Summit Co Mensa group crowned national champs
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colorado ” A Frisco couple who honed their trivia skills on an electronic game popular in bars outsmarted some of the biggest brains in the country in claiming the Mensa “national championship.”
Dennis and Wendy Lenahan practiced on NTN Buzztime trivia games twice each week at Po’Boys Restaurant before going on to win the CultureQuest trivia contest with High Mountain Mensa’s Team Highbrow.
“Some define knowledge as a test of the obscure,” said Dennis Lenahan, adding that he reads frequently and plays close attention to TV news.
Answering questions such as: “Who was the husband of Jezebel?” (answer: Ahab); and: “When are crepuscular animals primarily active?” (twilight), the five-member team from the Western Slope bested brainiacs from Boulder to Berkeley, scoring 254.5 of a possible 300 points.
Gordian Nots, a team from Washington, D.C., came in second with 222 points.
Dennis McKim, the group’s president and team captain, said CultureQuest is the only area in which members of Mensa ” which is limited to those with IQs in the top 2 percent ” match up “in terms of pure head-to-head competition.”
Team members ” also including Jim Easter of Cedaredge and Robert Hancock from Crawford ” met at a library in Grand Junction in April to complete the 90-minute written test covering anything from American history to zoology.
“My strength is in hard science. My wife’s is in math and geography,” Lenahan said.
Having a team with “extraordinary memories” helps, said McKim, who said he did little to prepare.
“This truly is luck, because obviously there is an extreme range of questions that can be asked,” he said.
Team Highbrow formed from a group of about 100 Mensa members on the sparsely populated Western Slope, whereas other groups have as many as 3,000 members, and some entered the competition with multiple teams.
Lenahan said the team worked well together, despite how infrequently they see each other.
“This is the first year we comfortably finished the test. Every other year, we wished we could have had more time,” he said.
The Highbrows are putting their $433 prize toward a scholarship they offer to any local student enrolled in an accredited college.
Scholarship recipients are selected based on judgment of an essay describing their academic or career goals and how the money would benefit them.
There has been a “brain drain” in the high country since the competition, however, as the Lenahans recently moved to Salem, Ore., to be near their children. Dennis
Lenahan said he’ll probably remain a member of the Western Colorado group, as he edits its newsletter. But Wendy may join the group in Oregon because it needs someone to chair its scholarship committee.
Both retired members of the U.S. Air Force, they lived in Frisco for about 13 years after leaving Colorado Springs.
Mensa has more than 100,000 members worldwide and more than 50,000 in the United States.
Lenahan said he first suggested Wendy join Mensa because her mother is a member. But they both joined when they discovered that their Graduate Record Examination scores made them automatically eligible.
If you think you’re smart enough to be a Mensa member, visit http://www.us.mensa.org.