Judge John Hodgman on Cheating at Pub Trivia

Jim writes: At the start of our pub trivia night, the host hands out a sheet with six photos of celebrities we have to identify, usually themed (e.g., sharing a name). Ten minutes later, the host starts the game and tells us to put our phones away. Bit of a gray area! Some of us say it’s OK to use our phones; others say it’s against the spirit of the event. Who’s right?

Unless the celebrities are Joel Grey, Jennifer Grey, Macy Gray, Erin Gray from “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” the jazz trombonist Al Grey and Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days’ Queen, there is no gray area here. Maybe if you asked, the host would say: “Yes. Totally use your phones for photo round! But shhhh. I’m keeping this loophole secret to punish the rubes who play fair!” But you haven’t asked, because you know what cheating is. Life is already full of games with secret rules that benefit one group over another. Don’t let pub trivia be one of them.

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