Welcome to Greater Pennsylvania QuizBowl!

Welcome to GPQB! If this is your first time here, you might be interested in “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? 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 and Instagram at @paquizbowl or email us at gpquizbowl@gmail.com.

GPQB NOVEMBER (11/14) WRAP-UP

This past Saturday, 31 teams went head-to-head on NAQT’s IS-197 set in GPQB’s third event of the year. This first regular difficulty tournament of the PA season gave local teams—alongside some out-of-state friends—a great opportunity to prove their might at higher levels of play. Full results from the tournament can be found here.

In the mighty 20-team varsity division, Great Valley A once again went undefeated to notch their second GPQB Invitational victory of the season. After sweeping through their tossup-only prelim bracket with a commanding 210 points per game, Great Valley easily kept all other top teams at bay in the tossup-bonus-style playoffs. Though Anish led the team as the third-highest individual prelim scorer, Great Valley’s deep specialization was still on full display, with teammates Anshu, Nolan, and Rishi each racking up double-digit powers and at least 28 points per game over the course of the day.

The Great Valley squad was met in the finals by runners-up State College, led by Ananya and Darren and with sizable contributions from Prithvi and Elijah. The four went undefeated before their 460-220 loss in the championship, proving that this perennial PA powerhouse is here to stay. Rounding out the podium were Manheim Township A, who lost a nail-biting 335-350 semifinal match to State College despite the incredible showing of AZ, whose staggering 51/23/11 statline was complemented by great work from teammates Baybars, Deeya, and Ellie. Manheim took the bronze in a win against Cedar Crest, led by the tournament’s top scorer, Danny, who has quickly minted himself a rising star in the PA quizbowl scene.

Just below, fifth place was shared by a well-balanced Great Valley B, a formidable Carver A led forcefully by Sebastian, and New Jersey’s Middlesex County Academy A. Downingtown East A came right behind thanks to balanced scoring and an exceptional points per bonus (nearly 20– the third-highest in the field), which proved to be enough to conquer Pittsburgh Central Catholic despite a runaway individual effort from Joe. Henderson A overtook Oxford, which featured second-place prelim scorer Chris, to hand both teams 1-4 records and produce a three-way tie for ninth with PCC, with a solid DuBois team taking twelfth.

In consolation, Downingtown STEM A and Ohio’s Olentangy Berlin A both picked up 3-0 records to tie for thirteenth. They were trailed by Manheim Township B and Great Valley C, both of whom resolutely bounced back from 0-4 prelim records to go 2-1 in the afternoon. Manheim demonstrated some deep pockets of knowledge through a well-rounded scoring effort and a bonus conversion of over 17, and a stellar individual performance by Great Valley’s Yash further signifies the both programs’ bottomless pools of talent. Huntingdon A and Downingtown East B relied on very even scoring to secure T-17 finishes, and great leadership from Westmont Hilltop’s Anthony and North Catholic’s Lily allowed their respective teams to maintain impressive stats despite the tough competition.

In the eleven-team JV tournament, Middlesex County Academy B, fronted by top individual scorer Aditya, prevailed with a perfect 9-0 record and an outstanding 16 points per bonus in the afternoon. They were closely followed by fellow out-of-staters Morgantown, led decisively by Celina, as well as PA’s Henderson B and a very balanced Northeastern squad, who put up an outstanding performance in their pyramidal debut. Finishing out the bracket were Downingtown STEM B and Carver C, both showing great promise with a handful of powers and at least eleven points per bonus. 

Carver B came out on top in the JV consolation bracket with three straight playoff wins, overcoming the challenge posed by Huntingdon B’s powerful duo of Nick and Brandon, who put up over thirteen points per bonus. To fill out the bracket, Downingtown East C’s three-person crew bested Carver D. Such strong results from these younger squads is a testament to just how deep the bench runs in PA.

In these difficult times, we are very thankful to still be able to engage with our amazing community through this game, and we sincerely appreciate the efforts of all of the staff, coaches, and players who make this possible. We look forward to seeing everyone again at our final tournament of the year on December 5th!

