Published on LW with permission from Ben Orlin. Originally published in the book Math Games with Bad Drawings, which is includes many more fun math games, all thoughtfully wrote up like below. And also more silly doodles, which I have not reproduced here - get the book for the full experience!

Also see Calibration Trivia for instructions on how to run a meetup for a more hardcore calibration game.

Like Outrangeous, this is a press-your-luck trivia game, where the most important skill is knowing how much (or how little) you know. The goal is simple: Create the longest list that you can, without making any errors.

But fair warning: "Simple" is not a synonym for "easy."

To begin, one player (acting as judge) picks a group of items, such as the seven continents, and a statistic on which to rank them-say, their land area. I find that pre-specified groups of four to eight items work best, but if you want, you can leave it more open-ended (e.g., the group can be "countries in the world").

Now, each guesser's job is to list as many continents as they like, in decreasing order of land area. If your list is correct, with each continent smaller than the last, then you'll score 1 point per item.

But if you make any errors-if, at any point, a larger continent appears below a smaller one-then you'll score nothing, and the judge will receive a point for stumping you.

Racking up points should be easy. You can always take a guaranteed 1 point, and even a random guess has a 50/50 shot at scoring 2 points. Yet somehow I always push my list one item too far. Heaven help you if you list all seven items: There are 5,040 possible
orders, and 5,039 are wrong.

As in Outrangeous, the role of judge rotates, and you should spend 10 minutes coming up with questions before you start playing. Make sure to pick well-known items (e.g., celebrities everyone has heard of) and unambiguous statistics (e.g., "number of monthly listeners on Spotify," not "most popular''). Feel free to pick a preexisting category of items (like "countries in Europe") or to handpick a few items (like "France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK"). When in doubt, Wikipedia is a great source.

Finally, a few suggestions for questions:

  • Countries [e.g., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK] by population
  • Continents [Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Europe, North America, Oceania, South America] by coastline length
  • US states [e.g., Arkansas, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Iowa, Nebraska] by order of joining the US
  • Countries [e.g., Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Philippines] by GDP
  • Musicians [e.g., Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran, Rihanna[1]] by number of lnstagram followers
  • Musical artists [e.g., Coldplay, Kanye West, Queen, Taylor Swift] by number of studio albums
  • Songs [e.g., "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Don't Stop Believin'," "Livin' on a Prayer," "Take on Me"] by release date
  • Albums [e.g., Abbey Road, Help!, Revolver, Rubber Soul, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band] by length in minutes
  • Movies [e.g., 12 Years a Slave, The King's Speech, The Departed, A Beautiful Mind, Forrest Gump] by number of Oscar nominations


  1. ^

    Ed note: Rihanna's IG is @badgalriri, not @rihannaofficial


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