Gareth Simpson, 2007.
The Bar: The Chapel Bar is an often-overlooked Capitol Hill gem, inhabiting what used to be a mausoleum. As if the fact dead people used to hang out here weren't awesome enough, the funeral of local asskicker Bruce Lee himself took place on these very grounds, christening the venue for many a cerebral chess match to come.
2005 came around, and the joint was turned into a narrow, cocktail-centric booze joint, made deceptively open by a wall of very well-maintained mirrors (think Liberty, only with more fruity vodka infusions and more standard pub fare in lieu of sushi). Here "Quizmaster Q" gets a very central seat, which is always a good sign--if a bar pushes their host to an asocial corner, more often than not it's a sign of its incapacity to hold a smoothly running trivia night, or at least a show of poor faith in its host.Putting Q front and center was a great start, but the Chapel also stoked immediate excitement with a one-page answer sheet designed as distinctly and meticulously as the hot spot's seating arrangement.
The Quiz: (free to play, 8 p.m. Mondays) From that well-structured answer-sheet, new players are made immediately aware of Chapel's initial four rounds of five questions. What may throw rookies is the Chapel's innovative "wager" system, where players are allowed to sign five different point values to each round's five questions. It's a great mechanic that allows teams first-hand to turn questions they see as nearly unanswerable into questions with a minimal impact on their final scores. Not only that, but it's a great way to give unconscious feedback to the host as to what kind of questions are working and what approach might be alienating their audience. It's just a great, new way to organically fix hardball questions into the importance they should have--as merely a tie-breaker in particularly competitive games.
Quizmaster Q established a new rule at tonight's quiz: the lowest-placing team still remaining by the final standings will pick a category for next week's quiz. This is certainly not a totally alien concept to Seattle quiz nights, but most other quizzes that offer the feature have more than four categories and usually offer it to a higher-placing contestant. This specific gesture ensures that those who stuck around, despite more than likely being clobbered throughout four rounds, are at least given an edge on next week's fun.
The Host: The "Q" stands for Quizmaster Quentin, who worked at Chapel for about a year before helming their Trivia Night just nine weeks ago. Chapel had usually hosted Monday bingo until the old host backed out. When no sprightly bluehair came to fill the bingo void, Boston expatriate and quizmaster newbie Quentin jumped at the chance to establish Chapel's first Trivia Night.
Drink Specials: Discounted house cocktails and wells last until 9 p.m., making sure you get a good hour of cheap drinks during the quiz. While I'm not usually a fan of cocktail bars that put such a huge emphasis on flavored vodka, I have to recommend the NYC as a nice little whiskey-based distraction from the stressful mental blocks that Quentin's difficult questions will undoubtedly bring up.
Beer might not be the emphasis at Chapel, but the only three beers currently on tap are the respectably delicious trio of Leffe, Hoegaarden, and Stella Artois. While these three beers are all great in their own way, they may look a little too familiar to certain beer shoppers keen on Belgian sauce.
The Verdict: Offering bar cash for first place, a free pitcher of beer for second place, and 10% off your tab for third (just enough to tip a little better, you cheap-ass), The Chapel is a well-structured and well-written trivia night that's heavy on rest time between questions while still keeping a short, manageable quiz. It might not be the most in-depth trivia experience in town, but frankly, in its current state, The Chapel is the best place for a quick, peppy Monday catch-up with someone you might not have that much to catch up with.
With The Social Network sweeping this year's Golden Globes, that seems to be an increasingly valuable resource.