Thank you for all the entries – we had twice as many as last year’s bumper haul, and the average mark is creeping up too. The answers are shown below. Here are the winners – there’s an extra runners-up prize so everybody who scored 18 or better gets something.
First prize: Tom Lees with the only full house, 20/20
Runners-up: Lisa Taylor of ICAP (19), Nick Tudball of BNP Paribas (19), Mike Schmidt of Tricorn Partners (18), Alex Wall of Lloyds Banking (18), and Eirian Jones of Lord North (18).
Best M&G staff entry: Dominic Harlow, Marketing (17).
Have a great Christmas everybody, and congratulations to the winners. You’ll hear from us shortly.
1) There are five European capital cities that are home to Champions League/European Cup winning football teams. What are they?
Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Bucharest, Belgrade. Glasgow is not the capital of anything by the way.
2) An ounce of gold currently costs approximately $1150. What price per ounce did Gordon Brown get for the first tranche of the UK’s 125 tonnes of gold reserves when it was auctioned in July 1999?
3) What is defying its name and stops being circular this month?
The Circle Line on the London Underground now spirals from Hammersmith, through the City, and back west to Edgware Road, rather than being the loop around the centre that it used to be.
4) Moore 64, Picasso 73, Warhol 75, and Haring 88. What was 77?
The Queen and the Queen Mother. This refers to labels on bottles of Chateau Mouton Rothschild. Each year a famous artist produces a painting for the label, but in 1977 there was a special label to commemorate the visit of the Queen and Queen Mother to the chateau.
5) Bud Light used to be the biggest selling beer in the world, but in 2008 it was overtaken by which brand?
Snow, the Chinese beer brand.
6) Finding what would explain how particles with no mass can make up matter which has mass?
The Higgs boson.
7) If this was a joke, what’s the difference between bird flu and swine flu?
One requires tweetment, the other requires oinkment.
8) BA001 used to take half the time of a standard flight to get from London to New York. It now takes over 2 hours longer – why?
This used to be the supersonic British Airways Concorde flight, but this year BA resurrected the flight number for its London City to JFK flight, which, because of a short runway at City Airport, has to stop for fuel in Shannon, Ireland, hence the longer than usual flight time. You had to get both parts of the question right to get the point (i.e. why was it shorter, and why is it now longer).
9) In November this year, what became the biggest grossing entertainment release of all time, with a worldwide gross of over $500 million in under a week?
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, the console game. Lots of people said New Moon, which might well be true of its cinema take, but the video game outsold it.
10) Which artist wowed crowds this autumn with a show that included the regular firing of a red wax shell from a cannon at the gallery walls?
11) What topped the NME’s “best album of the last ten years” list?
“Is This It” by The Strokes.
Optional bonus question – was there a better album, and if so what is it? Suggestions will go to the kangaroo court and may be awarded an extra point if we go,” you know what, that WAS a better album”.
No bonus marks were awarded. Perhaps the nearest I came to it was with the suggestion of the Arctic Monkeys first album, but I also nearly removed marks in a fury when I read some of the drossy suggestions, so count yourselves lucky.
12) Covered bonds and Residential Mortgage Backed Securities are both fixed interest instruments secured on home mortgages. What is the significant difference between the two?
Banks issuing Covered Bonds keep the residential mortgages on their balance sheet, whereas RMBS see the mortgages removed from their balance sheet completely.
13) So far in 2009 which artist’s painting has sold for the highest amount at auction (and although it’s a high number, it’s only 50% of 2008’s most expensive work of art)?
Henri Matisse (Les Couscous, Tapis Bleu et Rose, 1911) $46.5mn. We had a small panic with a handful of people who suggested Titian’s “Diana and Actaeon” which was bought by the National Gallery of Scotland and National Gallery in London, for about £50 million at the start of the year – but the question does ask for auction results, and the Titian sale was part of a more complicated deal (not an auction), and the money will be paid in instalments over three years. Also, Raphael’s Head of a Muse recently became the most expensive drawing of all time, selling for $47.9 million in December. But we asked for a painting, and this isn’t one.
14) “A great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. What?
Goldman Sachs, according to Rolling Stone magazine.
15) Which James Bond film has the longest title?
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
16) Which Arabic word meaning legal instrument or deed is used to describe bonds structured in order to comply with the Islamic prohibition on charging interest?
17) Which headline-grabbing celebrity’s real name is Eldrick?
18) Which cocktail is made from lemon juice, 1 shot of gin, 2 shots of cherry brandy, soda water, and ice?
A Singapore Sling. Not that it impacted the final results, but we also gave marks for the Eton Highball, which looks pretty similar (although possibly has less cherry brandy in it?).
19) What’s the proper name of the instrument made famous by George Formby?
The Banjolele (or variations on banjo-ukulele). No marks for the ordinary ukulele.
20) For which charity did the M&G Bond Vigilantes grow moustaches last month?
The Prostate Cancer Charity. The final amount raised was £14,345.