First Quarter update

This is seriously late, i realize… but better late than never.

Anyway, it’s been a frustrating begin to the season, having virtually nothing to do with how we’ve played or how we’ve prepared or any of the usual gripes.  So what’s the complaint?  The complete dearth of tournaments in a 200-mile radius from us this Fall.  It’s ludicrous.  The A Team has only gone to 2 competitions so far this year, and for only 1 of them was Alexa present.  So, it’s been quite a trying time, attempting to get the motivation up of the students who usually have many tournaments to look forward to.  Not this year, i guess.  And now the Charter Fall tournament will be moved back to January, perhaps now February… leaving those who did not travel to the Fall Novice and are not on the A Team with no forseeable competition for at least 2 months. 

This has been the most difficult year yet, probably for this single reason.  The change of UPenn from their traditional tournament in November to now sometime in the Winter is crucial… as is the option of not a single legitimate tournament within a 3-hour drive in the entire month of November.  This has never happened in the 4 or 5 years we’ve been regularly attending things.  It’s really a shame.

Now it’ll lead to a crazy busy Winter and Spring, when we’ll probably have to forgo tournaments because i just can’t attend them regularly on back-to-back weekends, or 3 out of 4 weekends of month or something.  So, in a year where i boldly predicted that we would have our best team ever, better than the 2009-2010 squad, it looks like a lack of tournaments may seriously derail our motivation, confidence, and performance.  I don’t even blame the kids for this; it’s only natural not to work as hard when you just don’t have the immediate reasons to do so (see: my entire collegiate research- and paper/writing career).

Anyway, i’ll get off my soapbox about this since there’s really no point.  Let’s start recapping the year.

Our first competition was at the University of Maryland, College Park.  We love going to UMCP because they always run efficient competitions, with awesome moderators (who are just generally helpful, and cool, and nice, and “good quizbowl” guys), and good questions.  We got to hear NAQT to start the year, and we aren’t normally fans of them, but it ended up being perhaps the best non-Nationals NAQT questions i have ever heard.  Kudos to Jeff and Chad and all the editors and people working for NAQT on a great set.  Anyway, Alexa couldn’t make this tournament because of a committment to cross country, and if you know anything about our team, you know that “we go as Alexa goes.”  I don’t like calling us a one-woman team, and i’m not sure if that’s wholly true, but it was true this day.  I billed this as something like a “tryout day” for people interested in a coveted spot on the  A Team, so Pratyusha would help me evaluate players that she wanted to join her.  We took Sam, Elorm, and Lexi, 3 upperclassmen who have proved their effort and motivation in the last year or so and clearly know things.  Lexi ended up, in fact, having the highest average PPG on the team, almost 20 (yes, it wasn’t the greatest day), so that – and for other reasons – led me to invite her to come back for another competition a couple weeks later.  We ended up just 2 and 8, but i wasn’t really that dissatisfied with the day; i knew it would be rough.  I think it inspired people to do more.

See the stats for UMCP’s fall tournament here:

Two weeks later we headed back west, this time to Virginia and Thomas Jefferson High School, another of our favorite places to play.  This time around we were going to hear a set that they wrote, which was one of my favorite housewritten sets i’ve heard in several years.  The difficulty was spot on, the bonuses were accessible, and the questions asked about important and relevant and gettable things.  It was just a really good set.  Alexa came this time around, so i expected better, and also joining us was Zach for his first quizbowl tournament ever.  Zach, as some of you recall, was the same Zach that destroyed the competition in the first annual CRHS AP U.S. History Quizbowl Tournament, held in my classroom during May of 2011 (see his disgusting stats here: So we felt good about this day, and while our bonus conversion was very good (almost 20ppb for the day, which is commendable) we were not aggressive on tossups and it cost us some games.  To be fair, we probably we beaten by teams better than us, but sometimes you have to take those as motivation to improve.  Alexa did quite well averaging about 60ppg for the day, but the others had a hard time getting much and together only averaged 20-30ppg for the day, combined.  We need better contributions from teammates, and that will come with more time and preparation and study.  For now, i was not really content with the 3 and 6 record, but if it leads to us improving, that’s all that matters.

See the TJ prelim stats here: and the playoffs stats here:

The only other competition we’ve graced our presence with this year was the Fall Novice Tournament, held at beautiful St. Anselm’s Abbey School in NE D.C.  We’d never been here before but i’d gladly return – once again, the tournament ran smoothly even with many new moderators and contributors.  Aidan did a great job, and i appreciate all the work you put into running this the best you could.  Since this was a novice field, i only took players who were in their first or second year on the team, so that meant Zach, Bryce, Julia, and freshman Rebekah would comprise the team.  I was particularly interested in the latter 3 of this group, as Bryce was initially counted on to be a contributing A Team member, but outsidde committments have thrown that into disarray; Julia is a quickly-improving junior who is realizing that getting good at quizbowl really is not that hard; and Rebekah is a freshman that i really think has a lot of potential, not the least of which is simply from her massive amount of reading true classical literature that i always love hearing.  So i figured this team would do well if they prepared; it was clear that i overestimated this and the day did not go all that well.  I’ll contend that it was a positive day regardless, but in general i think the kids weren’t happy with their performance and wished they had prepared better.  Whatever motivation works to improve, i’ll take it.  The 3 and 7 record is probably representative of how the team played, but there were practically no blowouts and they were within striking distance of victory near the end of almost every match.  That in itself is a positive thing. 

