Thursday, 19 May 2011

Playing by Yourself

If its anyone’s fault, I suppose that its John’s. I’d better qualify that. Yesterday John jetted off to Hong Kong for a well earned break, so that he and Lynne could visit their daughter. Nothing wrong with that either. However it does leave me with a quandary, namely, what do I do on Sunday evening ?

I could give the quiz in the Dyffryn Arms a miss. Lets be realistic, that’s not going to happen. Which means that either I play on my own, or I offer my services to another team. Neither of these options is without its problems.

If I play on my own, then I face a pretty boring evening, apart from the actual time that the questions are being asked. I’m not going to lie, either, I don’t like the idea of seeming like some sad , old, Billy-no-mates ( even if it’s true ). Then there’s the whole thing about what do you actually do if you win. Now, I’m not saying that I am guaranteed a win in the Dyffryn Arms. John and I together were beaten only a couple of weeks ago, so it can certainly happen. However I definitely might win. The quiz we had last Sunday, we won by quite a large amount, and I think either of us would have won it playing by ourselves. So while I’m not saying that it would happen, I’m saying that there’s a definite possibility that it might happen. I’ve played and won on my own in a couple of places before, and its not necessarily always the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have in quizzing. Having said that they are a terrific crowd of regulars in the Sunday quiz, and I don’t imagine for one minute that there would be any ill feeling at all if it did happen. Still . . .

If I offer my services to another team, though , well , that’s not necessarily always a good thing to do. For one thing, you like to play with the people you know. I wouldn’t want any team letting me play with them just to be polite, when really they’d rather play with their regulars. For another thing, its awkward when you join a team you don’t know. John and I have played together on a Sunday and at other times for so long now that we know each other’s game pretty well. He knows my weaknesses, and my areas of strength pretty well, and vice versa. He knows when I know what I know, and when I just think that I know what I know, and vice versa. As a result, neither of us throws away the other’s correct answer other than on very rare occasions. However the first couple of times you play with an unfamiliar team, it’s a little like walking on eggshells.

It works like this. A question is asked. If you know the answer for certain, then its not a problem. You’ll insist on your answer. If you haven’t a clue about the answer, then its not a problem either. Someone will chuck something on the table, and you’ll go with that, since its an answer to nothing. However if you have an idea, but are not certain, then it’s a real problem, especially if someone else on the table has an idea, and its not the same as yours. You have to make a very quick decision : -
Do you insist upon your answer, ( arrogance ahead – warning ) bearing in mind that you’re probably a more successful quizzer than the person you’re arguing against ?
Do you give way , not wanting to rock the boat and upset the team you’re with, even though you suspect that your answer is probably the right one ?
There’s no right answer to the question above. And it all comes about because you just don’t know the other people you’re playing with. You don’t know their strengths. You don’t know who amongst the team is the kind of person who’ll shout the odds when they really don’t have a Scooby Doo, just to reassert themselves within the team. Likewise you don’t know which member of the team doesn’t know what day of the week it is, but could write a book on Italian second division football, for want of a better example. And that’s how you can end up throwing away points that you’d almost definitely have answered correctly if you were playing by yourself.

The ideal thing is to actually be invited to play with another team. Then the thin vizard of corinthianism can be shed, and you can allow all your natural drive to win come to the fore. Of course, this does mean that the team will have such a trying evening with you that they will never invite you to play with them again, but then that’s the way it goes.

The absolutely worst thing that can happen is what happened to John and me years ago when we used to play in a pub in Bridgend on a Sunday. Nice pub, decent quiz, and always packed out. We usually won, and one evening a couple of people approached us and asked if we’d join them for the evening, since they never won, and they’d like to just once. – Sure – we said, all condescending smiles – we’ll help you out. We lost. We had our worst evening down there ever, and not because we were accepting the answers that they supplied, either. No , this was all our own work. If you didn’t know better you’d have said we were doing it deliberately, so poorly did we play that night. The ladies who’d asked us to join their team never did ask us again.

