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How to win pub quizzes: “A good team is a bit like a political cabinet” | Ads


“Which state finished last in the Sheffield Shield cricket competition this year? »

Pressure does funny things to people. I participated in Who wants to be a millionaire? hot seat opposite Eddie McGuire. I had my nerves in shreds trying to win hundreds of thousands of dollars on Million Dollar Minute. I spent seven years as a hunter, standing between competitors and their money on The Chase Australia.

I was also a cricket reporter for a decade, and there’s no pressure like the burden of your pub trivia team watching you expectantly when the host asks a question that should be your bread and yours. butter and you have no idea what the answer is. When this Sheffield Shield question was asked, I felt like Anthony Albanese was toast on the unemployment figures.

“Ah, sorry, I don’t know what it is.”

My team that night consisted of my fellow Aussie hunters, Issa “The Supernerd” Schultz, Matt “Goliath” Parkinson and Cheryl “The Tiger Mum” Toh, along with Cheryl’s regular teammate Alan. We’re so rarely all together at once that we thought the pub trivia would be a fun bonding experience.

We headed to the Union Hotel in North Sydney, regular punters probably considering us the four horsemen of the trivial apocalypse. We won the night and defended our reputations, but we were also human. We no longer remember the name of the actor who plays Silent Bob in Clerks and Mallrats (Jason Mewes), picked the wrong year for the release of Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why, and…uh…well…didn’t name a certain cricket team.

Brydon Coverdale, who went from quiz contestant to host. Photography: Allen and Unwin

I know we missed those questions because Cheryl, who is a lawyer, keeps detailed notes and emails her regular teammates with a list of questions they answered incorrectly. It’s a great way to remember for next time, if the question ever comes up. I’ve always found that writing things down helps me remember, so writing down practice questions is the most effective coaching technique for me.

Taking notes might not be everyone’s fun idea, but there are other ways to improve your ad’s performance. To start, if you’re not sure, guess the “percentage answer”. What ocean? The Pacific is the biggest, try that. What American city? Say New York. What garbage state cricket team? I should have known it was South Australia, the perennial wooden spoons.

But success in pub trivia isn’t just about guessing. A good team is a bit like a political cabinet. We need a sports minister, a geography minister, a music minister. A Kardashian minister is just as valuable as a science minister — sometimes the same person even holds both portfolios. What you want is a team full of complementary strengths, not a group where everyone knows the winner of the 1977 Grand Final but no one has heard of The Kid Laroi.

Once you’ve assembled your crack quiz team, there are some do’s and don’ts.

Listen carefully to the question, and ask for it to be repeated if you are unclear. I was once at a pub quiz in London when a team thought the host had asked for Britain’s biggest carnival and answered Notting Hill. They were baffled that the correct answer was “badger”, until they realized it was Britain’s largest carnivore.

Do not argue with the host. Pub trivia is meant to be fun. You may be playing for a roast lamb counter meal, but not for the whole sheep station. And remember, the host is the one in control of the score, so make it worse at your own risk. Your pedantry might earn you a point here, but you might mysteriously lose a point elsewhere.

Listen to your teammates. The worst person in a pub quiz team is the steamroller who talks to his teammates (the steamroller is almost always male) and rejects their suggested answers out of hand, which are probably correct. A good team brings everyone into the discussion and tries to find a solution together.

The quiz masters

Don’t get too drunk. By all means, have a few drinks, enjoy a meal, have fun and support the pub that pays for the trivia. The sites have had a tough few years; the more money in the bar on a quiz night, the better for everyone. But don’t get so lost as to look at Elvis Costello on the photos page and think it’s the Proclaimers.

Most importantly, have fun with your friends and don’t worry if you miss a question you should know. It even happens to prosecutors and prime ministers.