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Original article

February 28, 2008

No Trivial Matter
By: Kim Hone-McMahan, Beacon Journal staff writer

Team gathers regularly in Stow for mind games. Only brainpower is allowed in this competition

Meet University of Akron history professor Kevin Kern's alter-ego, Anon. That's the name he uses when he gathers on Tuesday nights with pals at Damon's Grille in Stow.

''Battle stations!'' he shouted.

''Whoop! Whoop!'' Heather Joyner responded, imitating a battleship siren.

The group of a couple dozen, which calls itself The Fellowship, nestled closer to the bar.

For months, it had been ranked one of the best trivia teams in the world, even winning accolades from Buzztime, the company that offers play-along games for places like Damon's. But on this winter's night, the McCarthy Cup was the goal.

You see, in other competitions, some teams use computers to search for answers, but only player brainpower is allowed in the McCarthy Cup tournament. Winning becomes a show of true intelligence.

The questions appeared on the televisions, placed near the ceiling of the horseshoe-shaped bar. Showdown, the ultimate trivia challenge, was the game. To win the cup, the team had to beat one playing in Houston, Texas.

The area players hold various jobs, including mathematician, software engineer, truck driver and professors at the University of Akron. To say they are smart is a gross understatement. But that impressive gray matter is also handy at poking fun.

''Um, when you get a chance,'' Twinsburg's Dave Runta, alter-ego Wrath, motioned to the barkeeper. ''I know they are all concerned about the questions, but I'm more concerned about beer.''

Within seconds, a Sam Adams appeared.

When questions popped on the screens, everyone shouted their answers. The idea was to work together.

''I mean this in the most platonic way, Botan (short for botany), I am so hot for you right now,'' Runta said after UA professor Bob Barrett offered a solution to a particularly difficult query.

Everyone laughed.

More than a hour after the start of the game, the wait for the results began. The rankings would determine the winner of the cup. Players grumbled about it taking too long.

Kern, who doesn't like being called the team coach, though he is, said that the originators of the McCarthy tournament named the trophy after a bartender who disliked trivia. So much so, that in the middle of a big game, he turned the channel on the bar TV to a minor sporting event.

''Here are the results!'' someone shouted.

A few leaned in for a closer look at the televisions.

''Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new McCarthy Cup champions,'' Kern said, congratulating his teammates.

Nerds, and proud of it.
Kim Hone-McMahan's Sketches are short tales you can read before finishing your first cup of coffee. Know of a behind-the-scenes person or unheralded happening? Call 330-996-3742 or write kmcmahan@thebeaconjournal.com.



Meet University of Akron history professor Kevin Kern's alter-ego, Anon. That's the name he uses when he gathers on Tuesday nights with pals at Damon's Grille in Stow.

''Battle stations!'' he shouted.

''Whoop! Whoop!'' Heather Joyner responded, imitating a battleship siren.

The group of a couple dozen, which calls itself The Fellowship, nestled closer to the bar.

For months, it had been ranked one of the best trivia teams in the world, even winning accolades from Buzztime, the company that offers play-along games for places like Damon's. But on this winter's night, the McCarthy Cup was the goal.

You see, in other competitions, some teams use computers to search for answers, but only player brainpower is allowed in the McCarthy Cup tournament. Winning becomes a show of true intelligence.

The questions appeared on the televisions, placed near the ceiling of the horseshoe-shaped bar. Showdown, the ultimate trivia challenge, was the game. To win the cup, the team had to beat one playing in Houston, Texas.

The area players hold various jobs, including mathematician, software engineer, truck driver and professors at the University of Akron. To say they are smart is a gross understatement. But that impressive gray matter is also handy at poking fun.

''Um, when you get a chance,'' Twinsburg's Dave Runta, alter-ego Wrath, motioned to the barkeeper. ''I know they are all concerned about the questions, but I'm more concerned about beer.''

Within seconds, a Sam Adams appeared.

When questions popped on the screens, everyone shouted their answers. The idea was to work together.

''I mean this in the most platonic way, Botan (short for botany), I am so hot for you right now,'' Runta said after UA professor Bob Barrett offered a solution to a particularly difficult query.

Everyone laughed.

More than a hour after the start of the game, the wait for the results began. The rankings would determine the winner of the cup. Players grumbled about it taking too long.

Kern, who doesn't like being called the team coach, though he is, said that the originators of the McCarthy tournament named the trophy after a bartender who disliked trivia. So much so, that in the middle of a big game, he turned the channel on the bar TV to a minor sporting event.

''Here are the results!'' someone shouted.

A few leaned in for a closer look at the televisions.

''Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the new McCarthy Cup champions,'' Kern said, congratulating his teammates.

Nerds, and proud of it.

Kim Hone-McMahan's Sketches are short tales you can read before finishing your first cup of coffee. Know of a behind-the-scenes person or unheralded happening? Call 330-996-3742 or write kmcmahan@thebeaconjournal.com.



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