Friday, 21 June 2013

Questions v. Pictures

Once again last night at the rugby club I found myself facing the question – would I rather win the questions but lose the overall quiz because of my picture handout score – or would I rather come second in the questions but win the overall quiz because of my picture handout score? Of course, the correct answer is neither of the above. It’s that I’d rather win both so there’s no arguments either way. But I’m afraid that isn’t going to be happening any time soon.

You’ve doubtless gathered that my team, Boycs, had the highest score in the questions last night, winning these by 2 points, but lost to Lemurs by 3 points in the pictures, meaning an overall loss by 1 point. Actually I say my team, but really and truly it was just the two of us, me, and my mate John who has been mentioned more than once in these pages. John used to be a regular in the rugby club quiz – in fact he was a mainstay of our opposition once upon a time. He stopped coming some years back, but in the last 18 months or so I’ve been asking him to come down and bolster up our flagging fortunes, and last night he did just that. We’ve played together on Sunday nights for so many years that we’re a pretty good unit together, and we tend to know when to listen to each other. So it was unusual to say the least for us to perform the feat of both of us talking the other one out of a correct answer. The first was this -
Which country has more World Heritage sites than any other, with 47 in total?
My percentage answer was Italy – after all you have all the ancient stuff, then all the Renaissance stuff (stop me if I’m getting too technical here), but John was sure he had heard or read the same question somewhere else, and so we plumped for something else. Of course it was Italy. Then a little later we were asked : -
In computing, what does BPS stand for?

I didn’t have a Scooby, but John offered bits per second. For some inexplicable reason that I don’t understand even now, I decided to change it to bytes per second. Of course it was bits.

Well, for all that we still managed to get the highest score in the questions, thanks partly, I guess, to some of the news questions. In order to post the news questions on the blog every weekend I tend to spend about 15-20 minutes in a morning combing the papers for potential questions, and as any good old quizzer worth his salt will tell you, doing the papers does pay dividends .

As for the pictures, well I’m afraid that I’m strictly average, and that’s on a good day. Although having said that John and I did have the experience of winning Sunday’s quiz through having a full house on the pictures. They were all comedians of the sort who often appear on TV panel shows, such as Mock the Week and others of that ilk. A little bit of a blue moon experience that one. Now, I’m not saying that even if I could think of a way to do this then I would, because I’m sure I wouldn’t. But in all seriousness, how would you go about improving your own personal performance on picture recognition? I’m not bad on people who are in the news because I do the paper every day. Old writers and historical figures – still pretty good. But bland faced actors and actresses from TV and films, Premier league footballers and the like, no chance.

You’ve probably gathered that I’m not a great lover of picture quiz handouts, and you’re right, I’m not. Me, I’m a straightforward, old fashioned questions and answers man. But I completely accept and understand that lots of people who go to the quizzes I play in like the pictures, and in fact for a significant proportion it’s their favourite part of the quiz. And as any halfway decent question master knows, when you compile a quiz you’re not doing it for yourself, you’re doing it for the punters, and so you should at least try to give them a bit of what they want. There is a tiny part of me that does find putting a picture quiz together for the club a chore, though. I will be QM on Thursday, so I shall have to put one together over the weekend. Yes, I could always opt for something different like dingbats or puzzles, since I’ve used pictures for my last four or five quizzes, but to be honest these never go down as well with the majority as pictures do.

When I compile a picture quiz in order to alleviate the boredom I try to think of making connections, either between every picture on the sheet, or at least between each picture in each row. I haven’t thought of the connection(s) for this week’s yet. My favourite ever was matched pairs which when combined made the names of stations on the London Underground network – for example Billie Jean KING and Ben CROSS, or an even more obscure one - Susan ST. JAMES and Richard PARK. If you tell the teams the way the connection works at the start you can use more obscure ones like that. I think the full list was something like this : -

Billie Jean KING and Ben CROSS
Susan ST. JAMES and Richard PARK
Kenneth BAKER and Adrian STREET( glam wrestler of the 1970s)
Sacha BARON Cohen and Margaret COURT
Nicholas PARSONS and Sarah GREENE
Claire RAYNER and Cleo LAINE
Norman COLLIER and Victoria WOOD
MC HAMMER and Sheridan SMITH
Trevor HORNE and Charlotte CHURCH
George LAYTON and Sharon STONE
MARY Peters and Brian LABONE ( Apologies for that one)
Roy NORTH and Gracie FIELDS
Alan RICKMAN and Harry WORTH
Norman ST.JOHN Stevas and Roy WOOD

These might not have been the exact pairings I used in the handout, but you can see how it works anyway.


Michael said...

I loathe picture rounds, although that's probably because I'm utterly dreadful at them. There's little more demoralizing than to be handed the question/picture sheet at the start of a quiz and see 10 marks (and often your hopes of winning) resting entirely on your ability to recognize faces from TV shows. They're also seldom any fun - you either recognize someone or you don't - and while that's obviously true of a lot of quiz questions as well, it seems rather akin to having 10 questions of the form "What chemical element is represented by the symbol..." which I'm sure a lot of people would claim was beyond tedious.

But, as you say, most people seem to like them, so one can't really complain. Having some sort of connection or theme seems like a good way to address the 'problem' though - it gives the rest of us something to work with while still providing a "spot the celebrity" round for those who are so inclined.

Londinius said...

Hi statatron

I know where you're coming from. But the quiz in the club has a wide range of regulars to cater for, from the Lemurs and ourselves who are able quizzers and, speaking for myself, do care about how well we perform on the night, down to the people for whom the quiz is their one real night out a week, and it's the evening and not the quiz that is important. So while I can definitely agree that I don't personally see the 'fun' in an average picture round, it would be wrong of me to condemn other people who clearly do see the fun in it, and stupid of me not to agree that they have a right to be catered for as well. Quizzing is a broad church.

Still don't like picture quizzes very much myself, though.

Michael said...

Oh yes, totally agree. Horses for courses and all that.

I'm rather fortunate that my local quiz has a 'picture' sheet that caters for all-comers: there's always some celebrity spotting, but then there are picture puzzles, some logos, a country outline, that sort of thing. As such there's usually something for everyone.

Ben Dutton said...

I'm rubbish at picture rounds too, but I have to produce two a week for the quizzes I host. So I always theme the picture round - so, every answer might begin with the same first letter, and will include a mix of celebs, country maps (showing the capital), logos, computer games characters, film stills... anything to get away from just plain faces.

Unknown said...

I'm poor at picture rounds, especially if they are topical or pop culture. My worst experience was a pub quiz in which the setter decided to make them all wrestlers - not even the Mick McManus/Kendo Nagasaki era, but 1980s/90s WWF wrestlers. And THIRTY of them! Needless to say the two WWF fans in the pub cleaned up, and I got two. If you are going to specialise this much, it should at most be 10.