Trivia night in Mug embraces geeky flare

Matthew’s Mug, shown above, will be home to the little known Quiz Bowl club’s new Pub Trivia Night. The team will be providing pub-style eats in the hopes of a high student turn-out. Photo courtesy of Vassar College
Matthew’s Mug, shown above, will be home to the little known Quiz Bowl club’s new Pub Trivia Night. The team will be providing pub-style eats in the hopes of a high student turn-out. Photo courtesy of Vassar College
Matthew’s Mug, shown above, will be home to the little known Quiz Bowl club’s new Pub Trivia Night. The team will be providing pub-style eats in the hopes of a high student turn-out. Photo courtesy of Vassar College

“Twelve deforming tendencies of this activty were identified by an advocate of its ‘non-transpar­ent’ type named Antoine Berman. The difficulties of this activity when faced with non-disjunctive con­cepts, such as Homer’s chloros, are discussed in an essay by Friedrich Schleiermacher. Eugene Nida con­trasted the ‘formal equivalent’ vari­ety of this activity with the ‘dynamic equivalence’ variety, which is essen­tially the same as its…”

Chances are, for those not totally tied into the academic trivia at the collegiate level loop, this format of inquiry has yet to be experienced. But for a select subset of undergrad­uate students at academic institu­tions across the nation, this ques­tion-answer model barely registers as unexpected. In fact, for a majority of these students, hearing this first small sound-bite of an upcoming question signals to them that a Quiz Bowl tournament round is about to go down.

On Friday nights, people most commonly go out with friends to watch a football game, or maybe a basketball one, but there’s also field hockey, lacrosse, baseball, soccer, volleyball and softball. For the most part, however, Quiz Bowl tournaments rarely tend to come to mind first, or even at all.

To Quiz Bowl Club Treasurer Collin Knopp- Schwyn ’16, this lack of recognition is hardly unusual. Describing Quiz Bowl, Knopp-Schwyn said, “It’s frankly a more boring version of ‘Jeopardy.’” Knopp-Schwyn understands the lack of cognizance on campus about the exis­tence of this organization. It’s an acquired taste, he understands. After all, his own exposure to the event and activity really came as a result of his association to his roommate freshman year, and Crossword Editor York Chen ’16.

For Chen however, the idea and existence of Quiz Bowl isn’t to be taken so lightly. Founder and main recruiter for its members, Chen de­cided to extend his experience of Quiz Bowl in high school into college. This began his endeav­or and success in creating and instituting Quiz Bowl as a touring organization three years ago. Despite only existing for three years, the club has gone to, competed at and been relatively successful in various Quiz Bowl tournaments on the East Coast.

As fun as both the tournaments and practic­es were, program director and member Molly James ’17 still recognized a significant gap be­tween prospective club members’ perceptions of the event as a trivia-oriented activity and its actual manifestation. Fellow club member and organization Quizmaster Alycia Beattie ’16 identified the same type of inaccessibility between people looking to answer trivia while having fun and the type of competition Quiz Bowl really is.

In her words, Beattie described how her in­troduction to Quiz Bowl impacted her eventu­al role as Quizmaster: “I remember going with York to Yale, that was really the first time I had witnessed a Quiz Bowl competition. In high school I was engaged in Whiz Quiz, which I guess is a similar quiz or trivia event that I was a part of, but in terms of collegiate-level trivia competition I wasn’t really prepared or expect­ed what I saw. At the tournament, there was a lot of frustration for teams coming up with the wrong answer and people take it so seriously that it was really clear to me that competition and the act of emerging victorious were and still are very important for Quiz Bowl teams.”

The competition and elevation of the type of questions and answers that are expected in Quiz Bowl tournaments has, Beattie acknowl­edges, been one of the major turnoffs for pro­spective members. Especially in her experience as the Quizmaster, or the individual who reads each question and ensures that participants are following the stricter regulations of question response, Beattie admits that ostensibly there are problems with Quiz Bowl as an event in how it comes across in first impressions.

James and Beattie have both seen firsthand how the semantics and intensity of the ques­tioning can really intimidate inexperienced players. Beattie elaborates, “A lot of the time, the answer to a question will be really simple and terms or concepts like water or ceramic, etc. What’s really counter-intuitive, though, is the projection of the clue itself. A lot of them are highly complex and are sometimes phrased in presumptuous language that just seems so esoteric that I see a lot of students who come to a meeting once and just never come back.”

James agrees completely with Beattie’s anal­ysis of this issue; for her, however, the solu­tion manifested as an amalgamation between Knopp-Schwyn’s previous experiences and en­gagement with a more informal form of testing people’s knowledge of interesting information: pub trivia: “Last year I realized that Quiz Bowl needed to do more outreach on campus, but a Quiz Bowl tournament did not seem like it would draw participation. Obviously, this was still a highly pertinent issue for our organiza­tion, so I went to the drawing board and came up with trivia; the main difference was that this type of trivia would not be Jeopardy-style, but rather more pub!”

And it was with that, Pub Trivia Night was born, executed and attended with resounding success. Knopp-Schwyn recalls the immense turnout they received last spring semester when the inaugural edition of the event was held in the Mug: “We didn’t really expect a lot of people to come. We were so wrong though; there were actually so many people that showed up and wanted to compete that we actually end­ed up having to turn people away.”

Chen and Beattie both shared a sentiment of shock, though in retrospect; each understood the very difference in nature and formality of pub trivia and quiz bowl questions had to be the distinctive difference between organiza­tion and event turnout. Though both quiz bowl practices and the Pub Trivia Night questions originated from identically sourced and so-termed packets of approved questions, the ad­dition of informality in a setting of friendships and bar food both heavily impacted the success and attendance of the night.

Despite the organization executive board’s trepidation, because of the unquestionable suc­cess of the night, it was clear that the funda­mental notions of a successful Pub Trivia Night had been established. Even the single remain­ing impediment for a perfectly executed night, an excess of willing participants, was hardly an undesired consequence of the event. For Chen, Knopp-Schwyn, Beattie and James, a continu­ation of such a successful event was, in exact opposition to the types of questions posed at Pub Trivia Night, a no-brainer. As difficult as it appeared to be initially, in the face of suppos­edly non-disjunctive concepts, Quiz Bowl as an organization and event metamorphosed into something much more accessible and encom­passing with Pub Trivia Night, an act that, for­tunately, was not lost in (answer:) translation.

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