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Seniors win another Brain Games

Nancy Weaver, Joe Allison, Carol Salinas and Mike Willis make up the Olde Towners.


Staff Writer

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You can go ahead and group the Jonesborough Senior Center Olde Towners alongside the Golden State Warriors and the New England Patriots as recent dynasties.

The trivia team claimed their third straight Tennessee State Brain Games championship by a slim margin at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough last Wednesday.

Joe Allison, Carol Salinas, Mike Willis and Nancy Weaver claimed the 2018 trophy by only one point over the runners-up from the Chester County Challengers, 131-130. South Knoxville and Smith County finished in third and fourth.

“Well, we came kind of close to losing it last year,” Allison said, “We won by four points last year, but this time we won it by only one point.”

Along with the trophy comes a prize of $2,500 for the Jonesborough Senior Center and bragging rights.

The format of the Brain Games may appear similar to “Jeopardy,”  but there are some differences between the venerable game show and this competition. According to the State Senior Brain Games website, “There is an element of wagering, as well as risk, based upon point values and confidence in a specific category. Senior Brain Games is both strategy based and knowledge based, in other words.”

Each team must decide how many points (2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 points) to assign each answer based on how confident they are with that answer. There are five questions per round and each team is allowed each point amount only once per round.

In the fourth and final round the points are doubled.

The subjects covered include anything and everything, Allison said.

“They can cover any kind of question under the sun. Basically the people that put the questions together can draw on any subject they want to.”

He added that the winner must know more than just the answer to each question.

“Basically what you have to do, you have to be able to skillfully bet your points.”

Allison said that the Olde Towners started smoothly but lost steam as the competition progressed.

“We were actually doing quite well until the fourth round,: he said. “We’d pretty much answered all the questions correctly, except for one of the two bonus questions. I think we were pretty much in the lead up until that last round and then we had some questions that we couldn’t answer.

“We thought that we had blown it. One of the questions that got us was ‘What color is malakite?’ which is a stone or rock of some type. That was one of the ones we lost in that last round. It’s actually green. So now I know.”

Salinas also added that she wasn’t certain of victory, as well.

“I really didn’t think we would have pulled it off this time,” she said.

While there was doubt about ultimate victory, they still got an outcome that made the home crowd rejoice.

In order to be victorious, the entire team must have knowledge of any number of subjects. Any one member may know more about certain subjects than others, and they all get that knowledge from all sorts of different places.

There is a regularly scheduled trivia game every Friday at the Senior Center, Salinas said, and many are fans of trivia shows on TV.

“At the old Senior Center they started (trivia) and I’ve always liked stuff like that,” she said. “I like Jeopardy, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? And my favorite was Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?

“We all know a little bit of everything. Mike was more towards sports. Joe was on fire the first couple of rounds. I’m telling you, he really came up with some things. But there were things that I came up with. For example, there was a question about what you don’t feed to babies under 12 months old. The guys had no idea it was honey. And I told Joe, I’m a mother. I know stuff like that.”

The winners of the competition usually host the next year’s competition. However, with the Jonesborough team’s recent domination, Allison said the competition will shift back to Nashville.

“What I understand now happens, since we’ve won three times, we’ve retired the trophy. So we get to keep the trophy but they have to take (the competition) back to neutral ground, I think is how they explained it, so next year it’ll be held in Nashville.”

As the event was held at the McKinney Center in Jonesborough, the Olde Towners had plenty of support during the competition and have become local celebrities.

“There was quite a crowd there and all the different teams brought their own supporters and everything so there were people there with signs and making noise, yelling and cheering and all that. It was pretty exciting,” Allison said.

“I think in a little town like Jonesborough especially, people are very aware of things going on like that.”

Salinas added that she has people who recognize her, which sometimes lengthens her trips to the store.

“Everybody says ‘Oh, you’re the one that was on the team!’”