Friday, 12 August 2011


It was my turn in the rugby club last night. Often when I compile a quiz for the club I set out , determined to make it easy and thus ensure a set of high scores across the board, yet when I actually start asking the questions I realize that what looked so easy on the computer screen in front of me, doesn’t actually sound so easy now I’m asking it to the teams. So this week I made up my mind that I was going to go out of my way to produce the easiest quiz I possibly could.

In order to do this I paid a visit to the land of the gimmick. Regular readers may remember that I use connections in a quiz on a fairly regular basis, but that tends to be the only gimmick I use. After all, I’m sure you know my feelings about gimmicks in a quiz – a little tends to go a long way. Still, needs must , and for once I was prepared to compromise. So the gimmick I used was ‘last letter – first letter’. I’m sure you know what I mean here, but in case you don’t, all it means is that in each round the first letter of the answer to number 2 is the last letter of the answer to number 1, the first letter of the answer to number 3 is the last letter to answer to number 2 and so on.

As I say, I’m not a great fan of gimmicks like this, but then it’s important to remember that when you compile a quiz for the club, you’re not compiling it for yourself. Still, having gone to the trouble of making it as easy as I could, then I started having little second thoughts. You see, when I went through the quiz , I started to think that there was a very real chance of at least one of the teams answering every single question correctly. Which I’m honest enough to admit I did not want to happen – partly because we are the only team ever to achieve this feat in the club. So I started to put three or four of what I thought would be ‘stoppers’ into the quiz. For the uninitiated a stopper is a question which is not designed to be answered, and is there to stop a team in its tracks. Hence the name. Stoppers seem to be particularly associated with quiz machines, where you will be asked one terribly obscure fact, and given no time at all to answer it. Well, my stoppers weren’t of this sort, but they were the kind of questions which were noticeably less obvious than the majority. The kind of question where even a good team has probably as much chance of getting it wrong as getting it right. For example – which large family car did Citroen produce from 1993 until 2001 ? The answer to the previous question was the River Styx. So that left teams with a quandary – would the answer be the Xsara or the Xantia ? Actually it was the Xantia.

The stoppers didn’t work with the team they were designed for. Yet they still didn’t manage to get everything right. Proving that nobody knows everything, and what is easy to you won’t necessarily be to everyone else, they failed to score a maximum in the very first round, missing out on the name of Lord Sugar’s right hand man in every series of The Apprentice. Which does lead me to make an observation. In my case, its never the questions which I think will catch people out that actually seem to give them the most difficulty, and its never the rounds which I think are hardest which teams have the lowest scores on. More often than not, it’s the round which I think is the easiest. I’m not sure what this goes to prove about me, and I don’t really think I’d like to know the answer even if I was.


Ben Dutton said...

It's interesting that you did that: for I did the very same thing for a quiz I hosted on Thursday. I threw out the usual format which sees one team dominating and everyone else lagging, and set out to write the easiest quiz possible with the same gimmick you used, and a connections gimmick - and for the second half a round where every question had two answers, one easy, one less so. (eg what is in a Cadbury's Fruit and Nut? What are the first two animals listed in the dictionary?)

I thought, like you, there was a strong chance of someone getting top marks, but the closest was nine points away. And the questions I thought easiest, people got them wrong. I am finding more and more often now that people don't know the basic general knowledge stuff, and know only the entertainment based stuff. So I asked a question I thought was tough: There are five performers off The X Factor that did not win that have gone on to have UK Number Ones. Name them. I thought the best score would be maybe 3, an outside chance of 4. All but one team of the ten got all 5. Yet only two teams knew which country gained control over Sudetenland following the Munich Pact. Depressing.

But it does seem that the gimmick quiz goes down very well. Afterward everybody was telling me how it was the best quiz they'd had in months in the pub.

Londinius said...

Hi Ben

It just goes to show the point that when you make a quiz, the one person you're not making it for is yourself. Personally I wouldn't have enjoyed the quiz I did on Thursday, yet the teams seemed to enjoy it a lot. I absolutely do not want to insult any team or player's intelligence, but I have come to the conclusion that I am the worst person to say what is too easy, and what is too hard for any of the teams. Its my turn again on Thursday, and I'll give them another easy one, but maybe not quite as easy as this.

DanielFullard said...

Well in terms of "stoppers" a local quiz master at my sunday quiz always does the same in the last 4 questions........A Millionaire question with a ridiculous question with 4 possible answers, two true or false questions and a normal stopper with no hints. Because the quiz is usually won only by one point or two it makes it very tight. A good week of guessing could land you a prize