Use it or lose it: Church Hill seniors place second in state Brain Games

Jeff Bobo • Oct 29, 2019 at 8:00 PM

CHURCH HILL — “Jeopardy!” contestants have to be pretty smart, but that’s child’s play compared to what the Church Hill Senior Center’s Brain Games team members were expected to know Thursday in Nashville.

How many members are in the British parliament? What’s the largest island in the Canary Islands? What color is a piebald horse? What is a master glass blower called? (The answers are at the bottom of this article.)

Church Hill’s Golden Nuggets placed second at the Oct. 24 Tennessee Commission on Aging and Disabilities 2019 Tennessee Senior Brain Games Championship in Nashville.

Those were the only four questions they missed out of 20, and getting just one of those four right would have handed them the state title.

Church Hill’s best finish ever

In order to reach the Nashville championship match Thursday, Church Hill first had to beat eight teams in Johnson City’s district championship in August, and then two other district winners in Knoxville’s regional championship earlier this month.

Although it was the Golden Nuggets’ third district title in a row and fourth since 2013, this was their first ever regional title and first trip to the state championship in seven years of Brain Games competition.

Chester County, representing West Tennessee, took the state championship, and Lawrence County from Middle Tennessee finished third behind Church Hill.

Encouraged and determined to work harder

It was a disappointment not to win, but Church Hill team members Evelyn Shrout, Vera Spradlin, Anna Long and alternate Carol Hunt told the Times News Tuesday their second place finish only made them more encouraged and determined to work harder to win the state title next year.

“We’ll be back,” Spradlin said.

“We want to win it all,” Shrout added.

However, the Golden Nuggets answered some hard questions correctly.

Spradlin was particularly proud of answering, “What is a period of a polo match called?”

She doesn’t know anything about the sport, but she knew the answer was “chukkers” because while spending time with her son in South Carolina, they visited a polo-themed pub with the same name.

“That’s the only polo term I knew, so I said, it must be this,” Spradlin said.

Spradlin added, “It’s totally random (questions) and just based on general knowledge. You never know which categories to study, so we just study a broad range of categories. Sometimes we know the answers, and sometimes we don’t.”

Some other correct answers

What prepared coffee is named after the hood of monks? Cappuccino.

I began in 1636, crimson is my favorite color and I’m located in Massachusetts? Harvard University.

Shrout: “At first we said Boston, and the more I sat there, I said I know it’s a place in 1636. I said, ‘That’s Harvard’, and we changed it real quick.”

Who was the youngest president of the United States? Theodore Roosevelt.

Ringo Starr’s real name? Richard Starkey.

What cat goes limp when it’s picked up? Rag Doll.

What is the arena called in track cycling? Velodrome. 

In the wild west, what place was referred to as the calaboose? Jail.

What bird does superstition say sailors should not kill? Albatross.

The practice regimen?

The Golden Nuggets practice at the Senior Center about three hours per week.

Shrout: “(Senior Center director) Tammy (Bentley) reads us questions, and we’ve got all kinds of Trivial Pursuit books, and we pull trivia questions off the Internet.”

Spradlin: “We watch ‘Jeopardy!’ all the time.

Long: “And ‘The Chase.’ ”

Spradlin: “We watch a lot of PBS and National Geographic shows.”

Long: “Smithsonian (Network). We’re all perpetual students. I think that’s what it requires to be on the team. So many people don’t want to be on the team because you have to be willing to do research on your own. You have to be willing to study and practice once or twice per week.”

Does each teammate have a specialty?

Shrout said her best subject is history and geography, while Spradlin excels in in science categories, and Long is good at movies, entertainment and media categories. Carol Hunt said she's just a “jack of all trades” when it comes to trivia.

What’s the plan for next year?

Long: “Study obscure little things.”

Spradlin: “And they’ll always ask you what you haven’t studied.”

Shrout: “It’s just like ‘Jeopardy!’ You never know what the categories are going to be.”

Long: “Each of us want to continue learning, and we want to retain what we have learned. Just try to keep studying. If you don’t use it, you’re going to lose it.”

(Answers: 650; Tenerife; black and white; and a gaffer.)