–Danny

GPQB OCTOBER (10/24) WRAP-UP

On Saturday, October 24th, 25 teams were on hand for the second event of the PA quizbowl season, held on NAQT’s IS-196A set. As the first non-novice event of the season, this was many teams’ first chance to see how they stacked up against their rivals, and a field packed with strong teams from all corners of the state led to several great matchups. Full stats for the tournament can be found here.

The varsity division, which used the same tossup-only prelims format as GPQB’s October Novice event, was won by an utterly dominant Great Valley A team who clearly demonstrated why they were voted unanimous number one in our statewide preseason poll. In a tour de force, Anish, Nolan, Rishi, and Anshu cleared the field, running up colossal margins even against other top playoff teams like Manheim Township, Cedar Crest, and Kiski. The fearsome squad was led by Anish with 80 points per game but featured no less than three scorers in the top 15 of the tournament. 

Second place went to Manheim Township A, led in scoring by AZ, who racked up an impressive 42 powers over 10 games and received solid support from teammates Baybars, Deeya and Elena. Manheim went undefeated in the prelims and won their first few playoff rounds by healthy margins but took a nasty 90-615 loss to Great Valley in the penultimate round of playoffs. They redeemed themselves to take second with a convincing last-round win over third-place Morgantown A, a strong West Virginia team led by Silas that notched notable victories over several top PA teams. 

Cedar Crest A and Kiski finished in fourth and fifth place, respectively, mirroring their relative pre-season rankings. These two teams were led by powerhouse generalists Danny and Eddie, whose 40+ powers each propelled them to second and first in overall scoring with a respective 92 and 117 points per game. A tense sixth-round matchup between the two teams ended in a narrow 360-320 victory for Cedar Crest thanks to crucial contributions by Danny’s teammates. 

Sixth place went to a balanced Henderson team that performed well in the prelims but took a series of tough losses to the other top playoff teams in the afternoon.

A balanced Great Valley B squad won the middle playoff bracket, showcasing the depth that has been a hallmark of GV’s program in recent years. They were followed by Allderdice and a Kevin-led Manheim Township B, whose solid performances vindicated the handful of votes they received in the preseason poll. State College, playing without their top scorer Ananya, still managed victories over C teams from Manheim Township and Great Valley who put up respectable performances of their own.

Pittsburgh Central Catholic, making their second appearance this season after a win at GPQB’s October Novice Tournament, won the bottom playoff bracket behind strong scoring from Joe and Jude. Another Western PA team, DuBois, finished just behind them led by Timothy’s 57 PPG. Carver HSES A, paced by a 46-PPG effort by Sebastian, and Huntingdon both picked up wins over an Ian-led Bishop Canevin team to complete the bottom bracket.

The JV division, which featured only eight teams, was played as a round-robin where tossups and bonuses were read for all seven rounds. It was won by a short-handed Downingtown STEM team who nevertheless managed to win every matchup they faced. Yaduraj, whose 91 PPG propelled STEM to victory, led the division in individual scoring, followed by Morgantown B’s Venkat with 63 PPG. An out-of-state High Tech team finished in second, while third place went to Carver B, who came within 30 points of defeating STEM during a close Round 1 game. Carver’s C and D teams rounded out the JV division together with B teams from Morgantown and Cedar Crest and a Wallenpaupack team paced by strong scoring from Abby.

Teams from both divisions seemed to enjoy the opportunity to compete, albeit not in person, and both moderators and players appeared to take to the modified online format fairly well. We hope to see many of the same teams (as well as a few newcomers) in action again at GPQB’s next tournament on November 14th!

-Will

Adjusting to Online Quizbowl: Some Thoughts

I was rather apprehensive at first about running quizbowl events online. In the past, online quizbowl events tended to be disorganized, prone to cheating accusations, and took far too much time for everyone.

