Monday, 14 December 2015

December 5th: Quizbowl Night in Ontario

For the first time this season, we saw two high-school tournaments placed on the same weekend. After the awards were handed out and buzzers packed up, I created the following general summary of the events.

University of Toronto Novice Tournament

There was a sense of novelty and uniqueness felt by this tournament, given that it was the first one Toronto hosted this season, and the fact that three schools were playing their first ever quizbowl tournament. However, if you thought that this resulted in a lack of competition, you would be strongly mistaken! White Oaks and Bayview A both won the majority of their games, earning a place in the upper bracket. After facing off against each other, it was determined that East Scarborough A would play in an advantage final against White Oaks. Despite losing the first game, East Scarborough A won the second 410-295 to win the tournament. Both experienced players (such as Jacky Li and George Lu), and talented newer players (such as Kelly Yu and Aleem Damji) alike put in impressive performances.

Stegosaurus Bowl at Lisgar

This tournament also followed a unique new format from most quizbowl tournaments, as it utilized a ladder format. Under this format, teams played two pre-games for ranking purposes before they were sent to their respective seeded rooms. After this took place, teams would move up or down the 'ladder' to play teams more suited to their skill level. The Lisgar Dragons managed to stave off defeat despite notable efforts by Merivale A and the Lisgar Shamrocks. While Sheena Li and Colin Veevers had great performances, it should be noted that Eric from Cairine Wilson showed a remarkable first time performance by receiving 70 points per game.

An exciting diagram of Stegosaurus Bowl

Stats for both these tournaments can be found here and here.

2016 ONQBA Provincials Annoucement

The Ontario Quizbowl Association, in collaboration with the University of Toronto quizbowl team, is pleased to host the 2016 ONQBA Provincial Championship. It will be held at the University of Toronto, St. George Campus on Saturday March 26, 2016. This tournament will be the premier high school quizbowl event in Ontario, serving as an opportunity to bring competition from all active regions in the province. This tournament is also an opportunity for teams to qualify for the NAQT High School National Championship Tournament (HSNCT) and the PACE National Scholastic Championship (NSC). More information on this can be found here. It will take place in Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street, Toronto, ON) and will run from the morning to mid-late afternoon.

The tournament director, Patrick Liao, can be reached by email at patrick.s.liao – AT – Registration emails should be sent to him at the above address and contain the number of teams registered, and what discounts will be claimed. Invoices will be sent to teams via email. Posts in the comments or messaging him on Facebook do not count as official registrations, though he is available for questions through both of those mediums. He will be assisted in tournament direction by Meghan Torchia, the President of the University of Toronto quizbowl team, especially on issues concerning logistics, transportation, and food.

We have applied to NAQT to be the "state" championship for Ontario and use the accompanying question set. In the unlikely event that the ONQBA bid fails, we will obtain an alternate source of regular difficulty questions. Assuming the use of NAQT questions, the games will be timed and calculation questions will be removed. We also expect to be able to include approximately one tossup and bonus per game of Canadian content. Games will follow NAQT rules.

We tentatively have a field cap of 20 teams, though we can likely find resources to handle more teams given enough notice. For a field of 12 teams or fewer, there will be a full round-robin plus additional playoff rounds to get all teams to at least 8 or 9 games. For fields greater than 12 teams, there will be preliminary pools followed by playoff tiers.

The tournament fees are as follows:
* $90 for the first team from a school
* $70 for the second team from a school
* $50 for each additional team from a school beyond the second
* $5 discount for fully working buzzer systems (to be tested day of)
* $5 discount for trained staff
* $10 discount for travel over 200 km
* Other discounts for activity on the Ontario circuit (see below)
* Other discounts at the discretion of the ONQBA board for exceptional circumstances (e.g. travel over 400 km, single person teams, etc.)
Minimum total fee: $20 (per team)

To encourage more activity in the high school circuit during the year, the ONQBA is also offering participation discounts. A school that participated in an ONQBA-certified event can claim up to ONE of the following:

* $40 for hosting an ONQBA-certified event
* $10 for attending at least two non-provincials certified events
* $10 for winning a certified event
* $5 for attending one non-provincial certified event

To promote healthy communications practices, any team that from this post onwards changes the number of teams registered attending any high school quizbowl tournament in Ontario with less than 24 hours notice to the tournament director(s) will not be eligible for any discounts (including for additional teams) and will be given the lowest priority if they end up on a waitlist.

