The Eagle and Child – Tuesdays, 8.30pm, free. (Now at 8.30pm, £1. 01/10/2014 - Ed)
A nice cosy never-ending skittle alley of a pub which has never quite got over its association with the tiresome Inklings, the Eagle and Child has a frankly superior quiz with a few nice touches to liven up an otherwise simple format: 25 questions, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet (except x), 5 of them connected by a ‘mystery link’ for a bonus point. The quiz’s popularity does mean that you need to reach a pretty high standard to have a shot at the prizes (£25 bar tab for first place, £5 tab for second), and from a couple of visits (neither yielding any glory for yours truly) I suspect that there are one or two dominant teams who carry off the laurels every time. Definitely worth a look for serious quizzers able to still their trembling lips in the face of defeat.
The Bear – Mondays, 8.30pm, free.
This one gets pretty cramped, and while I applaud the introduction of a non-smoking section in spite of my filthy habit, I’m not sure this place can support two separate areas – the current system seems to result in 44 desperate addicts crammed into 5 and a half square feet whilst a small group of the fresh-faced and fragrant lounge comfortably just through the doorway with a chair for each limb. But this is probably what we deserve. Anyway… this is another intelligent quiz, frequented by loudly self-satisfied youngsters who are just at that age where you imagine that the rest of the pub will find your conversation more fascinating than their own, and adjust your volume accordingly. I say this indulgently; I’ve been there. Expect to mark accurate answers adorned with inaccurate depictions of genitalia.
Cricketer’s Arms – Mondays, 9.00pm, £1 entry
A lively night with a crackling atmosphere, the Cricketer’s quiz is run by a number of wise-cracking characters whose irreverent and individual approach gives the proceedings an element of theatre as well as competition. I always seem to end up drinking more than I intended at this one. Extremely tacky and yet strangely desirable plastic type prizes for each round, with a Play Your Cards Right jackpot at the end. Purists may be offended by the trivial nature of the trivia (current affairs rounds seem to stray naturally to the seamier side of the week’s news), but get into the spirit of it and you’re sure to have a great time. Go there with lots of mates and shout at the opposition.
Folly Bridge Inn – Thursdays, 8.30pm, £1 entry
Lovely. A long overdue addition to this list - the Folly has one of the city's most well-rounded quizzes, with a nice mix of questions and a good humoured and gently boisterous clientele. It also, without a doubt, offers the most generous prizes: £10 for each round, £25 for the highest overall score and a rollover jackpot for winning all three rounds. Difficult, but taaantalisingly possible. Any complaints? Just that the music round, for me, ends up as a painful guessing game. Playing with a music geek who makes up for my deficiencies doesn't help - it'll only make him conceited. Go there - but please drink enough for the management to think it's worth continuing to offer such nice prizes.
Turf Tavern – Tuesdays, 8.30pm, £1 entry
This is hardcore quizzing. Taking place in the rear-garden of the pub, there’s room for umpteen teams and it still gets full - I’ve been there in freezing mid-winter and the showing wasn’t bad at all. The standard is high, as you’d expect with so many teams, and the questions are really varied, but the weight of numbers sometimes overwhelms the quizmaster and the whole thing can drag on and on. Take an extra jumper and expect to be there for the duration.
Berkshire House - Tuesdays, 8.00pm, £1 entry
I love this quiz. Laid back, local and unpretentious, it strikes just the right balance in terms of difficulty: some questions fairly low-brow (ok, I wasn’t proud to know who won The Apprentice) some satisfyingly tricky, and a music round you can get your teeth into. Too much sport, but that’s just me. What’s more, unlike the more central venues there’s never any trouble getting a seat. So please don’t come to it.
The Chester Arms – Sundays, £1 entry.
Rather disappointing quiz, run by a nice professional quiz chap who also does one at the Annora bar in Iffley, and possibly some others I haven’t been to. I don’t know – this ought to work, but it somehow falls rather flat, possibly because it’s actually a sort of McQuiz rather than being run by regulars or the staff. The prizes given for each individual round seem faintly stingy (and we don’t ask for much – see Cricketer’s) and the jackpot can only be reached by getting through an improbable number of ditzy gambling games and a couple of circles of Hell. Go there on another night for the live music.