quizbowl

D-East’s HFT Mirror Wrap-Up [4/8]

12 teams gathered in Exton on April 8th to play a full round-robin tournament on one of the toughest sets in quizbowl, the Harvard Fall Tournament, at the first spring tournament hosted by Downingtown East HS. After a full 11 rounds, D-STEM won the final over Wilmington Charter B, with Friends Select A finishing in 3rd.

Full stats are available here.

This tournament was quite competitive at the top, with the top 5 teams all within 20 points-per-game of each other (319-339 PPG). D-STEM adopted a decidedly aggressive buzzing strategy, finishing with 42 negs (well above any other team), but also grabbing the tournament win. Paced by Vishwa’s 81 PPG, STEM hung on to emerge with the victory despite some very close matches. Charter B, a power trio with all members averaging at least 35 PPG, had surprisingly easy victories over all the PA teams except for STEM, but did drop a game to in-state rival Concord. Not quite sure who will be back next year for Charter, but it’s never a good idea to count Charter out for too long in quizbowl–they’ll likely be back and active in the SEPA region next year.

Friends Select A notched the highest number of powers of any team at the tournament with 27, but struggled a bit on the bonuses with only a 15.6 PPB (though it looks like that stat could influenced by a stat error in their match against Wallenpaupack that led to unusually low PPB that round). They were followed by a less-than-full-strength State College A, who dropped a surprising match early on to Penn Manor before recovering for a 4th-place finish. Wallenpaupack had perhaps the most interesting statline of the tournament: their PPB was the highest of the tournament at 18.17, but they only amassed 5 powers over the course of the day. This is a particularly unusual difference between depth on the bonuses compared to the tossups.

Charter A followed the top teams with a solid effort that fell just short in several close games and then there was a bit of a drop-off as Concord and Friends Select B both adopted fairly aggressive buzzing strategies that didn’t quite pay off for either. Penn Manor, in one of the very rare appearances outside the Lancaster-Lebanon League, put together a respectable effort highlighted by their win over State College A. A smattering of B teams and a house fill-in team rounded out the field and should be applauded for playing such a challenging set in what was essentially a pre-nationals tournament; the top 8 teams here are all registered for at least one national championship tournament.

Hopefully this experience will come in handy as the local teams prepare for nationals in less than two months. Plenty of time to keep practicing on tougher questions to get in shape for nats!

GPQB Podcast Episode 25: The Quizbowl Economy

Chris and Ben are joined by Coach Bern McCauley of Great Valley High school for an extended length podcast discussing the economics of quizbowl. Most of the discussion is focused on the high school game, but some of it discusses collegiate quizbowl. Topics covered include: what does an average quizbowl annual budget look like? How does this compare to other activities? Should it cost more or less? How to fundraise? Should quizbowl have more professionalization and charge accordingly?

Click here to listen!

0:00- Costs of regular season events
2:40- Costs of Nationals
5:05- Overall Yearly Expenditures
7:19- Debate: Is this the right amount of money to charge for quizbowl?
11:38- Comparison with other academic extracurriculars; pop quiz on costs!
14:30- Fundraising Ideas and Issues
18:40- The Prospect of Professionalizing Quizbowl
22:40- Does Professionalization have hidden downsides?
25:25- Trust, Relationship Building, and the Long Game for Quizbowl Economics
30:05- Predictions for the Future

2017 Philadelphia City Championships Wrap-Up

This year, 10 schools from the city of Philadelphia gathered for the city-wide championships, which also double as an IU tournament and qualifier for the PA state tournament in Harrisburg. This is twice the number of schools as last year’s city champs and was the capstone for a year’s worth of explosive growth in participation in Pennsylvania’s largest city. Friends Select School played host and their Center City building provided an accessible and convenient location for the festivities.

Here are the final standings and complete individual stats for the day.
[updated w/nationals qualifiers]

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City champions Friends Select A, at ease before the finals games. From L to R: Rudyard, Jake, Richard, and Emma.

