Saturday, 23 July 2011

DIY Quiz Tripping

Well, I’ve been off work for two days, since we broke up for the Summer on Wednesday, and I must admit that after all the excitement of last weekend I’m starting to feel more like myself again. Not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing, but there we are, just stuck with it, I suppose.

Had an interesting conversation inspired by Quiz Trippers after the rugby club quiz on Thursday night. One of the boys was quite fired up by the idea of trying to do a road trip of a similar sort, landing on different quizzes, and seeing how much he could win by the end of the week/fortnight, whatever. God bless. My advice to him was to pick a nice part of the country, where he wouldn’t mind going on holiday anyway, and then anything he won in quizzes would be a bonus.

I will admit that I don’t know the current state of quizzing in any part of the country other than my own. So it may well be that large cash prizes are in abundance the length and breadth of the land. Yet I doubt it. Certainly in my part of South Wales I think that if the makers of Quiz Trip wanted to do one along the M4 corridor, the only way they could do it would be by putting up special cash prizes themselves. Which, come to think of it, is probably exactly how they did it in Scotland.

Cards on the table, cash prizes do not excite me now in the way that they used to. Case in point – I’ve mentioned before that there is one Monday night quiz in Cardiff – no names , no pack drill – where there is a £100 first prize every week. In 2 years I’ve been 6 or 7 times. Yes, I won all bar the first time, thanks for asking. I don’t like the actual quiz that much, and I hate the cavalier attitude to phone cheating within the quiz. Yet time was that I would have been there at least once a fortnight, and possibly even once a week, until either I killed the quiz by winning it too often, or the cash prize got drastically reduced or abolished altogether, or I got told not to come back . Incidentally all three of those have happened to me at one time or another in the past, however I digress.

As I say, I don’t get too excited by winning cash prizes any more. I’m not entirely sure why. Partly I’d guess its because in the last three or four years lots of these have disappeared locally anyway, as either quizzes have folded, or pubs have switched to bottle of wine/beer tickets type prizes. It may be partly due to the fact that I’m enjoying my quizzes now as much as I ever have, and I don’t want to ruin an evening by going to a bad quiz just to try to win some money. Whatever the case I’ve gone past the stage of my quiz career when I looked on pub quizzing as a small but regular sources of extra unearned income.

However, there was a time when I did look on it this way. Since I started playing in the rugby club on a Thursday night, that quiz has always been sacrosanct, and I never wanted to go anywhere else on a Thursday. Other nights of the week, though, were fair game as far as John and I were concerned. We did go through a stage of trying out any prize quiz we could find out anything about between west Cardiff and Swansea, which admittedly is nothing like the 200 and odd mile radius of Quiz Trippers, but then we didn’t have a camper van, or a film crew behind us either. Now, in the normal run of things John and I expect to win the majority of pub quizzes in which we play. That’s not a boast, and its not that huge an achievement. After all, and I really am not trying to offend or insult anyone here, the quizzing scene for about the last 7 or 8 years really has not been all that competitive in our area. Thank goodness that we have the league in Bridgend ; you know that I rate the league highly from my posts about it during last season. But that’s about it. As far as I know there hasn’t been a Sunday League in Cardiff for a good few years. There hasn’t been a league in Neath for the last 10 years, and there hasn’t been a league in Port Talbot for over 20 years. In my opinion this means that there just isn’t the incentive, or necessarily the opportunity for the potentially good player to develop beyond what is needed to be competitive in their local quiz . However, that is just my opinion, and as always . . .

So , bearing this in mind, you might be interested in how this all worked out over a period of time. Well, you can imagine that we had quite a variety of different experiences.

We probably started with the Welcome Inn in Morriston, near Swansea. That was a themed quiz, with a small cash prize for first place, and nowt for second. We won more than our fair share, which upset the team who used to win every week before we arrived. The cash prize really wasn’t anything to write home about , but it was enough to attract a team I knew from the Swansea League. I saw them entering out of the corner of my eye, and said nothing. They didn’t notice me, and I earwigged as they were at the bar. The skipper was saying that he’d had a look around, and he didn’t recognize any quizzers there, so the money was as good as in the bag. Then I greeted him. To be fair it only took him a minute or two to put his smile back into place. This one changed when the landlord moved on, and to be honest we had itchy feet anyway, and fancied trying something different.

Working from Cardiff towards Swansea we tried a number in and around Cardiff. There was a very strange evening in Moulton at the 3 Horseshoes.

• Rule of Thumb One : - When you ring up pubs to ask if their Sunday night quiz is running, if they say it’s on they invariably tell you to turn up very early, because , and I quote, “Get y’ere early, because its always packed, mun. “ With some places it will be, but many of them it won’t.

