Tuesday, 15 September 2009

"Teachers make good quizzers - Discuss . "

After the always hectic build up to, and start of the new school year, I’ve found myself with enough breathing space to read back my most recent posts since returning from Spain. One of the things which strikes me is that almost all of the posts are reviews of TV quizzes. Now, providing this valuable public service is something that we take very seriously at LAM , so I make no apologies about this. However I would hate for you to think that my love for the Great British Pub Quiz has in any way diminished following my Spanish drought. Far from becoming a quiz hermit, I have actually played in 8 quizzes in the three weeks since returning from Alicante. That’s not including the CIU National final, which you can read all about in last week’s post.

For the record, 2 of those have been in Pill Harriers in Newport, 3 in Aberavon Rugby club, 2 in The Duke of Wellington in Cowbridge, and 1 in the Dyffryn Arms in Bryncoch. I have written about all of the first three quizzes in the past. However the Dyffryn Arms is a new one for me. Well, newish. I knew that the pub did its own Sunday evening quiz, and so, on the last Sunday before going on holiday I took my son down there to check it out. We enjoyed it so much that I persuaded John to head west last Sunday, and join me there.

Viewed by any standards I’d say that this was a good quiz. However when you think that its a Sunday evening quiz, and its for the general public, if you have to view it in this light, then its a great quiz. If you’ve been a regular reader for any great length of time you’ll know some of my pets hates in a pub quiz . If you haven’t, then here’s a few of them : -

Rounds of ‘Family Fortunes’ type questions
More than 10% of the whole quiz being made up of pop music questions
More than 20% of the whole quiz being made up of entertainment questions
More than 20% of the whole quiz being made up of questions on any one subject
Rounds where a huge amount of marks are available where in depth knowledge of only one subject is required.
Quizzes where the question master has got more than 2 or 3 answers wrong.

and so on. I'm sure that you get the drift.

Please accept that this is not directed at any one particular question master, quiz compiler or quiz, and its merely my opinion, based on over 2 decades of pub quizzing. I’ve no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who could say that everything on my list is something that they themselves like about a pub quiz. Fair enough, and that’s a valid opinion too. Doubtless there are people out there who would say to me that I have benefitted often in the past from quizzes with a bias towards entertainment questions, or rounds which require in depth knowledge of one subject, and I’m not arguing with that. The only point I’m trying to make is that I just don’t enjoy these things so much. Variety is the spice of life, I think, but you must by all means please feel free to disagree. Quizzing is a broad church. Still, as far as I am concerned, if a quiz doesn’t feature any of these pet hates of mine, then chances are I’m going to think its a good quiz, and I’m going to enoy it. Which is where the Dyffryn Arms comes in.

To give you a little flavour of it, here’s a multiple question from the last round : -
Name the two destinations each of these famous trains link : -
a)The Orient Express – original version
b)The Flying Scotsman
c)The Chattanooga Choo Choo
Now you may very well be sitting in your chair rattling off the answers – well done if you are. But you’ve got to give credit, that’s a more absorbing question than a lot of Sunday night pub quiz fare. For the record , the answers are : -
a)Paris to Istanbul
b)London to Edinburgh
c)Cincinatti to New Orleans ( alright, this one is a little bit dodgy, IMHO . In the SONG the train went from New York to Chattanooga )
As it happens the only prize for the quiz, which featured about 10 teams on Sunday, being extremely well attended, was a bottle of wine. The prize doesn’t come into it though. Consistently the best quiz I go to regularly is possibly the Aberavon Rugby Club . . . which never has a prize.

One final point. The Dyffryn's quiz is one of two halves - 30 questions in the first, and another 20 in the second. Papers are marked twice, in between the first and second halves, and then again at the end of the quiz. After I picked up our paper from the team who marked it, one of them faced me with an accusing eye, and said,
"That's a very high score. I know your secret !"
Oh gawd - I thought. He's either going to accuse us of cheating, or even worse, of taking it all too seriously. I said nothing. He went on -
" You must all be teachers !"
All I could think was that he has obviously never been in my staff room when I'm road testing a set of questions for the rugby club, if he thinks that all teachers are automatically brilliant quizzers.

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