'A really positive experience' - Virtual Norfolk pub quiz goes global

The Short Blue on Gorleston High Street.Pub of the Week. Landlord Kevin Duffield.Picture: James Bass

Kevin Duffield of The Short Blue pub has been stunned by the success of his weekly virtual quizzes that have created a new community. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

If it's Tuesday it must be quiz night at the Short Blue pub in Gorleston.

Landlord Kevin Duffield has been priming the pumps all day, even issuing a pre-quiz picture round to get things going.

In the bar the fire is crackling and the 56-year-old is ready to host, pub dog in position.

But instead of a chattering crowd and barely an empty seat, he is sat on his own facing a laptop.

The Short Blue Gorleston

The historic Short Blue pub in Gorleston, named after the famous fishing fleet. The pub is shut in line with restrictions but has built up a global pub quiz community that is connecting people and keeping its landlord busy. - Credit: Google Maps

He admits it is "a bit strange" but hosting a digital quiz has meant finding a new community who look forward to his weekly trivia workouts and say they can't wait to meet him in real life in the pub.

"It's not like Zoom," he says. "I can't see anyone but they can all see me. It is a bit odd but we have a good chat and shout-outs for birthdays and just lately I have been asking who has had their vaccine yet.

"I tell them online cheating is the new social-distancing breach, but it doesn't really  matter.

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"It's all just for fun.

"I just babble on a bit."

On Tuesday (February 16) he will host his 47th quiz.

In the beginning he was getting upwards of 160 people turning up for his Facebook Live sessions and has been stunned by their success.

Mr Duffield, who has been behind the same bar in the High Street for 36 years, said he was persuaded by regulars to go digital after years of printed quiz sheets in the pub on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Monday was always "win the pot" and Tuesday was for charity - two different crowds.

Usually he would do themed nights, but was keeping it as general knowledge for the Facebook Live version.

And in the same way that "real" pub quizzes were laid on to draw punters to the venue, the online version was attracting custom too.

When the pub re-opened after the first lockdown many people who had found the online quiz made the effort to visit in person - and he expects the same to happen again when current restrictions are eased.

He even kept the virtual quiz going while he was able to open in the summer - people in the bar playing along too.

He has people of all ages and from all over the world logging in including from Trinidad and Tobago, and Alicante.

One family team comprises a grandmother of 95, her daughter and her children too.

"It has been a really positive experience," he added.

"As much as I enjoy it it has done some good for the pub too."

The quiz comprises 40 questions starting with a virtual picture round at 7.30pm. 

After some opening chatter the main quizzing gets underway at 8pm, once everyone is welcomed and settled.

Once the answers have been gone through it usually wraps up around 9.30pm.

Mr Duffield said while it wasn't quite the buzz of the pub it was something close to it with people, many of them regulars, getting to know each other and enjoying some sort of social life and interacting via the live comments.

As well as giving him something to do (he devises all the questions) it provided a modicum of routine during the pandemic while the pub was shut.

Lots of people looked forward to the weekly quizzes and the joy of huddling in household clusters and debating whether the logo being shown was for Frazzles or Squares and other trivia where the answer is on the tip of your tongue.

"I am really surprised by how many have joined in,"  he said.

"It's free to join and you can do as much or as little as you want.

"It's just a bit of fun and it keeps the Short Blue flag flying."

He added he was heartened by the feedback and kindness of some of his quizzers having been sent restaurant vouchers, cakes, and cards as a thank you for his efforts. 

To join in visit the pub's Facebook page here.