Quick Questions

We usually think of pubs as places to have a drink and socialize. For some people, pubs are also places where people can test their brains. We call it a pub quiz. Most nights of the week in pubs from San Francisco in the West and over to Sydney on the other side of the world, teams will be fighting to see who knows the most trivia.

If you ‘pool’ something everyone contributes. ‘We all pooled our money and were able to pay for the rafting trip.’

Pub quizzes can vary in terms of themes and length of time but most follow a similar format. They are usually played in teams. This is because the questions can come from many different fields, so the more brains the bigger the advantage. However, more people can also mean more arguments over the answers. I think the best number is four or five. According to Sheila Margolis, this amount happens to be the best number for group decisions. You have enough people to pool ability but not so many that people can’t agree on an answer.

A ‘buff’ is a fan or expert on a topic, usually one for fun, not in a professional sense.

And what do they ask? Trivia can be on just about anything: literature, geography, history plus riddles and puzzles, though the latter aren’t as popular as questions on facts. Given the number of music buffs around, it’s unsurprising that there are some pub quiz nights which only ask music questions. Music trivia doesn’t just require contestants to know facts. You need to have a good memory for tunes or lyrics. Participants can be asked to name a song from the first few bars or complete the lyrics when given a few lines. One of the most popular single quiz nights was an event in Hobart, Tasmania called ‘Music for the Masses.’ Over 1,000 people were there.

No one knows how pub quizzes began, but we usually believe the idea of answering questions as a night’s entertainment started in Britain. Here, pubs have long been a part of ordinary people’s entertainment. Though the exact date and location are unknown, a few details suggest the 1970s as a likely start because several leagues and clubs were officially started at this time. One of the longest running is the Bridgend Club which began in 1973.

Pub quizzes became popular quickly. Today there are over 20,000 regular weekly pub quizzes in the UK and about 2,000 in the US. Quizzes are also popular in Australia and New Zealand. But trying to find a quiz in the Czech Republic turns up very few. Is there something about English speaking nations which makes trivia more important?

The word ‘quiz’ is of English origin and other languages use it with the meaning of a competition based on questions. Originally, quiz meant a strange person. It’s the root of the word ‘quizzical’. How it came to mean questions is unknown. It could be that strange people inspired others to ask questions or quiz them. Another possibility is that the word has a different origin in the Latin question ‘qui es?’ – meaning who are you. Over time this was pronounced as quiz and was the first question asked in oral exams. But this doesn’t explain why people wanted to answer questions for fun while drinking a beer. Sadly that is the one question even the most dedicated quiz participant wouldn’t be able to answer.

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Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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We usually think of pubs as places to have a drink and see friends. For some people, pubs are also places where people can test their brains. We call it a pub quiz. In pubs from San Francisco in the West and over to Sydney on the other side of the world, teams will be fighting to see who knows the most trivia.

Pub quizzes can have different themes but most are played the same way. They are usually played in teams. This is because the questions can come from many different fields. Having more people means a better chance your team will know the answer. But, more people can also mean more arguments over the answers. I think the best number is four or five. You have enough people, but not so many that people can’t agree on an answer.

A ‘buff’ is a fan or expert on a topic, usually one for fun, not in a professional sense.

And what do they ask? Trivia can be on just about anything: literature, geography, history plus riddles and puzzles. Those aren’t as popular as questions on facts. Many people are music buffs and there are some pub quiz nights which only ask music questions. One of the most popular single quiz nights was an event in Hobart, Tasmania called ‘Music for the Masses.’ Over 1,000 people were there.

No one knows how pub quizzes began, but we usually believe the idea of answering questions as a night’s entertainment started in Britain. Here, pubs have long been a part of ordinary people’s entertainment. The exact date and location are unknown, but some information suggests the 1970s as a possibility. Several leagues and clubs were officially started at this time. One of the longest running is the Bridgend Club which began in 1973. Pub quizzes became popular quickly. Today there are over 20,000 regular weekly pub quizzes in the UK and about 2,000 in the US. Quizzes are also popular in Australia and New Zealand.

