Saturday, 23 May 2009

Have YOU ever been banned from a pub quiz too ?

The Ultimate in Sore-Losing ?

I had an interesting conversation with a brilliant and high profile quizzer yesterday, who surprised me when he said that he has never yet been banned from a pub quiz. He went on to say that he has been banned from pubs before, but not why, and I didn't feel I knew him well enough to press him for explanation. However, I digress. It leads me to beg the question - is it unusual for a quizzer to be banned from playing in a particular pub quiz ? The reason why I ask this is that it brings to mind the fact that I have been - sort of - banned from three pub quizzes in my time. Allow me to explain.

In each of the three cases I have been banned in a different way. These are : -

a) Direct banning by the will of the public.

It must be the best part of a decade that John and I have been playing in a variety of pubs throughout the Bridgend - Swansea section of the M4 corridor. In one pub in Morriston we formulated our creed in the face of some pretty hostile responses from one of the teams whose top dog status ended when we began our reign of terror. We sanctimoniously declared this to ourselves - If anyone who doesn't like us winning all the time has the guts to come up to us and say 'look boys, you're obviously good at this, its only meant to be a friendly quiz, you're not giving anyone else a chance , so would you mind giving us a rest ? ' then we'd go with good grace.

It never quite happened like that. However a few years ago a pub in Neath began advertising a weekly quiz with a £100 first prize. As you know this is a serious amount of money for a weekly pub quiz, so we smelled a large rodent, but all the same we decided to check it out. We posed as two old codgers just having a quiet drink, and made the landlady explain to us all about what was involved in a pub quiz. Then she told us that the first prize was a gallon of beer - you only got the £100 if you scored 50 out of 60 or more. Nobody had managed that yet. An hour later we were 54 points and £100 to the good.

We didn't overdo it, only going every three weeks or so. However, after another 2 wins I got greedy. I went back on my own when John couldn't make it, and the landlord banned me before the quiz started. His justification was that his locals didn't like it. Well, I'm not being funny, but none of them had got close to the money in 18 months, so I didn't see that as fair. Its not as if we were stopping anybody else from scooping the pot - none of them were ever likely to do that whether we were there or not. If I was a mean spirited sort I would suggest that it was the landlord himself who didn't like us taking the money. Still, the best you can do is give in with good grace in such a situation. I have no intention of naming the pub either. They will get no free advertising from me.

2) Banning by proxy

So to Bridgend, where John and I discovered a pub with a far from edifying Sunday night quiz, but a serious amount of cash on offer for a very winnable jackpot. In two attempts John and I took away £200. The landlady wasn't happy about this from the start, but kept her comments to a very polite,
"Do you take part in many quizzes , then ? You seem very good ? " to which we gave a civil answer, along the lines of , yes, its a fair cop guv, don't worry , we'll restrict our appearances in future. Just as we were leaving someone who knows John came in, and they chatted for a while.

The next day, a message was relayed to me via a chain of acquaintances that we wouldn't be welcome in the Sunday quiz again - John's acquaintance had told the landlady something of our quiz pedigree apparently. Name of the pub withheld for the same reasons as the last.

3) Banning by brute force and ignorance

OK - so I haven't actually been banned from the Culverhouse Hotel Sunday Night quiz in Cardiff. Regular readers will recall that I wrote about this a couple of months ago. Basically we beat a team who were cheating by using their mobiles. The quiz went to a tie break , and we KNEW the correct answer. Despite the fact that we had watched them cheating throughout the whole of the quiz using their mobiles, they had the cheek to accuse us of cheating in the tie break, because my daughter took out her mobile a couple of minutes AFTER we had given our answer in.. The question master, despicably in my opinion, took their word for it and gave us a lecture about how it is acceptable to use a mobile in the quiz - which it most certainly is not - but not acceptable in a tie break. As we left the hotel , one of the blokes from the other team stepped in front of me as I was going to the gents, and called me, and I use his words,a
"F * * * ing cheat. "
If you wish to think the worst of me for not sticking up for myself, and walking round him without saying anything, then you must feel free to think so, although I would advise you that
a) There were four of his mates behind him,
b) he was a little the worse for alcohol - although not so much that I would have fancied my chances if it had come to blows, and
c) what could I have achieved if I had responded anyway ? For all I know he was looking for an excuse to belt me.
Effectively, that has had the same effect as if the landlord had banned us from going to the quiz. If we went back we would be looking for trouble. However, I also wouldn't go back to any quiz where the question master is so much under the thumb of one loud and leery team that he will ignore them cheating during the quiz, and accuse a team that beats them of cheating because they can't take being beaten.

A Small Bouquet

Contrast this with another pub which went out of its way not to ban us. A small virtual bouquet, then, to the Dynevor Arms in Groesfaen. The problem with this quiz is that its only once a fortnight. Which meant that even with John and I only going once a fortnight, we still ended up playing in every quiz, and winning probably more than our fair share - although we never won every quiz as some other teams claimed.

The number of teams started to drop off, and when it came to head last year, we asked Ralph the question master, and he very quietly, very calmly and politely explained that the number of teams had dropped off because we kept winning. One team in particular, which often boasted 7 members stopped expressly because of us. So, Ralph explained, the response was not going to be to ban us, but to introduce a bingo-quiz. The rules as he explained them were long and tedious, but basically it meant that even if you had every question right it didn't mean that you would win. John and I made the instant decision that we would stop going, and I believe that they dropped the bingo idea, but impose a handicap on the winning team from the previous time.

What strikes me, as I look back, is that the whole thing was done without any unpleasantness. With hindsight, they didn't do the easiest thing, which would have been to ask John and me to give it a miss, but rather they said that we had every right to play, but they needed to introduce a format which allowed for a fairer share out of the money. I hope that the quiz is going strongly there now.

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