See the Fall Novice stats here:

So what now?  Well on December 3rd, we’re headed all the way down to Richmond for our annual (or semiannual sometimes) trip down that neck of the woods for a great tournament, GSAC at Maggie Walker High School.  This is always a hard competition, with a hard field and awesome teams, but a really really fun day of driving 400 miles, getting up at 4am, eating Chinese food at our favorite place, meeting and playing awesome kids and people, and just generally having a fun day full of quizbowl goodness.

Unfortunately, that’s all we’ve got on the schedule right now.  I’ll see what i can conjure up for January… but at the moment, just prepare as much as you can for GSAC and we’ll take it from there after break.

Have a great Thanksgiving, and i’ll see you soon.

Let’s begin!


It’s been a crazy summer (getting married will do that, in a good way of course) but we’re back to school and that means back to quizbowl!

We already had our opening meeting last Tuesday afternoon, on August 30th.  It was a pretty great turnout considering how many of you are in fall sports: probably about 15 or 16 showed up, and that doesn’t count a handful that i knew couldn’t come because of other commitments.  Excellent.

Alexa and Tyusha took care of the meeting for the most part, including making a pretty cool PowerPoint that they went through (after a few of my edits) that everyone seemed to enjoy.  We figured out our practice schedule for the year – we’re going back to the traditional Tuesday/Thursday set-up, which always used to work well, and starting this upcoming week right away.

It seems like we have a super positive atmosphere this year, even though we’ve got lofty goals.  A handful of us (i won’t divulge the names) believe we may have the most talented team in CR history here this year, and while i’ll withhold judgment at this time… it’s possible.  We’ve got a lot of hard work to do and i think we can make it happen.

The kids held at least 4 practices during the summer, none of which i attended but all of which i believe were productive and positive.  So that gives me a lot of hope that the first few weeks of practice won’t end up turning into what they’ve been in some previous years.

Our first scheduled competitions are already up on the new team page, and although it’s a thin list at the moment, at least it gives us something to look forward to.  That would be UMCP on September 24th, and TJ on October 8th.  It looks like the team on the 24th will be pretty shorthanded, but that’s okay since it’ll be an important day for those who are shooting for that coveted fourth A Team spot.  Then in October i think we’ll have our full lineup for the first time, ready to crack some skulls at TJ.  Or something.

There is also the Fall Novice Tournament coming up in October, on the 22nd at St. Anselm’s.  Not as early as i would have hoped, but that will be fun for anyone in their first or second year of playing.  I really really hope to take a full team to that.

Anyway, i updated the site here as you can see, fixing the team pages and archiving last year’s results (because i know you just love knowing how many games under .500 we were…), plus adding all the new members that i know of at the moment and sliding the graduates to the alumni list.

I also fixed a lot of the links on the “Quizbowl on the Web” list there, since a couple were outdated and i wanted to add some good ones.  Notable additions: the absolutely ridiculous Torrey Pines Quizbowl Database and the return of legitimate rankings and team records at the Excelsior Quizbowl Rankings (yes, there was already a tournament in Alabama last weekend, crazy!).

I’m going to try to update this site a little more than last year (wouldn’t take much, huh?).  Last year was insane with the new AP class, but since i’m not teaching it this year in our weird transition year in Social Studies, hopefully i’ll have a little more time for this.  Don’t expect massive write-ups like in years past, but surely i’ll have little recaps for each tournament from now on.

With that, i’m off.  Comment here if you wish, but most of you know how to contact me otherwise.  Have a great holiday weekend, and see you Tuesday afternoon!

Fourth (final) Quarter update

Well, that’s all folks!  I know i took a while to get to this post (wedding stuff, end of the school year, etc.), but here’s a short version of the usual results and commentary thingies.

We only went to two tournaments in the last couple months, and one of them was at Richard Montgomery in Maryland, probably one of our favorite places to go because of the cool kids, well-run games, and adherence to good quizbowl questions.  The latter comment was no exception for this day, as we played on the Yale housewrite for the first time in CR history.  Awesome awesome questions, some of the best we heard all year.  This was a small field of just 10 teams too, including a kickbutt house team, and we did pretty okay!  Corben and Alexa really improved and both played great.  Corben continued to get buzzes that the others just have no clue on and proved again why he should have been on the time, like, all year long.  We played a placement game at the end of the day against GDS and got smoked, but it’s pretty neat to have a chance for third in such a great tournament.  I’ll take fourth place for sure.

See the RM stats here:

The next tournament was one in which we did not play, but hosted!  Yep, the second annual (i hope!) CR Rider Bowl at our high school.  Everything went swimmingly, except that just 10 teams attended.  Well, it made for an easy schedule set-up, for sure.  We used HSAPQ questions again (the best!) and they did not disappoint.  Questions were very accessible without being too easy for anyone, but that didn’t stop St. Anselm’s from crushing the field, though GDS did play them twice competitively including in the final game.  The CR team from last year (plus me) then played St. Anselm’s in a silly exhibition game and we did our best, but Aidan and Jacob still pulled away.  Good times were had by all!

Here are the Rider Bowl stats:

Last but not least we went back to UMCP for their Spring Tournament on their usual hard questions.  They were tough – tougher than ACF Fall for sure but probably a tiny bit below last year’s Maryland Spring set.  That was good; the questions were once again awesome and challenging and made for some really fun games.  We made it to the highest consolation bracket and played really well, beating a couple teams we might have lost to in the beginning of the year.  It was a great way to end the season and lots of positive things happened!

See the UMCP stats here:

So now what?

