Author: gpqb

GVQBT VII (1/4/2020) Wrap-Up

52 teams came to Great Valley High School in Malvern this past Saturday for the biggest tournament in the state this season. The Open division saw 24 teams compete on the challenging and variable Glasgow Scottie set, while 28 Novice division teams played the PSACA III novice set. Stats for both divisions can be found here.

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Tournament Champions Manheim Township A

Another PA tournament brings another new champion this year, with  Manheim Township A taking home first place. The midseason poll #1 squad won almost all of their games comfortably, including a 460-225 victory over a strong duo from Clark HS (Nevada), who took second place on the day. I read their last game in which they needed to win to clinch the tournament and avoid a 1-game final, and I was impressed by the way in which they took the time to huddle up down by 15 at the half and just turned it on for the rest of the match. AZ’s emergence continues, as he outscored Will by over 10 PPG, while Cyril and Sanya contributed strongly as well as the main 3rd and 4th chairs. MT led the field in powers by far and, as we have said, really looked the part of a far and away #1 team in the state. Congratulations to Manheim Township on getting over the proverbial hump and claiming their first tournament win of the year!

Penn Manor added to their trophy cabinet with a 3rd place finish. This was my first time seeing Connor play this year, and I observed some good work from him even as the team fell narrowly to Clark on the final tossup. PM also had the highest PPB of any team in the playoff rounds, speaking to their depth as well. Their success this spring will depend on Connor’s ability to take over games, and this tournament showed his capability on that front.

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Penn Manor just before the playoffs. They would finish in 3rd place.

While the stats link presents them in a different order, since tied records were broken based on head-to-head, fourth place went to Oxford A in one of the top stories of the day. Oxford recorded arguably the biggest upset of the GPQB era by demolishing Henderson A 405-205 in a game in which they took the lead early and never let up. They also defeated Hempfield by a 285-265 score on the final tossup. Chris Goodrich really broke out as a top-quality player here, with 72.14 PPG against the other playoff teams, and I observed all four players contributing on bonuses and getting buzzes of their own as well. Considering this tournament roughly marked a year since they began attending Saturday pyramidal competitions, their rapid improvement is nothing short of incredible, and Oxford represents a true model for how a new-to-quizbowl school can approach the game and work together to get better and better. Their performance here certainly puts them in the conversation for future state polls.

Based on the head-to-head tiebreaker, Hempfield finished 5th, followed by Henderson A in 6th. Though they narrowly lost their game for which I read, Hempfield seems like a squad with a strong “game sense,” knowing how to work well together as a team. Carsten and Sebastian led the way in scoring, but Colby and Michael also played nicely in the playoffs too. The unnamed “Henderson housewrite curse” struck again for them on this day, as they never really seemed to get up to full speed without the benefit of their NAQT category strengths. Vijay and Vikram were their top scoring players again, and they did notch a nice win over Penn Manor, but overall this was not their strongest outing. FSS A took 7th place behind balanced scoring from Matt, Jonah, and Silas, with victories over Oxford and 8th-place Henderson B, who struggled in the playoffs but showed me some good knowledge in the prelims too.

In the top consolation bracket, Moravian A went undefeated, with a 295-260 win over Manheim Township C their only close playoff match. Moravian remains a solid team hovering around the 11-15 range in the state at the moment, but a couple of strong spring tournament finishes could vault them up higher. Manheim Township B went 3-2 in the playoffs on incredibly balanced scoring, with their four players scoring 24, 24, 23, and 22 PPG in those rounds. Carver A had one of their strongest finishes by ending the day strong with two victories, paced by Sebastian Kennedy’s 51 PPG. West Chester Rustin finished at the bottom of this bracket, but I have been quite impressed by some of their real knowledge buzzes and bonus pulls whenever I have read for them.

The next bracket saw Western LehighCedar Crest A, and Wallenpaupack all finish at 4-1, with a circle of victories and losses against each other. Each of these teams had good contributions from all their players, and Western Lehigh had the strongest PPB by a decent margin of the three. Moravian B and Lancaster Mennonite rounded out the bracket, the latter led by Toby Palmer’s 50 playoff PPG.

The final bracket was swept by PALCS A, behind 49 playoff PPG from Max Lind. Archbishop Ryan came next, followed by FSS B, Renaissance, and a GV house team. These teams did a nice job on a challenging question set and gained some valuable experience for the future.

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State College A with their novice division first place trophy

The novice division was won by State College A (typically the school’s C team at full strength), with an exciting 335-220 victory in the final over a Cedar Crest B team of emerging freshmen. SC demonstrated once again the great depth of their program, while Cedar Crest’s Danny Peelen led the division in scoring with 83 PPG. State College B (their typical D team) claimed 3rd place with a victory over Council Rock North, who turned in an extremely strong performance in their first Saturday pyramidal tournament ever, including a 360-230 victory over the tournament champions. Again, it’s great to see new teams doing well with an accessible question set that gives them good opportunities to do so!

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Cedar Crest B with their second place novice division trophy

An interesting mixture of teams filled out the remainder of  the championship brackets. A Great Valley house team got major contributions from the GV middle school players, indicating that the pipeline remains strong there. Pine Grove A out of Schuylkill County finished 6-4 with balanced scoring and some impressive lit knowledge from lead scorer Jade Shollenberger, while Oxford B also finished 6-4 behind 60 PPG from CJ Evans-Ralston. Downingtown STEM did quite well to make the playoffs in their pyramidal return, and Carver C showed off the depth of their program by finishing 5-5. Both teams from ELCO also finished in the championship brackets as well, and Delaware’s Archmere Academy rounded out these teams.

