Thursday, May 19, 2011

In pursuit of trivia

Every Wednesday night I see Tweets from a group of casual friends of mine about a bar trivia thing they're doing. Cardgrrl is always telling me I need to socialize more, so I decided this might be a worthwhile thing to try.

The event is run by Vegas Pub Quiz. I showed up tonight at McFadden's inside the Rio, expecting just to watch; I had envisioned a kind of College Bowl thing, with teams up on the stand pushing buzzers with lightning reflexes, and wanted to scope it out before humiliating myself. To my surprise, it's much more casual. Teams just sit at their bar tables filling out paper worksheets as the questions are read. As a result, it was no problem for me to pretend to be part of the team (they don't have formal rosters or anything) and toss in an answer here and there when I knew one.

I suppose with a little thought, I might have realized it wouldn't move fast. After all, the bar's goal is to keep people there longer than they would otherwise stay. So what should have been about 30 minutes' worth of questions was stretched out to a little over two hours.

But it was fun. The core of the team was Katie, Chris, Bob, and David. Bob's housemate Cheryl was there, too, though I had not known her previously. All contributed, and there were many questions for which more than one person knew the answer, but I think there's little doubt that Katie was the anchor, with the strongest distribution of weird bits of knowledge.

And we won! I think there were 80 questions in all, and we pulled out a squeaker with 64 points; second place had 63. I counted four instances in which I seemed to be the only one who knew an answer:

1. Capital of Australia.
2. "Ode to a Grecian Urn" poet.
3. State with physician-assisted suicide law upheld by the Supreme Court in 2006.
4. Hard substance underneath tooth enamel.

(Answers are at the end of the post.)

Of course, I messed up a couple, too. I apparently persuaded the group that one answer was sarsaparilla when the judges were looking for "root beer." "Popular Chicago department store founded in 1893" had both Katie and me vacillating between Marshall Field's and Sears. I finally pushed for the former, but it was the latter. I also dissuaded the group from going with "John Wayne Gacy" as the answer to a question about a serial killer's last words before execution, on the grounds that I thought he had been murdered in prison. Wrong. Oh well. Even if I shoulder full blame for those, I still contributed a net one point. Good enough for the margin of victory!

The prize was a $100 McFadden's certificate. It's entirely possible that I'll show up again next week and have a bite to eat on the house, and try to contribute a few more bits of arcana. My thanks to the gang for welcoming me so openly.

As a bonus, after leaving the bar, I went for a short session at the poker room, and had the rare treat of doubling my buy-in on the very first hand I was dealt. I had 7-7 against my opponent's K-Q, and he unwisely slow-played when the flop came Q-Q-6. It was checked five ways. Turn was a 2, and he bet $6 into a roughly $30 pot; I was the only caller. River was my gin card--a third 7. He checked, I bet $25, he check-raised to $60. I shoved, correctly reading him for having a queen he wouldn't fold, and he called.

Perhaps it has happened other times, but offhand I can recall just one other time that I doubled up on the first hand after sitting down at the table. That was at the Venetian. My chips hadn't even arrived when I won. When the chip runner came back, he was puzzled to see me sitting behind a stack. He asked if somebody else had already brought them for me. Nope--I won 'em on credit!

It's a nice way to start a session, that's for sure.


1. Canberra.
2. Keats.
3. Oregon.
4. Dentin.

(Hat tip to Cardgrrl for suggestion of post title.)


chris said...

grump...thanks for coming are nore than welcome to join the group anytime!

Josie said...

Hmmm you're twice as smart as I am, as I knew only two answers of the 4 questions you posted. :)