Well, i got married the other day.  Yay.  So, that’s been taking up a lot of time.  We go to Bermuda on Wednesday, so i’ll be away for a while.

In the meantime, the kids are getting together to practice at Alexa’s (i think?) that same day, Wednesday, so i hope you can make it for our first summer practice!  They were a lot of fun last year.  They’re kinda a combination of laid-back but still productive.

I’m not sure if/how we’re going to handle writing questions this year.  I know Alexa and Tyusha would like to, but it may go on a case-by-case basis.  Ask me about this in a couple weeks.  Better yet, ask them.

Before i go, i wanted to thank Corben and Cameron for their dedication this year, and their improved ability as the season went on.  We’ll miss you guys and do our best to replace you.

I think we’re going to have an awesome team this year.  No one is really talking about us making any waves right now, and that’s probably justified, but that’s probably because so many of the best teams have never played against us and can see what Alexa and Tyusha can do.  We’ll have a lot of motivational things to do this year, but it starts with you, and with the addition of Bryce and whomever else we decide, we’re going to really surprise a lot of people this season.  I will work my hardest and do my best and i hope you all can do the same.

I’ll see you in a few weeks.  For now, so long!

Third Quarter update

Been a while since i’ve typed anything here, but i’ve been updating the “team” pages with records and results and such.

Anyway, here’s a quick recap of the last few months.

We traveled to New Jersey in January for the first time in a couple years, and the first time to update New Jersey really ever, to St. Joseph’s in Metuchen.  We played on the BATE set which was very well-written but pretty tough.  Probably at least the third hardest set we’ve seen this year (right around or just below the CC set from UPenn and clearly below GSAC).  But we held our own as it was right about this time of the year we were toying with our A Team.  This was Corben’s first tournament on A Team and he filled in really well.  We started to realize that we needed to fit him in somewhere just about every time, if we could.  I was happy we made the playoffs, but then we went 0-5 up there.  Oh well.  Learning experience.

See the prelim stats here: and the playoff stats here:

The next month found us even more shorthanded at TJ in Virginia, as Alexa and Tyusha couldn’t make it and neither could the fill-in from the week before, Jalisha.  So both Rachel’s and Corben and Cameron came with diminished expectations but i think ended up doing well anyway.  The set was just excellent (we love HSAPQ) and i’m happy to take any team to one of these sets.  It was a learning experience for a whole different reason: we really need Alexa but it shows that the others have to step up too in her absence and that she can’t just be the whole team.

See the stats from TJ here:

We had a 5 week lull after this, then two back to back tournament in Delaware.  First was the Delaware NAQT Championship where regular players dropped like flies.  We found out that Katie quit the team without really ever telling anyone.  Classy!  You’re the best, Katie!  Then about 8 other people couldn’t come because of a whole ton of terrible reasons.  Whatever, we managed 3 teams for this.  A Team beat every non-Charter team they played, and lost to every Charter team from C and above (god, we hate NAQT), B Team had a decent day with new star Bryce (welcome to the 2011-2012 A Team!), and C Team did their best but it wasn’t good enough for sure.  This tournament surely showed that we have a few very good players but not enough of them and considering how much effort some of us put into this, we should be better.  Next year, we will be.

See the NAQT State Championship standings here:

The week after this saw us back north to UD for the annual Blue Hen Invitational.  This is always a fun tournament but amazingly even LESS teams came this time than the week before, just 2 of them.  Ryan decided to quit the team for reason which still make no sense to me, so there goes another dedicated senior.  Cool.  And a bunch more people decided they had more important things to do too, so Bryce was stuck on a worse team this time and clearly didn’t enjoy himself as much.  A Team did pretty good though and managed to (yay!) beat one of those Charter teams this time.  I’ll call it a successful day then.  And yes, thank god we’re done with NAQT questions this year.  Two weeks in a row is really too much for everyone (except Bryce, apparently).

See those stats here:

We headed to RM after this in April, but i’ll include that in the Fourth Quarter update later on.

Also, what else is coming up?  Our tournament at CR!  We had to move it because of lack of interest/commitment for next week’s date, so it’s going to happen on May 14th now.  See the thread on the forums here about it:

After that, our last tournament of the year will be at UMaryland on May 21st.  It’ll be on a tough set, and since we’re not going to HSNCT or NSC this year, we’re calling this one “our nationals” and working our butts off (i hope!) to do as well as we can because it’s our last shot this year.

The amount of people going to tournaments and going to practices has drastically fallen in the last few months… thanks to the above quitters and also to people who decided to play Spring sports (a whole heck of a lot of you).  The rest, just keep doin what you’re doin and i’ll hope that it’s your best.  We’re getting better but it’s still not enough.  Not many more chances to prove ourselves this year so let’s make it happen.

If you’re one of those sparsely-attending people, well, have a nice Spring Break at the end of this month and good luck on AP Exams in May.

Second Quarter update

It’s been a long time since i’ve typed an update (being a teacher of an AP class for the first time this year has limited that, as have wedding plans and other things) so i figured it was about time.

Out first semester is ending, and therefore so has the second quarter of the quizbowl year too, so this seems like a good time to discuss what the season has brought in recent months.

CR has gone to few tournaments over the years with the field strength of UPenn’s QuAC, and it seemed about the same this year too.  There were a bunch of good teams there November 20th, and i’m pretty content with our 11th place finish i think.  The set we used was a mirror of a community college (i.e. college novice) set and i liked it, but it was a little hard at times.  Nevertheless, Alexa was her usual self in getting bunches of questions right here and there, and the rest filled in what gaps they could.  We didn’t exactly have any huge wins, but that East Brunswick team was pretty decent and we managed to beat them twice on the day.  It’s never good to lose to B teams though, even from good schools, so the losses to Kellenberg B and Charter B hurt a little bit.  I think by the end of the year we might be able to reverse scores like that, but, well, this is where we are now.

