Friday, 28 February 2014

The Bottleneck Trivia Night

Where: The Bottleneck, 870 Granville Street, right beneath the Commodore

When: 8pm, Wednesdays. You probably don't need a reservation.

Web Presence: This facebook event will keep you up to date.  Confusingly enough, they just keep changing the date for the event instead of setting up a facebook group or page or whatever.

Team Info: The team limit is 8, but they are kind of lax on enforcing it.

Format: 2 Rounds, 15 questions each. No dedicated picture or music round, but those questions do pop up.

Prizes: Top prize is an almost unfathomably good 4 tickets to a show of your choice at The Commodore - apparently including shows that are sold out at the box office. Some quick math: 4 tickets to see Montreal's own Chromeo will set you back $199, including the ridiculous 50 dollars in extra fees. Right of the bat, this puts The Bottleneck's top prize into some pretty rarefied air. Second place is 2 tickets, and third is 0 show tickets. I think it was "merely" a free pitcher of beer.

Food and Drink: $3 beer special (I think it was 1516 or similar). One of our party got some food, and it looked pretty tasty.

The Bottleneck is one of those places that sprung up in the last year while I was away - except that it has been there for more than 2 years. I guess I've never really paid much attention to what happens on that stretch of Granville. Contrary to my expectations, the bar itself as quite pleasant, appropriately hip without seeming like it was putting on airs. Talking Heads posters? Check. Moon, starring Sam Rockwell, screening in the background? Check. A somewhat idiosyncratic collection of Granville bar stars, groups of college kids, and British Columbia Supreme Court Justices (really!)? Check. The Justices did not stick around for the quiz, alas.

The quiz is a short one, and goes by fairly quickly. The night is ably hosted by Matthew Orr, self-proclaimed trivia wizard, who also writes the questions himself. I prefer it when the host crafts their own questions. Not that larger companies don't write good quizzes, but the personal touches are nice. Of course, you get the bad alongside the good there, but it does make it easier to give them shit if there's anything you don't like. Not that you should, it's uncouth.

The questions were solid, although a large number verged on the "You're probably guessing this one" side. While I won't dispute that the current age of Charlize Theron is indeed a trivial fact, it isn't much fun to try and come up with it at a quiz night. There were quite a few 'Name the Year' questions, which were a little bit more fun to tackle. There was also quite a bit of Vancouver/BC/Canadiana. I had a blast trying to remember my Steve Francis facts (The Franchise!) as well as who was Premier in February, 2011, but people from out of town will find this tough. If you're a local, you'll probably have a lot of fun with these questions. Visiting from the United States/Kingdom? You might find a respectable percentage of the questions functionally impossible.

At the end of the night, top honours went to a team with 21 out of 30, a good 7 points clear of your correspondents. Difficult and cleverly crafted questions second guessed us, crossed us over, and left us with broken ankles. There is room for the quiz to grow, so come on down and take a shot at winning the best prizes a Vancouver Pub Quiz has to offer.

If you just want the short version, it was a good quiz with even better prizes.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Trivia Night At Malone's

Looks like the Malone's quiz is no more. Requiescat in pace, The quiz at Malone's.

Where: Malone's, 608 West Pender Street 

When: 8pm, Tuesdays. Reservations neither required nor needed. 

Web Presence: The events section of their website confirms the dates of the quiz, if you're confused. 

Team Info: The team limit is 8, and some of the tables seem large enough to support such. 

Format: 8 Rounds and a bonus round, just like that at The Manchester. You can also pull up to 5 bonus points for drawing a picture, so bring someone who can draw, I guess. 

Prizes: $25 gift certificate to Malone's, which can't be used until the next week. While a good plan to get people coming back, it might not do much for someone who's just dropping in for a week. 

Food and Drink: Meh. It won't kill you, but neither will it thrill you. They do have drink specials for trivia night - A Steamworks Pilsner for $4.13. You could do a lot worse than that. 

Freshly arrived from vacation, and having no duties relating to employment at all, we decided to spend our Tuesday night catching up with friends, all the while checking out a new pub quiz. I've known about Malone's for awhile, but due to a decent schedule, I never really got around to checking it out. 

The crowd was thin compared to most other quiz nights, with only about 5 tables competing. I think the quizzers were outnumbered by non-quizzers, which was a first for me to see at a quiz in Vancouver. This could be a result of a slow night, a quiz that hasn't quite gained enough traction yet or maybe since Malone's is attached to The Cambie Hostel, and as such functions as a impromptu meeting place/pre-game/common room for travellers, most of whom aren't hanging out at a hostel for pub quiz. The sound system only seemed to work on one side of the bar, and even then it was pretty fuzzy and tough to hear over the ambient music (no, not like Brian Eno). It appears to be a quiz tolerated but perhaps not encouraged by the management, based on the atmosphere. 

The questions themselves were pretty good. A decent mix of pop culture and more eggheaded stuff. They had a pretty fun photo round were you provided silhouettes of fictional characters and you had to identify them. Art, the quizmaster, erred on the side of sanity and accepted "Tom Hanks and Wilson," based (on can infer) on the assumption that the name Chuck Noland never stuck in anyone's head. Everything followed a similar flow to that of the Manchester (I think they are both run by Nice Guys Trivia, who specialize in Donnolly pubs, but I'm not exactly sure), but the music round was orders of magnitude harder. Instead of getting a point for knowing that a song was either done by Guns N Roses, OR that it was titled "Sweet Child 'O Mine", the quiz was instead fastidiously awarding half points for knowing that the song was "Manic Monday," and that the band was Reliant K. While I'm not a fan of arbitrarily difficult questions - I agree with Mike re: The Cove's facebook only questions - I do like deep knowledge questions like that where you have to earn your points. If I was a Reliant K fan, I'd have been very happy to get that. 

Another plus for this quiz is that it goes fast, and that there are a lot of questions. I approve of a "No fucking around" approach to a quiz. It will save us all time in the long run, and we've got a finite supply of that. There's a lot of questions, and you don't manage to feel rushed, or bored due to extensive downtime. The balance is deftly struck. 

The food is borderline average bar stuff, but the drink specials are decent. One suspects they don't have your proper 20oz pints per CAMRA standards, but that's a rare bird indeed.

In conclusion, this felt like a good quiz run in a decent locale that was more or less indifferent to its existence. The amiable and speedy quizmaster runs a tight ship, and I was happily surprised to have as good a time as I did. In a head to head with Relish, I don't think it has quite the atmosphere yet, but the questions were solid, in one reviewer's opinion. We were also told that they will be running the equivalent of a "Quiz of Champions" sometime in the future. I don't have the information on that yet, but one can assume the prizes will be larger, and the competition fiercer. We'll make sure to keep you posted.


Another quick administrative post. As previously discussed, I was out travelling, but now I am returned. The quizzes seemed to have multiplied while I was away, so it looks like there will be super new reviews coming up. First in line are a pair of quizzes downtown - Malone's and The Bottleneck.

My co-blogger Mike, who has been doing a fantastic job in my stead, and will continue to update the blog as well. Rumour has it he's trying to start up a few quizzes of his own. Stay tuned!