Monday, 14 January 2008

In search of the perfect pub quiz

So, yesterday afternoon (around 4:30ish) Katie and I were on our way to her's to go to a pub quiz, which found ok, but didn't particularly care for. And we realised that there would be noone going but ourselves, and that without other people this quiz really wasn't worth it. So we drove to Oxford to go to a quiz we used to go to every sunday evening (and to see friends there too).

So that's about an hour and a half each way, for a 2 hour quiz with friends. And it was totally worth it. It made me realise how rubbish some quizzes I've been to recently are, and what it is that makes a good quiz.

1 - The Questions
Obviously important, the questions should be on varied broad topics, and be suitably weighted. Having a round devoted to a very niche topic and having that round count for a lot of the quiz is really irritating (much as I keep wishing for a maths round). Also, questions shouldn't be 'you know it or you don't', or at least not all the time. The best questions are ones that if people don't know, they can guess at with some chance of being right.
I've also known a few quizzes to have a 'for fun' round, where the aim is to give the most amusing answer / draw the most amusing picture, with either a small seperate prize or most points for the biggest laugh from the crowd, and they always go down well.

2 - The Timing
There should obviously be time to answer each question, with intra-team discussion, but when you get a lot more than that the whole quiz can lose momentum and become boring. That said a mid quiz gap to let people talk to their teammates is also nice.

3 - The Prizes
Now, here I've had arguaments with people, but big prizes aren't a good thing. I've been to two quizzes regularly where weekly takings have been pooled and potentially, but actually fairly infrequnetly, given away at the end. These were then rolled over, and both have reached over £1000 in prize money (both were very popular quizzes too). Now whilst it does add a real element of tension as suddenly the prize is highly valued, it also devalues the rest of the quiz, as suddenly this prize, done sepperately, is far more significant than the £20 or so other prize; which is for actually winning the quiz.
Also, if the main quiz prize gets much beyond £20 in value it changes the quiz from mainly for fun to potentially really competative, and so fun environment.

4- The Quizmaster
Seemingly so simple, and yet actually so difficult. I've known two 'good' quizmasters, both were funny without being loud and full of themselves, both could read the questions aloud (something I've found isn't always the case) and both wrote the right sort of questions and kept the right timing.

So, whilst I enjoy pub quizzes, I've only known one or two that I would say were actually really good.


TheTelf said...

5 - The Company?

Personally I always find myself out of my depth at pub quizzes. Short of a ditloids or an anagram round, I generally end up being unable to assist with actual general knowledge. Hence I go to quizzes in their form as a social gathering, with the quiz as more of a background activity.

James said...

well. the company's the main reason why i go to quizzes too, but as that's beyond the responsibility of the quizmaster, i felt it unfair to include it as a potential criticism.

TheTelf said...

Aha, I didn't appreciate that these were things the quizmaster had control of. In that case,

5 - The Answers:
Marking correct answers as incorrect due to incompetence on behalf of the quizmaster in finding the correct answer makes baby Jet Li cry.