Saturday, September 13, 2008

Scenario #10: Cheaters!!

Last night I went to a quiz night, my first quiz night. After living almost four years in England, my first ever quiz night was in a five star hotel in Amman. Quiz nights are supposed to involve beer and dark musty rooms and wooden creaky chairs in pubs, from what I've heard. This one was in the Four Seasons Ballroom, with the questions and their answers projected on three screens, computerised marking systems involving two laptops and five mini laptops, and a posh buffet served in between rounds 4 and 5, out of 7 total rounds.

It was sponsored by an association of Jordanians who had studied in the United Kingdom, so it was, I suppose, the optimal, if not a bit surreal, meeting of upper class Jordanian society with the English pub tradition.

And it wasn't actually written anywhere official that using cell phones to access the internet was not permitted during the quiz.

So perhaps table 11, right next to us and very strongly in the lead, was not completely amiss to be googling all the answers on their iPhone, but all of us at our table of mostly foreigners and mostly people who not only studied in Britain but actually were from Britain, felt like table 11 was cheating and should be disqualified.

We noticed the so-called cheating somewhere around round 3, and realised it was all around us. Table 3 behind us had three phones on the go, Table 2 across the aisle pulled a phone out now and then, table 9 a bit to the left seemed to be spending a lot of time text messaging. When the answers were announced, it seemed like everyone around us cheered gleefully. They seemed to be saying, "Yay! We put the right answer!" How exactly they were so excited about finding out they were right when they had JUST googled it was beyond me.

When rankings were announced halfway through, with table 11 in the lead, they really got down to business. All the phones came out, and they bunched together and strategised: these people write, these people plan and these people man the iPhones. But to be fair, there was one question which asked to identify a song played backwards, and they got that one right, too. There's no way they found that one on Google.

At one point, we pulled the quiz organiser over to ask, and he shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yes, it's a problem. It has been a problem for years, but we can't do anything about it. The good, thing, though, is that they will pay a hefty fee for using the hotel's wireless because all other internet connections here are jammed!" Well, that is something. Were we wrong for wanting people to do the quiz without accessing external resources?

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