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May 10, 2016

Mystery #6: did someone leave the door open?

A belated congratulations to ZellwegerS for winning Mystery Quiz #6. He was the only player to score a perfect 12/12.

I took a week off to focus on some other things, but Mystery Quiz #7 is now live and ready for your entry. This game is open until Sunday evening.

The theme from last week: all of the answers precede or follow “draught” or “draft” in phrases.

Q12. In 1992, Marion Tinsley faced off against the computer program Chinook for the world title in what? I’ll accept either name, but only one (spoken aloud) might help you with the other eleven answers.


Most Common Wrong Answer:

GO (9%)

Best Wrong Answer:



Tinsley in 1988. (from the Mark Foley Collection)

Marion Tinsley is often described as the greatest player in the history of checkers, known in most of the world as draughts. He lost just nine professional matches against human opponents in a career that spanned 45 years. He died in 1995.

Now, on to the rest of the questions!

Q1. What present-day country was, for a little more than 20 years, split in two by the 17th parallel?


After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam was split at the 1954 Geneva Conference. The intention  was the halves would be reunified within a few years. That didn’t work out too well.

Q2. Carolina Marsh Tacky, Tennessee Walker, and Florida Cracker are all breeds of what?

HORSE (54%)

A tough one, and there were plenty of good guesses here. Those who figured out the theme and had this one still in play had an easier go, I’m guessing.

Q3. It’s the only team name shared by two California organizations in the “big five” major leagues.

KINGS (84%)

Sacramento (NBA) and Los Angeles (NHL).

Q4. Charlie, Chicago, Clipper, Metro, Octopus, Oyster

What four-letter word binds each of the above entries?

CARD (61%)

Used for mass transit in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco (BART), New York, Hong Kong, and London.

Q5. In cellular biology, there are two types of endoplasmic reticulum: smooth and what?

ROUGH (52%)

The ERs are basically assembly lines in the cell. The rough ER is particularly important for packaging proteins.

Q6. What four-letter word is obscured in this mural from Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood?


BEER (68%)


LOVE (17%)

Beer fans almost certainly recognized the logo for Brooklyn Brewery at lower left; those who reverse-engineered probably figured this was the best shot for draught beer.

Q7. {0, 3, 4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 15}

What measure of central tendency has a value of 5.5 in the above set?

MEAN (42%)


MEDIAN (18%)

I crafted this question as a bit of a trick: at first glance, all three measures of central tendency might seem to work. The median here, however, is 5, and the mode is both 5 and 6, not the average of the two.

Thanks to whichever smart aleck responded with the Greek letter mu (μ) – technically accurate, but not helpful with respect to the theme. (I also accepted ‘average’.)

Q8. Until it became permanent in 1933, what sports nickname was used interchangeably with Bridegroom, Superba, and Robin, among others?

DODGER (42%)


BABE (9%)

The Brooklyn nine made their first World Series appearance in 1916; that team is usually referred to as the Robins today.

Q9. As a noun, it can mean the cushion of a pool table; as a verb, to form into a mass. On The Weakest Link, it was used in the imperative. What word is this?

BANK (59%)

Man, that was a strange show – and the worst part was the best player was usually knocked out in the penultimate voting round.

Q10. Andy Warhol once claimed that what discontinued “variety” of turtle soup was his favorite Campbell’s offering, in which calves’ heads were used to imitate the texture of the reptile’s meat?

MOCK (63%)

From which we also, presumably, derive the term mock turtleneck.

Q11. What surname is shared by several persons in this June 6, 2015 photograph?


BIDEN (40%)



This is at the funeral for Joe Biden’s son Beau, who died of cancer last year. The Vice President cited Beau’s passing as his main reason he didn’t run for president in 2016.

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