Gryffindor wins House Cup at BYU trivia contest

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In an epic yet unsurprising turn of events, Gryffindor overcame near failure to win the Hogwarts House Cup at The Wall Oct. 28.

“It just feels like we won the House Cup. We won the Quidditch Cup. I won the Triwizard Tournament. I feel like I won everything,” said Gryffindor team captain Danica Holdaway. “Couldn’t ask for more.”

The final scores were Gryffindor 655, Hufflepuff 600, Ravenclaw 580 and Slytherin 525.

The trivia competition began at 7 p.m. sharp at The Wall, BYU’s newest, hippest hangout place. The venue was transformed into something of a house common room, with students lounging and socializing after a long day of studies, sipping house drinks and munching on chocolate frog sundaes.

The Boy Who Lived made a special appearance at the Harry Potter trivia night at BYU's The Wall. (Erica Palmer)
The Boy Who Lived made a special appearance at the Harry Potter trivia night at BYU’s The Wall. (Erica Palmer)

As 7 p.m. drew nearer the contestants for each house trickled in, clad in their colors, to sit together at their house tables. The Slytherins sat smugly and whispered to each other, the Ravenclaws sat studying their notes, and the Hufflepuffs let their school spirit soar, chanting “Hufflepuff, Hufflepuff” anytime their house was mentioned. The Gryffindor team, the only team comprised of all females, chatted amicably and confidently with each other while snacking on jelly slugs, chocolate frogs, and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. And there might have been a sighting of a certain baby with a scar sitting by a mother at the Gryffindor table…

Ben Grange, employee at The Wall, said he has always wanted to host a Harry Potter event, but his boss was skeptical.

“So I told him, ‘Let me do an event, and let me show you that there are people on campus that love Harry Potter,'” Grange said. “So in July we threw a Harry Potter birthday party, and…it was the biggest event we’ve ever done here. And people asked for more, so we planned a Halloween party.”

There were 80 questions in the trivia competition, all hand-chosen by Grange himself. One team member from each house stepped up to the table for each question, wrote the answer down, and was awarded points accordingly.

Grange said although he didn’t know the level of ability of each of the players, he expected that the Gryffindor team would take the cup because Provo’s own Harry Potter Book Club booked out the entire Gryffindor team.

The club was started by team captain Holdaway, a BYU-grad from Mapleton, Utah. She said she started the club, which has around 50 members on Facebook, after her husband started to get sick of her talking about Harry Potter so much.

“It’s just people who like to nerd out about Harry Potter and we’re just kindred spirits,” she said.

Host Ben Grange gives the instructions for the Harry Potter trivia contest at The Wall. (Erica Palmer)
Host Ben Grange gives the instructions for the Harry Potter trivia contest at The Wall. (Erica Palmer)

The trivia contest began with easy five-point questions that only the most ignorant muggle would miss, such as “What color are Harry’s eyes?” and “Which character owns a toad?” Gryffindor took an early lead, gaining confidence as the colorful chocolate rubies (known to muggles as M&Ms) began to fill up their goblet, signifying the score.

As the game marched on, the easy five-point questions gave way to harder 10-pointers, such as “What is Ron’s middle name?” (Billius) and “What percent did Hermione get on her Charms exam in her first year?” (112 percent). Next came the twenty-point questions, such as “How old was Voldemort when he died?” (71).

Living up to the phrase inscribed on the Diadem of Ravenclaw, “Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure” (which was also a twenty-point question), Ravenclaw knocked out a streak of right answers, taking the lead and sending Gryffindor into third. Slytherin slyly snuck to the top, battling Ravenclaw for first, and the Hufflepuffs kept up their school spirit regardless of the amount of chocolate rubies in their goblet.

The biggest blow to Gryffindor came with the question “In The Chamber of Secrets, what object does Peeves break, at the suggestion of Nearly Headless Nick, to get Harry out of trouble with Filch?”

Jessica Walker, the Gryffindor team MVP, answered “banishing cabinet” instead of “vanishing cabinet,” and after jeers and shouts from the Slytherin team, Grange was forced to mark the answer wrong.

The Slytherin team celebrates after a question puts them in the lead. (Ari Davis)
The Slytherin team celebrates after a twenty-point question puts them in the lead. (Ari Davis)

It was looking like all was lost for the courageous lions as they fell into fourth place, Slytherin gladly took first, and Ravenclaw got ready to up their game.

The last 11 questions of the trivia contest were more than hard; they were “Potterhead” hard. These 50-point questions were not for the faint of heart, and only a muggle that lives and breathes Harry Potter possibly had a chance to answer them correctly.

In the face of such peril, the Gryffindors’ courage finally emerged. They knew how many staircases there were at Hogwarts (142), Hermione Granger’s exact birthday (Sept. 19, 1979) and who all the males in the Weasley family are named after (King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table). No other house could answer. Gryffindor was back in the game.

It was time for the second-to-last question, and although Gryffindor was back in the running they couldn’t afford to answer incorrectly.

One of the less confident members of the Gryffindor team, Haley Carlson, was up. The room listened with bated breath as Grange asked the question, “How many types of fouls are there in Quidditch?”

The Gryffindor team burst into cheers and shouts, and Carlson triumphantly scribbled down the answer (700) while the other contestants gazed at their papers as though they had been just been confunded.

It turns out that Carlson had seen this question on the Internet in her pre-competition studies and had mentioned it to Holdaway as they were getting out of the car at the venue. By the luck of the draw (or did someone sneak a sip of Felix Felicis?), Carlson was the one to answer the question.

Haley Carlson, Gryffindor, and the other three contestants wait with baited breath as the second-to-last question is presented. Carlson knew the difficult question and her points put Gryffindor back in the lead. (Ari Davis)
Haley Carlson, Gryffindor, and the other three contestants wait with baited breath as the second-to-last question is presented. Carlson knew the difficult question and her points put Gryffindor back in the lead. (Ari Davis)

Holdaway said this was the most intense moment of the entire competition, when Gryffindor finally realized that victory was theirs.

“We were down, and Slytherin had been giving us a hard time as those Slytherins do, and it came down to questions that were really, really hard,” Holdaway said. “We were struggling. We were just at the table like, ‘Oh my gosh, what are we doing.’ And then one of our members was able to get a clutch question…It was fantastic.”

The scene was akin to the Gryffindor common room after coming out victorious from a particularly close quidditch match. The Gryffindors celebrated and reminisced of years past, many comparing their victory to the year of the Sorcerer’s Stone, when the house came back from fourth place on the last night of the term to take the cup.

“Basically, I love Harry Potter more than anything,” Walker said. “I listen to it every day and watch it. …It feels amazing to win, because we all thought we were going to lose. But we came back, and we were awesome. We kicked butt, and we’re all just so happy.”

The trivia contest was the second event in The Wall’s week of Harry Potter, which includes a Halloween bash on Friday night with a local wizard rock band coming to play live. Daily Prophet reporter Rita Skeeter’s preview of the events can be found here.

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