Sunday, 8 March 2015

Smartside Trivia @ The Portside Pub

THE QUIZ AT THE PORTSIDE IS NOW ON MONDAYS AT SEVEN PM. Furthermore, it is being run by Katie of Quiz Night With Katie fame. The review below is kept as an archive, but is not accurate anymore. Look for an updated review sometime soon.

Where: The Portside Pub, 7 Alexander

When: 8 PM Wednesdays

Web Presence: It merits an occasional mention on the Portside's web page, but not much else

Team Info: Seems to be "bring 'em if you've got 'em"

Prizes: Gift certificates and beer to be had! It looks like they will sometimes give away Canucks tickets, but with the playoffs looming, that possibility is getting less and less likely.

Format: A beefy quiz, with three rounds divided into several sub-categories, probably around 60 questions in total.

Food and Drink: The nautically-themed bar features nautically-themed food, which makes sense. I had a pretty tasty lobster chowder, and everyone's favourite arthopod shows up more than a few times across the menu. There's a selection of fairly standard pub food, but vegetarians may have a tricky time finding something they actually want to eat for dinner. If you're feeling generous, you can even buy Save-On-Meats sandwich tokens to distribute on your way home. The bar is as you would expect, with a better than average tap list and $4 Jameson. You've been warned.

The quiz at the Portside is run by the former hosts at 131 Water, a nearby Gastown establishment whose quiz I quite enjoyed. I hadn't the chance to attend when they were hosting there, so this was my first experience with their quiz. If you are wondering why I keep using the plural third-person possessive, it is because I forgot their names. I'm sorry Vancouver, but you don't always get the pub quiz blog you deserve,

The confines of the Portside were cozy and pleasant, evoking the nautical air that one would expect of bar near the waterfront. Being found in the trendy locale of Gastown meant that you were more likely to find house music than sawdust, more chic clothes than salty dogs. It was a good thing that the tables weren't terrible either, since the quiz started an hour late. In their defense, it was one of the first nights there, and they apologized profusely for the delay.

The quiz itself was an immense one, easily one of the largest in town — if you are looking to maximize the number of questions you get asked, then look no further. There were three rounds, each containing between 20 and 30 questions. The rounds were subdivided into 2-5 categories. A sampler: Food & drink, matching a world leader to their country, movie scenes with actors replaced by cats, and a well-curated music round, evoking classics such as D'Angelo's "Untitled (How Does It Feel)."  A nice, broad selection of questions.

However, there was one round which I feel compelled to say something about. The premise was as follows: Order these ten cities from warmest to coldest. The cities are: Hell (Norway), Yakutsk (Russia), Harbin (China), Fort Vermilion (Canada), Fort St John (Canada), Ulaan Baatar (Mongolia) and others. You get the point though. They are all improbably cold places. Is Siberia colder than Mongolia? Than Northern Alberta? Than Northwestern China? It is almost like asking if Seattle or Vancouver or Burnaby gets more rain. How do you even measure it? Coldest single point in time? Average chilliness? How cold it is right now?  We, like most teams, bombed it. It was the toughest matching round since "match the NASCAR driver to their sponsor," which I didn't mind so much. At least that had some facts backing it up.

The takeaway from all this complaining? First off, don't make "put these in order" round. They're awful, one mistake can ruin an entire round for a team. Secondly, if you have to, make the differences fairly obvious, or at least have a few sets that can be ordered in and of themselves. Finally, use a ranking that has an actual definition, or at least say but what metric you're measuring. This smells quite similar to the article Mike wrote on why you don't ask questions about city size.

I hate to end on a complaint, so here's a paragraph break leading into the final summary. Did you know the paragraph symbol () is called a pilcrow? Now you do! Also, even though I didn't like that one round, I thought this was a really fun quiz with a lot of potential. I'll definitely be heading back there sometime soon!

The Cold Hard Facts: I just said it! A fun quiz with a great music round, and will hopefully only keep getting better.
It was cold here once

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