips, and one of them provided a team of young foreign language students with one of the largest jackpots in the current series, £20,000. The question: “Name the 10 members of Ron Weasley’s family from the Harry Potter books”. This includes the names of his children, listed late on in the series, imagining the Hogwarts alumni’s future lives. A quick search has revealed that in his adult life Ron marries Hermione and they have two children, Hugo and Rose. There are no doubt millions of people in their 20s and 30s who know this kind of thing without revising it, but I probably never will. For the record, here are all 10 names: Arthur, Molly, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fred, George, Ginny, Rose, Hugo. But maybe you knew that already.