At this stage, all academic quizbowl events intended for high school teams with at least one Ontario team in attendance will count as certified. History Bowl events in Canada count; "Reach-style" events or SchoolReach regionals do not.

All teams from Ontario are welcome and encouraged to attend. No prior qualification or experience is necessary, although it is recommended that you become familiar with NAQT rules and try practicing on a few quizbowl packets, of which many similar non-NAQT formats are available online.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Updated: Toronto Novice -- Dec. 5

Note: The date of the tournament has been moved back a week to December 5. We hope everyone can still attend.

Sidney Smith Hall at the University of Toronto.

Re-posting Meghan's HSQB announcement:
Hello Canada!

The University of Toronto Academic Trivia Club is very excited to announce the U of T Novice Tournament, happening on [December 5 now]. The tournament will be a mirror of NAQT set IS-149A.


The tournament will be held in Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George Street) here on the U of T St. George campus. Rooms will be announced once a field is established. Due to exorbitant fees required by the university, this tournament will have a hard field cap of 7 teams. The tournament will begin at 9 am, please try to arrive at 8:30 for registration. We will not be providing lunch, but there are numerous options for food on and around campus.


The base fee for this tournament will be $50 per team. We will offer a $5 discount per working buzzer set (one per team). Please note that a "working buzzer set" must include 8 functioning buzzers and a power cord. We will also offer a $10 travel discount if your team traveled more than 200 km one way.

We would prefer fees to be paid in cash, but if necessary, a cheque made out to "University of Toronto Academic Trivia Club" will be accepted. Fees should be paid before the start of the tournament.


To register for this tournament, please email me at [meghan DOT torchia AT mail DOT utoronto DOT ca] with the number of teams you are bringing and any discounts you would like to claim. I will send you a confirmation email back.

If you have any questions or comments about this tournament, feel free to post them here or email me. This promises to be a great event, and I hope to see you in November!

Our note: This tournament will probably be played on a Canadian edition of the IS-149A questions. ONQBA will obtain NAQT's permission to modify the set for a Canadian audience.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

OQT 2015 Recap Letter

Moderators clearly impressed
by everyone's cool knowledge.

I'm sending a version of this letter to the clubs that played in the 2015 Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament.

Hello all --

I want to thank you and your teams for playing in the 11th OQT yesterday. The Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament is played every November at U of Ottawa, and I was very pleased with yesterday's edition. We played "elevator bowl" for nine rounds, and it all went quick and friendly thanks to the players and moderators.

Final stats are here. There were high-scoring teams from all four schools (Lisgar, Merivale, Colonel By, and Glebe). Lisgar A dominated with an 8-0 record and 47 powers. Lisgar B and Merivale both went 6-2, which qualifies them for a US Nationals in the spring, should either of those teams wish to buy flights to Dallas. (They might rather go to Provincials in Toronto.) Most players stayed for "mock finals," which was a tenth round of friendly scrimmages including both players and staff. Every school was given paper copies of the unplayed questions for "round 11 and 12."

Rodrigo Morante and I directed the tournament and wrote the Canada questions for the set. We had a full staff of 5 UOttawa students (Rodrigo, Shervin, Shelby, Dennis, and Ian), 3 ONQBA people (Ben, Patrick, and me), and a Lisgar coach (Ruth Crabtree). Staff said their highlights included a [Canadian TV question], an overtime game between two teams seeking their first win, and a request from players to read the questions in Chinese.

Players are encouraged to complete this feedback form for us. We're committed to growing our game, and we're still learning how to tinker with our events to make something that more people want to play.

I also want to advertise our next tournament, which is Stegosaurus Bowl on December 5 at Lisgar. This is planned as a ladder format tournament, so instead of a fixed round schedule, it will be "win and move up a room, lose and move down a room." It is in only two weeks, but I am excited for it -- I think the ladder structure will lead to more close matches and rivalries. You can find details on our forum announcement or our ONQBA blog announcement, and you can register teams with me or Ms. Crabtree.

