In 2023, I participated in 338 quizzes. Of those I hosted 67 online, 42 of those from home and 25 'on the road' from Kames Bay to Kent and it is only right now, this very moment of review that I realise that these were just the best things for me. That old tree hanging over the Thames at Cookham, the sun going down as I dry out after a swim with my friends logging on at seven PM. You see - I'm very independent. Not reclusive, but I don't give a fuck about adhering to societal norms. I want to be good to society, but God Save The Queen, Help For Heroes, Clap on your Step for NHS workers? I'll buy anybody a pint, but not to hide in a herd. Anyway - join in at Arf7 Quiz on facebook if I am still doing them in 2024. Enough Already
The vast majority of the rest were SpeedQuizzes 19 of them I would not want to go back to, all things being equal (Click on the map and look for 'meh!'). 17 of them I considered 'OK'. 27 I would 'Recommend', 191 'Highly Recommend' I added a new category during the year which subsequently recognised 30 as being 'Most Excellent'. Then the 12 'Quizzes of the Month'
So. Here we go again, in chronlogical order:
Well, what can I say? There is nothing like bribery to get you quiz of the month. Dylan was so welcoming and purely poured me a pint of Budvar in the loveliest welcome. I do like that dude. And it's definitely busier. :). It has to be QOTM. It's the last day, going into the last round I don't care if I lose. Cake mix done perfectly. 25 teams. Half price Pizzas. 4/1 6/3 10/1... Fingers crossed. IT DOESN'T MATTER. And let's face it. Bingo doesn't help the quiz and music is OK but not a deal breaker at all. So.. I'm not even looking back on a January which got better as the days got longer. This gets it. The cake mix. I don't need to pick out negative stuff - Dylan is 19 and is developing, and he will get better and better. I really hope my family will all come here again. The prizage is just immense.
Everything about this pub and quiz was right. The staff were welcoming, but naturally so, not just toothpasty smiles and 'have a nice day', but genuinely super attentive, efficient, helpful, and .. OMG I'm a sucker for attention and a smile! She remembered me from last July! HOW? :) Charlie the host is the Wizard of the cake mix. He takes the ingredients, sprinkles a bit of sugar and lemon zest on top and turns a great product into something even better, with Speed bonuses on the mark, and ZERO feckaboutery. He is clear, and like the staff, makes one feel absolutely welcome (And I know he looks at Grom and me and thinks it's a done deal) (He was kind of right, it suited us down to the ground). Absolute template. Great screenage all over the pub and scores and system on the devices. 23 teams in a single space making outstanding' performances less probable. Like the other Box in the Town centre, the prizes are pretty amazing, 24 beers at least and we lucked out on the £50 bar tab). I hope this is Quiz of the month. I hope all pub mangers etc. come and watch this and realise "This is how it's done". (Small Print: A fast track up to Q 15, last round might be good for business if a team is running away with it)
This is, as of today, the most unusual quiz I am trying to describe, of 800 on the list with perhaps 600 reviews; most positive, all written as a participant, but today I was an observer, taking no part at all in the quiz, just enjoying proceedings until I stood up at the end as a guest 'Chaser' and took a shot at two minutes questions (and lost! Hooray, that was a good thing. Not by much, it was exciting). So - to list the aspects. John the host is as enthusiastic as any. He was articulate and visibly dynamic, skipping around the pub, between every question, dressed for the occasion, and Yodaing his apprentice on the tech (He must have found that frustrating, but it was, in retrospect, funny, and by and large went very well). He would basically have a grid of 25 questions of graded difficulty, with 5 different topics, which people would choose. The winners/ runners up of each grid would take turns to play a game, these included The Cube, Family Fortunes, The Price is Right, god knows what else. I only emphasise there was a torrent of gifts, most of them pretty bloody decent. So - not the quiz I have most enjoyed, I wasn't playing (although I did love my little Chase at the end), BUT (and everything before the but is horsehit) this is the quiz I think I would most like to participate in, especially with a friend. Damn, £200 and a 42" brand new TV for first and second, 125 Buzz in questions??? She-it the more I think about it.. Content, Delivery, Enthusiasm, Originality, Prizes, (all on a Saturday night in a Greene King) This has to be a no-brainer. On reflection this has been a shit month for weather (wettest for decades) but a brilliant month for quizzes, with 24 out of 30 Highly Recommended. 3 of those simply were not on. Many of them could have been quiz of the month quite easily in other months. But this gets it. Wow factor.
