championship, lisgar, provincials, recap, utoronto

Highlights from 2016 Provincials

A famous person.

Here’s what I saw at quizbowl Provincials last week.

Lit Is Impossible

Teams did worse on lit than every other category. The low point was the two tossups on the same difficult British novelist. The best it got was with the one Canadian Lit question — Patrick’s common-link question on snow, which someone buzzed on a Robertson Davies snowball clue. I heard players predicting several Margaret Atwood questions, but those never arrived.

Every author question went to the end, so at one point, I went crazy and paused a game to endorse a Russian author I like. I hope people in next year’s tournaments can buzz on my favourite author, even if they can’t buzz on most authors.

(After the match, a player asked if I was an English teacher. I told him I was a bookkeeper. He said I was basically an English teacher, so he might not have known what “bookkeeper” meant. Bookkeepers can like literature sometimes!)

Jacky Li

Jacky from East Scarborough is somewhat well-known in Ontario for being obsessed with quizbowl. After last weekend, he clearly has every right to be obsessed with quizbowl. He powered a lot of history and current / general questions, leading the field in scoring. He also led his team to a very close loss against Lisgar — that match went down to the final tossup, but Lisgar still won on an American lit buzz.

Jacky was also visibly invested in the games, celebrating or groaning depending how the questions broke. His aggressive play also won him the prize for most wrong answers, which was a plaque celebrating the 2004 Toronto Maple Leafs. Jacky said he couldn’t take the plaque on TTC, so I got to keep the plaque and bring it back to Ottawa. I promise I will take good care of it.

A memento of the Kaberle / Belak era.


Merivale beat Lisgar! They are the only Canadian team to win a match against Lisgar A this year. The Merivale core are quizbowl enthusiasts, and they’re all really good players by now. It was nice to see them beat Lisgar after having to grind tough matches against Lisgar all year in Ottawa tournaments.

Thilini 30’ed a bunch of lit bonuses, in a field where most teams sucked at lit. Joe claimed that Swagat always beat the Lisgar players at science. Ivan and Nathan were also buzzing early.

Merivale also revealed that they’d travelled to the event without parents, staying at a bed-and-breakfast that didn’t check their ages. I hope for them that their parents were in on this plan, and I hope for myself that ONQBA could never be considered their legal guardians.

The best part of the tournament happened in a Merivale-Bayview match. Thilini got a tossup where the answer was something dirty, and then her teammates tried to high-five her but she refused. She complained that the question was too gross to celebrate.

A complaint

This man is not a bus!

Merivale knowingly travelled alone to the tournament and planned their trip. But another team travelled to the tournament in two cars, and then they were informed in the morning that they had only one car back.

This is, literally, a case where a coach drove minors to Toronto and then just abandoned them there. No one should ever do this. It would have been better to cancel the team that morning.
Aaron DR was the only staffer with a car, so he had to drive the players home himself. This cost him for gas, wear and tear on the car, and 2-3 hours of a trip out of town that he was forced into making. Without Aaron, I don’t know if the players had the money or knowledge to coordinate their own (unsupervised) trip home.
Population of Heaven

I mistakenly told teams that Protestants think 144,000 people will go to heaven. I looked this up and I’m wrong — the 144,000 quota is what Jehovah’s Witnesses believe. (The number 144,000 is mentioned in Revelation — 12,000 people descending from each of the 12 tribes of Israel.) Early Protestants believed that you were predestined into heaven or hell at birth, but they did not believe in a fixed population of heaven.

Exhibition Game

The low bracket was scheduled for a full 14 rounds, but players were tired late in the day and the Waterloo team dropped early. For a game between the two Westmount teams, half the players just took a break outside, and the other half tried to mount an exhibition game in my room. Before it fell apart, the game consisted mostly of Emaan answering history questions — I was impressed when he knew who William Van Horne was.

By the end of the “round,” Peter had joined the game as his own team, and we’d only got through about eight tossups and no bonuses.

Canada Questions

The great Patrick directed the tournament and made the Canadian edition of the question sets. He used some of my writing for this.

I wrote a history tossup on Gordie Howe for the tournament, claiming that he’d crossed over from pop culture into “cultural history.” Patrick did not fall for this against — he turned it into a “name three Howes” bonus, asking for Gordie Howe and two historical politicians. I would have liked to see him ask for Gordie Howe, Mark Howe, and Marty Howe.

Teams whiffed on Patrick’s long hockey bonus. One part of the bonus celebrated the great Ottawa Senators for their ability to score short-handed goals. Another part ended with the phrase “name all three teams.” On another hockey question, one team guessed “Steven Crosby.”

Patrick wrote a tossup on Alberta with clues about Eddie the Eagle — a British ski jumper who got mock-famous for how much he sucked at the Calgary Olympics. As it happened, there were posters and TV commercials around Canada for an Eddie the Eagle movie last week, so players all recognized him but couldn’t buzz with a province. Lisgar buzzed on the next clue about Moraine Lake, before we got to the clues about the Jamaican bobsled team.
Someone got my George Brown tossup really early. The South-Ontario players were strong on Patrick’s question about museums in Ottawa.

Lisgar Wins

Lisgar won the tournament.

Lisgar showed up as heavy favourites (going by some past results and their spot in the HSQB rankings). They lost one match all day, and their 21.92 PPB was a full 3.53 ahead of the field. (This is, Lisgar converted 73% of their bonus parts, and the next-highest team got only 61%.) Lisgar has now come 4th in Ithaca and won all their other tournaments this year.

A Lisgar team has now won Provincials in 5 of the 7 years it’s been held. We’re grateful that two Lisgar coaches were able to bring a strong team this weekend, but they have ruined the what-if scenario!– who would have won Provincials if Lisgar couldn’t attend? Bayview had 50 powers and had a strong B team. East Scarborough might have had the strongest player in the field. Merivale swept the top-bracket playoffs. White Oaks played without their top player and still managed a winning record.

Some players smiling in gratitude to their chaperones.
Heroic Staff
– Patrick ran the tournament, which means he did hours of prep to book the venue and prizes, coordinate the teams and staff, and fix up the question set. He also did all the announcements and made sweet nametags for the readers and scorekeepers.
– Rick, Anthony, Jay, Britney, Peter, Isaac, and Nick all staffed the tournament and did a great job. (I think they got through more questions than I did most rounds.)
– Aaron staffed the tournament and also hosted Patrick and me for the weekend. He is a great friend, even though he made me watch Fear Factor.
– Joe made the schedules, printed the questions, and did a lot of control room work. Joe’s family also drove Patrick and me to Toronto last weekend.
– A number of coaches and parents drove and chaperoned the teams and even watched all the games.

This gets me through any door anywhere.

Other Highlights
– Chinese players missed some points because I tried too hard to pronounce the Chinese names in the questions.
– Teams correctly answered all bonus parts that asked for equations or formulas. Those are awkward to read and awkward to answer, but they’re math and science questions that map well to classroom learning. I was glad to see that the players were good at those.

– Two strong teams missed a tossup on a very famous concept from Judaism.

– A player buzzed a clue about the US Federal Reserve.
– Westmount players first-lined a comp-sci tossup and a tossup on a very bad musical.
– Players earnestly attempted to answer the Civil War questions that we had failed to replace.

– A grade-nine player won a giant buzzer race on a TV character.
– Players all knew everything about gay rights history.
– One bonus part asked “how many hours per day” and the team guessed “40 hours.”
– Teams did well on the classic music and opera all day, but the White Oaks coach was amazed when none of his players knew about classic rock.

3 thoughts on “Highlights from 2016 Provincials”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s