Stats for QuAC III are here:

A couple weeks later we drove down to Richmond for the always-challenging GSAC set at Maggie Walker.  It seemed harder to me than even in previous years, but well whatever, with Tommy Casalaspi largely at the reigns, high school quizbowl is going to have bonus categories about Senegalese authors very soon.  We had a great early morning but then played some tough teams around and after lunchtime.  They pretty much all ended up in losses, including a real tough one to New Kent who is about our equal at this point.  They just came out on top.  Anyway it put us into a consolation bracket where i knew we were the best team, and that’s pretty much what happened: we beat all those teams and didn’t have much of a close game at the end of the day.  It was cool to get that record over .500 for the day.  And always amazing to eat our favorite Chinese food in our little miracle restaurant just off Rte. 1 north of Fredericksburg.  Truly makes the trip worth it.

See the stats for the tough GSAC tournament here:

And then of course there was the Delaware Fall Open at Charter HS in Wilmington on NAQT sets.  Fill up the buss, kiddos, you’re all invited!  Lots of people came so we managed to have 5 teams… sort of.  People dropped out that should have come, people just decided to wake up late and not come at all, and we ended up with several shorthanded teams.  We combined our E Team with one extra player from Robinson HS and that turned out pretty sweet since he rocked and got the team all the way to the top consolation bracket of the JV side.  Thanks Alex!  The D Team didn’t do that great but they are still learning so i’m okay with it… i wish you’d put in a little more individual effort though.  On the varsity bracket side, our C Team was also shorthanded and had an interesting day.  A Team just got crushed by bad luck all day, losing tough games to go 3-2 in the preliminaries but barely make the playoffs, only to get swamped and lose all 5 games in the afternoon.  The B Team, filled mostly with players that i wish were better (!) managed a crazy 4-1 record in an insanely easy bracket in the morning, then somehow picked up another win in the playoffs.  It’s the first time, i think, in CR history that the B Team has not only had a better record than the A Team, but had 2 more wins in fact.  Weird day.  To finalize: we really don’t like NAQT questions and just will never be good on them.

See the JV stats here:

And Varsity stats here:

Winter Break happened and relaxation was had by all, and practices have been generally okay-attended recently but i certainly would want more.  We’re in the middle of semester exams at the moment (thanks, snow) and those will finally be over on January 18th.

The A Team has played exactly 50 games this year and has just 22 wins… granted, 9 of those games were without Alexa at all back in September, and we’ve squeaked our way into a couple tough playoff brackets… but it’s not good enough from what i think we can do and can be at this point.  Most of us have to put in more effort, and i know you can, and i hope you will.

Kids have been writing tossups this year and it’s going okay… a handful of you wrote more than 10, and another handful has 5 or so… i’d like it if more people did it and if they would get done a little faster, but, alas.  I can only push so hard.  The ones that have done them, after some editing, have actually written some nice questions.  You should be proud of what you’ve done so far, i just want you to keep it up.

We  have a weird couple months coming up, mostly because i have no idea what’s going to happen in them.

On January 29th, we will likely go to St. Joseph’s in NJ… if people write their questions.  Both Ryan and Tyusha can’t go (this will be a theme here) so i’m trying to get Jalisha and Corben to do this work.  I think they will.  I’m about 90% sure we’re going.

Then in February, i’d like us to go to TJ to play on HSAPQ set 16, but, well, now three-quarters of the A Team can’t go, including Alexa!  Only Cameron has no alternate plans.  So what will happen this day?  I don’t know.

March should have ample time for quizbowl tournaments (St. Anselm’s on the 12th, Blair on the 19th, UD sometime?!) but i’ve committed to nothing because once again, people said they can’t come on certain dates.  As always, things are up in the air.  This is the state of a team with lots of people that have other more pressing commitments, most of which are understandable but some of which sure make me feel like quizbowl is just a “thing to do” for a lot of you.  I’m hoping it turns into a little more motivation for a lot of you soon!

Anyway, it could be a very active or a very sparse next couple months, so check out the A Team page at the top of the site to see just what we actually go to!

First Quarter update

So we’ve made it through the first couple months of the season, and here’s an update on what’s been happening.

CR traveled to the University of Maryland to compete in the Maryland Fall Tournament on September 25th, without the assistance of our best player and captain, Alexa.  Regardless, Ryan, Cameron, Tyusha, and Jalisha came to play their best.  It was an interesting day, as we managed to go winless against a lot of good teams but a few only so-so teams as well.  Zero wins and nine losses was the final tally for the day.

You can see the not-so-pretty stats for it here:

We took about a month off after that (lots of busy weekends keeping quizbowl on the backburner for a while) but competed just last Saturday at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, MD.  This time we had the  “real” A Team (as far as i know) and things went much better.  We missed out on the playoffs by literally 10 points, but had more fun in the consolation rounds apparently anyway, finishing up with a 6 and 3 record (excluding a bye but including a forfeit by a team that decided to leave early without telling anyone; stay classy Calvert Hall).  Some of the scores we were putting up were pretty awesome: 460, 465, 370, 465.  Nice!  I told you that while we will lose by a TON to great teams (see DCC A), we really can crush bad and mediocre teams because we’re going to bury them on bonus conversion.  Our points-per-bonus, in fact, was way way up from last time and actually ended up being far and away the highest of any consolation bracket team!  That rocks.  Alexa was also pretty great, ending up with more than 80 points per game, about 4 times more than she’s averaged in a tournament before.  She finished like 6th overall in scoring, if you throw out some of the outliers in the individual scores.  Great job!