Thanks again and congratulations to all participants in yesterday's Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament.


2016 Provincials Pre-Announcement

The 2014 and 2015 provincial champions from Colonel By.

The Ontario Provincial Championship for the 2015-16 quizbowl season will take place at University of Toronto on Saturday, March 26, 2016. Patrick Liao will probably direct the tournament.

The Championship is open to all high-school teams from Ontario, with steep discounts for teams that have won tournaments or otherwise excelled throughout the season. We may give wildcard invitations and discounts to top teams at Reach or History Bowl, or to top teams from other provinces. We'll play the tournament on a Canadian edition of an NAQT question set.

We've held a provincial championship since 2010. So far, teams from Ottawa have won all six editions. We'll see if that streak can hold or if the powerful Lisgar A team can win again this time.

Friday, 20 November 2015

ONQBA Awards for 2014-15

These awards are for the 2014-15 season -- most of our winners have now graduated out of the categories they won for. We voted on all these a long time ago. Ted and I wrote the blurbs.

A Lisgar player accepting some sort of award.

Best Player -- Cameron Amini (Colonel By)
Cameron was the strongest high school player in Canada for at least two years. He went from being the history player on a great team to being a player who could power questions on any subject. Other players got stronger in 2014-15 because they had to compete with Cameron.

Most Improved Player -- Nicholas Sunderland (Lisgar)
Nicholas won Canadian History Bowl and almost won Ontario Provincials with Lisgar. He was the second-leading scorer on his Lisgar team at HSNCT. Lisgar A improved massively through the year, breaking into the HSQBRank top 100.

Best Junior -- Sheena Li (Lisgar) 
Sheena was the top scorer on Lisgar B at HSNCT. She played Ottawa History Bowl with seniors on the Lisgar A team, and she nearly won the JV section of Canada History Bee.

Best Junior -- Jonathan Liu (Colonel By)
Jonathan was a threat to score on almost any category. He got 47 PPG at the Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament -- a commendable achievement for a player who was just starting quizbowl.

Community Leader -- Ruth Crabtree (Lisgar)
Ms. Crabtree has led and supported countless quizbowl projects over the last 15 years. Her work as a coach, organizer, trip supervisor, and mentor has made her a cornerstone of good tournaments in Ottawa and beyond, both during her teaching career and in her retirement. We are lucky for every year of Ms. Crabtree's leadership.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Recap: Lisgar Novice (October 2015)

Lisgar Novice was the first tournament of the 2015-16 season. Aidan Ryan directed, and a lot of (ineligible) senior players showed up to staff. I went so I could insist that the staff all wear nametags, and I did some coverage -- here is what I saw from every team.

Merivale C was Daniel, Claire, and Hao Hao when I saw them. They took a bad loss to Colin (Lisgar C), but they still got a nice power on an opera clue.

Lisgar B enjoying themselves.

Lisgar B was Nadia, Olive, Katriona, and Patrick. They went 5-3 with strong stats. Nadia seemed very strong on lit questions, and Patrick got some nice buzzes on history. Olive had an early buzz on my Cape Breton tossup, and she caught that it was asking "Cape Breton" instead of just "Nova Scotia."

Merivale A was Amiya, Zarak, and Ivan when I saw them. They seemed very good at at science (with a power and a 30), and they 20'ed a tricky bonus on U.S. sports.

Lisgar A was Justin, Kieran, Matthew, and Felipe. They went 6-2 and led the tournament in PPB. Felipe was the second-highest scorer in the tournament, and I saw him power two science questions. I was also impressed with Justin powering current events.

Colonel By B was Kevin, Victor, and David. They seemed very good at lit and classics. I saw them lose a close, high-scoring match, largely because they got -5 on a scrambly pop music tossup.

Colonel By C was Sam, Kevin, Conor, and Farid. They looked like a team of senior students, and they were definitely the rowdiest team in the tournament -- they cracked a lot of jokes. Conor knew some lit and Farid knew some U.S. politics. At one point they buzzed "Edmonton" for a city in Manitoba, but they still won their round when Kevin got a chemistry tossup at the end.