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The Pine Grove A team from Schuylkill County

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Downingtown STEM’s team in their return to the pyramidal circuit

The first consolation bracket was topped by Carver B, who finished 7-2. Just behind them were Wissahickon B, who finished with the best PPB of any team in the division at 19.89 in an impressive display of knowledge. Archbishop Wood did nicely in their return to the circuit for the season, while Penncrest out of Media, PA notched some wins in their first pyramidal tournament ever. Teams from PALCS, Renaissance, and Henderson rounded out the bracket.

Wissahickon A tied with Conrad Weiser B at the top of the final bracket. Nice job by both teams, especially Conrad Weiser in their first tournament in a couple of years. Also of note in this bracket was Upper Moreland out of Montgomery County snagging four wins in their pyramidal debut, with Jack Geld scoring a strong 59.5 PPG.

Overall, despite some (not unjustified) gripes about the set in the Open division, it was a fun day with some excellent competition and a great way to kick off 2020 in PA quizbowl!

-Ryan Bilger

GPQB Mid-Season Poll, 2019-20

Friends,

The holidays are upon us, so therefore the mid-season poll is as well. As ever, this year has had some top flight competition. Our voters had a bigger challenge than ever selecting which teams were tops in the state, as stats and tournament performance has incredible parity. As always, these rankings are primarily for fun. We are exited to see how this season finishes and what developments occur next. Without further ado, the mid-season poll results are as follows:

  1. Manheim Township, 149 points (+5, 14 first place)
  2. Henderson, 128 points (-1, 1 first place)
  3. Great Valley A, 126 points (+2)
  4. Great Valley B, 101 points (+4)
  5. Penn Manor, 88 points (-2)
  6. State College A, 74 points (-2)
  7. Friends Select, 57 points (-5)
  8. Hempfield, 34 points (+3)
  9. Trinity, 33 points (=)
  10. Allderdice, 15 points (=)

Also receiving votes were: Winchester Thurston (7), State College B (5), Great Valley C (3), and Moravian Academy (1).

We wish everyone happy holidays, a happy new year, and happy buzzing. See you in 2020.

-The Staff

The voters in this poll were: Ryan Bilger, Chris Chiego, Ben Herman, Antonio Jimenez, Ashish Kumbhardare, Nick Luca, Andrew Nadig, Malaika Paralkar, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, Jack Sugrue, Adam Swift, Jackie Wu, and Will Yaeger

Lakeland Land-Of-Lakes Classic Wrap-Up

A number of schools from Northeastern Pennsylvania and a few from out of state gathered on the edge of the Wyoming Valley for the first-ever tournament hosted by Lakeland Jr./Sr. High School.

Full statistics are available here.

The winners of the tournament were out-of-staters Ithaca (NY) A, who took advantage of a rare tournament relatively close to their rural NY location to play a regular-difficulty NAQT IS set. Out of the in-state teams, Wallenpaupack A and Delaware Valley A represented Pennsylvania well, finishing behind Ithaca A but atop the rest of the field. Both schools also had solid PPBs and appear to be on-schedule in preparing for their return to HSNCT Nationals in Atlanta in the spring. Delaware Valley’s B team also tussled with Ithaca’s B and C teams for the remainder of the spots in the top playoff bracket and scored notable wins over both of those NY teams. 

The tournament also marked the welcome return of Lehigh Valley Academy Charter as well as Mountain View High School, both of whom had attended quizbowl tournaments in the past but whose current status was unclear. Both programs performed well and were in the mix with a variety of B and C teams, including several Lakeland house teams and two teams from Berwick.

The tournament was also notable as the pyramidal weekend quizbowl tournament debut for Montrose and Carbondale. While the regular IS set was definitely challenging for these new-to-quizbowl teams, both schools got several wins during the day along with hopefully useful experience for both the WVIA Scholastic Scrimmage TV show and future quizbowl tournaments.

The success (as seen by repeated trips to quizbowl nationals) of rural teams in Northeast Pennsylvania like Lakeland, Delaware Valley, and Wallenpauck is a testament to what excellent coaching can do for any school in Pennsylvania. With Lakeland hopefully joining these schools in hosting again, NEPA also has a solid stable of tournament hosts set up for the future.

An Introduction to Quizbowl Statistics

Note from the Editors: This is a guest post from circuit alumnus Nick Luca, Henderson ’16. Nick has vast experience working stats, and we thank him for his time writing up this overview for stats newcomers.

Introduction

Despite being behind the scenes most of the time, the statistician is an extremely important role in order to run a successful quizbowl event. Without statisticians, the logistics of the tournament day can be seriously delayed, especially when you are re-seeding teams into playoff and consolation brackets. You may also have unhappy teams if stats are not posted in a timely fashion after the tournament concludes. Doing stats for a quizbowl tournament can be daunting at first, with a 24 team 10 round tournament requiring at least 120 unique games entered. However, stats can be easy if you follow a set-out procedure.

Some quick background on myself: I have been playing quizbowl for 5 years for both West Chester Henderson and most recently Virginia Tech. I have been a statistician at multiple national tournaments as well as various large tournaments in the Mid-Atlantic region. I decided to create this write-up in order to share my experience and knowledge with others so I can help newer statisticians in their endeavors. The most common mistake of first-time quizbowl statistician is not doing any research about quizbowl stats prior to the tournament. This write up is designed to help you get a better understanding of stats and how to optimize your performance as a statistician. So, let’s get started!

The Various Stat Keeping Programs

In order to start stat keeping you need to select a stat keeping program in order to fit your event’s needs. Here are some common quizbowl stat keeping programs:

SQBS

This is the most commonly used and my personal choice of quizbowl stat keeping programs. SQBS is the standard in terms of stat uploading and produces the only file that NAQT will accept for a statistics discount after a tournament ends. Typically, tournaments using SQBS will use paper scoresheets and the statistician will manually enter each individual game. This write-up will mainly be highlighting this program as it is seen as the standard in quizbowl.

