quizbowl

Setting Your Team’s Goals for the Upcoming Quizbowl Season

One of the best–and somewhat daunting–things about quizbowl is that there’s always more learning to be done. There will always be a new clue to look up, a new subject to try to master, a new name to add to your study lists. Finding ways to motivate yourself and your team to keep learning these new things–particularly at times like now in the middle of summer–can be crucial to determining how the next quizbowl season will go.

A good way to get your team on the same page for the upcoming year is to decide on what your goals will be as a team. Individual improvement is great, but quizbowl is a team competition. Working as a group to encourage each other will be a much more enjoyable, if not more effective, experience than solitary studying. 

What sorts of goals might a team set going into a new year? Here are a few ideas (and a few things to steer away from):

Beating a Rival Team
There is no better feeling in quizbowl than triumphing over a rival team. Such a rival could be a local geographic rival, a sports conference rival, or a team from further away that your team found annoying at a previous tournament. Either way, identifying a rival and using them as a friendly source of motivation and yardstick for improvement is a time-tested and effective way of motivating quizbowl players to improve.

Reaching Specific Points-Per-Bonus (PPB) levels
This is an easy-to-measure metric that you can track in practice and at tournaments. It’s also somewhat independent of the strength of the other teams in your area, so it can be a good way to chart your progress even if it isn’t necessarily leading to more wins immediately. Keep in mind, of course, that the target PPB will likely vary by question set, so set a reasonable goal and work to increase it over the course of the year. 

Being the Best Team in your City/County/Region of the State
This is fairly self-explanatory, but is always an effective way to market your team to your administration and/or potential outside sponsors. If you don’t already have a tournament in your area to crown the best county/city/part of the state, then consider starting one. Even if it’s just a few teams competing, it can be a great way to get one’s community involved and a goal that you can set.

One goal that a lot of teams set–but which also might be tricky to translate into improvement–is making the playoffs or finishing at a certain rank at the national championships. The problem with this approach is that nationals finishes are fickle; there’s a lot of randomness depending on who you get matched up against. The last thing you want to do is finish the season not having achieved your goal due to, say, a top team getting upset in the first round of they playoffs and showing up to ruin your playoff run or getting subject to the few unbalanced matchups in the card or seeding system. Another potential goal of reaching a certain winning percentage for your team’s record for the year can lead to less-than-ideal incentives; you don’t want to make a habit of, say, attending tournaments with lots of less experienced teams simply to claim more wins. 

There are also plenty of ways that your team can contribute to quizbowl and the general quest for competitive academic knowledge outside of competing. Running a tournament well, getting your neighboring schools involved in quizbowl, and simply representing your school well with notable good sportsmanship and friendliness can all be excellent goals by which to measure a successful quizbowl season. 

-Chris 

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Announcement: PA NASAT Teams 2019

On behalf of the PA NASAT committee, we are happy to announce the selections for this year’s National All-Star Scholastic Tournament, to be held this June 22-23 at the University of Kentucky. NASAT pits teams consisting of the best players from each state against each other in a head-to-head setting. The event uses difficult collegiate questions and many of its players have gone on to outstanding careers in collegiate and higher level quizbowl. This is the only all-star tournament to highlight teams on a state-by-state basis.

After participating in a tryout process, team candidates were selected based on their statistics by a panel of college players and staffers in the state. Without further ado:

Pennsylvania Blue
Jakobi Deslouches, Allderdice
Noah Harrigan, Great Valley
Rishi Raman, Great Valley
Will Yaeger, Hempfield
Albert Zhang, State College

Pennsylvania Gold
Austin Davis, Allderdice
Connor Mayers, Penn Manor
Anshu Nunemunthala, Great Valley
Malaika Paralkar, Downingtown East
Ryan Zhang, Hempfield

We congratulate all these excellent quizbowlers for their fantastic specialist knowledge during tryouts and commend the hard work put in by the students and their coaches, teachers, parents, and mentors. We look forward to cheering on team PA in Lexington, KY later this month!

