I give you fair warning that there is every good chance that this post will develop into a full size rant.
Up until very recently I did think that the scourge of internet phones was a nuisance and an annoyance in quizzes, but not something that would come to seriously threaten their very existence. Well, I’ve changed my mind.
I’ve been to four pub quizzes this week. As far as I know, the Sunday night quiz in the Dyffryn Arms in Rhos was totally clean and kosher, and there was no phone cheating going on. With regards to the other three, though, there was definitely cheating going on in two of them, and I believe there was in another, although I can’t be certain.
To put it into perspective, on Monday night I played in the £100 quiz in Cardiff. There’s always trouble parking, and we were running late, so I sent my son Mike in first, to sign up and get us started while I parked the car. When I walked in the quiz had already started, and I walked past three teams who were already on their phones. As it happened the picture round did for all the cheats again, and the only team I can guarantee were 100% clean – namely mine – won. Well and good.
I can’t prove anything about the Tuesday night quiz, so please taken my comments in this light. However the only other team who ever win on the Tuesday night have three ladies in their team who always disappear out the back for a ‘smoke’ at half time. OK – fair enough , smoking’s not a crime. However when they come back in, they always provide a flurry of answers to their captain. Now, when Andrew, from our League team and a smoker himself accompanied us one Tuesday a couple of months ago, he went out at the same time himself, and actually saw them flagrantly using their internet phones, and jotting down answers. So as I say, I can’t actually prove that they were at it again this Tuesday just gone. But they won all the same.
And do you know what ? None of this would normally bother me that much. Its probably sad to say it, but I tend to accept that it goes on in those places. But last night was different.
The Thursday night quiz in Aberavon Rugby club is very precious to me. I’ve been participating by playing or setting the quiz for almost 16 years now, and there are very few Thursdays that I’ve missed in all that time. How important is this quiz to me ? Well there were times when it was the only quiz I was doing, and it would be the highlight of the week. I’ve had offers and invitations to play in other places on a Thursday night, and I’ve always turned them down because Thursday night is the rugby club night. There have been times when things haven’t been going well, and I’ve always been able to console myself with the thought – never mind, it’s the quiz in the rugby club on Thursday. A couple of us regulars have our own saying – it’s a bad Thursday when there’s no quiz at the rugby club. Its been a weekly treat for a long, long time.
Now, in all the time I’ve been going down on a Thursday there’s never been any entry fee, and there’s never been any prizes. Among certain teams there’s always been a certain level of cheating going on. For instance, there are two women , in different teams, who sit there thumbing through their reference books, as bold as brass , during the quiz. OK, I don’t say I’ve ever liked this, or condoned it, but it’s never made a material difference to the outcome of the quiz as far as I can see.
If you’re a regular, then you’ll probably remember how angry I got over what happened with the New Year quiz. I’ll say a bit more about that in a moment. Well, last night Clive was setting the quiz, and he did another good’un. Its probably fair to say that it was a little more testing than his normal quizzes. Actually, very much the sort of thing I like. I was actually very pleased with myself, and with the team and the way that we played. But we couldn’t quite get away from one of the other teams, the largest in the place. We scored 9, so did they. We scored 10, so did they. Then on one round I was absolutely delighted to score 10 out of a possible 11, considering that I thought that three of the questions were so difficult no other team was likely to get them right. The other team got 11 out of 11. Alright, granted that they usually cheat with books, but even so that never normally makes a difference.
I had a quick look over now and again to see if they were using phones, but I couldn’t really see. Then after the quiz Brian, who was scoring confirmed that yes, they were definitely using phones. Cue a rant from me - I expect you can guess the sort of things coming out of my mouth – tainted win – what’s the point – morally bankrupt etc. etc. Now, while this was going on we were joined by another of our semi regular question masters. Who just so happens to play for one of the two teams who phone cheated through the New Year quiz. And when he heard what I was ranting about, he mildly offered the opinion –
“Well, everybody uses their phones here some of the time. “
Well, that was it. We don’t use our phones – ever. Neither does Rob and Terry’s team, the Lemurs. I told him this, and also told him that while we were on the subject, his team and one other team had made a mockery of the New Year’s quiz by cheating on the 4 point gambles . I wasn’t shouting, but I was serious, and it could have all got quite nasty.
To be fair he didn’t raise his voice , but he did come back with
“What are you taking it all so seriously for anyway? It doesn’t matter who wins , or what score you get. “ In which case, why use the phones at all when you don’t know the answer ?
Right, sorry, I know how petty and pathetic this makes me sound. But the fact is that even though its not that serious a quiz, and even though it doesn’t really matter at all who wins, or how many points you score, it DOES matter if teams are so blatantly cheating, and worse than that, think its OK to do so. In my opinion it makes the whole thing pointless. Its disrespectful to the question master who has put time and effort into putting the quiz together, and its disrespectful to the other teams who are taking part. I don’t believe that the team who were cheating last night, most of whom I’ve known and played against for many years, don’t know this. The fact, then, that it doesn’t seem to matter to them saddens and sickens me. What makes it worse is that some of the other teams seem to feel the same way about it.
I’ve asked myself – is it me ? Am I the one in the wrong ? Am I being terribly naïve in thinking that regardless whether there’s a prize or not, you play by pitting your team’s knowledge against that of the other teams ? The joy is in dredging up those answers from heaven knows where – or in being beaten by a question you KNOW you know the answer to, but you just can’t dredge it up out of your memory. That’s what it is for me, anyway.
As I’ve said, this quiz has been important to me for a very long time now, and in my time I would estimate I’ve set well over a hundred quizzes there myself. Last night, at the end of the evening, I came very close to telling Brian, the de facto organiser, and the other regular question master, that I don’t want to set any more there , not if the majority of teams there think that its OK to ruin it by cheating. I didn’t actually say anything then and there, mainly because I know from experience that I do have a tendency to say things when I’m angry, and then think better of them later on. But sitting here a day later, I still feel like this. And I’ve never felt like this before. About 18 months ago Brian was thinking of jacking in setting the quizzes himself, because of the apathy of some of the teams, and the fact that there even was one ignorant team who were deliberately staying away when it was his turn to set the quiz. I was really sorry for him at the time, but I knew that even if Brian stopped doing it, I was going to keep setting the quiz as long as any two teams wanted to turn up and play on a Thursday evening, and that I’d do it every week if necessary. I couldn’t foresee any circumstances under which I ever wouldn’t want to set the quiz for the club. Well, that’s exactly how I feel now. But I’m going to give myself some more time to think it over. I’m going to be question master a week on Thursday, and I’ll let you know how I feel about the whole thing after that.
Sorry to rant on over such a trivial thing, and thanks for listening.