Thursday, 12 March 2009

Midweek Quizzes - an endangered species ?

The Kiss of Death for Midweek Quizzes

In David Niven's autobiography "The Moon's A Balloon" he recounts an episode when he and his wife Hjordis were staying in Jamaica with his friend Noel Coward. He remarked how sad it was that so many of his friends were dying, to which Sir Noel replied that he himself had reached the age that he was happy if his friends lasted through lunch.

I mention this because I have been struck this week by the mortality rates of decent midweek quizzes within a reasonable driving distance. You might recall that I am currently following a self imposed exile from Newport on a Monday night. A lot of it is to do with the burden of traveling an hour and a half on a school night, but also I haven't been enjoying it recently. So this has freed up an evening. I can now go to another quiz on a Monday , Tuesday or Wednesday without exceeding a limit of three quizzes a week during term time. Well and good.

So the problem has been actually finding a quiz to go to on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Now don't misunderstand me. The quiz in Cowbridge on a Tuesday night is still a great little quiz. I think it must have a growing reputation within the south Wales quiz community as well, since after playing a week ago on Tuesday, I saw one of the players from another team appearing on the next day's "Battle of the Brains ". This quiz has been healthily attended every time I've played. However our problem with this quiz is the same problem we face on a Sunday. If there are prizes involved, then its just not a good idea to attend the same quiz two weeks in a row. If you only go to any one quiz every other week, then more of the prizes are shared around, and I think , and hope, that this is appreciated.

OK- so I think you can see where I'm going with this. Not going to Newport is fine every other week, because it means that I can go to Cowbridge on the Tuesday every other week instead. Well and good. But what do I do the next week ? Well, This is the problem. I had planned to go to a good Monday night quiz in Misgyn, near Llantrisant. I played there twice in 2007, and found it to be varied and enjoyable, with a cash prize of around £30, which is not to be sniffed at. I originally only planned to play in it once, but I found that the rule was that the winning team had to supply the quiz for the next week. So my one week in fact became two. I remembered that I enjoyed playing in this quiz, so I rang up the pub a couple of weeks ago, only to be told that the quiz had folded.

John is more methodical and possibly more determined than I am, and he has scoured the local papers for details of any quizzes being run on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday night. We've found a few, then rung them up, only to find that the quiz has died the death, and is no longer being run any more.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that this worries me a bit. For one thing it means that this is the first week in a very long time when I haven't attended any quiz between Sunday and Thursday simply because I haven't had a quiz to attend. But more importantly, I wonder if this is a sign that the midweek quiz is going to start dying out locally. I do hope not. Sunday evening still seems secure, and we usually have a choice of 3 decent quizzes, and 3 awful quizzes within a reasonable distance. Likewise Thursday night seems pretty well served. However Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday quizzes seem to be on the wane.

Not that this is a problem next week. Should we decide to we can go to Cowbridge with a clear conscience. As for the week after that , though, there is a bit of a dilemma to be faced. If we can't unearth a quiz anywhere else on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, then there is a quiz in Briton Ferry on a Tuesday night. Thus far I've resisted the temptation to chance my arm. This is to a large degree because the pub in question is right in the heart of the catchment area of my school. I can quite imagine that some of the regulars would be parents of kids in the school, and at least some of them would know about the Mastermind thing. Don't get me wrong, its something I'm extremely proud of, but as I have said before, its not something I want to advertise when I'm playing in a pub quiz.

So my dearth of quizzing this week means that I'm gladder than ever of tonight's quiz in the rugby club. Quizmaster tonight is Brian, so my team will be understrength, being that he is one of us. Competition in the rugby club is hotting up, and last Thursday I lost my first quiz there since December. I predicted that it was going to be one of those nights when you were going to win by producing brilliant answers, but by getting all of the bread and butter and not making any mistakes. I couldn't remember that Melbourne was on the Yarra River, or which River emptied into the Caspian Sea. Those were the two points we lost by. On such small margins are tight quizzes won and lost, although I do find its ironic that both questions were about rivers. And yes, before you ask, I have been swatting up on rivers a bit this week.


You may remember my request for anyone to come forward with the stories of their appearences on TV Top of The Form, Blockbusters, or indeed any other TV quiz. Alas, my two correspondents who agreed to share their experiences with us have thus far failed to return my questionnaires. I haven't badgered them about it, as they were both good enough to contact me in the first place. So rather than wait I have decided to widen the net for my Hero of the Week, and from now on I will be awarding the prize to a worthy recipient who has caught my eye in the wonderful world of Quizdom. So this week's hero of the week is -

The Rhwbina Club

for hosting a great Grand Prix event last Saturday.


One final observation. My best friend from my university days, KD, who lives in Dorset is an active member of a music and drama group, who have put on many shows over the last few years. My son, Michael Clark, who is currently studying at the University of Glamorgan, is a member of a comedy group called The Plastic Seat Company - please email me if you'd like to book them ! I've written some sketches for both groups. Every now and then KD will email me that his group are putting a show together again, and asking if I have any material for them. Every time this happens I think, - great, now I can get down to writing a sketch about a quiz. Yet I never do. Something happens, and whenever I try to write a sketch involving a quiz of any sort my mind goes a complete blank. So last week, when I received the call I vowed to myself that this would be the time to finally write the quiz sketch. Nothing. Not one idea. KD can email me and ask for anything, and I can usually come up with something which fits - this time it was pirates and little old ladies - but quizzes, no. Why ? Answers to the usual email address please.

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