Quizzical

Pub quizzes! I’ve been to two, both times on a Wednesday at the Dickens Bar in the Excelsior at Causeway Bay, and found them a heady mixture of tripe and tipple (I have discovered Diamond Black blackcurrant cider!), trials of patience and trying humour, and, best of all, nerdy nausea and geeky joy.

Am admittedly terrible at those queries meant to separate the wits from the chavs — I mean, naming the first movie in which ‘Go ahead, make my day’ was uttered by Dirty Harry? C’mon! — and have not yet emerged from second-from-last placing, but it’s just extraordinary fun to have non-threatening questions thrown at you. Even if you get voluntarily get tricked by not-so-tricky questions like ‘Where is the Bastille Opera House?’ (I thought it was a trick question, so it couldn’t be Paris — maybe a city in Vietnam instead. Doh! The think-you-know-it-all-but-not-really-you’re-just-a-big-doofus part me of gets a good airing.)

So what exactly goes on in a pub quiz? Well, the version I went to went like this:

  1. Get into teams of no more than six. Have pub food for dinner.
  2. Quizmaster announces the six categories for the night — in the latest quiz, it was general knowledge, geography, sports, acronyms, films and quotations (who said what).
  3. Choose a bonus category for your team — that means the marks you get for that category will be doubled. I guess it’s best to choose your best category, to get the maximum leg up. The previous quiz I attended also required you to choose a bogey category, for which your marks get halved.
  4. Even more importantly, choose a name for your team!
  5. After the quizmaster is alerted to items 3 and 4, the quiz begins! Each team has in its possession six quiz sheets, one for each category and ten questions contained therein. The questions for the category are delivered with sometimes painful stylisations by the quizmaster. If something like ‘In the 1976 Summer Olympics, who was the only female competitor not required to take a gender test?’ stumps you, you can holler for a hint.
  6. Between categories, the quizmaster might proffer free shots of strange-looking liquor in exchange for answers to really cheesy riddles — those are definitely beyond me, just like crossword clues.
  7. After six rounds, the bottom team gets a bucket of Heineken (is that a good or bad thing?), and the top team gets curry buffet vouchers (pretty good curry, actually).

Let me see if I can remember some other tricky questions from the latest quiz:

  • Which Scottish football club was formerly known as Excelsior FC? (I guess the quizmaster wanted to link to the hotel, sheesh.)
  • Which Formula One driver has a surname that sounds rude in Cantonese? (At last, a question that doesn’t require esoteric knowledge of British TV.)
  • Which ex-Chelsea player has a name that sounds like a Channel Four show? (Alas, one of those questions that do.)
  • Which MTR station has an acronym in its name, and what does the acronym stand for? (The full phrase for the acronym always slips my memory!)
  • Who said this: ‘Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.’ (Didn’t expect him to be so namby pamby.)

I’ve been told that this particular pub quiz does not have, um, exacting standards, shall we say — there’s one at the Chapel Bar in Happy Valley that’s run by a really experienced quizmaster and has better curry. Unfortunately, it carries on till midnight on a Thursday.

So does this stir in you a yearning to participate in a near-ritualistic murder of your self-esteem? If so, let me know — we can make a night of it!

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