Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Cove, Redux

Where: The Cove, 3681 West 4th

When: 8pm every Monday

Web Presence:  The facebook group has quiz info and flat out gives away three answers each week, which you'll want to take note of because the corresponding questions are unbelievably difficult.

Registration Fee: Nobody really does these anymore, so from here on assume a quiz is free unless we tell you otherwise

Team Info: No de jure team limit, but the compactness of the venue and corresponding smallness of the furniture will make it tough to get more than six around a single table

Format: Three rounds of 15 questions each

Prizes: Free shots given out for funny answers or creative team names, as adjudged by the host.

No, Hassan, it's poker chips now
The new hosting regime also carries on the "magic keys" prize format, with numbered poker chips substituted for the previous macguffins. After each round, the first, second, and third place teams receive three, two, or one chips, respectively, and the total points winner after all three rounds gets a free pitcher and eight chips. The host then draws a random number, and whichever team holds the chip with that number wins their choice of grand prize: a $50 Cove gift certificate, or the contents of a mystery box.

Food and Drink: Won't thrill you. I also tried a Blood Alley beer which I didn't care for in the least.

This blog reviewed The Cove back in 2012; since then, however, the old Kits watering hole has gone through two changes of hosting duties, so we thought it prudent to give it another go -- especially since Cascade's What the #!*@?'s recent retirement has left a great void on the Monday night quiz calendar.

Reading back over that review, it seems things under the new stewardship are substantially the same as they were then, but there seem to have been a few changes, mostly for the better.

I never tried the Cove quiz under the previous host, but the new emcee tends the helm well. Chris writes the questions himself and his tastes incline somewhat to the geeky; last night we got a point last night for knowing that Peppy's famous exhortation in Star Fox 64 was "Do a barrel roll!" and I'm sure future weeks will have similar such content in store.

As opposed to the previous two freelancers, Chris is an in-house host, doubling as Cove's marketing manager, one especially pleasant consequence of which is that he can give out free drinks essentially whenever he pleases, which is quite often. Come up with a witty joke answer and you've got a very good chance of winning your table a round of shots. And on the subject of complimentary spirits, the night I was there, the quiz was apparently sponsored by Canadian Club who had brought in a pair of Cactus-Club-waitress-types to dole out Dixie-cup-sized samples of their whisky.

As for my nitpicky critique, I'll say this: if you want to hint an answer on facebook, that's OK; give the answer outright, if you must; but something's wrong when the question is so impossible that you could only get it right from being given the answer. For example, who played "Stock Boy" in Home Alone? His subsequent appearance in 1997's Picture Perfect notwithstanding, I'd place Jim Ryan well outside the canon of suitable quiz answers. This goes a bit beyond the pale of rewarding those who follow your social media to additionally punish those who don't. (I also challenge the figure of two-hundred-something total deaths in the Game of Thrones series so far. The Battle on the Blackwater alone claimed several thousand casualties! Did we mean named characters? Please specify next time!)

The more I think about it, the more I like the magic keys prize format. While elite teams are still rewarded for their knowledge, lesser contenders can still compete and have a good chance of taking home the big prize. No more juggernauts running wild week after week. Call it enforced egalitarianism, but this seems like an idea too good to stay confined to one venue -- don't be surprised if every quiz in town is giving out poker chips, keys, ping pong balls, or buttons before long.

Our last reviewer had it about right the last time. This is a strong quiz with a good host, a fun mechanic for giving away the big prize (it was a full-size metal toboggan this week!), and the steady flow of free shots and pitchers are a pleasing addition.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Why you don't ask about city populations

Back on October 16, the fourth and final round at Moose's Down Under consisted of a single question which provided players a list of 10 of the world's great megacities and asked each team to rank them in descending order of population.

I suspect that the question writer believed that the question, which could score anything from 0 to 10 points, would result in a point distribution resembling a normal bell curve. What it produced instead was a mushroom cloud. The approximately 13 teams playing combined for a collective two points.

Fortunately, even an accidental nuclear blast can be a teaching moment, and there are two lessons to be learned in this case: (1) don't ask questions about relative city populations; and (2) don't ask players to compare numbers that are really close to each other.

There are a host of reasons why, which I'll explain below, and demonstrate how Moose's question managed to trip just about all of them, a fact which virtually guaranteed disaster.

1. There are multiple ways to measure the population of a city, and none of them are authoritative or universally accepted

The predominant issue with relative city population ranking is one of definitions. When one talks about the population of a city, does one mean the population that lives only within the municipal city limits? Or should one ignore the imaginary line on Boundary Road and instead regard the city as an organic phenomenon, consisting of anyone who lives within a single socioeconomic aura? An even broader view defines a city as any blob or smear of contiguous urban area, even if it includes separate, non-overlapping auras.

