The Canadian Inquisition

Toronto's co-operative pub quiz league

The "Canadian Inquisition" is a league of trivia teams who compete on Monday nights at various downtown Toronto pubs (currently: Artful Dodger, Jersey Giant, Jason George, Brunswick Avenue Pump, Imperial Pub, Spotted Dick, and Duke of Gloucester).

The league currently has 17 teams. These are divided into two divisions with roughly an equal number of teams: the Torquemada division (named after the Spanish inquisitor), which is our 'A' league, and the Jaworski division (named after the Watergate prosecutor), which is our 'B' league.

Each team has five players. That is, five people can play at a time, but most teams have a few extra players who fill in when someone can't make it. A team can play with fewer if it can't find five people on a particular night.

We divide the year into three seasons of 10 games (usually mid-Jan to early April; mid-May to late July; mid-September to early Dec). At the end of each season the top team in each division plus a wild-card team play off in the season final.

We don't play Trivial Pursuit or "Buzztime (formerly NTN) trivia". Rather, one team sits out each season and takes care of writing the questions, organizing the schedule, and running the games.

How the games are run

Each game involves two teams, a quizmaster provided by the league, and optional food and beer. A game consists of 10 rounds with 10 questions in each round. Each question is first posed to an individual player: if he or she gives the correct answer, the team gets two points. If the individual player doesn't get the answer, the whole team can discuss the question, and if they get the right answer the team gets one point. You have 60 seconds to answer, individually or as a group. The next question in the round is posed to a player on the opposite team, and so forth. Except on round 10 (see below) one team can't "steal" from another team that misses the answer; there is no penalty for guessing a wrong answer.

At the end of the game the scores are tallied. We also keep track of how many two-point questions each player gets.

The Artful Dodger is the unoffical league headquarters, and players often congregate there after the games to complain about how hard the questions were.

The types of questions we get asked

Each round (with one exception) has a particular theme or category: these roughly follow the Trivial Pursuit categories, history, geography, entertainment, sports & leisure, science, and literature, with the addition of current events (always the first round), audio (always the fifth round; each question is based on a music or other type of audio clip), Canadiana, and a special round called the "challenge" (or "individual") round (always the tenth round).

The "challenge" round

The challenge round is always the tenth round and works differently from the others. First of all, there are six categories of questions, with two questions per category. Each player gets to pick the category they want (unless that category is used up). You have 30 seconds to answer (for two points) but if you don't get the answer the question goes to the person opposite you on the other team. He or she then has 20 seconds to answer for one point.

The Final

The league Final (championship) game has three teams, not two. A "wildcard" team, the team that scored the greatest number of "question" points gets to play, plus the teams with the best win-loss records in each division (ignoring the "wildcard" team). There are still 10 rounds of questions, but normally each round is divided into triplets with a common theme under a more general theme such as "science" or "geography". There is usually a video round, and sometimes we see more imaginative question formats such as identifying objects or substances, or interpreting a hand gesture.


Oh yeah, money. Each player pays $3 a game. (It varies from season to season; some seasons, when the exchequer is flush, it is only $2.) This covers the league's expenses — photocopying of questions, a small stipend for the quizmasters, and catered food for the season final.

The point of it all is mostly fun (though the occasional person gets carried away). Anyway, the material rewards are few: the championship team and the season's best player get trophies (you have to give these back the next season) and a small cash award. There are other categories such as "the team with the best record in Canadiana" that also have an award attached.


If this kind of thing interests you at all, contact the league and we will try to set you up with a team. New teams are welcome.

This page prepared by Rodney Boyd, updated by Mark Brader and Chris Johnson.

Cosmetic surgery by Chris Johnson.

Last updated: 19 May, 2009.