One question serial quiz-writer Karl du Fresne will never ask of his puzzling audience is “what is the capital of Iceland?”.
That kind of question kills a quiz, reckons the long-retired former editor of Wellington’s The Dominion, who until the end of last year was the slightly shadowy compiler of the wildly popular Dominion Post daily quiz.
A ritual in workplaces throughout the newspaper’s circulation, du Fresne says he never sought to be anonymous.
“I just didn’t widely publicise it.”
From today, his quiz is coming to BusinessDesk and, at least for now, will sit outside the website’s paywall, so anyone can access it and try their hand at answering the daily du Fresneian brainteasers.
The quiz master himself doesn’t quite know why this productivity-sapping, albeit team-building, daily puzzle has been such a success.
“I don’t have a secret sauce,” he says. “The quiz is very popular. It has a very devoted following that’s built up over many years. I’ve scratched my head about what makes it popular and haven’t been able to work it out.”
However, he tries to set questions that will leave people a little better informed than they would have been, even if the question isn’t one they could answer.
“I try to ensure that some of them are a bit challenging,” he says. “More than anything, I like to put a slight spin on them, a quirky element.
“I don’t go for ‘what is the capital of Iceland?’.”
The questions themselves come from anywhere and everywhere, although the self-described 70s-something baby boomer had to put a lid on the number of questions dealing with hits of the 1960s.
“A lot of people complained about the musical questions,” he confesses.
The impression is of a man who now moves through daily life on a constant, almost subconscious search for questions.
“I’ll hear something on the radio, see something on TV or in the paper, someone says something and I think: ‘oh, that would be a good quiz question’.
“I pick them up everywhere and jot them down.”
Like all writing jobs, there is such a thing as quizmaster’s block, when the juices don’t flow, but most of the time du Fresne says it’s “not hard work” and acts as an “escape valve” when sometimes he should be doing something more mentally demanding.
In that sense, he’s in tune with those who turn to the quiz for light relief and entertainment during the working day.
We hope everyone who’s always enjoyed du Fresne's quizzes will enjoy the daily QuiznessDesk, only on BusinessDesk.