Consider an everyday example that illustrates the problem: if your apartment is in Coquitlam, would you when abroad introduce yourself as a Vancouverite?

Unfortunately, which metric you choose makes a huge difference. According to the metropolitan agglomeration definition, Vancouver boasts over 3 million inhabitants and rounds out the great triumvirate of Canada's big three cities with Toronto and Montreal. If, however, you insist on formal city boundaries, our hometown scarcely clears 600,000 and finishes a mortifying eighth behind an ignoble crop of welterweight contenders including Calgary, Ottawa, and even Winnipeg.

This is by no means an unusual situation. Take a look at this handy table and notice that Tokyo may be the world's biggest city, or, perhaps, only 14th; Istanbul likewise is about 20th by metropolitan standards, but vaults to 2nd biggest by municipal boundaries.

Hence much of the difficulty in Moose's puzzle. Tokyo and Istanbul were both among the cities teams were supposed to consider. Though players had no way to know this at the time, the question writer was operating from the municipal definition, which put the Japanese capital way down near the bottom of the list and old Constantinople near the top.

The lesson here, question writers, is that definition matters. You might attempt to get around this by specifying the metric in play, but this runs the risk of a) confusing players and b) coming off as excessively arbitrary (that is, if a player asks you why only this-or-that definition, what else can you say but "that's the one I chose so the question works," which is not much of an answer).

Therefore I think the better move is to use cities that are so far apart in population that their relative size remains the same in any system or combination of systems. As an easy example, Victoria-Boston-Sao Paulo leaves no room for error. Crafting a less obvious list will be a challenge for the writer, but can probably be done.

2. The margins for error were stupefyingly small

A quantitative look at the cities Moose's included in their question reveals that the differences between the population figures were so razor-thin that even if everyone had known exactly which population measurement was in play, there would not have been much improvement in scores.

I crunched some numbers using this list of municipal populations and discovered that, among the ten cities Moose's players were asked to rank, the average difference between each city and the next largest was only 7 percent, and only exceeded a 10 percent margin in two instances. Mumbai and Moscow, which ranked 4 and 5 on the list, have a difference of only 4 percent; Moscow and Beijing, 5 and 6, are only 2 percent different. The difference between 8th and 9th place was smallest of all: only 1 percent--less than 100,000 people in a total of 9 million--separates Tokyo from Mexico City. This is a small relative difference indeed, and seems even less significant when one considers the error factor built into the measurement, as well as the fact that city populations are changing all the time and at different rates.

Probably no one will disagree that distinguishing two figures with only a four-parts-in-one-hundred difference between them is, in general, too much to ask of players. I'd instead suggest 10 percent as an absolute minimum difference between figures if players are expected to compare them. This is based partly on my intuition and my experience in trivia, but the main reason being (and my apologies to the non-mathematically inclined) that my 10-percent rule means that players need never consider more than two significant figures.

In conclusion, the which-city-is-bigger-than-which question is a risky venture. Players generally don't know which population definition is in effect, which can introduce a kind of unintentional and artificial difficulty to the question.

Furthermore when players are expected to compare two or more numbers, those numbers can be close, but in my view should be different by no less than 10 percent. 

Moose's quiz is a superb one, but their cities question was a definite misfire. Still, it might have been fixed. In the first place, instead of selecting the 10 cities from the top 14, use the top 30 instead. This would both space out the margins between them and lessen the impact of using the wrong definition of city size.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Darby's now running monthly league competition

Darby's pub has introduced a new competition that adds an extra level of excitement to their already excellent product.

Throughout November, the results of each weekly quiz will also count towards a monthly leader board; total points scored carry over from week to week, and the team who tally the most at the end of the month win a spectacular prize pack including Steamworks beer and branded glassware, a Darby's gift certificate, custom printed winners' t-shirts with the team name screened on it, and a grand prize yet to be determined. (The prize has been awarded once already, and it was Whitecaps tickets, so expect something equally big).

Quizmaster Katie plans to repeat the Monthly Cup at least through the winter, and perhaps on indefinitely thereafter. As if you needed another reason to go.

This columnist's only complaint is that I keep declaring this or that pub to have the best prizes in the city, and then another goes one better and makes a liar of me. Truly are we living in a golden age of Vancouver bar trivia!

