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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

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

Tri-State Tussle V Wrap-Up (10/26/19)

The 2019-20 quizbowl season kicked off in northeastern PA this past weekend at Delaware Valley High School’s fifth annual Tri-State Tussle. While a New York squad took home the victory, several Pennsylvania teams acquitted themselves nicely as well.

Stats are here.

Ithaca A cleared the field with a 10-0 record to claim first place. This perennial national power really never had to break a sweat, with an average margin of victory of 437 points. Their B team finished second with a 3-2 afternoon record and 297 points per game.

Moravian A took third place on the day, in the highest finish for a Pennsylvania team. Their only two losses on the day were at the hands of Ithaca A and Emmaus A, and they also notched an exciting 310-305 victory over Ithaca B. Alex Adams again finished as their top scorer with 56.11 PPG, but each team member averaged at least one tossup get per game, with Neil Deshmukh adding 11 powers. Moravian has been slowly building up strength over the years, and I know I’m interested to see if another Lehigh Valley school can take that next step.

4th place went to the hosts, Delaware Valley A. This year marks the start of a new era for DV, with their high-scoring players of the past few seasons having moved on. The balanced attack seems to be their strategy once again, with three players (JD Flick, Darius Bermudez, and Lucas Helms) averaging 30 PPG or more and 4th scorer Aodhan Young contributing a tossup per game. DV should set their sights on the top spot in the northeast again this year, with the potential to break into the state rankings with some concerted studying.

Emmaus A took fifth place on the day, with their extra prelim loss to Ithaca A bumping them down by virtue of their 6-4 record. Aside from the two games against Ithaca A, Emmaus seemed to match up pretty well against the other teams in the top bracket, losing only 230-290 to DV A and 285-295 to Ithaca B, in addition to the 260-230 win over Moravian A. Aidan Springs led the way with 41.00 PPG, and they also had the best neg control of any team in the playoffs, with just 13 on the day. Emmaus and Moravian most likely will be the top two teams in the Lehigh Valley this year, and I look forward to potentially seeing them match up again at future tournaments to determine who comes out on top. Pingry B (New Jersey) rounded out the top bracket.

3 Pennsylvania teams made the second bracket, with Lakeland A finishing tops among them. David Campbell’s 87.50 PPG made him the third-overall scorer on the day and the highest-scoring PA player. He looks to be a strong player, but will need some more help from his teammates to challenge Delaware Valley for regional dominance in the northeast. Wallenpaupack A finished 4-4 for the tournament, including a 320-190 win over Lakeland A. Gavin Hearn led the team in scoring with 53.75 PPG, with Tom Lane playing a good second chair with 29.38 PPG. Moravian B ended the day at 5-4, demonstrating that they have some potential future talent to watch for in the pipeline, particularly Divlik Verma and Samit Mohapatra, who finished quite close to one another with 35.00 and 34.44 PPG, respectively.

B and C teams from the aforementioned schools filled out the lower brackets, along with Tower Hill out of Delaware and Berwick, who ended the day on a positive note with a victory over Moravian C. Overall, these teams will be glad to be off the mark and rolling into another exciting PA quizbowl season!

-Ryan

Mellon Bowl XVII Wrap-Up (10/26/19)

This past Saturday, 21 teams from 13 schools gathered at Carnegie Mellon University for the first Pittsburgh event of the season. The tournament used the SCOP Novice 10 set and showcased impressive performances from several new schools.

Stats are linked here.

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Mt. Lebanon A with their second place trophy

First place went to a strong Winchester Thurston A, who narrowly defeated first-time attendee Mount Lebanon A 205-145 in a close half-packet final. Mt. Lebanon was led by Katherine’s 74 PPG in the prelims and also had significant scoring from Nathan, Jacob, Sein, and Daniel, who each contributed a few buzzes per game. Their overall PPB of 23.68 indicates great depth, even across subjects like literature that tend to be more difficult for new teams.

North Catholic A, Allderdice White, and Hampton A finished tied for 3rd with identical 2-3 playoff records. North Catholic and Hampton, led by Ryan and Kate respectively, ended with impressive overall PPBs of 23.37 and 22.73. Teadora’s 96 PPG in the prelims helped Allderdice to an undefeated morning, and it was great to see the program’s usual A team volunteering as staff. Central Catholic‘s team finished 6th with balanced scoring and a high 23.18 PPB.