Download or read the documentation for SQBS here.

Neg 5

This is a cloud-based quizbowl stat program that eliminates the use of paper scoresheets by allowing all scorekeepers to digitally submit their scoresheets. This program makes error detection much harder and requires more setup that SQBS if you are running a large event. In addition, the output of Neg 5 files is a bit unorthodox and would often require re-entering the stats into SQBS in order to upload the files to the forums and send to NAQT.  In addition, the servers can potentially crash; halting all stat keeping. For these reasons I can’t recommend Neg 5 for large events. I would only recommend this program if you do not have enough staff to have at least one person in the stats room.

Read more or use Neg5: https://neg5.org/

Advanced Stats

Pioneered by quizbowl stats whiz Ophir Lifshitz. This stats program also tracks buzz points, meaning you can see where everyone who played a set buzzed on a given question. Typically, advanced stats are used in college tournaments and are used to help writers and editors improve their packets in future iterations of a set. However, not all stats are calculated in this program and therefore it is recommended to have one person in control to input the stats into SQBS alongside Advanced Stats to avoid logistical errors. This program will be provided to you when you use a set that uses advanced stats.

Yellow Fruit

A newer stats program created by Manheim Township alum Andrew Nadig. This SQBS alternative allows you to easily organize stats by phase, create a more detailed scoreboard report, supports roster import, and allows for easy conversion to SQBS and html files. I have not personally used the program myself, but I have heard nothing but good things about it and it appears to be gaining more acceptance in quizbowl circles very rapidly. For further questions see this post on the HSQB forums or contact Andrew  on Twitter (@qzbwl) and he’ll be happy to help.

Download or read more about Yellow Fruit

Getting Started With SQBS

Before your tournament even begins you want to make sure your SQBS file is ready to go so that when you start getting completed scoresheets, you’ll be ready to enter them quickly. To create a new tournament, after downloading SQBS, open the program and simply click file and then select New Tournament (or Ctrl + N). You will be then presented the following screen:

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For the standard NAQT format you do not have to make any changes to default settings; however, different types of question sets may require different values. For example, for ACF tournaments, you would simply unselect the 15-point value since their sets are not power- marked. Moving downwards, we now have the stat tracking section. The first to boxes must be checked for all most all scenarios so please make sure you make sure they are checked. If you are using lighting rounds and/or splitting the field into separate brackets or divisions check the corresponding boxes. Finally, we have Bonus Conversion Tracking. Make 100% percent automatic is selected unless you are using bounce backs; if it is not you will have to do all bonus conversion statistics by hand. Once you make all the necessary selections, hit ok and you will have a brand new SQBS file.

Once the file is created make sure to do 2 things immediately. First, save the file by selecting File and then selecting Save Tournament As (or Ctrl + A). Make sure you save the file to an easily accessible place on your computer, preferably either your documents or desktop. Secondly, you should set up auto-saves. This will make sure that you will have your progress saved even if you forget to save manually. This feature has saved me on multiple occasions.

Inputting Rosters, Teams and Divisions

Many tournaments will use division due to field size and packet constraints making round robins impossible. If you are running a round robin tournament skip to roster input section of this write up. To enter divisions simply pull up the Division Entry window and enter each unique division as seen in the example below. Once you are done click enter.

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Once you are done with divisions, if applicable, you are now ready to input rosters. First, pull up the Roster Entry window. Your screen should look like this:

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Once you have the window pulled up start by entering the team name. If a school has multiple teams but the school name and letter designation in the team name box. Next, if applicable, select the division you assigned the team to from a drop-down menu. If you are running a round-robin tournament you can skip this step. If you want a team in the field to play games but not contribute to final scoring, click the exhibition team box. 99% of the time this box should be unchecked, so make sure each individual team does not have this box checked. We are now ready to enter the team’s roster. Put one player per line in the box. Once you are done the final completed team roster should look like this:

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Once you are sure the entry is correct, click the next button and enter the next team. Repeat this process for every team in the field. If there comes a case where there is a duplicate team roster, simply click the delete button to delete the team roster. If an additional player is added to a team that was not listed on the initial roster, simply add the person on the next line below the last player in the roster. There is no need to create a new roster. Once you are done entering the rosters (and note that you can and probably should enter rosters before the tournament even starts; this is why it’s standard practice now to ask teams to submit rosters before tournaments so that you can get a head start), you are now ready to enter games.

Inputting Games

The first thing to do before entering games is to double-check the completed scoresheets as they arrive. Some tournaments will have additional staff in HQ to do this for you. If you don’t additional help you must do this yourself. Add up all the toss-up points and count the bonus parts; the bonus points will by that count by 10. Add the two numbers and check it against your final score. If it matches, repeat the process for the other team. If not look through each individual toss-up and bonus set and make sure the running total is added correctly.

Here is a list of common mistakes:

  • Bonus total ends in a 5
    • Bonus total cannot end in a 5 since each bonus is worth 10 points each. If the bonus total ends in a 5, the scoresheet is wrong and must be fixed
  • Math error in running total
  • Incorrect stat lines for players
    • Be sure to recount powers (if applicable), toss-ups, and negs (if applicable) on the scoresheet if the score does not match. Once counted, re-calculate the toss-up points per player

This process is a double-check and cannot be substituted for scorekeepers checking the score. Stress that your scorekeepers should follow the same process so you can get stats in at a timely pace. If there are multiple instances of mistakes by the same scorekeepers, be sure to let the tournament director know so they can deal with the situation. Once you are done double-checking the scoresheet, its time to enter the score into SQBS. To start open the game entry tab; your screen should look like this:

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First pick the two teams playing the match from the drop-down menus at the top on both the left and right. Once you select the teams the rosters should automatically appear in the middle of the window. Once the teams are selected, click on the box below the drop-down menus and input the final score for both teams. In addition, enter the round number in the “Rnd” box in the bottom left and the number of tossups in the game in the “Toss-Ups Heard” right below the rosters in the center. We are now ready to enter the individual stats for each player.

