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A Question of Sorts (or The Trouble with Quizzes) March 3, 2006

Posted by boltzmann in Uncategorized.

Tonight the Troupe of Steel ventured forth once more to UCL, where they participated in the quiz. I’m not a great fan of this quiz. I’d love to organise a better one at King’s, but I know that the union would start sticking so much red tape all over the place that it just wouldn’t be worth it.

Here’s the format of the UCL quiz, based upon the two (very similar indeed) times I have participated.

1. Quizmaster goes around the tables handing out the picture/anagram round, played throughout the whole quiz. This round consists of two “odd one out” questions, one showing four celebrity faces and the other four film posters. Both “odd one out” questions have big clues provided. Also a selection of anagrams of the form: TV star, film star, singer, film, Tube station, fictional character.

The quizmaster also hands out the answer sheets for the four remaining rounds.

The other rounds consist of nine questions and a bonus question worth a maximum of two points. All four bonus questions are about well-known celebrities – you have to guess which celebrity it is after four or fewer clues, with each additional clue after the first reducing the bonus value of the question by half a point.

Rest of this enormous review after the More… and a prizeless competition as well.

Each team is assigned a team number. Team names are not used in this quiz: everyone knows that half the fun of quizzes is that you can give your team an amusing name (or a name that’s only amusing to your team thus making you seem like an elitist clique).

2. Round One: Miscellaneous. This is the general knowledge (ie. most enjoyable) round – as it’s not all about entertainment. I know it’s a student quiz but, for the love of God, give us some more exciting questions! Look at University Challenge for inspiration: there’s a hint. Questions include “what letter is to the right of Y on a standard keyboard?” (answer is E flat … only joking) and “Which element has atomic number 1?”. Yes, this round also includes questions about entertainment. Bonus answer: Will Young (quiz master reckoned he’d lost Pop Idol to G Gates, and was swiftly corrected by another team!)

2b. Long break while the quiz master marks the previous round. This took place after every round. Quiz could have flowed much more smoothly, with more (hence more varied) rounds, if he’d had someone to help him mark the questions while he read out the next set.

2c. Answers to this round read out. No indication of teams’ progress given until final results.

3. Round Two: Millionaire. Multiple choice questions. Some could have been guessed just by looking at the other available answers! Some couldn’t though. I’ll run this as a little competition. Bonus answer was George Clooney.

Guess the question and answer from the following possible answers:
Alexander Graham Bell, John Logie Baird, Marconi, Sir William Television
Tin, Aluminium, Zinc, Silver
Cheese, Eggs, Spinach, Fish

4. Round Three: Sound Round. Clips of songs, some obscure, some not, were played. One of them was Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive”. I can’t remember many of the others. Yes, there has to be a music round in any given quiz but not one that constitutes as much as a fifth of the entire quiz. They could have given a set of sound clips and a series of actual questions as well. Bonus answer: Angelina Jolie.

5. Round Four: Entertainment. Yes, an entertainment round in an entertainment quiz!! This speaks for itself. However this was the so-called “joker round”. Most quizzes incorporate a joker round, whereby a team can “play their joker” on one round of their choice before its questions are asked, in order to double their (hopefully good) score for that round. In this case, everyone received double points for this round. I don’t know why at all.

6. Finally, the answers to round four and the picture/anagram round are read out. Notably, one of the anagrams was actually mis-spelt: “Rachel Weiss” should have been “Rachel Weisz“. (n.b. Wikipedia redirects to the correct spelling automatically.) I was absolutely adamant that the Z-spelling was correct, but absolutely nobody believed me, and so in the process I made two £1 bets. I suppose that if I’d tried to up the stakes, they would have just believed me instead and I wouldn’t have won anything.

The final results were read out in team order, eg. “Team 1: 34 points. Team 2: 20 points …” instead of in reverse score order as would have been more sensible. Nobody except first and second places knew where they finished. We got 35 points; the winners got 56. Out of what, I don’t know.

Anyway, here is my list of improvements.

– Blackboard or computer with projector. This will show all the teams and their scores including running totals. It will also show team names, which also have to be implemented.
– Simultaneous scoring and question-asking: by having someone else score the rounds while the quizmaster reads out the next set of questions.
– MORE ROUNDS. Rounds could be asked in groups of two to allow for breaks in which drinks could be bought, and to prevent the quiz from becoming a constant barrage of questions. Round number could be increased to 8 comfortably, I reckon.
– More varied rounds. Add Sports and Leisure (no obscure questions about the Commonwealth Games in 1983 though, thanks), Science and Nature, Geography, and other rounds.
– Fewer entertainment questions. Or the same number of entertainment questions, plus many more non-entertainment questions.
– Mixed questions/song clips sound-round.
– Fewer clues on the Odd Ones Out.
– More anagrams? Most people got all or almost all of these right.
– “Proper” picture round instead of just a couple of Odd One Out rounds which could have been asked with words anyway.

That’s enough. I’m going to bed!



1. Neil - March 3, 2006

I suggest you stay there for a good long while …

2. Anthony (Underground Masker) - March 3, 2006

Come on, Neil. I know you like quizzes and I know you like ranting about things. Wouldn’t this quiz positively infuriate you?!

3. Neil - March 6, 2006


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