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.”

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.

Tri-State Tussle 2016 Wrap-Up

18 teams were on hand last Saturday (10/15) for the second annual Tri-State Tussle at Delaware Valley High School in Matamoras, PA. As the first regular difficulty event in-state this year, we got a chance to see some of the top teams in action for the first time and see how things have improved and changed with a summer’s worth of study.

Full stats for the tournament can be found at this link.


Paul Nelson moderates the final between Manheim Township A (left) and a 2-man Great Valley A team. Photo courtesy Manheim Township Quizbowl.

Pre-season #1 team Manheim Township A defeated #4 Great Valley A to win the tournament, winning two matches in what functionally came out to a best-of-three final. The two teams both entered their final matches undefeated. Both teams also played undermanned, though they had their respective two-man cores in tow (Ahan and Shayar for Manheim Township; Sam and Daniel for Great Valley) with MT’s C team rounding out the A team this time. Both teams justified their ranking with some serious power buzzing, each averaging over 6 powers per game. The Blue Streaks looked to have benefited from having two additional players on hand this week, as their points-per-bonus average was significantly higher than GV’s. Keep an eye on these two teams as they duke it out for trophies across the season.

Small Schools also thrived at this event, with Camp Hill and Lakeland A making the top bracket. Camp Hill’s Colton Sanden finished with a tournament leading 78 correct answers and 80 points per game. Meanwhile, Lakeland took Manheim Township A to the brink, losing a close match 315-265. With Camp Hill long established as a powerhouse at SSNCT, and Lakeland looking motivated and feisty, it will be worth continuing to monitor them as they look to follow up on playoff berths at small school nationals last year with even better results.

The rest of the playoff bracket was rounded off by a Delaware Valley house team and neighboring district Wallenpaupack A. With both teams putting up solid numbers, it is awesome to see this Delaware Water Gap rivalry grow. Of note, Collin Kawan-Hemler, the lone returnee from Delaware Valley’s A team last year which finished #2 in Pennsylvania, emerged from the shadow of all-stars Saimun and Drake to score 57 points per game. Will his leadership bear similar fruit? Wallenpaupack, meanwhile, continued their balanced attack, aided in part by keeping all their major scoring from last year.

The consolation brackets mostly consisted of B,C, and D teams, as well as teams from Moravian Academy and Berwick. Though none of these are a major threat for titles any time soon, it was great to see that these teams continue to come out, and hopefully they all had fun and learned a few new things from this set.

Who will build on Tri-State Tusstle and snag the next victory? Tune in and see in the next few weeks!

-Ben Herman

Tournament Space Updates

The fall quizbowl season is now in full swing and we have an exciting slate of upcoming tournaments. Here’s an update on the fields for each of these tournaments. For purposes of planning, note that IS-A sets from NAQT are distinctly easier than IS sets.

There are still a couple of spots available at Friends Select’s tournament (on an IS-A set) on Oct. 22nd. Contact them ASAP here.

All three of the Mid-Atlantic tournaments on Oct. 29th appear to have completely filled (Lehigh Valley, Rutgers, and Johns Hopkins). Impressive! CMU’s tournament (on an IS set) on the 29th still has a bit of room, potentially. Email them here.

UPitt’s tournament on Nov. 12th (an IS-A set) may have a few more spots. Email them here if you’re interested. Penn State’s novice tournament on Nov. 12th still has plenty of room. Please email the PSU team here.

Henderson’s tournament on Nov. 19th (on an IS set) still has a good bit of room. Details here.

UPenn’s tournament on Dec. 3rd is rapidly filling and will close the field any moment now to cap at 36 teams. If more moderators can be found, it is possible that it will expand to 42. Email ASAP here.

Manheim Township’s Dec. 17th tournament (on an IS-A set) still has room and will feature both a varsity and novice division. Register here.

Downingtown East’s Jan. 7th tournament (on an IS set) has recently been confirmed and still has plenty of room. Register here.

Great Valley’s Feb. 11th tournament (on an IS-A set) still is completely open and has plenty of room. Register here.

Carver Novice Tournament Wrap-Up

Twelve novice teams gathered at the Carver HS for Engineering and Science in North Philadelphia today for the kick-off to high school quizbowl in Pennsylvania this season.

Full stats will are available here.

Great Valley A put on an impressively disciplined performance to top Friends Select A for the championship. Great Valley C defeated a team from Exton for 3rd place.