Check out the much more happy-looking statistics for this tournament here:

So i’ve been pretty content with how we’ve done so far.  It’s not the greatest being a one-man (ahem, one-WOMAN) team – how many of those are there in the country anyway? on one hand it’s kinda cool – but i do see the rest of you guys improving and trying your best (mostly) so i don’t have a lot of complaints.  Alexa needs all the help she can get though so we really have to nail down the categories she’s only so-so in (history, mythology) and the categories she doesn’t even bother trying to understand (SCIENCE).  Honestly, you can forget the rest because she’s locking them down.  I feel like we have the best composition of a team at this point to be successful, it’s just up to all of you to really keep up with the studying and preparation.

Practices have been kinda well-attended but occasionally we have the ones were only like 4 people come… or only 4 people come for the first hour then like 8 more show up, but then leave at 5pm.  I’m not sure how good you think you’re going to get by coming to practice for less than 2 hours per week and basically never studying outside of it (c’mon, i know like more than 50% of you haven’t looked at a packet all year).

We’ve also been writing tossup questions from a big list i created in June.  It’s going okay, but has really tailed off the last month or so.  At this point, A Teamers should have written 9 or 10 of them, and anyone considering being on B Team (that’s, like, pretty much any of you) need to write 5 by the 20th of November.  Why then?  Because that’s when we’re headed to UPenn for their annual Quaker Academic Competition (QuAC) and i want to bring a second team.

So please get on that, writing tossups that is.  They need to be sent to me and approved (i WILL make you edit them better) because you can count your 5 that are required.  I’m serious when i say that i will not bring a second team if i don’t have 4 people that have done this.  As of right now, i believe only one of you is on the list for going, having accomplished this task already.

Anybody not on those teams, you have the Wilmington Charter competition to look forward to… it’ll be on December 18th.  Everybody and anybody can come to this, so i’m looking for anything between 4 and 6 teams.  Let’s fill up that  bus!

Alright, so get to work!  I hope you come to practice a little more often and realize how much fun it is to get good at this!

Site update, upcoming competitions

Hey y’all.

Check out the “A Team” page to see the probable (but not definite) competitions that i know i can take 4 kids to so far this Fall and early Winter.

Let me know what your schedules are like and which days you can make.  I always need to make sure i have the best 4 teammates for each competition.

It does appear, by the way, that there will be a Delaware/local competition that i can take 4-5 teams to sometime in December.  I don’t have any official word on that though, so it’s not going on the schedule yet.

Our first tournament is in just 11 days at UMCP, so i hope you’re getting ready, studying, and excited!  Alexa won’t be able to make it but i know i’ll have a good team anyway that can pull off some wins.

See you at practice this week.

Ready to start the year!

The summer is pretty much over, as school starts for new students to CR on Wednesday and for all students on Thursday!

We’ll look to have our first meeting/practice late in August in the second week of school, but this is tentative.

We had four summer practices and they were very successful and fun.  I think everybody learned a lot and benefited quite a bit from some practice during the lazy hazy days of summer.

I hope you’ve been working on more of your tossups, many of you have such great ones submitted so far!  Start studying a little bit and i’ll be seeing you in a week or two!

What’s been goin on?

Hey everybody.  Happy summer!

It’s been a busy one for CR Quizbowl members so far.  Here’s what’s been happening so far this June.

We had our first summer practice of the year back last Wednesday at my place.  It was pretty nice, and a half dozen kids attended.  I’m good with that number, but there are a couple more i would like to see next time.  We read through a couple packets, ate snacks, watched an epic tennis match, and had a good time.

We also chose topics that we wanted to write tossup questions about.  I made a huge list of answers from every category and told people to pick like a half dozen from there and write questions on them.  I’ve gotten a few back so far and they look good!  Especially for people doing this for the first time ever, they’re really quite decent.  Keep at it!

We’ll have another practice in a couple weeks (keep like the 5th-14th open in July? i dunno) but in the meantime, keep working on your questions and sending them to me as soon as you finish any of them so i can give you feedback and help.  It’s been a busy process but a really helpful one.  Just watch when you start to reap the benefits from this soon.

See you guys next month.

NAQT High School National Championship Tournament (Chicago) results and commentary

Well, the ride is finally over.  So long to Trey, Seth, Ryan, and all the other seniors that often, occasionally, or rarely showed up to practice over the years.  It was a fun journey.

The real stats finally got posted, and i was waiting for them, so here you go:

Wins over: Lebanon A, St. Joseph’s A, Russell A, Kellenberg B, Plymouth A, George Mason A, Eden Prairie B

Losses to: LASA B, Walnut Hills A, Quince Orchard A, Charter B, Rockford Auburn A

That puts our record at Nationals at 7-5, and a pretty awesome 91 wins and 44 losses for a .674 win percentage for the season, easily the highest we’ve ever had.

We’re the only team from Delaware not named Charter to ever get to the playoffs in a national tournament… and the only team from Delaware not named Charter to ever win a playoff game.  Now that’s pretty darn cool.


