Welcome to Greater Pennsylvania QuizBowl!

Welcome to GPQB! If this is your first time here, you might be interested in learning more about “What is Quizbowl?” and “How do I start a Quizbowl team?

Current quizbowl players and coaches might want to check out our resources for “How to Get Better at Quizbowl.” You might also be interested in our podcasts that we’ve recorded with interviews with top coaches and players, strategies for improvement at various categories, and recaps of the previous season.

Looking for a tournament to play in the Greater Pennsylvania area? Check out our tournament schedule for the upcoming year.

As always, feel free to comment on any post if you have any questions or feedback; we’re happy to help interested students or teachers with starting a new team at their schools. You can also follow us on Twitter at @phillyquizbowl or email us at gpquizbowl@gmail.com.

2016-2017 Season Pre-Season Rankings

School is back! We are exhilarated to be beginning a new season of quizbowl in Pennsylvania, which should continue the trend of having more teams, more action, and more close bouts. With many of the state’s best players graduated, the door is wide open for rising teams or new-to-quizbowl schools. As is customary, we will begin the year with our pre-season poll. Six members of our panel participated this year. Without further ado, here are the results:

1) Manheim Township A (55 points, 3 first place votes)
2) State College A (54 points, 2 first place votes)
3) Lehigh Valley Academy (47 points)
4) Great Valley (46 points, 1 first place vote)
5) Alagar Homeschool (38 points)
6) Friends Select (20 points)
7) Camp Hill (18 points)
8) State College B (14 points)
9) Winchester Thurston (12 points)
10) Manheim Township B (11 points)

Also receiving votes were Delaware Valley (7), Downingtown East (5), Lakeland (2), and Wallenpaupack (1).

Commentary about the poll from panelists will be featured in the next edition of the GPQB podcast.

We wish all competitors and coaches the absolute best of luck this season. See you around the circuit!

ANNOUNCEMENT: Carver E & S Novice Tournament, 10/8/16 @ Carver HS (Philadelphia, PA) 

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Carver High School for Engineering & Science in Philadelphia (via http://www.carverhses.net)

The quizbowl team at the George Washington Carver HS for Engineering and Science will host a novice quizbowl tournament on October 8th, 2016 at Carver E & S’s campus at 1600 W Norris St, Philadelphia, PA. Your team is invited to attend!

Registration will open at 8:15 AM and the tournament will begin as close to 9 AM as possible. All teams will be guaranteed at least 7 rounds of competition, with the top teams potentially playing up to 9. We expect the tournament to conclude for most teams by 3:30 PM. There will be a brief break for lunch.

The schedule of fees is as follows:
$70 per team registered
– $5 per fully functional buzzer system
– $20 per competent, experienced moderator

We will be using the Pennsylvania Novice Set, which is being written by a number of college quizbowl players from Pennyslvania and is targeted to be accessible to a broad range of teams.

Since this is a novice tournament designed for players without a great deal of quizbowl experience, we do have a few eligibility rules:
1. All students in 9th and 10 grade are eligible to compete
2. All students of any grade level who have never played a pyramidal quizbowl tournament before (IU competitions of any kind do not count against this) are eligible
3. Any student who has previously played pyramidal quizbowl but who has not averaged above 20 points-per-game at a tournament is eligible

Please email us if you have any questions about these rules or to request a potential exception.

We strongly encourage schools who have non-novice players to help us out by bringing more experienced players as moderators! Our max capacity is 30 teams, but we will need a lot of outside moderator help.

For any additional questions or to register for this tournament, please email Carver E & S coach Shan Hogan at: smhogan “at” philasd “dot” org.

Thank you and we hope to see you in October!

GPQB Podcast Episode #16: Advanced History Studying

In the 16th episode of the GPQB podcast, Chris talks with Will Alston and Eric Mukherjee about strategies for studying and playing history questions. This is a bit more advanced than some of our previous podcasts, but there are plenty of strategies here that will be quite useful for all players. Note that this is a double-sized episode, so it’s closer to 30 minutes than our usual 15.

Click HERE to listen or download the podcast.

