I have no better title to this post, as its merely a ramble about recent events in a quiz that happened to me and generally the way Pub Quizzes in the UK are.
Quizzing is a funny old thing here in good old Blighty. It is perhaps the only form of ‘competitive’ activity where being good is frowned upon! I have heard this analogy before but cannot remember where (so cannot give credit to whoever posted it)…but if you had say a local golfer who spent hours every day for years practicing to try and drive down his handicap, he would be applauded. However, if someone took the same time to revise and practice for quizzes and began winning regularly in the same location, it would be frowned upon. Why is this the case?
Of course I am referring to local pub quiz scenes here. The mutual respect at the highest level of quizzing in the UK is akin to any other activity, but at a general local level below this there is definitely an issue.
Take for instance a local quiz I attend. The scores are read out at the end…..Team A have 47, Team B have 48 but the winners with 67 are Team C……cue a groan and a moan. Accusations of cheating are muttered between other teams, its always the same. In fact in most pub quizzes I go to if a similar thing happens you get the same pattern. If a local golfer wins the annual tournament by 7 shots, the rest of the players are not going to turn round and point an accusatory finger. So why does it happen in quizzes? What is it in the UK that makes being good at pub quizzes so bad and frowned upon?
One opinion I have heard mentioned before is that people go to quizzes to be entertained and would rather have some chance of a small prize than having “professionals” take the victory every week. Mastermind Champion David Clark posted on his far superior blog that a quiz he used to enter and win was changed to make it a more random affair with some style of Bingo quizzing to stop his team winning as the landlord feared other punters were being driven away. I also know people who have left certain quizzes in my old hometown and here because of the same winners every week and the gap between 1st and everyone else. One person even stated to my quizmaster friend they wouldn’t be coming back as they “wanted a fun night but the professionals spoil it”.
But surely if people going to the quiz are only there for the entertainment, as they suggest, then why does it matter to them who wins? Obviously they care about winning if they are leaving the pub quiz because they cannot win? It just does not add up!
The Eggheads and The Chase has done a lot to celebrate good quizzers of course, Clever Dicks also went out of its way to recruit the finest quiz players in the country and the likes of Mastermind and Brain of Britain still hold prestige (I suppose University Challenge and Only Connect could be thrown in their too) but generally these are seen as a world apart from the normal quizzes taking place every night around the country.
I am not in the position yet where I can regularly win a pub quiz alone or just with my other half. Being 26 a lot of older pictures and 70’s-80’s questions catch me out which is the areas I am working on. But there has been a few occasions where I have done well. Being a dedicated quizzer I always have a good chance of a placing if questions suit. But what I have found is because maybe I am 26 and quiz in a team of usually just me and my other half, everytime I do well the inevitable happens…mutterings of “cheat”!
Here is a good example for you. 15 minutes before a recent quiz I called a friend on my iphone to see if he was coming (I am not bragging about having an iphone there by the way it is important for the story later on). As always I switched my phone off before the quiz and left it in my pocket. It was one of those nights where it was “the night”. Every quizzer has these where the questions suit, the current affairs are all stories you know, the wipeout plays into your hands….its bound to happen.
I gathered earlier in the night that the team next to us were the regular winners. He gave the sheet out to them and said “I hope its challenging enough for you” and they had that air about them, regular winners do. I think the problem was here as well we were at this quiz for the first time. As I said the quiz went well. The regular winners handed their sheet in. We had a nice friendly chat to them, talked about a few questions etc.
The scores were read out….Second place was…Regular Winners (I won’t mention names) 42 points, Me and my other half 44 points. We had won, the regular winners looked around the room for who was going to collect the prize, not even considering it could be us. I got up and as I was walking back to the seat the quizmaster said “Well done to the Scrambled Eggheads” to which one of the regular winners shouted out “and their iphone!”. Totally uncalled for. For the next 20 minutes the two elderly gentlemen who had been talking to us very friendly all night simply shunned us, he sat shaking his head. Examining the answer sheets and basically or want of a better word in the huff.
I did not want to leave straight away even though I was ready to, that would add to suspicion and even though I had of course not moved throughout the night and kept my phone well away I was made to feel as if by winning I had done something wrong.
Annoying to say the least! I had done very well to beat teams of larger, older and probably more experienced players and I was made to feel unwelcome and totally out of place. Another example of good quizzing performances getting bad reactions.Being called a cheat doesn’t bother me in the sense that I know I did not cheat and won fair and square but the way in which the treatment afterwards comes its really baffling to me. It has happened on similar occasions before but not to this extremity.