Trivial pursuits

Ted Berg_AD_09-25-19_SN8058

There’s really never a bad time to share a photo of yourself and the legend Trebek.

Back when we could go out and see people and do stuff, I hosted a bunch of baseball and general trivia nights at my friends’ bars in Brooklyn. It’s weird to me now, in retrospect, that I never used this space to promote or discuss it, but I very much enjoyed it, and I think most of the people that came out to play had fun, too.

Writing trivia questions is entirely unlike any other type of writing I’ve attempted, and there’s definitely an art to it. I suspect that even a lot of hardcore Jeopardy! fans don’t consider just how good the show’s writers are at coming up with 61 new questions for every single episode, or how well constructed every one of those questions is.

Go to a bunch of bad bar trivia nights and you’ll start appreciating it: Jeopardy! questions are rarely a straightforward test of whether you know something or not. They’re way more often a test of how well you can use the clues presented to come to a quick, educated guess.

I keep that in mind as a goal when I’m writing trivia. Like every other trivia writer not employed by Jeopardy!, I’m not Jeopardy! caliber. But I got good enough at it that people had just started to hire me to do events outside the bar when events stopped happening. I even got myself business cards:

On Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. ET, the Quad-A Baseball Quiz will make its online debut. The estimable Cooper Lund, a regular player at the real-life baseball trivia nights, set up all the technical elements and coached me through my end of it. He and similarly estimable Quad-A trivia teammate (and my fellow former Jeopardy! contestant) Ami Li will help me tally the scores.

If you’ve got nothing else to do — and you’ve got nothing else to do! The NFL Draft is bad! — you can and should register here. At the bar, teams play for money, but because it’d be impossible to police cheating, there’s no money on the line online. Dan Lewis, of the excellent Now I Know newsletter, has offered up a signed copy of his book to the winner, with the caveat that you’ll have to wait until he’s willing to go to the post office (which seems reasonable).

Thursday night’s quiz will include five rounds of eight questions, with some sort of closest-to-the-pole tiebreak question if necessary. The first two rounds are themed rounds, the third round will be a visual round (i.e. identifying photos), the fourth round is Before & After, and the fifth is general baseball trivia. Barring technical difficulties, it should take about an hour and a half.

To help you decide if this is something you want to do, I’m going to screencap some Google Slides from recent events and turn them into two rounds’ worth of trivia here. Whether or not you want to play online, you should consider coming out to the analog versions of the Quad-A Baseball Quiz and/or The Executive Game whenever they do return. And if you’re planning to do that, you should consider buying a Barry Bond, laying out some money now to help the bars weather the pandemic and getting your interest paid in extra booze.

OK, here we go. I’m going to put the answers in a comment, so DO NOT CLICK THE COMMENTS IF YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THE ANSWERS. SPOILER ALERT! HELLO! CAPS! The first round here will be a general baseball-trivia round, and the second will be Before & After.

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Next, Before & After. You know how these work, right? Good.

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Again, the answers are going to be in the first comment below. Chime in and say how you did! Or don’t. But do join me tomorrow.

2 thoughts on “Trivial pursuits

    Round 1:
    1) A cactus
    2) The Great Gatsby
    3) “The Giants win the pennant!”
    4) Monsanto
    5) Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion
    6) Joe Tinker and Johnny Evers
    7) Connecticut
    8) The Tigers, Indians and Brewers

    Before & After:
    1) Triple Crown Royal
    2) Brad Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
    3) Reggie Jackson Heights
    4) Panic! At the Disco Demolition Night
    5) Feeling Minnesota Twins
    6) Ruben Sierra Leone
    7) As I Lay Dying Quail (we also accepted duck, despite the objections of some participants)
    8) An inanimate carbon Rod Carew

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