Friends Select A took home the title for the second year and will be going to Harrisburg as Philly’s representative. They were the unquestioned statistical leaders of the tournament, as their PPB (points-per-bonus) was four points above the nearest other team and their 41 powers (extra points for correct early buzzes) were more than twice that of any other team. We knew this team would be good after Richard and Jake went an impressive 4-6 at last year’s HSNCT, but the addition of Rudyard and his immense “real knowledge” has multiplied their early-buzz force. This junior-heavy team is completing quite the season and only loses pop culture specialist Emma next year. Friends Select’s B, C, and D teams also dominated as the school ended up with four of the six playoff bracket spots available. Other schools will have their work cut out for them against this deep roster of teams in the future.

Carver HSES A took second place, undefeated except for their final two loses to Friends Select A (completing a best-of-three final without need for a third game). In an ending a bit reminiscent of a video game, they had to play Friends Select D, C, B, and A in that order and made it to the “final boss” before yielding. They put on one of the most enthusiastic shows around, vigorously buzzing and collecting for spirited pep talks from Coach Shan Hogan. Carver’s teams (I read for both A and B) also play very smart–though they’re not a top-tier team at the state level statistically just yet, they do not make bad negs, they communicate well on bonuses, and they constantly encourage each other and high-five after good buzzes. This allows them to consistently punch above their weight and makes them a blast to read for. Their B team also earned several impressive wins throughout the day (including one over Masterman A) and showed a great deal of growth over the past few tournaments.

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Carver A receives advice from Coach Hogan before a match.

Central took the last remaining playoff berth. They went 5-4 on the day but did so against a brutal schedule. Though Central lacks an all-around power player outside of Marley (who had to leave in the afternoon, somewhat lowering their final PPB), all of their team scored well and they seem to get wins in a workmanlike fashion. Bodine and Rush finished tops in the Middle bracket. They were lead by the tournament’s second and first overall scorers, respectively. Bodine’s Alexandra, just a freshman, is going to be a top-flight player very soon, as she scores in volume and just needs to push up the power rate and focus during some rounds. Meanwhile, Rush deployed something of a secret weapon in Tara, who blasted 72 points per game in her first pyramidal invitational and consistently improved throughout the day. Awesome job by both.

The back end of the tournament contained a lot of newer or first time entrants from the city: Masterman, the Academy at Palumbo, and Furness all played their first quizbowl tournaments and each came away with at least one win. Franklin Learning Center and Franklin Towne Charter also returned and saw FLC win the battle of the Franklins by a combined 25 points over both FTC teams. It was good to see all of these teams participating and learning in this local environment; I saw some good buzzes from them and with continued regular events in the city, they will all improve in no time.

Overall, this was a nice example of how state qualifier/IU tournaments can run on good questions, use a fair format that allows teams to play many games (rather than just 1 or 2), and cater to teams of all levels of ability. The tournament was wrapped up before 3 PM and some teams finished as early as 2:15 or so. High School quizbowl in Philadelphia is rising and has so much potential, and we look forward to seeing its continuing development in future years!

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Franklin Learning Center vs. Academy at Palumbo, which occurred in round 5. Palumbo won a close match, 170-145.

-Ben Herman

Wissahickon Invitational Wrap-Up

16 teams competed in the first-ever Wissahickon Invitational on March 4th at Wissahickon HS in Ambler, PA. Full stats are available here.

Varsity
1. Friends Select A
1. Downingtown STEM A
3. Downingtown East A

JV:
1. Team Sahil of Parkland
2. Downingtown East B
3. Great Valley MS

Varsity

One thing that might be readily apparent from the final standings is the unusual presence of co-champions! After the preliminary rounds, Friends Select A finished with 1 loss and Downingtown STEM finished with 2 losses. This meant that FSS A would have the “advantage” in the final, meaning that FSS only needed to win 1 match to clinch while STEM would have to win both matches. STEM won the first match, but the second match wasn’t played as STEM was prematurely awarded the 1st place trophy. It was an honest mistake on the part of the hosts and the concept of an advantaged final is a bit tricky, though considering how superb the previous STEM-FSS matches were it’s a pity that second final match wasn’t played.