Darby’s runs every Thursday at the corner of 4th Avenue and Macdonald.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Cascade's What the #!*@? Quiz -- a mainstay of the Vancouver quizzing scene -- coming to an end

Sad tidings indeed from Main Street. Karen, the longtime quizmeister of the Cascade Room, has announced that effective next month, that establishment's venerable quiz will be no more--at least as a regularly-scheduled event. From their official facebook page:

Now for those of you who were not with us last night, an announcement! After more than 5 1/2 years, 165 quizzes and close to $30,000 raised for more than 70 charities, our What the #!*@? Quiz night is coming to an end. Our last quiz will be Monday, November 25th…please come and join us for a fond farewell…I've enjoyed almost every single second of it

I will continue with some special event Quiz Nights as well as Quiz Nights on request so keep in touch! This is not "goodbye"…it's "most likely see you soon". So I'll expect to see lots of familiar faces on the 25th xo k

For those who don't know, Cascade is one of Vancouver's longest-running and greatest pub quizzes. Many Vancouverites first caught the pub trivia bug there, including, I am sure, at least a few individuals who now run quizzes of their own. Yet none of them have ever duplicated the sheer quizzing pleasure of Cascade, which was probably best encapsulated in their famous "what's-in-the-shot" rounds, the likes of which we may never see again.

The continued success of Cascade owes everything to Karen's extraordinary commitment to her craft. Each week (and later, fortnightly, and eventually monthly) she would hammer out a full set of questions, the freshness of which was attested by the habitual inquisitions on the news of the day and other happenings of only a few days' vintage. Her annual Quiz of Champions, an invitational grand prix featuring only winning teams of the past year was yet another (hugely successful) expression of the same--for participants it was nothing less than the Wimbledon of Vancouver quizzery.

True to the progressive ethos of Mount Pleasant, 100 percent of proceeds from the quiz went to a local charity of the players' choosing, a fact which makes abundantly clear that the undertaking was, at bottom, a labour of love and not a mercenary ploy to pump up Tuesday night patronage (though that it certainly did).

After more than a half-decade of unflagging quality, the departure of What the #!*@? is to be sorely lamented. As mentioned above, Cascade's final regular quiz takes place November 25 and is sure to be a night to remember.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Moose's Down Under Trivia

Where: Moose's Down Under, Basement, 830 Pender St. Look for a set of stairs down from street level.

When: 7:00pm Wednesdays. Reservations are required as it fills to capacity

Web presence: Mentions on the restaurant's Facebook page, but no dedicated site

Registration fee: None!

Imagine eating this.
Team info: Strict limit of six to a team

Prizes: The winners receive their choice of Moose's branded swag, or the option to try for a cash jackpot on an ultra-tough final question. 

Format: Four rounds of 10 questions each, with activities between rounds to keep up the energy level. 

Food and drink: is the culinary equivalent of Australian rock.

Britain is usually hailed as the holy land of pub quizzes, but its seems that Australia is no less skilled in the quizzing arts than their former colonial overlords. For proof of this one need look no further than Moose's Down Under, perhaps Vancouver's most thoroughly Australian establishment, whose weekly trivia is also one of the city's most enjoyable.

Held Wednesdays in an ancient lair beneath Pender Street, Moose's quiz packs the catacombs with a suitably callithumpian crowd. So packed is the venue, in fact, that reservations are mandatory; don't make one, don't play.

I recommend you do. For the unbeatable entry fee of zero dollars, you get not only forty big beefy questions, but three intermezzo mini-games, and a customized team nameplate (you make it yourself with house-provided washable markers and 5-by-7 index card).

During my visit, hosting duties went to understudy Rhona, who delivered plenty of energy and humour in the course of what must be one of the greatest all-time understudy fill-ins since Christine Daaé took over for Carlotta at Opéra Garnier. I can't speak to hosting abilities of the usual host, but poor Moose's may have a Luongo-Schneider dilemma on their hands in the near future.

On the subject of music, Moose's forgoes the customary name-that-tune round in favor a straight-ticket of meat-and-potatoes general knowledge questions, which are well conceived, researched, and edited (with one unfortunate exception during my visit; more on that later). They also include two unique house rules that ramp up the excitement levels: first, a majority vote of teams adds four multiple choice options to any question, which boosts scores and encourages comebacks; and second, the winning team has an option to give up their prize for a crack at a cash jackpot on a super-stumper. White knuckle stuff to be sure.

Between rounds, patrons will also enjoy mini-events such as "Porn Star or Pro Wrestler," skittle bowling, and paper airplane contests; the winning team is awarded two extra points and the their choice of a free pitcher or round of shots. This might be a good point to reiterate: there are no entry fees! If the quiz is any indication, Australia must have really bucked that global recession.

Where Moose's falls down a little is speed. The host takes on the burdensome task of marking answer sheets between rounds, which enables a running scoreline but slows things down. As well, the popularity of the quiz creates a snarl in the kitchen that means about half an hour between ordering and food on table. But this is easily mitigated if you check out the menu beforehand and order when you sit down.

Things also went a bit pear-shaped in the final round, which asked players to rank 10 of the 14 largest cities in the world, in order. This proved to be punishingly difficult, with all teams present scoring a collective two points. To her credit, the hostess had the sangfroid to wring some humour out of the fiasco and got a good round of laughs for it.