First, we need to check the GP row. The sum of the numbers in this row must be less than or equal to 4. For example, if there are 4 people playing the entire game, they all should have a GP of 1. If there was a substitution in the middle of the match the GP of the player will not be one. For the affected players, instead of the default 1, type in the number of toss-up played divided by the number of toss-ups in the match. For example, if the player played 10 questions in a 20 toss-up match you would simple enter “10/20” in the GP row for that player. If there is a player who didn’t play in each match, simply type in a 0 into the GP row. If a player played the entire match simply type in a 1 if not already inputted automatically.

After the GP row is done, we can now input the individual stat lines. Next to the GP columns you will see rows coordinating to the different point amounts you can earn for a toss-up. Use the scoresheet to enter their stat lines into the appropriate row. Do not attempt to type in the “Pts” row since SQBS does the math for you and will update as you put in toss-up values. If a player didn’t get a certain toss-up value for a round just leave the box blank; by default, the value in each box is 0. Repeat this for every player on the team.

After you are done the row you can now check the bonus calculations. SQBS automatically calculates bonus heard and bonus points. If the bonus points match the value of the corrected scoresheet. Repeat the state inputting process for the other team. Below is a picture of a completed scoresheet of a typical game.

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Once you make sure everything is correct simply click next to get to a new blank game entry. You can then enter the next scoresheet. This process will work for most scoresheets you come across, but there are 2 notable scenarios where the game inputting process is slightly different.

The first situation is a forfeit. If a team leaves early or doesn’t show up to the tournament at all the games the team is not present to will result in a forfeit. In order to enter a forfeit, you simply, first, select the two teams who were supposed to be playing. For the score of the team who forfeited you simply put the letter “L” in their score box; the other team will receive an “W” in their score box. Lastly, check the forfeit box near box near the next button.

The second situation of note is a game that goes to overtime. For a game like this you begin by entering the game as normal. Note the toss-ups in the overtime period do not count towards Toss-Ups Heard. So, if there was a 20 question rounds with 3 overtime question you would enter the number 20 in the “Toss-Ups Heard” box. After you are done entering the scoresheet as normal, we can now focus on overtime. First, check the “Overtime” check box in the bottom right corner. Lastly, for the 2 boxes next to the overtime check box enter the number of toss-ups correctly answered by the team during the overtime period. For example if the team on the left got 2 toss-ups and the right team got 1 toss-up in a 3 question overtime period you would enter the number 2 in the box closest to the “Overtime” check box and the number 1 in the box closest to the delete button. Below is an example of a game entry of an overtime game.

To access previous game entries, you simply press the previous button until you get to the game in question. However, a more efficient way to do this requires using ID numbers. Every game entry in SQBS has its own unique ID number when inputted. The first game you input will be ID # 0, the second 1, the third 2, and so on. I would recommend writing this ID number on the scoresheet in order to easily access a game entry To access you input the ID number into the box to the left of the “Previous” button and click the “Go To” button to get to the game entry.

Exporting Reports

Once you have entered all the scoresheets in the morning session it is time to export the reports. However, before you export you should give the stats one final check. You can do this by doing a command called Quick-Print Teams. You do this by clicking Reports in the top left-corner and then clicking Quick-Print Teams (or Ctrl + T). You will then have a pop-up appear with your team standings. Make sure that amount of games and the records for each team are correct.  If everything checks out, you are ready to upload the stats to the forums.

You will first have to create the files you need to upload to the forums. To do this click Reports and then click Full-Web Reports. You will then be prompted to give the files names. Insert a name and save it to a place that is easily accessible, i.e. the desktop.

Next you need to sign into the forums with the account that owns the tournament listing for the tournament. Once you are logged in click the link to access the Quizbowl Resource Database. The web address is https://hsquizbowl.org/db/. Click on your username in the top right and you should be directed to a page with a list of tournaments under My Tournaments. Click the applicable event. Once you get to the tournament listing click “Edit Tournament Listing.” Then on the next page click “Manage Stat Reports.” Finally click “Add Stat Report” on the next page. You should get to a page like below.

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Click choose file for each report upload the appropriate report. For example, for scoreboard upload the file whose file name ends with “_games.html.” Once you are done uploading all the files click “Add Stat Report” and the stats are uploaded to the forums. Complete this process again at the end of the day when all the stats are entered SQBS.

Finally, in order to get the stat discount for NAQT you simply send the .SQBS file  to results@naqt.com and they will process the request.

Conclusion

Being a statistician can be a bit daunting at first, but if you follow the guidelines set forward by this write-up you can make the experience an enjoyable one. If you have any additional questions, feel free to contact me. I am a member of the GPQB discord or you can also contact me via email at nlucaswim@gmail.com. I hope that this guide helps and happy buzzing!

Manheim Township Academic Challenge 2019 Wrap-Up (12/14/19)

42 teams were on hand to contest a Varsity and Junior Varsity title at Manheim Township in Lancaster last Saturday. It was a fun, breezy day, enjoyed by students and staff alike. As is always the case with MTHS tournaments, it ran just about flawlessly and students got to go home with a quality tournament in record time.

Full Stats Are Here.

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Penn Manor with their 1st place trophy. Photo courtesy the Penn Manor Quizbowl team.

