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Cambridge author turns the traditional pub quiz cryptic

Author Frank Paul. Picture: Keith Heppell
Author Frank Paul. Picture: Keith Heppell

Artist and quizmaster Frank Paul's book, The Cryptic Pub Quiz, has been published in time for Christmas.

Known as the host of ‘Cambridge’s most fiendish pub quiz’, which takes place every Monday at The Mill pub in Cambridge, expert quizzer Frank – the son of painters Lucian Freud and Celia Paul – has selected more than 80 rounds of mind-bending conundrums designed to entertain and perplex, and each is beautifully and imaginatively illustrated by the writer himself.

He told the Cambridge Independent: “The book is sort of cobbled together from quiz rounds I set at The Mill, which I’ve been doing since October 2015.

“I suppose most of the rounds I’d already written, but it still felt like quite hard work to compile them all together and fit them into a book – and it took quite a long time to do all the illustrations.”

Frank has some words of advice for anyone who may be unfamiliar with the cryptic pub quiz concept.

“I think I would warn them that it is very unlike the standard pub quiz,” he said.

“I’ve been to a lot of pub quizzes and was always slightly put off by questions that were very satisfying if you knew the answer, but gave you no way in if you didn’t.

“I always found it a lot more satisfying when you were able to puzzle out the answer through your logic, rather than simply because you knew it.

“That’s kind of the questions I like to write – they’re a lot more puzzle-based than the average quiz.”

He continued: “I think to call it The Cryptic Pub Quiz has connotations of cryptic crosswords and, even though there aren’t any cryptic crosswords or cryptic clues in that sense in the book, I think it’s quite a useful description because there are a lot of wordplay-based puzzles that will appeal to people who very much enjoy cryptic crosswords.

“I hope I make it accessible, even though it is very hard.”

On what is a fairly unique idea, the alumnus of Peterhouse – he studied Arabic and Islamic studies – said: “I realise that originality in itself may be a particularly praiseworthy thing to aspire to if the content that’s original is not also good, but as far as I know there’s nothing quite like this book that’s around.”

One puzzle included in the book that Frank is rather pleased about inventing is called ‘Spot the Similarities’.

“It’s a sort of riff on a ‘spot the difference’ puzzle,” he explained, “where there are two drawings done on graph paper and eight squares of the second drawing are identical to squares in the first drawing, except that they’re rotated by either 90 or 180 degrees.

“That was quite an enjoyable challenge for myself to see how different I could make the two drawings.”

The Cryptic Pub Quiz is Frank’s first foray into the published written word. He has previously worked primarily as an artist.

The Cryptic Pub Quiz is available now in Heffers and Waterstones, as well as online. For more information, visit ducknet.co.uk.

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