If you can take transit or otherwise avoid parking, do it. Metered spots around Pender Street go for a usurious $5 per hour, for a total of $15 to park for the duration of the quiz. I found a nearby lot and did a little better, paying $6.50 for overnight, but I sure won't do it again.

So? There is no shortage of quizzes to be found on Wednesday nights, but this one should be your first choice. Solid questions, plenty of entertainment, and a hot crowd hit a triple whammy of excellence that is sure to leave you  thunderstruck.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Relish Pub Tuesday Trivia

Where: Relish GastroPub & Bar, 888 Nelson Street

When: 7:30pm every Tuesday

Registration fee: By donation, suggested fee being a very modest $5 per team. Since proceeds go to charity, I suggest you dig a little deeper, especially since you're going to save some money on drinks (see below).

Team info: Five to a team; each additional player incurs a one point penalty per round. 

Prizes: A princely cache of prizes awaits the top three teams: bronze is worth a round of Fireball shots, runner-up earns a pitcher of Whistler Brewing Company suds, and winners take a pitcher plus a $50 gift certificate.

Format: Three question rounds of ten questions apiece, and two name-that-tune rounds with five songs each. There was a picture round as well, but was not identified as such so I'm not sure if it is a regular feature.

Food and drink: is a tale of two cities. As for food, Relish puts forth a cautious menu that will certainly not offend, but probably not excite. Instead, the drinks are the main attraction, with 18-ounce pints of Whisky Jack Ale to be had for only $3. 

If you love "upscale-casual" dining, dim ambient lighting, decor that aspires to the aesthetic of a night club, and the word "gastropub," you could hardly do better than Vancouver. Over the course of the last 10 years, our fair city seems to have been surreptitiously colonized--Pod-Peopled, if you will--by establishments of this kind, and nowhere more so than the downtown core. (Indeed, a certain Group which we will not mortify by citing here has made these sorts of restaurants their very stock-in-trade.)

Relish ticks a lot of the boxes above, but, to their great credit, their quiz is anything but samey. In fact, Tuesday Trivia must be given serious consideration as one of the best quizzes in Vancouver.

Ultimately the strength of a quiz rests on the quality of the questions, and in this regard Tuesday Trivia is second to none. From start to finish, players are treated to a battery of questions that are thought provoking, original, and inventive. As an example, I might mention one of the tougher ones, which asked "What European language's only contribution to English is the word 'sauna'?" There's a lot to like about this question, not least of all being that it gives knowledgeable players a lot of surface area to attack: linguistically, one would be right in surmising that since it only gives one word to English, it might be a very isolated language; and anthropologically, one would likewise be on the right track in guessing that the speakers particularly enjoy hanging out in steam rooms.

That would indeed be a good sample of the quality of the questions. Even better would be the first round opener, which simply asked "What direction does the Nile River flow?" Yes, of course, it's easy; openers are supposed to be. What I like about it is that even though it is a "giveaway," it is composed so that it still requires a little cognition from the players. Did you really know that the Nile flows North, or did you have to, momentarily, consider its directionality and the positioning of it relative to its receiving body of water (and for that matter, what that receiving body of water is)? By comparison, a lesser quiz might have opted for analytic rather than synthetic thinking, and gotten about the same fraction of correct answers by asking what country the Great Pyramids are in. The difference would be that the Nile question gets players thinking and discussing--in other words, engaging--and the Pyramids question does not.

I could go on, but there are other successes to mention. The tempo between questions, between rounds, and during final score tallying, is right on (you'll be done by 10pm, yet things never feel rushed); the overall difficulty is perfectly calibrated to challenge skill levels from dilettante to genius; and $3 pints speak for themselves.

Evidently they speak to a lot of people, because Relish was already near capacity when I arrived at 7:15 and it was only because a teammate had been there at 5:00pm that I was able to get a seat. Make a reservation or get there extra early lest you risk missing out.

Pressed for a criticism, I would have to concede that the quizmaster, Sean, does a fine job of hosting but doesn't radiate quite the same level of personality as do Eric and Shaun at ANZA or Benji at The Park. That that's the unkindest thing I can say about Relish should say something about how excellent this quiz is.

Closing argument: An unreserved recommendation. Relish's Tuesday Trivia is a sparkling example of quizzing done right. Make way on your calendars for this one.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Samesun Trivia

Where: Samesun Hostel, 1018 Granville Street

When: 9:00pm start time every Thursday. Be careful with parking; a lot of nearby spots become no-stopping taxi zones after 10pm, at which point you will still be quizzing and your car will be towed. 

Web presence: A facebook group with quiz info and a preview of each week's "web question."

