The first time I ever presented at an “International Tech Conference” was ApacheCon 2006 in Austin TX. Even though there were probably only ~200 people in the world who knew what Solr was at that point, and only ~20 people in the room that day, it was a very big deal for me. It was the first of many presentations I have given over the years where I practiced, and honed, and rehearsed, for many (many) hours in the weeks leading up to the conference.

But in 2010, for the inaugural Lucene Revolution, I thought to myself “What if I do something totally different? What if I do something that will be entirely spontaneous? What if I do something that will be really easy and require no preparation on my part?”

And thus: “Stump The Chump” was born!

Regrettably, there are no recordings of the first Stump The Chump session, and I do not remember what the first question is — but I most certainly remember my first thought when I heard it, which was also the very first sentence out of my mouth: “This session seemed like a much better idea a week ago.”

In spite of my best efforts to be really lazy, I worked harder in that first Stump The Chump session then I had ever worked prepping+giving any other presentation I’ve done in my entire life. It was one of the most stressful, nerve racking, and mentally/physically taxing hours of my life — and it was also hands down one of the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had at a tech conference.

I was in the hot seat again at EuroCon 2011 (Grant stepped up for Revolution 2011 since I couldn’t make it) and it was even more exhilarating — and exhausting — then I remembered.

And now Lucene Revolution 2012 is upon us, and once a chump always a chump. So please submit your hardest Lucene / Solr questions and try to stump me. Don’t let this year be a boring and easy — help make me sweat!

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