The championship match was a treat to read and watch. You wouldn’t know it by the way they played, but GV A consisted of two freshmen and a sophomore. They handled bonuses like experienced pros, with one player always reminding the others what was being asked for, and took calculated risks on the tossups. In contrast, FSS A played a much more go-for-broke, fast-paced style that reminded me of intense NAQT games played on the clock. This led to FSS A leading the field in both powers (42) and negs (28). It was an interesting clash of styles where GV A ultimately prevailed this time, but it seems likely that we’ll see both teams back in championship games in the future.

The Rest of the Playoff Bracket

After graduating practically every member of their team, a new set of Central HS players (sadly lacking their signature crimson cardigans this early in the year) made the upper bracket and displayed pockets of deep knowledge in literature especially. The upper bracket was rounded out by Great Valley B, whose day was highlighted by a 200-pt romp over Exton. Exton also put in a solid performance throughout the day with balanced scoring and consistency on the bonuses. And Great Valley C added to the complement of GV freshmen who will soon be romping around the circuit for four more years.

The Consolation Bracket

Science Leadership Academy‘s team, although shorthanded, saw all of its members contribute and won the consolation bracket with a 5-3 record. Bodine HS made their quizbowl debut with a solid 4-4 performance. Powered by the impressive U.S. History knowledge of Jalen (30 PPG, 8 powers) as well as solid contributions from all of its rotating members, Bodine’s newness to quizbowl was mostly eclipsed by their overwhelming enthusiasm. Friends Select B fielded an all-freshman team that also signifies their increasing depth and development as a program. Once their middle school team gets started up this year, Center City will have its first official quizbowl pipeline. Franklin Towne Charter‘s A and B teams also displayed enthusiasm and were notably lacking some of their better returning players from last year. And Carver‘s own house team was a great example of how a few older, experienced players can be a great asset in showing freshmen the ropes of the game.

General Thoughts

Carver hosted the best-run tournament that I’ve ever seen from a first-time host. 9 rounds (plus a rebracketing meeting + lunch) were completed by 2:50 PM. That is outstanding. It was also a great tournament from a moderator’s perspective as well. The little things and attention to detail helped–emailing detailed information + maps well before the tournament, sending bottled water to the mods after the 2nd round, getting lunch orders set and assembled on time, and running a calm and orderly control room. It all summed up to an efficient and enjoyable experience for everyone. It’s too bad that many teams from around the region couldn’t make it; I hope they’ll make sure to pencil in the next Carver tournament (and more upcoming tournaments in Philly like Friends Select’s on Oct. 22nd).

All of the infectious enthusiasm today bodes really well for the health of the Philly-centered circuit as well. So many new players will hopefully now go back and look up all the answers that they missed in Quinterest and get to work learning those tricky fine arts questions (perhaps with the help of NAQT’s You Gotta Know Lists). But most importantly, I saw a lot of support from coaches who seem willing to take advantage of the flowering of competitions in the area. Most teams seem to be doing the right thing in focusing on building up a quizbowl program at their school first and foremost. Once you have a strong core of a program in place with lots of enthusiastic participants and sufficient logistical support, you can focus on preparing teams to top the competition.

Finally, the question set itself was the first tournament of the year to use our very own Pennsylvania Novice question set, written by various college players from around PA and edited by the GPQB staff. If you have any specific comments about the set itself or any questions in it, please email us at gpquizbowl@gmail.com. We’re looking to use what we learned today to revise and continue to edit the set to make it the best possible novice quizbowl experience for new teams and players!


PHSAT XXIV @ Princeton Brief Wrap-Up and Thoughts

Princeton University’s PHSAT XXIV took place last weekend on Sept. 24th with 36 teams (mostly from NJ) in attendance. Full stats are here.

The PA teams had a hard time generally, with Lehigh Valley A the only PA team to end with a winning record. As usual, Alex Schmidt put up a stellar individual performance with 120 PPG, but the combined power of High Tech A and defending national champions Hunter A kept LVA from making the top 4. It was good to see Alex with more teammates though including an LVA B team that played in the JV division. But despite the gaudy 24.48 PPB, it’s clear that LVA A will need some more people to step up to help Alex steal some TUs from the top teams.

The mysterious “Exton” HS finished in the middle of the bottom part of the varsity division with a solid 18.68 PPG (this is on an IS set). Henderson A finished at the bottom of a loaded varsity bracket and Henderson B finished in the middle of the pack in the JV bracket.

Wilmington Charter is back too, but considerably depleted after last year. Their A team put up a fight in all their games except for a nearly 500 point loss to Hunter A (it’s pretty devastating when the defending national champs retain most of their scoring) and their B team finished strong as well. It’s good to see them back on the circuit though after a lot of changes in their offseason.

