March 28, 2008
For Them, It's Not Just A Game of Trivial Pursuit
By: Lauren Bull, the Jersey Journal Staff Writer
Bozo's first trivia tip is a simple one - never take your hand off the keypad. The time it takes to move your fingers to press the right answer is valuable. Extra movement means fewer points.
The second tip is to have a catchy "handle" - a short nickname to compete with. And at The Lamp Post in Downtown Jersey City, there's a chance the name will stick. That's where Roger "Bozo" Brown, Bill "PnkPig" Daly, Bill "Megumi" Rushton, David "Badger" Browan and Dominick "Dgril" Grillo have left their mark as trivia champions.
"We've developed a cadre of excellent players," says bar owner Duane Guilford. "They show up week after week after week."
Over a recent four-week period, the team competed on Wednesday nights in a nationwide trivia tournament, beating thousands of bars and restaurants to take the coveted first place prize.
"We didn't train," Guilford says. "Just sheer brain power and a lot of drinks."
NTN is a televised game that runs every 30 minutes, with a total of 15 multiple choice questions per game. Feedback is instant - players can immediately see how they size up with players in their home bar, as well as those throughout the country.
Guilford became interested in NTN after seeing it in several Manhattan locales, and quickly became the first Jersey City bar to install it.
"That's what drew them to us," he says referring to the regulars, many of whom have been playing the game for more than a decade and found the bar by searching for locations that featured it.
And because the national competition only ran in select bars, Rushton and Grillo each traveled all the way from Long Island to compete.
"We're very dedicated," Rushton said with a laugh.
For their efforts, the players won $500 worth of Amazon gift cards in addition to other prize packs.
But here it seems to be more about the glory. Though the atmosphere is fun and friendly, the standards are high. On Wednesday night, after the bar finished in what would seem to be an impressive standing - ninth place in the country - Grillo shakes his head at the results.
"That's disappointing actually," he says. He goes on to say that speed is as important as knowledge. Point values decrease the longer it takes to answer. "It's not so much that you know the answer, but how quickly you can come up with it."
Regardless of what place they finish, the guys will be back next week to keep trying for that perfect score.
"Every bar develops its own little culture," said Brown. He and Browan even bring in good luck charms that rest on the bar near their drinks.
But Guilford also emphasizes that the game is open to newbies as well as seasoned pros, with a promise that sounds enticing.
"The more you drink, the better you play."