Merivale B was Alan, Megharaj, and Wahaj. I saw them lose to a strong team, but they seemed to know current events, and they 30'ed a physics bonus. They made a heartbreaking bad buzz by naming a book title on a tossup that asked for the author.

Colonel By A with important moderators.

Colonel By A was Denis, Jon, Emily, and Kevin. They came second in the tournament, going 1-2 against Colin and 7-0 against all other teams. They led the field in powers -- Emily got a lot of lit, and Kevin got a lot of history.

Lisgar C was one player -- Colin -- and he won the tournament! He swept 8-0 in the round robin, and then he split the finals 1-1 with Colonel By A, which clinched first place.

Lisgar C (artist's rendering).

The finals was Lisgar Colin (8-0) against Colonel By A (7-1). Colin had a one-game advantage, so he would take the tournament with a win. If Colonel By won the finals, it would just force a second game of the finals.

Finals game 1 was very close -- Colonel By got more powers, but it looked like Colin would win 280-225.

However, there was a protest to resolve. In mid-game, Denis had buzzed a tossup and changed his guess mid-word. Moderator Ben had called -5, but after the game, we checked the rules and it turned out that Dennis's buzz was allowed. That caused a 60-point swing and changed the game to a win for Colonel By.

Finals game 2 was less close. Colin beat the Colonel By team 13-7 on tossups. The one-player team, Lisgar C, won the tournament, 390-235.

Throughout the day, Colin had scored early buzzes and 30s on a ton of history, geography, and art questions. He seemed generally to just be a curious learner and to be aware of the world. In an early round, he had a funny exchange with a moderator over pronouncing a weird European name.

Here's my category breakdown for the two finals games:

Colonel By D was four more Kevins. They were unable to compete in this tournament.

Other things:
- Complete stats
- Canada questions (early draft)
- Tournament thread on HSQB
- Facebook album

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Announced: 11th Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament -- Nov. 21

The 11th Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament will be on November 21, 2015 at the University of Ottawa. It will use a Canadian edition of the NAQT IS-149A question set.

Details from Rodrigo's HSQB announcement:
University of Ottawa is happy to announce we will host the Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament XI (these all go up to 11!), we will be playing the NAQT-set 149A. We are working on making a Canadian edition with NAQT and ONQBA. 
Fees for the tournament/ discounts:
$50 for the first team from a school
$40 for each additional team
-$10 discount for a functional 8-person conventional buzzer set
-$5 for Buzzbox (only applied if we need them)--- 
The tournament will also most likely have a 1/1 Canadian content.
Time and date: November 21,2015 . Please arrive at 9am so we can start by 9:30
Building: TBD
Please email Vanessa- and myself- to tell us the number of teams you will bring and the discounts you will have.

Colonel By has won the last two editions of OQT, but Lisgar is ambitious about is winning this year so they can qualify for some US nationals. I'm looking forward to this event, and I will be sure to have someone doing coverage.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Our Old Website

For a long time, the ONQBA had a nice website at We have now switched to using this blog because it is easier to update. The URL now redirects to this blog.

The original ONQBA website can still be accessed at It should be intact except for a few links I broke.

Patrick Liao should always get credit for building a nice yellow website, and Joe Su should get credit for maintaining a good Results page for several years. Ben Smith and a few others deserve credit for writing good pages. Much of our original site will still be of interest to many people.

We are still working on fixing up the look of this blog and migrating a lot of the old content.

Checklist for Tournament Directors

I wrote this checklist for my own use. You may might it helpful or you may find it excessive.

The tasks in (brackets) are inessential -- many successful tournaments are run without those measures. Use your own judgment.

If this list is overwhelming, then ignore the items in brackets, and make other experienced people work on the tournament with you. Most quizbowlers should have some enthusiasm for helping with tournaments.

We recommend that you print this list out and work with a physical copy of it.