Some of the study resources mentioned in this podcast include:
Quinterest question database
aseemsDB question database
The History of Rome Podcast
Revolutions Podcast
History of England Podcast

GPQB Podcast Episode #15: Interview with Coach Bern McCauley

In the 15th episode of the GPQB podcast, Chris talks with Great Valley High School’s quizbowl coach and 2015-2016 GPQB Coach of the Year, Bern McCauley. During the interview, coach McCauley provides his views on his vision of building up a top quizbowl program and dealing with the various challenges that quizbowl coaches often encounter.

Click here to listen or download.

GPQB Podcast Epsiode 14: End of Season Wrap-Up

In this episode, Ben and Andrew Nadig (former Carnegie Mellon U captain) discuss the end-of-season poll for 2015-2016, and how many teams did down the stretch. Who impressed, and what sorts of surprises and changes happened along the way? We also briefly reflect on the future and what this stellar season means for Pennsylvania as a whole.

Click here to tune in and listen!

2015-2016 End of Season Poll

Ladies and gents, we have capped off a season in which Pennsylvania quizbowl took many steps forward, and it’s time to recognize our top teams. Our panel* voted on who they thought were the best in the state using their choice of approaches, with items such as points scored, power rate, neg rate, W-L record, tournament wins, nationals results, and team cohesion as some of the criteria. Without further ado, here is GPQB’s end of year top 10.

1) Manheim Township A, 70 Points (same rank, unanimous choice for #1)
2) Delaware Valley, 54 Points (+1)
3) State College, 52 Points ( -1)
4) Great Valley, 47 Points  (+1)
5) Henderson, 45 Points (+3)
6) Lehigh Valley Academy, 43 Points (-2)
7) Winchester Thurston, 22 Points (=)
8) PALCS, 19 Points (-2)
T9) Alagar Homeschool 10 Points (+2)
T9) Friends Select, 10 points (previously u/r)

Also receiving votes were Cedar Crest (7 points, -2) and Manheim Township B (3 points, -2)

Commentary and further details will appear in the next edition of the GPQB podcast. Thank you all for a wonderful quizbowl season full of fantastic memories!

-The Staff

*The voters in the poll were: Ryan Bilger, Paul Birch, Chris Chiego, Ben Herman, Andrew Nadig, Victor Prieto, and Steven Silverman.

NSC Wrap-Up and Summer Plans

Three PA teams competed at the PACE National Scholastic Championship last weekend in the suburbs of Chicago, IL. Full stats for the tournament are available here.

Delaware Valley came out on top out of the PA teams with a 30th-place finish that could have been even higher had they not lost a tiebreaker to 17th-place Early College at Guilford (NC) after beating them earlier in the day. DV had a great run nonetheless though with wins over Early College as well as High Tech (NJ). Drake and Saimun, both graduating seniors, led the way with about 50 PPG each.

Great Valley also had a solid run to 35th-place, beating Ithaca (NY) and Ladue A (MO), among others in an up-and-down series of games. Sam (only a sophomore) paced the team with 43 PPG and senior Deakon added 38 points per game, with both players racking up 17 powers (at NSC powers are worth 20 points rather than the usual 15) each.

After their outstanding run to T-13 at HSNCT, Manheim Township got stuck in a rut at the NSC and badly missed the science prowess of normal A-teamer Ahan. After a series of close losses that knocked them down the playoff brackets, they ended up finishing in a tie for 57th. Somewhat bizarrely, they ended up in a final bracket with two other teams that followed them alphabetically and a B team (Dunbar, from KY) that gave them fits earlier in the tournament. The bright spot here though was Jake’s outstanding performance, as he notched an impressive 31 powers. MT will miss his lit knowledge and leadership skills next year.

With the conclusion of the NSC, the 2015-2016 quizbowl season is complete! We will have a final ranking based on these nationals results and the whole sum of the year’s accomplishments for PA teams that will come out around the end of this week. We will also start to update date claims in the tournament schedule for the 2016-2017 season as schools start to lock down dates (you might also want to follow along with the NJ/NY date claims here too). Please let us know if you’re interested in hosting a tournament–we need more dedicated hosts to meet the growing demand for quizbowl in PA!

In the meantime, we will continue to produce the GPQB podcast and would be happy to do a series of posts on whatever questions our readers might have. What would you like to see from us? Feel free to leave suggestions in the comments or tweet at us @phillyquizbowl on Twitter.

