HQ Trivia: Andover Students Test their Wits for Cash Prizes

The app HQ Trivia has quickly become a phenomenon across campus. Here, Lohi Ehimiaghe ’21, Amy Chew ’19, Jacob Hudgins ’19, Elliot Min ’19, and Adam Peters ’19 face a particularly difficult question.

At 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. every day, Andover students and faculty alike can be seen dropping what they’re doing to play HQ Trivia — a live trivia game — for cash prizes.

The cell phone app has rapidly gained popularity on campus in recent months. Created by Vine developers Rus Yusupov and Colin Kroll in 2017, HQ Trivia challenges contestants to answer a series of 12 questions correctly without making any errors, at the expense of losing out on a cash prize ranging from 2,000 dollars to a recent high of 18,000 dollars.

This high-stakes aspect of the game combined with the uncertainty over whether an answer is correct has moved students like Euan Luke ’21 to play the game.

“I love the thrill of not knowing if [an answer] is correct, and then I hear the amazing, invigorating sound, ‘ching,’ and then I see the bright green light in the answer,” said Luke.

The 12 questions have proven to be challenging. HQ has motivated students like Dongwoo Kim ’18 to minimize distractions, so he can play to the best of his ability.

Kim said, “I play HQ by myself. It is crucial to play in an environment in which I can devote 120 percent of my attention towards HQ.”

The difficulty of the questions did not stop Katie Wimmer ’21 from once answering all of them correctly. Wimmer was quick to admit, however, that luck played a significant role.

“Normally, I get to question five or six, but one time I guessed the right answers from then on out. It was a lot of luck,” said Wimmer.

In an attempt to follow in Wimmer’s successful footsteps, students have worked to pool their minds toward victory. Since one of the two daily games occurs at 3:00 p.m., students like Karoline Conte ’21 find time to compete between classes and sports.

Conte said, “I still like competing against my friends. Track doesn’t start until four, so I usually play it at three. If I’m in the library at nine and other people are playing it, I will start playing it because I always forget to do it at three and nine unless there are people around.”

Kevin Graber, Senior Associate Director of Admission, has also made it to the elusive twelfth question, though he didn’t find himself as lucky as Wimmer once there and has never won the game.

Graber said, “I made it to question twelve in my mother’s kitchen during Winter Break. I can’t remember the final question. I do remember that I had no clue what the answer was, so I guessed and hoped for the best. It was a bit painful when I got it wrong. I was so close.”

Luke attributes the spread of the game to the competitive nature of Andover students.

“It spread so quickly here at Andover because many of us are competitors, and it is fun to see who can go further between friends,” said Luke.

But the recent craze of HQ has grabbed the attention of faculty, including Graber, as well. Marguerite Bednarcik, Instructor in Computer Sciences, claims to be one of many faculty HQ enthusiasts of the game.

Bednarcik admits to implementing a strategy where she cooperates with her sister not only for the combined enjoyment and bonding but also in hopes of increasing their chances of winning the game.

“If I’m just at home alone, I’ll FaceTime my sister during trivia, so we can play together. We’ll team up and try to answer the questions together, and if we don’t know an answer, we’ll pick two different ones, so we have a better chance of moving on,” said Bednarcik.

Despite the rapid spread of the game throughout the Andover community, HQ is not a perfect app. It has been plagued by technical difficulties. Quincy Cunningham ’21 has found this aspect of the game to be frustrating, especially when it comes between him and his chance at the 2,000 dollar prize.

Cunningham said, “I love to hate [HQ], and I hate to love it. It’s a great game, but it’s always bugging, and it always gets me eliminated even though I got it right.”

Bednarcik, though she notes that the game could be a passing fad, is going to enjoy HQ while it still excites the school community.

“I think trivia is always a fun dose of competition and to be able to play twice a day, live, with your friends only makes it that much more exciting. I’m not sure if this is just a passing phase, or if it will stick around for longer, but it’s been so fun in the meantime,” said Bednarcik.