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
We also recommend:

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