It is genuinely exciting writing about something as good as this, and pondering... What makes it so good. Well everything for a start, but the jewel in the crown had to be Adam, the manager of the bar and host for the quiz who, along with his man DJ Brad high in the pulpit (Yes, literally) uses the space in this big old church with his clipboard and suit to deliver as interactive a quiz as I can imagine. Now. The fact is, I started with a Moretti, hardly touched it but fairly quickly had been awarded a long island iced tea and a chilli shot and caved in to alcohol, but that only filtered my perceptions. 6 rounds, including two sensible music with dream scoring of 20/20 sliding all the way through (The last round was evil with compulsory presses). What this triggered me to do was go pretty much balls out, which is sooo much more enjoyable than backing off in a pub like last night in Worcester. The content was original, again, that makes a quiz even more rewarding, and then perhaps the most beautiful round of quiz ever, all famous paintings, all multiple choice. Wheel of fortune for random prizes, absolutely delightful staff, decent competition, brilliant vibe. Free to enter and a £50 cash prize? Jeepers. I just thought. One of the pictures in the quiz was The Creation of Adam, which not only took me back to the floor of the Sistine Chapel, and Arrested Development, but gave me a strapline for what should be quiz of the month and could be quiz of the year. The Creation of Adam! I would have loved to have seen the scores
So far so beautiful. £3.50 a pint, lovely host and crowd, 30 questions to kick off, Friday night, idyllic setting, a few miles off Cannock Chase on the edge of Stafford. This is what I love quizzes for. I wonder if I get angrier playing with other people cos I beat myself up, or the host for perceived mishtakes. Damn it all - I wrote an extraordinarily hagiography about this place, The host, the sound, the structure, Les, James, Pam, Mmmmawhatts, how people were so welcoming and it was a local club for local people with a great big welcome mat, and it has all disappeared. :(. So unless this guitar shop I'm sat in in Cannock does it, this is Quiz of the Month for May 2023. Bloody hard lines for Rich Howson and Chris Roberts, who would have won many a month. Show us the scores!
I'm not going to read my previous review before I write this. I can almost guarantee it says that this quiz is the complete package, for a quiz person or a passing thruer. What the heck can I say. Make it twice as long, put on free beer, coke and hookers? Nah. Great Quiz, Great Prizes, Great bloke. Three weeks later.. working out my quiz of the month for June. Broke my heart not to give it to Duncan in Hyde, Luke in Harrogate, Linford in York, or Rich in Wetherby, all of them just lay it out there to savour. But when I narrowed it down, this one made me happy to recognize, encapsulating the quiz package. All those will get a QOTM if I live long enough, and so many quizzes this month are an absolute credit to the buisiness. I am nervous because Dave has been so nice to me I feel I might have been seduced. In a way this has made me more analytical, ensuring I am taking the right measures. I can't hang this any other way. A Quiz!!!
Please, please, please be quiz of the month! Richard is lovely, and as for the Cannon and Ball song! I've had a rotten day, a rotten 4 years, and a seemingly wasted life. But I haven't wasted it. It's just people make me feel I have. But music is ace.This is going to veer away from a quiz review, into a place review, and then into a life in general reflection. First the quiz: 36 hours later things never shine quite as brightly as did at first sight. We can always say "Oh I just loved Wicked, it's my favourite" - we 'know' something was wonderful but it becomes a stored memory, recycled for reference. This is why live shows with a friend are better than cinema films are better than TV replays of the same thing. The moment, the thrill of the moment. I am sure that Richard, an absolutely seasoned pro who right from the get go welcomed ME, put as much effort into looking after his 20 or so friends and myself tonight as he would have done on an opening night of Starlight Express; the mark of a man IMHO. Now, before I go further, how do I describe Adam? I don't know for sure, because you never really can tell who does what apart from what you see on stage. But I am going to take a guess. I fecking hate Wind Beneath My Wings so that analogy is ditched. I thought of Richard being the painting and Adam being the canvas - but that is far to blunt, after all, though a canvas is critical, it is easily replicated at the outset of a project. Then I thought of Peter Taylor and Brian Clough. Oh yeah! I am not going to elaborate further, if you don't know, look it up. I really hope to see Adam again. There were perhaps 60 questions (I think the shittiest ones may have been edited out). 4/2 or some variation thereof, with evil mode on the last round. The sound was great, the room was self contained. The host was competent. The teams were great. WTF else do you want? I am only just realising how hosts 'get it'. Feckaboutery is just ace when it is conducted in an inclusive and overt style, wearing itself as a badge of honour to the delight of all. I'm not going to go into the intricacies of the games, just rest assured they were FUN and FAIR (enough :) !!)This shows what can be done. The prize was a drink - and yay to that. When you go for a meal, you don't judge it on what's in the doggy bag. That is how it should be. Preparation and presentation. I love these guys.Now - that drink (a pint of bitter) had a profound effect on my evening, but that is part of another story. That the manageress of the venue was instructed by her nan to be mean spirited may not have been her fault. That she felt compelled to fabricate lies, was a trainee police officer, and watched while a gang of drunken thugs did her dirty work was. Life can be shit. Some people make it so. Richard and Adam contributed to creativity and cooperation, doing their darnedest to celebrate and improve humanity. The Langley Hall Social Club wasn't, and didn't.
