Friday, 17 October 2008

A Legend in our own Local

There have been a few times over the years that teams I've played in have come close to achieving the holy grail of social quizzing - a 100% success rate for an evening. My best quiz mate John, my daughter Phillippa and I even once achieved this in the Dynevor in Groesfaen once. Having said that, it wasn't that night the most testing of quizzes. There were 20 stills from Disney films to make up the picture round - the ten songs in the music round all came from a film - Love Actually - that we had only watched the day before, and the thirty general knowledge questions weren't very difficult. Even so, it was still an achievement.

So what has that got to do with the price of tea ? Well, last night, in the Aberavon Rugby club, I repeated the feat. Only this was so much better. My quiz career began in 1988, and it kind of grounded to a halt by 1993. Then, in 1995, I was invited to come to the quiz in the Rugby Club. The week after, I actually made my first quiz for the rugby club, and I've either made the quiz, or contested the quiz almost every Thursday since. In all that time, and in fact for the quarter of a century that the quiz has been running, nobody has ever gone right through the quiz getting every question right for the whole quiz. Until last night.

I'm not surprised that its not happened in all that time. I'm just surprised that it happened at all. After all, when you consider how easy it is to get an easy question inexplicably wrong, then the chances of getting through a whole evening without doing so are ludicrously small.

Look at it like this. As far as I'm concerned there are 4 different types of question. Many, many different categories or subjects, but only 4 completely different types. These are
1) The questions you know that you know

2) The questions you know that you don't know

3) The questions you don't know that you know

4) The questions you don't know that you don't know

Categories 1 and 2 aren't a problem. Category one contains all those questions you always get right. The ones where you can supply the answer before the question master has even finished asking the question. For me, I find that the number of category 1 questions I'll get in a typical quiz will be anywhere between 60 and 80% of the questions. Of course there are occasional bad nights and good nights when this figure may be lower or higher, but as a rule of thumb its pretty accurate. Conversely, Category 2 is full of the questions which you don't know at all. In a typical quiz these may make up between 10 - 15% of the answers . Believe it or not , these questions are far less of a problem for you than category 3 or 4. You don't waste time with these, hoping against hope that the answer will just pop into your head. No. You just make your best guess and leave it at that. If you get it wrong - big deal. You didn't know the answer anyway. But if your guess is right, then that's a bonus. So its an answer to nothing.

Category three is a lot more tricky. These are the questions where you know the right answer, yet this may never make it onto your answer sheet. You see , you have the right answer, but you can't quite bring yourself to put it down. You don't know where the answer has come from, and so don't trust it. Perhaps your team mates make plausible suggestions, which you feel duty bound to accept because you don't want them to think that you're obsessed with being the 'star' of the team who supplies more answers than anyone else in the team. You've done the hardwork, finding the right answer - yet with a question like this you're just as likely not to put it down on your sheet. Only a few of the questions each evening will be in this category, but these will be the ones you argue about and brood over for hours after the quiz has ended. Its most frustrating.

Finally, category 4, the evil twin of category 3. You see, this is the question where the wrong answer pops into your head, but you think its the right answer, and you argue for it for all you're worth. Thank God, you're unlikely to get more than a very few of these of an evening, and just as well, too, because no team would ever put up with you if you had many more. These are the questions you spend the rest of the evening trying to forget all about.

Now, the point is that in a quiz of at least 60 questions you are bound to get enough category 2 and category 3 questions to expect to get at least one of them wrong. Yet last night. . . we didn't. It was amazing. We were like a well oiled machine. There were 70 questions. Of these I would say that about 60 were category 1 bankers - which is a high figure, I admit. There were a good three or four category 2 guesses. The rationale behind all of our guesses on this score was that it was an easy quiz, so the trick was to pick the most obvious guess, and write it down. It never failed us. This left 5 or 6 category 2 or 3 stinkers. We argued like hell - and amazingly the outcome of each argument was the correct answer. So, 13 years after my debut in the club quiz, the miracle has been achieved.

I have suggested that the club might like to put up a plaque in the corner where we sit to mark the achievement. The reply was spherical, and in the plural.

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