Steve Kidd's Quiz Pages

Speed Quizzing v Written Down Quizzes

The pros and cons of differing quiz formats

If one enjoys pub quizzes, as I very much do, there is a distinct difference between a traditional, 'written down' quiz, using pens and paper, and those quizzes that have adopted digital wireless technology. For the sake of it I will refer the latter as Speed Quizzes much as I would call a vacuum cleaner a Hoover, though SpeedQuizzing is a brand name, and other companies (RedTooth for instance) have a great deal in common. I wish to explain those differences, and the relative merits.


We must accept certain fundamental inevitabilities regarding cheating. It is not do people cheat?, it is how much? Without going into too much detail of the mechanics, it is easy peasy to cheat at written down quizzes. I have played written down quizzes with high ranking officials of quiz leagues who have cheated overtly, (and chastised them for it). It doesn't make them bad, it makes them human. I should not be too precious. I have cheated at written down quizzes with the full cooperation of players who would be regarded as pretty ethical. People cheat at written down quizzes without even realising it. Zipping up your fly and talking about was it Tina Turner or Bonnie Tyler with a fellow competitor after spending a penny is not cheating after all is it? Well.. yes, it is, if the quiz sheets are still on your table unmarked. The larger a team is the greater the probability that one player will sneak a look at google and bask in the perceived admiration of his team mates after delivering the answer which wins them the quiz, ergo, the majority of the team don't even know they have cheated. And we all lack curiosity about things that benefit us in certain circumstances. Let us not forget, good cheating is not systematic, it is selective, judicious, used by competitors in all adversarial pastimes, but very sparingly by the best.

Now. SpeedQuizzing proudly boast No Cheating. Spoiler alert, that is total bollocks! For the first time in this piece I am going to take a guess. I guess that more people attempt to cheat more often in a Speed Quiz than in a written down one. But.. it takes time to cheat. Speed Quizzing can not prevent people cheating, but it reduces their window of opportunity, from Here are your anagrams and pictures and dingbats at 7:30, hand them in at 9:30 (2 hours) to ten seconds. I imagine that cheating in Speed Quizzing is rife, I have witnessed it often, conducted without compunction BUT, it is easier to detect, apparent to other team members, and due to time constraints, has a diminished chance of success. Coupled with bonuses for being fast it means that, without cheating personally, I can win a high proportion of SpeedQuizzes. I cannot win a high proportion of written down quizzes. The best team has a great chance of winning a SpeedQuiz, even ranged against a whole platoon of cheats. The best team is up against it if a pub has just one cheat who is part of a half competent team in a written down quiz.

So, on the issue of reducing the impact of cheating, Speed Quizzing wins hands down, We can all take measures to diminish cheating, in both written down and Speed Quizzing. Speed Quizzing is far more enabling in this objective. Shout out to Alan at SpeedQuizzing - can you reduce that ten seconds? :)


You can ask the same questions, so quality of questions is no different, it depends on the setter, not the format. Speed quizzing can have the advantage of displaying the questions in written format without resorting to printing which, although aesthetically pleasing is kind of wasteful and time consuming. Regarding pictures Speed Quizzing has a definite advantage. Typically a written down quiz may have an A4 sheet with a dozen pictures, each one perhaps an inch square, somewhat grainy. With SpeedQuizzing high quality images can be delivered the size of the handset, be it a mobile phone or an 11 inch tablet. Not wasteful. Better quality. Regarding time, that is governed by the host, and ample opportunity can be afforded players to establish they can't recognise something. If you want to look at a picture for three hours with your mates organise a trip to the Lever Art Gallery at Port Sunlight - it's fekking great (and free!).

Regarding amount of content it is a no brainer - Speed Quizzing wins hands down. The clue is in the name! To be fair, pace is very much in the hands of the host, but SpeedQuizzing makes no demands on repetition, or answer sessions at the end of the night


Yesterday a team only gave us half a point for 'Twilight' instead of 'Twilight Saga'. Whatever. With SpeedQuizzing such ambiguity/pedantry is taken out of the mix. T. One point, no argument


Ye gads, how I disdain that oft trotted out adage it's just a bit of fun, normally used in circumstances when a quiz has ceased to be so (more often than not because that's what's written on the sheet is demonstrable tosh). Nevertheless 'fun' is the most admirable of objectives, dovetailing pretty nicely with selling beer. Speed Quizzing, in itself, is just so much more fun. Think about it, A typical written down quiz will have one instance of a team winning. At the end. A typical SpeedQuiz will have 80 opportunities, when a team's name is announced after each question, emblazoned on all screens - even, nowadays, with their picture. OMG it is just so much more fun. Old conservative farts have been the curse of dynamism and innovation for as long as there has been progress. WE ALL HAVE MOBILE PHONES. I am inherently, a Luddite, nevertheless, Speed quizzing is so much faster (i.e. more bangs for bucks), perhaps less consumptive (no paper), and, most importantly, robust (less cheating) which brings benefits to all, not just the factory owners. It can perform everything that written down quizzes do. And it brings so many more desirable aspects that written down quizzers can only dream of. I will continue to occasionally visit what can be excellent written down quizzes. But they will only reinforce the unerring knowledge that there are better ways of doing things.

Steve Kidd 18/4/23.

I have no vested interest in the company SpeedQuizzing whatsoever. I just love quizzes.