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ITHACA, NY —  Put on those thinking caps: trivia night at Monks on the Commons is up and running every Tuesday evening at 7 p.m.

Since mid-October, Boynton Middle School music teacher Mark Lewis has been leading weekly trivia games at Monks with a twist: positive and negative points.

Originally from Saratoga Springs, Lewis thought that something was missing in the trivia games he played when he moved to Ithaca.

“The content of the games was fun, the format of the games was lacking, it didn’t invite me to return to the game. You answer a question, you get a point; there’s no opportunity for a point swing to catapult you into first place,” he said.

He decided to start his own game at Monks on the Commons using Trivia Nights Live, a game franchise from the Albany area where he regularly played trivia with a group of friends.

The set-up is similar to Jeopardy!, with a final question points wager to keep everyone on their toes.

Mark Lewis explains the rules before trivia begins. Photo by Jacob Mroczek.

“There’s a lot of strategy; you can be in first place going into the final question and not win. You never know,” Lewis said.

Each game is free to play and the 20 question format takes around one and a half hours to complete.

There are four quarters with five questions each, the harder the question the greater the point value. Wrong answers earn you negative points, but there are opportunities to come back from behind with a few bonus questions.

The game also includes the option to skip a certain number of questions, and the ability to risk handing in two potential answers, with the catch that if both are wrong you lose double the points.

If your team is in the lead at the halfway mark, Monks will reward you with a platter of wings and beverages.

The grand prize at the end of the night is a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant.

Questions are general knowledge, with current events, music, movies, sports, geography and history.

There is no team size limit, thought most are made up of two to four people. Funny team names are encouraged, Lewis said, and there’s a benefit to having an age range in your team.

The team that has won the most games so far is “Wicked Smaht”, (that is, “smart” in a Boston accent), comprising  a couple and their son, who participates in high school quiz bowl.

“It’s been a mix of friends, hotel guests, people who’ve heard about the game,” Lewis said. “It’s a good atmosphere.”

Visit the Monks on the Commons Facebook page to check the trivia event schedule.

Feature photo by Jacob Mroczek.

Monks On the Commons

120 S Aurora St, Ithaca, NY |14850 | (607) 272-2111 An inspired menu of modern American cuisine with a Southern flair, complemented by an extensive list of wines, brews and spirits with a local focus....