Everyone loves a good pub quiz – down at your favourite local with a bunch of mates trying to win the big money prize (or the big beer prize depending on the quality of the establishment). But have you ever given any thought to the tradition of pub quizzing and gaming?

The exact origins of the pub quiz as we know it today have been lost in the midst of time (well, pre 70s anyway as that’s when they first became common). But bar billiards, dominoes, cards and other games have long been a tradition in our English public houses and it’s likely that the pub quiz originates from those kinds of pub games.

In 2009 a study showed that there were roughly 22,445 pub quizzes every week in the UK and around 2,000 in the US. Pub quizzes vary, of course, although the aim of a team winning an overall prize is always the main thrust.

…answering questions that have been carefully constructed around a specific theme…

Usually teams are restricted to a certain number per team, they each pay a couple of quid to go in the prize pot and then submit their (usually hilarious) names to the quiz host. Depending on the professionalism of your pub quiz, you could find yourself answering questions that have been carefully constructed around a specific theme, or, as is far more likely these days, been selected from a random pub quiz generator online.

Normal rounds will cover celebrities, sport, trivia, general knowledge, picture rounds and then, everyone’s favourite, the music round. Sadly the music round often hinges on the quiz master’s personal taste so it’s a lucky dip for contestants as to whether they’re au fait with that particular genre! But it’s the randomness that makes the quizzes exciting to be part of, and it’s what gets teams coming back week after week.

…they all look very earnest…

Most pubs have a couple of teams who are almost professional (or actually professional) in their quizzing. You can usually spot them because they all look very earnest, only ever whisper their answers, never get drunk and spend a lot of time writing things down. They also usually win, week in and week out, barring the occasional upset.

It’s pretty common to be asked to choose a ‘joker’ round, which doubles the points on the given category. Of course, teams choose these before the game starts and it can often make or break the winning team.

…cheating has become more and more widespread…

The usual formula, particularly when it comes to a cash prize, is for a member of the winning team to go up to the quiz master and answer a final question. If they get it right their team wins the cash, if they get it wrong the money rolls over to the next week.

Over recent years, cheating has become more and more widespread with the prevalence of internet smartphones, although texting has created quite a few cheaters during the years before free WiFi and 3G even existed. Most pubs will attempt to ban the use of mobile phones but with a busy pub and big teams it’s pretty much impossible to be sure.

…no possibility of cheating…

Technology has, of course, given some options to combat this, including using wireless handsets instead of pen and paper. These send the answers to a computer which exports the results at the end of the quiz. This is also the idea behind the SpeedQuizzing app, which converts smartphones and tablets into a way of recording answers, with absolutely no possibility of cheating. These methods also open up gameplay to timed rounds and buzzer rounds and give an experience of a new pub quiz. Definitely worth trying out if a pub near you uses the app or a handset.

About The Author

PR & Marketing Manager

I'm the Editor of MouthLondon, with a specific control over our Online features and implementation. As a Film graduate with a particular interest in Scriptwriting, Production and Cinema, I enjoy making films with plans to make it my full time job.

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