Thus far in this COVID-affected 2020-2021 quizbowl season, most of those fears have been alleviated. Thanks in part to very comprehensive guides published by NAQT (for Zoom) and PACE (for Discord), there’s more material than ever before to help guide tournament directors, readers, coaches, and players. In Pennsylvania, the two GPQB-organized online events so far have gone quite well. A few observations based on my experience reading for GPQB’s October event on Zoom as well as helping run another event in California on Discord:

  • Prepare Before the Event. Everyone involved in the tournament from players to readers to the tournament directors needs to do a bit more preparation for online quizbowl than they would for an in-person quizbowl event. All players and moderators should test out different video and audio setups to see which ones work best with whatever platform (Zoom/Discord/etc.) is being used for the event. Small suggestions like making sure every player/coach/observer indicates their team (with the appropriate A/B/C/etc. letter!) at the start of their username can save a ton of time, especially on Zoom. Any event using Discord needs to be very familiar with Discord bots and how the tournament will be run there since there won’t be much time for troubleshooting during the event.
  • Shorten Everything. Tournaments should be shorter overall in terms of the number of planned rounds. Running a standard set of 5-6 line tossup questions with 3-part bonuses seems to take about 40-45 minutes, even with a competent, experienced moderator. This may mean that teams only play 7-8 matches, but that’s better than exhausting players and moderators since online quizbowl seems significantly more mentally draining than in-person quizbowl.

    This means that shorter (yet still pyramidal) tossups and bonuses more akin to NAQT style than 5-6 liners are ideal. This also has a nice anti-cheating preventive effect (and 5 seconds on the bonuses seemed fine; any longer I think might open up more opportunities for cheating). Eventually, it would also be nice to see question writers change around the way questions for online quizbowl are written to make TUs shorter and potentially redo bonuses as one or two parts, but that might be harder to make happen.
  • Approach Bonuses Differently. Teams need to figure out a new way to speed up their discussion on bonuses given the difficulties in trying to communicate quickly online. Perhaps have each person offer a guess and then empower the captain to respond with their best guess after the reader asks “Answer?” on each part. Practicing different strategies–maybe even using text–should probably be a focus in practice for teams planning on attending events using bonuses. For those parts where the answer is generally clear, remembering to “direct” your answer to the moderator by saying “direct(ed)” is key to making the match flow faster and will be highly appreciated by all.
  • Staff is the Limiting Reagent. As I wrote in a post on the HSQB forums recently, online quizbowl is more staff-intensive (and in some ways requires more out of staffers) than in-person quizbowl. The demand for online quizbowl in PA and around the country has been quite high, but the staffing pool–for reasons that are still not fully clear–seems smaller. If anyone reading this is interested in reading online, definitely get in touch with TDs of upcoming tournaments; you can read from your own home without having to get up at 6 AM to drive to a tournament site!

    It also helps to have multiple TDs at online quizbowl events to help deal with questions and issues as they pop up without slowing down the rooms. Ideally, 2-3 TDs who exclusively focus on running the event as a whole instead of reading in a room can make the whole event run like clockwork.
  • Keep studying and playing! It’s not in-person quizbowl, but online quizbowl isn’t too different and still rewards students who love to learn. It takes a bit more time than in-person quizbowl, but it does have some real benefits in terms of cutting down on transportation costs and making quizbowl more accessible than ever before for many schools. Although the current fields for upcoming GPQB events are packed to the brim at the moment, there will be more events in the Spring and there are always opportunities around the country for schools to play (though check with TDs about any potential geographic restrictions).

GPQB October Novice (10/3) Wrap-UP

This most unorthodox of Pennsylvania quizbowl seasons got underway this past Saturday, with fourteen teams from eleven schools coming together in the digital world of Zoom for GPQB’s novice kickoff tournament. Full stats for the day can be found here.

(Note: In order to keep the event moving and try something new, this tournament used tossup-only preliminary rounds before adding bonuses for the playoff rounds. This explains the lower scores and lack of PPB stats from the first several games for each team.)