Registration fee: Free

Prizes: Each member of the winning team gets two free drink tickets, though they can't be redeemed the same night

Format: Five rounds of 10 questions with no intermission

Food and drink: Fries, burgers, quesadillas, and nachos at prices to fit the backpacker's budget

If your university put on an end-of-semester open air rock concert, you’re already most of the way to experiencing the Samesun quiz: a lopsided and disoriented event packed to the gills with excitable undergrads, best (only?) enjoyed with liberal volumes of alcohol, offering a decent chance of a hookup, and, decidedly, being a less than a cerebral undertaking.

The Samesun Hostel on the Granville strip is the setting for this quiz, which runs every Thursday at 9pm. Given that it takes place in the bar of one of the city’s more popular youth hostels, the crowd is a cosmopolitan melange of young and roisterous backpackers. One benefit of this venue is that even if you can’t find friends to go with you, you can drop in solo and free agent yourself to a table of strangers.

Nevertheless, this one is not for the competitive quizzer. Thunderdome rules apply at all times, permitting oversized teams to compete unpenalized--and often win--and smartphone use to run rampant. The tiebreaker, should two or more teams come in with equal points, is, I kid you not, a boat race. The questions are generally weak, vacillating between bafflingly ambiguous and drop-dead easy. (That said, the waitresses make a circuit of the tables after the first round and will give you a “hint” on one question of your choosing.)

Are there brainy questions? Sure, there are some, though not often, and they have a nasty habit of self-destructing courtesy of the house. One asked what was banned in Mississippi in 1907 and not legalized until 1966. This is pretty good. I myself was mulling several options: interracial marriage and integrated education both, more or less, fit the timeline and locale; so does teaching evolution. Others spring to mind as well. It was here, unfortunately, that the emcee saw fit to neuter the question and declare to the roomful of tippling millennials, “IT’S SOMETHING WE’RE ALL DOING HERE RIGHT NOW.” Oh, well, thanks--points all around then.

That was in round one. The remainder was escalating pandemonium. In round two, the name-that-tune round, six of the ten song clips included the vocalist singing the title of the song. Six. Round three, the “memory round,” featured a raft of questions on an out-of-sync and nigh-inaudible YouTube clip. Round four, the picture round, asked players to identify famous cinematic animals; again, points all around for the giant ape swatting at biplanes from atop the Empire State Building or the extreme close up of the gaping maw of an especially angry looking great white shark.

Rounding things out was the “turbo round,” a ten-pack of true-false questions of doubtful veracity. To give an example: imagine our joy, having three genuine Frenchmen on the team, to be asked whether the average French citizen eats 25 kilograms of snails per year; only a brief tête-à-tête was necessary for them to return an emphatic and unanimous non. Imagine then our surprise to learn that we were “wrong.”

On top of all this, the production is a bit of a mess. The whole thing runs at a sluggish pace, in particular the marking, with about 30 minutes between handing in your answer sheet and the announcing of the scores. Expect to be done no sooner than 11pm, which can be a bit daunting for those with work the next day. The emcee is generally competent, but don’t expect much in the way of amusing badinage or crowd interaction; reading questions aloud is the order of the evening, and even on this there are some stumbles with mispronunciations.

Conclusion: Pub quiz puritans, steer well clear. Head instead to Darby’s quiz, which takes place the same night and is the better product by some distance.

Still, Samesun may have a certain appeal as the head-banging Daytona Beach spring break of the Vancouver quiz scene, and if you can get past the notion that you will probably lose to a visiting cohort of Arizona State sophomores, the cheap drinks and anarchic atmosphere could make for an enjoyable evening.

In fact, the timing makes possible a kind of Thursday night pub quiz golden mile, that might go as follows:

(1) Start at Darby’s at 7pm. For best effect win this quiz and power down your victory pitcher. This usually finishes up about 9pm, at which point...

(2) Pile in a taxi and floor it to Samesun, which begins at 9pm. (If possible, have a confederate be there in advance to snag a table).

(3) Play this one for fun and have lots of drinks.

(4) Ooze out of Samesun around 11pm towards any nearby watering hole to spend the remainder of the evening.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Friday Quiz at the Park at English Bay

Note: the usual blogger is holidaying in Europe. I'm filling in in his absence. So let's kick off with a review of a relative newcomer in the Vancouver quiz scene.

Where: The Park at English Bay, 1755 Davie Street

When: The last Friday of the month, 9:00pm start time, which works out well as it means you beat most of the Davie Street Friday night crowd, and need only pay for an hour at metered spots (of which there should be plenty).

Registration fee: $3 per team member—though this is waived for repeat winners (see below)

Prizes: $100 gift certificate to Zulu Records, and a winner’s token (again, see below)

Format: Eight rounds of 5 questions with halftime break after round four

Food and drink: Usual pub fare. Note for vegetarians: the veggie burger is, nominally, the only veg entre on the menu. It’s juicy, plump, and literally oozing with flavor—in other words, a little too good to be vegetarian. Proceed at your own risk.