2016 PACE NSC Preview

Tomorrow, teams will be traveling to Chicago (or more accurately Rosemont, IL) to compete in this year’s NSC. While a smaller tournament than HSNCT, the NSC packs a punch, with most of its 96 teams being some of the best in the nation and Morlan Ranked. The NSC uses a different format than most events, with 20 point powers, no negs, and “bounceback” bonuses (meaning if you miss a bonus part, the other team gets a chance at it). The distribution is also reflective of a college tournament, so less geography, current events, and trash are asked in favor of social sciences and art. This tournament also gives every team a very efficient 15 rounds of quizbowl, playing off every single place. Prelim brackets of 8 feed into afternoon brackets of 6 (so the top 2 move on in the event, the next two compete for 25th, etc.), and lastly three consolation or seven superplayoff games complete the run on Sunday.

Only three PA teams are competing at NSC this year. Once again, the predictions are just for fun:

Manheim Township

Fresh off their 13th place finish at HSNCT, the Blue Streaks seek to improve on their 34th place finish last year at NSC. I don’t see the format change really hurting or helping them all that much, so they should make another good run. We’ll see if senior Jake can relay his lit knowledge into another great performance, if Aaron Zuo can come up back to the “A” team and make noise at his last tournament, and if Ahan, Shayar, and Garret score with numbers that indicate they’ll stay at the top next year. Their stats were a little bit below comparable T13 teams at HSNCT, so I’d expect a finish in the 20th-30th range.

Delaware Valley

DV did not play this past HSNCT. The lack of negs and bouncebacks are going to really help them out. Though they’ll still feed the other team the answer with a wrong buzz, those lack of -5s will add 10-15 points a game, and they will benefit from Drake’s arts knowledge. This team’s high bonus conversion at regular difficulty suggests they’ll scale up to nationals; however, even really good teams finish in the middle of the pack at this elite field, and many other teams will be warmed up from last week. I’d predict Delaware Valley’s Warriors finish somewhere around 45th-55th, but anything between 30 and 70 wouldn’t particularly shock me.

Great Valley

Great Valley finished T77 at HSNCT. This is another team that had a tendency to neg this season, so again, the format helps them. Though a good team all around, I’m unsure how well they’ll adapt to the high amounts of fine art and RMPSS in this set. Hopefully this is a good send off for Deakon and continued buildup for more down the road. I’d give the GV Patriots a floor of 75th and a ceiling of 50th, with a finish in the low 50s or 60s the most likely outcome.

-Ben Herman

2016 HSNCT Wrap-Up: Pennsylvania Rising

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DuBois (left) and State College A (Right) faced off in round 6 at the 2016 HSNCT.

This weekend’s HSNCT will go down as one of the most dramatic quizbowl tournaments in history. In an excellent venue (Dallas’ Hilton Anatole), humid Texas weather set the stage for a sweat-inducing final two matches. In the semifinal, Detroit Catholic Central (MI), down 350-70 at halftime, rallied to tie the game going into the final question at 385 apiece, only to lose when a neg by Thomas Jefferson (VA) resulting from the moderator calling time was overturned after the game officials consulted. This was then followed up by a back-and-forth final in which an enthusiastic Hunter College High School (NY) triumphed in overtime to win. Watching these happen live was a roller coaster of emotion. Those of us that were there knew we were in the midst of history.

You can see the full statistics from the tournament here and check out NAQTLive! on Twitter for Periscope recordings of the final matches plus interviews with teams and players.

For the purposes of this PA-centered blog though, HSNCT was an even better experience as the event functioned as something of a coming-out party for Pennsylvania quizbowl on the national scale. Just about every one of our teams met or exceeded expectations. 6 of the 14 squads made the playoffs, and the others all fought hard and won at least three games apiece. Rather than going through team-by-team, we’ll do this by headline:

Manheim Township finishes their dominant season near the top: The boys from Lancaster put together quite the run, going 7-3 in the prelims, and following that through to finish tied for 13th place. In the 4th round of the playoffs, they had their crowning achievement match in a 340-225 victory over La Jolla, one of California’s best teams, securing their place in the top 20. This is the best Pennsylvania team has done at the HSNCT in five years and helped cement Manheim Township’s place as not only a local but a national power.