It’s usually a good idea for a tournament to make clear the finals scenarios to both teams before the finals begin (and as much as possible before the tournament, deciding for instance on how to play off potential ties) just so that everyone is on the same page before the finals start.

But that shouldn’t overshadow what was otherwise a great day for both STEM and FSS A, with STEM’s Vishwa averaging over 103 PPG individually and notching 51 powers. STEM’s Anish also contributed 36 PPG, which is a considerable number for being in the shadow of such a strong player. FSS A, finally playing with their full lineup after several months, saw three players amass 17 or more powers and sported a sterling 23.98 PPB. Both teams are young and look to be jockeying for position within the hierarchy of top 5 PA teams next year.

Downingtown East A also had a good run with a win over rival STEM and did it all without their all-star captain Jackie, who generously agreed to read rather than play to help make sure the tournament ran well. Kaushik and Zach both emerged as strong players in their own right and several normal B-teamers got a shot at playing on the A team. FSS B showcased FSS’ developing talent, with Jonah’s 13-1 power-to-neg statline being particularly impressive but with all of their players contributing. And Carver HSES A had their best-ever PPB on an IS-A set with 18.8.

It was great to see Hatboro-Horsham back at quizbowl tournaments after their debut at QFO in Decemeber. The MontCo schools’s stats, especially on tossups, are a bit depressed because the top-tier competition in the varsity bracket didn’t give anyone a chance to breathe, but they continued to fight until the end.

JV Division

In the JV division, Team Sahil of Parkland put on quite a show, with a dominating individual performance, especially for being the 2nd-ever pyramidal tournament by a sophomore! Downingtown East B made it clear that D-East is going to continue this year’s strong performance in future years and also played shorthanded. Great Valley MS is a real find; they have some glaring gaps because, well, they’re 7th and 8th graders who haven’t had a high school class yet, but they have very balanced coverage of all parts of the canon and, unlike many teams, excellent pop culture/sports knowledge. I also was pleased with their excellent sportsmanship, as they made sure to shake the hands of all their opponents immediately afterwards even when they lost close games.

Friends Select C, led by an every-improving Aidan, showed more of that trademarked FSS balance and depth while Hatboro-Horsham B exposed a new generation of their players to pyramidal questions and seemed to come out liking them. SLA had a bit of an off day, but Jack did well enough to secure the #2 individual scoring prize. Franklin Towne Charter sent two rather sleepy teams, given that half their members had been up for 24 hours at a dance thon event and then bravely came along to play a mentally taxing 9 rounds of quizbowl. We salute the iron men and women of FTC for such dedication and hope that they were able to include their academic competition services in their fundraisers as well. Carver HSES B notched a couple of wins themselves and also have an improving Aidan as well. William Tennent, making a rare appearance by a non-CBEAST Bucks County team, came with a very young team most of whom were making their quizbowl debut. Rachel V. in particular did a nice job of making the top 10 in individual scoring; hope that the WT team will come to some more events in the future.

All in all, the tournament went off logistically well up until the end–even a few hiccups in the afternoon like a disappearing reader and the internet crashing (again, note the dangers of trying to do wireless tournaments) didn’t delay it too much and 10 rounds were complete by 3:45. Wissahickon was a good venue and the hosts were enthusiastic and had plenty of well-compensated volunteer hour seekers, so hope that they can use their experience in the future to get run academic competition events in Montgomery County.

Great Valley Quiz Bowl Tournament IV Wrap-Up and Comments

40 teams from across Pennsylvania and beyond gathered at Great Valley High School in Malvern, PA for the 4th edition of the always-excellent GVQBT.

