The Minor Joys of Not Totally Sucking at a Local Bar Trivia Championship

[image-1]Bar trivia is an event where adults go to their local pub on a weeknight, order beer and food they otherwise would never get on a Tuesday night, and consume it in tense silence as they are peppered with questions about European geography, the Edmonton Oilers, and the 2003 NBC Thursday night lineup. Bar trivia is a way for those of us who reveled in school, who collected As, who always had our hands up in class, and who have now come to the painful realization that no one gives a shit whether or not we can name all US Presidents, to once again grasp at the fleeting feeling of intellectual superiority.

I have never engaged in league bar trivia play before, but I have also never lived in Northeast Ohio before. I joined an all-female team of co-workers and, though we usually did not win, we scored enough points throughout the fall and winter to gain entrance into a recent Northeast Ohio Pub Trivia Championship. The team learned that we had won on a night when I wasn’t playing and my phone lit up with excited texts, “CLEAR YOUR CALENDAR WE’RE GOING TO THE BIG DANCE.”

The big dance occurred at Burgers2Beer, a restaurant in Lakewood, on a Sunday afternoon. The entire restaurant was shut down for the event – only those competing in the NE Ohio Pub Trivia Championship were allowed entrance. Seats were assigned, the play started promptly at 4PM, and the first twenty minutes were taken up by the Quiz Master reading a long list of rules. And you need a great number of rules when you put 210 type-A, uber-competitive, tense folks who each believe, deep in their very heart, that they are intellectual champions, in the same room. Do not have more than 5 people on your team. Do not have anyone at your table who is not on your team. Do not get up from your seat during play. Do not have your phone out for any reason. Do not fold your answer. Do not get up to hand me your answer – raise your hand and we will get it from you. Do not ask to change an answer after you have turned it in. Do not yell out your answer. Do not yell at the Quiz Master. Do not be a dick.

The Burgers2Beer staff handled this deluge of laser-focused nerds with great aplomb. They managed to handle approximately 200 burger and beer orders going in at the same time and were very understanding when, once the game was underway, no one wanted to speak to the wait staff at all for any reason.

The stakes were high for this game – first through fifth place were awarded cash prizes, with first place walking away with $1,200. After the first round we were in fourth place, which was a miracle because we had faced questions such as:

· What are the third and fourth largest US cities without any pro sports teams?

· Conrad, Bean, Mitchell, Cernan, and Schmitt are the last names of men who all did something remarkable. Name two other men who did the same thing.

I contributed to my team only once, on the question, “What singer performed duets with George Michael, Elton John, and The Eurhythmics in the 1980s?” The answer was Aretha Franklin and I will never stop being proud of myself.

When it came down the final question, we were in fourth place. The category was “Word Scramble.” We got to bet as many points as we wanted, and we bet it all. Then the final question was revealed: Take this piece of paper. Turn it over. Answer this list of 8 questions, each of which can be answered by a single letter, and then unscramble the letters to spell out a sports team. You have five minutes, good fucking luck.

We did not solve the word scramble, but neither did anyone else. We came in fifth place out of 42 teams, which netted us a cash prize of $20 each, which only put a small dent in our bar tab.

Pro-tip: Never bet anything on the last question. It’s always impossibly hard, and every team bets all of their points because we’re dreaming of everything we could do with $1,200, and the one team that wins is the one who didn’t bet anything.

Rating: 5 out 5 “Name the winningest NHL team of the 1980s? The Edmonton Oilers? I promise, for every NHL question, the answer is always the Edmonton Oilers.” 
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