Two Pittsburgh-area schools contested the championship, with Pittsburgh Central Catholic notching a 420-205 victory over North Catholic to claim the title. Both teams were led by very strong performances from their top players, with Jude from PCC and Ryan from North Catholic each exceeding 100 PPG on the day. Joe from PCC also contributed 95 points per game in the playoff rounds. With the western part of the state in particular looking wide open this year, these excellent results might be something good to build on for these two schools. Young players from State College and Great Valley constituted the other two top bracket playoff teams, with both showing their characteristic well-rounded scoring, paced by Elijah and Ritish, respectively. These two deep programs remain among the cream of the crop amongst PA schools, and it’s easy to see why in light of efforts like these.

Penn Manor came out on top in the first consolation bracket, finishing with a 7-3 record. Gabe and Claire led the way in scoring for PM, showing off some of their strong knowledge as they begin the post-Connor era, with 34 and 24 powers, respectively. Cedar Crest A took 6th place, with Sam scoring highest for a group of young players that will look to complement Danny, who helped out as a staffer, on our poll’s 5th-ranked team. Downingtown East returned to the weekend circuit and notched some victories with a two-man team of Jeevan and William, while Huntington B rounded out this bracket.

Huntington’s A team topped the final bracket, with relatively close contributions from Alex and Taran at the helm. Cedar Crest B came next, followed by a B team from Carver HSES. Carver HSES A and Allderdice each finished with alike records, with the Pittsburgh school winning the head-to-head battle between the two. South Side also picked up a victory as the remaining team.

Overall, it was great to get back to seeing Pennsylvania’s best and brightest show off their knowledge, even virtually this time. Our staff had a great time bringing you this event, and the players we spoke with had fun as well. We hope to see you and your teams for our next event on October 24!

Ryan

Pre-Season Poll, 2020-2021

Friends,

This quizbowl season will be the strangest, wackiest we can remember, as we’ve been sent online by the ongoing health crisis. This does not mean, however, that we will stop ranking, acknowledging, and complimenting the achievements of our teams. In fact, as all of Pennsylvania will play as one rather than our more typical sub-circuits, it means we can really see how teams stack up. There was plenty of turnover but that only means opportunities for new schools and teams to shine. Without further ado, here are our 2020-21 pre-season team rankings:

1) Great Valley A (130 points, Unanimous #1)
2) Manheim Township A (117 points)
3) Oxford (93 points)
4) Hempfield (88 points)
5) Cedar Crest (65 points)
6) Kiski Area (52 points)
7) Great Valley B (49 points)
8) State College (47 points)
9) Henderson (45 points)
10) Friends Select (13 points)

Also receiving votes were Allderdice (10 points), Carver HSES (3), Manheim Township B (2), and Pittsburgh Central Catholic (1)

Best of luck with everyone’s season! Novice players begin on 10/3 and the rest of our season commences in 10/24.

-The Staff

Voters in this poll were: Ryan Bilger, Chris Chiego, Jamie Faeder, Ben Herman, Antonio Jiminez, Nick Luca, Andrew Nadig, Toby Palmer, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, Will Yaeger, and Albert Zhang

Announcing the Fall Schedule for PA Quizbowl

Greetings,

We can now announce the fall schedule for our online tournament series. This series of tournaments is a collaborative effort between GPQB, four of our college quizbowl teams (Penn, Penn State, Carnegie Mellon, and Pittsburgh), and several high school coaches, and we hope to give the best possible opportunity for teams to compete.

The fall schedule is as follows:

10/3: Novice Season Kickoff (MOQBA Novice Set)

10/24: Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl October Invitational (NAQT IS 196A)

11/14: Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl November Invitational (NAQT IS 197)

12/5: Greater Pennsylvania Quizbowl December Invitational (NAQT IS 198A)

Other important items:

  • All events will be offered with simultaneous zoom and discord options to comply with different district’s social media and coach-student interaction policies. Schools may choose whichever they wish.
  • Registration to ALL tournaments in the GPQB online series is limited to schools from the state of Pennsylvania or schools within a two hour distance of the Pennsylvania border. Express written consent from the tournament organizer (Ben Herman) at the contact address below will be required for teams that do not meet the geographic criteria.
  • All tournaments will have a $50 flat fee. This fee covers reimbursing staff, paying for the question sets, and a fund that will go to assisting Pennsylvania teams who cannot pay for nationals to attend quizbowl nationals if they qualify.
  • Teams can expect events of 7-9 rounds. Due to the length of online events, we will be implementing tossup-only preliminary rounds with full tossup-bonus in the playoffs to start the season and assess from there.

