Ties and Climaxes

We try extremely hard to ensure that all of our quizzes have an exciting climax. Sometimes it is pretty obvious to everyone which team has won, because they have been doing well all the way through, but even then you can try and build in a bit of suspense by at least making the top few teams feel that they are still in with a shout. I often say something like “the top three, in no particular order are…” partly to build suspense, but also just to make sure I haven’t accidentally missed out a team when reading out the rest of the scores.

However, even then, it is difficult announcing second place without the winners starting to  celebrate even before they have been announced (because obviously they know they have won). This is even harder when you have prizes to give out for third and second places. I’ll return to this topic of climax  when I’ve put it all in a bit of recent context…

I had a very interesting situation at the corporate quiz night I hosted yesterday for a law firm, and some of their clients and contacts, in Lewes. It was a very close quiz overall, but one team was about one point per round better than anyone else.

They were leading the pack by about 5 points going into the final round. Our normal final round has an (very straightforward) element of gambling involved, and the leading team went for broke, and unfortunately it went a bit wrong. So they did very badly on the last round, while other teams did rather well in general. So they were caught, and indeed overtaken at the death.

Now – I could see on the scoresheet that I had three teams tied on 75 points (incuding the team that had been leading all the way through) and one team had won on 76 points. There were prizes for first, second and third place, and no easy way to divvy up the 2nd and third prizes between three equal teams.

I was quite pleased with the tie-break game I came up with in the heat of the moment…

As it happened we had been running a buzzer round as part of the quiz, so I already had the buzzer set up, so it made sense to use them for a buzzer quiz play-off. However, I didn’t want to announce the winners and then do a play-off between the other three teams – a play-off for 2nd and 3rd place is not a good enough climax for a quiz night.

So – I explained the scores to the crowd (without telling them who had won) and invited one person from each of the top four teams to play on the buzzers at the front. I declared that the winning team (even though they didn’t know who they were) would play in the buzzer play-off, and we asked five questions on the buzzers which was enough to separate all of the tied teams to sort out 2nd and 3rd place.

So we had done an exciting buzzer play-off, the winners (who actually did poorly in the final buzzer contest) still didn’t know they had won, the leaders throughout the quiz had done very well on the buzzers (but may have thought this was academic as most teams, themselves included, thought they had won already…).

And then I was able to announce the final results to genuine excitement, and we managed to finish the quiz on a high, rather than a slightly anti-climactic 2nd-3rd play-off.

Well, I thought it was quite good!

Have you ever had interesting or unusual tie-break situations to resolve?


3 replies
  1. Caroline
    Caroline says:

    At The Mucky Pup quiz in Islington, there was a tie for second and third places, which was resolved with a bout of arm wrestling. That was pretty novel.

  2. QuizBitch
    QuizBitch says:

    At last week’s quiz, the teams who had tied didn’t want to play the tie-breaker. They preferred to share the money equally. Which is lovely, but not very exciting. I tried to enforce a tie-break – the answer was a year and whoever was closest would win. Surprise, surprise, they both wrote down the same (wrong) year …

    • admin
      admin says:

      I once almost caused a riot at a pub quiz by not being clear enough on sharing/not sharing on a big jackpot. I can’t now remember exactly what happened, but I do remember it involving one team swearing and apologising the next week. I learned my lesson, and have always been ferociously clear about rules etc. esp on big prizes.

      It is certainly more exciting when teams play-off for a big jackpot, but you can absolutely understand them wanting to share. Perhaps a mechanism by which they still both get a portion, but not necessarily an equal portion of a big jackpot?


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