Final overall results on Neg5 are available here:
Open
Novice

And final playoff results (which determined placement) are here:
Open 
Novice

Open Division

1. Lehigh Valley Academy A
2. Manheim Township A
3. Camp Hill
4. Downingtown East A
5. Downingtown STEM

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Lehigh Valley Academy A (foreground) collaborates on a bonus question in the final against Manheim Township A (background)

The tournament came down to yet another skirmish between the two teams who have battled back-and-forth throughout the year for supremacy in Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Academy A and Manheim Township A. Both teams were at essentially fully strength once the afternoon came around and went undefeated throughout the tournament into what was basically a best-of-3 final. MT A came away with the first match and only needed to grab one of the remaining 2 potential matches to win. But after MT A jumped out to a 120-point lead in Game 2, Alex from LVA simply went off, going on a run of 10 tossups in a row with a series of deep knowledge buzzes, buzzer-race wins, and conversions on negs from MT. This run seemed to break MT A’s confidence going into the final match and, though they kept it close for a bit, Alex put up another 130-point performance to claim the 1st-place trophy. MT A definitely has the firepower to beat LVA, but Alex’s consistency (while most dominant in history, he no major weaknesses and usually buzzes right after the power mark in almost any category) has made LVA A the team to beat now in PA.

Camp Hill finished in 3rd and seems to be on a steady rise through the ranks of the top teams in PA. Colton has always been a solid all-around generalist with deep strengths in history, but what’s triggered the latest rise has been Sydney’s emergence as a bonafide deep literature specialist. If they can find consistent 3rd and 4th chair specialists (although their teammates today definitely contributed some key buzzes), they have a good shot at winning the whole SSNCT. Downingtown East A continued its string of solid performances and got a nice win over local rival Downingtown STEM, though STEM is yet another team on the rise. STEM actually had Manheim Township A on the ropes with a lead going into the final TU in their match, but unfortunately negged to lose by 15 points. STEM has major pockets of deep knowledge, especially in science, and if they continue to develop players around Vishwa (who averaged 100 PPG today) they’re only going to improve.

Lancaster Mennonite continued their aggressive play, racking up 49 (!) negs over the course of the tournament and continuing to demonstrate strong pockets of knowledge in religion and history in the top bracket. Concord (DE) showed up without their best player and rode a favorable schedule into the playoffs while an under-strength Manheim Township B just seemed content to make the playoffs with a narrow 15 points win over Friends Select A. FSS A got a measure of revenge by running through the top consolation bracket and notching wins over Henderson A and an understrength Delaware Valley A. FSS continues to demonstrate outstandingly deep knowledge (4th-most for powers out of all teams at the tournament) but still needs to close up a few gaps and get all of their Big 3 playing at once more consistently. Both Bermudian Springs and Central Bucks East made the most of their appearances as well by finishing in the middle of that same consolation bracket.

Novice Division

1. Manheim Township C
2. Haverford
3. Central Bucks East
4. Great Valley Middle School B
5. Friends Select C

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Tournament Director and Great Valley Coach McCauley makes announcements before the JV/Novice division final of Manheim Township C (left) and Haverford (right).

Manheim Township C won the novice division trophy by defeating Haverford High School in the finals. Interestingly, though Manheim C did not have the most impressive PPB in the novice division, their on-the-buzzer skills were more than enough to make up for that. This will be a group of underclassmen to watch as they move up within the Manheim system. This finish also marked Haverford’s first appearance on the pyramidal quizbowl circuit in five years and they became one of only a small handful for DelCo Hi-Q teams ever to play in a weekend quizbowl tournament n Pennsylvania. They made the most of their time with an exciting up-and-down day that culminated in the runner-up finish to Manheim C. Paced by Jack’s 62 PPG , Haverford would be an excellent addition to the circuit–hopefully they can bring along some other Hi-Q teams too!

Everyone’s favorite CBEAST‘s B team actually finished with the highest points-per-bonus of all the novice schools, but lost to Haverford to finish in 3rd place. CB East has long been one of the most involved Bucks County schools in quizbowl (often called “Scholars Bowl” in Bucks) and it looks like they’re loaded for the next few years. In the rest of the novice division top bracket, Friends Select B (a 3-person team) was solid, but they turned out to have a weakness: middle schoolers. Great Valley’s Middle School sent a team of 7th and another team of 8th graders and both finished in the top 6 in this novice division. Even better, all of them were fairly well-balanced scoring-wise.It looks like GV will have a very solid pipeline of talent for the next few years. Rounding out the top bracket were SLA, who started strong but faded a bit after lunch, and PALCS, which is in the middle of a rebuilding phase this year.