Bulldog Buzzer Battle II Wrap-Up (4/13/2019)

Fourteen teams out of six schools were on hand last week for the final scheduled tournament in the state of Pennsylvania this year, at Berwick High School.

Stats are here.

This was a novice tournament late in the season, allowing some less experienced players to shine. Delaware Valley‘s A team captured 1st, leading the tournament in bonus conversion by about three points (very statistically significant). Lucas and DJ both had 47.5 points per game in a solid effort. Greater Nanticoke A came away with the silver, behind a fine 59.5 ppg from Gabe. Squads from Montgomery, Lakeland, Wallenpaupack, and house team Berwick also participated. Delaware Valley B’s Adam Kanterman was the top scorer, with 83 ppg and a tournament leading 13 powers, more than twice those by all but one other player.

Hopefully, this was a chance for Northeast PA’s players to build some confidence heading into next season. Next stop: SSNCT.

-Ben

2019 Keystone State Invitational Wrap-Up

A geographically diverse field of Pennsylvania (and upstate NY) teams gathered at Penn State on March 30-31, allowing top teams from both the eastern and western PA circuits to face off in a weekend of close competition. The first half of the tournament was a 15-team NAQT DII SCT mirror, while the second PACE-style half consisted of a 10-team round robin with 20-point powers and no negs on the Florida Spring Tournament question set.

Stats are here.

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Hempfield, 2nd place (L to R: Carsten, Will, Ryan, Nishant)

The dominance of Ithaca (NY) provided a good measuring stick for the various in-state schools. They secured first place in both of the weekend’s events with PPBs almost 3 points above the next highest team and deep specialist buzzes from Isaiah, Julian, Kaelan, and Vaynu, and it was refreshing to see their great team chemistry during games (lots of fist-bumps!), especially in a match where they came back quickly from a 70-point deficit going into tossup 16 in a round against Hempfield by rallying to get the next five tossups in a row. Hempfield, finishing second in both events, did not lose to a single non-Ithaca team the entire weekend (even while playing shorthanded during the PACE tournament) and they’ve clearly shot up from their ranking of 7th in our mid-season poll. Will Y.’s high scoring led the team as always, but the consistent support from Ryan, Carsten, and Nishant has taken them to the next level. A shorthanded Allderdice A, missing Truman and later also playing without Leo in the PACE event, competed against eastern PA schools for the first time this year and put up similar stats to Hempfield to finish third, though with more powers and half the negs. This team is extremely strong in history, and the one-two punch of Jakobi and Austin supplemented by Leo’s current events and pop culture knowledge during the NAQT portion of the tournament got them close to defeating Hempfield a few times.

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Great Valley after the 3rd place game against Allderdice A (L to R: Rishi, Dan, John, Anshu)

Great Valley secured wins in close games against teams like State College B and Henderson to take fourth in the NAQT SCT mirror, with balanced scoring from John, Rishi, Anshu, and Dan. State College B tied for fifth in the NAQT part, led by Albert and Allen, and the addition of Jupiter on Sunday got them to a fourth place finish in the PACE event. Also tied for fifth in the NAQT tournament, Henderson was the only team able to defeat eventual champion Ithaca, which they did in an exciting 345-325 victory by converting exactly two more bonus parts than their opponents (both teams had identical 2/9/3 statlines). Sid and Vikram each contributed over 20 PPG to back up star player Vijay’s performance. Manheim Township A and Allderdice B rounded out the T-5 bracket of the NAQT tournament, led respectively by Will S. and Alana.

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Allderdice A and B (clockwise from L to R: Jakobi, Leo, Austin, Omri, Alana, Michal, Antonia)

Trinity, from the Harrisburg area, had an impressive performance at their first weekend pyramidal tournament, powering six times in their round one game against Hempfield and following that feat with wins over teams like Great Valley, Penn Manor, and Allderdice B. Juniors Luke and Connor led the team in scoring, and we’re excited to see them at HSNCT this May and at more local events next year. State College A had a solid PPB of 17.55 on Saturday, high than some of the teams finishing higher than them, and this senior-heavy team led by Taran came close to defeating Allderdice A in a 210-275 match.

