The Williams Trivia Contest

The Williams Trivia Contest is a semi-annual event which began in 1966. Since then it has caused thousands of Williams students, alumni, and friends to commit their souls to the gods of Trivia for a night.

It is a tremendous emotional experience. We don't deal in minutia, which may be defined as useless facts with no emotional value. Trivia concerns something you know but can't quite remember. - Frank Ferry

Next Contest

The next Williams Trivia contest will be:

January 16th, 2015
Brought to you by Polar Vortex

Follow this link if you would like to join the Williams Trivia mailing list. The list is the bast way to keep informed about the upcoming contest, and also to give feedback on a contest just past.


The Contest Archive

Here you'll find most of the trivia from most of the contests, going back to 1966.

Since 2003, winter contests have taken place in January, since Winter Study needs more Trivia!

Year January May
2015 Polar Vortex  
2014 Requiem for the Blue Civic ANUSTART ("A New Start")
2013 Must Capture Moose and Squirrel Noumenal Yodelling
2012 Second Place Stars BOMO
2011 Return of the Large Hardon Collider: Harder Better Faster Stronger The Ohio Players
2010 Minnesota Pigpen La Esponja Grande
2009 Stink, Stank, Stunk! Silence in the Hub
2008 The Ubernebulous Space Otters of Alpha Centauri I'm Oxford (dot com) and Friends
2007 Suite, Suite Lovin' Lay Men: JC Superstars: Take Me, Caiaphas
2006 Gratuitous Use of the Word "Belgium" Awesome Sauce: Grammar For *** Like You
2005 Worker and Parasite Deine Mutter ist Geekenvermachtstaffle
2004 Click Here to Get Huge Mortal Wombat
2003 Joanie Loves Trotsky Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil Mutant Hellbound Zombified Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Living Dead Part IV

Before 2003, contests took place in May and December, on the night of the last day of classes.

Year May December
2002 Neutered Vampires Who Cheat at Kitten Poker  
2001 Holy Sack and the Resident Vomit Specialists I Say It's Duck Season and I Say Fire!
2000 Make Way For Ducklings, Mother*** The Funk of 40,000 Years
1999 I've Got Ives In My Pants Pokemon Labolatories
1998 A Dead Postman Doesn't Deliver Much Mail At 200 Miles Per Hour, There is No Diplomatic Immunity
1997 Gentle Tongue-Tongue, He Weeps For He Has But One Small Tongue With Which to Taste the World Cthulhu Matata
1996 A Bunch of Mindless Jerks who'll be First up Against the Wall When the Revolution Comes We Make Holes in Teeth
1995 Can't... Do... Plaid! (thud) Elvis Needs Boats
1994 Oh No! Bette Midler How Dare They Challenge Us with their Primitive Skills
1993 Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun to be With The Purpose of the Military is to Kill People and Break Things
1992 Not Everyone Keeps Their Genitals in the Same Place Phasers on Stun: The Next Generation

This contest took place in January, 1993, due to a huge snowstorm.

1991 Five is Right Out Phasers on Stun: The Next Generation
1990 Son, You've Got a Panty on Your Head Oxygen is for Losers
1989 Leave the Gun, Take the Cannolis Harry 'Snapper' Organs
1988 A Judo, A Chop-Chop-Chop Silly Me, That's Not the Talking End
1987 We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes I Don't Have to Answer that Question
1986 My Second Favorite Organ Giant Pygmies of Beckles
1985 Nasty Big Pointed Teeth Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius
1984 Rule 6 Chicago 60609
1983 Smedley Terrace Phasers On Stun
1982 Singleman Party Local 12
1981 Grape Nehi Phasers On Stun
1980 Pros from Dover Cunning Linguists
1979 Maximus Drott Alphabet Soup
1978 Alphabet Soup BOMO
1977 Buda Bear General Morgasm
1976 General Bumble BOMO
1975 House of Gee

Longtime force Carter House won the Winter 1974 contest as-- surprise!-- "Carter House." However, in honor of influential Carter resident "Gee" Williams (and Carter life in general), they changed their name to "House of Gee" BEFORE running the contest, becoming the first and only team ever to do so.
Like most teams, the House of Gee had a "Pus Line" for players who wished to phone in with any complaints. Unlike most teams, calls to that line led grumblers to North Adams' pre-recorded time and weather service.

Son of Whamo

One of two "sequel" teams to win the championship, the other being "Phasers on Stun: The Next Generation." (Unless you count the two Generals, Bumble and Morgasm.)

