Welcome to Reach Scores!


This is Reach Scores, a place to find out about, well, “Reach” scores.

Many Canadian high school students played, watched, or otherwise heard of “Reach for the Top”. It began as a CBC television program in the 1960s, left the airwaves, and returned as the classroom-based “SchoolReach”. Lists of alumni and champions are readily available on the web.

But what about scores? Unlike, say, high school sports, scores of Reach games are not easy to find. The Reach for the Top organization publishes results of tournaments they manage (Nationals and some provincial championships), but the pickings are slim for regional or historical results. Every now and then you’ll find a YouTube video or a news archive of a single game from a tournament, but it is often in the context of a school tooting its horn, rather than providing a larger scope of gameplay and competition for a region or time period.

I’d like to change that. I have already uploaded some tournament results on a wiki-style site (use this index of tournaments as a start) for historical interest. People ought to be able to find results without needing to dig through an internet or library archive, and I hope to make it more convenient for them. I will use this blog for updates, including planned recordings of games. I will probably also add analysis (such as my “R-value”) and opinion. Contributions, results or otherwise, are welcome through the contact methods listed on this site.

Thank you for visiting!

Waiting to resume

January blahs

Thanks to many schools having exams, quiz activity is taking a backseat for now. Events should resume in February with the new semester. Some schools haven’t started up their team yet for the year, while others are in the middle of waiting for two months or more.

Most regional leagues will start up next month, though some have done preliminary events in the fall. If any leagues finish up and want to show their completed results, feel free to send them here for the database.

Lisgar’s tournament will be held February 9. I have touted this tournament in the past as a Nationals preview, and all the champions since 2015 have gone through this event. The tournament seems pretty close to full (for their resources), but I will be there with the updates.

For all the teams getting ready for their upcoming schedule, keep up the practice and preparation! The main season awaits.

Famous Players

High Q doesn’t count.

On this blog, I normally don’t publish names of players for consent reasons. Today, I make an exception.

“Reach for the Top” was a very widespread activity in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, and it should come as no surprise that some famous Canadians have appeared on the show. During this holiday lull, I thought I’d take a trip into the past and bring up some alumni of the program.

Probably the most high-profile former player is Stephen Harper. Harper was prime minister from 2006-15, and while often associated today with Alberta, grew up in Toronto. In the 1977-78 season, Richview (led by Harper) had their first Etobicoke-region match against Vincent Massey. Harper racked up most of his teams points, but lost that match and was eliminated from the season. That Richview team may have had some consolation knowing that they only took one loss that year, and it was to the eventual national champions. A lengthy recounting of that game was published in the Sun chain of papers in 2011 (“The whiz kid who beat Harper”), though that article has now been relegated to archives.

Another Right Honourable quizzer is Kim Campbell. Campbell was a cabinet minister in the Mulroney government before taking a brief term as prime minister in 1993, becoming Canada’s first female head of government. Campbell played for the Prince of Wales HS team in 1964, when Reach for the Top was a localized show before a national championship was formalized. Clips of Campbell along with a interview about her time on Reach for the Top appeared on a 50th anniversary W5 segment for CTV.

Keeping with political leaders, Bernard Lord was another former player. Bernard Lord was premier of New Brunswick from 1999-2006, and played in Moncton in the early 1980s. I don’t know which school he played for, but he was not on the 1984 (his senior year) Moncton HS team that finished second nationally.

A current provincial party leader, Andrew Weaver, also played in high school. Weaver is the leader of the BC Green Party, whose small caucus holds the balance of power in the nearly equally divided BC legislature. Weaver played for Oak Bay HS until his graduation in 1979; while Oak Bay had an impressive nationals attendance record in the first decade of Reach, the school does not appear to have represented BC at Nationals during Weaver’s time.

Two major financial figures during the Harper era were Jim Flaherty and Mark Carney. Flaherty was the finance minister for most of Harper’s term, while Carney was the governor of the Bank of Canada and later was appointed governor of the Bank of England. Neither Flaherty (at Loyola in Montreal in the late 60s) nor Carney (at St. Francis Xavier in Edmonton in the early 80s) made significant progress on televised Reach.

Leaving politics, an alumnus that has tooted his own horn about his Reach for the Top exploits is Tom Harrington. Harrington has hosted a variety of sports and news programs on CBC. In 1974, his Gonzaga team pulled off an upset in front of a home crowd and won the Reach national title, giving Newfoundland their first (and so far only) title and making Harrington the most famous champion. I covered the Gonzaga team in a post earlier this year.

Also with CBC is Shelagh Rogers. Rogers has hosted several shows on TVO and CBC Radio for nearly four decades, and is an officer of the Order of Canada. She played for Lisgar CI in the early 1970s. 1970s Lisgar, however, was not of the caliber of the modern team, and Rogers only competed up to the regional level.

Finally, another Order of Canada recipient is Mike Laziridis. Laziridis founded Research in Motion and developed the Blackberry. He didn’t make much playing progress in high school, but has a well-published anecdote about building a buzzer system and selling enough prototypes to Windsor teams to pay for his later tuition to the University of Waterloo.