Penn Manor consisted of Connor playing solo on both days, showcasing his strong generalist abilities with wins during the NAQT event over Allderdice B and over Delaware Valley from the northeast corner of the state, which was led by Emma’s 46 PPG. The B team from Manheim Township got a solid 315-80 win over Trinity, while Malaika from Downingtown East played solo and Geneva (NY) got a few wins to round out the NAQT field. A C team from State College joined the competition for the PACE tournament and managed a 260-110 win over Penn Manor, a great flash of potential for the 6-person team of sophomores and juniors.

This pre-nationals prep event served as a state championship of sorts, and except for the absence of southeast PA contender Friends Select, the field included most of the other top teams in the state. Hempfield finished the highest of the PA teams present, which they’ve done consistently since the tournaments at Penn Manor and Great Valley in February. Yet, the teams finishing below them showed the ability to threaten their dominance. The current parity amongst many top PA teams will make for an exciting nationals season as teams add back missing players and continue studying for the next month or two. Good luck and enjoy the rest of the season!

-Jackie

Battle of the Burgh XXII Wrap-Up (03/23/2019)

17 teams from 12 schools came to the University of Pittsburgh to compete at the 22nd installation of the Battle of the Burgh on NAQT IS-177. Full stats for the event can be found here.

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Camp Hill and Huntingdon A in the finals

Camp Hill cleared the field with a 10-0 record to claim first place. Sydney Preston demonstrated her generalist abilities once again to lead the team in scoring, with 74.72 PPG. All five Camp Hill players made significant contributions on the day, with Charlie Caddell, Gus Eberlein, Sam Haas, and Bobby Latham all scoring between 12 and 29 PPG in their time in the lineup. Camp Hill was only seriously threatened once, in a narrow 265-260 victory over Huntingdon A, who took second place. Andrew Buonaccorsi put up a solid 72.96 PPG on the day, and the team defeated all non-Camp Hill opponents on the day. Both of these teams appear well-poised to make another nice run at SSNCT this year!

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Mercyhurst with their 3rd place trophy

Mercyhurst Prep finished in third with a 7-2 record. Kevin Hogan’s 84.80 PPG led all scorers on the day, and Tyler Warzynak added 20.47 PPG in support. Morgantown, out of West Virginia, took fourth. Fifth place went to Pine-Richland, paced by the dual scoring of Daniel Krill (42.38 PPG) and Sam Stella (31.13 PPG). They notably increased their PPB and power numbers from their last IS-set outing at SAGACITY, demonstrating some nice improvement as the year has developed. Bishop Canevin and South Side also qualified for nationals bids by virtue of their finishes in 6th and T-7th, respectively, with Hampton‘s A and B teams also in that tie.

It was also nice to see Sharpsville play another PA tournament in advance of their SSNCT trip, while teams from Westmont Hilltop, North Catholic, and John Marshall (WV) rounded out the field. As the season winds down, we wish these teams the best of luck in preparing for nationals and/or finishing off their academic years!

-Ryan

Penn State Spring Academic Bowl III Wrap-Up (3/16/19)

17 teams, including several first time quizbowl schools, were on hand in State College for this year’s Penn State Spring Academic Bowl. It was very spirited, and fun was had by all.

Stats can be found here.

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Tournament champions State College A, with one player making the photo “in spirit.”

Due to an error with the bracketing, the playoffs were decided by single elimination for this tournament. State College A took home the top prize, after an undefeated run. A stellar 32/39/11 line from their captain Pabitra resulted in 81 points per game, second at the event. It’s worth noting several of State College’s better players did not play this tournament, so their depth really shone through. State College B took 3rd, C took 5th, and D took 6th. I’m sure almost every school in the country envies their stash of talent.