Varsity Division

Southeast PA has seen a chaotic season at the top, with many teams getting tournament victories. This time, it was Penn Manor‘s turn to take home the first place trophy. While never down as far as in their legendary comeback to take 3rd at last year’s iteration of the tournament, Penn Manor trailed by 105 points at half time in the final. They stormed back, however, to clinch on tossup 19. Connor once again led a tournament in scoring with 148 points per game, which was more than forty above the nearest player. They were undefeated on the day. Great Valley A took second place behind yet another strong all around tournament. All four players scored between 27 and 44 points per game. They seem adroit all around the distribution, particularly history. Penn Manor seemed to be a better tossup team than bonus team, while GV was more equal across the two.

Great Valley almost has enough players for two A teams, as the B team finished just behind them and took 3rd. I continue to be impressed by how focused GV B plays, and for an ostensibly younger team, they are remarkably free from forced errors or mistakes. Henderson nabbed 4th place. They powered a bit less than normal this time, but overall are still a rock solid team, particularly on categories like current events and geography. Henderson’s Vijay had 83 points per game, good for 5th overall individually. Friends Select took 5th place, and led the tournament in bonus conversion. Indeed, in points per game, the top five were all basically on top of one another. It will be fascinating to see how these teams shake out and separate themselves come nationals.

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Great Valley B with their 3rd place trophy.

6th place went to Hempfield. Their 45 powers was in line with the top teams, so they’re clearly in no rebuild to speak of after last year’s title team. The one-two punch of Carsten and Sebastian provided a lot of early buzzes. Otherwise in the playoff brackets of Varsity, Henderson B and Great Valley C tied for 7th, Mechanicsburg and Wilton from Connecticut took 9th, and Lancaster Mennonite and Emmaus A tied for 11th. I’m happy to see Mechanicsburg doing well, as this was their season debut. They showed a lot of promise last year when they did play, and it looks like those players have become quite formidable in the time since we’ve seen them. The other schools all looked strong, with points per bonuses in the 18+ range and several strong individual performances.

In Varsity consolation, we saw a variety of nice performances as well. Huntingdon had two teams play, and Andrew from Huntingdon B finished 4th overall in scoring for the tournament. Carver E & S A wowed with 20.5 points per bonus, which was nearly as high tournament champ Penn Manor. This suggests a bit of buzzer shyness; overcome that and they might threaten for the Philly City title this year. Central Dauphin braved the Varsity bracket at their very first pyramidal invitational, and did admirably, going 3-4 and making a nice 17/9 power to neg ratio. They have plenty of potential. Cedar Crest A, Bermudian Springs A, a house team, and several B-D teams rounded out the bracket.

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Oxford A, en route to their JV title at Manheim Township.

JV Division

In the JV bracket, Oxford A stormed through the competition undefeated, to win their first tournament in school history. Oxford was dominant on history and science especially, and they are absolutely now ready to graduate to Varsity play, just under a year from their first tournament. Chris’ 107.5 points per game on a 9/30/1 line was good for second overall in the JV division. Henderson C took second place. Cedar Crest B came in 3rd, and Delaware’s Tower Hill school finished in 4th. All of these schools acquitted themselves well, and had stats exceeding a few Varsity teams! Max from Tower Hill edged out Chris from Oxford by one point to lead the JV players in scoring, and Cedar Crest B’s Danny was the third scorer with 75 ppg.

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West York, enjoying their first taste of Saturday quizbowl.

Elsewhere, West York made their tournament debut and did swimmingly. I had the chance to read several games from them, and while there were a few new-team type mistakes, they also had a lot of good buzzes. They have potential to become a contender in South-Central PA. Speaking of, Waynesboro returned to action and also did well, going 6-1 overall on the day with several big wins over 200 points as well as a clutch five point win. Montgomery and Midd-West made the trek down from Northeastern PA and also had a number of good buzzes. With studying, the wins are sure to follow. The rest of the JV day was filled out with freshmen and sophomore players from stalwart schools who gained valuable buzzer experience.

This was a fun day, and once again, the hosts should be commended for a well run tournament. We wish all our readers happy holidays and a happy New Year, and we will resume play at Great Valley high school just after the start of 2020.

-Ben

Quaker Fall Open V Wrap-Up

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.

Nationals Division

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.

Open 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.

-Chris

Henderson Invitational 2019 Wrap-Up (11/23/2019)

Last Saturday, 36 teams were on hand in West Chester for the latest installment of the Henderson Invitational Tournament. The result was a well-run and enjoyable day, filled with interesting and surprising results.

Stats can be found here.

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Great Valley A with their first place trophy.

The tournament victory went to Great Valley A, who notched their program’s first of the season. They breezed through the first nine rounds, but took a weird 5 point loss to their own C team in round 10 due to uncharacteristically poor bonus conversion (Great Valley has a history of beating themselves in tight situations). They still secured a spot in the finals, where they faced a formidable Manheim Township A squad that went into the final undefeated. Down 250-95 at halftime, Great Valley rallied to get 7 of the next 8 tossups to take a 90 point lead. Their neg on tossup 19 briefly put the game back in play, but Manheim Township could not get enough points on the bonus, thus sealing the win for Great Valley. Great Valley was remarkably balanced, as John, Rishi, Anshu, and Noah each had between 30 and 57 points per game and all had over 15 powers. This performance shows that Great Valley comes ready to play and can respond well to adversity.

As for Manheim Township A, the sample size is large enough that we can say that at this juncture, they look to be the statistically strongest team in the state so far. Their 23.52 points per bonus on a regular difficulty set was almost two higher than any other team in the field, and they averaged over 10 powers per game. These numbers are incredible. While they’ve lost in the final at two straight invitationals, the talent is absolutely there and once they can close the deal, they might be unstoppable. Will and AZ finished 2nd and 6th in individual scoring for the tournament, and Sanya and Ellie are rounding into excellent specialists, with each providing over a power a game.