First-time entrant Kiski consisted of Eddie playing solo, scoring an incredible 123 PPG at his first pyramidal tournament. He managed a very solid 19.40 overall PPB on his own and avenged a 5-point morning loss to South Side A with a 380-260 victory in the afternoon. South Side’s overall ratio of 32 powers to 4 negs stood in stark contrast to some competitors’ neg counts that were almost four or five times as high, suggesting great control and the potential to be even more aggressive on the buzzer in the future. Back in action after a two-year hiatus, Norwin A combined the talents of Lily, Lydia, and Emily to go 6-2 on the day, their only prelim loss being a 295-300 game against North Catholic. Allderdice Green and Mt. Lebanon B rounded out the second bracket.

It was great to see enthusiastic players from YoughBishop CanevinPenn Hills, Salisbury-Elk Lick, and additional teams from previously mentioned schools in the remaining two afternoon brackets. Many of these teams’ lead scorers were already putting up early buzzes in several categories, and we look forward to seeing how they continue to develop at future tournaments.

All the teams seemed to have a lot of fun competing on the SCOP 10 set, and we’re excited to see many of them playing again at Pitt’s SAGACITY XV tournament next month!

-Jackie

Nittany Lion Novice V Wrap-Up (10/12/19)

The first tournament of the season in Pennsylvania for the 2019-2020 school year was one of the most exciting in recent memory. Penn State played host to 28 teams from 17 schools all over the state, from the forests of the Allegheny to the farms of Lancaster. Some participants were longtime circuit regulars, but many were attending a pyramidal quizbowl tournament for the first time. While there were a few delays due to moderator error and having to re-do the schedule on a fly, it was still a well run event considering its size. Tournament director Ashish Kumbhardare deserves plaudits for his outreach to new schools and management of the day.

Stats can be found here.

Tournament Runners-Up State College A with their 2nd Place trophy. Photo courtesy Ananya Tadigadapa.

Both the 1st and 3rd place games to end the tournament were decided by 5 points. In the title game, we were treated to another edition of Manheim Township v. State College, as younger players squared off in the latest edition of Pennsylvania’s oldest quizbowl rivalry. Township triumphed on the final question. Led by a balanced attack in which Ian, Jaisal, and Kevin all scored at least 30 points per game (PPG), they were able to win a number of games soundly and finished the day undefeated. State College A, however, was not to be trifled with, and notched the most powers (15-point buzzes) of the day out of any team. In the third place game, State College B bested Wellsboro from North-Central Pennsylvania. An all-girl team led by Raevyn, the tournament’s top scorer, Wellsboro made a big impression with a collective 37/85/30 statline. In what looks to be a rebuilding year for Northeastern Pennsylvania, they might make a lot of noise at tournaments in that region.

The rest of the playoff brackets were filled with a mix of old and new teams. Ithaca from New York and Montgomery from Northeast PA both turned in fine performances to get the season going. Ithaca is coming off a 5th-place finish at nationals last year and looks to have quite a lot of talent for continued domination. Meanwhile, Montgomery is continuing a steady climb in the PA quizbowl world since debuting a season and a half ago. Their 340 PPG augurs well for future success. Meanwhile, a team from Bishop McDevitt outside Harrisburg made a decisive debut, leading the tournament with 22.5 points per bonus (PPB). As bonus conversion is not dependent on opponent, that indicates considerable skill. Boalsburg’s St. Joseph’s Catholic and the Pocono’s Pleasant Valley also excelled as first-time schools. I read for all three of these new teams, who impressed me continually with good early buzzes. All these teams have a bright future in this game. State College C’s Tori, Ithaca B’s Heewon, and Montgomery B’s Owen finished right next to each other for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th highest individual scorers at the tournament.

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Pleasant Valley A was all smiles before round 3.

Impressive performances by new and old schools also headlined the consolation brackets. Ithaca A and Bishop McDevitt B tied to win the first consolation bracketDuBois Central Catholic, in their first weekend tournament, impressed with 15 powers and 17.6 points per bonus, which are tough numbers to get on a first try. Various schools from across Western PA got their first taste of quizbowl as Shamokin Area, Warren Area, Eisenhower, and Tyrone Area all competed; they were joined by debuts from Northwest Area and Midd-West (ironically both from farther east than State College!) That brought the total of New Schools that tried pyramidal quizbowl at once up to ten at Nittany Lion Novice, which is the most in a long time, if not ever. Huntingdon, who first played at NLN I, also joined in on the competition, with two teams going a collective 11-8 in an effort to train up the next SSNCT (small schools nationals) contender.

