By Scott A. Cupp
Since Bill Crider asked so nicely, I thought I would give a detailed account of the Challenge Entertainment National Trivia Finals that I competed in on Saturday, August 29. I play trivia at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. There is the occasional week with 4. It is a team event. You grab a group and compete together. In the four years I have been competing I have had several teams. Initially I walked into a bar and found out that a trivia contest happened on Monday nights. I went back and competed by myself (our favorite trivia jockey would say I was playing with myself in public). I finished 3rd and won $10 in bar money.
The format is simple. There are 3 rounds of 3 questions in a variety of subjects, like Sports, Literature, History, and Vocabulary. There are three point values per round – 6, 4, and 2. The team decides what point value they want to assign to a question, based on their knowledge If they know the question answer, they might say it was worth 6 points. If they have no real clue, it might be their 2 point question. You have to use all three values each round, so each round is worth 12 points. After the three rounds, there is a half time question, in which you have to provide four answers to a question with each answer worth three points. For example, the question might be “Name four of the five Marx Brothers?” They would answer Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and then choose between Zeppo and the lesser known Gummo. At the half, their score could be as much as 48 points. Frequently it is not, because the questions can be hard, obscure, or not even in your wheelhouse. For example, if a Music question deals with current Pop music, chances are very good that I will have absolutely no idea, since current pop music sucks big time.
For the second half, there are three more rounds of three questions, but this time they are worth 9, 7, and 5 points (or 21 points per round). Questions get a little harder but, if you are sharp, you can make up some ground on the other teams. After Round Six, the scores are updated. The potential at this point is 111 points. Then comes the Final Question. This one can be worth up to 20 points, but there is a kicker. If it is not absolutely correct, the team will lose whatever points they bet. A perfect game has a value of 131 points. Pretty simple.
Sandi, my longsuffering wife, decided that free food and drinks sounded good to her and we began to be regulars. Our team name was “Sandi, Queen of the Universe and Her Pet Frog”. We were OK as a team since our team was me and a self appointed cheerleader. Then, we found out about the tournaments. There was a city championship, held twice a year. And you could have 5 people on your team. I put the call out and soon I had a team with my nephew Wes Hartman, his co-worker Doug Dlin, my horror writer/musician friend Sanford Allen, and Wes’ friend Shawn Lauderdale. We all had some specialized knowledge and we became a pretty good team. We called ourselves the Boxcar Frogs, an amalgam of my team name with Sandi and Sanford’s band, Boxcar Satan.
We went to the second City Championship held. Going into the Final question we were in Fourth or Fifth place (I forget – it’s been a while). We got the final right and leapfrogged into Second Place and won some money and gift cards. The next time, we won the City Championship and then won it again. We were insufferable.