To register for the 10/3 and 10/10 novice events, e-mail Ben Herman at Bherman1993@gmail.com. For the other events, please register through NAQT’s registration system at NAQT.com. Please specify whether you would prefer the discord or zoom option. Questions can be e-mailed to Ben Herman at Bherman1993@gmail.com.

We look forward to having quite the quizbowl season and we are committed to giving students as much a sense of normalcy as possible during the COVID pandemic.

-The Staff

Plans for a Online Quizbowl Season

Friends,

It’s been a while since we’ve posted here, and we just wanted to let you know that yes, we are making plans to run Pennsylvania quizbowl online this year. As I’m sure most people can understand, there have been many other priorities for the coaches and colleges involved with hosting as we adjust to duel hybrid/in-person school models and begin the new semester. We just wanted to let you know we’re here, we can answer questions, and we’re planning to do a few of the following things:

  • There will be a pre-season poll as normal this season, to be released on September 14th.
  • We are planning 6-8 online events that will be exclusive to Pennsylvania teams, ideally beginning in October. We will keep field sizes small, offering multiple chances to play the sets as demand requires. We will also offer zoom and discord options, as some districts ban coaches from interacting with students at one or the other.
  • The typical tournament hosts for the fall have banded together into a collective to run the events. This means more staff and more resources. Because the tournaments are online, mirror fees will be reduced.

Please be patient with us as we continue our plans to set up the season. Questions can be sent to our e-mail account at gpquizbowl@gmail.com or to Ben Herman at bherman1993@gmail.com

Best,

-The Staff

How to Highlight Quizbowl on College Apps

I’ve heard a lot of people in the quizbowl community ask how to effectively talk about quizbowl on college applications. While I’m not an expert at the admissions process, quizbowl was a major part of my high school experience so it came up quite a bit in my own application essays and interviews. Even after two years of college, I’m still pretty involved and frequently refer to my current quizbowl responsibilities in cover letters and conversations with internship recruiters. Building on what I wrote in this post last fall, here are some more specific ideas for framing skills from your high school quizbowl experience on college apps (and maybe even internship/job apps as well).

Disclaimer: A lot of people (admissions officers and alumni interviewers included) don’t really know what quizbowl is, so make sure you have a quick explanation on hand. You can use “it’s like Jeopardy! with teams” if you really want to, but I usually go with something about “interscholastic academic competition.” Specific details about question pyramidality or tossup/bonus formats might be too much detail for this purpose.

College admissions committees are looking for students to demonstrate how they are motivated, intellectually curious, hard-working, and so on (basically any other positive trait that you can clearly outline). Here are some skills from playing quizbowl you could highlight:

