Sunday, January 11, 2009

A sucker for Quiz Night

Pub Quiz Trivial Pursuit was an obsession among my friends twenty years ago.  Everyone wanted to be the one person who could shout out answers to “How many rings make up an arm on a Michelin Man?”, or “Who once warned: ‘Never eat more than you can lift’?”.

I didn’t see the point. Success turned on having a good memory for pop-culture banter and sports records.  I could hold my own on geography and kill at science, but was regularly railroaded by those who’d read Harry Potter or watched Celebrity Gossip.

Then I wandered into a weekly Pub Quiz in the UK.

Quiz Night is an extended test of knowledge, part College Bowl (University Challenge if you are British), and part Pictionary.  It’s held weekly at a local pub: people pay a 2 euro entry fee and sort themselves into teams of about 4-6 people.  A picture round is usually handed out as a warm-up, with ten icons (e.g.: monuments, flags, sports fields) to identify.  Questions in subsequent rounds are read in groups of ten, answers are collected, intermediate scores are tabulated, and the cycle continues for eight rounds.  There’s usually an audio round for song title and artist.  ‘Best score wins prizes and acclaim.

Questions are of this sort, usually grouped in themes:

  • What is a colour and the name for a runaway slave in 17th and 18th century West Indies.
  • In which five US states has the USA tested atom bombs?
  • What does a woman raise and hold up in a Pabana?
  • In Rudyard Kipling's book Jungle Book,  what kind of animal was 'Mang'?  

DSC04922 It’s a fun three hour evening of drinking and socializing, heads together suggesting answers and trying to keep other teams from overhearing (or reading lips).  Choosing a team name is an early test of group harmony, and there’s always an effort to recruit a few outliers who might know current songs or 60’s films.

I was a perennial second place player at Cambridge, winning the chocolate instead of the wine.  I lost the habit after graduating, but was delighted to find an active pub around the corner in the Wyck.  We came in 13th out of 22 teams the first time out, behind by 17 points, but in 8 rounds, that’s only two more questions per round that need to be right to take the prize…piece of cake, as Americans say. 

Answers (in order):  Four, Miss Piggy, maroon, (New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska and Mississippi), her skirt, and a bat.

Freequizzes provides rules and quizzes if you want to try it: they supply our local pub as well.

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