Friday, 29 June 2012

I'm As Mad As Hell -

- but something tells me I’ll probably have to keep taking it. Forgive me for paraphrasing Peter Finch in “Network”, and allow me to explain. It was my turn as question master at the club last night, as I mentioned a few days ago. Now, as I said, I put together a connections quiz. Question one in each round was an ‘in the news question ‘ – all of which were part of the last set of in the news questions which I posted last weekend. Then in each round questions two , three and four were all connected, and question five asked what the connection was between them. I fancy the whole quiz was a little bit harder than my usual.

Ok – so far so good, and that’s the scene set. Now the biggest team in the quiz, who comprised of about 8 or 9 members last night, scored 9 out of ten on the first round. The only one they missed was the question – what connects King Henry I, King John, King William IV, King George VI ? The answer I wanted was that each one succeeded his brother. The answer they put down was that each of them was a second son. Now, you can see where they were coming from, and I might well have accepted it from another team on the ‘good try’ principle. Bearing in mind that they were the biggest team, and that I’ve seen members of the team cheating on their phones there before, I ruled them incorrect, and pre-empted the potential protest by explaining that Henry I was actually William I’s 3rd son, John was actually Henry II’s 4th son ( honestly – Young Henry was oldest, then Richard Ist, then Geoffrey, then John ) and William IV was actually George III’s 3rd son.

Still, in the next round , a nasty tricky one, they scored a full house of 10. The next highest score was 7, and rightly so, it was a tricky round, with a couple of nasty news questions. Not only were all their answers correct, but they were spelled correctly to the very letter as well. They then dropped one point on the next round. I could see two of them were fumbling around under the table, but I couldn’t clearly see whether they were using phones or not. So after I’d asked the questions in the next round I asked the person from another team who was collecting the answers in to have a look and see if they were using their phones. That person reported back to me that there were definitely phones on the table, and also under it. For the record, when the round was marked, the other teams all scored 5 or 6. They scored 9.

It’s easy to make mistakes about people. Sometimes they can just have a brilliant night, when the questions fall for them. But sometimes you just know that things aren’t above board. So, unable to bite my tongue any longer, I made a little speech. It was something along the lines of , “Look, I know that some of you are probably not going to like me for saying this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I go to a lot of quizzes, and over the last few years cheating with internet phones has been absolutely killing them. I can see a lot going on from where I’m sitting, a lot of things which involve phones. I’m not accusing anyone ( although I was really ) but I can see phones being used, and if you do use your phone here, you are making yourself very suspicious ( here staring straight at the team I suspected ). Using your phones is cheating. If you don’t have your phones out, then nobody can accuse you of cheating, can they ? “ Well, it was something like that. I tried to be measured in what I said, because I hate phone cheating, and when I see it going on it makes me really angry, and I start ranting, which I really didn’t want to do. It’s supposed to be a fun evening, and however justified I might feel, me launching into a self righteous tirade would certainly be a downer.

What was the result ? Well, they never scored above 7 for any round for the rest of the evening, and didn’t top score in any of the 4 which were left. As it was they won the picture handout, legitimately as far as I could see. They had built up such a lead that they won the questions – although one of the other teams did make a spirited fightback, and so they won the quiz overall. I hope that it didn’t show in my voice, but it stuck in my throat a bit announcing them as the winners.

After my announcement, I did actually have members of 2 OTHER teams approach me to say that a member of each of their teams had his phone out but wasn’t using it to cheat etc. etc. To be honest one look at their answers would have told you this, but I didn’t say so. What I did say was that the comment wasn’t aimed at them, and I pointed out the team the comment was aimed at. In for a penny, in for a pound. To be honest, I would have thought that the fact I chose to make that announcement immediately after announcing that the team in question had outscored every other team by three points in a single round might have given the game away.

