Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Miss Manners: Head off cheating with a new team rule

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been a member of a pub trivia team for several years. (The gist of the game is that the questions are read aloud to the room, each team is given 2 to 3 minutes to write down and submit an answer, the answer is announced, and points are assigned based on team response. Highest points at the end of the evening results in a nominal gift to that team.)

One of the other members has invited a new person, Ernie, to join our team. He is quite pleasant and fun. The only problem is that he cheats.

Mind you, I cannot prove he cheats, but when we are presented with a question to which we do not know the answer, he conveniently leaves to “answer a phone call” or “go to the restroom,” and when he returns to the table, miraculously, he knows the answer. This bothers me to the extreme. No one else on the team seems to notice or care.

My response has been to simply become unavailable on game night. I am now getting calls and emails from the other team members saying my presence is missed and when will I be returning? I do miss playing, but sitting at the table with a suspected cheater makes me miserable.

GENTLE READER: Cheating, even at amateur games, is such a serious offense that accusing someone of cheating is apt to end in a duel. Miss Manners is not surprised that you want to escape before introducing violence into your friendly game.

What you can do instead is to suggest a new rule: that absence from any one round bars you from that round. Ernie is not going to want to call attention to himself by objecting.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am really excited about an upcoming event, and am trying to solve all possible problems ahead of time. Yesterday, two people asked me (over email) to stop sending them so many emails.

Should I write back and say, “OK, I will try not to send so many emails”? It seems annoying and contradictory to write back; however, I feel like I should respond when people email me, and I don’t want to seem angry.

GENTLE READER: And you could send one after that, saying, “I hope you got my email about not sending so many emails.” But only if you don’t care if they attend the event.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: Would it be appropriate to offer my cousin’s daughter who is getting married the cost of our trip to her wedding ($1,000) instead of our attending the wedding?

Cousin and I are fairly close. He does not have many family members left in this world. I do not want to make an offer that is inappropriate.

GENTLE READER: Then do not suggest to your cousin that money would mean more to her than the presence of one of her few family members left. The only thing that Miss Manners would consider worse would be if she seemed pleased.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,