  • Intellectual curiosity: If you play quizbowl, you probably enjoy learning more than people who wouldn’t spend their free time studying and picking up knowledge about literature, history, science, or whatever subject you’re into. Maybe studying Renaissance paintings sparked an interest in art history. This is a great tidbit to bring up in an essay or interview; even (or especially) if you’re convinced you want to major in astrophysics or something else that isn’t art, it’s good to show you’re well-rounded and passionate about a variety of things.
  • Teamwork: If you have teammates, you most likely had to learn to work with them, whether to confer well during bonuses or to maintain team chemistry at tournaments. If you’ve helped to organize an event or put a set together, you’ve had to figure out communication and problem-solving there. Emphasizing the interpersonal skills that come from experience on a team shows that you can succeed and contribute positively in student orgs and future collaborative tasks.
  • Self-motivation: Maybe after noticing your team was missing every mythology tossup, you read up on myth systems last summer and have never missed a tossup on Norse gods since. If you can get yourself to do difficult tasks and overcome challenges, highlight your sense of drive and work ethic.
  • Commitment: This can be shown through anything you’ve consistently pursued without giving up. Several years of substantial involvement in quizbowl (or any other extracurricular) and following through on duties can show commitment.
  • Leadership: Captains and club officers have experience working with different personalities and handling an array of responsibilities, from leading practices and boosting team morale to recruiting new members and even registering for tournaments, depending on how involved the coach is. With or without an explicitly outlined leadership role, you can show initiative and leadership skills in ways like mentoring younger players. For my own college apps, I wrote about taking initiative in directing events and pursuing outreach efforts.
  • Creativity: I’ve seen people come up with pretty creative ideas for studying, online leagues, fun practice activities, and more. Thinking outside the box is a valuable skill to emphasize for college, and there are plenty of ways to show creativity in conjunction with leadership and teamwork abilities.
  • Community service: Whether hosted at your school or somewhere else, staffing tournaments (reading, scorekeeping, doing stats, or in any other role) is a great way to give back to the quizbowl community, and you can definitely show this on an application. Other volunteer experiences could include things like helping out with your middle school’s team.

Depending on what your time in quizbowl has involved, there are countless other aspects you could highlight as well. A huge part of a successful college (or internship/job) application is just effectively communicating the skills you have and your capacity for growth. Playing tournaments, writing questions, moderating, and organizing events are enriching experiences, and you can use them to your advantage in showcasing who you are. Good luck, and feel free to comment or reach out for advice!

Jackie

Online Pennsylvania Charity Tournament Wrap-Up (6/27/20)

While a small consolation for the COVID-related loss of the 2020 nationals season, Pennsylvania’s quizbowlers were not ready to quit quite yet. They gathered for one final event online, PACT, which was a mirror of the BHSAT set. All proceeds were donated to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Kiski Area’s Eddie Fuhrer, a GPQB all-state honorable mention this year, stepped up to direct. For a first time TD, he did an incredible job.

Stats are here.

This was a tossups-only event, in which 13 teams played a round robin. State College A cleared the field with a 12-0 record. This was a great team effort for Albert, Jupiter, Allen, and Ananya, as they all scored 25 points per game or higher and won every game by 40 points or more. Second place went to Great Valley Blue, and third to Trinity. Manheim Township‘s AZ Faiz, GPQB’s JV player of the year, led the event with 86 points per game. We also wanted to commend co-2nd place scorers Anish Kodali from GV Blue and Chris Goodrich from Oxford with 80.

As it looks like much of the 2020-21 season will be online as well, this was an interesting trial run. Hopefully, PA quizbowl can thrive and then return to face to face competition soon.

-Ben

GPQB End of Season Poll, 2019-2020

Friends,

While this unusual season did not have any Keystone State Tournament or Nationals Tournaments, we still thought it best to carry on and do an end-of-season ranking. It was difficult, but these students more than any deserve the honor of being named a top team in the state. They put in countless hours of hard work, and many continued to practice virtually even after the COVID epidemic. This year had dozens of seniors who made a name for themselves in the circuit, and we wish them the best on their next steps. Here are the results:

  1. Manheim Township, 110 points (Unanimous #1, =)
  2. Great Valley A, 99 points (+1)
  3. Great Valley B, 85 points (+1)
  4. Penn Manor, 73 points (+2)
  5. Henderson, 63 points (-3)
  6. State College, 61 points (-1)
  7. Friends Select, 47 points (=)
  8. Trinity Catholic, 32 points (=)
  9. Hempfield, 16 points (=)
  10. Oxford, 13 points (previously u/r)

Also receiving votes were: Allderdice (4), Moravian Academy (1), and Winchester Thurston (1)

The voters in this poll were: Ryan Bilger, Jack Edmondson, Ben Herman, Antonio Jimenez, Ashish Kumbhardare, Andrew Nadig, Nick Luca, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, and Adam Swift