Friday, 28 September 2012

Numpty Watch

It was my turn for another stint as Question Master in the rugby club last night, and after 3 weeks of what I believe to be phone cheat free quizzes I was hopeful that we’d end up with another fair result. I didn’t think to warn people not to use their phones until after the first round, but I’m pretty confident that nothing untoward went on during that round, or any of the rounds. The team who have blighted quite a number of the quizzes in the last couple of years and prompted my indignant post a few weeks ago actually scored really well for the first five rounds, and it was all kosher as far as I could see. I use that phrase advisedly, since I was watching them like a hawk. They were on course for a win, and then two bad rounds ended their challenge, although they still managed to finish clear of the pack in 2nd. Fair play to them, for 3 quarters of the quiz they played really, really well. Of course, I doubt whether any of the other teams will give them a lot of credit for that because of their cheating in previous weeks. One of quizzing’s little ironies, that.


Another of quizzing’s little ironies is one that I’m sure that I’ve mentioned here before. I was talking about this with Rob after the quiz, and I’m glad to say that he feels the same way as I do about this. You can have times when you’ll take a great amount of time and care over the quiz you’re compiling for the quiz. You’ll write and rewrite each of the questions several times for maximum clarity. You’ll spend a lot of thought over the way that you’ll combine these questions in rounds. You’ll try your damndest to cover enough different subject areas that there will be something in the quiz for everyone. And then when you do the quiz on the Thursday night it will go down like a lead balloon. Then you’ll have quizzes which you almost throw together, like Thursday night’s which I wrote in one go on Saturday, which for some reason go down a bomb.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not very good at judging my own quizzes. Sometimes I’ll write the easiest quiz I think I can do, then I’ll roadtest the questions in the staffroom, after which I’ll rewrite them to make them easier. I’ll pick up the microphone , fully expecting three teams to get every question right all evening, and about midway through the first round I’ll suddenly start to feel – this is too hard. By which time, of course, it’s too late.

I’d like to think that one of the reasons why last night’s quiz went down so well is a couple of questions I put in which I culled from one of my latest purchases. It's the 1950 Round Britain Quiz Book. I saw this one on ebay a couple of weeks ago, and got into a bit of a bidding war over it. As I recall it may have cost me as much as £5 when you added the postage and packing into it. It’s not quite as cryptic and quite as fiendishly good as the 1975 paperback ( if you haven’t got this one, get a copy. You’ll love it) . Still, there’s some gems in there, and this is one of the ones I put in : -

During whose reign did the Royal Mint produce double headed coins ?

Obvious ? Well, it’s the sort of thing that will come at once to some, and then require a lot of thought from others, and even more satisfyingly will cause those who didn’t get it right to groan when they hear the right answer. I’ve no doubt that you’ve already got it, but just in case, the answer is William (III) and Mary (II) . Two heads – geddit !!??

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