Fund-raiser asks hard questions

February 28, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. - Sometimes, it doesn't matter what the right answer is during the annual Brain Games competition at Shepherd University.

Take one of the questions in Sunday's installment of the games.

The question was: What animal call is the loudest sound made by a living creature?

Ann Portrey's answer was a woman in labor.

Not quite.

The sound is actually attributed to the humpback whale.

It didn't matter.

The women who made up the "Ph Divas" team were having fun.

"Ours is much better," Ph Divas member Lyn Widmyer said of the group's answer to the question.


The Ph Divas were one of 51 teams who came together Sunday for the Brain Games at Shepherd's Rams Den to determine which one had the most smarts.

About 300 people showed up at the eighth installment of the academic competition to answer questions in categories such as history, geography and literature.

Brain Games is the main fund-raising event for Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle, a network of local, state and regional providers that helps people learn to read.

Usually about $5,000 is raised through a $15 entry fee charged to each player, said Marge Ruth, an organizer of the event.

Teams of two to six people gathered around tables to study lists of questions and decide on their best answer. The teams received a point for each correct answer.

Like the Ph Divas, Susan Milburn was having fun Sunday.

But the questions...

"The questions are so incredibly hard," said Milburn, a member of the Warm Springs Intellectuals, who hailed from Berkeley Springs, W.Va.

The winning team was the South Mountaineers, which finished with 85 points. The South Mountaineers consisted of Bill Hansbury, Bill Todd, Jan Todd, Greg Fisher, Joanne Brown and Jean McGarry.

Second place went to "S" Words for $400, Alex, a team of employees from The Herald-Mail Co. The Herald-Mail team earned 83 points.

There was a three-way tie for third place with 82 points. After a run-off competition, the Ridge Street Riddlers took third.

If team members thought they answered a question correctly after being ruled wrong, they could challenge the outcome, Ruth said.

Sometimes, after study by event officials, it is determined that a question can be answered correctly in more than one way, Ruth said.

There had been three challenges about halfway through the event.

"They take it very seriously," Ruth said.

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