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Trinity A poses with their 4th place trophy.

Great Valley B took third. They look just as deep as the A team, with four excellent scorers. Outside of a slightly lower power rate, their stats are almost a doppelganger for their A team, and Great Valley could quite honestly become the first school of the GPQB poll era to have two teams in the top 5 by year’s end. Trinity Catholic High School from Camp Hill finished in 4th. As the breakout team of last season, expectations were high but uncertain coming in. With this performance, they have put any doubts about their chops to rest. I read for them twice, and in those games they showed a few new-team knowledge gaps, but played with good strategy and teamwork. Luke’s 61 ppg was in the top 10 for the event.

Trinity’s 4th place finish came with a last question clinch over Penn Manor in round seven, who would in turn play Hempfield for 5th. The later team won that match. As last year’s state champions, Hempfield had quite a bit to replace, but it turns out much of the replacement was hiding in plain sight. Carsten was good last year, but was clearly under some shadow effect. Here, he broke out for 72 points per game, 4th overall, which would make any of his teammates on the state title team proud and established him as a major one to watch. They also debuted freshman Sebastian, brother of last year’s player of the year Will Yaeger, to a cool 30 points per game. Penn Manor continues to be a solid team, once again with their scoring coming mostly from Connor, who notched yet another scoring title with 121 points per game.

Also making the playoffs were Friends Select A and B, Manheim Township B, Great Valley C, a house team from Henderson (mostly their B and C team players), and New Jersey’s Ranney school. This was our first look at full strength FSS this year, and they looked quality as always. Their power rate is notably behind other top teams right now, which possibly explains the 7th place finish. Don’t overlook them, however, as they could just be warming up. Meanwhile, all of these PA schools shows continue to show depth, and will remain factors for years.

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Renaissance A enjoying their Henderson Invitational experience.

In first consolation, Downingtown East B took top honors, with a 7-3 record and an undefeated afternoon. Many of their wins were close and clutch, particularly a 25 ppb performance against Emmaus A in round seven which allowed them a rare win with only eight tossups answered. Oxford A also stood out as an up-and-coming team. Traditionally a bottom dweller in the Chester County league, Oxford has made great strides of late, and seem to be studying hard. Chris’ 79 points per game was 3rd at the event and lead them to a winning record. Lancaster Mennonite and Cedar Crest A represented the Lancaster-Lebanon league well, with several strong wins. While perhaps not strong enough to challenge the top 3 in the Lanc-Leb circuit yet, they have enough raw talent to build for more and better down the road. Downingtown East’s A team also made this bracket.

Lower on down, we saw new look Camp Hill return to the circuit in the midst of a coaching change and full scale rebuild. With 15 points per bonus, they have a good bit to work with, and they remain one of Pennsylvania’s top small schools. PALCS and Renaissance Academy, two Chester County charters, also played and got in a number of good buzzes. I was also encouraged by two new school debuts. West Chester Rustin, one of Henderson’s sister schools, made its first pyramidal tournament at this event. They went 3-7, and had a lot of deep knowledge that impressed many moderators. John Paul II high school also returned to the invitational circuit for the first time in a few years, and performed well for a group of inexperienced players. We hope to see both again very soon.

As a Henderson alum, it’s always wonderful to go back and staff there, and see how so many players enjoy the game. I saw a lot of happy people yesterday, and that’s the best part of any quizbowl tournament. Happy Thanksgiving to all GPQB readers!

-Ben

Sagacity XV Wrap-Up (11/16/19)

Thirty teams were in action this past weekend at the fifteenth iteration of Sagacity, one of the longest-running western PA tournaments hosted by the University of Pittsburgh. The event used the NAQT IS-189A question set and timed 9-minute halves.

Stats are here.

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1st/2nd place State College A and B

For the second year in a row, first place went to a State College team led by Albert Zhang, last season’s JV Player of the Year. Albert was joined by Allen, Jupiter, and Ananya on State College A, and the team combined for 90 powers and 25.40 points per bonus over the tournament. Clearly the strongest team in the field stats-wise, we look forward to seeing how they stack up against other in-state competitors at future tournaments.

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Allderdice A

State College A’s undefeated record was only ever seriously threatened by their B team, who lost 330-390 in the finals to finish in second. Allderdice A won a 385-335 game against Winchester Thurston A to take third place, their only losses being extremely close games against their own B team and State College B. A shorthanded WT A was led by 83.18 and 65.91 points per game from Johnny and Andy respectively, and the team’s 12 total negs indicate they played more cautiously than many of their playoff competitors whose neg counts were double or triple as high. With the addition of more A team regulars, WT’s 19.61 PPB should continue to increase.

Kiski Area and Morgantown A (WV) ended third in their parallel championship brackets to tie for fifth overall. Playing solo for Kiski, Eddie put up 125 PPG in the prelims and scored a 5/7/2 statline to get a 415-365 playoff win over State College B. He accumulated the highest individual points per game of the tournament. Central Catholic A and Allderdice B tied for seventh. Central Catholic was led by Jude’s 83 prelims PPG and supported by contributions from Joe, Xander, and Jack. Hampton A and North Catholic ended in ninth, and the top brackets were rounded out by Bishop Canevin and Armstrong A, the latter of whom we welcome to the Saturday invitational circuit after two HSNCT appearances.

