Categories by Another Name ...
With stiff competition from Puerto Rico and Royal
Turf, attendance dropped off a bit from last year. Thirty-one
people sat down to compete in four grueling rounds of Facts
in Five. After the first grid was evaluated, one player dropped
out due to difficulties with our language.
A new (actually, the first) GM helmed this year's edition,
simply to give long-time GM Richard Irving a well-deserved break.
Based on the groans heard as categories were announced and scores
were tabulated, it may be time for another GM next year (if Richard
doesn't want to reclaim it, Winton Lemoine has volunteered).
Nonetheless, all 30 who completed the first round played to the
first grid was comprised of the following categories and starting
Retired Hurricane Names
US National Parks
County Names in 10 or More US States
Dr. Seuss Books
A C G H M
For those familiar with this packaged version of the parlor
game Categories, the goal is to correctly select one answer for
each combination of category and starting letter. A perfect grid
would garner 250 points, and is typically not an infrequent feat
at the WBC. Such was not the case with this particular grid.
Francis Spencer's 158 tally was tops, and only three others bested
the century mark. Average score for the round was 55.
Mr. Spencer was also the only person to come up with the lone
"M" retired hurricane name (Marilyn). He also ran two
categories (giving a correct answer for all five letters)--hurricanes
and Dr. Seuss Books. Luke Kratz and Doug Hoylman also ran a category--US
National Parks. This grid also saw our second-most consistent
answer of the night: 27 people chose "The Cat in the Hat"
for the Seuss/C combination, while the other three simply left
their answer block empty.
The second round was a little better, netting an average score
of 60. The categories and letters were as follows:
Jane Austen Novels
First Names of First Ladies
Artists with a 10+Million Selling Album
Forbes Income Sources for Rich Folk
Hall of Fame Pitchers
E M N P S
In the past, along with being called American-centric, this
event has been accused of being unfriendly to our female participants.
Hence the addition of the Jane Austen category. Well, one person
did, in fact, run this category--and it happened to be a woman--Jeri
Freedman. But the other women in attendance came up with only
one title amongst them. The easiest category in this batch seems
to have been the First Ladies' First Names, with an average of
three correct picks per person. Even so, Jessica Greenwood was
the only participant to run this category. Too many people were
stymied by the fact that Eleanor Roosevelt's first name was Anna.
The only other perfect category belonged to Irving (Income Sources
for Rich Folk).
Other interesting tidbits: Aaron Silverman had the top score
with 112 points and Stephen Glenn was the only person who failed
to recall Nancy Reagan, making this the biggest single common
answer in any round.
At this point, three players had 200 or more points (Hoylman,
Winton Lemoine, and Spencer). The next round could shake things
up a bit. The grid:
Tournaments at AvalonCon I
Top 100 Girls names of the 1960s
Katharine Hepburn Films
League of Nations Signees
Permanent Baskin-Robbins Flavors
B G P R W
This round saw our least popular category, another one stereotypically
designed to thwart the men in the audience--Films of Katharine
Hepburn. Though three of the answers (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,
The Philadelphia Story or Pat & Mike, and Woman of the Year)
seemed like gimmes, the average player nailed only 0.8 of the
five choices and 14 people skipped the category entirely. Maybe
old films aren't so appealing anymore. In fact, only Paul Bean
selected Woman of the Year, and more surprisingly, Hoylman came
up with A Bill of Divorcement. And maybe Kratz worked at a Baskin-Robbins
in a past life; he was the only person to know the sole "G"
permanent flavor (Gold Medal Ribbon). That, along with running
the AvalonCon I Tournaments category led Luke to the round championship
(112 points). Mr. Spencer ran the '60s Girls Names category.
Average score for the round: 59.
By now, everyone seemed resigned to the fact that scores would
be low, yet the final preliminary round would see our best scores
of the night--an average of 109.
2-Letter Scrabble Words Ending w/ Consonants
Top 100 Boys Names of the 1910s
Top 50 US Newspaper (by circ.) Names (like "Times")
Emmy "Best Comedy Show" Nominees
British Monarchs, not last names
E H M O S
Only Jason Levine's brain cramp (he listed only words ending
in vowels) kept the letters "E" and "I" from
being correct on everyone's Scrabble Word entries. No player
missed coming up with a popular 1910s Boy's Name starting with
H. That's partly due to the fact that there was significant overlap
between Monarchs and 100-year-old boy names (again, Levine kept
us from going 30-for-30 on the H's with his remembrance of King
Harris). Another perfect category went to Monarchs/E, with Edward
listed on 17 grids and Elizabeth on 13. All totaled, the Boys
Names category turned out to be our best-scoring category of
the evening (3.6 correct entries per player).
Several players ran a category. In 1910s Boys Names, Lemoine
(high score for the round, 174), Irving, Bob Cranshaw, Bean,
Stephanie Greenwood, Michael McKibbin, and Mr. Glenn were all
perfect. Eight players missed no monarchs: Hoylman, Irving, Cranshaw,
Bean, Meyer, Matthew Mason, Freedman, and Gordon Rodgers. And
Mr. Hoylman also ran the Scrabble category.
Doug was the only person to come up with "Express"
for a newspaper name and young Tyler Shaeffer was the only person
to come up with a legitimate "M" answer (Morning News).
Per the structure of the event, the top six players, plus
anyone else within 100 points of the leader advance to the fifth
and final round. Thus, eight players made the cut to tackle this
People Who Have Walked on the Moon
National Flags with a Lone Star
Top 100 20th Century English Language Novels
Top US Grad Schools (medicine, law, business)
Pampered Chef cooking/kitchen items
A C I M S
What seemed like the only obvious moonwalker selection, "Armstrong",
was answered by seven of the eight. Doug Hoylman went outside
the norm and selected Buzz Aldrin, also a correct answer. He
and Francis Spencer were the only two to come up with Astronaut
James Irwin, too. Paul Bean showed off with the only valid Flags/S
answer (Senegal). Doug and Paul also were the only people to
answer with a legit Pampered Chef item for a couple of our letters--Doug
got the "I" (Ice Cream Scoop) and Paul the "M"
(Masher). Finally, in this round with an average score of 65,
four people ran the Grad School category: Hoylman, Meyer, Silverman,
As it turned out, the victor of the round was also the leader
heading into the finals--Doug Hoylman. His 90 points easily held
his position at the top, and allowed him to be a repeat winner
of the WBC Facts in Five plaque (he and Aaron have now alternated
as champs for the past four years). Complete Standings follow:
Doug Hoylman 558
Richard Irving 490
Winton Lemoine 478
Francis Spencer 458
Aaron Silverman 450
Rich Meyer 450
Luke Kratz 448
Paul Bean 444
Cut Line = 368
Michael McKibbin 344
Bob Cranshaw 338
Matthew Mason 304
Roderick Lee 292
Jeri Freedman 290
Bill Cleary 278
Jeff Ladd 278
Ted ? 272
Gordon Rodgers 268
Stephanie Greenwood 264
Bill Beckman 242
Mark Oldfield 242
Jason Levine 238
Vassili Kyrkos 238
Ilan Wall 236
Ray Stakenas II 212
Barry Barnes 198
Jessica Greenwood 192
Stephen Glenn 164
John Kratz 154
Ed Bielcik 152
Tyler Shaeffer 82
Congratulations to all who endured this event and good luck next
year, when we will surely have a more forgiving set of categories.