The questions that got these geeks to the University Challenge final

Could YOU muster a single answer to challenge these two? As a pair of awesome supergeeks go head to head in a thrilling University Challenge final tonight, the devilish questions that got them there would test any egghead

  • Ian Wang, 21, is from Sale, Greater Manchester, where his dad is an auctioneer
  • Brandon Blackwell, 26, hails from Queens in New York. His mother is a lawyer
  • The pair will go head to head in the thrilling University Challenge final

Introducing ‘Grandmaster Wang’… 

Ebullient, with a slight tendency to boastfulness, 21-year-old team captain Ian Wang is from Sale, Greater Manchester, where his dad is a rare stamps auctioneer.

He got A*s in all his science GCSEs but says he bucks the trend of the ‘Chinese stereotype’ by reading English at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Wang earned his nickname by demonstrating his amazing knowledge of Eighties pop music and identifying a hip hop band as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

He has scored 319 of Corpus Christi’s 1,190 points (27 per cent) in the series so far.

Ebullient, with a slight tendency to boastfulness, 21-year-old team captain Ian Wang (pictured) is from Sale, Greater Manchester, where his dad is a rare stamps auctioneer

Ian Wang’s Questions 

1 ‘Ic Wille Beclyppan þin Hand’ is the title of which UK No 1 single of 1963, translated into Old English?

2 A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies And Leadership is a memoir by which former director of the FBI? He was appointed by Barack Obama in 2013, and fired by Donald Trump in 2017.

3 Palau, Paraguay, Saint Lucia and the Holy See are among the small number of countries that give diplomatic recognition to an island known informally by what name? Often described as a de facto independent state, its official name is ‘the Republic of China’.

4 The limestone block known as Arnside Knott lies in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty bordering which bay, the largest inter-tidal area in the UK?

5 IN Diderot’s Encyclopedia, the philosopher d’Alembert listed painting and sculpture as the first two of the five ‘fine arts’. Name two of the other three.

6 What five-letter word links a cultural institution on London’s Bow Street, a golf course at Hoylake in Merseyside and an oil and gas company headquartered at the Hague?

7 Which principality was formed in 1719 by the union of the lordships of Schellenberg and Vaduz?

8 Bewick’s History of British Birds, regions including Lapland, Siberia and Spitzbergen, and the Roman emperors Nero and Caligula are among the proper names that appear in the opening chapter of which novel of 1847?

9 These two words are a nationality and one of its anagrams (for instance ‘Croatian’ and ‘raincoat’) — give both words. ‘Relating to a large country of continental Europe’ and ‘an inanimate object often depicted in nativity scenes’.

10 Who won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal of Iris, the object of the title character’s obsession in a film of 1976?

11 In compound expressions, what four-letter word may precede ‘crop’ and ‘door’, and follow ‘clap’, ‘honey’ and ‘fly’?

12 Who shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with Anwar el-Sadat?

13 The mother of St Augustine of Hippo, a bay in Antarctica, the biblical mother of Joseph of Arimathea, the feminine form of a name meaning bright or shining, the young of a marsupial and a dealer in maritime supplies are linked by what TV comedy series, first seen in 1994?

14 A 1907 oil painting by Gustav Klimt depicts which mythological figure, the daughter of Acrisius and Eurydice? She was impregnated by Zeus.

15 Born in Königsberg in 1690, which mathematician is noted for the conjecture that every even integer greater than two is the sum of two primes?

 The answers 

1 I Want To Hold Your Hand, by the Beatles. 

2 James Comey. 

3 Taiwan. 

4 Morecambe Bay. 

5 Poetry, music & architecture.


6 Royal (Royal Opera House, Royal Liverpool, Royal Dutch Shell).

7 Liechtenstein. 

8 Jane Eyre. 

9 German, manger.

10 Jodie Foster (in Taxi Driver).   


11 Trap.

12 Menachem Begin.

13 Friends (Monica, Ross, Rachel, Phoebe, Joey and Chandler). 14 Danaë.

15 Christian Goldbach.

…And the scowling ‘King Of New York’ 

Brandon Blackwell, 26, hails from Queens, New York. His mother is a lawyer and his father works in insurance.

He combines his studies with being a career quiz show contestant, which he started aged 14. He has won a total of ‘$468,652 . . . and 72 cents’ (more than £375,000) so far. Having completed an MSc in computing at Imperial College, London, team captain Blackwell is known for his trademark grimaces and his statement that: ‘I’m not here to make friends.’

Going into the final, he’s scored 482 of Imperial’s 1,170 points (41 per cent).

Brandon Blackwell (pictured), 26, hails from Queens, New York. His mother is a lawyer and his father works in insurance

Brandon Blackwell’s Questions 

1 Which two-syllable word can mean both these things, depending on which syllable is stressed? ‘A mixture of aromatic substances that emits a fragrant odour when burned’ and ‘to inflame with excitement or anger’.

2 What is the most important ore of aluminium? It derives its name from a village in Provence, France, close to the site of its discovery.

3 To mark International Women’s Day in 2018, the manufacturer of Barbie released a new doll based on which boxer? She was born in Leeds in 1982, and is a double Olympic gold medallist.

4 What four-letter word is spelled out by the initial letters of the capital cities of Venezuela, Pakistan, Albania and Cameroon?

5 Which United States director’s films include adaptations of novels by Humphrey Cobb, Vladimir Nabokov, William Makepeace Thackeray and Anthony Burgess?

6 The first Winter Olympics took place in Chamonix, France in which year?

7 Which alpha-numerical name is shared by major roads that link the following pairs of locations?

Paris and Lille, Belfast and Newry, Athens and Thessaloniki, London and Edinburgh.

8 What breed of hound takes its name from the French for ‘low’, referring to the dog’s low-slung structure?

9 First published in 1859, which book is subtitled The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life?

10 Which of the competing countries at the 2018 FIFA World Cup had the largest population? The country lost in the quarter-finals.

11 Giving your answer as the nearest power of ten, the speed of light in a vacuum is faster than the speed limit on UK motorways by what factor?

12 Which is the only year in British history to have seen four different Prime Ministers hold office?

The first of the quartet was Earl Grey, the last was Robert Peel.

13 Which historic county in north-west England shares its name with the title of the youngest son of George II?

14 Which French preposition is frequently used in English to mean ‘at the house of’?

15 When Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre museum in Paris in 1911, which artist, who was born in Malaga in 1881, was questioned by police as a suspect?

 The answers  

1 Incense. 

2 Bauxite. 

3 Nicola Adams. 

4 City. 

5 Stanley Kubrick.  


6 1924. 

7 A1. 

8 Basset. 

9 On The Origin Of Species by Charles Darwin. 

10 Brazil.


11 10 to the power of 7 (i.e. 10,000,000 times faster). 

12 1834. 

13 Cumberland. 

14 Chez. 

15 Pablo Picasso. 


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