Though the pub quiz is rumored to have been invented by the Egyptians shortly after they invented beer, the sport has only recently achieved the kind of worldwide status accorded to other top sports, like soccer, baseball and beer pong. And it is here, in Denver, where the top teams come to compete in the sport's biggest event: the Geek Bowl.
Geeks of every shape, size and description, from portly and pasty to scrawny and pasty, descended on Denver's Oriental Theater on Saturday for a night of drinking, quizzing and drinking, organized by Geeks Who Drink. Hundreds of them filled the theater to near-capacity, all prepared to pit their trivial brains against the finest minds ever assembled for any purpose short of the Manhattan Project. By the time master of ceremonies Adam Cayton-Holland kicked off the evening with a bit of comedy and a healthy dose of disdain for Colorado Springs -- the Denver/Colorado Springs rivalry was one of the big storylines of the night, as anyone who's followed the exhaustive coverage leading up to the event well knows -- you could almost smell the brainpower yearning to be set free.
Things moved quickly once the contest kicked off with a round of questions about inaugurations. They started off easy, but before long took a turn for the brutally obscure. Really, who has any idea which president delivered a two-hour inaugural speech? The second round introduced Ukulele Loki to play ukulele covers of popular songs, the third asked surprisingly difficult variations on the "which is bigger?" of two things question, while round four's questions all revolved around the number four.
At the end of the round, Coldcock!!!, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was in the lead, followed by the math-challenged 3+1=5 in second, and Nerdy Sanchez in third. The much hated Betas of Colorado Springs, last year's champ, languished in the last third of the standings, while in last place, the cryptically named FYOS could only hope for a miracle to dig out of their early hole. In between, fifty-plus other teams jostled for position, holding out varying degrees of hope and/or beginning to drink even more heavily.
Round five was a visual round of fight scenes from movies, which managed to trip up a number of teams with a tricky Evil Dead/Evil Dead II quandary and a few insanely obscure clips. Round six was a breather round: ten questions of relative simplicity, where the biggest trick was to not second-guess yourself. Round seven tasked the teams with identifying photos of young girls who later became famous women. Then it was time for another break, another standings update and more booze before the final round of intellectual brutality descended to crown a champion.
As they waited for an update, the geeks of Ronwell Dodge, who take their name from their alcoholic, perverted puppet mascot/team leader, took the time to evaluate what was really important. "We came in tonight with two rules. First, to have fun. Second, to beat the Donkeys," says Chris Burch, Ronwell Dodge's team spokesman. The Donkeys, (Nobody Puts Donkey in the Corner) were a team of bitter frenemies with a torrid shared past -- one rejected Donkey member had joined Ronwell, and another Donkey was a former roommate of a Dodger. It's rivalries like this that make the Geek Bowl, in just its third year, such a compelling event.
The standings showed the Dodgers ranked tenth, a healthy eight places ahead of their hated Donkey rivals. The previous year's champion, Betas, continued their mediocre showing, sitting in fortieth place, while Mannheim Steamhookers took over last place. At the top, Nerdy Sanchez and 3+1=5 found themselves tied for second, while Coldcock!!! continued to maintain the top spot as the contest neared its end.
The final round was a truly bewildering selection of random knowledge culled from the furthest reaches of humanity's intellectual endeavors -- an utterly trivial and pointless potpourri of factoids and WTF? tidbits that define the Geek Bowl. As the round ended, the room breathed a palpable sigh of relief, knowing that no matter what the final standings said, each and every one of them had done all they could. All that was left was to wait.
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And wait they did, as the scores were tallied by a tireless team of score tallyers. While they waited, the geeks indulged in a geeky celebration of aerodynamics by folding every available scrap of paper in the room into an airplane and launching it directly at rivals' faces. The Dirty Squirrels took home the booby prize -- a cup full of Chuck E. Cheese tokens -- for taking 51st place. Ronwell Dodge succeeded in putting Donkey in the corner by beating them by four spots.
The top spots held additional drama, though. Justifying its place as the world's most intense intellectual sporting championship, there was a tie between Carpe Scrotum and Nerdy Sanchez. The tie-breaker to end all tie breakers was rolled out, a multi-part question that required detailed knowledge of movie trivia, baseball statistics, mall history and math. The Scrotums showed their mathematical mettle, or ability to outguess the opposition, and took home $500 for third place. Seemingly out of nowhere, Dr. Fünke's 100% Natural Good Time Family Band Solution came in to take second and $1,000. And in first, continuing their dominance all night, the Albuquerque-and-beyond based (members came from Albuquerque, Denver and LA) Coldcock!!! was awarded the grand prize of $1,500 and the cup, obliterating the competition and the Denver/Springs rivalry that sports pundits everywhere had hyped all year. As they celebrated, a Coldcock!!! spokesman took the time to make the following statement: "This is absolutely incredible! I can't believe that we came together to win. This is the first time we ever played together. This is beyond belief"