  • ❑ Talk to whoever coordinates quizbowl in your area.
  • ❑ Set the date.
  • ❑ Book the venue.
  • ❑ Find a question set. Secure permission to mirror the question set.
  • ❑ Figure out the pricing.
  • ❑ Add your tournament to the HSQB database.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament -- post to HSQB.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament -- post to relevant Facebook groups.
  • ❑ Announce the tournament -- email schools around.
  • ❑ Plan your staff. Minimum of 1 reader for every 2 teams, plus yourself in HQ all day.
  • ❑ Make sure there's a treasury.

                    Two Weeks Before
  • ❑ (Send reminder email to target schools.)
  • ❑ Plan some kind of prizes.
  • ❑ Confirm that you'll have enough staff.
  • ❑ Verify your room bookings.
  • ❑ Send reminder email to any teams that only half-registered.
  • ❑ Check on the official rules for your tournament.
  • ❑ Confirm that you have a question set.
  • ❑ Check that you have enough buzzers.

                    Week Before
  • ❑ Draw up staff assignments -- readers, statkeeper if the field is big, scorekeepers if possible. Try to have the TD in HQ all day.
  • ❑ Staff email: Send assignments, question packets, and the rules. Get their phone numbers. Tell them to bring laptops. (If you have extra volunteers, invite them to attend on standby.)
  • ❑ Teams email: Field, logistics, parking info. Ask for rosters and phone numbers.
  • ❑ Get your prizes.

                    Day Before
  • ❑ (Get some nametags.)
  • ❑ (Purchase candy for the tournament.)
  • ❑ (Print the questions for any readers who insisted on printed questions.)
  • ❑ Make a round-by-round schedule and print many copies.
  • ❑ Make backup schedules for -2, -1, and +1 teams.
  • ❑ Make and print blank receipts and invoices.
  • ❑ Print scoresheets and copies of the rules
  • ❑ (Make and print feedback surveys, and flyers for the next tournament after yours.)
  • ❑ Check that a stats computer has SQBS on it.

                    Night Before
  • ❑ Put the questions on a USB drive.
  • ❑ Pack masking tape, prizes, schedules, receipts, invoices, scoresheets, rules sheets, scrap paper, USB drive, and any buzzers you're bringing.
  • ❑ (Pack printed questions, nametags, pens, candy, surveys, flyers, staff gifts, and a printer.)

  • ❑ Arrive very early.
  • ❑ Make sure the rooms are unlocked.
  • ❑ Set up tournament HQ and registration.
  • ❑ (Print signs and tape up signs around the building.)
  • ❑ (Make the staff wear nametags.)
  • ❑ Assign a staffer to collect money. Make sure that person keeps a record of money received.
  • ❑ (Assign a staffer to do check-in with every team. Have them hand out rules sheets to teams.)
  • ❑ Assign a staffer to ensure buzzers and scoresheets in every room. That person must keep a record of whose buzzers are in which rooms.
  • ❑ (Assign extra staff to set up signs and buzzers and move furniture, or to visit any new teams.)
  • ❑ Assign staff their rooms for the day.
  • ❑ Morning meeting: Yell to the teams about schedule and any rules reminders.
  • ❑ Hand out schedules to teams.
  • ❑ Send teams to their rooms.

                    During Tournament
  • ❑ Keep TD or statkeeper at HQ.
  • ❑ (Dismiss your standby volunteers or invite them to do photos and coverage.)
  • ❑ (If the TD is reading, put them in the room next to HQ.)
  • ❑ (Have HQ track how long the rounds take.)
  • ❑ (Sub out whichever reader is the slowest. Have them switch jobs with a scorekeeper.)
  • ❑ (Keep a simple tally of teams' records so you can re-bracket them quickly when it is time for that.)

                    At Lunch
  • ❑ Clearly announce to all rooms when lunch begins and ends.
  • ❑ (Assign a staffer to lead teams to nearby food.)
  • ❑ (Make sure no idiots left laptops unattended.)
  • ❑ (Print standings and top scorers and tape those up in the halls.)
  • ❑ (Drop feedback surveys and next-tournament flyers in the rooms.)
  • ❑ (Distribute candy to the rooms.)

