The Quizmaster (QM) is an integral and highly important part of the trivia match. As well as being an arbitrator, the QM is there to ensure that everyone has a good time. That's easy to understand if you're having a trivia match in your own home -- the role of the host is an obvious one to assume. We assign each QM to a specific pub for the season, and we want them to be the host for the evening.
Now that doesn't mean making sure everyone has enough beer; that's the pub's responsibility, and they're usually quite good at it. No, the Quizmaster must at all times remember that this is NOT a life-or-death struggle, but a social outing. That means no put-downs for wrong guesses, and a certain amount of latitude in making rulings. Timing to the split second, and hairsplitting in determining a correct answer, can quickly turn the players off.
An example will illustrate the point. The question asks for the first name of the classical composer Brahms (the correct answer is "Johannes"), and the player answers "Johann." The picky QM will simply say "incorrect," and move on. A lenient QM (especially one who has given the other team a close ruling earlier) will accept "Johann." A QM somewhere in the middle might say "you're close -- try again." This latter is something we frown on, but it is occasionally the right thing to do.
The Inscrutable QM
It's important that the QM not give clues when making a ruling; simplest is just to say "No, that's not correct" and move to a team answer, or to the opposition for a steal. This is especially true when the answer consists of more than one item. Suppose, to give an example, the player has been asked to name four of the Great Lakes, and responds "Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Winnipeg." The QM must simply say "incorrect," without giving away which or how many of the parts of the answer were actually incorrect.
Often a player will give an incomplete or partially correct answer. In these cases, the QM should ask for clarification, or for "more information." For example, the player has been asked a question to which the correct answer is "watermelon," but the answer they give is "melon." The QM should not mark this incorrect, but should ask for more information, giving the player the chance to refine the answer and come up with the particular melon that is wanted.
The "Smith Rule"
Answers that are people's names can be a problem for the QM. What do you do if a player answers the question "Who was assassinated in Dallas on November 22, 1963?" with the name "John Fitzwilliam Kennedy"? Was it close enough or were
Being a Good Quizmaster (QM)