Sunday, 17 January 2010

In Praise of Easy

There comes a time, I think, in every quizzer’s year, where you just long to be asked a set of simple, everyday questions again.

Prior to last Thursday, the last time that I played in a proper, non-specialist pub quiz would have been Monday 14th December. While I love Christmas and the holiday season, there’s always a time during the festivities when I find myself pining for an honest, no – nonsense pub quiz . Obviously most pubs either suspended their quizzes in the week leading up to Christmas, or those that went ahead tended to be Christmas themed. Then even when they started up again, the first quiz of the year tended to be a look back on the events of the previous 12 months. Our first quiz in the Aberavon Rugby Club on Thursday 7th, was an example of such.

Now, this is not a criticism of that quiz – it was a very good quiz, and had clearly taken a lot of time and effort to put together. But be honest, don’t you find yourself pining for a return to normality after a while ? For me this feeling usually sets in by about the 30th December. So you can imagine that by this last Thursday all I wanted was to play in a bog-standard ordinary quiz. A quiz where you’d be asked stuff like –
“Male is the capital city of where ? *“ and
“ Who was the lead singer of 80s group T’Pau ? **“ and stuff like that. Not particularly difficult, and nothing that different from what you’d find on the menu in a hundred other pub quizzes, but an ordinary, decent pub quiz.

Yes, most of the time you want to be tested. You want to be shown that you know things that you didn’t think you knew. You want to pit your wits against at least one team who have the ability to beat you if all goes well for them. On Thursday, though, I just wanted to answer some questions correctly. It had been a hectic week, as I mentioned in a previous post, and I wanted an easy night and an easy win. Is that so wrong ? Possibly. If I was a better person I would be far more corinthian about it, and be able to say that the playing of the game was far more important than who won or lost.

This coming Thursday its my turn to set the questions and act as question master in the club. Now this is no chore. Oh, there’s a few hours work involved, but it’s a labour of love. The questions and the handout are already prepared, only, well, its about this time that doubt begins to set in. If you set a quiz regularly for members of the general public and casual punters, rather than serious or semi serious quizzers, then you’ll know that if you think a quiz is too hard for them, you are almost certainly going to be right. The problem is how far you go in making it easier. I have never once had a complaint that my quiz is too easy for the participants on the night. I have had complaints that my quizzes are too hard, not often, but then they’re not the complaining sort in the club. So basically there is nothing holding me back from stripping back the level of difficulty further and further and further. Except for one mental hurdle. I have a nagging fear that one day another team will score 100% in one of my quizzes. In fact twice during the last 12 months I have been convinced, as I embark on the first round, that this is going to happen. So much so that I almost succumbed to the temptation to just alter the wording of a couple of questions. I didn’t, and rightly not, since the wording of a question is for me the most neglected aspect of the question master’s craft.

I’ll post the first half of the quiz on the blog on Friday, or sometime over the next weekend, when I’ll also be able to tell you how it went down at the quiz. You can let me know what you think about the level of difficulty. My gut feeling about this one is that there is no realistic chance of any team getting 100%, and I may even tone it down a bit before Thursday.

* Male is the capital of the Maldives
** Carol Decker was the lead singer of T'Pau

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