The SCOP Novice question set was well written and very appropriate for this difficulty. Students had no trouble with these questions and I saw many of them make impressive buzzes. Literature seemed to be toughest, as is often the case for new players. If your school missed out, this set is being played in two weeks at Carnegie Mellon’s tournament.

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Bishop McDevitt B enjoying the preliminary Rounds.

Every moderator I spoke to about the tournament was refreshed by not only the quality of play but the enthusiasm of the students as well. It’s always a pleasure to see new students enjoying the game, learning something new, and working together through strong stretches and harder stretches alike. We hope to see all of these players again around the circuit very soon!

-Ben

What to Expect at Your First Tournament

With the Pennsylvania season about to kick off for the year, many students will be attending their first Saturday invitational tournament. These tournaments have a similar format, similar rules, and a series of customs, which may not be familiar to new schools or freshmen. While some of the regular procedures at events have been internalized by quizbowl regulars, they bear repeating for the benefit of all. Most of the day will be straightforward, there are always a few questions that get asked by new teams. Hopefully, this post will answer a few of them.

What do we do when we get there?

Simply put, you should report to the control room, check in, and then get ready to play. The tournament director should have let you know where to go at the school or university the tournament is taking place. The check-in process is usually swift. If you haven’t paid already, you’ll give the check to the director or another member of the host school, and the host will ask you for your rosters. Hosts need to know this to keep stats properly, since the top players might win prizes and they’ll be tracking individual as well as team stats for that purpose.

After you check in, you’ll be on your own until the tournament starts. This can be a chance for students to meet like-minded kids from other schools, to read practice questions, or anything else you see fit.

How do tournaments work?

The standard for most Saturday invitationals in quizbowl is a bracket play system. You will be assigned to play a selection of teams based on the number of schools that have registered, and makes sense for a schedule (so, for instance, if 18 teams are playing, you’ll be divided among three brackets of 6; if 24 teams are playing, four of 6; if 32 are playing, 4 of 8; and so on). You will then play all teams in your bracket during the morning. Based on your performance, you will be re-seeded after lunch into playoffs or into consolation rounds with teams that finished with a similar record. This format maximizes the number of competitive games between teams. If you do well, you will likely play in a finals game or in a third place game.

Generally, a high school tournament runs between 8 and 11 rounds, depending on the number of teams, and if the set has shorter or longer questions. Unless you have registered more teams for a tournament then there are brackets (for example, if school X brings 4 teams to an event with three brackets), the tournament organizers will make sure your school doesn’t play itself in the morning rounds, though afternoon matches between teams from the same school are more common.

My tournament doesn’t have these brackets. Why?

If fewer than 12 teams have registered, usually the event will run as a round-robin. In cases when more than 36 teams have registered, some tournaments use a card system, which you can find an explanation of here.

Do I need to stay if we miss the playoffs?

Yes. The consolation rounds are fun, low stakes games, where a lot of the best learning and team-building occurs. Both teams need to be there for the benefit of the students. There’s no benefit to them just sitting there taking a forfeit, which another school will do if someone leaves early.

How do the games work?

Two schools will duke it out for 20 tossup questions. Each tossup, if your team converts it, will net your team a three part bonus. Students confer on bonuses, but they are on their own on tossup questions. Each question moves from harder clues to easier ones. Students may buzz in at any time while the question is being read. If students buzz early in the question, most high school sets will award them a “power” buzz, which is worth more than an ordinary buzz (usually 15 instead of 10). If they interrupt the question with an incorrect answer before it is finished, they will be penalized with a “neg” of -5 points. There’s no penalty for an incorrect guess after the moderator has finished reading the question.

Most moderators will be lenient with new schools or new students learning these rules, especially ones that try to buzz in when a bonus question is being read. As you find your sea legs and move up, however, moderators will enforce these rules.

My student was penalized for “conferring.” What does this mean?

