Hard man Jones to provide trick or two for quiz masters

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 March, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 March, 1999, 12:00am

Sports fans, with a few killjoy exceptions, love quizzes.

They are a chance to put into use all that knowledge, useful and otherwise, you have gathered over the years while watching and reading about sport.

Quizzes, be they organised or off the cuff over a beer or five, give people the opportunity to put one over their mates or the know-it-alls on the other team.

The trick question, and everyone has one, is the ace up the sleeve to be used when the answers dry up and you are beginning to look a bit silly. The one that will restore your reputation as the font of football knowledge or the guru of golf posers.

Here's an old standby that has stumped the less nimble of mind: What's the highest score you can have after only one visit to the snooker table? 147 . . . where have you been all these years? The answer is 154 as your opponent could foul on the black on his first shot.

But there is hope for all those who answered wrongly. Tony Kennedy, a bit of a quiz show whiz, won more than US$200,000 on the British television programme Who Wants to be a Millionaire last week for coming up with the wrong answer to a question.

He was asked: 'What is the minimum number of strokes with which a tennis player can win a set?' If you answered 24 you probably played tennis with the Kennedy clan when you were young, because, like Tony, you were off the mark.

It's 12 as your opponent could double-fault in all his/her service games.

Trouble was the popular quiz show never intended it as a trick question and their researchers obviously did not dig deep enough in search of the right answer.

So good old Tony is US$200,000 richer for getting it horribly wrong and the research team is probably looking for work on the buses.

Another happening last week will provide fine fodder for trick question devotees in the years to come.

It will be phrased something like this: 'What sportsman starred as a Cockney hard man in the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels?' Answer is ex-Wimbledon defender Vinnie Jones, who gave football a break by retiring last week, and the trick part is that he could never be described as a 'sportsman'.

The 'Sid Vicious of football' was a pretty apt description of the self-anointed hard man who was sent off 13 times and proved that you can become a famous (well, infamous) footballer while displaying precious little talent.

He made his mark, literally, by squeezing Paul Gascoigne's private parts during a Wimbledon v Newcastle match in 1988. This act was caught on film and its publication throughout Britain pretty much assured his notoriety.

Jones revelled in the tough guy role and is ideally suited to his new film part - some would say he has been rehearsing for more than a decade.

He stuck two fingers up to officialdom by bringing out a video called Soccer's Hard Men in which he instructed young footballers on how to commit professional fouls.

Never one to pass up the chance of publicity, Jones accepted an invitation to speak at the Oxford Union - a renowned debating society at the world famous university.

For their enlightenment he offered this uncut gem: 'The FA have given me a pat on the back. I have taken violence off the terraces and on to the pitch.' Good riddance, Vinnie.