"The biggest hurdle is blind luck," he said. "The hardest part is getting drawn. I'm amazed at the number from the quiz bowl community that got on. One night's episode, there were two people I knew on it."
When veteran quiz bowlers and NAQT members gathered this summer in Minnesota for the wedding of Hentzel and fellow player Emily Pike, it was a given that people would show up with portable buzzers, timers and packets of questions as well as wedding gifts, like the black nightie Emily received with a pink question mark on it.
After the wedding of fellow quiz bowlers, a late-night pickup game draws Maribeth Mason, Chris Nolte, Chad Kubicek and Tom Waters.
(Ben Garvin For The Washington Post)
At the picnic after the ceremony, Hillemann began to discreetly spread the word: Pickup game, 11:30 that night, back at the motel.
Chad Kubicek, NAQT's chief financial officer, offered his room.
"It's Number 1077," Kubicek volunteered. "My wife will kill me, but . . . "
Hillemann furrowed his brow.
"What happened in 1077 so I can remember?"
Kubicek instantly had an answer.
"William the Conqueror was enjoying his 11th anniversary."
Hillemann nodded happily.