Downingtown East C, who missed the top bracket by the smallest of margins in losing a tiebreak game to GV MS, let loose some frustration in pretty much stomping all the teams who tried to get in their way in the middle bracket. Lehigh Valley Academy B featured some of Alex Schmidt’s loyal teammates who finally got a chance to play outside the considerable “shadow” and acquitted themselves nicely.

Let us extend a big welcome to Franklin Learning Center, who joined the teams on the Cheese Bus of Knowledge from Philadelphia and made their quizbowl debut here. They got ahead of their intra-Philly competition with a win over Bodine in the morning, which boosted them into the middle bracket, where they put up a solid fight but were a bit outmatched by more experienced teams. Bodine themselves had a rough morning, but a great afternoon, winning the lower consolation bracket.

Also a big shout-out to Renaissance Academy for sending 4 teams worth of students in both brackets and all topping 10 PPB. In fact, every team at this tournament finished with at least 10 PPB except for a short-handed DV B. It was a good day of competition all-around and teams definitely got their money’s worth with at least 10 matches for each (a very cool bit of scheduling by Great Valley to avoid byes) and finishing everything but the 2nd game of the finals by 4 PM.

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Renaissance Academy poses for a picture.

A note on the question sets: while the HSAPQ Novice Set used in the novice division was quite solid and reader-friendly (if a bit challenging on the bonuses), the GSAC set used in the varsity division had a number of major issues. While this might have been excusable if this had been the first use of these questions, this was apparently something like the 8th mirror of the set and there were still major factual errors, confusing grammar (esp. a problematic use of too many pronouns in Lit. questions), and a near-complete lack of alternative answer lines, which often made this frustrating to read and led to a number of protests. This is unacceptable. I would not recommend using iterations of GSAC in the future unless the editors make it clear that they will incorporate feedback and improve their product.

-Chris 

Downingtown East Invitational Wrap-Up

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Ramon, Lucas, and Alex from LVA with their first place trophy.

30 teams gathered in Exton, PA for the first-ever Downingtown East HS tournament. The final results were:

1. Lehigh Valley Academy
2. Manheim Township A
3. Centennial (MD) A
4. Centennial (MD) B

Stats on Neg5 are available for the prelims and playoffs (separately). We will post the full stats when those are available.

What did we learn today?

