- You just scored more points than we did.
This is something I like very much at a quiz, even though I’m quite sure it doesn’t reflect on me very well. But since we’re in full confessional mode here I’ll tell you the full story. Basically, I like it when I turn up to one of my regular quizzes, and see that there’s a new team making their first appearance, who seem to have been round the block a few times, have some quiz experience, and expect a win. Last night at the Dyffryn Arms it was once again very well attended, and so John and I found that the only easily available table was right next to a large team of possibly 7 or 8 older players whom we’d never seen before.
It’s difficult to explain if you’re not that experienced in the arcane world of the pub quiz, but you can often tell at a glance whether a team are simply playing for pure fun, or whether they’re taking it a little more seriously. This team were taking it seriously. They’d all sat round in their places, all with pens and scrap paper ready, and I got the impression that they meant business. An impression which was reinforced when the second question was asked : - Name the person who discovered the Polio vaccine -. “Salk !” exclaimed the chap sitting next to me. To be immediately told to shush by his team captain. Not that this put him off, as he couldn’t help leaping in with another couple of answers. I can’t say too much about that as I’m very prone to that myself.
They were exuding an air of confidence when they handed over their sheet for marking at half time. I freely admit that whenever I mark another team’s sheet I immediately glance over the answers and try to work out how well I think they’ve done – and in most cases, how many points behind us I think that they’ll be. In this case they hadn’t done badly at all. We top scored with 30, but they’d scored a highly respectable 26. However they seemed visibly crestfallen to realize that they were only in 3rd – 4 points behind John and me, and 3 points behind the second placed team.
They were a tiny bit more respectful of us during the second half of the quiz. To be fair, we played a bit of a blinder , getting all the questions right in this section, and only missing one of the pictures on the handout. Which meant that we couldn’t lose, and in fact our lead over second place was 8 points at the end of the quiz. Our neighbours, the new team stayed in 3rd, but they were a full 20 points behind us at the end.
I did get into a conversation with one of the blokes in the other team. Apparently they are holidaying in the area. He said that their performance was marred by their lack of knowledge of rugby. I bit my tongue and refrained from pointing out that their performance on the pictures, and on quite a few of the other questions certainly hadn’t helped either, merely commiserating with him. Mistake. This encouraged him to regale me with tales of the miraculous former deeds of his team. Had I ever heard of a team being banned from a pub quiz before , he asked. Oblivious to the fact that I had replied in the affirmative he went on to tell me about the many quizzes which have banned them for being too good. Once again, I refrained from suggesting that he and his team were in no danger of being banned from the Dyffryn Arms on their current form. Then he went on to ask me to guess how many degrees his team possessed between themselves. It was actually 12, which is certainly impressive, but hardly relevant to winning quizzes. Honestly, from the way he was talking you’d have thought he’d won, rather than been beaten by 20 points. I admit that I found the whole thing amusing at first, but this quickly wore off. Nothing seemed to make an impression, or served to stem the flow, and so I went to Defcon 4. I asked him – Do you ever watch Mastermind ? – to which he replied – yes, occasionally - . So then I opened the bomb bay doors and let the big one go. – Well, I won the series in 2008.- In normal circumstances I wouldn’t dream of ramming this down anyone’s throat, but being force fed the litany of the achievements of a team who were, frankly, little better than ordinary robbed me of my usual common sense.
The only thing about unleashing your heavy artillery is that if it doesn’t stop the opposition in their tracks, you really don’t have any options left. And it didn’t. Underwhelmed is not an adequate description of his reaction. In fact it provoked the same reaction that telling him we won the quiz the previous week as well would have done, that is, none at all. Which is a salutary lesson that I’m sure will do me some good in the long run. Thinking about it now, though, 24 hours later, I kind of have a sneaking admiration for this bravura display of the ‘ we didn’t lose – you just happened to score more points than we did ‘ attitude. Which, come to think of it, marks them out as a proper quiz team far more than anything else they managed last night.