Better still, the new teams absolutely thrived at the event, as none of them finished in the lowest bracket and all of them held their own in an unfamiliar setting. Dallas from Northeast PA thrilled in an 8-2 2nd place finish, handily beating State College B twice. Raymond led the tournament with 112 points per game and 36 powers. Dallas qualified for HSNCT with this performance, and looks to have registered; it’s always exiting to see a new team surprise like this. Notre Dame from Elmira, NY finished 4th. Meanwhile, Blair County’s Hollidaysburg made a long awaited return to the circuit after ten(!) years away, having last played at HSNCT 2009. They finished 7th. Lastly, we welcome Greenwood from Perry County, who finished tied for 9th. All these teams did a wonderful job showing what they know, and we hope to see them again soon.

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Dallas, with their 2nd place trophy.

In addition to the above, Hughesville returned to the circuit with an all-new lineup after winning at Berwick last season. They put up another respectable showing, finishing T9. Teams from Kane, Montgomery, Westmont Hilltop, and Wellsboro rounded out the field. It’s always exciting to see the diverse field from all over the state that turns up at PSU events, and I look forward to seeing results from their pre-nats prep Keystone State Invitational in a couple weeks.

Ben

Philadelphia City Championship Wrap-Up (3/16/19)

This past Saturday, eighteen teams from ten schools competed in the fourth annual Philadelphia City Championship. The tournament was hosted by the Carver High School of Engineering and Science and used NAQT’s IS-184A question set.

Stats are available here.

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Friends Select A (@fssquizbowl)

Friends Select‘s A team claimed its fourth city championship title, going undefeated. The lineup of juniors Matt, Silas, Jonah, and Aidan averaged 524.50 points per game and 23.72 points per bonus, well above every other team in the field, and the relatively easier questions of the A set allowed for many quick first-line buzzes. With another talented player in Rudyard, who wasn’t at this tournament, it looks like FSS A is gearing up for competitive runs at the upcoming SSNCT and HSNCT.

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Germantown Friends (@Carver_Quizbowl)

Second place went to Germantown Friends, competing in their first Philly City Champs since discovering quizbowl last October and winning the novice division of the Philly Fall Tournament. Led by 66 PPG from Lucas, GFS handily defeated most of the teams finishing below them and gave FSS A a few scares, even tying with them at the half of their first game. Their finish qualifies them for both the HSNCT and the open division of the SSNCT, which we’d love to see them attend.

Friends Select B finished in third place following a 250-335 loss to GFS and a 260-440 loss to their A team. This team of Akhilesh, Peter, Jeremy, and Minas had balanced scoring and great neg control, with only 7 negs to 40 powers. Science Leadership Academy A took fourth, powered by Jack’s 69.44 PPG. They put up an impressive 5/5/1 statline to get a 320-260 win over Carver A, which was led by Sebastian’s 52.22 PPG and featured scoring support from Ellen, Mohamed, and Kim. Carver did a great job of conferring on bonuses and ended up with 17.85 PPB for the day. Bodine ended in sixth place and was carried by Alex, a junior who topped the individual stats with 88.35 PPG in the prelims.

In the second bracket, Benjamin Rush B outperformed its A team and won all four of its afternoon games with 28+ PPG from Michael, Dylan, and Elijah. The C team from Friends Select showed off the program’s depth, while Carver B, led by Aidan, nearly defeated Bodine in their first round. A new team from MaST played well (albeit a bit cautiously) with zero negs from lead scorers Vaughn and Matthew, and SLA B and Franklin Towne A each got a couple of solid wins.

Carver C finished at the top of the third bracket with a 46.88 PPG performance from Kamal. Carver D, a last-minute house team made of students who had never played quizbowl before, showed promise as the team got four wins behind Preston’s 43.53 PPG. Rush A, Furness, Franklin Towne B, and West Catholic rounded out the bracket and played a variety of close games.

Overall, although the Friends Select dynasty continued its impressive winning streak even with an entirely different A team lineup than last year, several other teams emerged as solid contenders. Many of the teams were led by strong underclassmen, suggesting an exciting future for the Philly circuit. Carver continued its reputation for excellent tournament hosting, and it was great to see the support from the School District of Philadelphia. We hope to see all the schools back again next year!

