The Pub Quiz
A pub quiz is a quiz held in a pub or bar. These events are also
called quiz nights or trivia nights and may be held in other
settings. Pub quizzes may attract customers to a pub who are not
found there on other days. The pub quiz is a modern example of a pub
game. Though different pub quizzes can cover a range of formats and
topics, they have many features in common.
The pub quiz was developed in the late 1970s and turned into a
national institution comprising upwards of 10,000 teams competing
weekly in their pub leagues and knock-outs.
A 2009 study put the number of regular weekly pub quizzes in the UK
at 22,445 and one website has counted approximately 2,000 regular
weekly quizzes in the United States.
Pub quizzes are often weekly; fortnightly or monthly and held,
usually in the evening.
While specific formats vary, most pub quizzes depend on answers
being written by those taking part. A quizmaster will normally read
out the questions, although some prefer to print out the questions
for each team.
Generally someone (either one of the bar staff or the person running
the quiz) will come around with pens and quiz papers, which may
contain questions or may just be blank sheets for writing the
answers on. A mixture of both is common, in which case often only
the blank sheet is to be handed in. Traditionally a member of the
team hands the answers in for adjudication to the quiz master or to
the next team along for marking when the answers are called.
It is up to the quizzers to form teams, which are generally based on
tables, though if one table has a large group around it they may
decide to split up. Some pubs insist on a maximum team size (usually
between six and ten). The team members decide on a team name, often
a supposedly humorous phrase or pun, which must be written on all
papers handed in.
People sometimes have to pay a small contribution to participate. This is often pooled to provide prize money. Many pub
quizzes require no payment at all, as the event is simply a way to
get paying customers into the venue, typically on less busy nights
of the week. A football sweep card can be sold or a raffle to raise
The person asking the questions is known as the quizmaster.
Quizmasters also mark and score answers submitted by teams, although
formats exist where teams will mark each other's answer sheets.
The questions may be set by the bar staff or landlord, taken from a
quiz book, bought from a specialist trivia company, or be set by
volunteers from amongst the contestants. In the latter case, the
quiz setter may be remunerated with drinks or a small amount of
money. More commonly, quizzes are taken from websites these days.
Websites such as
www.ukpubquiz.com or the very popular
www.quiz4free.com are in
great demand for pub quizzes.
Sometimes questions lead to controversies when the answers are false
or unverifiable. In addition, as the quizzes are not formal affairs,
slight errors in wording may lead to confusion. The above mentioned
websites always advocate checking your questions and answers
beforehand. Take ten minutes whilst preparing your quiz, the check
them, which is easy to do these days using the Internet. Quizmasters
should politely tell the players before the quiz starts "If a
question and or answer is wrong, then it is wrong for everyone, so
no one suffers. The quizmasters verdict will prevail". This should
reduce any conflict.
There may be between one and more than half a dozen rounds of
questions, totalling anything from 10 to upwards of 80 questions.
Rounds may include the following kinds (most common first):
Factual rounds - these are usually spoken, either over a public
address system or just called out. Common topics include: General
knowledge - covering the topics listed below (if they are not in a
separate round) and also topics such as history, geography and
science and nature. There may well be more than one of these rounds.
Sport - comprising the statistics and minutiae of popular,
well-known sports and general facts about others.
Entertainment - movies, TV shows and music (see also below).
True or False - questions to which the answer is True or False.
Picture round - these use photocopied or computer-printed hand-outs
and consist of pictures to be identified, such as photos of famous
people (possibly snapped out of context, or else partially obscured)
or logos of companies (without tell-tale lettering), famous places
or objects pictured from a strange angle.
Who Am I? - A series of clues to the identity of a famous person (or
thing). Clues are given in order of descending difficulty. The
earlier a team can identify the correct answer, the more points they
Music round - these consist of excerpts (often only the intro or
other non-vocal segment) of songs played over the PA system. Usually
the teams must identify the song and also the singer or band
(sometimes the year the song was released is also required).