There is a difference between bent and straight. Now, perfectly straight is practically impossible except as a mathematical concept. Likewise perfect integrity IMHO, cannot exist within humans. 'Lying' can make very good sense, from not just a pragmatic, but significantly from a moral standpoint also. There is a whole grey area of continuous change of shade that we inhabit when it comes to doing the right thing. Last night's quiz in Tantobie was not evil! It was a great exemplar of the hosts doing something they thought was right, but wasn't. It had more costs than benefits. It was bent, and they had not even recognised that. How refreshing tonight's quiz was, to have 60 questions, one speed point per person (17 in this case, I'm the only other host I know that employs that simple , consistent, algorithm), evil mode last round, bada bing, bada boom. Done deal. A joy. Now the prizes - £50, and I think £20 and £10 for silver and bronze (Adam told me that generosity was a holiday special, normally nearer £30 in total). That is up there with the Hedley Verity BUT it was only a pound per person to enter, which probably makes it the best reward ratio of any of the hundreds of paid quizzes I've been too. Adam was clear, his timing was on the money, he was engaging without a hint of hyperbole. The pub was a local pub for local people but the competition was good, and the atmosphere what a pub atmosphere should be - sociable, fun, communicative. Given it is a mile from the Durham coast doesn't do any harm. Even the lad behind the bar emulated the welcoming of the publicans with a 'well done' at the end of the night after they had filled my water bottle. £3 and a bit for a pint. It is only as I sit reviewing each aspect of last night that I realise it was near perfect. Who knows exactly what the right formula is. This month I have seen Owen Andrew and the imperious Marc Coates, but they already have a quiz of the month. I've had a few bummers this last couple of weeks. But this restored my appetite and has to be in contention. And fundamentally, all it was, once the basics had been covered, was STRAIGHT.
How to run a pub quiz with a great app, a bit of charisma, and without breaking your own, or more importantly, anybody else's balls. Starting just about on time (we'll give anybody 20 minutes), scores on handsets, updates at the end of each round, sensible music (starting in the 70s then two from each decade), no feckaboutery ('Evil' mode is NOT feckaboutery, it is the same for everyone and totally non-discriminatory), good prizes, a nice little 'write a joke' game for a break and shots, good timing on questions, rounds, and breaks (what is good timing on a break? Perhaps 5 -15 minutes). Tonight's quiz was a £50 voucher; last Friday in Kilmarnock was £30, £20 and £10 vouchers - not far off the same. Kilmarnock was free, this was a pound a person. So really the only difference, bar the pound (which went to a jackpot anyways) was handset scores, scoreage and score-checks. That's enough to make the difference, and why I have added 'Most Excellent' to my ratings. Apart from the quiz, this was a super pub, very easy to get too and park within a couple of 100 yards, and all in all nigh on exactly what one would go out for, most especially if you like a quiz. (That was reflected in that there were some VERY good teams playing who I think I managed to spook, despite low speed to answer points ratios). Most Excellent!!