Downtown’s trendy Davie Village is the setting for one of Vancouver’s newest pub quizzes, the FRIDAY QUIZ at the Park at English Bay. Despite the name, the quiz is actually a once-monthly event (held the last Friday of the month) at the Best Western Sands’ in-house gastropub. The venue is spacious and nicely appointed, though the spatial layout leaves something to be desired, as some tables have no line-of-sight to the quizmaster.

On that note, the evening is expertly emceed by trans-Atlantic transplant Benji Duke. The sideburned Englander boasts over 600 quizzes worth of hosting experience, which is evident in his entertaining stage banter. The production also benefits from the use of a backing soundtrack of quiz-appropriate tunes such as the theme from Countdown and that BBC News music.

As to the quiz itself, the pacing is good and the questions are fun, original, and, like the Cayman Islands, not too taxing. This brings up the FRIDAY QUIZ’s only possible blemish, which one might characterize as the tendency towards “soft” questions. “Soft” here serves double duty, meaning, at various points, either dead easy or not-quite-factual-enough for quiz material.

Of the first kind, there are a few too many questions of the head-slapping, can’t-miss variety, as well as those that can be pretty effectively “meta-gamed” by canny teams. For example, one question asked “what would kill you first: no sleep or no food and water?” and the answer must be sleep because it’s totally counter-intuitive but just crazy enough to be true. The sleep question also illustrates the second type of “soft” question, as it calls upon chain email folk wisdom (see also: a duck’s quack doesn’t echo, and no one knows why or you eat nine spiders in your sleep every year), rather than hard facts, which is probably best avoided when real prizes are on the line.

Paired with an abundance of multiple choice and true-false questions, the upshot of this pattern is a very easy quiz and not much opportunity for anyone to pull away from the pack. When I attended, only five points separated first from last at halftime in a field of a dozen or so teams, and no team scored lower than 15 out of a possible 20. Of course, this improves the chances that any team, from the half-interested barflies and sloshy cougars to the overeducated hipsters, can win any given night, which can hardly be a bad thing.

Speaking of the winning team, FRIDAY QUIZ’s $100 Zulu Records gift card is, on its own, a strong candidate for the richest prize in all of Vancouver quizdom. On top of that, the winning team also receives a nickel-sized pin as a token of their victory; trade in six of them, and your team is exempted from registration fees—for life.

The top and bottom of it: The FRIDAY QUIZ will make a fine addition to any Vancouver trivia fancier’s quiz calendar, thanks to its cool presentation and glittering cache of prizes. It skews a bit on the easy side, but all the better as a warm up for a Friday night out downtown.

A Challenger Appears!

So, as I said before, I'm on vacation for a while, and won't be reviewing any quizzes in Vancouver. Fortunately for you, I still know people who are. My good friend Mike will be taking the reins as  deputy Quizmaster while I'm away. He should have a review up shortly. Of a new quiz in town? Who knew? I didn't!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Holding Pattern

Hi all,

As you've probably noticed, I haven't posted in some time. The reason for that is that I've gone travelling for a while. As you can imagine, this makes it hard for me to go to pub quizzes in Vancouver - which the attentive reader will recall is the reason for this blog. It does give me a chance to attend new and exotic quizzes, but that is a story for another day (maybe).

I'll probably be back around January or February. Until then I'll gladly update the listings, and keep you informed of any pub quizzes I hear about, but I'll be relying on you, the Vancouver-living public, to let me know what is happening. So, if you've got any quiz-related news or info for me, please send me a message at vancouverpubquiz@gmail. com. I will be as prompt in responding as I can.

IN CONCLUSION: Don't worry, the blog isn't dead, I'm just out of town. I'm sorry if the listings get out of date, it might be a good idea to check with the bars before heading out, if you've never gone.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Bad New, Everyone!

I hate to say I told you so (as some Swedes once mused), but the quiz at the Anza Club is cancelled this month, due to the Canucks playing on the Friday in question. Too bad. Head down to the Storm Crow Tavern on Wednesday to catch the Vancouver Quizmasters in action, if you need to get your fix of Shaun and Eric

Also, The Cascade Room's quiz is now officially a once a month quiz. Look for it the last Monday of every month.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Playoffs, plus quiz news

If you've ever been to a quiz in the last 4 months, there's a pretty decent chance you've run into the phenomenon of quizzing during a Canucks game, and the inconveniences engendered as a result. This town (and author!) loves its (their) Canucks quite a bit. Most of the times, quizzes are squeezed into intermissions, start late, or even get pushed around to another date. In the regular season, there tends to be a little more wiggle room - very few people care about watching the Canucks play a dead rubber against Anaheim or Edmonton at the end of the year.