This means that either 1) the student spoke with teammates on one of the tossup questions, or 2) the student answered the question, but another student buzzed in before they did. The buzzers will light up to indicate which student answered first. Conferring is a “neg.” Most students will make this mistake a few times early on. Even the most experienced players have probably done it. So, don’t be hard on yourself if you make this mistake.

What does a coach do during the matches?

Coaches in quizbowl are mostly involved in organization and running practices, but there are a few roles they play on tournament day itself. Firstly, they are in charge of substitutions if teams have more than four players. You can substitute at halftime, before overtime, and in most cases, after a timeout. This can put in players with given specialties if the coach believes a certain kind of question is coming up, based on the distribution. Secondly, coaches can call time outs to rally the troops, give strategic advice, or substitute.

How long is each match?

About 25 to 30 minutes.

How long is each tournament?

Almost all tournaments in Pennsylvania are done by 4-4:30pm. If you make the finals, add a half hour for the extra round.

Where can I find stats and results for the event?

Stats are posted at https://hsquizbowl.org/db/. In Pennsylvania, we do our best to enforce the standard of making sure stats are available by the Monday after the event at the latest. Your tournament director will likely e-mail you a link to them as well.

-Ben

 

9/28/19 PA Team Mini-Wrapup

This past Saturday, teams from five Pennsylvania schools ventured beyond our borders to kick off their 2019-20 quizbowl seasons. As we kick off what looks to be perhaps the most wide-open chase for the #1 spot in GPQB history, parity continues to abound among the state’s top teams.

Four PA schools attended the 27th iteration of the Princeton High School Academic Tournament at Princeton University. Pennsylvania connections abounded at this tournament, which was directed by Bermudian Springs alum Jack Edmondson and used Manheim Township/CMU alum Andrew Nadig’s new stats program Yellowfruit. Stats can be found here.

Manheim Township A finished highest amongst the PA squads, claiming 5th place with a 355-250 win over Robert Harp A. The team also dealt tournament champions Hunter A their only loss of the day and picked up a close-as-can-be 340-335 victory over Henderson A. Will Steger has picked up where he left off as one of the top players in the state, while sophomore Aizaaz Faiz seems to have put in some work over the summer as well. Not many teams in Pennsylvania can boast of a strong one-two punch with solid third and fourth scorers, and with Ellie Taliani and Sanya Nair each averaging a tossup per game, Manheim Township may have discovered their latest path to success.

Henderson A and Penn Manor each reached the playoff brackets and finished with a 6-4 record. Henderson went unbeaten through the prelims and secured one victory in the playoffs, over Wilton A. Vijay Anne led the way for them again with 59.50 PPG, and Vikram Chodapaneedi emerged a bit in his own right with 32.50 PPG. Losses to the perennial NJ and NY powerhouses don’t need to be too deeply read into at this point in the season, but the loss to Manheim Township shows that it won’t be a stroll in the park for the preseason #1 in PA.

As for Penn Manor, they once again lived and died by Connor Mayers’ play, and they experienced all the variance that comes with being basically a one-man team. Connor can pop off, as in his 9/4/2 line in a win over Kellenberg A, or negstorm out of any chance at a victory, exemplified by a 3/2/7 performance in a loss to High Tech A. Unless someone else finally emerges as a second scoring option, this is probably what Penn Manor will be for the foreseeable future.

Moravian Academy‘s two teams each secured some victories in the consolation brackets. The A team, led by the 46.50 PPG of Alex Adams, defeated Henderson B (3-7) but lost to Manheim Township B (6-4). MT B ended the day strong with a streak of four straight victories, including a 210-205 squeaker over Tenafly B. All Pennsylvania teams won at least 3 games on the day, giving everyone a good base on which to build moving forward!

Meanwhile, a rebuilding Allderdice squad ventured to Ohio for the Miami Valley School Fall Kickoff. The team’s stats can be found here. Led by Truman Jury, the sole returning member of last year’s A team, Allderdice reached the playoff rounds, where they notched a victory over Solon B to finish with a record of 5-5. 20.77 PPB on an IS set is not bad at all for a new lineup in their first tournament of the year, and some concerted studying could see them spring up the rankings as well.

Overall, it was a solid start to the season for our adventurous PA squads! The in-state calendar will begin in just over a week at Penn State’s Nittany Lion Novice tournament on 10/12!

