We Seattleites often pride ourselves on being smarty-pants. Not only have we been ranked one of the smartest metropolitan areas in the country by business magazine Fast Company, but we’re home to Ken Jennings, the trivia mastermind who holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy! at 74 games in a row. I’d like to think Jennings isn’t an anomaly. Maybe it’s all the coffee and salmon we consume (scientists have noted that both are good for your brain), or maybe we’re just an information-hungry city (ranking near the top of every “Most Literate Cities” poll).
Regardless of how we get our smarts, one thing is for sure—we’re a trivia-obsessed city. There are endless trivia competitions in and around Seattle, catering to know-it-alls and casual researchers alike. In a few short days, a few locals will have the chance to prove that the Northwest tops the trivia ranks when five teams from the area head south to compete in Geek Bowl VIII on January 25 in Austin, Texas.
Geek Bowl is the national championship of Geeks Who Drink, the well-known pub-quiz organization that hosts trivia nights in more than 35 area venues. Held at Austin’s Moody Theatre, the bowl will be an epic battle of wit among 200 teams, with copious amounts of alcohol and entertainment. And the stakes are sort of high. Local teams Village Idiots, Adios Mother Fuckers, Smells Like Geek Spirit, Dam Yu Syphilis, Jr!, and Force Choking the Chicken will be competing for bragging rights and a chunk of the $10,000 in cash prizes (first place wins $6,000).
As anyone who’s played trivia knows, a random and broad range of knowledge is necessary. Luckily, our teams are a diverse bunch. Smells Like Geek Spirit counts among its members a Starbucks barista who dominates Broadway musicals and a Google engineer with a commanding knowledge of ’80s pop. Chad Smith—attorney, adjunct professor, and the “old guy” expert (science, politics, and all things ’80s) of Village Idiots—notes his teammates’ wide-ranging backgrounds (from musician to bartender) and interests, which helps cover their bases.
A diverse team makes a strong team, but preparation is also key. Algorithms engineer Andrew “Rif” Hutchings, Smells Like Geek Spirit’s resident Hungarian-literature and non-Euclidean geometry expert, has been advising the rest of the team to “put down the young-adult novels and read grown-up books.” But you also need confidence when fighting the clock and self-doubt. Smith forewarns that “90 percent of the time, the first answer you think of is your best answer.”
If you find yourself in Austin, you can buy tickets to watch the event live—otherwise keep an eye out for videos posted on the Geeks Who Drink YouTube channel. And if you think you’ve got what it takes, look for a Geeks Who Drink trivia night near you.