The delightfully iffy game called “Fifty-Fifty Trivia” was created by Martin Eiger, who invents many concepts and games, using words and ideas as the main building material. Eiger is, among other things, our Limerick Laureate—you can see his limericks, in any issue of the magazine (Annals of Improbable Research, with each limerick describing something that won an Ig Nobel Prize) or the newsletter (mini-AIR, with each limerick describing a published research study) over the past many years. Today he wrote us the following description of Fifty-Fifty Trivia:
Fifty-Fifty Trivia is a small, e-mail based trivia game. The game consists of three components: writing questions, answering, and predicting. Players submit a question, with the objective that half of the players will be able to answer it correctly. Players then answer each other’s questions, and they predict, for each question, whether the actual number of correct answers will be greater than 50% or less than 50%.
In the recently completed game, this was one of the questions: Andre Geim received an award in 2000 for his work on magnetism and another in 2010 for his work with graphene. Many people have received one or the other of these awards, but he is the only person who has received both. What awards are they? We are looking for the names of the two awards (e.g., Academy Award), not categories (e.g., Academy Award for Best Director).
Twenty people submitted answers. Nine were correct (Ig Nobel Prize and Nobel Prize). The incorrect answers all included Nobel Prize, but they paired off with the Fields Medal (4 answers), Pulitzer Prize (2), Medal of Freedom, MacArthur Grant, Science Prize (not sure what that is), and my favorite, the Darwin Award.
One person, whose answer was correct, added, “A guess, because it’s the funniest answer. Might be wrong, of course. I also considered the Darwin Award instead of IgNobel Prize.” Another, whose answer was incorrect, added, “Now that I’ve submitted and looked up the answers, I want to commend Question 14. Great piece of trivia!!”
Full disclosure: I invented this game over 25 years ago, ran it at a few games parties and other social events, and created the on-line version during the early days of Covid. I moderate the game. I submit a question every month, but I don’t submit answers or predictions. I’ll let you guess whether that’s because it would be unfair, since I vet the questions, or because I know the answers to so few of them. Spoiler: both.
If you want to play the game, or simply want more info from its inventor, email a pleasant query to <fifty.fifty.trivia ATTTTT gmail DOTTTT com>