-Jackie

Great Valley Quiz Bowl Tournament VI Wrap-Up (2/23/19)

This past weekend, the sixth iteration of the annual Great Valley Quiz Bowl Tournament took place in Malvern. The event used the 2018 Scottie set and featured a 20-team Open division and a 16-team Novice division. Both divisions were won by teams from the same school, a first in Pennsylvania quizbowl history.

Stats are here.

Open Division

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Hempfield A (top row) with their B team, the Novice champions (pic from @gvquiz)

Hempfield A claimed their first pyramidal tournament win after finishing second to out-of-state teams at their last two tournaments. While Will Y.’s 78.75 points per game landed him in second place in the individual prelim standings, this was by no means a one-man team, as Nishant, Ryan Z., and Carsten added plenty of scoring as well for a team total of 68 powers and 22.74 points per bonus over 11 rounds. Will concluded, “we’re very happy to have finally won a tournament after having come close several times. We’ve certainly improved a great deal over the past several months, especially through the notable addition of Nishant to the team. This season has been really enjoyable so far, and we hope to continue our momentum through the end of the year.”

Manheim Township A went undefeated until their 265-315 loss to Hempfield A in the final game, though from stats the two teams seem to have similar scoring structures and power/neg ratios. Will S.’s 77.50 PPG in the prelims was supported by Ryan K., Noah, and Cyril, who contributed around 20-30 PPG each and combined for an overall PPB of 21.67. Henderson A, playing without usual lead scorer Vijay, finished in third place. Their only losses came in the afternoon to the two teams above them, as Sid and Vikram emerged as high scorers with solid support from Adam and Dan. They played an impressively disciplined tournament with very few negs throughout the day. Fourth place Friends Select A pulled off a 415-305 win over Hempfield A and gave the eventual champions their only loss. The one-two punch of Matt (~60 PPG) and Rudyard (~41 PPG) led the team in scoring, while Silas and Jonah added several gets each round. Their PPB of 22.22 was also the second highest at this event, indicating substantial breadth and the possibility of another impressive run at this year’s nationals.

Fifth place went to Penn Manor A. Connor’s lofty scoring totals (128.75 PPG in the prelims) kept them competitive in games like their 305-295 victory against FSS A, but an aggressive playing style as a team resulted in many inopportune negs. With some more support on the buzzer from other team members, Penn Manor could have strong potential for the remainder of the season. Manheim Township’s B and C teams finished sixth and seventh, led by Zac and Nate respectively with relatively balanced scoring from the rest of the players as well. Both teams kept many of their playoff games competitive, with the B team playing a close 265-320 game against Penn Manor and the C team putting up a 4/5/1 statline against MT A to end only 10 points short of an upset. Delaware Valley A rounded out the top bracket, paced by Emma’s 47.50 PPG in the prelims.

Downingtown East A, led by Malaika and Nikhil, missed out on the championship bracket following a 230-285 prelim loss to DV A, but finished at the top of the second bracket after winning 4 of its 5 afternoon games by triple-digit margins. Their only playoff loss was to Wissahickon A, which featured strong performances from Peter and Jack. The rest of the bracket was composed of Manheim Township D, Henderson B, Moravian Academy A, and Science Leadership Academy A, all of whom played close games against each other.

In the third bracket, Friends Select B went 5-0 in the afternoon. Carver E&S A, led by Sebastian, had a solid 3/6/1 game in the prelims against DV A and kept many later games close as well, while Archbishop Ryan‘s Ryan led the team’s scoring in its first open division appearance. Sophomore David of Lakeland A put up over 50 points per game, and it was good to see all four players on PALCS getting points on the buzzer against challenging opponents.

Novice Division

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2nd place: Downingtown East B (pic from @gvquiz)

Hempfield B won the Novice title, paced by Michael’s 60 PPG, while second place went to Downingtown East B, whose lead scorer Vikaas put up 57.78 PPG. Oxford A took third in their highest finish since starting pyramidal quizbowl only last month, with Chris’ 51.11 PPG combining with solid buzzes from his teammates to go 7-2 on the day. Manheim Township E, Oxford B, and Carver B formed the rest of the 6-team top bracket.

