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.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there. I was hosting that night, and I wanted to say I'm happy you enjoyed the questions. My name is actually Tristan though, Sean is maybe what is on the website, he is a former host. Thanks for the great review and say hi next time you're there for trivia.