29 teams gathered in Philadelphia on Saturday, December 7th to compete in the Fifth-Annual Quaker Fall Open. When this tournament began 5 years ago, no UPenn high school tournament had ever had a team from Philadelphia in the field. This year, 10 out of the 29 teams in attendance hailed from the City of Brotherly Love.
Most stats from the two divisions, Nationals and Open, are up here.
In the Nationals division, the teams competed on a college-level set, the Early Fall Tournament (you can see last year’s EFT question set here to get an idea of how difficult it is). Ithaca A (NY) ran the table with a strong four-player effort to take first place and cemented their status as a national contender this year. After a spirited final that saw Ithaca A narrowly triumph 265-235, Manheim Township A continued their impressive but frustrating run of runner-up finishes to take 2nd. Though MT A easily won against the other PA schools at the event, they’re still chasing some of the top teams in the Northeast region as a whole.
Below the top came a 3-way tie for third place, with a Connor-led (91.88 PPG) Penn Manor tying with a depleted Great Valley A (several of their normal A-team members were absent so several B-teamers played on A here) and Friends Select, who scored an overtime victory (195-185) over Penn Manor via a higher bonus conversion rate. The Great Valley team put up an impressive 15.84 PPB but also an aggressive 7 to 29 power-to-neg ratio. In contrast, Friends Select played much more conservatively, with only a single power for the entire day.
Finishing just below that tie was Hotchkiss, who came down from Connecticut and put together a solid 13 PPB performance anchored by Cooper’s 52.5 PPG. Moravian A and B both braved the EFT questions as well and, along with Wissahickon A, rounded out the field in the Nationals division.
Given some of the unusual team compositions necessitated by regular members being absent from some of the larger programs’ teams, the Open division was wide-open this year. The LOGIC question set used in this division had generally accessible answerlines and bonuses (though science and literature, per quizbowl tradition, tended to be particularly unforgiving) while the tossups often had fairly challenging and lengthy lead-ins. The teams at QFO seemed game for the questions overall though and, though no open team broke 20 PPB, only 5 were below 10 PPB.
Great Valley “B” won the division with an impressive performance from Rahul, whose 90.5 PPG topped the division. Rahul displayed a strong mastery of the quizbowl canon, nabbing tossups across a whole array of categories, and rarely getting stumped on any bonus. GV continues to display considerable depth and the regular GV C team will be a tough out for other teams at future events.
In the runner-up position, Germantown Friends School put on an outstanding display of buzzer aggression, with 39 powers to go with 33 negs in the prelims and a total of 50 powers and 49 negs for the day. In contrast to GV B, they still have some holes in the regular quizbowl canon (particularly in literature), but also deep pockets of knowledge that led to impressive NBA Jam-style “on fire” streaks. While they still have a ways to go, they may yet challenge Friends Select this year for the Philadelphia City Championship.
Manheim Township B also put on a strong performance in the prelims with Deeya (44.4 PPG) and Ellie (11 powers) leading the way, though they faltered a bit at the end of a long day in their cross-bracket matches against GV B and GFS. Downingtown East A‘s top-bracket performance was led by Maggie (62.2 PPG) yet maintained a balanced attack. Just below, Ithaca B played high-risk high-reward quizbowl that led to some impressive victories and agonizingly close losses (their 3 losses were by a total of 65 points). Manheim Township C continued to display the standard MT brand of solid, disciplined quizbowl and balanced performance that covers most of the canon well, though rarely spectacularly so. And Archbishop Ryan continued to ride the Ryan (76.6 PPG) train, with their performance varying directly with their star player’s PPG, while Wissahickon B rode a wild coaster of 5 straight losses followed by 4 straight wins and then 2 more losses to round out the day.
D-East also demonstrated strong depth with their B team’s solid day as well (led by Nora’s 38.8 PPG) while Carver A (with Sebastian’s 45 PPG) suffered 3 one-tossup losses, but finished with a solid 16.05 PPB and 20 powers. Below those teams, the crossover bracket seeding got a little more random with Carver B and Great Valley C having solid mornings but tougher afternoons, Bodine displaying impressive breadth (see Alex’s 71.6 PPG) but not making much headway against stronger teams, and Wissahickon’s C and D teams curiously clustering together. The field was rounded out with two more Carver teams (C and D), Franklin Towne Charter A (featuring Mansi’s 39.3 PPG) and B, and Moravian C.
A Word of Advice: Have an Organized System for Answering Bonuses
One of the big differences that I noticed at all levels (from the lowest-bracket to playoff bracket teams) when reading was between teams that had a clear system in place for working together on bonuses versus those teams that had little or no organization on bonuses. The teams with a system usually ran things through a designated captain: the captain would listen to their teammates while sometimes asking for confirmation or probing for new information before offering a response to the moderator. The other team members repeated what was being asked for and made guesses as needed. This kind of structured system reduced unforced errors and often generated solid guesses.
In contrast, other teams engaged in a kind of chaotic, anyone-can-say-anything experience with no set structure in place on bonuses. This would then lead to frequent miscommunications between team members and poor guesses. Though it may not change a team’s performance that much, on average I suspect better-organized teams would get 3-4 more bonus parts each tournament than a similar less-organized team, which in close matches could be the difference between winning and losing.
Furthermore, as a reader, it’s much easier to focus simply on whether or not an answer is correct when a team has a clear system of responding in place instead of multiple players shouting out responses with varying degrees of directedness. If you want your team to maximize its bonus performance and reduce the stress levels of everyone in the room, spend a bit of time getting a system in place for responding on bonuses.