Is it wrong to use a phone to prove you’re right?

April 20, 2013 in Culture, Quizzes

dictionary-com-appIt’s been a while since I’ve posted an ethical dilemma for you all to consider. It’s also been a while since we spoke about phones and their use at quizzes. Well, this post will unite those strands.

I was at a quiz last night and my team (table 9) ended up tied for the lead at the end of round 10. Cue tie-breaker. Both tables received a fresh answer sheet and were asked four new questions.

Here they are:

  1. Who played Red in The Shawshank Redemption?
  2. Name either of the robots in the Star Wars series of films
  3. Which geographic region is shared between Argentina and Chile?
  4. In what year’s Summer Olympics did Ben Johnson win the 100m before being banned?

As far as I knew, we had answered all four correctly when we handed up the sheet. We’d even written down the names of both robots. Our opponents (table 12) weren’t as quick as ourselves but, even so, looked confident when they submitted their answers.

After a quick check, the quizmistress announced “We have a winner.”, followed by “Table 9 have three [really?] and table 12 have two [no way!]”. However when she went through the questions she noticed that whilst table 12 had only gotten one of the robots, that’s all she’d asked for. So, another tie-break?

The thing is, Q3 (as phrased) has two correct answers. She was looking for Tierra del Fuego but we had answered the other one: Patagonia.

What to do? Well, I’ve never been a shouter – one of those people who stands up and barracks the MC from afar. So I grabbed my phone and quickly looked up Patagonia in a dictionary app I have installed. It said:

a region in S South America, in S Argentina and S Chile, extending from the Andes to the Atlantic.

Up I went and asked the quizmistress for a word. This was easier said than done as her microphone was on. 🙂 Anyway, I explained my point and offered the phone as evidence. She considered things for a moment and then announced that table nine had shown her that they actually got four right in the tiebreak and were the winners.

I thought that was that. I popped over to the team who were now the runners-up and apologised for the fuss. They were totally fine with it, a lady on the team telling me “I know when I’m right too and I hate then being told I’m wrong!” I thanked her and wished them well.

We received our prizes (the winners got 4 x €20 vouchers for the hotel in which the quiz was held whilst the runners-up got 4 x €10) and started to pack up.

However, the night wasn’t over. A member of another team came over and told me that he thought our challenge was out of order. Phones have no place in a quiz, at any time, he said. We would have been better served to have gone through with the second play-off and perhaps brought it up afterwards.

Now, I had several problems with this. Firstly, surely what’s right is right and what’s true is true? Secondly, as I said to this man, what if the other team had won the second tie-break and then we’d lodged our complaint? We’d have ripped the rug out from under their celebrations. Finally, I’d only taken out the phone after the answer was called out. Are phones banned from the room, full stop? “What, even at half-time?” my team-mate Ger asked. Our commentator stuck to his line and said “yes”.

He also reminded us of the old adage “the quizmaster is always right”. Is that phrase still valid in the modern age, when one was prove who is right and who is wrong almost instantly?

A few years ago, during a quiz in The Front Door in Galway, we had cause to complain after we were not given a point for answering a question with “the Masters” when the correctors were looking for “the US Masters”. It was early in the quiz so, after the following round, I got up the tournament’s official web site on my phone and went up to show them. They accepted this straight away and announced that anyone who had answered “the Masters” in the previous round would be getting a point.

Last night though, it was a tie-breaker so what could I do except sort it out as soon as possible?

Ok, now for something completely different. Here are the answers to the picture rounds from the YAP Ireland quiz I posted in Friday Fun Time.



  1. Bags under the eyes
  2. Go for broke
  3. All right on the night
  4. Within reason
  5. Twisted ankle
  6. Wish upon a star
  7. Quite right
  8. Abandon hope
  9. Out to lunch
  10. Dark horse

Picture round:


  1. Simon Coveney TD
  2. Niall Breslin / Bressie
  3. Bashar al-Assad
  4. Praveen Halappanavar
  5. Joe Schmidt
  6. Tina Fey
  7. Amy Poehler
  8. Nessa Childers MEP
  9. Katie Walsh
  10. Norah Casey

3 responses to Is it wrong to use a phone to prove you’re right?

  1. I think you were absolutely correct in pointing out the correct answer. The problem was that the question setter did not do his/her homework properly.

  2. You were dead right John. Not only did the question setter not do their homework, the question “Which geographic region is shared between Argentina and Chile?” was vague and poorly chosen in the first place, as there could be more than one “region” that matches this description.

    Ditto “Name either of the robots in the Star Wars series of films”, as there were numerous robots in the Star Wars films. Though clearly the question refers to C3PO and R2D2.

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