At last. I have been saving writing this glowing review all morning, saving the best 'till last, as it twere. What is so good about Richard's quizzes? Allow me to make a list, as much for my own benefit as anything else. Now, please, bear in mind a lot of the stuff Richard does would be negative in other people's quizzes, but with Richard they are all done to one goal. Giving everybody hope WITHOUT stymieing the best team(s). Questions: General - Richard curates the SpeedQuizzing sets into groups of 25, tailoring an already good set into something better, and in keeping with his groove Questions: Music - An excellent music set from the 60s to now, with simple but effective name the artist/group/TV Program/original artist - stuff to get you banging your head! Questions: Nearest wins - Richard does 12 nearest wins questions, 4 each at the end of the first three rounds worth 100 points each. That is brave, but, I hate to say, fair Fast Tracks: TO THE END!!! - NO!!! I can't believe I'm endorsing this :) . And yet Richard makes sure that the last few questions are proper quiz questions, not SpeedQuizzing giggly questions, but questions with heft that demand knowledge and strategy rather than guesswork and luck, the last one being a complex but not impossible order question. Scorage: Ridiculously generous - and WTF not? You could divide everything by ten and it would look like an average quiz, but with his insane bonuses for being first it's a battlefield where the only thing to do is shoot first and ask questions later The pub, beer, location, food, staff and customers are all on the money League: I am going to break the habit of a lifetime and come back here next week and the week after that. Why? Because he keeps a league table going for five sessions. Why doesn't everybody do that Richard: Far too sweary, his mum and dad come along, he has introduced ridiculous systems of scoring coupled with gross feckaboutery and do you know what? It's all GOOD, and I think that is down to Richard's transparent good nature, sense of adventure, love and ability of quiz, passion for subjects and borderline fuck the world attitude. Which I am in awe of. He has taught me more about appreciation of different quizzes than anyone. If I could afford it I'd retire to somewhere between Wetherby and here so I could feast on Richard's quizzes in my dotage. Brilliant.
It has been eighteen hours since I finished this quiz, and my mind has been largely occupied with what to write. I still struggle. A thousand mile walk starts with a small step. I have been to some fecking terrific nights, not but not one of the hosts, with their justifiable egos could possibly begrudge the village of Barrow in Suffolk this Quiz Of The Year. I feel sad that I can't give away 365 quizzes of the year, but I can't, and in this case it is not particularly difficult. Considering how good many of these things are, I wish to emphasise how outstanding this was. Why? Because in every aspect it was top of the class - straight As, and more besides
This quiz kinda was.
Rich Howson was my Quiz of The Month for October. Now that was for Cromwell's in Collingham a couple of miles down the road. So this one is not stymied. Unlike The Hedley Verity pub which won back last year, and my code says can't win twice. I am reluctant to give the same host two wins. But for structure, friendliness, edge, content, and turning feckaboutery into an art form Rich is the first host I have recognised as being worthy of a second nod. So here it is.
So once again I would suggest that this particular pyramid has a very broad base. Trust me, if you only see Sam Gandy twice in a year of 300 and odd quizzes, you must be spoilt for choice. My biggest fear is that I have not afforded due praise to many of the hosts on that map
On a re-read I am concluding that the two most outstanding quizzes for me were both one offs, where John Lowe set up his Games Show Night at The Nags Head in Crosby in March and Barrow Village Hall in November. If some promoter asked me to suggest a really special quiz night I'd say "Here is a list of 100, but if you pay him enough and give him free rein, ask John to put on his Games Show night". But it's not you bud. :(
Gary Woodland from Bury St Edmonds, you are so lucky to have that weight of dedication and loyalty, organisation and hard work behind you. I saw your quiz in November as truly a team effort, with a heap of people, especially Sarah, who must be part of this recognition, perhaps the main part. I do know that we were all lucky to have you, Gary, play the straightest bat imaginable. A perfect innings. One-off
But what's this?? An astute observer might say it is unfair to give Quiz of The Year to a single one-off event where every business for 35 miles around Buttfuck Suffolk has been shamed into giving away a tonne of prizes and any villager which had not got stuck in would have been hung for a witch. You are right. It is unreflective of those hosts who work week in week out providing entertainment for folk and profits for pubs. So I AM going to go all Golden Globes and tell you about the quiz that is on every week that would be first on my list. And it is not even on my Quiz Of The Month 2023 list. Christ - it must be good!!
It would be also be unfair to preclude a quiz from being quiz of the year by virtue of their pub being denied consideration because it has been a QOTM in a different year. So it is permitted. by order of the Committeee.
Most pubs I visit once. There is a pub I have been too twelve times in 2023.
Thanks to Alan Leach and the crowd at York for the product.
You are all winners