Winning at Pub Quizzes
By Ian Duckworth
I have been doing and running pub quizzes for fifteen years, and now run a pub Quiz in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, for Catalans at a certain level of English learning, and Native speakers. What follows are five ways for winning at, or at least giving the team a better chance at winning in a pub quiz.
- The Right Size
The optimum pub quiz team size is four people. Whatever the anthropological proofs in the pudding the dynamics of a good pub quiz team and even a not so good pub quiz team are better with four folk. A team of three doesn’t quite have the breadth of knowledge needed to win, and a team of five seems to be more liable to argue. Of course, there are plenty of not so good pub quiz teams of four that don’t have the knowledge and argue, but I’ll go into that later.
Having settled on the Pub Quiz team size we can look at the other four factors in a good Pub Quiz team.
- Knowledge Spread
There needs to be a good knowledge spread in the team if it is going to do well. Four people who know a lot about football and nothing else will not give the team a good score in a general knowledge pub quiz, and a pub quiz only about football narrows the customer base down. Naturally there will be some specialism within the members in the team, but a wide spread of knowledge across the team is the best starting point to become a competitive team. So why not have three people instead of four? You can have three people it’s just you won’t have a wide as spread of knowledge as you do with four.
- The Fourth Person
The fourth person often feels they don’t contribute to the team. ‘I never know the answer to any of the questions.’ they might regularly complain. But this because they only remember contributing three answers out of say forty. What is important with the fourth person, the one who contributes least answers, is not how many questions they answer, but which questions they answer. If they answer three questions that nobody else in the team could answer, and the team wins by two points, then theirs has been a vital contribution to the team. This person’s contribution is often along the lines of characters in day-time television soaps, rather than how many moons Jupiter has, but those questions get asked in a Pub Quiz, and a correct answer gets the same number of points as answering correctly which scientist gives their name to the Uncertainty principle.
- Who Gets the Pen
One important decision to make is who has the pen. The person with the pen must listen to other people’s views. They must be able to put options clearly before the team and write down what is the teams considered answer. This all takes about fifteen seconds, so they must be a natural at doing it. The person least suitable to hold the pen is someone who knows everything, and puts their usually wrong answer down before there is any debate about it. Then when the answer given by the quiz master is different, there will be no apology from them, but an ‘oh yeah, I meant that,’ response. They will learn nothing from the experience, and the same thing will happen again if they have the pen. It can be argued this person should not be in the team in the first place, but properly controlled their knowledge base – they may be an electrical engineer or something, could be useful to the team. After all, let’s remember it’s sometimes difficult to get four people together into a team and most friends have serious flaws, otherwise why would they be friends.
- The First Answer is the Best Answer
The first answer to a pub quiz question is often the right answer. Having written an answer down it should not be changed unless you know it is the wrong answer, and you have come up with a better, more informed answer, or you are sure you have the right answer. There is nothing more annoying than crossing out your first answer and putting in a replacement, only to find that the first answer you put down was the correct
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