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Players flex their brain power at Games

February 27, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - What is Lady Chatterley's first name? Or what is the Greek name of the God of Fire, whose Roman name was Vulcan?

These were two of the first-round questions asked at the ninth annual Brain Games competition Sunday at Shepherd University.

The WooHoo Rendezvous team from Rochester, N.Y., and Roanoke, Va., took first place. The South Mountaineers from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Frederick, Md., took second, while The Herald-Mail team, S for 400, Alex, took third.

The popular fundraiser for the Literacy Volunteers of the Eastern Panhandle (LVEP) attracted 42 teams of six players, said Helene Ryan, LVEP tutor-trainer and board member. There were many repeat players this year, she said.

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Ryan said there were 25 questions in each of four rounds from a wide range of topics including literature, science, history, math, music and pop culture.

It takes about 15 minutes for each round and then the judges evaluate the answers, she said.

The results were tallied and the team scores were shown on a PowerPoint screen.

The standings can change considerably during the event, because some teams will excel better depending on the topic, she said.

This is the second year the Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Book Worms participated. Abby Brown said "the questions are hard," but the team was tied for first place after the first round.

Last year, the team finished in the top 10, said team member Pat Springer.

Michael Austin, dean of graduate studies at Shepherd University, is a LVEP board member and has been writing the 100 Brain Games questions for three years. "There are varying degrees of difficulty," he said.

"The pop culture questions are geared to different age groups some are contemporary and some are geared to those growing up in the '70s," he said.

Austin said "in the course of a year, I learned 100 things."

In addition to local players, people came from South Carolina, Virginia and Rochester, N.Y., said Kelly Duncan, the new executive director of LVEP.

"People come because they like Brain Games, and they may have friends in the area. This is a totally unique program in the world in Brain Games competition," she said.

Next year will be the event's 10th anniversary, and organizers plan to expand Brain Games to younger groups, including middle and high school students, she said.

Steve Hyde, of Ellicott City, Md., is a freshman at Shepherd University, and was one of the 50 volunteers helping Sunday. He said it's a team effort to put the answers together.

He said by participating in the literacy program "you are making a difference in the state of West Virginia. It's pretty important."

Duncan said the goal was to reach $5,000 this year to support the literacy program.

In addition to the ticket sales to play the game, there were also raffle tickets for gift baskets, gift certificates and other donated items. The grand prize raffle item was the portable DVD player with a case, she said.

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