Wednesday 28 March 2018

Provincials 2018 -- Congratulations to UTS

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The UTS players above, they went 9-1 and won Provincials last Saturday. The field was pretty well balanced this year, but UTS was the clear best team.

Full stats from the tournament.
Twitter coverage of the last five rounds.
Canada questions used in the tournament.

We should have some more coverage to post soon. Peter and I both took notes during some games, and I did an interview with the second-place team from Hamilton.

Huge thanks to Meghan and to all staff, players, and coaches. The tournament was very good.

Wednesday 31 January 2018

Canada questions from 2017 and before

This post is copied from our new site, which we update more reliably now. We recommend you go there instead of here.

For most high-school tournaments in Canada, ONQBA edits the question set to add in questions about Canada.

For Toronto Novice and Carleton Supermoon in December 2017, we wrote and added these questions to the set -- 18 tossups and 7 bonuses. The writers were Peter Cordeiro and me.

I removed around 75 questions from the set, many more than we added in. A few of those were math computation questions*. The rest were about American history, geography, literature, and art. The ones that weren't replaced with Canada questions were just replaced with "extra" questions from the original set. There were also a few questions about Canada or hockey in the original set, and I modified those a bit to make them harder.

I think these Canada questions were a little harder than they should have been -- they might have been more appropriate for Provincials than for a regular-season set. However, because many questions on (obscure) American topics were removed, I think the set as a whole was made easier by our edits.

I was proud of the tossup I wrote involving the French language, but the feedback I got on it was not positive, so maybe I should have found another way to write it. I think knowing French (and knowing about Quebec) is meaningful and important and is a huge part of education in Canada. I will keep trying to find ways to shoehorn a French lesson into every quizbowl tournament.

Here's a quick archive of questions we've used for Canadian editions of past tournaments:

*It's standard for quizbowl hosts to remove "math comp" questions or to instruct the moderators to skip over them. Many question providers simply don't use them in the first place. It sounds lame to be missing out on math questions, but if you heard these math questions, you'd want to skip them too.

Thursday 4 January 2018

Announced: Ontario Provincials -- March 24 at uToronto

This post is copied from our new site, which we update more reliably now. We recommend you go there instead of here.

There will be an Ontario Provincial Quizbowl Championship on Saturday, March 24, 2018, at the University of Toronto. Meghan Torchia will direct the tournament. Whoever wins will be the high-school champions of Ontario, and by default, of Canada.

Details are in my post here. It should be at least 10 rounds, on slightly tougher questions than our regular-season tournaments. The cost is between $40 and $80 for a team.

We'll be retrieving our championship plaque from Lisgar Collegiate this winter, to award again to new champions. According to known records, there have been 7 provincial quizbowl championships, and teams from Ottawa have won all of them. Many teams are strong this year, and some might be strong enough to defeat Lisgar and get the plaque out of Ottawa.

Lisgar Plaque 2016
2016 champions pose with plaque, bunny, and active high-school player.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Comparing Stats for 2017-18

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I looked at the stats from Toronto Novice Tournament and Carleton Supermoon Tournament. Here is my attempt to measure the strongest teams in Canada.

(The stats might have errors in them, and lots of teams can always make the claim that they didn't play their full "A" lineup. So this isn't a perfect measurement of strongest teams, but it's good enough to work with.)

Bonus Rates

Here are the top teams in Ontario, ranked by points-per-bonus.

bonus richmond 2

It looks like a small difference between Lisgar averaging 25 and Westmount averaging 21 on bonuses, but I prefer to measure the amount of bonus points missed. The top teams are around 5 points missed per bonus, or one part missed on every two bonuses. Other strong teams are closer to 9 points missed per bonus, which is a great result, but which is still close to double the "miss rate" of Lisgar A.

The average across all teams was 17.2 points per bonus. Colonel By missed the finals of their tournament, but their bonus rate was 3rd of 19 in Canada.

Power Rates

Here are the top teams in Ontario, ranked by frequency of 15-point powers.

power richmond

UTS A powered 41% of the tossups they heard, and they converted 73% of the tossups they heard. So in an average round, they would have had 8 powers and 15 total correct buzzes. They were the only team with more powers than 10s.

UTS B had a really high power rate, but they had a pretty high rate of -5s to go with it. Colonel By had a high power rate but a more modest tossup rate.

The average team had a 42% tossup conversion rate, which means that 84% of tossups were answered correctly at Toronto Novice and Carleton Supermoon. So 16% of tossups went dead at those tournaments.

The Lisgar B team made finals of their tournament but didn't make either of the leaderboards above. Their low power rate might reflect conservative play, as their rate of -5s was the lowest of any team in either tournament.


I think UTS is the strongest team right now. I think they're slight favourites to win quizbowl provincials and both the similar championships, assuming they enter teams.

I pick UTS over Lisgar because I think the power rates matter. Power stats are sensitive to random changes in play-style, but early buzzes usually show that a team can "scale up" and play well with stronger questions and stronger opponents. So since UTS has the higher power rate, they have the stronger team this fall.

Lisgar gains more from combining their top scorers into a "super-A" team. UTS A had five players with high scoring stats already, so adding the top scorer from the B team could improve them, but not by a huge amount. Whereas Lisgar A was only 3 players this time, so adding a strong player from the B (or C) team would be a big improvement.

It is unlikely that another team will surpass UTS and Lisgar this year, so I'm most interested now in seeing games between UTS and Lisgar. I'm also interested to see if another team can emerge as a clear 3rd-best and maybe get a game-win against one of the frontrunners.

