816 Diversions

Tony Rizzo: Running the kingdom of Friday night trivia is no trivial pursuit

Back in the day, on a Friday night of trivia at The Brick, Roland Reschke totaled up the final points held by each team.
Back in the day, on a Friday night of trivia at The Brick, Roland Reschke totaled up the final points held by each team. The Kansas City Star

You don’t need to be a genius to match wits with Roland Reschke every Friday night.

But you do need to be humble.

Because no matter how smart you think you are, when you sign up to play the Trivia Riot game hosted by Reschke, you soon find out that there are plenty of things you don’t know.

This realization comes from many painful years of experience.

I’m one of those irritating people who shouts out the answers while watching “Jeopardy,” and can never find anybody who wants to take me on playing Trivial Pursuit.

So it was with a certain “trivial cockiness” that I stumbled into a bar (far better than stumbling out of one) one night and discovered the wonderful world of barroom trivia games.

Fortunately it was Trivia Riot I chanced upon because, according to some of the regulars who play similar games at other venues around town, Trivia Riot is arguably the best.

And by best I mean most challenging.

But, win or lose, it’s also a lot of fun. That’s in large part because of the affable host, who this month commemorated his seventh anniversary of running the show.

For Reschke, who recently retired from his day job as a middle school English teacher, the hosting gig grew out of his time as a player along with his wife, Brenda, who now helps run Trivia Riot.

The game was then held at The Brick, near downtown Kansas City, and while playing, Reschke said he thought about things he could do differently or better. When the chance to fill in as a substitute host arose, he jumped at it.

He then started his own game at a bar in Independence, where the couple lives. They started hosting a second weekly game at an Independence coffee shop, before the Trivia Riot host moved out of the area, and Reschke took over in 2007.

Seven years later and now held at Helen’s bar in North Kansas City, Trivia Riot and Reschke are still going strong.

“I continue to do it because I have a lot of fun doing it,” he said. “I enjoy doing the research and the writing, and the hosting part fills the part of me that loves to perform.”

And that research and writing is no slapped-together chore. Reschke estimates he spends an average of 10 to 15 hours a week preparing the questions for each week’s game.

“I hope it shows,” he said.

It does, Roland.

I’ve been playing about five years or so, not as regularly as I used to, but as often as I can.

While he still enjoys doing it, Reschke said one of his big motivations for continuing the tradition is the responsibility he feels to the regulars who have supported the game for years.

“Their loyalty is something I take very seriously and I don't want to disappoint people,” he said.

If you like a mental challenge and a couple of hours to spend on a Friday night, then swing by Helen’s on Armour Road. It costs $5 per player and the chance awaits you to win enough to cover your bar tab and then some.

It starts at 7:30 p.m. and you need to be prompt.

As Reschke says each week: “Welcome to Trivia Riot, the trivia game that starts on time.”

To reach Tony Rizzo, call 816-234-4435 or send email to trizzo@kcstar.com.