The Finals of the 2018 World Tavern Trivia National Championships

It’s Monday morning in Atlantic City.  My teammates are bonding over a breakfast lunch at the borgata.

Me?  I’m walking along a wet, soulless shore, watching the waves crash into the docks.  This not me being antisocial, mind you … this is me recharging my mental capacities and refocusing my energies for the next two trivia games at hand.

After two games on Sunday, my Stir Crazy team was tied for second place with a squad called TW Winners, while another team – the Chewbacca Defense – held a 50-point lead.  But we knew that after three full games were played, the lowest game score for each team would be tossed – and the final game would all have answers worth double points.

That’s a lot to take in.

This is why things like waves crashing against some wooden dock beams is so soothing.

BlackBerry phones have a sweet slow motion feature to them.  Just sayin’ is all…

A flock of seagulls were having their own Borgata lunch.  They were noshing on whatever scallops and clams had washed upon the shore.  So tranquil.  So serene.  So …

What’s this?  In the sand… unbroken …

Oh, it’s a cute little seashell.

Gotta get this before the seagulls smash it into chunks.

And here it is.

Oh this is so cute.

This could be a good luck charm for tonight.

I rejoined my teammates in time for the start of Game 3.  “I found this seashell on the beach,” I said, “I think it will bring us luck.”

Each teammate rubbed the seashell – or kissed it – or licked it – whether it was for good luck or just to humor me, I don’t care.  It’s time to play.

The questions came quickly and all of us were able to nail answers here and there.  Questions like what horse came in second in last year’s Kentucky Derby (Good Magic, thanks Leah), which team was the runner-up in the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament (Michigan, thanks Tim), what do the initials “CBD” stand for in marijuana (cannibidiol, thanks Nick) – and we pulled closer and closer to the lead.

Our other teammates, Tom and Will, combined to help us nail a nearly-perfect round on Saturday Night Live’s Celebrity Jeopardy category, everything from who has portrayed the most characters in that sketch (Jimmy Fallon) to who appeared in both Celebrity Jeopardy the sketch and Celebrity Jeopardy the real show (Martin Short).

By the end of Game 3 … we were tied for the lead with the 2016 champions, That’s What She Said.

And Game 4 was on its way..

I needed a break.  And it was at that time that I had a chat with Tim Rich, our team captain, about how far we’ve come as a team over the years, and how much of a core we have as teammates on this squad.

And as Tim and I walked along the casino floor, we passed the casino’s new sports betting room.  Oh wait … I’m in New Jersey and you can legally bet on sporting events in New Jersey now.

We went over to the teller window.  “Can I bet on the Steelers to defeat Tampa Bay tonight?”

“Yes you can, sir.”

“Can I just bet on them to win rather than betting for a point spread?”

“Of course,” she said.

Tim looked at the odds.  Mind you, Tim can make a tidy living on fantasy football online sites.  “You should also bet the combined score on this game.”

“What is it?”

“55.  Fitzpatrick has scored at will for Tampa, and Pittsburgh does have a high-powered offense.”

So I put down two bets.  One bit – Pittsburgh to win the game outright, and one bet that Pittsburgh wins AND the combined score is over 55.

Okay.  Back to the trivia tournament for Game 4.  Point values are doubled.

The questions are much tougher.  But we hold our own.  So long as we keep hitting par on our scores (8 out of a possible 10 points per match), we have a shot.  All it takes is one question that we get and someone else doesn’t.

That question may have involved Bobbie Jo Mason.

You’ve never heard of Bobbie Jo Mason?

This was a question in the game.  “What famous singer’s first hit was recorded under the name of Bobbie Jo Mason?”

I immediately leaned over and whispered to Leah, “It’s Cher.  Write it down.”

“Are you sure?”  one of my teammates asked me.

“I wrote for Goldmine magazine for 15 years, I’ve written two record collecting guides, and if I’m wrong on this, it’s on me.”

Yes, I went with the “If I’m wrong, it’s on me” line.

And guess what, blog readers …

And after four rounds in the final game, there was a big fat change.  Stir Crazy had moved into the lead, with That’s What She Said slipping back.  The Chewbacca Defense moved back up to challenge, and another team – the Blue Dolphins – were making their move as well.

Fifth round – and it wasn’t one of our best.

There were questions about television shows that none of us watched – seriously, there are people who watch Riverdale?  – and we argued over a question about the study of time being either “chronology” or “horology” – we wrote “chronology,” it was actually “horology” – and we totally whiffed on the newest marshmallow in the Lucky Charms cereal box – there’s actually marshmallow construction technology that can make a unicorn marshmallow?  Who knew?  Not us…

To ensure we finished in the money, we HAD to get a perfect score on the final round AND “joker” it – use that as our double points round.  Because if That’s What She Said or the Blue Dolphins or the Chewbacca Defense aced that 5th round, we were toast.

The final round … famous last lines from television shows.  You know, the final words uttered before the executive producers were mentioned for the final time.  Phrases like “I ordered something for the table” (the Sopranos) or “Sorry, we’re closed” (Cheers) or “You’ll always be my sisters” (The Golden Girls).

We nailed it.  Ten for ten and a double.  400 points in our till.

But was it enough?  After our stinky round five, did anybody catch us – tie us – and beat us?

We would find out that night at the post-tournament dinner and “Second Chance Prom.”  Ah, prom night … rented tuxedos … taffeta prom gowns … fruit punch with a distinctive taste of Mad Dog 20-20…

Five teams were brought up to the podium.  The Penguins, the Blue Dolphins, That’s What She Said, the Chewbacca Defense, and Stir Crazy.

The host announced a tie.

Oh crap.  Someone caught us in a tie.  And the tiebreaker was the number of goals scored in the 2018 World Cup, and all I remember about the World Cup was that Cote d’Ivoire didn’t win it…

The tie was for fourth and fifth place, with That’s What She Said nosing out the Penguins for fourth.

Third place went to The Chewbacca Defense.

Now it’s us and the Blue Dolphins.  One team had 2200 points, one team had 2220 points.  Which was which?  Did Cher save us or did a marshmallow unicorn screw us?

And believe me, you don’t want to be screwed by a unicorn.  They have a horn in their foreheads, mind you…

Second place … went to …

The Blue Dolphins.

Holy gypsies, tramps and thieves, Batman, Stir Crazy is your 2018 National Champion at the World Tavern Trivia National Championships – second consecutive title for Stir Crazy!!

Look at that!  We win – and we also split $5,000 in first prize money!  Better than betting on 37 red on the roulette wheel!

Celebrations, hugs, high-fives and fist bumps all around.

And much congratulations to the other teams in the tournament, everybody played hard and had lots of fun.

My personal thanks also to the organizers of World Tavern Trivia for a fun and fair game, with lots of great questions and lots of silly fun games inbetween the questions.

And great teammates as well – Tim Rich, Nick Nappo, Will Negron, Leah Norris and Tom Cairney – everybody put the points in the pocket and this was a true team victory.

Awesome on every single level.

And to top things off… as I watched Monday Night Football in my hotel room, I saw the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat Tampa Bay 30-27 – Pittsburgh wins, with a combined score of 57 points, beating the “over’ for the game.

Sweet.

Man, what a great weekend.  what other time can you win a trivia tournament AND find a cool lucky seashell on the beach?

Only in Atlantic City, baybee…