Judging this contest no trivial pursuit

Judging this contest no trivial pursuit

Are you a trivia buff? Test your knowledge on a sample of 25 questions from Champaign Central Music Boosters' Trivia Night at the end of this column.


I like trivia. I like to think I know a lot of trivia.

I’m a reporter; we deal in facts (mostly).

But I’m also in that “I know this but I just can’t think of it” stage of my life.

Nowhere was this more apparent than at the recent Champaign Central High School Music Boosters’ Trivia Night, an annual event that attracts some of the community’s fiercest (more on that later) trivia experts.

I was asked at the last minute to be a judge, which I was happy to do but also a bit nervous about the potential for controversy. I didn’t want to be in the middle of a dispute about whether Australia or Greenland should be considered the world’s largest island (it’s Greenland, according to the Central folks).

Oh that won’t happen, friends assured me — but then again there was that “Desert Shield/Desert Storm” incident three years ago. Judges apparently ended up awarding points for either answer after a mixup on the scoring sheet.

I had just a smidge of concern but shook it off. This is a big event, after all, with lots of hard-working volunteers and about 250 fun contestants who come up with names like or “The Fruit is Still Frozen” for their eight-person teams (in honor of the dessert). That won for best name this year, beating out the likes of "Fifty Shades of Gray Matter" and "Colors That End in 'urple."

Each of the judges scored answers for five tables, and someone else tabulated scores. After a round or two I realized these questions were serious. I tried to answer without peeking at my scoring sheet but never made it through a round.

The questions are drawn up by “a really nerdy team” of volunteers, according to cheerful head organizer Janet Roadcap, referring to her husband George among others. (They have a spreadsheet of questions, answers, a difficulty rating and an analysis of the results.)

I was amazed at the number that some teams got right.

Who knew that Great Britain owned a small piece of the Hawaiian Islands (the Captain Cook Monument)? Or that James Polk was the first president photographed in office (not Abraham Lincoln, as I and almost everyone else thought)?

We saw lots of good-natured wrong answers, i.e.: “What was the name of the most recent glaciation to cover parts of Illinois?” Gov. Bruce Rauner.

But there was the inevitable small controversy or two.

Several contestants pointed out that we shouldn’t count just “SIU” for the school with Salukis as its mascot, only SIU-Carbondale, because SIU-Edwardsville has the Cougars. (They lost that argument.)

“Iridocyclitis” is technically an inflammation of the iris, but we counted both “disease of the iris” or “inflammation of the eye.” How about “pinkeye?” No.

My loose penmanship came back to haunt me when the “7” I had written at the top of a scoring sheet was mistaken for a “5.” And halfway through the night the overall scores were challenged by individual tables, with the totals changed after much conferring with judges.

I’m glad I didn’t have to be in charge.

The eventual champions were perennial favorites, the Bottenfield Brains (who, I must point out, were one of my tables).

The best surprise of the night for me was the group from the Windsor of Savoy, which has attended for the past five years, according to employee Ashley Deike. They brought three tables of contestants, both employees and residents, including the “Windsor Warriors.”

The consensus, according to Windsor Warrior Ruth Moak, was that the questions were harder this Blog Photoyear. She and her friends knew some answers, but when the scoring was complete “I think we were clear to the bottom” Moak said with a grin.

They didn’t really care. They had fun.

“It’s a really nice evening out,” Moak said.

It was a bit late for some of the group — they didn’t get home until after 10 p.m.

“For us that’s late,” laughed Warrior Anne Zolt, who was on her way to Windsor’s 4 o’clock “happy hour” when we talked last week.

Zolt, who just moved to town in early February, enjoyed the silent auction.

“I got the massage,” she reported happily. She planned to use it this week.

Zolt said she had a few answers right but was overruled by the group.

“It’s frustrating when you know it and you just can’t remember it,” she added.

I hear you, Anne.

Overall, though, “It was a very nice evening,” she said. “It really was. We enjoyed it.”

“You’re never too old to learn,” Zolt said.

Thank goodness.


Test your trivia!

Here’s a sample of the questions used at Champaign Central’s Trivia Night (no fair using Google until you’re done):

1. What is the world’s southernmost capital of a sovereign state?
2. The three films that have been fastest to gross more than $1 billion were released in 2015. Two were Star Wars and Jurassic World. Name the third.
3. According to TripAdvisor and many other guides, what are the three must-see pieces of art at the Louvre?
4. Which element has the chemical symbol “W”?
5. Who is the only man to play in both a Super Bowl and a World Series?
6. Cavity Sam is the main character in what children’s board game invented at the U of I?
7. Which singer is tied with Elvis Presley for having the most cumulative weeks at No. 1 in Billboard’s Top 100?
8. According to Forbes, who were the only two African-American billionaires in 2015?
9. What state is known as the birthplace of prohibition?
10. In addition to Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the U.S., what other three national flags have flown over Texas?
11. What is the closest UNESCO World Heritage Site to Champaign?
12. What is the name of the space probe that encountered Pluto in 2015?
13. Who was the manager of the Chicago Cubs the last time they won a World Series?
14. To what famous architect to we tribute the dictum, "Less is more?"
15. What popular children's book was written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming?
16. Misty Copeland broke the racial barrier in what famous dance troupe in 2015?
17. With 39, which Space Shuttle had the most flights?
18. Archibald Leach is better known as who?
19. What is the singer Adele's last name?
20. After gaining independence, the colony of Gold Coast changed its name to what?
21. What is the real name for the house used on Downton Abbey?
22. Winston Churchill was a prisoner of war during what war?
23. Based on copies sold and downloads, what is the best-selling video game of all time?
24. The Hoover Dam on the border of Nevada and Arizona was once known by this name.
25. In 1962, the Golden State Warriors reocated to San Francisco from what city?


1. Wellington, New Zealand; 2. Furious 7; 3. Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and Winged Victory; 4. Tungsten; 5. Deion Sanders; 6. Operation; 7. Maria Carey; 8. Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan; 9. Maine; 10. Spain, France and the Confederates of America.

11. Cahokia Mounds; 12. New Horizons; 13. Frank Chance; 14. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. 15. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the Magical Car; 16. American Ballet Theater; 17. Discovery; 18. Cary Grant; 19. Adele Laurie Blue Adkins; 20. Ghana; 21. Highclere Castle; 22. Boer War; 23. Tetris; 24. Boulder Dam; 25. Philadelphia.


Staff writer Julie Wurth blogs about kids and famlies and covers the University of Illinois for The News-Gazette. Contact her at 217-351-5226, jwurth@news-gazette.com or Twitter.com/jawurth.



The "Windsor Warriors" — Martha Kohler, Ruth Moak, Alyx McElfresh (standing), Rosemary Tassio, Phil Wachsberger, Sarah Snodgrass (standing), Lynne Whiteman and Anne Zolt — enjoyed their time at the annual Champaign Central High School Music Boosters Trivia Night on Feb. 6.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (2):Education, People


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