Trivial Pursuit 'Battle of the Sexes' races toward photo finish

As days to play dwindle to a few, women hold the slimmest of leads

Trivial Pursuit login
Tick-tock, trivia buffs: Monday is the deadline for doing your side any good in an online Trivial Pursuit contest - men vs. women -- that right now is so close it needs a breath mint.  

As I type, the contest has generated more than 8 million correct answers - wrong ones are not counted - and women hold an advantage over men that can best be described as hanging by a chad: 11,638, down slightly since yesterday. That's 50.07 percent for the women versus 49.93 percent for the men. (See updates below.)

The lead has changed hands several times since this game - Hasbro cheekily calls it an "experiment" -- began back on Oct. 7.

When I first wrote about it Oct. 27, women held a commanding 58% to 42% lead.  However, that post quickly gained attention on social media sites such as Digg, Fark and Reddit, which resulted in a less-than-24-hour turnaround that left the men ahead 54% to 46% (although at that juncture the total number of questions answered correctly numbered fewer than a million).

(2010's 25 Geekiest 25th Anniversaries)

Fast-forward six weeks and the female trivia brigade had erased that Buzzblog-fueled lead and fashioned a small beachhead of an advantage, which they have managed to more or less maintain (can't say I've been watching daily) ever since.

The contest proved so popular that Hasbro extended the original Dec. 31 finish line to Monday, Feb. 22 - I'm still trying to get an exact time - at which point the company says the score counting will stop and a winner will be declared.

The contest rules are simple enough: You go to Hasbro's special Trivial Pursuit Web site, announce your gender, and start answering questions in the familiar categories -- art/literature, sports/leisure, science/nature, geography, history and entertainment. Yes, people can lie about their gender. However, since only correct answers count -- there's no penalty assessed for a wrong answer -- it's not possible that anyone is sabotaging their opposite sex by intentionally tanking questions. You get only 20 seconds to give your answer, so you either know, don't know, or are mighty fast with a search engine.

You say this contest is nothing but a marketing gimmick and it's probably been rigged by Hasbro to provide maximum drama? Well, you're absolutely right on the first score - Hasbro is quite open about the fact that it is promoting a new game called Trivial Pursuit Team. As for stacking the deck? There's nothing that I'm aware of to support the suspicion, once you get by the obvious fact that marketers have been known to do dastardly deeds.

Commercial interests and conspiracy theories aside, the contest has engendered a wide variety of reactions, both good-natured and decidedly negative.

This advertising/marketing blog thinks it's a hoot - and effective.

A Fark reader commented:  "Really Hasbro? As if the new Risk-but-with-extra-testosterone-EXTREME weren't enough, now this? Keep your Barbie/G.I.Joe divisiveness out of my board games."

The London press took notice.

And, there even have been arguments over grammar, witness this point/counterpoint about Hasbro's question: "Who's smarter than who?" (After risking math earlier in this post, I feel no need to get involved in this one.)

Everyone is entitled to their opinion about the game, of course, but this much is known for certain: Time is running out and it's clear that the outcome -- and whatever bragging rights may be at stake -- could go either way.

(By the way, the earlier hanging chad reference had me scurrying to find the actual official tally from Bush/Gore/Florida/2000 and turns out it was even closer than this weighty trivia contest, not to mention closer than I had remembered: 537 votes, or roughly one one-thousandth of one percent of the 5.8 million votes tabulated.)

(Update, 1:30 p.m.: Have checked a few times today and that lead of 11,638 that the women enjoyed earlier this morning has been dwindling. Now stands at 7,079.)

(Update, 3:45: Not trending well for the women. Lead down to 4,647.)

(Update, 6:50: Meltdown continues. Lead at 1,599.)

(Update, 8:45: Men lead by 1,601. Has seemed inevitable all day.)

(Update, Fri, Feb.19, 5:40 a.m.: Lead for men has inched up to 2,167 overnight. Based on what I've seen of the pendulum swings in this contest, I'd say it's definitely still too close to call with the better part of four days left.)

(Update, Fri, 4:40 p.m.: Lead for men now 4,055.)

(Update, Sat, Feb. 20, 6:15 a.m.: Women regain momentum overnight; men's lead slips to 3,338. Game on ... still.) 

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