The drive up to Philly was uneventful mostly, we seem like old pros now having done this all before (except Alexa).  We get there earlier than last year so we have a little more time to relax, eat, buy copies of The Economist, and just get ready to go.  Spirits are up as we head on the plane and take our seats.  I get a window seat which is nice, and sit next to Trey so we can talk about t he architecture book he got and random other things.  The other three plug in their headphones and basically do their thing across the aisle.

The plane ride was incredibly fast and the weather is great, so it’s very nice as we walk outside and find where our shuttle is for the hotel.  We quickly get on and we’re there.  The hotel is  still pretty awesome, with one added bonus: Shibaricon.  Fun.  But to be honest, the hotel did a decent job quarantining that off from quizbowlers so there really aren’t any problems.  We surely saw some weirdly-dressed people in the next few days though.

We decide that we don’t want to eat at the hotel, so we take a long walk to a pizza place in Rosemont where the other kids have their first taste of deep dish pizza.  It’s been a while since i’ve had it so it’s a nice treat.  They all love it, but it sure is pretty filling.  A good dinner though for sure,  and we walk back to the hotel for scrimmages.

We play pretty bad against a team named Russell from Kentucky (they end up being the “small schools” runner-up) and lose in the first game, like 320-280 on questions from 1999.  They were horrible.  Notable tossups include “grapefruit,” among others.  Chris Chiego (the liveblog guy i told you about before) watches our match and blogs along with it, making as much fun of the questions as anything, but it’s embarrassing to lose this game.  We then lose to Kellenberg on a packet they recently heard (i.e., this literally happened: “tossup: This football player, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1952” BUZZ “Van Buren” “15?!”) and it’s a stupid pointless game.  We play a few more but aren’t having a great time hearing these stupid questions so we go back to the room and practice on our own to prepare for tomorrow.  We really think we can do well.


So the day is here and we’re up early (some of us anyway) and eat something before the big meeting in the Convention Center, which is a long walk but worth it since it’s very nice in there.  Very crowded but it’s a nice area, and we’re ready to go.

Our first game is against Lebanon, a team from New Hampshire.  I must have gotten them mixed up with somebody else since i thought they would be a good team, but they really weren’t.  We, however, play terribly (a common early theme) and win just 170-115.

Game 2 is against LASA B.  Now normally B teams are nothing to be scared of (for us this year at least) but this school has arguably the best B team in the entire country.  We can beat them, i think.  No, we definitely can’t.  They blitz us on tossups and we pick up a few on their aggressive negs, but lose big 315-100.  Ouch, but okay, that was a great team.  Now we get matched up against a 1-1 school.

That turns out to be our friends St. Joseph’s from New Jersey, with the ever-endearing Coach Ed Powers.  “Crap,” we think, this is an unfair pairing!  We’re too good for one of us to get a second loss already.  But the game happens and St. Joe’s really has a bad bad game and we play pretty well, winning 235-150 (it really wasn’t that close, our negs came at the end).  So we’re feeling up again.

Game 4 happens and it’s against a team that beat us last year, Walnut Hills.  We can do it this time.  No, we can’t.  I really think they are better (Trey disagrees) and they beat us in a game that wasn’t all that close, 320-180.  We’re not feeling that great as we go to lunch, but we’ve won the games we were “supposed” to win.

Trey also is in the middle of doing something he hasn’t been doing much recently, negging a ton on questions.  In four  matches, he’s totalled up 14 of them.  That’s bad.  Some were aggressive mistakes, others were just pretty dumb.  So we have to work on cutting back on that.

After lunchtime it’s game 5 against Russell… the team we were embarrassed to lose to in a scrimmage the night before.  This time the game is ours, 255-160, and it remained close for a while but we pulled away in the end with back to back 15’s and two more tossups  in a row.  Good game.

And our next game is against our friends/nemeses Quince Orchard.  This is a team that came out of nowhere this year to be great, and they play us well but we had never lost to them.  In fact we beat them by about 400 points just last weekend.  Well this game is not the same as we were ahead 235-100 after tossup 14… and proceed to lose 280-260 after tossup 22.  It’s probably the most crushing loss we’ve faced all year.  We weren’t supposed to lose that game.  We sat on a bunch of questions and, well… it happened.  We’re feeling pretty crappy now at 3-3, knowing we can only take one more loss or we don’t qualify for the playoffs.

We match up in game 7 against Kellenberg B, a team i’m surprised to see at 3-3 so i warn the guys that they could be really good.  They weren’t.  After we beat them by our biggest margin of the day 295-70, they actually lose their next 3 games.  But with Trey getting 110 points, i’m thinking it’ll be a nice morale booster.

And then comes maybe the second most crushing loss (arguably our worst loss) of the year to Charter B.  Now, we’ve beaten Charter A this year (and came close other times) so this should be cake.  It’s not.  We play terribly, the questions stink, no one gets any tossups but Trey, and Charter doesn’t neg once (the only time they did this the entire tournament).  We lose by the awful score of 215-140 and we’re thinking it’s all over.

We get matched up against Plymouth in game 9 in an important game: whoever loses is out of the playoffs, whoever wins still needs one more.  They’re actually quite a good team who never negs, but our aggression takes over and we play one of our best games after Ryan powers the first question.  Even though we only had 100 points at the half, we end up winning 295-210 in a fast paced high-scoring second half.  Okay, so here we go, we can do this.

Our final game is once again against a team we know, George Mason from Virginia.  Their team surprised us in October at a tournament at Thomas Jefferson HS by almost beating us and crushing a lot of the non-playoff teams then, so i tell them that we can do it but we have to be aggressive.  We come out on fire, with 30s on 3 of the first 5 bonus series we get, and it’s already 180-50 after 7 tossups.  But it’s not over as they pull back a little and close it to 235-165 with another 5 minutes to go.  But we pull away in the end for a final of 310-185, with a ppb of 21 (our best of the entire tournament), and we’re in the playoffs for the first time ever!!!

