I have been a big fan of pub quiz questions ever since I did my first pub quiz, actually in Dubai, in 1988. I’m not sure when and where pub quizzes started, but it must have been long before that. Some say it was early in the 1970s, others say that they were born after the introduction of the board game Trivial Pursuit in 1979. My guess would be that Trivial Pursuit is what kick-started the blossoming interest in pub quizzes and pub quiz questions.
There are some interesting stats on pub quizzes, albeit based on a survey in 2009, but it seems that then there were just over 22,000 pub quizzes per week (based on data from The Publican trade magazine.) And that’s just in the UK. My local pub is in Spain, and their pub quiz has 70 questions, I assume that’s reasonably representative, so that means every week at least 1.5 MILLION pub quiz questions!
Anyway what makes for the best pub quiz questions? Well it’s not as easy as all that. Clearly they’ve got to be hard enough to make it reasonably challenging, but not so hard that participants are alienated from the quiz. University Challenge type bafflers are no good, but neither is some of the brainless stuff seen on daytime TV.
It also begs the question about what the composition of your quiz team should be. My own view is that you get a mixture between a Venn diagram and Pareto’s Law (the 80/20 rule). In a good pub quiz team of 4 people you should aim for all 4 knowing the answers to at least 60% of the questions. The other 40% of the questions are then spread out amongst the team members, but it will never be evenly. Maybe a quarter of your team (1 person or 25%) will answer 50% of the remaining questions, the other two getting most of the rest.
I remember winning one of the weekly quizzes in Dubai by one point – one member of our team of 4 only got one answer that no one else knew – but that made the difference. The question? “In equestrianism, what is a martingale used for?” We knew she was an expert in this subject, so no problem.
However I strongly believe that the majority of good pub quiz questions should be capable of being answered by a broad cross section of society, and should be almost teasing in their apparent simplicity. I really like ones such as “What is Paul McCartney’s middle name?” Even if you don’t know it, you’ve got a chance of applying some lateral thinking and getting it right.
Anyway this blog will be looking at all sorts of pub quiz questions, but to start with it’ll be the more interesting, eccentric, off the wall ones. The sort that you know you should know, or that you think you should be able to work out.
Please, help me by sending your own in via the comments box at the end of each post. I’d really like this to become the number one blog for pub quiz questions. Thanks.