Christmas Quiz 2021 – How many puzzles did you solve?

At the end of December, we published the 2021 edition of our annual RSS Christmas Quiz – a brain-meltingly tricky collection of puzzles devised by Dr Tim Paulden. How many of them did you manage to crack?

(If you’d like to take another look at the quiz page before reading the solutions, the puzzles are still available.)

The quizmaster was delighted to receive an exceptionally large number of high-quality submissions this year, with the top entries separated by just a couple of marks.

The winning entry this year was submitted by Andy Knott and Sam Knott, who are awarded the first prize of £150 in Wiley vouchers. In second place, with a remarkable solo effort, was Benedict Howell, who receives the runner-up prize of £50 in Wiley vouchers.

Finishing in third place were Liam Hughes and Oliver Church; in fourth place, Becky Russell; and in fifth place, Paul Southern and Felix Fitzhugh. As third to fifth place finishers, they will receive a puzzle book plus a choice of either a puzzle board game or an online 'escape room' experience voucher – which will be sent out to them shortly.

In addition, the quizmaster will be making a charitable donation of £510, divided among the good causes listed below, which have been nominated by our top-five finishers and by the other thirteen teams who scored 50% or more:

Nominated by our top-five finishers [£50 to each charity]

  1. Action Against Hunger (nominated by Andy Knott and Sam Knott)
  2. The Brain Tumour Charity (nominated by Benedict Howell)
  3. Cancer Research UK (nominated by Liam Hughes and Oliver Church)
  4. The Friary, Nottingham (nominated by Becky Russell)
  5. Cancer Research UK (nominated by Paul Southern and Felix Fitzhugh)

Nominated by teams scoring 50% or more, in alphabetical order [£20 to each charity]

  • Age UK (nominated by Rosie Barron and Gerad Carter)
  • Alzheimer's Society (nominated by Craig Fothergill and Alvin Kissoon)
  • Alzheimer's Society (nominated by Jake Barrett, Jonny White, Patrick Gildersleve, David Nandi, and Tom Barrett)
  • AMECA (nominated by Clive Richardson)
  • The Big Issue Foundation (nominated by Kryzi Fell, Alan Goddard, and Ben Goddard)
  • The Brain Tumour Charity (nominated by Susannah Williams and Alison Simpson)
  • Cancer Research UK (nominated by Damian Kerr and Paul Tagg)
  • Friends of Cammo (nominated by the 'Scottish Scrabblers' - Chris Cummins, Simon Gillam, and Ross Mackenzie)
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (nominated by Corey Plover, Paul Melamud, Nick Polous, 'The' Dan Miller, and Andrew McManus)
  • The Motor Neurone Disease Association (nominated by David Harris)
  • Refugee Action York (nominated by Vincent Fish)
  • Shelter (nominated by James Taverner and Mattias Andersson)
  • Swan Support (nominated by Jonathan Wells)

Many congratulations to all the teams and individual solvers who successfully managed to break through the magic 50-point threshold.

If you have enjoyed solving the puzzles in this year’s quiz, please do consider making a small donation to one of the good causes above – or another charity close to your heart.

Before unwrapping the solutions, we wanted to once again embrace the spirit of making connections, and share a few words from our winners and runner-up on how they originally got into the Christmas Quiz, and their experiences of solving it this year.

Andy Knott & Sam Knott write: 'We first found out about the quiz a few years ago when the Guardian website linked to it, and since then it has become something of a family Christmas tradition – for the two of us anyway! This year, we most enjoyed the snooker question (Puzzle 8), after what seemed like – and probably was – hours of staring at the graph, and the not-so-general knowledge wordsearch (Puzzle 6). The range of puzzles never fails to impress, and the lateral thinking required for most of them makes the ‘penny drop moment’ all the more enjoyable. We’re delighted to have won, against nearly thirty other teams, and particularly appreciative of the charity donation going to Action Against Hunger, currently doing great work supporting Ukrainian refugees in Moldova.'

Runner-up Benedict Howell writes: 'I first discovered the RSS Christmas Quiz in the Guardian a few years ago whilst at university and have been hooked ever since. Despite it becoming a staple of my Christmas period, I’d never had the confidence to submit previously, so it was quite the (pleasant) surprise to learn I’d come second in this year’s edition! I particularly enjoyed Puzzles 1 and 7 for the amount of rewarding puzzling that could be derived from relatively little material. It’s one thing to do the research required to solve these puzzles, but the brainwork required to conceive of and design them is far more impressive. I hope all solvers had as much fun as I did with this challenging but entertaining quiz – I’m already looking forward to next year’s edition. My congratulations to the winners, and my best wishes and hearty thanks to Tim – and Evelyn too, of course!'

Many thanks to Benedict, and Andy & Sam, for their kind comments – and congratulations once again.

OK – time for the solutions! In the solutions PDF (linked below), each of the puzzles is reproduced again, with the solution appearing immediately underneath.

Solutions to the RSS Christmas Quiz 2021 (PDF)

The RSS Christmas Quiz 2021 was devised and created by Dr Tim Paulden. Many thanks to all those who participated in this year’s competition.

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