So, bearing in mind that the quiz was advertised as starting at 8, we were there at 7:30. The quiz didn’t start until gone 9. It was very easy, and the question master talked too much, all the way through. We won by a street. In the end the question master called us up to collect the first prize, and with the immortal words,
"You think you’re having a cash prize, don’t you ? " he handed us a bottle of Pomagne to share.

So we tried the Pantmawr Inn in Rhiwbina. This was a nice place, with much more of a welcome than some. However there were two huge drawbacks. The first and most serious was that the place were subscribers to Redtooth – oh gawd. As you know, one of Redtooth’s avowed aims is to stop the best and most knowledgeable teams from winning every week. Didn’t work, because we won. The second was that the pub was under threat of closure, and so it was in the middle of a campaign to keep it open. We won the quiz, and first of all the landlord offered the second place team the choice of a bottle of red, or a bottle of white ( no wine, mind, just the bottle – boom boom, I’m here all week . ) Then we were also offered a choice. We could take the £10 prize money, or put it in the fighting fund. All eyes ( and possibly quite a few stomachs ) turned . I wish I could say we took the money anyway and left, but we didn’t. We stuck it in the pot and moved on.

• Rule of Thumb Two – it doesn’t matter how small the prize is, it really doesn’t go down well if you win it all or the vast majority of the time.

The Dynevor Arms in Groesfaen is an absolutely lovely place, and we used to frequent it fairly regularly. The big drawback was that the quiz only ran once a fortnight. Which made it difficult for John and me to do what we liked to do, which was to only go to any quiz once a fortnight so that we couldn’t end up winning it every week. Effectively this meant that we were playing there every week. Not that we would win it every time , since there was another good team, Double Trouble. But between the two teams we won the vast majority of them. Cash prize was probably about a tenner, and there was a rolling jackpot every week as well. In the end teams stopped coming – I remember the question master telling us that one large team had stopped because they usually saved their annual winnings for a meal at Christmas. The 18 months we were there they hadn’t won enough to afford a Happy Meal from McDonalds to share between them. Rather than ask us to stop coming, Ralph the quiz master told us one evening that he was planning on changing the format to a bingo quiz. When we pressed him, he admitted that it was to stop us winning the majority of times, which was so bad for the quiz. We stopped going rather than kill the quiz completely. Shame.

• Rule of Thumb Three – its all in the terminology – I say ‘cheating’ – he says ‘collaborating’ – you say ‘ just being friendly, mun.’

The West House in Bridgend was an interesting one. John and I put this one into our fortnightly rotation a few years back for a while. Not a bad quiz – brought in , but not from Redtooth, I’m glad to say. Themed rounds, but never as gimmicky as a Redtooth. The cash prize wasn’t a bad one either – if memory serves correctly it was somewhere in the region of £25, well worth chancing our collective arm. The first time we played we were approached by several regulars, and told we wouldn’t beat one particular team since they had an individual nicknamed Bamber in their side, who was reputed to be unbeatable. He wasn’t. Mind you, it was a while before we won again. Part of the problem was the amount of horse trading which went on with teams swapping answers . This was something which we refused to be a party to, with the result that we got told off for not entering into the spirit of the quiz. When they changed the first prize from cash to beer tokens, that finished it for me.

The Haywain in Bridgend was, for a couple of years, one half of our regular fortnightly rotation. Prize – a bottle of wine. 2 rounds of 25 or 30 questions, and all straight General Knowledge. Mark, the QM, god bless him, was not the most diligent at checking his answers, but nonetheless it was an enjoyable evening, and that was what really mattered. Actually what happened in the Haywain is a good example of how to kill a popular quiz. Lord alone knows why, but one week the landlord took it into his head to move the start time of the quiz from 9 pm on a Sunday to 7pm. We turned up one week to be told that it had already finished. Charming. 7 is just too early, I’m afraid, and so we moved on to pastures new. About a year and a half later they moved it back, but the damage had been done. Many of the regular teams had found other places to be, and it was never the same.

Two or three times we also played in the Red Dragon in Litchard near Bridgend. This was a decent enough quiz at the time, but its big attraction was a very generous jackpot at the end of the evening. The first time we went John and I shared a very nice £150 with another team for getting the three jackpot questions right. Then the second time we went, only a fortnight later, it was back up to about £100, and we won that outright. John lives in Bridgend, and via the unofficial grapevine we were asked not to come back again. About 18 months after this I did happen to pass by on a Sunday evening, and on a whim I popped in. I found out that things had changed, and they were gearing themselves up for a Redtooth. I didn’t stick around.