My advice to dominant teams is to practice on harder questions.

Recap -- Carleton Supermoon Tournament

This post is copied over from our new site, which we update more reliably. We recommend you go there instead.


I was very pleased with the Carleton Supermoon Tournament on Saturday. We had 7 teams and least 25 players, representing 5 different schools. Raw stats are here. Below are some highlights.

Lisgar has strong teams

Lisgar is a big magnet school that practices a lot of quizbowl. We are never surprised when they have strong players and teams, but we are still happy to celebrate their performances.

Lisgar's three teams went 11-1 against non-Lisgar teams on Saturday. Colin led the tournament in scoring stats, and his Lisgar A team (with Thomas and Olive) swept the tournament. Lisgar A was also very good at reminding the tournament director to hold a finals match.

Lisgar B (Matthew, Hannah, and Amy) made the finals with a close win over Colonel By. Lisgar C had a strong 19 points-per-bonus, and their players got most of the buzzes in my scrimmage room.

Lisgar might have been the only school who brought grade-nine players to the tournament. Their coach was pleased with the bravery and glad to see them build tournament experience.

Many nice people answered questions

The Colonel By team had a nice 4-2 record. They missed the finals, but they were a strong 2nd place by most stats, after their win at Lisgar Novice in November. They also did clapping exercises for about two minutes straight, which was very funny in context.

The Ashbury and Almonte teams had the worst records, but all reports said they knew plenty and were cool opponents. Ashbury had no grade 12s and was playing in its first "true quizbowl" tournament, after some visits to Reach and History Bee. Almonte were fun to see in my scrimmage room, where they ate up a lot of the science and sports questions. Their coach gave a pretty amazing report on some of the trivia fundraisers that happen in west Ottawa.

The Nepean team ("Team Ten") had strong stats, including 17 points-per-bonus. One of their players gave a memorable wrong answer on a lit question, which you should ask about if you see Nepean at a future event.

Best games

Round 1 -- Lisgar B vs Colonel By
Kevin was the only player who buzzed for Colonel By in this round, but he was enough to put them in a lead, 275-240, with three tossups left. They were two geography questions and one classical music question, and Matthew got all three of them to win the game for Lisgar. This round ended up deciding which of the two teams would make the finals.

Round 2 -- Lisgar A vs Lisgar B
This was the closest anyone came to beating Lisgar A. After 16 tossups, the score was 260-240, before Lisgar A finally pulled away by getting the next three tossups and 8 of the 9 bonus parts. The final score was 365-260, with almost all of the buzzes from Colin and Matthew. (When these teams played again in the finals, more different players answered more tossups, and they hit higher scores, 485-180.)

Round 5 -- Ashbury vs Almonte
Almonte got tossup 16 and 30'd the bonus to lead 145-85. William from Ashbury hadn't buzzed in all game, but he then buzzed on all the last four tossups -- a neg on tossup 17, then a 10 and and a power on a bio question to tie the game, and then another power to win on another bio question. From the stats, it looks like at seven different players buzzed on tossups in this round, including lots of 15s and -5s.

Round 7 -- Lisgar C vs Colonel By
After 16 tossups, Colonel By had a 255-110 lead in this game. Lisgar then got the next three tossups, including a power by grade-nine player Marin. But Lisgar only converted 3 of their 9 bonus parts, so Colonel By were able to coast to a win, 275-180.

Grand thanks to everyone who played and staffed Carleton Supermoon Tournament. We will have more posts coming up soon to release last weekend's Canada questions, to announce Provincials, and to crunch some stats from the tournaments this fall.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

Announced: December HS Tournaments in Toronto and Ottawa

We have confirmed dates for high school tournaments in December! The Toronto and Ottawa events will take place on the same day and will use Canadian editions of the same NAQT set.

Toronto Novice

The annual Toronto Novice HS Tournament is back on December 2 and will be hosted at the University of Toronto St. George Campus. This event is open to beginners and experienced players alike, and we're excited to welcome several new teams to the mix this year!

Carleton Supermoon Tournament

The Ottawa winter tournament returns with a snazzy name this time, and will take place at Carleton University on December 2. It is likely that this will be the last Ottawa quizbowl event in the 2017-18 season.

Sunday 15 October 2017

Announced: November Novice in Hamilton and Ottawa

High school quizbowl is now beginning for the 2017-18 season!

MacIntro III

On November 11, McMaster is hosting their third MacIntro tournament. It's intended for new players and teams, but any high-schooler is eligible. The "king of quizzes" Peter Cordeiro will direct the event.

Last year's tournament went to the final tossup before ending with a victory by Westmount over Central Richmond Hill. Some of those players are back for this year's high-school season, so our "Intro" might have some powerful teams this time.

Lisgar Novice

On November 18, Lisgar Collegiate is hosting a novice tournament in Ottawa. They do have some eligibility restrictions, so it will be a gentler field, and top Lisgar players like Colin Veevers will be running the tournament instead of playing.

Last year's Lisgar Novice was dominated by Lisgar teams. Lisgar has a good novice class every year, but the other high schools in Ottawa have stayed strong at Reach and History Bowl. Some experienced players from other games could challenge for a quizbowl title.

MacIntro and Lisgar Novice will both be played on the SCOP Novice questions. (Kristin Strey and SCOP should get credit for writing a good tournament every year, keeping their question fees low, and always making a Canadian edition. For reference: last year's SCOP Novice questions.)