The word ‘quiz’ is of English origin and other languages use it with the meaning of a competition based on questions. Originally, quiz meant a strange person. It’s the root of the word ‘quizzical’. How it came to mean questions is unknown. But this doesn’t explain why people wanted to answer questions for fun while drinking a beer. Sadly that is the one question even the most dedicated quiz participant wouldn’t be able to answer.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Mettle means strength of character, the mental and emotional character unique to a person.

We tend to think of pubs as places to have a drink and socialize. For some people, pubs are also arenas in which people can test their intellectual mettle. The occasion is the pub quiz. Without doubt most nights of the week in pubs from San Francisco in the West and heading over to Sydney on the other side of the world, teams will be battling it out to see who knows the most trivia.

If you ‘pool’ something everyone contributes. ‘We all pooled our money and were able to pay for the rafting trip.’
Idiom: Go off the charts: To do something greater than previously recorded.

Pub quizzes can vary in terms of themes and length of time but most tend to follow a similar format. They are usually played in teams because the questions are drawn from a range of fields, so the more brains the bigger the advantage. However, more people can also mean more disputes over answers. From personal experience the optimum number is four or five. According to Sheila Margolis, this amount happens to be the best number for group decisions because you have enough people to pool ability but not so many that the number of interactions go off the charts. In a pub quiz, where there is a lot of background noise, you need to be able to hear each other and agree on an answer before the next question is asked.

And what do they ask? Trivia can be on just about anything: literature, geography, history plus riddles and puzzles, though the latter tend not to be as popular as straightforward questions on facts. Given the number of music buffs around, it’s unsurprising that there are some pub quiz nights which cater to them. One such night is regularly held in Sydney, another can be found in San Diego. Music trivia doesn’t just require contestants to know facts. You need to have a good memory for tunes or lyrics. Participants can be asked to name a song from the first few bars or complete the lyrics when given a few lines. One of the most popular single quiz nights was an event in Hobart, Tasmania called ‘Music for the Masses.’ It attracted over 1,000 people in a single night and at a single venue.

The origins of pub quizzes are unclear, but it is generally accepted that the idea of answering questions as a night’s entertainment started in Britain where pubs have long been a part of ordinary people’s entertainment. Though the exact date and location are unknown, a few details suggest the 1970s as a likely start because several leagues and clubs were officially started at this time. One of the longest running is the Bridgend Club which began in 1973.

The popularity of the event spread quite rapidly. Today there are over 20,000 regular weekly pub quizzes in the UK and about 2,000 in the US. Quizzes are also popular in Australia and New Zealand. In contrast, trying to uncover a quiz in the Czech Republic turns up very few. Is there something about English speaking nations which makes trivia more important?

English culture has a long tradition of playing games and many games and sports have their origins in Britain or in the US. However, this type of cultural explanation may be going too far because some popular British social games like bingo or raffles have their origins in other countries, Italy to be precise. But the word ‘quiz’ is of English origin and has been adopted into other languages with the meaning of a competition based on questions. Originally, quiz meant a strange person. It’s the root of the word ‘quizzical’. How it came to mean questions is open to debate. It could be that strange people inspired others to ask questions or quiz them. Another possibility is that the word has an unrelated origin in the Latin question ‘qui es?’ – meaning who are you. Over time this was pronounced as quiz and was the first question asked in oral exams. But this doesn’t explain why people want to answer questions for fun while drinking a beer. Sadly that looks like one question even the most dedicated quiz participant wouldn’t be able to answer.

While quizzes remain popular, the advent of technology is making running quizzes harder. People have been using mobile telephones to call friends and web access of smart phones means that an answer is a Google search away. Some pubs have banned phones during quizzes or stopped people re-entering once they leave but it’s hard since the quiz isn’t a pub’s main business. But the events remain popular, so the next time you’re in London and you see people quickly answering questions, see if you can join. You might have a lot of fun.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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