Trivial For Some

19 February 2021

I won a Trivia night.

It wasn’t just any Trivia night, it was a Grand Finale.

And I didn’t just win the Grand Finale, I won it solo.

I didn’t just win it solo, I won it with a perfect score.

At the start of 2019 my friend Rohan invited me to a Simpsons trivia night. Between myself, Rohan and our friend Rhys we managed to finish on 44 out of 45 questions. (The only question to evade us? How much was the operation to untwist Santa’s Little Helper’s stomach? .¹ )

But at the end of the night we were invited to the Grand Finale for the season. At that Grand Finale, the host announced “Don’t stress that you won’t know any answers tonight, because the questions tonight are a best of for the entire season. Given you had to win a trivia night to be here you will recognize at least some of the questions”.

We ended up getting 2nd place that night, but the structure of the rules stuck with me.

“The questions for the Grand Finale are a best of for the entire season.”

This meant that the total potential pool of Grand Finale questions was a limited subset. Not just that, it was a knowable subset. It was a memorisable subset.

So for the entire next season of Trivia I dutifully showed up every week, recorded every question, converted all of them into Anki flash cards and BURNED THEM INTO MY BRAIN.

Even the host was eager for me attend every week, fully in support of this test of human ability.

Thankfully one week I was the only person to show up for the first 3 rounds, during which I earned 19/70, which, given the lack of other competitors was enough to get me a place in the grand finale.

When I showed up almost every team there remembered me as the guy who hadn’t had a team, and had generally got the lowest score.

The venue, aware that I was playing by myself, didn’t even have a table for me. Just a stool at the very end of the bar.

Many people wished me luck, felt bad that I hadn’t been able to find a single other person to join my team, and told me “Good on you for still showing up”.

The mood quickly changed after the first round.

Thanks to a perfect recollection of all 240 questions, all 80 images and all 80 songs I finished the first round (thanks to bonus points) on 11 out of 10.

This took a moment for the crowd to process.

After the second round I was on 22 out of 20.

At this point someone yelled out this is bullshit! and had to be calmed down by the host.

Round 3 was music and I wrote down every song name and band name effortlessly.

Round 4 was matching the images to actors and facts about them, I’d finished filling in the answers before the host had even explained all the rules.

Round 5 was a final round of general questions, and once again I finished with a perfect score.

By the end of night I could hear the other teams scheming and planning, plotting their path. It took me a moment to realize they weren’t even trying for 1st any more, they’d completely forfeited it to me and were just conniving to get 2nd place.

After finishing the evening with a score of 74/70 I used my prize hamper to buy jugs of beer for the entire venue. This last action was actually based on my friend Richard and his objection to the whole plan, on the basis that he thought the entire venue was likely to haul me out onto the street for vengeance.

The evening ended with some of the attendees describing the night as like the end of a movie.

The one thing that surprised me was, even at the end of this, even after fully hacking the system, there was no change, no adjustment to the rules.

The opportunity remains to try again…

¹ $750 (we answered $700)

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