This is an incredible achievement and something that didn’t look likely a few games ago, but we did it and i think i’m about as proud as i’ve ever been for the team.  This certainly ranks up there with Blue Hen and any other tournament we earned accolades at this year.

We retire to our rooms, but not for long as i have a History side-tournament to moderate.  It is a lot of fun and i meet some nice (and some annoying) people, and i get to read the tossups i wrote for it, but it’s a long long night and i’m not back in the room until midnight.  I’m tired.  It’s time to get sleep and get ready for the playoffs tomorrow!


So here we are, in the playoffs for the first time ever.  I’m up early (earlier actually) and ready to go.  The rest are too.

We see the brackets and our first match is against Eden Prairie B.  This was the team we beat by 5 points last year in our first game, and then split two scrimmages on Sunday the next day.  Apparently they’ve improved, but i think we’ve improved more.  The coach (or maybe just some parent) asks me before the match who we are again, and then remembers how we played close 3 times last year.  “We seem to be really evenly matched,” she says.  “Yeah i know, should be a good game.  Good luck.”  But inside, i disagree.

Guy Tabachnick is reading and Ian Eppler is scorekeeping, and it’s by far the best duo we see the whole tournament.  We breeze through 26 tossups with more than a minute to go.  Now THAT’S how you’re supposed to moderate.  Anyway, we don’t start out that great but we have good luck on bonuses, averaging 20 on the first 3 of them to pull ahead 95-35 after 9 tossups, and by halftime and a ridiculous 15 tossups, we’re up 155-55.  It’s kinda over already, but we actually pull ahead even more in the second half as Trey, Ryan, and Seth all get tossups, and then after TU26, the final is 295-135.  Not a perfectly played game, but we were just over 14ppb so i’m okay with that.  No zeroes, which i’m very happy about, but a few too many tens.  Anyway, we shake hands, now knowing we face the loser of the Hume-Fogg / Rockford Auburn game.  Two very good teams.

Turns out it is Auburn.  This is what many consider the best team in Illinois, or at least up there with Adlai Stevenson.  I tell them that we can do it but we have to play our very best.  We’ve played better for the last 3 games in a row and i know we can continue.

The Auburn kids are very cool.  I say hi to Lloyd who i remember from last year’s NSC, and i try to say hi to Zahed but he seems upset at their loss to Hume-Fogg and doesn’t say anything to me.  Looks like they’re out for blood.

And as the game starts, it looks like a mismatch, since after just 5 tossups it’s already 110-20 after Auburn 30’s a bonus.  Man.  Well it’s not over, we just have to outbuzz them a few times.  Turns out, we don’t have to.  After tossup 5, Auburn proceeds to neg half of the next 8 questions, and we pick up every single one of them.  In the meantime, Trey powers a tossup, halftime comes with us down 120-115, and then we storm ahead with 4 straight tossups after the half.  After tossup 14, we have a ridiculous 225-110 lead.  This would probably be one of the biggest upsets of the tournament if we keep it up.

A few questions later, after tossup 17, they’ve closed the gap to 225-170.  There are about 2-3 minutes remaining.  The moderator has sped up, which is usually fine, but for the first time in our history, gamesmanship starts coming into play.  Auburn calls a timeout.  I go up to the kids and say “okay, it’s time to slllloooooww down” since what we have to do is start milking the clock in full.  I tell them if they get a tossup right, take all 5 seconds on every bonus question.  I hate doing this, but it’s part of the game in weird NAQT timed matches, so we do it.

Auburn negs tossup 18 (their fifth neg of the game) and we pick it up, and we take all 5 seconds on each bonus question but get no points.  This proves to be a disastrous mistake.  One of the answers was very easy but it appears the kids didn’t hear “North America”  in the clue and guess a mountain range in Asia instead.  I don’t know if i heard it either.  We’re up 235-165 with just a minute or two to go and i can feel how excited Ryan and Trey are.  They know what’s happening.  Auburn gets TU19 and 10 more bonus points… 235-185.  Looks like we’ll get to one or two more tossups.  Next one, ridiculous 15 to Auburn on a trash lit clue, and they manage 20 on the bonus.  With 15 seconds left, we’re going to TU21, the final one of the game it appears.  It’s math theory.  Auburn buzzes… and the answer of “inverse” is accepted.  They are down 5 points with all 3 bonus questions coming their way, off the clock.  If they get just one, it’s over.  And they do exactly that… just 10 points on the bonus, cementing their win 240-235.  For the second time in two days, we are the victims of a great comeback… they got 5 of the last 7 tossups to come back from 115 down and win by just 5.

It’s a crushing loss.  Our tournament is over.  I work a little on statistics in my chair as the kids just sit there in disbelief.  Auburn shakes hands but everyone but Lloyd looks angry.  “We can’t keep sucking like this,” Zahed says.  Lloyd tells me “great game, Mr. Chrzanowski,” with excellent pronunciation, and shakes my hand.  I like this kid.  I tell him “clutch buzz on ‘axe,’ man, great job,”  congratulating him on the lit question he got on TU20.