-Ryan

GPQB Pre-Season Poll, 2019-2020

It’s that time of year again—back to school, pumpkin spice, the inexplicable Christmas sales the day after Labor Day. That means another quizbowl season is upon us. Whether you are a long time reader and gearing up to follow the season along as a veteran or a first time player, we hope you are excited for some studying, fun facts, and high-gear Pennsylvania quizbowl matches. As always, it’s time for the AP style pre-season poll as well. Fourteen ballots were cast. Without further ado:

  1. Henderson (137 points, 11 first place votes)
  2. Friends Select (112 points, 2 first place)
  3. Penn Manor (107 points, 1 first place)
  4. State College (106 points)
  5. Great Valley A (82 points)
  6. Manheim Township (75 points)
  7. Winchester Thurston (48 points)
  8. Trinity (35 points)
  9. Great Valley B (31 points)
  10. Allderdice (27 points)

Also receiving votes were Hempfield (9) and Unionville (1)

Best wishes for all teams during the upcoming season!

-The Staff

The Voters in this Poll were Ryan Bilger, Jakobi Deslouches, Ben Herman, Antonio Jimenez, Ashish Kumbhardare, Sebastien La Duca, Nick Luca, Andrew Nadig, Colton Sanden, Alex Sankaran, Steven Silverman, Jack Sugrue, Adam Swift, and Will Yaeger

 

A Defense of Regionalism in High School Quizbowl

Recently, on the hsqb forums, in a post titled “Does Every Quizbowl Organization Need its Own Blog?,” the topic of integrating all of the various places where quizbowl is written about online, from press and blog posts from major national organizations at the college and high school level, to regional sites such as our own, into one place or one feed, was proposed. I weighed in as a skeptic of this in regard to regional organizations/websites such as GPQB. This got me thinking about trying to articulate exactly why high school quizbowl needs regionalism. I can think of four major reasons, and I think each speaks to some aspect of the challenges high school quizbowl faces with outreach and expansion, both here in Pennsylvania and in other places like it.

The Need for Localized Coverage 

To expand quizbowl, teams need to know what is out there in terms of the vast resources, which centralization of writing and activity might, theoretically, make easier. However, on that large a scale, inevitably there would be an emphasis on things with maximum appeal to a uniform, nationalized quizbowl audience. That means lots of studying tips and lots of “how do I adjust to X situation,” written on terms for insiders already familiar with the game. In such a market, there is little to no room for coverage of local stories and local concerns. You may or may not have noticed, but our company line at GPQB is to mention every team appearing at every tournament in Pennsylvania, even if just as a shout out, throughout the year as we do our wrap ups. Teams like to be noticed, and like to feel welcome. This takes time and energy, and trying to add these local touches would be washed out in a situation like a unified site. Only top teams nationally would get any sort of individual coverage. Having correspondents and articles attached to local circuits will allow teams to know where to go to see how they’re doing, and to view the compliments that come with that. It serves no purpose for teams that are more casual to wade through muddles of coverage irrelevant to them to check on their own accomplishments.

Making Meaningful Rankings

There’s been an epidemic of rankings and statistical ranking formulas in the world of quizbowl recently- best player at X, best players in Y, etc. This originates, in part, from 20 years of the internet and increased social media activity by people in and around quizbowl, leading to elite high school programs all knowing each other and interacting with another regularly. That has lots of positives; but one area it doesn’t is catching local circuits accurately when teams, particularly new or rising teams, are not integrated into those channels. Teams players are unfamiliar with will inevitably reduced to statistics, and to put it simply, quizbowl statistics are highly meaningless at a macro scale and undeveloped. Trying to compare teams from drastically different circuits with different field strengths, opportunities to play, and in a few cases even rules have led to considerably inaccurate placements of teams’ abilities, like this pre-national statistical ranking placing Henderson, the #2 team in Pennsylvania by year’s end, at 147th nationally (before they finished t12th).

This is where local sites come in. Our Pennsylvania panelists look closely at our teams and are able to do more than simply compare points per bonus and arbitrary power adjustments. Most of us actively staff PA events and can eye test the teams: how do they handle pressure? Do they communicate on bonuses? Even those of us that have moved away follow the tournaments regularly and can consider things like head to head record. This allows for much better polls, and gives a lot of teams recognition they otherwise would not. We should acknowledge that there is still a large east-west divide in Pennsylvania, as both teams and staffers don’t always get the chance to cross the Susquehanna regularly. The advent of Penn State’s Keystone State Invitational this season went a long way towards fixing that, and hopefully as more teams in central PA join the circuit, there will be ever-more common links.

