Its half term week in my corner of South Wales, and I was idly checking back on some past posts from the very early days of LAM. I noticed that a post I made in 2008, which had never had a comment on it previously , had now attracted a comment. The post was on my preference for home made quizzes over the quizzes that can be bought - and are bought by many pubs and clubs - from a number of companies. This comment had been posted in October 2010.
My name is Martin Green and I write pop culture and trivia questions for the 4,000 pubs and clubs that play one of 23 different quizzes produced each week by Redtooth.
Our main objective is to stop the smartest quiz teams from winning and killing the quiz nights.
You are living proof that this is working."
I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this. Martin, if by any chance you're reading this I am sorry that I haven't responded before - I genuinely did not see your comment before yesterday.
I don't know how fair it is to say that the smartest quiz teams are killing quizzes. Oh, don't misunderstand me, I'm not going to bury my head in the sand and say that the same team winning a quiz week in week out wouldn't be a disincentive for other teams to turn up, but neither am I willing to accept that , if a quiz night dies the death, then this is the only reason why. For example, I can say for a fact that I know teams who have stopped attending quizzes for these other reasons : -
* A question master who either turns a blind eye to phone cheating, or is ineffectual at dealing with it.
* A question master who prefers the sound of his own voice to getting on with the quiz.
* Particularly loud and argumentative teams, who don't necessarily win all, or sometimes any of the quizzes, but just make it a less pleasant experience for others.
* A quiz made up of predominantly one category of questions above all others - entertainment for example.
There are others, but let these suffice for the moment.
I have a feeling that I understand what may have prompted Martin's comment. In 2008 I did comment once or twice on the fact that I had attended Redtooth quizzes, and found them not to my liking. If Martin is taking time and trouble to set quizzes for them, then I can understand that this comment would not be particularly nice to hear, but nonetheless it was how I felt.When I played in some Redtooth quizzes in different places, my opinion was that they were rather gimmicky, had a preponderance of entertainment questions, and questions such as family fortunes type ones which needed guesswork rather than knowledge. For these reasons I didn't find them very enjoyable. That's just my opinion, and as always, please feel free to disagree.I think I should say that I haven't played in a Redtooth quiz since 2008, and therefore am in no position to say whether the points I raised at the time still apply or not. Still, if you enjoy that kind of quiz more than the kind of quiz I enjoy, then that's great - good luck to you. Quizzing is a broad church. If Redtooth quizzes are deliberately constructed this way - as Martin suggests - so that serious or experienced quizzers are discouraged from participating, then that's OK too . Fair enough.
However I think its a little unfair to be portrayed as some kind of unhealthy influence on quizzing. The fact is that most quizzers who have reached a certain level do, I find, tend to be very careful about taking the risk of destroying their local quiz nights by winning week in week out, and scooping up whatever prizes may be on offer. If I talk from my own experience, in the Rugby club I set the quiz myself at least once a month, and always step in when nobody else will do it. Hardly destroying that quiz night, I'd say. In Cowbridge John and I deliberately only go very other week, so we can't ever win two weeks' in a row. On Sunday night we never accept the prize. I've no doubt that we're far from unique in this. Also, let's be honest here as well. Even if you stop quizzers such as John and myself taking part, in my experience there's only usually a couple of teams at most who dominate any local pub quiz. Yeah, change the names of the teams, change the personnel involved, but you're still going to have the situation of one or two flat track bullies dominating, but maybe winning by a couple of points each week rather than 10 or 20. Not that it matters in the slightest, but I think that John and I won 2 out of the 3 Retooth Quizzes we played - although its a long time ago now, and my memory may be playing tricks on me.
I'll be interested to hear anyone's views on this topic.