Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Underthinking pub quiz team

We have all been to the pub quiz it is an enjoyable experience, the annoyance of being close, the thrill of getting an obscure answer correct.

Name the C used to describe whales, dolphins, and porpoises?
There are people that do it part-time, there are people that do it full-time invariable a bunch of academics or teachers, having to use the extra knowledge they have amassed whilst studying that they can't pass onto their charges.

"Man, I could tell people who won Best Actor in 1952 academy awards?"

The interesting thing with pub quizzes in Dunedin at least is the paltry prizes on offer. I acknowledge that the entry is free, but if you have 20 teams of about 5 each by the time they have eaten and drank for 3 hours, you will have taken in at least $2000. But the prizes on offer at some establishments are as low as $50 for first $30 for second and $20 for 3rd. That is a total prize pool of $100, around 5% of my conservative estimate. Thats a bigger profit margin than airport food. The other thing is quiz nights are frequently on early in the week, on nights you wouldn't expect a big bar take normally, so the quiz money is really a bonus anywho.

"As you can see here by reducing the prizes our profits (green) increase.."

 The real kicker is if you have a team of 5 unless you win first place, you can't even get a drink each.

"The Pretty Young" things got 3rd place, so could only afford 2 cocktails for the 5 of them, (note the disappointment in their faces)
There is an optimum quantity of members in a quiz team. Too few and you don't have broad enough knowledge, too many and then you increase odds of disagreements on 50/50 questions.
 Personally I think 5 is around the perfect number, means you can have a Sports guy, a Geography/History guy, a Arts/Media guy, a odds and ends guy, and a guy to act as a tie breaker.

Sheryl (in green) sometimes felt she wasn't treated as an equal

The problem is once you have achieved this optimum mix, everyone enjoys it so much that they all invite a friend, who in turn invite friends, so you end up with an out of control team of 15 participants. The smart thing to do would be to split into 3 new teams, but how to split without offending anyone, there is no way so you are stuck with team that is too big.

The original "Awesome foursome" team is the 4 in the middle front
The thing is the perfect makeup of a team never really happens, people aren't divided by knowledge rather by personality.In fact most of the time if you form a quiz team with friends your knowledge is pretty similar, i.e you all know sports, or you all know movies.

Luckily for the "Huzzahs" all the questions at the quiz championships were about beards, and matching polos and shorts

So here is a list of underthinking quiz personalities I have encountered. They could compete at the pub quiz. under the name "The Underthinkers"

The one answer wonder
This guy sits in the corner, not saying anything all night. If he does say something its something like I can't believe how stupid I feel, or how did you guys know that.
Then in one of the later rounds, when things are looking grim you have come across an obscure question about the ruling monarchy of a little known Asian country, the person will pipe up.

Name the king of Bhutan
 The thing is though he won't pipe up as soon as the question comes up, he will let you debate it for a bit, and let the frustration grow in your faces. And then when you are faced with just putting an answer down, he then quietly almost meekly proffers a solution usually accompanied with a story on exactly how and why he knows for sure that is the answer even though in his mind it is still dubious.

"Its not King Jigme Khesar Namgyel is it? He held me as a politcal prisoner for the last 3 years, I am not sure though"
At least he can go home safe in the knowledge he earnt the team at least 1 point because he eventually spoke up, unlike the next guy on the team.

The guy that "knows" the answer but doesn't share it with anyone

Possibly the most annoying person on the face of the planet. They sit there saying nothing offering nothing, they look at the question but don't join the debate on the answer.

Name the painter of this 17 th century artwork?
The rest of the team is logically stepping through 17th century artists, debating which one is most likely to have painted this particualar piece unsure, they guess perhaps Raphael (unaware he is far too early), since it is obviously a religious motif and he is famous for them.Besides he was a Ninja turtle.

Not only a great painter also a hero in a half shell

When the answers are read out, and the team has gotten it wrong, this person pipes up and says I knew that of course it is Rembrandt, thats the "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee", its a lesser known but still good painting of his. Really? That's fantastic, perhaps it would have been more pertinent to share that information with us during the question time?
The really annoying thing about this person is not only did they know the answer, the knew it beyond doubt. i.e they had read/heard/seen it that day.

The Second-guesser guy

Name this waterfall which is home to the Devils Pool?
This guy answers questions almost immediately as soon as he hears it, 110% confident he has the correct answer.

"Easy Victoria Falls, BOOM!"
 This confidence lasts about 2-3 questions later when he starts to have doubts about his knowledge, now there is another answer in his mind that seems equally as plausible.

"Wait, Devils pool? Its not the Angel falls is it?"
The worst but most common strategy used when this is encountered, is to allow this guy to change the answer. Invariably if he had just stuck to his guns he would have got the answer right. But alas those self-doubts have doomed him to get it wrong.

"Oh gawd, why didn't i stick with Victoria Falls"

The guy 4 questions behind

This delightful young fellow is at one of his first quiz nights, he knows stuff, but hasn't quite got the hang of how the format of a quiz works. You are a collective if one person gets the answer and the majority agree you move on.
 This young chap gets the first question and spends the rest of the time working on that, despite the fact the rest of the team has moved on.

"Okay, guys what is the Capital of Kazakhstan?"
 I don't know if he hasn't quite got that there is a time limit, or he just isn't used to the pace of the game, or is brain can't handle more than 2 things at once. But he severly lags behind. Like downloading things on a 28 kpb modem.

I have got it, it is Cetaceans

Well yes that is the answer to the first question in this post, however I and the rest of the readers got that several minutes ago. The answer to the last question is of course Astana, I am sure all the underthinkers reading this got that.


  1. Great post. There is always someone who comes along claiming to be a guru in one area and ends up being someone who "knows this one" but can't produce an answer. It is so frustrating when they do that for almost every question.

    Another person is someone who has excessive confidence and it takes until a night of wrong answers to realise that they have no credibility but because you weren't quite sure with your answer, and they are, you assume they are right. But they aren't.

    There is also the random pizza eater who comes along eats the week befores pizza and drinks bar tab and doesn't contribute an answer.

    I agree about combinations of people. You need people who know lots about everything and people who are back ups in other rounds so that there isn't one person slaving away in one section flying solo. Often the best quiz teams are not the closest friends because you really need a random combination of people, but pub quiz makes them into close friends.

  2. Yeah, after I posted I thought of a couple more personalities.
    Most of them which you have described in your comment.
    The over-confident is always a thorn in the side, because they can convince you to change almost any answer, because the authority they use in their voice.

    The non-contributor is also a common one.

    Yeah that is true, about pub quiz teams bonding, the question is how do you meet this eclectic group of people to start with?

  3. Pub quiz speed-dating? It could be a thing.

  4. Not only could it be a SHOULD be a thing.
    That is a great idea Rory


    Want to keep Underthinking? Try one these.