All-Ireland Quiz: End of the road

October 15, 2009 in All-Ireland Quiz, Quizzes

Today FM quiz tableFor those who didn’t manage to listen in to Today FM for yesterday’s match in the Ray D’Arcy Show All-Ireland Quiz, I’m sorry to report that my team, Universally Challenged, were defeated by 4 pts.

It was a tough defeat, as we only lost one of the three rounds. Alas, it was the 1v1 buzzer round, the only one which allows for a large gap between the teams, and that’s what happened to us.  At the end of that round, we were trailing by 16 pts to 9 and, with a maximum of 9 pts available for the final round, it was always going to be very unlikely that we could turn it around.

We did our best and, indeed, we did win the final round by 9 pts to 6, but that left the final score at:

The Mathemagicians 22 – Universally Challenged 18

“But, sure there’s always next year…” we’ve already been told by several, well-meaning friends.

Perhaps.  It’ll depend on a few things. Firstly, will the Ray D’Arcy show team decide to do it again? Secondly, if they ever chance upon this blog, I hope they’ll take some advice and tweak the format of the live quizzes slightly.

Now, before I start I do feel like complimenting the team behind the whole event.  The Sligo qualifier was one of the most enjoyable and well-organised table quizzes I have ever taken part in.  It was professional to the last, with free t-shirts, snacks and sweets, an electronic scoreboard that worked and it even started pretty much on-time (or as near as makes no difference).

The problem is that the event then transformed itself from a table quiz, between table quiz teams, into a three round, 15 minute burst, in which two of the rounds either discourage or don’t allow any team work.  We actually came off best against The Mathemagicians in the two rounds that team work was in play for.  Unfortunately we got stuffed in the single player round.

It’s the same playing field for both teams, I know, but should a single player round be allowed to be so decisive in a quiz designed to find Ireland’s best quiz team?

Anyway, here are my suggestions:

  1. Lengthen the live quiz. It’s too short. It lasted 15 minutes, but probably six or seven of these were taken up chatting with Ray and the explanation of the rules etc.  Perhaps the production team have done their research on this and decided that the Irish public’s attention span isn’t long enough to stick with a half-hour quiz but it works fine in the UK where a show like Brain of Britain has been going on for 42 years.
  2. Sort out the technology. The teams were communicating with the studio via satellite, and it seemed to work fine, in terms of speaking.  However, the buzzers suffered from a terrible lag. On several occasions, our player, David, hit the button before there’d been a peep from his opponent but, apparently, still didn’t get in on time.  The Today FM staff were obviously aware of this problem as they’d mentioned it to us before we went on-air. However, during the round, when you know there’s only 60 seconds worth of time available, it was very frustrating. We also had an incident in which neither buzzer seemed to register – perhaps they’d been pressed simultaneously? Ray’s suggestion that the players “Buzz again” caught our Dave on the hop and allowed the other guy in.  There’s definitely room for improvement here.  A simple alternative might be, since the buzzer just mimicked a phone number tone, to use a land-line phone instead?
  3. Remove (or increase) the 1v1 round. David didn’t feel very good after the quiz was over, putting the blame for the defeat on himself. This seemed a touch cruel on the guy, especially as he had to deal with the problems outlined above.  My main problem is that the 1v1 round goes against the ethos of table-quizzing.  It’s a team sport, where almost every question can be discussed before an answer is given.  Thus your final score will be an accurate reflection of how your combined skills and knowledge coped with the questions on the day.  This round didn’t fit with any of that.  It merely told us that their buzzer guy was better (or just quicker) than our buzzer guy.  How would their other players do against the rest of us? We never got to find out.  So, I’d say either get rid of the individual round altogether or else have four individual rounds, where everyone gets a go.  That way, the final score would indeed reflect the combined knowledge of the team.
  4. Pass missed questions to the other side. At a table quiz, you have to answer every question that’s asked on the night.  Practically no quiz on TV or radio provides this feature (with some exceptions, such as Chris Moyles’ Quiz Night and Pointless) but they compensate for this slightly by allowing a missed question to be passed to the other side.  This allows for a double hit on any wrong answer and increases the potential of a swing.  This would also have helped with providing drama for the listener, as five of the eight first round matches featured such a large gap after the individual round as to make round 3 redundant.  In fact, on one day, due to the gap being 12 points, the quiz was declared over and the final round was never heard!

Missed questions:

We only got one question wrong but, for completeness, here it is:

  1. Sushi for Beginners, Angels and This Charming Man are all novels by which author?

I am glad that we took part though, if for no other reason than it gave our friends and relations the chance to hear us in action!

I do hope this event comes to a successful conclusion on Friday next.  I’ll still be listening. I also hope it comes back next year and for several years afterwards and, all going well, this first year will be seen as the one where they learned what worked and what didn’t and ironed out those wrinkles.

5 responses to All-Ireland Quiz: End of the road

  1. I don’t think it’s really worth a separate blog entry to reveal the answer to the question above so here it is:

    A. Marian Keyes

    Hope you didn’t waste too much time mulling over it. 😉

  2. Having had a week to think about it, I still have a couple of issues. I would like to point out that my initial reaction was Goddam it he’s quick but my main issue is that I had nno idea until they said dublin that i wasnt in-and has i couldnt see anything, I couldnt work out what was happenning, hence i got tense and nervous and couldnt even buzz. The other thing is that Ive never been in or seen a panel quiz where there has been an individual buzzer round-i am open to correction- and certainly not one where there was only buzzer round and it an individual one. The thing is that it is perfectly doable to do a national radio quiz with indi and buzzer rounds and it was even presented by Ian Dempsey

  3. Hi guys

    I was the buzzer person for the Mathemagicians. I have a lot of sympathy for your frustration. I can say honestly that there was a big time lag on my end too. I gambled on pretty much every question by pressing before I had heard enough of the question to know the answer for sure. By the time my press had registered I had (usually) heard enough to be able to guess the answer.

    Not sure what happened on the one where neither buzzer worked. As you say, it may have been that we both pressed at exactly the same time.

    I thought the quiz was really well organised though, and good fun. Of course a longer quiz would tend to give a fairer result – leaving aside your comments about the individual round, there is a lot of potential for random fluctuation in the other rounds too. We would have gotten all three of your questions in the final round but missed one of ours. I imagine though, in the confines of broadcasting 15 knock-out quizzes on a radio show, it would be hard to stretch the format too much.


    • Hi Kevin,

      thanks for your comment!

      All the best in your quizzes of the future. Maybe we’ll meet again some day! 😉


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