In the first consolation bracket, Mt. Lebanon, Dubois, Central Catholic B, and Shady Side Academy played close games against each other. Following their impressive showing at Mellon Bowl last month, Mt. Lebanon continued their trend of balanced scoring across a five-person team with contributions from Nathan, Aryan, Ben, Katherine, and Jacob. The only afternoon loss for Dubois was a 205-245 game against Shady Side, which consisted of Andrew playing solo with 80 PPG in the prelims. The rest of the bracket included SSNCT regulars South Side A, led by Jacob’s 71 PPG, and Sharpsville A.

In the next brackets, Chartiers Valley featured a strong 63.50 PPG from lead scorer Shanti and overcame a 2-3 morning to ease into an undefeated afternoon performance. Apollo-Ridge and two teams from John Marshall (WV) joined B and C teams from aforementioned schools, and every team at the tournament finished with at least one win.

Overall, teams were able to hear over 20 tossups in almost every game and had fun competing against each other. While there aren’t any upcoming Pittsburgh tournaments in the next two months, we hope these schools keep studying and look forward to seeing their continued improvement at events this spring!

-Jackie

Philly Fall Invitational Wrap-Up (11/9/19)

The 2019-20 quizbowl season in Southeast PA finally had its proper opening for all teams (instead of novice teams) this past Saturday, as the squads at Friends Select and Carver E & S teamed up to host the latest iteration of the Philly Fall Invitational. 36 teams from 16 schools competed on NAQT IS 187A in two divisions, and the stats for both can be found here. Apologies in advance for the length of this wrap-up, but we have a lot of exciting teams, players, and storylines to cover!

Open Division:

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Henderson A (Abheya Nair, Vikram Chodapaneedi, Vijay Anne, and Colin Pancelli) with their first-place Open Division trophy (photo courtesy FSS Quizbowl)

Another year, another wild finish at Philly Fall. This year saw preseason #1 Henderson A emerge victorious from the disadvantaged side of a final against Manheim Township A, winning two straight head-to-head matchups to claim the first place trophy. Henderson came back from a 130-point deficit after 12 tossup-bonus cycles and correctly answered every single bonus part they heard to win the first game 385-370, then pulled away in the second half to seal up a 390-335 triumph. Vijay Anne once again served as Henderson’s lead scorer, finishing with 89.17 PPG, but Vikram Chodapaneedi really stepped up in the first game of the finals series, putting up a 5/2/1 statline to force the winner-take-all match. We generally know the story for Henderson at this point: as good as any team in the country on current events and other “NAQT content,” generally high power rates, strong coverage across the board. Vijay and Vikram are going to be a lethal 1-2 combo throughout the year, and if they can get third and fourth scorers capable of getting a tossup or two every game, we may be talking about another deep nationals run for Henderson come May.

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Manheim Township A (A.Z. Faiz, Scotty Reynolds, Will Steger, and Sanya Nair) with their second-place Open Division trophy

This isn’t to take away from Manheim Township’s day either, as this was a statement event for them. Ranked #6 in the preseason poll, MT defeated #1 Henderson in their first matchup, as well as #3 Penn Manor and #5 Great Valley A in the playoffs. Will Steger (75.00 PPG) looks like a legitimate Player of the Year candidate, and A.Z. Faiz (60.42 PPG) has clearly settled in at the high school level in his sophomore year. They’ll certainly look back on the finals series with some regret, but this is another squad with a 1-2 punch that can go toe-to-toe with any team in the state, and with Manheim Township’s track record of improving players, there’s no reason to think they’re done getting better.

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Great Valley A (Noah Harrigan, John Li, Anshu Nunemunthala, Rishi Raman) with their third-place Open Division trophy

Great Valley‘s A and B teams finished 3rd and 4th, respectively. These two squads are just so fascinatingly balanced and close to each other in skill that it’s extremely difficult to evaluate them. GV A, composed of John Li (46.50 PPG), Rishi Raman (43.00 PPG), Anshu Nunemunthala (37.00 PPG) and Noah Harrigan (27.00 PPG), finished with 20 more powers than the B team (79 to 59) and 8 fewer negs (20 to 28). However, the B team, made up of Nolan Greenways (39.50 PPG), Anish Kodali (38.00 PPG), Alan Xu (25.00 PPG), and Shrey Pandya (22.00 PPG) emerged with a notably higher points per bonus, with 24.50 to the A team’s 23.87. I apologize for throwing so many numbers into one paragraph, but they show just how many solid players Great Valley has, and both teams gave one of the finalists a run for their money. GV A lost to MT A by a 340-360 margin, while GV B only fell to Henderson A by a score of 400-405, in what must be one of the highest-scoring matches in Pennsylvania quizbowl history. Can either of these teams put all their talent together and take home a tournament victory? Stay tuned!

Penn Manor finished in 5th place, with a 5-5 record. For as much as there is to say about the other top teams in the state right now, there seems to be nothing new under the sun for Penn Manor. Connor Mayers scored 114.50 PPG to by far lead the tournament, but PM’s other players combined for just 5 PPG on the day. As someone who has scored 80-85% of his team’s points throughout five years of high school and collegiate quizbowl, I feel that I am as qualified as anyone to say that it is extremely difficult, if not practically impossible, to take down top teams without at least some consistent teammate support. Penn Manor seems to be in a situation where their best course of action would be working together to generate buy-in and tasking the second-through-fourth scorers with becoming experts in some small area of the distribution where they can contribute consistently. Building such a consensus is not easy, but it appears to be an absolutely necessary step if Penn Manor has aspirations of competing for a state title.

Moravian A may have gone winless in the playoffs, but they took Penn Manor to the final tossup before falling 330-360. Moravian may not quite have the firepower to defeat the state’s titans quite yet, but I definitely want to give them credit for remaining involved in the circuit year after year and building to the point where they can make the top bracket with some consistency. Alex Adams was their top scorer again at 52.50 PPG, but again every player notched at least one tossup per game, and even on an A set a 23.54 PPB is nothing to scoff at. Moravian should be proud of the day they had regardless of their playoff results, and if they keep improving they could and should receive some votes in future state polls.