But now the Canucks are in the playoffs. The bars that have been hosting quiz no longer need to have a quiz to bring in people on game nights. The Canucks are playing San Jose in the first round, so all the games will start at around 7 PM. When the boys are playing, paying hockey fans are going to want to watch pretty much every second of Canucks hockey, which makes quiz nights a little precarious. How are you, the person who just wants to answer questions, but not have to stay out until 11:30 on a Wednesday to do so, going to cope with that? How will your quiz deal with there being an important game every 2 days for the next 2 months?*

Here's my advice: Ask your local trivia night. Give the bar a phone call before heading out, or send the quiz's facebook page a message. It'll save you some trouble. I've asked around at a few places, and here are the responses you are likely to get:
  • Squeezing the quiz in between the periods (Darby's looks to be trying this)
  • Shifting the quiz to the day before/after (Cedar Cottage/Gargoyle's and 131 seem likely to do this)
  • Cancelling the quiz if it falls on a game night
But don't take it from me! Ask your Quizmaster, and see what their plans are!

In non-hockey playoff news:
  • The Cascade Room quiz is back this week! That's tomorrow, so pretty much no one will be informed of this fact, but I'm posting it anyways.
  • New quiz alert! I've heard through the grapevine that Yagger's in Kitsilano has a Thursday night quiz - normally starts at 7, very music-oriented from what I was told.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Monday Night's Alright for Quizzing

So, as with last time, let's handle this in point form:
  • The Cove's quiz night is now being hosted by hosted by the team of Eric Fell (of Anza Club notoriety) and Patrick Maliha. I caught the first half of the quiz this week, and it was a good time.
  • But you miss Debbie's quiz? Well, fear not, because that quiz has shifted to Gargoyle's Bar and Grill, on West Broadway. Stop by the website and have a good laugh at how old the welcome images are (Jose Theodore in an Avs jersey!). I imagine the quiz will be similar to the old Cove quizzes, or the ex-Fray (current Cedar Cottage) quiz.
  • Between those 2, and the Academic quiz night, it looks like Monday night is the night for quiz in Kitsilano. You're almost as spoiled for choice as on a Wednesday.
  • The Cascade Room's Monday quiz was cancelled, and they are trying to reschedule sometime soon. Follow the facebox page if you want to find out when it actually ends up happening

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Even more Quiz news?

Alright, 3 MORE quiz-related bits of news for those dozen people who care
  • The Storm Crow Tavern is running their first quiz tomorrow night. It's being run by the guys who do the ANZA quiz night, so it should be a blast. I can recommend it sight unseen.
  • The Cove has changed their Quizmaster/Quizmistress, effective immediately. Will it be a bold new quiz, or more of the same? Who knows?
  • Debbie, erstwhile Quizmistress of Cove and Fray, has found a new home at the Cedar Cottage pub, Wednesdays at 8 PM. Good to have a new quiz in the neighbourhood with Fray out of commission.
In conclusion, 2 new quizzes by old quizmasters, and one changing hands. Not too shabby for a Tuesday.

Monday, 1 April 2013


Heads up, this quiz is no longer being run by Katie, as the article will try and tell you. Most of the vitals (start time, address, day of week) remain the same, but the format of the quiz might vary a bit. 

Where: Darby's Pub, 2001 MacDonald Street

When: 7PM Thursday, Every week

Web Presence: Facebook page

Registration Fee: Gratuit

Team Info: 7 Brains per table

Prizes: Top team gets a pitcher of beer, AND a reserved table at the next week's quiz - the real prize

Format: 60 questions, split into 2 halves, with 3 10-question rounds in each. Expect to see a themed round, a picture round, and a matching round, followed by another themed round, another picture round, and ending with the music round.

Food and Drink: Food is pretty good, and the beer selection is easily the best of any of the places I've been to a quiz. It will probably stay that way, unless the Alibi Room starts a quiz.

This quiz has been going for a number of years now - they just ran their 112th quiz. I've been going for a few weeks, but have been too lazy to write up a review until now. Anyways, it is a great time, and probably the best quiz in Vancouver that is run every week. It runs quickly, and while the Quizmaster marks all the own answer sheets herself, it goes reasonably fast. There is definitely no "trap you here so you can drink more" mentality to this quiz, which is great.

The questions range from easy to pretty hard, so all can have fun, and the winning score tends to be in the 50-55 range (out of the aforementioned 60). The tiebreaker, which I have only seen once, is excellent. The tied teams get another sheet of paper, and then a trivial pursuit card is read out, and the high score wins. In the event of a tie, it is playoff overtime rules - they keep going until there is a winner. It tends to lead to some sidebets among the non-participating teams as well. This activity is almost surely not sanctioned by the BCLC.

