Pub Quiz Origins and Challenges

Pub quiz was invented by Burns & Porter Associates in the late 1970s as a mean for pubs to increase their revenue on their quiet nights. With the rise of mobile phone and technology, pub quiz faces its toughest challenge yet. How do you prevent cheating? Let’s start with a little bit of history.

British born Sharon Burns and Tom Porter organised the first pub quiz leagues in southern England. 32 pub quiz teams entered the league where they played home and away matches. Burns & Porter were responsible for sending questions in sealed envelopes to the appropriate pubs, collecting the results and then sending an updated league table to all participants. Imagine having to do that at a time where there was no internet.

Pub quiz has since grown to become a worldwide activity. There are over 22,445 weekly pub quizzes in the UK and 2,000 weekly quizzes in the United States. The largest pub quiz, according to the Guinness Book of Records, was the “Quiz for Life”, held at the Flanders Expo Halls in Belgium on the 11th of December 2010. 2,280 participants turned up to this event.

When the stakes are higher, quizmaster are going to some extents to stop people from cheating. In the past, the most common forms of cheating included various teams working together, or team members bringing recent newspapers and magazines to the pub. Now it is even tougher to apprehend culprits. With covert phone calls in the toilet, texts or easy access to the internet, it is harder to keep a watchful eye on the participants.

Some pubs have attempted to ban the use of mobile phones on quiz nights. Others have introduced a policy whereby nobody is allowed to re-enter the pub once the quiz as started. Unfortunately, those measures are impractical and hard to enforce. Most quiz nights run alongside other pub activities. Denying access to the pub during a quiz will also affect customers who are not involved in the game.

Innovative methods are known to have been used to prevent cheating using mobile phones. For instance, connecting a FM radio turner to the public address system. A loud pulsing sounds of electromagnetic interference will be heard whenever someone tried to use their mobile phone. That could be quite embarrassing if you’re caught out.

What do you reckon? Should we toughen up on those cheating their way to the coveted prize?

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