Trivia, Part II

Ever since that one work trivia night a few months ago, I’ve been doing pub trivia with a guy from work and some of his friends.

It’s been really good. We’ve been going to a different venue every time, and so far, we’ve won twice out of the seven times we’ve been.

The first time we won was at The Boundary, in West End. My teammates said it had been recently-renovated, but for whatever reason, there wasn’t a huge turnout. Team Two looked to be one of three teams participating in trivia on that very quiet Wednesday night, although a team of two guys joined late, bringing the total count to four. It was by far the least-populated venue we’ve been to. The Boundary’s trivia differentiated itself by featuring per-round prizes comprised of various brewery company merchandise and vouchers for discount drinks, and seeing as we managed to win three out of the four or so rounds, it was probably no surprise we ended up winning the whole thing. That earned us a nice $50 voucher, which we promptly spent on drinks to end the night.

The Boundary is also notable for being the only place I’ve drunk alcohol at. Partly because it was free, partly because I felt like I had to celebrate our first trivia win somehow. But, like most of the times I’ve drunk alcohol, I regretted it not too long afterwards. I had two drinks (a rum and coke, and a vodka cranberry) and that was it — after that, I just wanted to sleep. I had planned to walk back to the train station, but I ended up ordering an Uber, and might have even shut my eyes for a few minutes during the ride home.

One of the reasons we’ve been going to a different place every time is that we haven’t found a place that ticks all of our collective boxes. Either we’ve gone somewhere with great trivia, but a terrible atmosphere, or we go somewhere with a great atmosphere, and awful trivia. Or some of us like the trivia, but others dislike the atmosphere. Although we place pretty highly most of the time, there are just some places that we know we’ll never win at, only because there’s so many other teams that are doing just as well as we are (or better). The very first pub trivia that I went to with the current squad was at Stones Corner. There were 24 teams in attendance that night, which was crazy and made for some very tough competition. So, week after week, our search for the ideal pub trivia location continues.

As someone who doesn’t drink, and therefore has no real reason to frequent pubs or bars in the traditional, Australian-drinking-culture sense, it’s been really interesting seeing the variety of different venues. By going to a different place every time, I’ve now seen the inside of quite a few places, some better than others. Some quieter, some cosier. Every place has been unique in some way, but I’d say my favourite places have been the ones where the patrons skew towards my demographic. That is, young adults enjoying a drink with a few friends after work, answering a few questions here and there. Not that I have something against the older generation, but they’re usually far too good at trivia. And besides, aren’t they supposed to have their own families or something? Kids to look after at home? What are they doing muscling on my territory that I only claimed a few short months ago?

No, the thing that makes any pub trivia attractive to me, are ones where young adults gather to socialise within their own circles of friends, and compete against others doing the same thing. But good trivia helps with that as much as location does, I’ve found.

It turns out, there are a few companies that do organised trivia in Brisbane.

One of the most well-known is probably Harry’s Trivia, which happens at 17 locations around Brisbane and its surrounding suburbs. Harry’s Trivia was the company that hosted two of our work trivia nights, and their trivia always rates pretty highly. It’s always really well-organised, has a decent variety of questions and difficulty, and the delivery is always great. We’ve been to The Brunswick in New Farm twice now, where Harry himself hosts it, and he always makes it entertaining and enjoyable for all ages. I don’t have anything bad to say about Harry’s Trivia; while it may not be a multimedia extravaganza, it’s just consistently good.

The other trivia company that we’ve experienced multiple times is Quizmeisters. I get the feeling that Quizmeisters is a much larger organisation than what I’ve seen, only because their inclusion of multimedia and videos is much different than what you would typically see from your casual trivia host (or worse, the bar staff that Googled questions and answers earlier that day). When you have a team producing skits and other edited videos that form part of the trivia questions, you also get the feeling that Quizmeisters trivia is targeted towards the younger, mid-20s crowd. Their answer sheets are particularly creative, allowing for two standard rounds, but managing to squeeze in plenty of variety both in terms of questions and answering technique that keeps it all interesting. Overall, I like them, but that’s probably only because their trivia tends to attract my demographic, give or take a few years.

Our second win was at Ballistic Brewing, also in West End. Ballistic Brewing was the second location we’ve been to that was hosted by Quizmeisters, the first being Saccharomyces in South Brisbane. Amy’s Late was one of the 11 teams in attendance that night, and after having a great first round, we managed to bring it home and win the whole thing by a handful of points, netting ourselves a $100 voucher that we still need to go back and spend. Besides sharing the same trivia hosts as Saccharomyces, Ballistic Brewing was a very similar venue to Saccharomyces in that it was smaller and felt cosier than some of the larger places we’ve been to. I think that’s mostly down to both locations being actual honest-to-goodness bars with attached kitchens, as opposed to the sports-focused pubs that have a few separated areas for gambling and betting. You know the ones, they have Foxtel coming from any of half a dozen TVs. Those are usually a lot more spread out, but at both Ballistic and Saccharomyces, you can easily take in the whole place if you stand at one end and sweep your eyes across the room.

When it comes to the actual trivia, I don’t think I’m awful. I know plenty of the answers, but that’s not the problem. The problem — or why I don’t seem to be better at trivia than I am — is mostly because there’s one member of our group that puts our whole team on their back and carries us through round after round. They’re so good that it becomes much less about knowing a lot of the answers, and more about knowing answers that the others don’t, which is a ridiculously hard thing to do consistently, at least for the general-knowledge trivia that we seem to do. Answering and/or guessing a question here or there sometimes makes enough of a difference for me to feel like I’m at least contributing. If you want to win at trivia, it’s important to have one thing: someone who knows all the answers. Or if you can’t have that, then the next best thing is enough variety in your team composition so you can make it a real team effort.

It was at Saccharomyces that we learned of an Instagram account called In Pursuit of Trivia BNE. They say they put pub quizzes and trivia nights in Brisbane to the test, which is not too dissimilar to what we’re doing. The difference being they publicly rate trivia on delivery, questions, atmosphere, and prizes, which are easily the four most important parts for good pub trivia. Because our trivia team is doing the same thing and hopping from location to location, I consider them our unofficial rivals, even though there’s probably other teams out there that go to different pub trivia locations every week too.

We’ve never met in person, but I’ll make sure to say hi to them if we ever cross paths. And if we ever end up beating them at the same venue on the same night, I’ll be extremely satisfied.

Even if I know I didn’t contribute all that much.

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