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Trivia nights are not a trivial thing

November 21, 2010

Last night, the family got together for its fourth trivia night in about five weeks.

And we won our fourth trivia night in a row.

For those who don’t know, trivia nights are contests where teams of ten people, for $10 a person, compete against other teams answering trivia questions. There are typically ten rounds of ten questions each, and at well-run trivia nights, the categories are very, VERY diverse.  There are some trivia nights at which there is a theme- 80s, sports, etc.- and the questions are all related at least by that theme, but at non-themed events the categories can be all over the board:  music, company logos, architecture, Presidents’ pets, 70s commercials, and celebrities’ real names, just to name but a few.  The best categories, in my opinion, are the ones that test your linear thinking, or make you go outside the box.  We had a Word Play category last night, and though we quite honestly tanked it, it still was a very interesting category. Can YOU name four words in the English language in which an “F” is pronounced like a “V”? (Answer is in the Comments section)

Without giving too lengthy an explanation (hopefully), the basic rules are thus (and can vary slightly at each event):

  • As mentioned before, ten rounds of ten questions each, each question is read twice
  • While spelling is usually somewhat lenient, points are only given for exact answers, i.e. if a first and last name, or song title and artist, for example, are required,  both must be given in order to receive points for that question
  • Any use of technological or reference aids is strictly verboten, although at almost every trivia night I’ve ever attended, there’s usually someone who has been busted for (or at least accused of) looking up something on their cell phone
  • Decision of the judges is “final”, even though there almost always is a question or two whose “official answer” has been incorrect, and though arguing the “official answers” is also “forbidden”, there have been occasions where either another answer has been accepted, or the “official answer” was changed
  • Cash prizes are given to the tables with the top three scores
  • At some events, mulligans are available for purchase.  This is a huge spot of contention among the trivia night crowd, and one of my big pet peeves.  Basically, mulligans are free answers. If you don’t know an answer, you can use a mulligan (one mulligan per round) and you will receive credit for it. Trivia night “purists” such as myself believe that if you can’t win based on your knowledge alone, then you don’t deserve to win- BUT by the same token, if mulligans are offered, you’re a fool not to use them yourself, because giving another team a five-question advantage right off the bat can be almost insurmountable.

There are other sources of contention regarding trivia nights, but they’ve been covered in numerous places, and covered far better than what I can do here. (The site to which I linked is run by a professional trivia night organizer who writes outstanding questions. There really IS an art to it- it’s much more than just 100 questions like “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”.)

Success at trivia nights is not necessarily about having the most intelligent people on your team, but more about having the right people on your team, and who the “right people” are can easily change from event to event.  For example, somebody that knows a lot about WWII battleships can put you in the money at one trivia night, yet contribute next to nothing at the next.

Anyway, last night we had the “core” family team (Dawn and I, Mom and Dad, Jeff and Kathy, Jennifer and Brian) and Chris, one of Jeff’s friends he’s known literally all his life, joined us as well, and though they only announced the standings after the 3rd, 6th, and 9th rounds (and then obviously at the end), I’m pretty certain we led the thing from the opening round.  Going into the last round, we were up by 8, so as long as we answered 3 questions in the last round correctly, there was no way we could lose, even if the second-place team swept the category.

So we won our fourth event in a row, and now we’re getting some bravado.  We were even talking last night about having Team Stearns trivia night bowling shirts made up (and we were really only partially joking about that, folks).  However, we’re not getting too cocky… we know that eventually our run will end, and also that eventually we will get shot down in flames.  The newspaper has a team against which I would be petrified to have to compete.  But we are still basking in the light of our fourth victory in a row, and in preparation for our next trivia battle, we are pricing custom bowling shirts.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Johann permalink
    November 21, 2010 12:07 pm

    TRIVIA QUESTION ANSWER: Four words in the English language in which the letter “F” is pronounced like a “V”:

    Of, hereof, thereof, and whereof.

    We got “of” and that was it.

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