The se­cret of pub quiz suc­cess

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - CLASSIFIED INDEX - EWAN SAR­GENT

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

Mike Nahu, cen­tre, with his so­cial quiz team - not the na­tional cham­pi­onship lineup.

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