  • Downingtown is full of excellent quizbowl teams. While D-East was occupied with hosting, Downingtown STEM, led by the tournament’s breakout star in Vishwa, made the most of their opportunities in their first-ever pyramidal tournament to make the top 8. They had an outstanding mix of deep knowledge and quickly caught on to the pyramidal questions and format as the tournament went on. Downingtown West made the step up in difficulty to the regular HS level and, though they struggled in a tough playoff bracket, had a solid 18+ PPB average and a good all-around performance by their lead scorer Ben. Both of these schools would be welcome additions to more tournaments and we hope to see them (and their B teams) around the circuit in the future.
  • The GPQB Poll’s #1 and #2 teams keep battling for state supremacy. So far, Lehigh Valley Academy is 2-1 against Manheim Township A this year. LVA’s only loss of the day was by 5 points to Baltimore-area powerhouse Centennial A and Alex Schmidt’s uncanny ability to go on a run of powers just when he needs it worked wonders in the final versus MT A. It’s notable that MT A’s win over LVA came on a housewrite while LVA has won both NAQT matchups with MT A.
  • It’s good to mix circuits. Centennial’s 3 teams made a strong impact on the tournament and Fayetteville-Manilus‘ top player came down from NY to play. More teams venturing out into other circuits is always a good thing to see and it helps add variety and challenge to the tournament fields.
  • Great Valley A can beat anyone. Centennial A is a bonafide national powerhouse (check out that 24+ PPB) and Great Valley A notched what NCAA bracketologists call a “good win” over them. When GV A is clicking, they can beat any team in the region. But whether or not they can perform consistently enough to string together several wins over the top teams remains unclear.
  • Teams are still figuring out their best A-team lineups. We don’t have that much info with the best teams at full strength due to both player absences and shifting lineups. Finding a good fit, especially for 3rd and 4th chairs on teams, can be tough in terms of both subject matter coverage and team chemistry. I’d advise teams to read this good post on the forums about being a 4th player and thinking through who would be good at that job.
  • There’s more to the Lehigh Valley than LVA. Allentown Central Catholic came down out of the valley and put in a solid performance to follow-up on their earlier Lehigh Valley Invitational results. Emmaus also made a welcome return to the circuit and rode the strength of lead scorer Mike to a solid middle-bracket finish. Would love to see more of these teams venturing outside of the valley and potentially hosting more tournaments within it in the future.
  • D-East did a good job as a first time tournament host. Despite a few hiccups with Neg5 and rebracketing (see below), this was an exceptional job as an almost entirely student-led enterprise. Everything was done by 4:30 PM even with issues like a team showing up late and leaving early. Hopefully the secrets of competent TDing will be passed down to future generations of D-Easters!
  • I don’t think Neg5 is ready for primetime. Yes, it is an improvement in some ways on the old SQBS stats software that requires centralized manual entry, but it’s not very user-friendly and when things go wrong, it can gum up the tournament to a greater extent than one with paper scoresheets. Training can help, but with the updates reconfiguring it pretty often it’s just more trouble than it’s worth for me at this point.

Next up on the quizbowl tournament slate here in Pennsylvania: Manheim Township (1/28), Norwin (2/4), and Great Valley and CMU’s Tartan (2/11)! Let’s do everything we can as a community to get these tournaments to run well and teams to attend.

Chris C. with Ben H.

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Great Valley D (left) vs. Downingtown STEM A.

How to Get the Most out of Practices and Tournaments: Get a Notebook

Every moment that you have a buzzer in your hand while playing quizbowl, you should also have a notebook open next to you ready to take notes in. Here’s a page from mine:

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I really should’ve gotten that Turenne TU. Also, it’s apparently “Siqueiros,” not my more Greek spelling here.

This notebook has been with me since 2006 at my very first national championship tournament. I tried to make sure to put at least one clue that was associated with each answerline down so that I could remember and, ideally, not miss it again. I also wrote down answerlines that sounded interesting or things that I wanted to look up later.

Why bring such a low-tech thing as a notebook to practices and tournaments and not some fancy flashcard program like Anki or an app like QuizBug on Quinterest? First, actually writing things down can help you remember them more effectively than typing them on a computer. Something about the process of writing by hand just seems to stick better.

Second, a notebook is much more portable and useful for a quick glance during downtime en route to tournaments and at practices and tournaments. In between rounds and waiting for the next one to start? Take a quick glance at your notebook. Stuck on a long bus ride up to the next tournament? Peruse your notebook.

Third, with a notebook you have something to do during other teams’ bonuses and tossups on things you definitely have no shot of getting. Too many players just zone out; having a notebook open and ready to write or circle things can be useful to keep your attention on the match. Open it to a blank page for each match and you can even keep score with it too or keep track of the categories for each question (very useful in tournaments with a fixed question distribution so that you can figure out which categories have yet to come up).

And fourth, when you return from a tournament or practice, you can refer to your notebook as a way to review what you learned and figure out where you could improve, especially if you start noticing patterns of what you missed. If you again mixed up Manet and Monet, get them straight by making separate powerpoints of their work. If you mispronounced a play title, this is your chance to learn it now and forever. But if you don’t keep a notebook, you won’t necessarily remember what you need to work on.

A caveat: you shouldn’t write write down everything that you hear in a match in a notebook. Just focus on clues and answerlines in your areas of knowledge or things that sounded interesting. Make sure that you go up and look at those later–you can then incorporate things that you missed into those other study technologies.