                    After the Tournament
  • ❑ (Invite teams to watch the final.)
  • ❑ Have awards and clapping.
  • ❑ Make the staff clean up their own rooms and put furniture back.
  • ❑ (Give the staff their gifts.)
  • ❑ Survey the rooms for messes or lost items.
  • ❑ Post the stats to your database page.
  • ❑ Send a wrap-up / recap email to the teams.
  • ❑ Make sure the money goes where it's supposed to.
  • ❑ Ask the club to pay back any expenses you incurred.

This checklist steals ideas from Chris Chiego's hosting guidethis HSQB threadBryn Reinecke's TD checklist, the Berkeley TD guide, and the QBWiki's "How to Run a Tournament." It is intended to be useful, complete, and concise. I welcome suggestions in the comments about improving this checklist.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Upcoming: Stegosaurus Bowl in Ottawa -- Dec. 5

Stegosaurus prepping for quizbowl.

Stegosaurus Cup will be a quizbowl tournament on Saturday, December 5 at Lisgar Collegiate Institute in Ottawa. It will use a Canadian edition of the BASK question set.


Teams should be at Lisgar by 8:30 AM to register and pay. We will start at 9:00 AM, and teams may miss their first rounds if they arrive late. We will finish by 5:00 PM. We intend to play 11 rounds of quizbowl, though we may shorten the event if time is running out.

There will be a one-hour lunch break. Teams should bring a lunch, or they should get fast food on Elgin Street (three blocks west of the tournament).

We intend to use a ladder-style match schedule, to try and get more even match-ups and close games. We may switch to a round-robin schedule depending on attendance numbers.


It will cost a base fee of $60 for a school's first team, with these discounts:

  -$10 for subsequent teams (i.e., if a school sends three teams, their second and third teams both get this discount)
  -$20 for new teams to quizbowl (i.e., has only played Reach or History Bee and Bowl since 2014)
  -$10 for each scorekeeper you register and bring (anyone can do this job, but I will need scorekeeper contact info ahead of time)
  -$5 for each working buzzer set your bring
  -$10 for teams of only one or two players

The minimum fee for a team is $30. We can take cash or cheques written to "Lisgar Collegiate -- Reach."


Please email me (Brendan) at Please include the number of teams, number of buzzers, and names and emails of any volunteers you are bringing.

Announced: Lisgar Novice in Ottawa -- Oct. 17

Lisgar Collegiate in Ottawa.

 Re-posting Aidan's HSQB Announcement:

Mirror of SCOP Novice will be hosted in Ottawa at Lisgar Collegiate Institute (29 Lisgar St) on October 17th, 2015.

As this is a novice tournament targeted towards new, inexperienced players, there are entrance restrictions:
- Any grade 9 or 10 is allowed to play
- Any grade 11 player who is either entering their first year of quiz bowl OR has never attained a score of 20ppg or higher on a set of difficulty IS-A or higher is allowed to play.
- Any grade 12 player entering their first year of quiz bowl is allowed to play.

If a player does not meet any of these criteria, then they are NOT eligible to play.

The base fee will be $40/team.
-$8/missing player, so a 3-player team will only pay $32, a 2-player team will pay $24, 1 player $16.
Non-Ottawa Teams will have $30 as their base fee, with the same discounts.
Buzzer discounts TBD.

To register, please send an email specifying your school, the number of registering teams, and the number of players on each team (If you don't know player numbers for certain, that's fine we can work out fees day of).

Contact/Registration email:
Our note: This tournament will be played on a Canadian edition of the SCOP questions. ONQBA is working with the SCOP organization to add Canadian content to the question set.

How Do I Start At Quizbowl?

1. Look at some questions.

We recommend the 2014 LIST tournament as a good starter set. Test yourself on the questions in those Word docs, or just browse through to see what topics they ask about. Imagine high-school students competing to buzz in on those questions. That's what quizbowl is.

(If you want more questions, you can check out Ted Gan's packet index. That post is a great guide for new teams that want practice questions.)

If this quiz game looks fun to you, then your next job is to get a team.

2. Get a team.

Grab some students you know, or start a new club at your school. If your school has a trivia club, then try reading some practice rounds of quizbowl with them and see how they like it.