Right I'm going to break a rule of mine. When I won Mastermind I wa sinterviewed by the local paper, and during the interview I revealed that I had been banned from a pub quiz for being too good, yet I wouldn't say where because I wasn't going to give them any free publicity. Well, I'll now tell you where it was. It was the Tunnel Tavern in Neath. They used to do a Tuesday Night quiz in which the first prize was a gallon of beer, and if you scored 50 out of 60 or better, then you won £100. Nobody managed it before the first time that john and I did. We won it another 2 or 3 times, before the landlord banned me, blaming pressure from his regulars. Yeah, right.

Currently we play in the Dyffryn Arms in Rhos on a Sunday night. It’s a welcoming place, there’s always a good , and often a great quiz, and people don’t tend to mind too much if we win the majority of them. I guess it probably helps that we never take the prize, which is a bottle of wine that John wouldn’t want and I wouldn’t drink, so its no great loss .


I guess that I’ve got a little away from what I started writing about. But I would imagine that if you were to do your own version of Quiz Trippers it would be a lot harder than you might think. If you were going to an area you weren’t familiar with , firstly you’d have the task of finding quizzes for each evening. This is made harder by the fact that just because a quiz is advertised on the internet or in a local paper, it doesn’t actually mean that its still running at all. Even if it is running, you’ll have no real idea about format, prizes, or strength of opposition. Yet for all the drawbacks, the idea itself is not without its appeal. Hmm.


nollub said...

I've told you before Dave!

100 lines please teacher.

I must learn when to use "I" and when to use "me"
I must learn when to use "I" and when to use "me"
I must learn when to use "I" and when to use "me"

(Rule of Thumb Two
"Which made it difficult for John and I to do what we liked to do")

DanielFullard said...

I have had the same idea and mentioned it a few days back on my blog. I am planning a quiz tour, although not with financial ambitions, to get round as many different quizzes as I can in a short period. This all depends on work as I am only 6 weeks away from redundancy now and have to consider that, I frantically am trying to find a new job and if I can I can use my pay off to maybe embark on this.

Like you say though the hardest thing is researching the area. I live in a smallish town with three smallish towns around it and its hard to keep on top of things here! There are so few quizzes and so many keep changing, pubs change hands every two minutes around here, that one week its on a Tuesday the next it could be Monday and the next it could be gone! The Internet has one major problem in this respect…….a lot of information on there is old and makes problems when searching for quiz times. Its hard to tell the age of a site sometimes so whereas it says there is a Wednesday Night Quiz at 9pm on the website, that site could be 2005. I feel for this three times and now rely solely on the phone!

One last thing relating to the chase of Cash Prizes. There is very little in this area so a trip around my village and town would be very unprofitable. The only decent money is the £30-£50 you can win at the Moorcock and winning the Jackpot could land another £30 depends on how many are playing. The clubs pay very little and sometimes pint cheques.

Durham has a good quiz reputation which I intended to test out soon. There is one quiz regarded as one of the toughest in the North East at The Elm Tree I believe and gets some very serious play. Not sure about the prize but I intend to try it sometime!

Oh and the Rule of Thumb One about the timing of the quiz is one of my pet hates. I fully understand why pubs do it but it annoys me. I would say 50% of places around my area, infact probably more, closer to 70% advertise their quiz for a time way earlier than when it starts. The Moorcock which I go to on a Sunday for years had a poster up saying Quiz starts 8pm. So the first few times we went we sat down at around 7.45pm and the quiz didn’t start till 9.15-9.30pm. The quizmaster isn’t even there at 8pm! They have changed this thankfully now.

I find that the more old fashioned clubs, the social clubs are more honest about it and give you the proper time.

Londinius said...

Hello nollub

Ah, you're right.

Hi Daniel,

I would imagine that Durham has a large student population, and so there probably are quite a number of quizzes going on there. I'll keep an eye out for how you get on.


DanielFullard said...

It does indeed and I am an ex-Durham Student myself although the few quizzes I attended back in those days.....2004-2007 I have little memory off

QuizMasterBlaster said...

Ton Pentre, Rhondda has 3 regular quizzes in approx 100 metres - Monday is Fagin's Hotel; Wednesday is New Inn and Sunday is Football Club.
Teams of regulars, not too difficult, but low value prizes.

Londinius said...

Hi QuizMasterBlaster

- and welcome to LAM. Thanks for leaving a comment. I'm interested. As I said, I don't mind about prizes really, but I'm always up for checking out a new quiz. No promises, but Wednesday I might just give it a try. Thanks for the tip !