I’ve taken part in quizzes all my life: in schools, in pubs and on TV shows, from India to the US. But the biggest secret is that curiosity, not knowledge, is the key to success. By Samanth SubramanianLast March, when I went to Las Vegas for the very first time, I made sure to pack pens and paper. I knew we would need the supplies. We converged from various points on the US map: six of us, a guys’ weekend in Sin City. On Friday afternoon, we dawdled in the Hard Rock hotel, waiting with impatience for the action to begin. Dusk fell, the neon rose, and we gathered in the lobby. Together we walked through the maze of slot machines and blackjack tables, past the bar and the steakhouse, past the flyers for burlesque revues and up into the nightclub.And there, having spurned the vices of Vegas, we indulged our own, clustered around our team’s answer sheet as a quizmaster barked questions at us. The weekend, Geek Bowl XIII, had been put together as a blowout for quiz fiends who attended bar trivia nights across the US and still yearned for more. Friday was a warm-up quiz: calisthenics before the big game. On Saturday, 240 teams spent the evening packed into a Hard Rock auditorium, sweating their brains over 65 questions. You could buy beer and snacks while you quizzed, but no one seemed particularly keen on alcohol. You drink to forget; you quiz to remember. The only Elvis impersonators I saw that weekend were part of a special round in the quiz, in which Vegas street-theatre performers staged cryptic re-enactments of famous movie scenes. (We had to identify the movies.) Another round had questions to which the answers all included types of cheese: Alison Brie, Goat, Grand Coulee Dam. In a third, we had to construct portmanteau phrases from images of snacks and celebrities. NutElla Fitzgerald. OvalTina Turner. Desmond TuTuna Helper. No quiz I’ve ever attended has provoked this much pained groaning at the answers. Continue reading...
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