A quizbowl team in a tournament can be any number of people, but you'll usually want to have at least 4 or 5 people. What's more important is that you have a crew of people to practice with. A usual quizbowl practice is just to read questions and answer them, with or without buzzers. If the players are answering a lot, you should split them into teams and play off against each other. If the players are not answering much, we recommend a discussion-style practice -- ask the players about what they know, and look things up together on the questions they don't know.

3. Join our lists.

Short of checking our website regularly, the best way for new teams to discover tournaments nearby is to sign up for our mailing list. We will email you about quizbowl events and only quizbowl events.

Players might also want to join the Ontario Quizbowl Facebook group. That one will have tournament announcements and general chatter about quizbowl at both the high school and university levels.

4. Find another quizbowl school nearby.

It helps a lot to work with another school when you first start on quizbowl. You'll be able to visit their practices and see how they work, and you might want to set up scrimmages or coordinate travel plans.

In Ottawa, there are plenty of quizbowl schools, but in other cities they might be more difficult to find. The following high schools in Ontario played quizbowl in 2014-15:
  • Ottawa: Bell, Colonel By, Earl of March, Glebe, Lisgar, Longfields-Davidson, Merivale
  • St. Catherine's: Sir Winston Churchill
  • Toronto: East Scarborough
  • Hamilton: Westmount
  • Waterloo: Waterloo Collegiate

Most tournaments are hosted at universities. These Ontario universities all held quizbowl tournaments in 2014-15:
  • McMaster
  • Waterloo
  • Ottawa
  • Carleton

You can also check the "upcoming tournaments" listings on our website or on this tournament database.

If this doesn't find you much, then you can always look into other kind of quiz tournaments. We recommend History Bee and Bowl, but Reach for the Top is cool too.

5. Go to tournaments.

Even if you don't have a full club or team, you can go scorekeep at any quizbowl tournament, or you can play it short-handed if you're brave enough. People will be really glad to meet you.

Good luck! We love new schools, and we hope you love quizbowl as much as we do.

Is Quizbowl Like History Bee and Bowl?

Quizbowl is a lot like History Bowl! International History Bee and Bowl is a company that runs tournaments very similar to quizbowl. Most of their questions are written by quizbowl writers, and many teams play both their game and ours.

The ONQBA has great relations with the IHBB organizers, and we advertise their tournaments on our website and Facebook group.

A big difference between IHBB and quizbowl is the question topics. IHBB questions are mostly about history, while quizbowl questions are about many different subjects. In a round of quizbowl, you can expect to hear questions on history, science, literature, art, religion, current events, mythology, and some of the social sciences.

A smaller difference is that IHBB events are really two tournaments -- a Bowl and a Bee. In quizbowl, people play all day with their team, answering tossups and bonuses. In an IHBB event, people play most of the day with teams (History Bowl), but they break off and play some rounds as individuals (History Bee).

Another important difference is that quizbowl is generally a nonprofit activity, and quizbowl tournaments are community-run and are very affordable. ONQBA is staffed entirely by volunteers, and almost all our tournaments cost less than $100 per team. Profit from a quizbowl tournament always just goes to the school or club that hosted the tournament.

Is Quizbowl Like Reach for the Top?

Both quizbowl and Reach for the Top are played by high-school teams on buzzers, answering questions to score points. Lots of teams in Ontario play both games.

Quizbowl is more challenging and more competitive than Reach for the Top, and quizbowl encourages some deeper learning.

Reach is a faster game, and it includes things like one-clue questions and spelling questions, so it is often preferred by casual players and junior players. Quizbowl has more questions about topics like science and famous books, so it is often preferred by strong students and readers.

Quizbowl can be great training to excel at Reach for the Top, and lots of volunteers work on both kinds of tournaments.

In Ontario, quizbowl and Reach for the Top both ask many questions on Canadian topics. Historically, quizbowl has been played on American questions, but now, we always arrange to swap extra Canada questions into every round of quizbowl. Reach for the Top probably still has more Canadian content in total.

What Is Quizbowl?

This is quizbowl!

Quizbowl is a quiz game played on buzzers, designed to encourage learning about history, science, literature, and other academic subjects.