1974 BOMO General Bumble
1973 Wham-o

The rise of team Bomo was forestalled one semester by an 8th-hour rally by the victorious Great Impostor. At this time, Hour Bonuses were worth 5 points for totally correct answers, and anything less earned 0. It was therefore possible for an opposing team to score unanswered points, the most terrifying scourge any team in the lead had to fear. Sliding scales for bonus scores would not arrive until the 1980s, when Hours were increased to 10 points apiece.

The Great Imposter
1972 Free Tumblers Bayonettes

This is the earliest contest that we can verify as one played by the Manhattan Skyliners. (They may have gotten their start slightly before.) Always a mysterious presence, the Skyliners continue to play to the present day, giving them by far the lengthiest resume in Trivia annals. The head Skyliner got his start when he tuned in WCFM to hear one of the regular music shows. Much to his surprise, it had been preempted by a certain eight-hour substitute. To say that the alternate program captured his attention would be accurate. Manhattan Skyliners gave up December contests some time ago, but have not missed even one Spring Trivia contest in a quarter-century.

1971 Grand Duchy of Fenwick

Question #1: What is the name of the mythical country in "The Mouse That Roared"?
Answer: The Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
(Everyone promptly got this question WRONG, because a mistake was made by the team in choosing its name, "the Grand Duchy of Fenwick.")

Xanadu
1970 NO CONTEST--STUDENT STRIKE

The student body called a general strike to protest the bombing of Cambodia, wiping out the contest along the way. The Gladden seniors were unable to return that December following their graduation to host the Fall 1970 contest. If you need to know how Trivia has changed, look no further than that fact.

Agard Memorial Tube Team
1969 Carter (featuring Frank Ferry)

This was the first contest to include "Challenge Trivia." Points were awarded on a 0-5 scale for teams who themselves created a trivia question that would challenge the winning team. The innate quality of the question was as important as stumping the hosting team. Challenge Trivia survived into the early 1980's.

Williams B
1968 Frank Ferry & WCFM

Morgan was the first freshman team to win the contest. They were also the first winning team to win the privilege of creating the next contest.)

Morgan
1967 Frank Ferry & WCFM

Cliff Low, Vince Salvato and Fred Ball had started a name-the-oldie contest over WCFM sometime after the second Trivia contest. In Spring 1967, the two contests merged to become the "Trivia and OBG (Oldies But Goodies) Contest," thus inaugurating the double-whammy format which has survived ever since.

WCFM

Owing to the early format of Williams Trivia, in which the host remained constant, Carter House set an unbreakable record by winning three consecutive contests. (Individual players have since matched Team Carter's achievement by switching teams rather than stay on a winner to help run, then switching again.)

1966 Frank Ferry

Originally, the format of Trivia was simple as could be. WCFM hosted an eight-hour contest from midnight to 8 AM, same as today. Organizer Frank Ferry read a trivia question on the radio, then fielded calls from teams who gave their answers over the air. The first team to correctly answer got the point. In this first contest, Ferry ran out of trivia after seven hours. He called a "time-out," then returned at noon with two additional hours of questions. Williams D, who had been leading at 7:00 AM, fell asleep before Ferry's return, and lost their ultimate crown to Garfield.

Frank Ferry

Massachusetts' Edward Brooke had just been elected as the first black U.S. Senator in 85 years. The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" was #1. Top-rated TV shows included "The Red Skelton Hour," "The Lucy Show," and "Daktari." Did we mention that we don't have too much information about this contest?


Statistics and Summaries

A list of all known hour and super boni

A near-canonical list of all teams to play Trivia

The name derivations for all winning teams

The name derivations for almost all runners-up

The Audiocyclopedia

The Ultra List

The top 5 teams from each contest

The 300 Club

Winning Team's Margins of Victory

Essays and Randomness

Software for Trivia
     An open-source Sourceforge-hosted set of software for running the contest, courtesy of Kate Krolicki and cohorts.

Audio Boni: The Next Generation
     Toby Elliott shows how to add video cues to your audio bonus.

Friday On My Mind
     Steve Wertimer looks at 25 years of trivial evolution.

Cosmic Trivia Awareness
     Stephen Gardner with an eyewitness account of early Williams Trivia.

The History of Tonga

Des Devlin's Trivia Funnies
     Cartoonists of our times tackle Williams Trivia.

Call Me!
     Jen Elliott's guide to getting the most out of the phone people.

Let All Who Are Hungry, Come and Play
     Rachel Barenblat on the religion that is Trivia

Underappreciated Boni
     Highlighting ten boni that perhaps didn't get the recognition they deserved.

A Trivial Photo Album
     Pictures of past teams in action

A History of the Manhattan Skyliners


Website notes, corrections, and errors to Mark Conger
More content to Des Devlin