Appropriate Attention to Audience

Simply put, the average quizbowl team in America doesn’t care about theory or your latest quizbowl cause célèbre. Should there be more world literature? Should there be less pop culture? Is asking about something too easy or to hard? Most teams don’t care. I’m as guilty of worrying about this minutia as anyone. To quote PA quizbowl veteran Andrew Nadig, “most people here [at quizbowl nationals] would play quizbowl in a box, with a fox, in a boat, with a goat.” The majority of quizbowlers don’t necessarily commit that much. Most teams don’t need a big feed to see pontifications coming from collegiate quizbowlers, or what’s happening halfway across America. What they need and want is simple tips to help them improve, perhaps a basic primer or two on the rules, and coverage of their stories and matters of local relevance. Simply put, for your average quizbowl player, one doesn’t *need* the reams of writing going on about quizbowl, and simpler is better. As they become more integrated, they inevitably seek out the more advanced stuff on their own, without prompting. They’re sharp kids. I’ve seen it time and again.

Local vs. National Community Building

Lastly, branding individual circuits as communities is crucial to building camaraderie and common goals. GPQB’s biggest accomplishment, in my opinion, has not been providing resources (though that’s also a proud point for us), but in forging a sense of “Pennsylvania Quizbowl” as a distinct group of people where no sense of it existed before. We support one another, fight together to reform unfair local formats, and have built strong local support to help new teams join the community as well. Part of the reason our tournaments now run on time and our teams are playing more and better quizbowl is because they enjoy being part of “Pennsylvania Quizbowl” and upholding the standards and practices that go along with it. This would inevitably be lost if people’s go-to place was a nationwide catch-all. It should be noted there certainly is a community of top high school players nationally as well, and the barriers to breaking into it are much more opaque to newcomers. Getting noticed at that level also usually means elite play- and elite play should never be a prerequisite for having a major voice at the table.

In sum, Pennsylvania quizbowl as a thriving community is in large part because of its autonomy from wider quizbowl, and the ability to serve local needs, mention and reach out to local teams, make better local rankings, and build a localized sense of solidarity. When I look at other circuits that have a great deal of engagement from a wide variety of schools instead of an elite upper crust, such as Missouri, Ohio, and Alabama, one can see similar websites or organizations at play; in regions where this is not the case, a few elite teams dominate. In this opinion, regionalism and de-centralization are healthy for the high school game.

-Ben 

2019 NASAT Wrap-Up (6/23-24)

Two Pennsylvania teams, each composed of a mix of graduating seniors and returning underclassman talent, represented the state at the 2019 National All-Star Academic Tournament. Coached on-site by Jamie Faeder (Allderdice ’18), these players had a fun experience to close out the 2018-19 quizbowl season!

Pennsylvania Blue, composed of Jakobi Deslouches (Allderdice), Noah Harrigan (Great Valley), Will Yaeger (Hempfield), and Ryan Zhang (Hempfield), made the top playoff bracket by way of a thrilling tiebreaker victory over Missouri A that came down to the final tossup. They also notched wins over Maryland Gold, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. While the team did not score any additional victories in that top playoff bracket, I give them all the credit nonetheless for making it there, as NASAT is a tournament unlike any other at the high school level. Congrats to PA Blue!

Pennsylvania Gold, composed of Austin Davis (Allderdice), Connor Mayers (Penn Manor), Anshu Nunemunthala (Great Valley), and Malaika Paralkar (Downingtown East) defeated Iowa in the preliminary rounds for their sole win on Saturday. However, they ended the tournament strong, with consecutive victories over Oklahoma, Connecticut, and Missouri B. Connor also finished as the 10th top individual scorer in the prelim rounds and 9th after all games. Congrats to him and to PA Gold as well!

With the end of this tournament, our exciting 2018-19 season of quizbowl in Pennsylvania has reached its conclusion. We’ve seen plenty of great players, great matches, and great stories this year, and it looks as though we are poised for another exciting season to come! Have a safe, fun, and knowledge-filled summer, and we hope to see you back for our coverage of the 2019-2020 year!

Ryan