The atmosphere is enjoyable, a good mix of University kids and older folk. It is almost always full, so be prepared to show up an hour early to stake out some space. It can get a bit hectic on Canuck game nights, but the general attitude lately has tended towards quiz over hockey. While I'm positive this trend won't carry over to the playoffs, it is heartening nonetheless. There are ample TVs to catch whichever game you want to watch, though, even when the questions are being asked. Everyone seems nice here.

In the end? A rad quiz, but show up early to grab a table - or win the previous week.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

The Grapevine

Or, some news pertaining to Trivia in Vancouver. 3 Updates from the last month:

  • It looks like Fray has closed down, so their quiz is therefore also finished. It is too bad, because it had some of the better quiz night food in town. If you're looking for a place to go, I'd recommend 131 Water, but there are quite a few other options as well. Take a look at the Master List and see what suits you.
  • The Cascade Room quiz is on hiatus until April 15th, so don't act surprised if you show up on a Monday and there is no quiz.
  • Finally, good news! There Is No Easy Mode returns to EXP Bar March 27th, at 9PM. I went last time, and it was a lot of fun. It is videogame trivia, and they aren't kidding with the name. A good time if you want to think about videogames all night. 
I've got a few more reviews coming up in the next couple of weeks - Darby's, Relish, Falconetti's and the aforementioned EXP Bar.

For those interested, Geek Bowl VII in Austin was an awesome time. It was definitely the best pub quiz I've ever been to, but that is probably because they run quizzes every night of the week all year, and then try real hard to give you the best possible show. And they did a great job. We came in 32nd. Read the full recap, if you like!

Sunday, 24 February 2013

The Manchester

So it appears the Manchester has a new host and format these days. Take this review with a grain of salt, and I'll try and have an updated review up soon - ed.

Where: The Manchester Public Eatery, 1941 W Broadway

When: 8PM Tuesday, Weekly

Web Presence: None that I can find

Registration Fee: This one's free

Team Info: 8 human beings per squad

Prizes: Top team at the halfway point gets a pitcher of beer, and the winners get a 50 dollar gift certificate. They run 12 week long 'leagues,'  and the highest cumulative score gets $500.

Format: Pretty similar to the Pub Stumpers quizzes: 8 rounds, separated into 2 parts. The first part consists of an image, then some general knowledge, then a music round, then True False. Part 2 is GK, more music, GK, and then some 'Bonus' questions.

Food and Drink: Pub food, nothing special. Likewise with the beers.

As previously mentioned, this quiz is similar to the quiz run by Pubstumpers at Donnelly establishments - or at least the way they were run over year and a half ago, since I haven't been to one in some time. The questions are average trivia fare. Nothing significantly harder than average, and a few things a bit easier. The difficulty is raised a bit on the bonus round, and they throw out some tough ones. At least they don't do the horrible "Did you read today's Province?" round.

The music round strikes me as generous, since you get the point if you can name the artist OR the song. I'm a little trained to it being a point for each, I guess.

The atmosphere is nice, the place is pretty cavernous and was not particularly full when I was there - there were probably 10 teams playing, but this place could hold about twice that easily. TVs ring the walls, so chances are that if you are looking for a game to watch, it will be on. I'm not sure what their Canucks game protocol is. If I had to wager, I'd say it falls in favour of the boys in blue. The quiz is marked by the two presenters, and they do an efficient job of it. The whole quiz took a little under two hours, breaks and announcing winners included.

In the end? It is very similar to a quiz at a Donnelly bar, but in a more enjoyable setting.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Quiz Updates, Late January Edition

Some news in the world of pub trivia:

Our Town is back on a biweekly schedule. Per their facebook group, they are running a quiz on the second and 4th Thursday of every month. They've also upped 131 Water's game a bit, and now are running 6 game trivia "seasons." Highest score at the end of 3 months gets prizes (described as "BIG prizes") , from such local sponsors as the Rio, Red Cat Records, and the Alibi Room. Doesn't sound half bad. Also, a picture on the Wall of Champions. As ever, winning team gets a pitcher of beer, and reserved seating the next week, which can be handy since that place can get packed early. 

Secondly, not strictly Vancouver related, some friends and I are going to attend Geek Bowl VII in Austin, Texas. Billed as the largest live pub quiz in those united states, it is probably also the largest pub quiz in North America. I doubt that anywhere else in CONCACAF can make a decent claim to that title. We will be the first Canadian team to compete, as I understand. 

We've never been to a Geeks Who Drink pub quiz before, since they don't have them in Canada. They seem to be a pretty solidly run organization that hands down quizzes from on high to people to read at a bar. It sounds similar to what Pub Stumpers does here in Vancouver (specifically at the Donnolly pubs). I am hoping that the questions are better than the Pub Stumpers quizzes, which attentive readers will know that I think are pretty terrible. I'm pretty confident that the Geek Bowl quiz will be better. That runs February 9th, 2013, so I'll post how it went when we get back.