You know, I’ve just been checking over my previous posts since my return. I made the first post in late August 2021. This led me to believe that I returned to the quiz in the rugby club in late August. Au contraire. A close reading of the first post revealed that no, it was in fact the first quiz in September – it would have been 2nd September. Does that matter? The honest answer is no, it doesn’t, but yes, it does. I will do my best to explain.
I’m off to Spain tomorrow. It’s been 3 years since my last trip, what with covid. In terms of the quiz, this means that I will miss the quiz on the 11th, and since I’m travelling back on the 18th it’s quite possible that I will miss this one as well. Which means that he next one I’m certainly going to play in will be on the 24th, the last quiz in August. I thought that the last quiz in August was the first I played in during 2021. Which means that I would have completed a year unbeaten. But no, to do that my team now has to win the 24th as well. That’s why it matters. Which of course is nonsense, because whether it’s quite a chronological year or not, it doesn’t take away from the fact that we have won all those quizzes – and that’s not just in the rugby club, but also in the Gwyn Hall and the pub in Coity as well.
On paper, to be honest we should win the vast majority of quizzes in the club. On their own when I’m question master my team are very competitive anyway, and in terms of range of competitions I've taken part in over the years, or level of competition and achievement I don’t think it’s unfair to say that I’m the most serious quizzer to play in the club regularly in the last year. So yes, we probably should win. But as you know, quizzes can be funny things. Any team can win a one off quiz given the right set of circumstances and likewise any team can lose a one off quiz given a particular set of circumstances. I said in one of last week’s posts that easy quizzes can be a great leveller, and indeed I can think of two occasions in the last year when we came close to defeat. We got lucky on both nights.
Last night, to be honest, was not a quiz where the easiness of the questions was going to be a great leveller. To be fair we were lucky we had a quiz at all. The question master was taken ill yesterday, but he still managed to get the quiz to the club and get someone else to act as question master with the quiz he compiled. I’m grateful for this. I’ve never been taken ill on a day when I’m due to be QM, but I did have one time when I was sent on a weekend course when I was supposed to be doing the quiz, so I provided the quiz for Brian to read out. So I appreciate that last night’s original QM might well have been tempted to say sod it, and I’m very glad he didn’t.
For all that, though, it really wasn’t one of his best quizzes. If he compiled it while he was ill, then fair enough, thanks for doing your best anyway. But it did see him doing some of the things I used to criticise him for when he first started compiling quizzes for the club. Back in the day he would always ask quite a number of obscure questions, then, when giving the answer say “None of you had this right – I didn’t expect any of you to.” To which my reply was invariably “Why the hell bother asking it then?” I can’t be certain whether he thought at the time that he was in competition with the teams. That’s not an attitude I subscribe to myself. Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the idea of asking hard questions in a social pub quiz, but if you choose to do so, then I do think you should bear in mind a couple of things. Firstly, it’s better if the questions are actually interesting. Secondly, when a question is that hard, it’s often a good idea to offer something to make it more gettable. Let me give you a couple of examples that were asked last night :-
“In what year did St. Patrick’s Day become a National Holiday in Ireland?” Now, I can’t say that I find the question particularly interesting. But also, the way it is phrased, the chances of you picking the right date out of thin air are extremely slim. At the very least you could say – In which year did St. Patrick’s Day become a National Holiday in Ireland? Was it 1903 – 1913 – 1923 – 1933? You’ve got a one in four chance to at least it keeps a little interest going. It was 1903 as it happens.
Likewise we were asked,
“How many times is Christmas mentioned in all of Shakespeare’s plays?” Now you’d think that a question master would only ask it like this if the answer would lead you to say either – I should’ve guessed that – or – Oh, well that’s interesting! Which is why we put 0. The answer was 3. Again, it’s not something you’re going to pull out of thin air. The question allows you to give options – 3 – 30 – 300 – 3000, for example.
There was a lot like that last night. We knew enough that we won fairly comfortably in the end, but despite that I can’t say that I enjoyed it very much. In my 30+ years of quizzing you can count the number of times my teams have answered all the questions in a quiz correctly on the fingers of one hand – and not all of those fingers either. Nobody, I think, really wants to play in a quiz where they know all of the answers. But I want to feel, with the majority of questions that even if I don’t know the answer, I should be able to use what I do know to help me come up with a decent, sensible answer, even if it’s not right. I don’t really like guessing games, and that’s what was the case for too many of the questions last night. It’s a shame because there were some decent questions in amongst all of the obscurity, and we didn’t get all of them right either.
Oh well, a fortnight now to recharge the batteries.