REGINA — The worrisome part of having an April date to appear as a contestant on the game show, Jeopardy, says Canada’s Smartest Person, is that he has a couple of weak areas in his storehouse of knowledge.
“Uh, you know, contemporary interior decorators, female authors of the 1970s …,” Peter Dyakowski said Thursday, at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ team breakfast with the Grey Cup media.
“I’m hoping for some categories like CFL history, Tim Horton’s pastries, and British Columbia geography.”
The 28-year-old Vancouver native with the Mensa-level I.Q., who last year was crowned champion of CBC’s Canada’s Smartest Person televised contest, starts at left guard for the Tiger-Cats, who meet the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Sunday’s Grey Cup game at Mosaic Stadium.
“I’d much rather win the Grey Cup than Jeopardy,” said the six-foot-five, 315-pound lineman, “but I’m being greedy and hoping for both.”
Dyakowski, who attended Vancouver College — the same school that produced B.C. Lions centre Angus Reid, Montreal Alouettes Shea Emry, retired Montreal star Bryan Chiu and many other CFL players — before earning a scholarship to Louisiana State University, is probably second only to Hamilton quarterback Henry Burris as the most sought-after interview this week, owing to his approachability and wit.
He won the CBC contest in March 2012 against a molecular biologist, a theoretical quantum chemist, and “a spoken-word artist in the fields of physical, musical, logical, linguistic, visual, and interpersonal intelligence,” and says he has been “totally obnoxious about it” with his teammates ever since.
“The guys have fun with it. They give me a hard time now and then, especially if I get something wrong,” he said.
“Well, rarely,” he said. “There was this one time about three months ago …”
The latest chapter in his TV career began in January when he took an online test to be a contestant on the wildly popular game show hosted by another Canadian, Alex Trebek.
“They had about 200,000 people do the test, and they don’t tell you the results,” he said. “Then in May, I got an email in my Junk Mail folder — good thing I checked that day — from Sony Entertainment, setting me up for a July audition in Toronto. I had to hustle after (football) practice and made it in the nick of time.
“I did another test there, and then we had a mock game with the other applicants. I kind of stumbled out of the blocks, but then I started cleaning up. And I felt good leaving it, but they don’t tell you how you did. You have to wait. So a couple of weeks ago, I got the call. I’ll be on in April.”
Asked what sorts of questions he had to answer, Dyakowski joked that he couldn’t remember: “It’s almost a year ago. I’ve been hit in the head a lot.
“I’m not too worried about it. I want to win this Cup first before I start thinking about Jeopardy. But once that’s done, I’m going to put myself through a good trivia boot camp. More just practising the way the show works, hitting the buzzer, getting the answer out in the form of a question.”
Considering the distinction he never lets his teammates forget, he admitted it wasn’t Canada’s Smartest Idea to wear shorts to the Ticats’ first Regina practice Wednesday in minus-30 (with wind chill) weather.
“You’d think planning ahead would be one of my fortes,” he said, grinning, “but I was a little over-ambitious. Underestimated the cold and overestimated my resistance to freezing.