University Challenge quizmaster Brandon Blackwell's exclusive 20-question test

The New York whizzkid first appeared on US quiz show Teen Jeopardy at the age of 14 and has since earned more than £370,000 taking part in TV quizzes from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? to The Million Second Quiz (he donated some of it towards a medical procedure for his grandmother). “I spent five years going to every quiz I could to get experience, and being completely out of my depth,” he says of his preparation for the BBC2 Two show. “It’s not because I was born clever and think I’m so great, it’s because I’ve worked very hard specifically on this skill.” Who better, then, to play quizmaster for a quiz-obsessed nation in lockdown? Gather your virtual teammates and fingers on buzzers, this is Blackwell’s 20-question quiz-travaganza to take on at home. Which famous Renaissance painting finishes this set of four portraits by the same artist: Lady with an Ermine, Ginevra de’ Benci, La belle ferronnière… and what? Which philosopher wrote the 1637 work Discourse on the Method, which contained his famous quotation “Cogito ergo sum”? Fawley is the surname of the title character of which Thomas Hardy book of 1895, his last completed novel? Which Roman, the second of the “Five Good Emperors”, was the victor of the Dacian Wars? What six-letter word can refer to: in biology, the substance between cells or in which structures are embedded; in maths, a rectangular array of quantities or expressions; or in the movies, a 1999 film by the Wachowskis? On the Periodic Table, if hydrogen plus boron equals carbon, what is nitrogen plus oxygen? What four-letter word when repeated twice gives the scientific name for the common magpie? Five Shakespeare plays have characters named Antonio: Much Ado About Nothing, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, and what other play, where Antonio is the lead character? Wilbur is the first name of which man who invented a scale to measure the spiciness of chilli peppers? Despite a common misconception, his epithet refers to being poorly advised. According to Greek mythology, Argos was a giant that had 100 of which body part? The man who since 2019 has served as President of the European Council, was from 2014-2019 the prime minister of which country? What is the sum of the four numbers described: the numbers of players on the field for each team in a match of rugby union, the numbers of players on the field for each team in a match of rugby league, the points awarded for a try in rugby union and the points awarded for a try in rugby league? Also a synonym for “ruler”, what five-letter heraldry term refers to an ordinary consisting of a broad horizontal band across the top of a shield? Thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and cobalamin (all in numerical order) are better known collectively by what name? Which 1950 film is based on the Ryūnosuke Akutagawa short story In A Grove, although the movie itself is named for what other short story by the same author — also the setting for part of the film? Sporcle is a website a lot of quizzers use to practise basics such as flags, capitals and English monarchs. Get to know what their strong and weak spots are and it’ll make discussing answers easier. If there’s no penalty, always guess — especially if the question has limited choices such as “which continent” or “which Premier League team”. Take part in more pub quizzes — and remember to tip generously!