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The Anasazi grew cotton, and other lessons from adult Knowledge Bowl

By Rachel Sauer

Trivia time! The category: bad years. The clue: These lines were written about what year?

Well? What year was it?

What do you mean, you have no idea because the actual lines haven’t been read? It was 1929, of course!

True story: This really happened. At the April 14 adult Knowledge Bowl to raise money for the Grand Junction High School Knowledge Bowl team, someone — I will not name names except to say he’s a local judge, he’s very smart and his name rhymes with Mottger — answered the question from that portion of the clue. And he was right!

You cannot tell me the dark arts were not involved.

So, yes, Melinda and I were on The Daily Sentinel’s Knowledge Bowl team — us, news editor Dave Haynes and city editor Tim Harty. Melinda declared that TDS didn’t stand for The Daily Sentinel this day, but The Dave Show. He’s extremely smart and we were there in an auxiliary support capacity.


(Melinda and Dave Haynes, our ringer.)


But! Melinda and I are no slouches. We both scored well on the ACT and graduated with decent GPAs from respectable universities. We’ve been around. We know stuff. So, while we didn’t necessarily strut into the Knowledge Bowl, we didn’t humbly crawl, either. We could do this!

The annual event, organized by GJHS Knowledge Bowl coaches Lynn and Lorena Thompson, is a longtime tradition, a chance to help raise money for hard-working students and (secretly) see how smart you are compared to other smarty-pants in the community.

Oh, false pride! You are a cruel mistress.

We started with a written test composed of 60 multiple-choice questions. There were questions about grammar and we knew the heck out of those! And questions about history! And about… math.


How many journalists does it take to solve a math problem? We don’t know; we’re not good with numbers.

As our 30 minute test-taking window wound down, we started guessing. I can’t even remember what we were guessing — the questions all blurred together. As I recall, there was something about chemical compounds and Anasazi crops (side note to He Who Shall Not Be Named: I was petty enough to go home and Google it. I told you the Anasazi grew cotton, not that anybody likes an I-told-you-so-er.).



Then it was on to the oral round. Three teams — there were about 24 teams participating — competed in each round, and we all had buzzers to ring in when we knew the answers. Which, for the first two rounds, we kind of did! The Dada movement? Know it! Threescore expressed in Roman numerals? LX, of course! Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land” identified by its first five opening words? Don’t mind if we do!

So, that was the first two rounds, which we won.

Then. Then.

We went up against a team named, with excruciating foreshadowing, Queen Anne’s Revenge. It’s a team composed of former GJHS Knowledge Bowl team members and they are, not to put too fine a point on it, SO STINKING SMART HOLY COW HOW’S IT EVEN POSSIBLE. Plus, they know all these sneaky Knowledge Bowl tricks.

The other team was named the Legion of Doom, and ditto them what I just said about the Queen Anne’s Revenge. We, the Daily Sentinel team, were lambs to the slaughter.

They buzzed in when just one or two words of the clue had been read: “This element…”



And more times than not, it was correct. Suddenly, I regretted all the time I’d spent reading Us Magazine instead of, say, “Gray’s Anatomy.”

Needless to say, we ended the round with five points and didn’t make the finals (having been nudged out by a team called the Rogue Squadron). But it was fun! Dave and Tim are champs, and Melinda and I discovered we are excellent at writing down math problems.

Solving them? Not so much.

That’s OK, though. Any time the members of Queen Anne’s Revenge want to go head-to-head on Pop Music of the 1980s, say, or Invasive, Non-Native Snakes of the Everglades, we are prepared to school them.


(The trophy we didn't win. It was filled with Dum Dums.)



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