Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Studying for trivia

Every month we play trivia at River Run. It's a very informal sort of game, not a lot of rules, no real prizes other than bragging rights, nothing but a lot of fun. But this month, the usual game is replaced with a New Year's Eve Trivia Smackdown. There will be actual money involved ($10 per person buy-in), fixed team sizes (exactly six, no more no less), and probably a more rigidly controlled environment.

I am looking forward to it. I wouldn't want to play like this all the time; I like the normal way the game runs, the informality and just-for-fun quality. That's how it should be. But once in a rare while, this style might be a nice break, or change of pace.

It does mean I feel obligated to try to study and be prepared. Generally, there's no point in studying because you don't know what she's going to ask, and there's nothing to focus on. You just try to make sure your team has at least one expert in sports, one in science, one in entertainment, one in history, one in literature, etc. And we have a pretty good spread there; we're weakest in sports, with only one person who knows more than a smattering, but we're strong in music, history, and entertainment, and pretty good in most of the other categories.

There's one topic that comes up regularly that you can study for, though: headlines. So I've been trying to cram on headlines. I haven't been reading in depth in the news any more than usual, because I can only throw so much time into it, and so much brainpower. But as I go through the news feeds I am looking for headlines which are likely candidates -- ones where a key word or few words could be left out to make a good question. I am transcribing these into a text file, partially so I can use it to study and cram, but mostly because the act of transcribing it is the most likely thing to make me remember them. That's just how my mind works; back in college sometimes I would go through the agonizingly wasted effort of copying things longhand out of textbooks onto paper which I would then throw away (as I'd never end up using it) just because I knew that, tedious as it was, it was the most effective way to lock it into my memory.

Even so, I'm going in with the expectation of losing: the $10 I'll put in is the price to be in the game, and the $60 I could win is immaterial. (Our team takes second more often than anything, and while we, or at least I, might be more prepared than usual, I expect the other teams to be at least as much more prepared.) It's still not about winning, even this time; it's just a different flavor of fun.

No comments: