This weekend, I’ll participate in The World’s Largest Trivia ContestTM. I’m a little preoccupied with preparations for that, including some significant travel. To provide some sense of the madness of minutiae that dominates my mind this week, I’ll share some of the most personally memorable answers from my many, many years of involvement with the contest. Every one of my teammates has stories like this. These are mine.
Not every story is going to be a happy one. When teams register, they get a rulebook dubbed The New Trivia Times. Amidst the ads from generous local businesses, explanation of the rules and reports on the state of the station, there are some two dozen pictures interspersed. They’re fairly fuzzy, in black and white and basically guaranteed to be the source of questions during the weekend. Teams typically wind up with most of the week before the contest to identify the subjects of the photos, so they are extremely difficult to find. A few years ago, the photo above was one of the hardest to track down. Thinking it was a classic soul group, I contacted the publisher of a relevant fanzine and asked for his assistance. After checking in with a few of his contacts, he emailed me the link to a music video and there, sixteen seconds in, was the image we’d been hunting for. Given how much time is spent on them ahead of the contest–and how many of the top teams have connections to one another–the Times photos are the area where teams can usually figure out how they’re doing against some other teams. By the time Friday rolls around, many participants can flip through the book saying “Everyone’s got this one” and “No one’s got that one.” We were confident that not many other teams knew the group in the picture was called For Real. That meant big points were on the way. Often the Times questions are simple and direct: “What’s the name of the band in Picture #5 of The New Trivia Times?” Sometimes, though, the writers of the contest provide some little clues to help teams make a last-minute attempt at finding the answer. That’s what happened in this instance, and the clue wasn’t subtle or oblique. As part of the question, they provided a verbatim quote used by the record label to promote the band. Entering the phrase into Google brought the answer straight up. We saw a hard-fought major answer turn into something that was at everyone’s keyboard-tapping fingertips. This trivia contest is just a game, and, like any game, it can take some tough, hard turns.
More information can be found at the official Trivia site or try to get your hands (and eyes) on a certain documentary. You can also listen in to the radio station that hosts the contest. In order to see how things are going with the team I play on, Twitter is your best bet.