A Real Trivial Pursuit
Ordinarily this event doesn't fit my schedule, but this
year I couldn't attend my usual Saturday evening event. Furthermore,
after listening to a former player whine about how unfair she
thought the prior year's categories were, I was curious to see
what all her fuss was about. Hence I entered the trivia competition.
After completing the event, I think the whiners should find something
else to play Saturday evenings. I am really impressed with the
amount and quality of preparation the GM put into this event.
He had to come up with 25 categories, answers for all possible
starting letters, and then combine them into five sets of five
categories where the five starting letters corresponded. The
only category I thought questionable was "Pennsylvania Cities
with Population over 5000" because I thought it gave Pennsylvanians
an unfair advantage. (Not that I was able to take advantage.
Having lived most of my life in Pittsburgh but the most recent
years in Philadelphia, one would think this question tailored
for me. Yet I only got three answers correct.) Some people complained
about the "Canadian Prime Ministers" category. I say
that no one who doesn't know the first PM (MacDonald), longest
serving PM (Trudeau) or current PM (Chrétien) deserves
to be a trivia champion. The gamemaster could still improve this
event, though, by having a few reference materials with him to
resolve simple disputes, like an almanac. (I scored a round for
an opponent who answered "Vienna" for "Cities
with Population over a Million" and was rejected.) I'm also
curious why the director wouldn't let us keep our answer sheets.
.... Frank Cunliffe in EPGS' Heroics newsletter
One problem Facts in Five has had as an event was there
wasn't a real great place to hold the event at the HVI, but the
Host has the Hopewell Room, a small theater/auditorium with writing
space at each seat. Perfect for holding a small class or seminar.
Just like a college lecture hall, except the seats are more comfortable.
Just the place to hold the WBC event most like a final exam!
For those who have
never played Facts in Five, it is very simple. The players
get five categories and five letters of the alphabet, which are
written on the edges of a 5x5 grid. Players then have five minutes
to write in answers that match the category and begin with the
proper letters. (People generally sorted by their surname and
titles remove any initial "The", "A" or "An")
Scoring is actually needlessly complicated--I am not going to
go into that here. (But this year I had far fewer scoring errors
(which I try to correct in the five minutes of the next round).
At home, the game consists of the players picking categories
from a deck of cards and letters are drawn randomly. Answers
are confirmed by reference materials that the players happen
to have available and vote when there is still a dispute. At
the WBC, the GM preselects the categories. I do this for two
- That way I can make sure there is an answer available for each
box on the scoresheet. Nothing is more frustrating when the draw
of letters is something like Q J X V R.
- I can research the categories to provide an answer sheet. This
eliminates the need for references and players can appeal to
the GM on an answer that does not appear on the list. The GM
makes the final call on the validity of any answer not on the
sheet. (This is mainly done to prevent the Great Presidential
Dispute of the Year 2000 when enough Fi5 players selected Ben
Franklin to be a US President.)
There are four rounds where everyone participates. The top six
scorers and anyone within 100 points of the lead, advance to
the fifth & final round. After five rounds, the player with
the top score is declared Champion.
40players started the final exam, but the field was wide open
this year as the two players who have passed the championship
back and forth the last four years (Doug Hoylman and Aaron Silverman)
were not in attendance.
To give an example of the categories I used, here is the first
- Pizza Hut toppings (and only those used at Pizza Hut)
- Names of Popes
- Cat Breeds
- Things/People found in a court room (but not proper names)
- US Cities (Population 5000+) whose names begin with "San
____" or "Santa ____") (in this category the start
of the name after the San/ta is what counted: Example: San Francisco
is sorted under F.
Needless to say there were a lot of answers I didn't include,
especially for things found in a court room. (But I expected
that.) Two particular answers need further explanation:
- Under Cat Breeds: Calico is not a breed but a description of
the pattern of fur color. Many different breeds can be described
as "calico cats". But the Cat Fanciers Association
does not consider it a breed itself.
- San Pedro is not a separate city. It was annexed by Los Angeles
Scores were considerably up from last year, when the event
was GM'ed by someone else. I try to pick categories/letters where
there is at least one answer from every box and I try to pick
letters so well known answers are available. (I hope everyone
got B, J & P answers for Popes!) No one scored a perfect
round of 250 this year--Sean Mc Cullough came closest with a
200 in Round 3.
After four rounds an all-time high of 12 players finished
within 100 points of the leader:
Sean McCullough (582),
Paul Bean (558),
Roderick Lee (544),
Rich Meyer (530),
Jeri Freedman (528),
Robert Cranshaw (520),
Frank Cunliffe (518),
Francis Spencer, Gordon Rogers (tied at 516),
Ken Gutermuth (514),
Winton Lemoine (490),
Bruce Maxwell (484).
The final round included these categories (these should be
more difficult than the early rounds)
- Canadian Prime Ministers
- Movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock
- US Satellite TV networks (Dish Network or Direct TV, most of
these are also available on cable systems)
- Pennsylvania Cities & Towns (population 5000+)
- Current members of US Congress (Representative or Senator)
The highest score on the final round was Gordon Rogers with
122, enough to bump him from 9th to 4th place, Frank Cunliffe
had 112 which moved him up to 5th. Paul Bean and Roderick Lee
both scored 102 to keep their 2nd & 3rd place laurels. But
Sean McCullough was not to be denied with a final round 100 points
to hold onto his lead and claim the title.