One sad thing about it is that it’s possible that they may just have had a brilliant night. Possible, but highly unlikely. They’ve been playing in my quizzes for years, and have never shown the kind of ability they showed in the first four rounds like that, and on a couple of other occasions when I’ve seen them fiddling with their phones – and I use the word fiddling in more than one sense of the word – their scores have been extremely suspicious. I know that I’m covering ground that is already very well trodden here. But honestly, what on earth do they get out of doing it ? Not a prize, that’s for certain, since we’ve never had them. Not the respect of the best teams within the quiz either. I personally think that cheating like this is disrespectful and pathetic, and I know that members of Lemurs, the usual winners in the quiz at the rugby club, feel the same way. Unless they’re delusional I can’t see them getting a great deal of personal satisfaction from it either.

I suppose that what frustrates me more than anything else is that the rest of the team seem to feel that it's OK to do it. All the members of the team are mature people, some of a certain age, and some of more than a certain age. Some of the team have been playing in this quiz for years, longer than I have. I don’t really understand why they wouldn’t turn round to the three or four who use their phones and tell them – look, what you’re doing, it really isn’t how we play the game here, please stop doing it.

The worst thing about it is that I went home feeling guilty. Brian made an observation that maybe the team involved won’t come back next week. Which isn’t actually what I want at all. I don’t want anyone to stop coming to the quiz. I want more people to come to the quiz, and I want people to enjoy their evening. The thought that I might have said something that might have made them feel they don’t want to bother with the quiz any more is not a pleasant one. Yet the fact is that they are the ones who have been disrespectful, as I see it. Disrespectful to me , bearing in mind the fact that I put time and effort into compiling the quiz for everyone’s entertainment with no remunueration involved except a free drink of diet coke, and disrespectful to all the other teams there who were playing fairly.

Mountain ? Molehill ? Yeah, probably. But I don’t know. Using your phones in a quiz is cheating. It’s cheating, and it’s wrong. All it takes is for people to say nothing about something that’s wrong, and it becomes tolerated. Next thing you know it’s accepted. Next thing you know after that it’s expected.

Case for the prosecution rests, M’Lud.


Nic said...

Hear, hear. Well said, David.

Londinius said...

Thanks Nic

I bet the same people wouldn't dream of stnding just a foot away from a dart board, and sticking the darts in during a dart match. It's the same kind of thing, as far as I'm concerned.

Unknown said...

I wrote (and played in) pub quizzes at my local for many years and noticed with dismay the increased cheating. One night a few years ago one of my quizzes went to a tiebreak, and I asked "In which year was Eton school founded". One team gave in their answer, the other team (on the far side of the pub where I couldn't see) took an age to eventually arrive at EXACTLY the right answer. Of course I knew they'd been cheating, and apologised to the other team, but what could I do? Outright accuse them? Since then however I've never played or set another pub quiz - I mean, what's the point any more?

Londinius said...

Hi Watergrass Jon, and welcome to LAM. Thank you for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment.

You've pretty much expressed my feelings about it - what is the point ? I came very near to quitting setting quizzes last year, but decided to stay and fight. A losing battle, to some extent I will admit, but we live in hope. Soldier on.

Unknown said...

Although I've given up on pub quizzes, I still do very occasional local charity type quiz evenings, where cheating "seems" to be less rife, or at least harder to get away with. I also fairly regularly set quizzes for quiz leagues and for BBC4's Only Connect, so I still keep my hand in. I just wish I had the time to play more often.

Londinius said...

Hi Watergrass Jon - You set questions for Only Connect ! We're not worthy ! In all seriousness appearing in series 4 of OC was amongst my most enjoyable experiences in quizzing ever. Long may it continue.

Unknown said...

Well, I didn't set any of series 4, but I set a few in series 5, and about 25% (of rounds one and two) in series 6 - I hope you enjoy them. I don't know yet which ones they used, you tend to submit a lot, then formally submit those provisionally accepted (loads of work fact verifying), then they use the ones they like. I'll find out which ones starting next month.