A Not-So Trivial Pursuit

Claire O'Hara

Last Wednesday, the March Madness tournament crowned a winner. No, it wasn’t the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, but rather a program that gained popularity this year with Colgate students, faculty and staff: Trivia.

Trivia Night at the Colgate Inn is an event that has been organized and made possible by Doug (’98) and Kristi (’01) Chiarello who, since last February, have put together each week’s questions, tallied the points and directed an entire trivia bowl competition. The Inn plays host as teams of students, faculty and staff test their trivia knowledge on everything from films and pop culture, to geography and history.

After a month of competition, the March Madness tournament, which had started with 20 teams each limited to six members, was narrowed down to a final four. Teams “McLovin’,” “Gary’s Girls,” “Stayin’ Alive in the 315,” and “Hammers,” the only remaining student team, battled it out in the final competition last Wednesday. Other teams that had participated include, “The Eleanor Roosevelts,” “The Far Side,” “Big Tuna,” “We Went to Grad School for This?,” “The Artist Formerly Known as Panic! at the Disco,” and several other creatively named teams, but it was faculty team “McLovin'” that came out on top.

Professor of Economics Chad Sparber and his wife Julie were members of the victorious team along with Chemistry Professor Anthony Chianese, Biology Technician Alain Douchinsky, Catalogue/Metadata Librarian Francesca Livermore, Economics Professor Michael O’Hara, and Computer Science Professor

Vijay Ramachandran.

Sparber outlined the format of the competition.

“The biggest points come from the halftime celebrity question and the two final-round questions,” he said. “For halftime, Doug [Chiarello] reads five clues about a celebrity. If you guess the celebrity after the first clue, you get 10 points.”

For each additional clue it requires a team to provide the correct answer, the point value is decreased by two points. Correctly identifying the celebrity after the first clue, “really helped us pull ahead,” Sparber said. “Celebrity halftime questions are Alain [Douchinsky]’s bread and butter. She knows most of them immediately.”

For the final round, the point system changes a bit, with individual teams being able to wager 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 points, however, with one wrong guess, the team loses half the value of their bet.

“The game itself was pretty tight in the first half, but we started to pull away a bit at halftime,” Sparber said. “I think we had an 8-point lead going into the finals. After we got the first finals question right, we were feeling pretty good. Gary’s Girls got it correct too, so there was still a chance that they could catch us on the last one.”

The final question asked which three actors were taking over Heath Ledger’s role in the upcoming film “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” Team McLovin’ was able to come up with Johnny Depp and Jude Law, giving them the win when no team was able to remember the third actor, Colin Farrell. As part of their reward for winning, Team “McLovin'” was able to designate a charity, Heritage Farms, to receive a $600 donation.

The Trivia Night program is providing a new and stimulating activity for the entire campus and members of the community. Ramachandran was introduced to the Trivia Night program when fellow professors suggested he come along one night.

“I had a great time, and I was shocked that I knew some of the answers,” he said. “I was further shocked that we won prizes a few times. Although it requires exercising the brain a little, it’s generally a low-pressure environment, keeping it fun rather than frustrating.”

The success of the event seems to suggest that the low-key environment is a major draw for Trivia Night.

“I would definitely recommend it, even at the risk of making our competition more difficult,” Ramachandran said.