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General knowledge quizzes are ten a penny. Trust The Economist, which knows both the price and the value of everything, to do something different. Game Query

In its first ever quiz book in a 175-year history, the sharp wits of The Economist's own champion quiz team ('Marginal Futility', led by Phil Coggan) throw down the gauntlet for a genuinely severe contest. Ranging over the globe and the sweep of world history, peering into the most significant developments in science, politics and culture, this is the rare quiz whose answers shed real light on the ways of the world. What was Europe's first attempt at an international currency union, before the Euro was a twinkle in Jacques Delors's eye? Where did 15th-Century popes live? Who sang Diggi-Loo Diggi-Ley?

If the idea of tackling fiendish questions like this gets your juices flowing, then this is the quiz book for you...


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We've collected some of the questions in the book and created three themed quickfire quizzes for you to play over the holidays. Click on the boxes below to open and download them.

 Game Query quiz 1Game query quiz 2GQ quiz culture


For your chance to win a copy, tweet us @profilebooks or email with the answer to this question:

What is the name of the Economist's pub quiz team?

UK entries only. Competition closes 10th December.


Phil Coggan and his Marginal Futility team members have put together their top 10 tips for smashing it at your local pub quiz. Pints at the ready...

  1. Have a team captain. Someone has to decide, and write down the answers. That person needs to listen to the rest of the group – they mustn’t be a dictator – but in the end, just as magazines need an editor, someone has to choose.

  2. Know the team’s strengths. Every team needs a balance; young and old, male and female, newshounds and culture vultures, sports nuts etc. Ideally the captain should be able to rely on the expert in the team.

  3. Have an anagram genius. It is a rare quiz that does not have some question that involves the rearrangement of letters, or a picture round involving some kind of lateral thinking. If there is someone in the office who regularly does the Times crossword, sign her up.

  4. Follow the news. A lot of quizzes will have something drawn from the latest headlines. It usually won’t be a solemn subject like a natural disaster but it might be an oddity; for example, which animal just escaped from the zoo or which video has gone viral.

  5. If there’s a picture round, try covering the bottom of the face. People are often most recognisable by the eyes.

  6. Know your quizmaster. If you have done the quiz before, you’ll get a sense of the questions. When Bamber Gascoigne ran University Challenge there were a lot of classics questions; under Jeremy Paxman, a team will struggle without a couple of scientists. Some quizmasters focus on popular TV shows like the X factor, or on sporting news.

  7. Know your competition. If it’s a pub, the chances are the quiz will be tailored to the clientele. If everyone is under 30, you won’t get questions about the Beatles; if they are over 50, you needn’t research the Kardashians.

  8. Think of a team name in advance. Sometimes you can win a prize for being witty; stories in the news are often favoured.

  9. If you are drinking alcohol, stick to beer. The later rounds can be a struggle if you drink too much but you are also there to have fun. A beer can be nursed over several rounds; it is also quenches your thirst more readily than spirits.

  10. Don’t complain. Sometimes the quizmaster is genuinely wrong. But you can’t prove it without using Google and phone use is banned. So subdue your inner pedant. It’s not the World Cup final, after all. 

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