Q: Who Found a Way to Crack the U.K.’s Premier Quiz Show?

Brandon Blackwell sits in his apartment in the Jamaica section of Queens, training with a collection of 30,000 homemade flash cards the way weight lifters train with barbells. Each card contains an obscure fact about the world. Which country is home to Lake Assal, the largest salt reserve on earth? (Djibouti).Which metal is smelted using the Hall-Héroult process? (Aluminum).

It is the fall of 2016 and the 22-year-old is struggling to reach the highest echelons in the little-known world of competitive quizzing. He’s earned about $400,000 by appearing on “Jeopardy!” Teen Tournament, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” and a handful of other shows. But he fares poorly when up against top quizzers in online contests and does not exactly dazzle at the Quiz Olympiad held in Athens that year.

Mr. Blackwell wants to get better. Much, much better. He’d also like to turn quizzing into a full-time job, although how exactly that will happen is unclear. The more he thinks about it, the more he realizes that he has no choice.

He has to move to London.

“Eight of the top 20 quizzers on the planet lived there,” he said during a recent interview. “It’s the epicenter and competing in the city was the only way I was going to improve quickly.”

To land a British visa, Mr. Blackwell — who already had a degree in computer science from New York University — needed to enroll in a British university. And if he was moving across the Atlantic, he figured he might as well finagle his way onto one of the country’s televised quiz shows. When he searched “university” and “quiz” on Google, up it popped: “University Challenge. “

Mr. Blackwell, top row, competing in “University Challenge” for Imperial College, a science and engineering school in London.Credit…BBC

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