Each year I take the online test to appear on "Jeopardy!" -- hoping, begging, praying I'll be asked about history, politics and movies. And what happens? I get clobbered with questions about botany, astronomy and obscure Polish poets.

And so the congratulatory phone call from Alex Trebek never comes.


Dejectedly, I return to the TV to compete from my living room chair.

I was resigned to my situation until I heard about trivia night at Allison's Amalfi Ristorante in Sea Cliff. My friend Kristine Janusas began a monthly competition there, so I signed up.

When I arrived for my first competition, I saw 10 tables, about 50 people. Dinner: $25. Game: $5. I was going to sit with friends from a local bank, but at another table I noticed two women sitting by themselves. Kristine asked if I would sit with them and I said sure.

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There were three rounds to the game. As Kristine asked 10 questions each round, we wrote down responses.

Our trio was working well together. Marilyn Pedalino, a librarian, answered literature questions. Joan McCarthy handled flowers and food. I chipped in with the four presidents who were assassinated -- Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley and Kennedy.

Among the questions in the final round was: Which trapezoidal-shaped candy bar, introduced in the late 1930s by Philip Silvershein, was named after Silvershein's granddaughter?

Marilyn's eyes lit up. "Chunky!" she whispered to Joan and me.


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Joan and I burst out laughing. What grandfather would name a candy bar after his granddaughter and call it Chunky? I overruled Marilyn and put down "Baby Ruth."

Our score sheets were collected and Kristine announced the correct answers. "The trapezoidal-shaped candy bar, named after its creator's granddaughter, was . . . Chunky!"

Joan and I were speechless (legend has it that Silvershein's granddaughter was a plump baby). I promised Marilyn I would never, ever doubt her again.

Despite that setback, we were in third place. It was time for the final question. Kristine asked:

"Who has hosted the Oscars more times than anyone else?"

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I wanted to kiss her.

Marilyn and Joan looked stumped, so I whispered, "Bob Hope." They shrugged, and we sent in our answer.

Kristine tallied the scores, and announced, "The most answers were for . . . Billy Crystal." Pause.



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"The second most answers were for . . . Johnny Carson." Pause.


More groans.

"There were two people who got the right answer and it was . . . Bob Hope!"

The other correct-answer group had fewer points, so we won! Cheers erupted (at least from me). We were awarded a $75 gift certificate to . . . Allison's Amalfi Ristorante.

My two dinner dates and I started making plans for a free return dinner. As I left the restaurant, I couldn't help but think: Maybe Alex Trebek will hear about my success tonight and invite me to be on "Jeopardy!"

I'll stay by the phone.

Reader Saul Schachter lives in Sea Cliff.