Garbage in, garbage out

For the last several weeks I’ve been doing the quiz at the Fleur. I’ve been a core member (read: turned up all the time) of one particular team, and we’ve won 4.5 times. I can tell as the prize is two bottles of wine per win and I have nine bottles in my flat waiting for a team get-together.

The quiz has varied from ramshackle to pretty good. The very first question on the first week was broken. We had to identify a monarch from a photo, and we put Edward VII – which was correct – only to be told that it was a picture of George V. The questionmaster had a bit of a strop when we all told him he was wrong. Never mind, all a bit of fun, etc.

If you remember, the Railway Vue’s quiz had a jackpot round to encourage people to return: a cash prize that increased every week it wasn’t won. The Fleur has had a similar round: before week 1 the questionmaster chose a secret number between 1 and 1000, and each week each team had one (private) guess, to which the questionmaster or designated holder of the secret (privately) replied ‘higher’ or ‘lower’. At some point a team would binary chop its way to the correct answer and win the sum of all entry fees since the quiz began.

The secret number round survived two changes of questionmaster, and we were assured that all our previous guesses were still valid: the secret number hadn’t changed.

The “last quiz of the season” was held on Wednesday evening. By “of the season” I’m pretty sure they mean “of all time” since they’re more interested in serving food these days. The pub also declared that the secret number prize must be won that night: whoever was nearest with their guess would get the pot.

From the answers given to us over the weeks we had four numbers to choose from: our range was 315-320, exclusive. One other team, who we’ll call team B, we also believed to be very close as they’d turned up every week too.

Our guess was 317.

In the quiz itself, we drew with team B. It was a moral victory for us as we had fewer team members and we’d have won outright if only the team’s scribe, who had been banging on all night about how he thought the answer to one question was Mariah Carey, had actually bothered to write Mariah Carey in the blank space rather than witter on about it.

The questionmaster then declared the results of the secret number round. The winners were, he said, team B. Their guess of 327 was closest to the actual number, 369.

Feathers began to be spat. I objected, pointing out that we’d been told the number was less than 320. The questionmaster was embarrassed. We spoke to team B; they’d had a range 320-330. So they’d been misled too. Luckily for them, they were misled closer to the correct answer than we were.

The pub’s owners were on holiday, and the bar staff hadn’t been involved. The questionmaster hadn’t given out the ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ answers, one of the owners apparently had. Team B were happy to take the prize – which, we barely noted in the kerfuffle, was magically now to be split between the winning team and charity.

We had a moan. I said that I’d kept all our previous guesses (Ha! Hoarding vindicated!) and could prove that we’d been diverted from the correct answer. Brendan behind the bar, bless him, spoke to the owners on holiday and they said that if I brought the proof in we’d receive the equivalent prize, which I’m assuming is the same amount of cash but who knows.

I’ve just popped down to the pub to drop off the papers with our previous guesses, “320 – lower” clearly visible. We’ll see what happens next.

And the moral of this story is: there’s no such thing as only a pub quiz.

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