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The Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question is famous for its reputation as the Quiz Game Killer that has driven many people to insanity , forgetfulness and - ultimately - death. Even though the original question is now hidden away in a bank vault - just the knowledge that is still exists can still kill the unwary.
Ok. Imagine I am An Ignoramus and I have No Idea What You Are Talking About
The Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question is one of the quiz questions that has been described as the 'Ultimate Brain Scrambler'. If you are able to understand the question and say you can supply the answer- this is what will happen to you :-
Known also as the Zero-Zero-Zero = Slum Quiz Programme Question Paradox' - for professional quiz question masters is also known as the 'Schlewsig-Holsten-Pils Question or S-H-P-Q'. It is a question that is so brain taxing - that providing the answer is like throw a match on a pool of liquid fuel.
Though boring history books say the question is about some arcane dispute about a pair of otherwise obscure lands between Germany and Denmark - the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils Question first burst into the international arena during a quiz game at the Ugly Duckling Bar in Copenhagen, Denmark.
These were the teams if you are still interested:-
- Austria. Baron Schpott and Emperor Franz-Josef
- France. Monsieur Petard and Emperor Napoleon III
- Great Britain. Lord Palmerston and Prince Albert.
- Prussia. Otto Von Bismarck and King Wilhelm I
- Russia. Grand Duke Segue Romanov-Knockendorf and Czar Alexander II
The quiz was held at the Ugly Duckling Bar in Copenhagen and it all seemed to be going very well. Everyone had managed to answer the easy ones like Do You Know When the next Revolution is Due ? and How Old Is Joan Collins today ? when this one popped up.
- 'Can Any of the Contestants please explain to me what the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question is ?
The Prince Consort - Prince Albert wrote down his answer on a piece of paper but then died suddenly. Monsieur Petard mumbled something incoherently and had to be lead away in a strait jacket .Baron Schpott declined to answer and said he was deaf anyway. However the Russian contestant Fyodor Dostoyevsky who was there under the false name of Grand Duke Segue Romanov-Knockendorf suggested the answer was an anagram of the question and then repeated the same query until forcefully ejected from the room.
This left the Prussian chancellor Otto Von Bismarck as the de-facto winner of the game - even though he hadn't answered the question either. He claimed victory because the question wasn't seeking an answer but only an explanation - and therefore was not then a question at all. So Bismarck claimed both ownership of the question - and its answer - and returned to Berlin in triumph where he celebrated his victory with a Prussian Goose Step Rap under the Brandenburg Gate.
Where does the Pils Bit Come In ?
Ahhhh oh that . Thanks for asking me that puzzler. This quiz show was sponsored by the Danish Pilsner Company who are also famous for their ' Grim's Bluetooth Nun' , a drink that was so powerful that it can make anyone 'Drunk As a Knut' just by sniffing the label on the bottle. They thought that the quiz would promote their drink and enhance their country's reputation.
Yet this sponsorship would turn out to be a curse for Denmark. A year later in 1864 Denmark went on to lose against Prussia and Austria in the 'Just Say Nein To Dirty Danes' war. When the Austrians tried to claim an equal share of the prize money - the Prussians turned on them and beat them in the Six Weeks Hangover War. Austria was then disqualified from Germany.
Meanwhile in Paris , the French Emperor Napoleon III was aghast at Bismarck's victories and now wanted win the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question for the glory of France. In 1870 he tried his luck with a crack French team but they got beat badly - and blamed their emperor . Napoleon III was chased out of France . Bismarck decided to rub the French defeat in their noses by going to Versailles Palace and annexing the S-H-P-Q to the new German Reich for ever.
Bismarck and the Question
Bismarck in a speech to the Reichstag after the victory over the French in the Franco-Prussian War mentioned the S-H-P-Q once again.
“ as I said to the English Lord Palmerston - I won the game because I knew that it was important to possess the question and the answer. This helped me unite Germany and the rest they will say will be history. But if Germany loses this - it will be undone in the next game... ”
This was probably true because after Bismarck was sacked in 1890 , Germany's repuation in Diplomatic Quiz Circuit went rapidly downhill . Bismarck withdrew to his estates to water his cucumbers and moustache and took up the hobby of hand painting pickelhaubes for a living. He also seems to have removed the Schleswig-Holstein-Pils-Question documents from the Imperial German Archives , after which Germany managed to lose all the next series of quizzes (Algericas 1905, Tangiers 1911 and Versailles 1919).
Zinck Der Bismarck
Grandson of Old Otto - Zinck Der Bismarck - took part as a member of the German team in the Locarno Quiz of 1925 . It was declared a draw in Germany's favour. The British and French strongly suspected Zinck had secretly brought along the S-H-P-Q with him and that it had been some how deployed during the game without them noticing. Zinck later joined the National Socialists and became a Hitler fan. He offered them access to the S-H-P-Q is if it was ever required. A grateful Nazi government rewarded Zinck by transforming him into a battleship.
During World War Two - Zinck Der Bismarck sent the documents to the Dangerous Quiz Question Vault situated in a secret location in Switzerland. He presumably intended to retrieve them at a later date but was then sent to the North Atlantic to molest British shipping and got sunk. Frantic attempts by other German officials to remember Zinck's Enigma Code and open the box met with failure . So at the next Quiz in Potsdam in 1945 - the German team failed to turn up and lost everything including their trousers.
So What are the Swiss Doing With It Now ?
Keeping their secrets silly ! They are Swiss after all. May be make them into chocolates if they can crack the code on the box. Apparently the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question and its counterpart - the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Answer have been kept in a vault somewhere in Geneva. Apparently they are in the same box but in different plain vanilla chocolate envelopes.
One possible way to obtain the documents is to go this address:-
Ask for a 'Monsier Ponsiore'. You will not recognise him but he will know you. Try him with a riddle - or a bribe - and you will be at least allowed to look in the vault where the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question and Answer is kept. Don't linger in there too long as there are unconfirmed reports that some people never come back. Oh damn... I have already said too much.
Is This Question Relevant Today ??
Unlike the $64,000 question which has been devalued by inflation - the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question (and matching answer) are extremely valuable. You may ask me here.... how it can be used in a quiz show if the question and answer are no longer in the public domain. However as I explained earlier - the answer to the question is not required - only the knowledge that it was asked in the first place is important. Everything else is just singed bread.
The American writer Dan Brown says he knows both the 'S-H-P-Q' and 'S-H-P-A' but is not telling anyone until he has finished making up..investigating.. 'Dante's Lemon Juice Writings' . Brown says Douglas Adams had the same idea with his '42' circular joke but then everyone now knows that this knowledge came indirectly from the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question.
I've Had Enough of This
Yeah...me too. Let's go to the bar and see if we can find a couple of bottles of 'Grim's Bluetooth Nun' to forget everything in the proceeding paragraphs.
- Can also be known as the 'Exclude Me In' and 'One Day You Will Shoot Your Father via a Time Machine' question as well.
- Evidence that is was a Japanese-American fleet that sunk Zinck Der Bismarck and not the British can be found in the same metal shoebox with the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils correspondence.
- Though the S-H-P-Q has appeared on many tv shows - the actual answer is never given . Contestants are asked what they know about what happened to the people who were supposed to know . Their answer is usually madness, dementia and death or all three. This question doesn't appear on Danish or German quiz programmes as they say the answer is easy - but don't believe them.
- As perhaps can be seen in this page that the act of simply chronicling the history of the Schleswig-Holsten-Pils-Question can addle the mind permanently.