Fado's weekly Brainstormer quiz night is the largest in the area, with seven rounds of 10 questions; and, for a quiz night, it has a professional setup. Pick your own team and choose a good name (the best one is rewarded at the end of the night). The host -- a convivial Irishman who swears with impunity -- reads 10 questions into a microphone, repeating each one a few times so everyone can hear him. About 80 people in the room, grouped into teams of two to eight members, huddle and come up with one set of answers per team, writing their responses as legibly as possible into the appropriate spaces on their answer sheets. At the end of each round, answer sheets are turned in to the host's assistant, who retires to the back of the room to grade them. A whiteboard tracks the leaders and shows scores -- accompanied by cries of joy or anguish -- for each of the seven rounds.
Four of the seven rounds are termed "general knowledge" -- you know, questions about the location of the White Sea, the name of the ship that haunts the Cape of Good Hope, the common name of prussic acid, presidential quotes. The other rounds are "themed": In one called "A for effort," all the answers had at least four A's and no other vowels. Some questions were easy -- the actor who starred in a TV drama set in Korea -- but others, like "A town and river in northeastern Canada," weren't. In another round, you fill in the blanks from a pool of answers. Finally, you're given a sheet with 10 "famous faces" on it, and you have to identify who they are. These can range from Don Shula to Winona Ryder to a very young Steven Spielberg.
It's a fun night, judging by the laughter from the crowd after each round, but that could be the $4 imperial pints of Bass Ale on offer. I'd recommend this as an after-work activity or a night out with a group of friends, because, unless you join a random team, you're not going to be meeting many people while the game is on. Some contestants take this very seriously, although they're in the minority. Brainstomer is not a quick evening, either -- the game started at 8:30 (instead of at 8 as advertised) and finished well after 10. There's no cover charge, but you must be 21 to enter the bar and play.
By the way, my partner in trivia and I came in third, and are now the proud owners of Fado gift certificates and a Fado baseball cap -- just one. The winners got T-shirts, Guinness memorabilia and much larger gift certificates.
-- Fritz Hahn