Trivia Team Beats the Inmates From Mass. State Penitentiary

The Harvard Trivia Team, an unofficial student organization, beat the inmates of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Norfolk Saturday night. The contest was arranged by player-coach Lewis R. First '76 and the Prisons Committee of Phillips Brooks House.

First organized the Trivia Team last year at the request of Dr. Jerome Rogoff '60, himself a member of a team of Boston area doctors. Rogoff told First that he wanted the Norfolk squad exposed to competition from Harvard. The inmates subsequently beat Harvard in both contests last year.

Nothing But Time

First said yesterday that the team's triumph 201-178 was "an upset, considering that we don't even get together to practice." He noted that the inmates practice every Friday for two hours.

The contest was run very much like the old television show, College Bowl. There were two five-member teams playing thirty minute halves. The first team member to press his button had to answer the question by himself. If he missed, the other squad could confer for ten seconds before answering. Questions were assigned different point values, based on their difficulty.


Harvard squad members had very different reactions to their visits to Norfolk. Richard S. Green '76 said, "I was amazed by how much the inmates knew. I talked with one of them at length about the reign of Amenhotep IV, an Egyptian Pharaoh who ruled during the Amarna Period."

Marjorie Shulman '76 said that she too tried to have an intellectually oriented discussion but "wound up getting the sad stories of their lives because I was the only woman on the squad. I was 100 per cent discomfited the whole time that I was fraternizing with them."

Green noted that the match was an important social event for the prisoners. "They love to have contact with the outside. They kept asking me when I would come back," he said. First said that the prisoners bought all of the refreshments for the post-game party out of the money they earned by working during the week.

First has scheduled a match with the team of Boston doctors for December. He also has contacted Joseph Albiani and Dennis Helden, hosts of Channel 38's trivia show, about the possibility of a televised rematch with the inmates in February.