As i stand up, Trey hasn’t moved from his seat yet.  He just has his head in his hands, knowing his high school quizbowl career is effectively over.  And it’s because we let another team come back on us that probably should not have won this game.  He manages to get up, and we all file out, pretty distraught, but i try to remain happy and proud because i mostly am.  We see a few teams we know, Maggie Walker in particular, and tell them we just lost to Auburn by 5.  I think they know we played well but they seem disappointed we didn’t win.  A lot of schools don’t really like us a lot (probably my fault), but a bunch of them really do, and i think we would have turned a lot of heads (and justified our “ranking”) with this win.  It didn’t happen, as you now know.

We kinda don’t know what to do at this point.  We go back up to the room, Trey’s pretty upset, the others are like “meh,” and i’m trying to be optimistic.  Ryan starts going through the liveblog to see the other results, and lets people know we lost by 5 points.  Trey basically stays in bed for like the next 2 hours as we plod around, watch a movie, pack up, and figure out what we want to do.

We check out and take our stuff downstairs, feeling in much better moods at this point, and decide to walk to lunch again at the great pizza place.  This time almost none of us get pizza except for Ryan, and we goof around and i think we’re generally over what happened.  Everybody looks and sounds happy.

Ryan can’t finish his pizza so we take like 4 slices of it back to the hotel, and when we go back to the convention center, it’s almost at the finals already so he finds some kids who want free food and makes them very happy.  We watch the final, and it’s a pretty good game… Maggie Walker beats State College by just 25 points.  Yay Maggie Walker!

We say bye to everybody after Trey gets a little trophy for being a high scorer (27th? i think) and we watch the rest of the awards, and cram our way onto the second shuttle back to O’Hare.  We really do seem to be in good moods at this point and i think we’re all just happy that we got to take this trip together and had success here.  Ryan and Seth sit behind us on the plane and i’m next to Alexa… for a while it’s quiet, and as i’m reminiscing about the year i’m a little sad that it’s over.  After a bit, Alexa and i get to talking about next year and it’s a positive conversation.  We have a lot of things to figure out, but she tells me how it will be a priority and i tell her how i know she can set good examples for the other players, who need lots of help.  She asks to see a packet from the competition and we skim through it together.  I’m looking forward to having her as a captain for the next two years.  She’s going to be a really great leader and i think if we work very very hard, we could be as good as this year’s team by 2012.  But we really do have to work hard at it… bigtime.

The flight is otherwise uneventful and getting off the plane is fine… we get our bags after waiting for a while and we’re on the shuttle back to the car.  For some reason the discussion in the car ends up being about movies and actors, and even though i don’t know know much about them, i appear to contribute.  Seth is asleep.  Alexa looks tired.  It’s been a long weekend.

I’m very proud of the team.  It’s been a lot of fun this year.  You put a lot of work into this and i’m content with where we ended up.  At the beginning of this year, few people expected us to be as good as we were, considering the types of teams we have to play at our tournaments.

And the season is over, and it’s kinda hard to believe.

Best Things About the Weekend

~hey, pretty much everything i said above

~Trey’s last matches were awesome… he got better with every game and solidified his legacy (deep word, i know) as undoubtedly the greatest quizbowl player in CR history… i’ll miss you, captain

~Seth did the best on NAQT science he has ever done… your studying was so important and i’m proud of the effort and work you put into this… i don’t see anyone in the near future with the depth and breadth of your science knowledge

~Ryan played far better than he did last year on these questions and once again reminded everyone why he was such an important member of the team… for someone with so many other commitments yearlong with sports, you played great

~Alexa was the key of course, as her buzzes on such random things dug us out of a few holes… you guys are going to be shocked at how good she’s going to get next year without you all around… i’m looking forward to seeing what kind of a leader you’ll become, and i hope we can continue to have as much fun doing it as this year

~it was great to get to watch you play all this time and to be taking stats, i hope you enjoyed having me be there during some of those great games too

~seeing so many of our friends and competitors for the last time for some of us was bittersweet, but mostly sweet… we definitely made a lot of great connections this year as we built up respect for our school

Worst Things About the Weekend

~it’s tough to have comeback losses like that, but we played our best and i can’t complain

~we never did get used to the NAQTness of these questions, though i think we did as well as we could considering all

~hard lit is still hard

~dumb science is still dumb

~the last time that the five of us will be competing together… i’ve got a lot of memories that i’m sure will never fade away, but it’s still sad knowing that we won’t have these experiences again… i hope the three of you continue to play at UD, they really need good players next year, and at the least i hope to see you when you host a tournament at some point

Apparently we’re still having practice.  We’ve already had it twice this week, and let me tell you, it certainly is a new era for CR quizbowl.  I’m going to have to get used to this sort of thing.  At some point next week i want us to have a meeting where we outline our goals for the summer and for next year.  I want us to be a cohesive unit and know what we want to do together.  I also want to make sure we’re on board for summer practices.  I certainly would like to have them.  At most once a week, at least a couple times a month.  I’m sure you remember how much stuff you forgot over last year so it’s important to continue to work during the summer.  Another thing i want us to talk about is what sort of preparation we’re going to do… a lot of you need to work harder, you have not worked hard enough and i know you can do better.  We need to think about writing questions, not just showing up to practice and halfway paying attention.  Maybe i wasn’t counting on you much before because there was always that core group up top… but now you’re all i have.  Don’t let me down.

That’ll do it for the blog for this year.  I may post random things in the summer as i do a little more work and get back to updating the power lists again.  You need to do some work on your own too.  Let me know if you need any help.  You know where to find me.

To Trey, Ryan, Seth, and everyone else that actually read this whole thing, thanks for everything.  I’ll see you again.