26 September 2023

The Quiz Masters

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Reviewed by Rama Gaind.

By Brydon Coverdale, Allen & Unwin, $32.99.

Dictionaries, by definition, are wrong when they tell us that trivia has little value or importance.

In fact, there’s something about trivia that interests Brydon Coverdale, aka ‘The Shark’, an Australian television quiz program personality best known for being one of the ‘chasers’ on The Chase Australia.

He says he has always been intensely competitive at games and sports, and deeply curious about the world around him. Combine those two traits and what do you have: an obsession with quizzing, a sport for the brain.

Actually, Coverdale studied journalism and travelled the world covering the Australian team’s tours in “my dream job” as a cricket writer. Now, he’s a professional quiz player.

He dedicated himself to outsmarting quiz masters on every Australian TV and radio trivia format he could – until he became so successful, he was hired by The Chase to stop others from winning!

Now he reveals the hidden stories and successful strategies from the world of quiz shows.

“My job is not to devastate people, per se, but it’s a common side effect. As a ‘chaser’ … my task is to stand between contestants and their prize money, to either beat them and stop them winning a cent or to make them really earn their cash if they are good enough to defeat me. The role frequently leaves me with mixed feelings. Viewers may be surprised to learn that chasers even have feelings. Much like professional sportspeople, we are fiercely competitive and hate losing, but when we are beaten there is a silver lining; the ecstatic contestants on the winning team have just experienced the highlight of their year. It may even have been a life-changing moment. When contestants go away disappointed, I always feel for them. Why? Because I’ve been there before. Many, many times.”

The Quiz Masters is not only an amiable memoir of how he played the game, but also a journalistic inquiry into how the great champions developed their special tricks of the trade. It’s a how-to guide for anyone who aspires to winning million, giving an insight into the psychology behind ordinary people who are prepared to gamble, under maximum pressure, in front of huge audiences, with only their brain in their armoury.

This is the story of Coverdale’s experiences – the triumphs, the hurdles, the failures – and those of others like him. Australians love their trivia. Why? That’s the million-dollar question.

Here’s an opportunity for PS News readers to win a copy of The Quiz Masters for Father’s Day 2022. What was Brydon Coverdale’s profession before becoming a quiz master? If the answer is correct, you could be one of two winners to get a copy of the book. Entries should be sent to [email protected] by Monday, 29 August 2022. Names of the winners will be announced in Frank Cassidy’s PS-sssst…! column on 30 August 2022.

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