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3rd place: Oxford A (pic from @gvquiz)

Archbishop Wood finished in the middle of the second bracket, though they played competitive games against the teams above them as 3 of the team’s 4 losses were by a margin of only 5 points. The rest of the lower brackets consisted of B and C teams from DV, GV, Wissahickon, Moravian, Carver, Lakeland, SLA, and FSS. Though the set was tough, the novice teams faced the challenge well and we hope to see these young teams back at future events.

Commentary

Many teams seemed to be having a good time playing the 2018 Scottie set, even though it was quite challenging for the novice division. However, feedback from players and staffers shows that the set had some difficulties. GVQBT staffer Alex Sankaran noted that “the set was plagued with repeats, sub-distributional quirks, and extremely difficult third bonus parts. There were also only two pronunciation guides for moderators in the first twelve rounds I read, and tossups sometimes went from one page to the next page.” These issues could have been fixed with a bit of additional editing, especially as the set has been mirrored several times since its first use last August.

Overall, Great Valley hosted yet another smooth event for the eastern PA circuit, and the tournament results indicate that the mix of competitive teams at the top has been improving rapidly. As national tournament fields begin to fill up, we hope all qualified teams register soon and take advantage of the rest of the season’s opportunities to prep!

-Jackie

Carnegie Quiz II Wrap-Up (2/16/19)

This past Saturday, 17 teams attended the second annual Carnegie Quiz tournament at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, played on NAQT’s IS-181 set. Though a few circuit regulars were playing shorthanded due to scheduling conflicts, the event provided a good opportunity for western Pennsylvania teams to face other local schools in addition to some strong out-of-state competitors.

Stats for the event can be found here.

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Teams and staffers gather after lunch for individual prizes and playoff schedules.

First place went to Michigan’s Detroit Catholic Central A, who went undefeated and cleared the field by two wins. The next three teams were DCC B, George Washington (WV), and Allderdice B, who finished the playoff rounds with the same record and ended in that order after a tiebreaker played on 9-minute halves. Allderdice B was led by senior Alana’s 52.50 points per game, though all four players demonstrated deep pockets of knowledge with impressive powers and a solid bonus conversion of 20.58 that helped them to an exciting 295-285 win over DCC B in round 10. Pittsburgh Central Catholic took fifth, led by Simon’s 57.50 PPG, while Morgantown (WV) rounded out the championship bracket. Central Catholic got a key 25-point prelim win over Allderdice A, which consisted of A-team regular Truman bravely soloing for most of the morning.

Austin and Jakobi of Allderdice A made it to the tournament in time to play the afternoon rounds, leading to several 300+ point wins over middle bracket teams, but a capable Winchester Thurston A bested them in a 330-300 game to top the middle bracket. WT A played in the morning with only CB and Andy, who both had some very early buzzes in math and history, and the addition of two more players in the afternoon got them to a solid 35 powers over 10 games, including an 8/8/2 match against Hampton A in round 9. Hampton A had balanced scoring from Tejas, Matt, Joe, and Kate, all of whom cleared 20 points per game, and their 260-225 win over Pittsburgh Central Catholic in round 5 suggests solid potential for this team. An energetic, all-freshmen Allderdice D, a two-person WT B, and a C team from Hampton made up the rest of the second bracket.

The third bracket consisted of Bishop Canevin, Allderdice C, Hampton B, and two teams from Kane. Bishop Canevin warmed up to the buzzer by the end of the tournament, with over 30 PPG from both Darius and Joel, while the Kane teams played several close games in the afternoon and seem to be steadily improving.

Overall, the use of timed 9-minute halves ended the tournament by 3:30 PM for most, and the various out-of-state teams provided a good challenge for PA schools. I had fun staffing this event, and I hope to see all our western PA teams back in action at next month’s Battle of the Burgh at Pitt!

-Jackie