The secret of pub quiz success
You are not going to win the national pub quiz championships with a team of mates, says Mike Nahu.
He should know. He’s captain and organiser of the reigning champion team, and over the past five years his teams have come first twice and second twice.
Nahu says that top of the sport, if it can be called that, is getting the right mix of team members who can cover a spread of likely categories such as history, science, sport, entertainment, geography and so on.
Thousands of Kiwis turn up at hundreds of pubs every week to do battle over who can remember trivia best. It’s an old school kind of event, with no technology allowed. Just brains, pen and paper, and a few beers.
About 80 per cent of pub quizzes are run through the company Believe it or Not, which also runs the national pub quiz championship.
Nahu won with a group of friends in 2013 but since then admits he has ‘‘manufactured teams’’ by spotting top players in other teams and inviting them to join his Brofessors.
He’s blunt about dropping members who don’t perform and replacing with new talent.
‘‘When we went into last year’s champs, I looked at my team, I was just amazed. I couldn’t see us losing. We didn’t crush people, but we did exactly what I thought we would do.’’
He invites in team members carefully.
‘‘People think they are good at quizzes, but all they are good at is stuff they are interested in. When people say they are good at sports, they might be good at rugby, cricket and Formula One, but they don’t know much about any other sport. They have an overinflated view of how good they are, me included.’’
Nahu says he goes to quizzes with friends and family to have fun. But to win at the nationals he goes with people whose quizzing ability comes first.
‘‘We all get on, but to be fair most people don’t know each other. It’s a disparate group of individuals.’’
‘‘To be honest, you can’t win the nationals with a random group of friends because you can’t cover enough bases. You usually come from the same peer group and have the same interests.’’
Believe it or Not director Brendan Lochhead says winning teams have a spread of interests, genders and even ages to cover the widest spread of topics.
Classic quiz specialists can get lost (and annoyed) by questions about who is dating who in Hollywood and so on. A top team needs pop culture experts.
Nahu says a champion pub quiz team the way he runs it is not a democracy. Everyone can have a say on what the answer might be, but he picks the final answer.
‘‘At the start of the evening I will say, ‘we have a lot of good minds here, if you have a possible answer I’m going to talk to you about where that is coming from to get a feel for it’.
Then I cross reference it with any other discussions, then I just make the final decision.‘‘
Mike Nahu, centre, with his social quiz team - not the national championship lineup.