Quizbowl is played between two teams of four players each. Quizbowl is usually played by teams representing a high school or university.

Quizbowl is played at schools around the world. 11 Ontario high schools played in quizbowl tournaments in 2014-15, including the 15th-ranked quizbowl team worldwide and the national Reach for the Top champions. Many of the top winners on Jeopardy are former quizbowl players.

Quizbowl is great for students who are knowledgeable, competitive, and curious about the world. People often say that the best way to practice for quizbowl is to read more books. Teachers and visitors are always impressed by quizbowl players' knowledge. You learn a lot whenever you go to a quizbowl tournament.

Quizbowl is also distinct because it is community-run. Quizbowl tournaments tend to charge much lower entry fees than other trivia tournaments, and they are generally written and staffed by enthusiastic volunteers. Quizbowl tournaments in Ontario are always run by school quiz clubs, so the entry fees go to the host team. ONQBA and its directors work for free -- we do this out of pure enthusiasm.

If we're doing our job right, then quizbowl should also be friendly and accessible to all players. Some veteran players might score a lot of points, but all players will be welcomed and appreciated, and all players will be participating and enjoying the games.

Where Can I See Some Quizbowl Questions?

Ted Gan made this great guide to the quizbowl questions online. Start with the "Easy/Novice" high school questions on his site. Play them alone or with friends. If you can get a tossup before the last line, or if you can get two parts right on a bonus, then you should be very pleased with yourself -- you're already a strong quizbowl player.

Here is a quick example of twenty topics that might span a round of quizbowl:
  • types of clouds
  • New York City politicians
  • John Keats' poetry
  • Lester Pearson
  • The Office
  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • history of East Germany
  • famous city parks
  • the god Osiris
  • Euclid's principles of math
  • 1001 Arabian Nights
  • music for cello
  • history of the Philippines
  • B cells in the immune system
  • Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh
  • Plato's Republic
  • Victor Hugo's Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • the element Mercury
  • Saint Paul's conversion
  • the Battle of Marathon
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What is ONQBA?

ONQBA is the Ontario Quizbowl Association, a nonprofit group that promotes and organizes quizbowl tournaments at high schools in Ontario. We run the Ontario Provincial Championship every spring.

(Quizbowl is a buzzer quiz game that's designed to encourage learning about history, science, literature, and other academic subjects. It is usually played between two teams representing different schools.)

Officially, ONQBA is run by these people:
  • President Patrick Liao (UToronto)
  • Secretary Brendan McKendy (lives in Ottawa)
  • VP Tech Joe Su (McGill)
  • Social Media Outreach Coordinator Peter Cordeiro (McMaster)
  • South Ontario Rep. Aayush Rajasekaran (UToronto)
Functionally, ONQBA is Peter Cordeiro, Patrick Liao, and Brendan McKendy for 2015-16. We have a mandate to promote high-school quizbowl in Ontario and ensure that all quizbowl events are well-run. Joe Su, Meghan Torchia, and many other volunteers also do this work outside of our ONQBA bureaucracy.

Our board circa summer 2015.

All of our board members are former or current quizbowl players who have now taken leadership roles and started organizing quizbowl tournaments. The ONQBA was founded in 2011 and was run for several years by Ben Smith.

ONQBA's operations include:
  • running our provincial championship
  • staffing and directing quizbowl tournaments at high schools and universities
  • modifiying question sets for Canadian audiences
  • occasional financial aid for some school quizbowl teams' expenses
The ONQBA is in the process of incorporating and registering as a charity. This will not change our operations -- we have always been strictly non-profit, and we have always had the same priorities. 

The ONQBA is not a governing body. We don't make or enforce gameplay rules (rules vary slightly from event to event at the discretion of the host), we don't "own" the rights to any format (quizbowl events can always exist independent of us), and teams are always free to choose what ONQBA events they do or don't wish to participate in.

In 2015-16, quizbowl tournaments were played at these schools in Ontario:
  • McMaster University (Hamilton)
  • Lisgar Collegiate Institute (Ottawa)
  • University of Ottawa
  • Carleton University (Ottawa)
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Waterloo