One interesting development was the emergence of Princeton High School playing their first-ever all-subject quizbowl tournament. Princeton A made the top brackets with a balanced scoring attack and the rest of their teams were competitive in the JV division. Given that Princeton is just an hour and fifteen minutes by train from Philadelphia, I’d hope to see them at more Philly-area tournaments.

The tournament ran considerably slower and with more bumps that you might think for the 24th edition of a tournament. Most of the issues could have been addressed with a bit more planning in advance, so here are just a few pieces of advice for potential future tournament hosts:

  • If you have a complicated building space, make it easier to navigate for teams. Provide maps of the building with the game rooms marked. Get moderators to help lead teams to rooms. Put up little posters with directions to rooms. These may seem small, but they’re really helpful for teams and reduce the time it takes for teams to change rooms. They also help avoid situations where a team is standing outside the wrong room for 20 minutes.
  • If competent moderators from other schools come to help you, make use of them! Quizbowl depends on others volunteering their time to come help you (reimbursing for travel is the minimum that you need to do), so make outside moderators feel appreciated and thank them for coming out. This also means making it a good moderating experience by being clear about where to go and when instead of having people frantically rushing in and out of rooms trying to figure out where to go. Furthermore, if you do want to keep some people “in reserve,” you need to make sure to monitor other moderators and see if any are falling behind so that you can replace them with your reserve. Having a bunch of competent moderators do menial work or just sit around while less-than-competent moderators read is not a good situation.
  • Limit rebracketings and make sure they take place over natural breaks (like lunch) as much as possible. If you do have to rebracket, you need to be crystal-clear on your criteria for rebracketing and have that ready to go as soon as the stats are up.
  • If you’re planning on printing out new schedules for rebracketing, have a printer lined up and ready to go on-site with you. For years I’ve lugged my Brother printer to tournaments and it makes everything so much easier when you have it there rather than trying to rely on a far-away printer or possibly wonky wifi.
  • Google Sheets are a terrible idea for keeping score. They are slow to load on wifi connections, do not signal when a round is “done” for the scorekeepers, and in general are a pain to navigate and use. Use neg5 if you want to do scorekeeping electronically. I personally prefer paper scoresheets still.

Tri-State Falcon Fall Tournament Announcement @ Friends Select (Philly) 10/22


Friends Select’s campus in Center City, Philadelphia.

The Tri-State Falcon Fall QuizBowl Tournament will be held at Friends Select School on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016. Here are the full logistical details:

Friends Select School
1651 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19103
[Note: This location is right next to SEPTA’s suburban station]

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Teams should arrive between 8:15 and 8:30 AM for a pre-tournament meeting, with rounds beginning by 9 AM. There will be a short lunch break and the tournament will conclude in the afternoon.

Eligible Teams:
All high schools are eligible to send teams to compete. Each team consist of up to 6 students, with 4 students playing at any time. Teams may consist of fewer than 4 students as well. We will offer both novice and varsity divisions. 

$70 for each initial team from a school
$70 for each additional team from a school
-$10 per working lockout buzzer system brought
-$15 per experienced moderator brought


Questions Used:
NAQT IS-159A     *Note: this is the same set that will be used at Lehigh Valley’s tournament a week later

The exact format will depend on the number of teams, but will likely consist of round robins within both novice and varsity brackets. We anticipate about 5 rounds in the morning and 3-4 in the afternoon.

To Register:
Click here to fill out this form  

Questions? Contact coach Abbi Smith at “abbis” @ “friends-select.org”

Western Pennsylvania Tournament Announcements Now Up

Two quizbowl tournaments will take place this semester in Western PA, specifically the Pittsburgh area. Schools from Erie to Pittsburgh and beyond with quizbowl, academic competition, academic games, or academic decathlon teams are all welcome to attend, as are schools looking to get started in quizbowl.

Carnegie Mellon’s quizbowl team will be hosting Mellon Bowl XIV on October 29th on NAQT IS set #160. You can register and see more details here.

UPitt’s quizbowl team will be hosting SAGACITY XII on November 12th on NAQT IS-A set #161 (slightly easier than a regular IS set). You can register and see more details here.

GPQB Podcast Episode #17: Pre-Season Rankings and 2016-2017 Season Preview

In the 17th episode of the GPQB podcast, Ben and Chris preview the upcoming season and run through the top 10 teams in the state.

Click here to listen to the whole episode or you can fast-forward below for specific portions.

Western PA Discussion: 0:25
Central PA (broadly defined) Discussion: 4:09
Northeastern PA Discussion: 8:07
Southeastern PA Discussion: 10:39
Top 5 Teams In-Depth Discussion: 14:53

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) 


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!