Following last night’s quiz in the club I find myself asking this question – when was the last time I went to a truly awful quiz ? I have been to many average quizzes, many not very good quizzes even, but I can’t say hand on heart that I can precisely remember the last really dreadful quiz I played in. I was tempted at first to suggest the Birmingham Mega Quiz of 2011, but that wasn’t a bad quiz. It had one dreadful round in it, that was all, and a presenter who loved the sound of his own voice far too much. Well, most of us question masters could be accused of that shortcoming, but I digress. In fact I would be tempted to go back as far as February 2010 to a quiz in the rugby club where the QM of the evening instilled his quiz with what I consider to be five fatal flaws, any one of which on its own would have been enough to sink a normal quiz.
I asked myself the question because last night’s quiz, which I’ll say now was not awful or dreadful, was a little bit out there, and the kind of thing that I suppose I might well have called bad when I was young and stupid, or in my salad days as I prefer to think of it. I’ll try to explain.
You know me, when it comes to quizzes I’m a pretty straightforward kind of chap. Ask me about facts which it’s at least reasonable to expect that someone in one the teams knows all night, in a broad range of subjects, and I’m what the good Lord Sugar would call an ‘appy bunny. Last night was the first quiz to be presented by guest QM Dai Norwich since he turned fifty. So one of the things Dai did was to ask a question each round which was taken directly from one of his birthday cards. I’m guessing you’ll have seen the kind of thing – In 1962, the average weekly wage for women in the UK was £8. I quote this fact since it was the only answer to an In 1962 - question that we had right all night. Yes, do one of the damn things by all means, but one in each round ? Do me a favour. I really don’t like pure guessing games, I suppose. It wasn’t just those questions either. When he’s in the mood – which indeed he was last night – Dai has a habit of asking some blindingly obscure questions. He then compounds this by saying “ Nobody had this one right , and I didn’t think anyone was going to. “ Which leaves me to ask – sometimes audibly – “Why the hell did you want to ask it, then ? “
And yet. And yet I wouldn’t want you to think that I didn’t enjoy the quiz. It had several of the prime ingredients for an oven ready turkey, but it really wasn’t. I’ve no doubt that I’m biased about this, but there was quite a lot of 1970s and 1980s entertainment stuff which is my era and guaranteed to please me, although the , how shall I put it, more senior members of my team weren’t quite as happy. Still, any question about Magpie which sends you off into a reverie about Susan Stranks ( ahh ) or Jenny Hanley ( ahhh, ahhhh ! ) can’t be that bad.
Moving back to the original question, in the case of many of the quizzes that I haven’t really enjoyed over the last couple of years it’s often had little to do with the quiz itself. You can chalk quite a lot of the worse quizzing experiences down to phone cheating. Not the fault of the questions, although often the fault of the question master. Then there’s overly prolix question masters and/or ones who think they are comedians. ‘Bad’ questions actually come a little further down the list. Oh, don’t get me wrong, a succession of blatantly wrong’uns can absolutely ruin a quiz, but be honest, how many times have you been to a quiz where you’ve had more than two of three of these in an evening ? I bet you remember very well when you did. Long term readers may recall that I’ve made the observation that I’m not a huge fan of the quizzes produced by a large, successful and well known company ( other quiz companies are available ) , but even their quizzes are certainly not dreadful, awful, or even bad. I still reserve the right to say that I have tended to find them a little dull and unsatisfying, though.