Original article

January 10, 2008

Juneau's Triangle Club Hosts Buzztime Contests
By: Eric Morrison, JUNEAU EMPIRE

Guessing game: Triangle Bar patrons, Karen Lawfer and Don McDonald, play Buzztime trivia game on Friday night. The bar is sponsoring a monthly trivia tournament complete with prizes beginning this month.

A handful of dedicated brainiacs converge at the Triangle Club each week to plug into a national trivia network for battles over obscure knowledge against fellow bar patrons, faraway taverns and individuals across North America.

Photo courtesy of Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The downtown bar is one of seven establishments in Alaska linked into NTN Buzztime - an interactive entertainment company and owners of one of the world's largest game show trivia databases - that allows players to compete on bar stools against the Cliff Clavins of the world.

"I think it's a fantastic, fun thing to do while you're sitting there having some drinks with a few friends - kind of a mind engaging activity," Triangle Club owner Leeann Thomas said.

Thomas brought the trivia network into the bar nearly three years ago as a way to boost business and give the patrons something new to talk about.

"That was the time that we found out the smoking ban would be coming to Juneau, so we thought about bringing in something unique," she said.

Now that the smoking ban has arrived, the Triangle Club has begun a monthly trivia tournament as a way to generate more bar patrons and give smokers something to keep their hands busy, bartender Jewels Barmoy said.

"We were trying to figure out something different to bring people in," she said. "It's gonna be different prizes every month for the grand prize."

The tournament consists of four games a night and runs from 8 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays of each week, with the player with the total number of wins at the end of the month declared the winner. This month's winner will take home an Alaskan Brewing Co. fleece jacket with a "surprise" in the pocket.

"We're letting everybody be a team, too; it's not just for individuals," Barmoy said.

Buzztime offers a variety of trivia games that range from sports questions to current events, but the most frequent one played at the Triangle Club is a general knowledge game called Count Down. The games include three rounds with five questions each. Each question has five potential answers, and players are given a time limit to provide the correct answer, with the best potential score for each question being 1,000 points.

Don McDonald, one of the Triangle Club's most formidable trivia competitors, said one of the most thrilling and alluring aspects of the trivia network is testing your knowledge against bars and individuals across the country. The bar and every individual logged on the network are ranked after the completion of each game, allowing players to see how they stack up against know-it-alls across North America.

"Oh, we've been No. 1," said McDonald, who is also known by his handle LENA L. "It depends on the time of day, you know. Later at night there's fewer and fewer people competing, so the odds are better in our favor. But there's been some times when at 8 in the evening we've been No. 1."

Photo courtesy of Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

The Triangle Club recently placed 1,849 out of several thousand bars and restaurants across Canada and the United States plugged into the network, according to the NTN Buzztime Web site. That may not seem too impressive, but the Triangle Club is the highest-ranking bar in Alaska, ahead of the Harbor Bar in Haines, and Eddies Sports Bar, The Shed, Platinum Jaxx, TGI Fridays and Hideaway Club, all of Anchorage. Shores Inn of St. Clair Shores, Mich., was ranked No. 1.

According to the company, Buzztime develops more than 500 new trivia questions each week to a growing database that includes more than 500,000 questions. It says more than 50 million games are played each year in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

Jeff David said he has been playing trivia at the Triangle Club for several years and enjoys it simply because it's a good time.

"It exercises my mind," he said. "It's just trivia. You got to know a little bit about everything."

McDonald said it is always exciting to see someone new come into the Triangle Club and put up an impressive score, or to go tread on another player's home turf when playing Buzztime in a different city.

"It's fun to go to another bar and see how they play, and sneak in and start winning. And they start wondering, 'Who's that person?'" he said. "It's just like when someone comes in here that is good, and you go, 'Oh, who is that person?'"

McDonald said he hopes the new trivia tournament will draw more knowledge-thirsty brainiacs into the bar, but said he still intends to win it this month.

"It's something fun to do when you're socializing," he said. "You can play and answer questions. And it's just another fun thing to do at a bar, especially now that you can't smoke."

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