Is That Your Final Answer? Trivia Tournament Gets Heated at the Colgate Inn



Wednesday Night Trivia at the Colgate Inn, hosted by Regional Advancement Director Doug Chiarello ’98, is a weekly staple for faculty, staff, local residents and students alike. However, this beloved weekly event takes a different spin in March. Following in the footsteps of college basketball’s March Madness, Trivia picks up a little madness of its own: the month of March is spent in a tournament format designed to increase Trivia’s already competitive edge. This year’s competition was the third annual March Madness Trivia Tournament.

The format of the trivia competition stayed identical to non-Tournament sessions, involving a series of four-question regular rounds punctuated by bonus questions and a picture round, all leading up to the final two questions. The Tournament spanned four rounds, taking Spring Break off, and gradually whittled twenty teams down to four finalists. Four teams were eliminated on March 3, eight teams stricken from the roster on March 10, and four more teams knocked out of the running last week on March 24. The losers got lucky this time, though: this year, donations were made from local sponsors so that almost every team eliminated also received a parting gift. Prizes were donated by Maxwells, the Hamilton Movie Theater, Fashion Kraze, the Barge Canal Coffee Co., the Colgate Bookstore, La Iguana, Price Chopper, Oliveris, the Colgate Athletic Department and others. Following elimination, teams were invited back each week to play in a consolation bracket, more commonly referred to as the “losers’ bracket,” competing for the regular gift certificate prizes usually awarded at Trivia Night.

Some of those losses were quite unexpected. With a good sense of many teams’ strengths after months, if not years, of watching them compete, even the Trivia Master found himself surprised by some of the eliminations, especially the early loss of the faculty super-team known as the “Shiny Doves.”

“There were some unpredicted upsets in the early rounds of the tournament,” Chiarello said. “And much like the NCAA tournament, there were some ‘#1 seeds’ eliminated when some of the regular teams that are among the usual weekly winners were knocked out.”

Let’s face it, though – no tournament really cares about the losers. What survivors made it to the final round? The Final Four teams were all longstanding Trivia regulars: “McLovin,” a faculty team that won the very first March Madness Trivia Tournament; “John Street,” the defending Tournament champions and a team comprised of faculty members, local residents and the mayor of Hamilton; “And That’s How We Won Korea,” the only student team to reach the Final Four; and “Chiarello’s Kids,” a faculty team named in the Quizmaster’s honor… one would hope.

Four great teams went into the final round, but only one grand prize winner would walk away with bragging rights for the next calendar year. The stakes were high: the grand prize consisted of $600 from all registration fees directed to the charity of their choice, a three hundred dollar cash prize provided by the Colgate Inn, and the inscription of their team name on the March Madness Trivia Plaque that resides in the Rathskellar downstairs at the Inn.

With a solid set of teams vying for top honors, the Quizmaster commented on their prospective impacts on Trivia history.

“While I try to never skew the questions towards one particular demographic or age group, there is definitely part of me that is rooting for the last remaining student team to do well and to win the grand prize,” Chiarello said. “Then again, all four teams have a good story as two of them would be repeat champions and would start a ‘trivia dynasty,’ having won the month long tournament two out of the last three years. As for the other team, ‘Chiarello’s Kids,’ how could part of me not be rooting for them so my own name could be memorialized on the trivia plaque?”

All musing aside, the four week tournament ended in style, with a spread of food provided by the Colgate Inn, and close scores kept tension high. At the end of the night, “And That’s How We Won Korea” took home the glory, laud, and honor, not to mention the cold hard cash; their six hundred dollar donation will go to the Wildlife Conservation Society. This all-student team consisted of seniors Paul Kasabian, Mark Kleinman and Stephen Kendrex, along with sophomores Frederick Petty, Sandra Nyan and Kevin Blatz. Their victory means that no Trivia Dynasty has yet been established and provides hope for other student teams facing off against the professors week after week. But the games aren’t over yet.

At the conclusion of the tournament, after the wailing and gnashing of teeth finally quieted, Chiarello made a final announcement. In early May, the Colgate Inn will host the first Colgate University vs. Hamilton College Trivia Battle.?”We thought it would be fun to offer up a challenge to match their best teams against the best that we have to offer,” Chiarello said. “The idea is to have one of these matches once per semester and the first contest will be on our home turf.” ?

The Battle will feature the Top Ten teams from the March Madness Trivia Tournament facing off against the ten best teams from Hamilton College’s version of Trivia Night, blasphemously played on Tuesday nights instead of Wednesdays. The winners will receive a soon-to-be-created Trivia Trophy to keep on their campus until the next semester’s inter-college contest.

Chiarello voiced his confidence in Colgate’s chances against Hamilton’s teams.

“I already told the Colgate Inn staff to find a shelf that can permanently display the Trophy because I have no doubt that it will never be making the 20 mile trip up to Clinton,” Chiarello said.