A parity-filled second bracket saw Great Valley C, Manheim Township B, and Wilmington Charter A (DE) tie for the top spot with 7-3 records at the end of the day. GV C emerged as yet another strong team in their program’s tried-and-true model, with all four players averaging at least 23.5 PPG and three out of four players notching double-digit power counts (with the fourth just one off, at nine on the day). The C team’s strong performance proved once again that Great Valley certainly doesn’t lack for talented players. Manheim Township B hung tough in all of their matches, only falling to GV B by 25 points (330-355). Cyril Hainthaler led the way for them with 53.50 PPG, while Deeya Doshi added 40.50 PPG. Could one or more of these B-teamers be the players MT A needs to get over the proverbial hump?

Germantown Friends School A also had a solid showing in their first tournament of the season, finishing with a winning record at 6-4. Lucas Schlesinger’s 65.50 PPG was good for 7th overall on the day, and they pulled out a 340-300 victory over MT B in the first of the teams’ two matchups. This is a nice result for a program entering its second year, and GFS looks to have a bright future ahead. Wilmington Charter B and Middlesex County Academy A (NJ) rounded out the second bracket.

The third bracket featured more of PA’s top programs showing off their depth, with Henderson B, Manheim Township C, and Henderson C finishing 1-2-3. It’s always nice to see talented young players doing well, and I look forward to seeing them move up in the future! Wissahickon A and Archbishop Ryan A also finished tied at 4-6. Jack Quinn (44.00 PPG) and Michael O’Farrell (35.00 PPG) served as Wissahickon’s top scorers, while Ryan Elkins’s 49.50 PPG led the way for Archbishop Ryan.

In the final bracket, GFS B and Moravian B topped the pack. Bodine A finished next, led by Alex Thomer’s strong 60.00 PPG. Next came a rebuilding Lancaster Mennonite team, followed by PALCS, whose top scorer Max Lind finished 4th overall for individuals on the day with 80.67 PPG. MaST A also recorded some good experience on the day.

Hopefully the length of this section conveys something of the excitement of the day in Philadelphia. We are in for one heck of a quizbowl season here in Pennsylvania!

Novice Division:

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Great Valley E (Nikhil Knot, Leo Makalsky, Dylan Xu) with their second-place Novice Division trophy (photo courtesy Carver Quizbowl)

I personally read for the novices on the day, and got to see many students enjoy some of their first tastes of quizbowl. MCA B (NJ) emerged victorious after defeating Great Valley E 230-185 in a well-played first game of an advantaged final. GV E was led by Pennsylvania’s top scorer in the division, Leo Makalsky (58.33 PPG). I did get the pleasure of reading one of the most exciting games in the novice division, in which Moravian C forced MCA B into playing that final at all with a 135-120 victory. Down 10 going into the final tossup, MCA B converted, but they unfortunately zeroed the bonus before Moravian’s Audrey Dai powered the tiebreaking tossup for the win. The victory secured a third-place trophy for Moravian and was a thrilling way to end the last full playoff round in the division.

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Moravian C (Okezue Ball, Rohan Mehta, Michael Alchaer, Maclaine Oskin, and Audrey Dai) with their third-place Novice Division trophy (photo courtesy Carver Quizbowl)

A house team of Carver students tied with Archbishop Ryan B at 5-3 on the day, while Wissahickon B finished 4-4 to round out the top bracket. It was nice to see Church Farm School return to the circuit and finish on top of the consolation bracket, while additional teams from Bodine, Carver, and MaST rounded out the field.

Overall, it was a great day for quizbowl in Philadelphia and in Pennsylvania, and it was just the beginning. I think I speak for all the writers when I say that we cannot wait to see what else is yet to come this season!

-Ryan Bilger

Philly City-Wide Novice Wrap-Up (11/2/19)

Ten teams from five schools in Philadelphia gathered at Carver HSES last Saturday to kick-off the quizbowl season in Philadelphia at the Philly City-Wide Novice tournament. Though many of the teams are familiar names, most of the students were making their quizbowl debuts on the very-accessible (although wordier-than-usual-on-the-bonuses) SCOP question set.

Full statistics are available here.

An all-Freshman team (FSS B) from Friends Select won the event, powered by the 77.78 PPG of Charlie, who may be the latest scion of a veritable quizbowl dynasty. The other FSS B players were quite solid as well and FSS looks, once again, to be undergoing the Quaker equivalent of “reloading” rather than rebuilding their team over the next few years. Coming in second was FSS A, an all-senior (yet new-to-quizbowl) group that was paced by Nyeema’s 46.67 PPG. In third (by a one-tossup head-to-head loss to FSS A) was Carver HSES A that also displayed the depth of Carver’s program as well as some aggressive buzzing tendencies (18 powers to 27 negs over 9 matches).

Coming in just outside the trophy tier was the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush, who continued their tradition of finding solid generalists with Elijah’s 66.11 PPG. Their run was highlighted by a 200-170 win over Franklin Towne Charter, who finished just behind Rush at 5th and brought a large number of novice players and observers that formed a rotating all-around cast. Behind them came FSS C, composed of 8th graders (!), and then the B and C teams from Carver HSES. Though they finished with only 3 wins, Carver C did notch an impressive 290-125 upset over FSS A. Rounding out the field was Bodine A and B, coached enthusiastically by both their regular coach and their returning senior Alex.

Although no new #phled schools were able to make it to the event this year, hopefully more schools will be ready to go in time for the City Championships in March to join the young talent on display at this event as well as the returning veterans from each school.