Review: Tuesday Night Trivia at University of Chicago Pub

We've mentioned before that we can't get into trivia at the University of Chicago Pub.  So, one of our readers, Benjamin, a U of C alum, graciously offered to write a guest review for us.  Read Benjamin's review after the jump!

Thanks, Benjamin!  If you ever need two extra teammates, please let us know!

Do you want to write a guest review?  Email your pitch to!


The first thing you should know about the bar in the basement of Ida
Noyes Hall at the University of Chicago is that no one really knows
what its name is. Is it the University of Chicago Pub? The Ida Noyes
Pub? Maybe even The Cloister Club? It's a standing question, and a moot
one, too, since everyone in the University community knows it as the
Pub. Regardless, the second thing you need to know about it is that it
is technically a private club - you need a U of C ID card to join,
meaning you have to be a U of C student, staff, or an alum of legal
age. After that, it's $10 per academic year to belong, plus $3 per
guest (up to two per member per night).

It's a favorite hangout in bar-starved Hyde Park, as well as being
the only known trivia game for miles around. So it's no wonder that
Tuesday night trivia draws crowds in excess of 100 people even in the
summer. That's the third thing you should know about the Pub: tables go
fast at trivia night, so come early. I usually show up an hour
beforehand to get my dinner and claim a table.

The game consists of five rounds of eight questions, with each
being worth one point in the first four rounds and two in the final,
"bonus" round. Your hosts are a squad of ex-players, each of whom
writes and reads a round. This means there's some variety in the
quality of questions and announcing. Ed is clear and straightforward;
Harold seems to be unclear on the meaning of the phrase "without
further ado." Given the clientele, the questions have a tendency to be
considerably more academic and cerebral than your average trivia game,
but the judges aren't above asking about Scooby-Doo or Dr. Seuss.
(Teams will boo lustily for a question judged too hard - or too easy.)
The average game runs from two to two-and-a-half hours.

The prizes are what keep us coming back, though: a $3 per player
entry fee to the game means the winners take home cash, and lots of it.
First place gets 70% of the pot, second place 30% - unless there are
more than 100 individual players, at which point the prizes become 65%
for first, 25% for second, and 10% for third. After the top five teams
have been announced, there are random drawings for the also-ran teams,
who can win a gift certificate for a free appetizer, a refund of their
entry fees, or the ever-popular "bar kitsch."

Teams are limited to eight players each, and there were 20 teams
squeezed into the Pub last Tuesday. We played as "The Knave Abideth,"
but placed a disappointing sixth to "The Eight Angry Jesuses." Also
playing that night: "Gilbert Gottfried's Sense of Dignity," "Learned
Hand-Job," and "Dear Jay Leno, Please Kill Yourself, Yours Truly,
America." (The U of C's reputation as a humorless, dry place is grossly

As for atmosphere, the Pub isn't so much a dive bar as it is the
rec room at your best friend's house from 6th grade. They've got your
standard TVs and pool tables, but the overhead pipes and wires remind
you that you're still in a basement. The beer selection is better than
average and they do sell wine, but they won't sell you hard liquor
without a non-alcoholic chaser. Popular Hyde Park restaurant Medici on
57th prepares the Pub's hearty, unfussy bar food. Be warned: the Pub
shuts down during University breaks, and trivia with it. The beer menu
can be a little limited the week before breaks, as the management won't
order stuff they can't sell before then. Tuesday night specials are $4
pints and $14 pitchers of Harpoon IPA.

To sum up: the questions are no cakewalk, but the food is good and
the prizes are, too. And if you live in Hyde Park, it's the only game
in town.


  University of Chicago Pub

  Ida Noyes Hall, Lower Level
  1212 E. 59th Street
, Chicago
  8 - 10 p.m.
  $3 per person (Pub members and guests only)
  2.5 (paws out of 4)

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