Henderson shocks the world with two playoff wins: In our preview, we didn’t think Henderson would quite make the playoffs. Not only did they do so, they came 10 points from beating Bergen Academies (NJ) to go 7-3, and then made the best of the loser’s bracket with two wins and a fairly close loss to Hickman (MO) to finish tied 34th. Clutch game-play, especially from Ashish Kumbhardare, let Henderson wow everyone. This senior heavy squad thrived under stress en route to a statement performance.

DuBois upsets State College: In a match read by Penn State’s own Victor Prieto, DuBois had the biggest win in program history by taking out their Central PA rival, State College A. Eli Kirk turned in a herculean round with 10 correct answers, upsetting a team that had had their number in the past. State College rallied to make the playoffs while DuBois came up just short at 5-5, but this had to have been a proud moment in a great tournament for them.

Cedar Crest, Winchester Thurston, and Great Valley get past the post: These three squads all made the playoffs with 6-4 records. Though they were all knocked out right away, this is still a major accomplishment worth applauding. Cedar Crest‘s conservative style didn’t hurt them as much as we thought, and their steady work netted them the program’s first HSNCT playoff bid. Winchester Thurston, at full strength for the first time just about all season, showed what they could do and firmed up their claim as the pride of Pittsburgh this year. This was Great Valley‘s first national, and they did quite well but had a tough first-round match with defending champions Arcadia A in the playoffs.

New Teams do PA proud: Friends Select had never played a tournament before December. Their A team went 5-5 (and along with Great Valley had the most powers in the prelims of all PA teams at 31), and their B team, the two-man core of next year’s squad, ended up 4-6. Huntingdon had only played one regular difficulty event before last weekend, and they went 3-7. Though these squads had a little trouble on bonuses as is expected for groups without the years of experience seeing what comes up repeatedly, this is phenomenal for relative newbies. I hope that the seniors on these teams go on to quizbowl glory in college, and the underclassmen keep building up two of Pennsylvania’s newest lights.

Indiana is rejuvenated– Indiana failed to qualify for HSNCT until late. You’d never know based on their 5-5 performance. Despite loosing three of their best players from last year, this actually is a one game improvement over the 2015 HSNCT. They are senior heavy again, but if they can keep up the studying, Indiana will continue to thrive.

Rajan Alagar is Tournament’s top sophomore: Rajan, on a steady 5-5 Alagar Homeschool team, finished with 53.24 points per 20 tossups heard. This was tops for players in 10th grade or their equivalent at HSNCT. Rock on Rajan!

We also inaugurated what I hope will be a new tradition at HSNCT, which was the Pennsylvania meet-up in Cortez Ballroom A Saturday night. It was quite well attended, with a number of teams stopping by for an informal hangout for Pennsylvania players and moderators. Great Valley’s Sam Scarfone was presented with his JV player of the year plaque at the event (unfortunately the other winners were not at HSNCT but will receive the plaques elsewhere). I had a lot of fun chatting with the players, and hope they all enjoyed mingling too.

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GPQB’s Ben Herman presents Sam Scarfone with his plaque for winning JV player of the Year this season.

To have so many of our teams do well on a national stage was a treat. HSNCT is the largest quizbowl tournament in the world, filled with many side events, cool exhibitions, and great conversations. It was amazing to work with such a diverse group of students and moderators to make something really special!

Next stop: PACE NSC, where three PA teams will do battle in an elite field.

— Ben Herman

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Here are the final records and place of the Pennsylvania teams:

Manheim Township A: 10-5, T13

Henderson: 8-5, T34

State College A: 7-5, T53

Cedar Crest A, Great Valley, and Winchester Thurston: 6-5, T77

Alagar Homeschool, DuBois, Friends Select A, Indiana, and State College B: 5-5

Cedar Crest B, Friends Select B, and Manheim Township B: 4-6

Huntingdon: 3-7

———————————————————————–

Here is a summary of the Pennsylvania-on-Pennsylvania action this weekend:

Round 6: Henderson 285, Friends Select A 165

Round 6: DuBois 310, State College A 250

Round 8: Alagar Homeschool 425, Indiana 20

Round 8: Great Valley 340, Manheim Township B 110

Round 12: State College A 350, Cedar Crest A 160

Round 14: Friends Select A 240, DuBois 235

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Manheim Township B. From L to R: Jake, Nikko, Aleks, Bryce, and Michael.