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Competitive Trivia

Five Bars Where You Can Drill Your Noggin

Sunday, April 3, 2005; Page M07

Hey, smarty-pants: Do you think you could top Ken Jennings's "Jeopardy" championship run, if you just had the chance? Head to one of these area watering holes to prove that your trivia knowledge isn't so trivial. Lightning-fast masters of the buzzer will appreciate the chance to show that they know how many sides a rhombus has (duh, four) and which monsters are killed using a silver bullet (werewolves, natch), all while winning prizes. Less cutthroat bar patrons just looking for a diversion while swilling suds won't be disappointed either -- at most trivia games, the fun is in trying. Best of all, the competition is free -- even if the beer isn't.

CHAMPION BILLIARDS. 904 Upper Fairlawn Ave., Laurel. 301-604-1300. If pool isn't your game or you feel brainier than the howling basketball fans at this mega-sports bar, ask for a keyboard to hook up to NTN, a California-based national trivia network that beams all over the country via satellite. Games reward both generalists and masters of arcana; topics include current events and classic TV. Champions also recently added live trivia nights, which change this week from Wednesdays to Sundays at 7 p.m., when winners score gift certificates.

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FADO IRISH PUB. 808 Seventh St. NW. 202-789-0066. Highly organized (well, by bar-game standards) trivia games get underway Mondays at 8 p.m. at this Penn Quarter tavern. Questions are generally breezy -- suited to the khaki-clad crowd of recent college grads more interested in hooking up than winning Mensa awards -- with a few stumpers thrown in. The game rewards both style and substance: Organizers award a prize for the cleverest team name.

IRELAND'S FOUR PROVINCES. 105 W. Broad St., Falls Church. 703-534-8999. Do-or-die types will like the setup here, where winners of the regular Wednesday 9 p.m. sessions compete in an annual "world series" trivia competition. The weekly games are administered like middle-school quizzes: Teams of four or five members -- who include neighborhood denizens and revelers -- complete their answer sheets, then swap with neighbors to be "graded" as the quiz mistress reads the correct responses aloud. Prizes vary from week to week and include T-shirts and beer mugs.

MURPHY'S GRAND IRISH PUB. 713 King St., Alexandria. 703-548-1717. Half-price burgers at this Old Town saloon provide a greasy but satisfying accompaniment to the Tuesday night trivia showdowns that begin at 8:15 p.m. Murphy's uses the same pub-quiz company, Brainstormer, that Fado does, so questions are a similar mix of challenging and painless. A crowd, made up mostly of regulars, vies for prizes that can be more elaborate than at other pubs, such as tickets to local sporting events, as well as the requisite free beer and T-shirts.

THE POUR HOUSE. 319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. 202-546-1001. Thirsty Hill staffers (look for the plastic badges) flock to this near-the-office pub on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. for happy-hour specials and Quizzo trivia. The amiable and efficient host reads questions aloud over a mike, while teams of up to eight people write down their answers. Questions mostly test players' knowledge of pop culture, and prizes include bar tabs or pitchers of beer. Emily Heil

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