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The Brainy Bunch

Alexandria teams head to national trivia championships.

Team “Richard’s Lunch” is one of two teams that will represent Alexandria at the fourth national championships of World Tavern Trivia. Derek McGuire, Nick Prelosky, Jane Zaretskie, Jose “JR” Lazo, Nicole Jackson, Sterling Wiggins and Gina Kvitkovich are colleagues with the Alexandria-based Helicopter Association International.

Team “Richard’s Lunch” is one of two teams that will represent Alexandria at the fourth national championships of World Tavern Trivia. Derek McGuire, Nick Prelosky, Jane Zaretskie, Jose “JR” Lazo, Nicole Jackson, Sterling Wiggins and Gina Kvitkovich are colleagues with the Alexandria-based Helicopter Association International.

Which U.S. president took early morning swims in the Potomac River? What were “poulaines” used to indicate in medieval Europe? What are the 10 least grossing Eddie Murphy movies?

It takes brains, mettle and a sense for the absurd to win World Tavern Trivia, held Wednesday nights at the Flying Fish in Old Town. It also takes a team, with a fun name, and for some a willingness to represent Alexandria at the national trivia championships.

“It’s so much more than a trivia game. There’s more of a community. You get to know other teams, build relationships, become tighter with friends and coworkers.”

Mike Matsinger, founder of World Tavern Trivia

Alexandria teams “Richard’s Lunch” and “In Second Place” will compete in Atlantic City, April 29 and 30, for a chance to win a $10,000 cash prize. Competition promises to be fierce, however, with 78 teams from as far away as Arizona slated to battle over the two-day event.

“We plan to represent Alexandria and show our hospitality and sportsmanship,” said Derek McGuire, a data specialist with the Alexandria-based Helicopter Association International who plays with his coworkers on team Richard’s Lunch. “Winning the first time we played was icing on the cake, and we wanted more cake.”

The popularity of World Tavern Trivia has mushroomed since 2009 when a total of five teams attended the Atlantic City event. Organizers and participants credit the format for the success, which includes a round of multiple-choice questions, a “list challenge,” as well as fill in the blank answers. Trivia queries are generated from a database of 20,000 questions in 13 categories, and range from the impossibly difficult to the outrageously obvious.

Spring season

World Tavern Trivia takes place 7 p.m. Wednesday nights at the Flying Fish in Old Town. Teams range between one and eight people, and the spring season is currently in full swing. For more information and to follow the leader board visit: worldtaverntrivia.com.

“We like to say it’s a trivia game designed for everyone; there’s a huge percentage of the population being missed by only targeting trivia buffs,” said Mike Matsinger, founder of World Tavern Trivia. “It’s so much more than a trivia game. There’s more of a community. You get to know other teams, build relationships, become tighter with friends and coworkers.”

“Teams get up and talk with each other; we want to win but it’s about having fun,” said McGuire. “We rival the brain capacities of fellow Alexandrians, it’s a fun communal event.”

According to McGuire and his team, tricks for winning include an understanding of diverse topics, being well read, and to go with gut instincts; any answer is better than no answer. Most important of all is a team name that fits the group mentality.

Team “In Second Place” credits the welcoming atmosphere of the Flying Fish for the success of pulling a winning team together. “We just grabbed people sitting next to us to make our team,” said Matthew Baise, managing editor at Voice of America and member of team In Second Place. “We chose our team name to mess with Don.”

Don “Speck Slim” Fisher, an Alexandria native and trivia MC, keeps the tavern trivia entertaining with witty commentary and maintains a friendly, light atmosphere.

“It says a lot we have unique team names. Team In Second Place tickles me all the time because they’re often in first place,” said Fisher. “Some MCs play by the letter, there’s an overwhelming sense of seriousness which takes the fun out of it. I try and keep it alive, we want to have as much fun as possible.”

Victorious teams at the Flying Fish win a $50 bar credit, as well as boasting rights. The cash element of a victory at nationals, however, with $10,000 on the line, makes for a wholly different dimension to trivia play. Virginia has carried the national title for the previous two years thanks to Richmond-based “Red Fox Danger,” composed of a rocket scientist, a lawyer and a stay-at-home dad.

“Winning the first time we played was icing on the cake, and we wanted more cake.”

Derek McGuire, team captain of “Richard’s Lunch”

“The national champions happen to be good friends; they have all the categories covered, but I have a feeling they will be defeated this year,” said Matsinger. “I can’t get into details, but teams should study up on the ‘70s. In Atlantic City there’s so much more than trying to win the cash, at the end there’ll be a whole disco-themed party. Plan coming to have a great time.”