You can also write down lists of related things that you want to review during and before tournaments in the same notebook so that you can quickly flip through to study those. For instance, here were some wars I decided to write down while jumping through an old all-history tournament packets:

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Remember, this was for college nationals. Don’t feel like you need to know these wars for your average HS tournament!

This is all part of a larger quest to help maximize your study time in quizbowl. Every practice you should leave having learned new things. Every tournament you should leave having learned new things. Spinning your wheels and expecting to learn by osmosis will not work out very well. Zoning out during questions in practice and repeatedly missing the same clues won’t work very well. But maximizing your time spent in a chair holding a buzzer will make your quizbowl experience more enjoyable and rewarding. Remember, if something comes up at one quizbowl tournament, there’s an excellent chance it will come up in some form at another quizbowl tournament later.

This is the beauty of a notebook–it gives you something to do and read at all times that will help you get better at quizbowl. Get one and use it well.

-Chris 

GPQB Podcast Episode #18: Quizbowl Question-Writing Tips

In the 18th episode of the GPQB podcast, Ben and Chris are joined by Eric to discuss how to write practice quizbowl questions. They discuss the best sources to use when writing questions as well as some common pitfalls among new question writers.

Click here to listen.

The always-excellent Vinokurov guide to writing questions, referenced in the podcast, is available in full here.

Tri-State Tournament @ Friends Select Wrap-Up

15 quizbowl teams gathered at Center City campus of Friends Select School in Philadelphia for the first Tri-State Tournament. Although all the teams ended up being from PA, the competition was fierce and both divisions ended with hard-fought finals.

Full stats and standings are available here.

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Lancaster Mennonite with their first-place Varsity-division trophy.

In the Varsity division, Lancaster Mennonite faced off against Friends Select A over the course of the tournament in a hard-fought (but very peaceful) series of 4 matches for Mennonite vs. Quaker supremacy. After Mennonite took the first match by 40 points, FSS battled back and won the second match in overtime. Mennonite then dropped their final regular match to Great Valley C, which gave FSS the advantage over Mennonite in the first game of an advantaged final (meaning that FSS only needed to win one game to win, Mennonite needed to win two). But Mennonite’s Brandon Roe then pulled out a 130-point, 6-5-2 performance to force a final deciding game that Mennonite won (thanks in part to 3 timely powers by Jacob C.). Both teams amassed a considerable number of powers (61 and 62) respectively over the course of the tournament, but FSS A’s Achilles heel was likely its 41 neg-5s over the course of the tournament (including 8 in the finals games).

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Science Leadership Academy with their first-place Novice-division trophy.

In the Novice division, a full-strength Science Leadership Academy (SLA) notched its first-ever quizbowl tournament win, first winning a statistical tiebreak over Friends Select D and Great Valley D after all finishing the opening round-robin with two losses and then defeating Friends Select C in a disadvantaged final over the course of two straight games to walk away with the first-place trophy. Interestingly, FSS C’s only loss earlier in the day had been to SLA, meaning that SLA won 3 times (the first two by a difference of only 1 TU) over FSS C to win. Both teams were paced by a balanced group of scorers, and SLA ended up with a solid 15.19 PPB and 24 powers over 10 games.

In the rest of the varsity division, Great Valley B and C showcased the ever-increasing depth of the Great Valley team (their A team was competing against college teams at a nearby tournament at the same time) while Carver A and FSS B navigated moving up from novice competitions to the varsity level.

With the novices, Friends Select D actually had better stats than their C team, but were a bit less experienced and lost head-to-head. Bodine, though lacking their top scorer from 2 weeks ago, was paced by a strong all-around performance from Alexandra T. (who finished 3rd in individual scoring and first in the novice division) and capped their day with an upset over SLA. Wissahickon took the train in from MontCo with a group of novices, Carver B played a large group of freshmen, and Franklin Towne A and B both continued to bring new members to compete.

Overall, it sounded like an outstanding day of competition with the round-robins finishing around 3 PM and the final tiebreaks and finals finishing by 4:30 PM. Excellent work by all teams and major thanks to FSS for hosting (and providing pictures).