To finish off, I did once get some advice from an old quiz acquaintance on the whole subject of playing as a singleton. He always reckoned that the only thing you had to worry about was if you won, in which case he had these 5 invaluable tips : -

If you should win a quiz playing on your own : -

• Don’t smile.
• If someone else traps you into conversation, remember your mantra – “ I had a lot of lucky guesses tonight “
• Don’t be tempted to engage in conversation, or even worse, banter, with the question master. NEVER tell him about the mistakes he has made with his questions.
• Leave the quiz 12 and a half minutes after the end. Anything quicker makes you look guilty. Anything slower makes it look as if you are basking in it.
• A lap of honour is totally out of the question.


nollub said...

Shame on you Mr Clark.

As a teacher surely you know when to use "I" and when to use "me"

You say, "The absolutely worst thing that can happen is what happened to John and I years ago"

back to skool...

Ben Dutton said...

I went to a quiz last night on my lonesome (stuck in a new area, with no friends). Quiz split into four rounds, with the winner of the first round announced before commencement of second round and so on. I won all four rounds, with a big margin on each. The applause has never been so muted. I got accused of using my mobile. The quiz master had thought the same thing at the end of the first round when I scored 15/15, so watched me through the rest of the quiz. He vouched for me. A few regulars came up and asked if I would be returning - now here, I wondered, are they asking so they can ask me to join them, or is it a friendly warning of don't come back, I wasn't sure. It was the former. I have a team for next week. But the muted applause when I won the fourth round is almost enough to put me off going back.

Also, similiar to you joining a team of ladies and having your worst night - exactly the same happened to me in my usual quiz. A team of ladies, usually last, asked me over. We played and came eighth!

Finally, as someone who goes to a lot of quizzes on his own - I find there are usually a group of guys playing at the bar. I let the quiz begin, and then when I can see they're stuck, I lean in with the answer (providing I know it) and it almost always leads to an invite to join the team. I've secured regular teams out of this tactic. Though once I was asked to leave a team alone! (They lost by a huge margin).

Londinius said...

Hi nollub

It's a fair cop guv'nor. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. ( Feel free to call me Dave - we don't stand on ceremony here.)

Hi Ben

You can't really blame people for their suspicions, as annoying as it this may be. ( Blimey, but I'm having to think twice before writing anything in case nollub tells me off again.) Its the fault of the unscrupulous cheats who use their phones in quizzes. They really do ruin it for everyone.

It wasn't because they were ladies we joined which made it so bad. It was the fact that we went in with this attitude of condescendingly deigning to help them get a win, and then failing to do so miserably !

I've never had the same experience with a team by the bar, but I have had a similar experience when offering advice to a couple of guys playing on a quiz machine. Ouch - bad flashback !


Ben Dutton said...

I just had to share this with you: at a quiz in the Oxfordshire environs, one I know has a bad problem with mobile phone cheaters (and to make matters worse, it's a Redtooth quiz, and I just don't like them) a team were caught visibly cheating: the quiz master got the pub to boo them. They cheated again, the pub was encouraged to boo once more. I really thought the team would either punch the host or leave at that moment, but they stayed. I marked their sheet - on the questions they had every one right, but on the pictures got seven of the ten wrong. They won, by about fifteen points. The host gave them the £41 winnings, and then got the pub to boo them into giving their winnings to a charity bucket doing the rounds. They then left, red faced, and probably never to return.

Phone cheating is a bad thing, ruining the pub quiz: but was this a step too far? Where do you draw the line?

Will Jones said...

Last night there was a question on the age of the panda Ming Ming. I was almost but not 100% certain that the panda died at an age beginning with 3, but the team thought otherwise, so it was agreed that I would wager 9GBP that I was right. That way if we're right we get the point and if I'm wrong they get some money.

Not ideal, but can help a team measure how confident someone is.

Londinius said...