Variations include the inclusion of film soundtracks and TV theme
tunes (requiring the title), and/or classical music (also requiring
Puzzle rounds - generally on a hand-out sheet. These may consist of
crossword puzzles, anagrams, Ditloids, Dingbats and basic
Novelty rounds - themed round a specific word or name (e.g. all the
questions relate to a famous Norman) 'connections', where the last
answer in the round provides a link to all the previous answers;
true or false; and various others to break up the general stream of
In some quizzes teams are able to select one or two rounds as
"jokers", in which their points will be doubled (or otherwise
multiplied). Teams usually select their joker rounds before the
start of the quiz, although some rounds may be excluded. Teams who
consider themselves to be particularly strong on certain subjects
can improve their chances with a good joker round, but risk wasting
the joker if the questions are unexpectedly difficult. The idea of
using a joker in a game may come from the BBC television programme
It's a Knockout.
Some quizzes include a bonus question, in which a single answer is
required with one or more clues given each round making the answer
progressively easier to solve. In some variants, the first team to
hand in the correct answer wins either a spot prize or additional
points to their total score. In others, the questions continue until
all teams have the correct answer with each team been given
progressively fewer additional points the longer it takes them to
submit the correct answer.
Some quizzes add a small, separate round of questions to the end of
a regular quiz, with the chance to win a jackpot. Each week an
amount of money is added to the jackpot, and if no team answers the
questions correctly, the money rolls over to the next quiz. The
maximum amount of the jackpot may be limited by local gaming
Cash jackpots may be won by a variety of methods including one-off
questions and dance-offs.
In some cases, the papers are marked by the bar staff.
Alternatively, teams may have to mark their own answers and the
handed-in papers are consulted only to check that prize claimants
have not cheated by altering their answers. Another method is to
have teams swap papers before marking, though this can be divisive.
One or two points are scored for each correct answer; some quizzes
allow half marks for "nearly right" answers (such as a celebrity's
surname when their full name was required). In some quizzes, certain
questions score higher marks, particularly if they are unusually
With the mass use of mobile phones and mobile internet access,
cheating has become a problem for some pub quizzes, with covert
calls and texts made in the toilets, recent newspapers and magazines
brought along especially for the event, ringers and so on. Though a
maximum number of members set for teams may help to prevent large
numbers of people collaborating, groups posing as several distinct
teams are quite common. Some quizzes now ban the use of mobiles
and nullify the score of any team found to be cheating. Though
more prevalent where large sums of money are at stake, cheating can
be observed even for relatively low stakes.
Some quizzes also now ban re-entry to the pub after the quiz has
started, in order to prevent team members from using public internet
stations, public telephones and mobile devices out of sight of the
quizmaster. Generally, though, a pub runs its quiz alongside its
normal operation, making such a measure impractical.
Prizes are awarded to the highest scoring team, and often to
runners-up. Prizes are usually one of the following:
alcoholic drinks: a case of beer or some money on a bar tab to spend
at that pub are common.
cash: if money was charged for entry into the quiz, this is often
pooled to form prize money. This may all go to the winning team.
Alternatively, there may be a separate short set of questions or
even a single 'jackpot' question to win the cash; if no team gets
the right answer, the money is typically rolled over, making a
larger prize the next week.
vouchers: such as cinema discount coupons, food discounts, or even
drinks vouchers for use at the bar holding the quiz.
Drink related promotional items from a brewery, such as t-shirts and
beer glasses advertising their products.
miscellaneous or novelty prizes, such as chocolate or cheap toys.
The winning team may get first choice to pick a prize from a range
In Australia, many quiz nights are used to raise funds for sporting,
school and charity groups.
Play fair - Treat the quizmaster fairly (he or she is doing their
best!) And most of all ** Have a Great Night Out **
Thanks to Wikipedia for the gist of this article.