As the only Westchester resident in POW I’ve spent many a weeknight negotiating the goat trail leading up to the Bear Mountain Bridge to get over to Central Valley, or Cornwall, or way over to Middletown for trivia. So imagine my excitement when a new trivia franchise started setting up shop in my very own backyard. And they were even running a legit league, with weeks of competition leading up to a single finale! The promise of opportunity to compete for a “League Champion” title was enough to lure the Orange Countians and Rocklandites across the Hudson and into my neck of the woods, and we pretty quickly became regular patrons of the Let’s Go Trivia family of locations.
Now up to about a dozen bars and restaurants scattered across Westchester, but in particularly high concentration along the northwestern edge of the county, Let’s Go Trivia is owned and operated by Garry Leavy, who also happens to be the sole author of each week’s set of questions. The format couldn’t be simpler: 5 rounds of 10 questions, with each question worth 1 point. Generally there’s a prize for the winner of each individual round as well as a grand prize for the overall winner, though the actual form of those prizes varies a bit from location to location.
The questions themselves leave something to be desired: a well-structured trivia game is an even mix between easy questions so everyone playing can feel involved, medium questions that at least a couple teams will get wrong, and hard questions (I call them “separator” questions) that only the strongest teams playing will be able to answer. Usually this breaks down as 3/4/3 in a 10 question round, or some hosts prefer 2 easy rounds, 2 medium rounds, and a hard round. Let’s Go Trivia’s balance in this respect is off- generally a 10 question round will be 8/1/1, or at best 6/2/2. This results in a lot of ties at the end of rounds, and ties in this format are settled by Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Not a typo, and yes you read that correctly. Teams tied for the win compete in a round of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em to determine the winner. Cute. I can actually live with this for the individual round prizes, but it’s also used to determine the winner for the whole game when necessary, which is just… no. The winner of a trivia game should be settled with a trivia question, not a vintage toy.
Question content is also an issue. Apparently Mr. Leavy took Spanish in high school and is particularly proud of his recall of it, because reliably there’s at least a question or two asking how to pronounce a certain word in Spanish. Foreign language translations do not trivia questions make. Also, particularly maddening is the tendency to pattern an entire round of questions after whatever brewing company is the sponsor that week. Sponsors are awesome, and I love when they’re integrated into trivia in the form of prizes or having a representative from the company on hand, but using minutiae like where their second brewery opened or what the founder’s hometown is as the basis for trivia questions is kind of a ridiculous exercise.
Mr. Leavy has a stable of about half a dozen trivia hosts that were probably hired more for their ability to entertain than for their ability to read trivia questions. Mispronunciations are common, and at times egregious. Answer challenges are generally met by them yielding the printed questions page like a shield.
So if the questions are kind of lousy and the hosts aren’t great, what’s the real draw of Let’s Go Trivia? Well…location, I guess. If you’re looking for trivia in Westchester, especially northern Westchester, there’s a decided lack of alternate options. Oh, and the league thing is pretty cool- getting to compete for a league championship is a genuinely unique idea that until now hadn’t made it past the confines of NYC, and currently is not being replicated anywhere else in the Hudson Valley.
Overall Score: 6/10
Questions: 5/10– Entire games are decided by a question or two because 45 out of the 50 questions are child’s play for most hardcore trivia players. Still, just banishing the craft brewery themed rounds would instantly bump this up to a 6. Also, give the Spanish questions a break- maybe try a different language? Perhaps German. Or really change it up and do Swahili or something.
Structure: 8/10– Some might call it boring, but I’m a purist. Simple is best and it doesn’t get much simpler than 50 questions, whoever answers the most out of 50 right wins.
Hosts: 5/10– Recommendation: before hiring someone as trivia host, check and see if they’ve ever actually attended a trivia night before.
Venues: Peekskill Brewery (Tues), The Oath (Thurs), Watsons (Thurs), and many more