Having a Ph.D. doesn’t hurt when it comes to trivia competitions.

Every Wednesday night, two Bowdoin faculty teams and one staff team go to Ebenezer’s Pub on Pleasant Street in Brunswick to compete in trivia night with members of the Brunswick community and occassionally students.

Associate Professor of Classics Robert Sobak and Professor of History Patrick Rael, who is currently on sabbatical, lead one of the two faculty teams. Their team includes local community members as well. The group used to go to the trivia night hosted at Byrnes’ Irish Pub in Brunswick, but the group switched to Ebenezer’s about two years ago.

Lecturer in Classics Michael Nerdahl served as a filler for Rael’s team whenever there was an open spot, but due to Ebenezer’s six-person-per-team rule, he started his own team with Lecturer in Mathematics Michael King. Their team includes Post-Doctoral Curatorial Fellow Ellen Tani and a few professors. Like Sobak and Rael’s team, their group also includes non-Bowdoin-affiliated members.

Social Sciences Research and Instruction Librarian Beth Hoppe, O.O. Howard Papers Digitization Project Supervisor Meagan Doyle, Assistant Director for OneCard, Events and Summer Programs Chris Bird and other staff, friends and family make up the staff team.

Wednesday’s trivia night is hosted by Ryan Sullivan, a local chiropractor. According to Nerdahl, the way Sullivan runs the night has made Ebenezer’s event stand out.

“[Sullivan] really just does a wonderful job,” he said. “Byrnes’ is fun too, but [Sullivan] scratches the itch just a little bit better. He has more categories and doesn’t ask a lot of trivia categories that are totally random where you have to guess wildly because it’s a crazy question.”

In addition, King said that Ebenezer’s trivia night is short and fast, which benefits busy competitors. According to King, Ebenezer’s typically lasts only one hour compared to several hours at other trivia events he’s been too.  

At Ebenezer’s, teams compete in eight-week seasons. Each week, the first-place finisher gets three points and the second and third place teams get two and one respectively. The winning team gets to choose the category for the following week.

In the event that two teams tie at the end of the season, they compete in a non-trivia-related tiebreak.

“We tie the staff team a lot,” said King. “There’s tiebreakers, and sometimes they do funny ones, like build a paper airplane and whoevers paper airplane goes the farthest wins. We did one where you have to draw a breakfast-related tragedy, and [Tani] drew an Eggo lodged in someone’s throat sideways. It was very cartoonish, and we won.”

For Nerdahl, taking part in trivia night each week has been the perfect combination for testing his knowledge and creating friendships with the community outside of Bowdoin.

“I’ve always enjoyed answering trivia questions, and I’ve always enjoyed games,” said Nerdahl. “And it’s really good company. There are in-jokes and internal competitions that we have with the people because we know them and we’re friends. It’s more fun to beat your friends than strangers.”

King echoed Nerdahl’s sentiment and encouraged students to challenge their faculty and staff at the 7:30 p.m. Wednesday night event.

“During the week, I’m just in the grind of being in the office or at home working all the time, so it’s nice to have a mid-week break,” King said. “Also, there’s a lot of fun aspects to it. Some of us are competitive, and I get really competitive about trivia. We challenge student teams to come try their hand against us.”