Boxing Day Family Puzzler 2014


Boxing Day wouldn't be Boxing Day without my annual Family Puzzler - now in its seventh sensational year.

This is the festive quiz for people who don't like festive quizzes because they worry they won't know the answers. In my quiz, no-one is expected to know the answers.

The questions relate to events in the past 12 months and all the solutions are numbers. Contestants must use their knowledge and judgment to get as close to the right figure as they can.

There are 20 questions and, to make it fair, each player/team should write their guesses down before revealing them. One mark for the closest answer and three if, by some fluke or genius, you get it spot on.

Good luck.

Answers at the bottom.

1. Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe competed for Mexico in alpine skiing at the Sochi Winter Olympics this year, dressed as a mariachi. He really did. The prince was the oldest skier in Winter Olympic history. How old?

2. The Chinese version of eBay, Alibaba, was launched on the New York Stock Exchange this year. After one day as a public company, what was its value put at in $bns?

3. Connie Paulgrave bowed out of public life this year, "too old to bear media fuss", it was said. Connie, better known as Koni, is President Putin's black Labrador, who often roamed uninvited into top-level diplomatic meetings. How many Russian satellites are used to keep track of Koni's movements?

4. There was a record turnout in Scotland's independence referendum this year of 84.6%. But what proportion of Scots voted in the European elections this year?

5. There are more cars on Britain's roads than ever - the latest estimate is 29.7m. But more cars mean more traffic jams. What is the current average speed on English 'A' roads in mph?

6. Far from the dreams of a white Christmas, last winter was the wettest on record in Britain, with rainfall 65% above average. How much rain fell in mm?

Living room friendly offline version of the puzzler [240kb]

7. The Rosetta spacecraft captured the world's attention when its lander touched down on a comet in November. Named after the Rosetta stone, which unlocked the secrets of Egyptian hieroglyphs, the spacecraft carries a micro-etched disk inscribed with text in a number of Earthling languages. How many?

8. In August this year, a chef in Guangdong province, China, was killed while preparing a local speciality made from cobra flesh. How many minutes after he had started cooking the snake's body did he receive the deadly bite from the decapitated head?

9. According to figures released this year, what proportion of 10-15 year olds in England and Wales have a negative opinion of the police?

10. How many special-edition footballs (training and match balls) were used by players during the 2014 World Cup in Rio?

11. Figures out this year reveal that the average English city dweller walks 202 miles a year. How many miles does the English village dweller walk?

12. Stoke City goalkeeper Asmi Begovic was credited this year with scoring the longest ever goal in competitive football. What, in metres, was the official measurement of his wonder-strike?

13. How many people in the UK sent off a postal vote for the European elections this year, but forgot to put their voting slip in the envelope?

14. The selfie has been an almost unavoidable feature of 2014, and none attracted more attention than film star Bradley Cooper's star-studded selfie at the Oscars that included Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep among others. Tweeted by Ellen DeGeneres, how many times does Twitter say the photo had been re-tweeted?

Image copyright Getty Images

15. UK schoolchildren do an average of 4.9 hours of homework a week, according to figures published by the OECD this year. How many hours do pupils in Russia do each week?

16. Reflecting the fashion for beards, the organisers of the Parliamentary Beard of the Year competition (now in its 15th year) had so many entries they held a pre-final beard-off for the first time. How many MPs and peers put their faces forward in 2014?

17. For the past 20 years, the Gay family from LaGrangeville in New York State have decorated their home with ever-more elaborate Christmas lights. This year's display saw them regain the world record for "most lights on a residential property". How many lights?

Image copyright AP

18. How many people now cycle to work in central London, according to statistics published this year?

19. Teenager Chris McKernan, from Tunbridge Wells, hit the press in January after suffering a hiccup attack lasting two months. How many times was it estimated that he hiccupped?

20. Musician Stuart Hampton found a mutated Hula Hoop while snacking on a packet of salt and vinegar in bed this year. He decided to sell the three-inch long hoop on eBay. How much did it finally go for?


1. 55; 2. 231 (Bigger than Amazon and eBay combined) 3. 21; 4. 33.5% (lower than the UK average); 5. 24.3; 6. 545; 7. 1000; 8. 20; 9. 4%; 10. 3240; 11. 109; 12. 91.9; 13. 26,376; 14. 3.4 million; 15. 9.7 16. 18; 17. 601,736; 18. 106,219; 19. 1.4 million (24,000 per day); 20. £712

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