-Chris Chiego

Carver Novice Tournament Wrap-Up

Twelve novice teams gathered at the Carver HS for Engineering and Science in North Philadelphia today for the kick-off to high school quizbowl in Pennsylvania this season.

Full stats will are available here.

Great Valley A put on an impressively disciplined performance to top Friends Select A for the championship. Great Valley C defeated a team from Exton for 3rd place.

The championship match was a treat to read and watch. You wouldn’t know it by the way they played, but GV A consisted of two freshmen and a sophomore. They handled bonuses like experienced pros, with one player always reminding the others what was being asked for, and took calculated risks on the tossups. In contrast, FSS A played a much more go-for-broke, fast-paced style that reminded me of intense NAQT games played on the clock. This led to FSS A leading the field in both powers (42) and negs (28). It was an interesting clash of styles where GV A ultimately prevailed this time, but it seems likely that we’ll see both teams back in championship games in the future.

The Rest of the Playoff Bracket

After graduating practically every member of their team, a new set of Central HS players (sadly lacking their signature crimson cardigans this early in the year) made the upper bracket and displayed pockets of deep knowledge in literature especially. The upper bracket was rounded out by Great Valley B, whose day was highlighted by a 200-pt romp over Exton. Exton also put in a solid performance throughout the day with balanced scoring and consistency on the bonuses. And Great Valley C added to the complement of GV freshmen who will soon be romping around the circuit for four more years.

The Consolation Bracket

Science Leadership Academy‘s team, although shorthanded, saw all of its members contribute and won the consolation bracket with a 5-3 record. Bodine HS made their quizbowl debut with a solid 4-4 performance. Powered by the impressive U.S. History knowledge of Jalen (30 PPG, 8 powers) as well as solid contributions from all of its rotating members, Bodine’s newness to quizbowl was mostly eclipsed by their overwhelming enthusiasm. Friends Select B fielded an all-freshman team that also signifies their increasing depth and development as a program. Once their middle school team gets started up this year, Center City will have its first official quizbowl pipeline. Franklin Towne Charter‘s A and B teams also displayed enthusiasm and were notably lacking some of their better returning players from last year. And Carver‘s own house team was a great example of how a few older, experienced players can be a great asset in showing freshmen the ropes of the game.

General Thoughts

Carver hosted the best-run tournament that I’ve ever seen from a first-time host. 9 rounds (plus a rebracketing meeting + lunch) were completed by 2:50 PM. That is outstanding. It was also a great tournament from a moderator’s perspective as well. The little things and attention to detail helped–emailing detailed information + maps well before the tournament, sending bottled water to the mods after the 2nd round, getting lunch orders set and assembled on time, and running a calm and orderly control room. It all summed up to an efficient and enjoyable experience for everyone. It’s too bad that many teams from around the region couldn’t make it; I hope they’ll make sure to pencil in the next Carver tournament (and more upcoming tournaments in Philly like Friends Select’s on Oct. 22nd).

All of the infectious enthusiasm today bodes really well for the health of the Philly-centered circuit as well. So many new players will hopefully now go back and look up all the answers that they missed in Quinterest and get to work learning those tricky fine arts questions (perhaps with the help of NAQT’s You Gotta Know Lists). But most importantly, I saw a lot of support from coaches who seem willing to take advantage of the flowering of competitions in the area. Most teams seem to be doing the right thing in focusing on building up a quizbowl program at their school first and foremost. Once you have a strong core of a program in place with lots of enthusiastic participants and sufficient logistical support, you can focus on preparing teams to top the competition.

Finally, the question set itself was the first tournament of the year to use our very own Pennsylvania Novice question set, written by various college players from around PA and edited by the GPQB staff. If you have any specific comments about the set itself or any questions in it, please email us at gpquizbowl@gmail.com. We’re looking to use what we learned today to revise and continue to edit the set to make it the best possible novice quizbowl experience for new teams and players!

-Chris