Hi Will

I think that the panda was 34 wasn’t it ? It’s a nice idea about pudding your money where your mouth is, but having much more of the latter than the former I don’t think I’ll be putting it into practice.

Hi Ben

“Phone cheating is a bad thing, ruining the pub quiz: but was this a step too far?”
Absolutely not. In fact I question whether it went far enough. Well done to your landlord for a) noticing that the cheating was going on in the first place, and b) not deciding to turn a cowardly blind eye to it. However if he knew they were cheating, and trying to shame them obviously didn’t work, then announcing a 20 point penalty at the end, after the scores had been announced would have been totally justified. Phone cheating is wrong in any quiz. In a quiz where there is a cash prize, you could maybe argue that its fraud.

I’ve written about this quite a bit in the blog, and I know that its an issue that does bring out the worst in me, but I honestly do think that anything which sends a message to the cheats that its not acceptable, and won’t be put up with by the majority of quiz goers is perfectly justifiable, as long as it stops short of threats or verbal and physical abuse.


Anonymous said...

Two points:

1. If John is in Hong Kong, he should go to the Stag's Head quiz in Wanchai on a Sunday night. Quite a decent standard, and designed to be accessible to all (there are quizzes on every weeknight there as well).

2. On your tips for what to do when winning the quiz by yourself, what would you advise to be done with the prize?

a) If it is a modest cash prize (£20-£30 ish)

b) If it is a whopper (£100-£200+)

c) If it is a gallon of beer or the like?

It depends on likelihood or returning, but in general I would say:

a) Keep
b) Keep £50 and give the rest to charity
c) Donate to the team that marked your paper or to the second place team.

DanielFullard said...

I am a bit of a quiz obsessive myself but live in an area that is rather bad for quizzing, the north east. I tend to have to force my poor girlfriend to quizzes a few times a week and due to her complete lack of interest in them I technically am playing by myself. We once walked into a pub we had never been in before, won the small quiz (apparently tied with the group who wins every week) and got every accusation under the sun of cheating!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

Well,its very much up to the individual, nad I wouldn't like it to come across as me saying what you should do with any prize. Still, for what its worth, this is just what I would do : -

a) If it is a modest cash prize (£20-£30 ish)
Keep it - share it out equally. Everyone who played on theteam gets an equal share, regardless of how many - if any - correct answers they provided.

b) If it is a whopper (£100-£200+)
Tricky. If I'm playing with my son in the £100 quiz in Cardiff, if we win then I always do a 50/50 split with him, because I know it makes a difference. On the other hand John and I did once or twice win a large jackpot, and ask the landlord in a couple of places to let the jackpot roll over as if it hadn't been won.

c) If it is a gallon of beer or the like?

I'm not a drinker, so I can't claim any great virtue in the fact that I always give away the wine in the Sunday night quiz, and often gave away the wine in the Tuesday night quiz - even if I took it I wouldn't drink it anyway !

Hopefully John might look in on the blog, and see your recommendation.

Hi Danielfullard,

- and welcome to LAM. Thanks for leaving a comment. Its something I think that many of us have experienced. The fact is that so much of what can be asked in a quiz is not information that you'll either need or encounter in your normal daily life, only in quizzes. So things which seem baffling to civilians will alwasy be answered correctly by quizzers, and this , I'm afraid, does create suspicion.

My advice - if you can bear it - stick with the quiz. Once the locals become familiar with you they should accept it.

Thanks for dropping by


DanielFullard said...

Hi Dave thanks for the reply. one thing I always love happens when I go into a new place for a quiz. Because I am only 25 and my girlfriend is 21, seen in the picture, sometimes the quizmaster comes round, as they all do, to have a chat with the teams. They always expect us to be doing badly and be loosing massively to the much larger more experience teams so it is always amusing when they come over, see our answer sheets and gets a pleasant surprise.

Londinius said...

Hi Daniel

I must admit that there is always a certain pleasure in turning up to a place where you've never played before, and beating teams of 6 or 7 .

Of course, its the taking part that matters !