There are almost certainly other famous Reach alumni. However, for some, Reach participation was not enough to merit inclusion in a biography, especially if they only had a “one and done” experience. I’m also aware that there are several other famous people that participated in Reach for the Top as coaches or hosts (pretty much every CBC anchor from the 60s to 80s read a local match at some point). If you know of other famous players, feel free to comment below.

As for coverage of current players, I will be on break until holidays and high school exams wrap up. Regional tournaments usually start up in February, and Lisgar CI will hold an independent event that month as well.

Carleton tournament results

Powers to the people

The Carleton Sublunary Tournament ran yesterday, with eight teams from five Ottawa schools in attendance. Ashbury College made their first appearance of the year, joining the other schools that played at Lisgar’s novice event in November.

Lisgar CI won the tournament with a 485-220 final over Bell HS. Both teams were tied at 6-1 records after the round-robin, with Lisgar taking a close loss to Glebe CI in the morning. Glebe started the day strong with an undefeated morning record and a win over Lisgar, but lost their last two matches and finished third. Colonel By SS and Ashbury tied for fourth with 4-3 records. Full results are posted here.

I’m not sure how much this tournament acts as a preview for the Reach season ahead. While some are planning to register, three of the five schools didn’t participate in Reach last year. If they don’t sign up, there will be a wide gulf between Lisgar/Glebe and the rest of the field at Ottawa regionals. Lisgar and Glebe, though they fielded seniors this time, still did not have a potential “full-strength” lineup yet (Ashbury, Bell, and CB used what is probably their best teams yesterday).

The next event in the Ottawa area will be Lisgar’s Reach tournament in February. For now, teams will head into their holiday breaks and exam periods.

Carleton tournament preview

You’re on the clock.

Carleton University’s club will host a high school quizbowl tournament next weekend. Carleton’s event has taken the mantle of the old Ottawa Quizbowl Tournament that was the origin of Canadian HS quizbowl back in 2005.

The field will mostly consist of the schools from Lisgar’s tournament earlier this month. This event has open high school eligibility, so senior teams will make their first appearance. The tournament is still on novice difficulty questions, so junior teams should still recognize a fair bit of material (even if they may be beaten to the buzzer).

This tournament is also an NAQT qualifier. Nationals qualification has been less appealing to Ontario teams in recent years after the HSNCT moved from Chicago to Atlanta (in addition to the date conflict with Reach Nationals), but the winner may keep that qualification in their back pocket if their Reach season doesn’t go so well.

I will send out tournament updates during the day. Good luck to the teams!

2018 Lisgar novice tournament

The final: Bell

Lisgar CI held their novice tournament on Saturday. Ten teams from four Ottawa schools participated in the quizbowl event intended for junior and new players.

Bell HS won in a final over Glebe A 390-80. Lisgar A and C rounded out the top group of 4. Colonel By was the other participating school. Bell has had off-and-on activity ever since they withdrew from Reach earlier this decade, but if they are intending to re-subscribe, this team will probably be their main team. They only lost to Glebe A earlier in the day. Glebe was undefeated until the last round-robin game, but members started leaving after lunch and took a toll on the team’s performance as the day wrapped up. Lisgar, Glebe, and Colonel By all have more senior members who didn’t play today, so we don’t have a full preview of the season ahead in Ottawa.

This tournament used a Canadianized version of the 2018 SCOP Novice set. It served its purpose well – the novice teams answered almost all of the tossups and, without discussing specifics, nothing was too difficult for an average high school team. Hopefully the set will find use in southern Ontario or elsewhere.

The next tournament on my schedule will be quizbowl at Carleton on December 1, which is open to all high school teams and should bring out the senior players in Ottawa.

2018 UTS Fall results

The season opener.

Last Saturday, 32 teams got their start on the 2019 season by attending the UTS fall tournament. Most teams were from southern Ontario, but Lisgar CI and Kennebecasis Valley HS also made the trip. Lisgar won the tournament by defeating UTS 300-230 in the final.

The results table is now up. Every team had their bracket played out to determine the ranks from 1 to 32. A few lower bracket playoff games are missing, but nothing that affects R-values.

The schedule definitely stood out. Like last year, only the first five rounds of 8-team round-robins were played. This meant that each team missed out on two of the opponents they would be ranked against for determining afternoon placements. Depending on the relative strength of those missed opponents, a team’s strength of schedule could be much further from average (1.0) than what you’d find at, say, Ontario provincials. The most surprising example was that the team with the easiest schedule (Martingrove) and toughest schedule (Oakville-Trafalgar A) came from the same pool! A few contending teams like St. Michael’s and Abbey Park got burned by facing all the tougher teams and missing out on the top tier despite beating a top-tier-bound team that faced weaker opponents.

The organizers want to insist on a 32-team schedule to allow the three bracketed rounds in the afternoon. For a fairer schedule, the four initials pools of eight should be broken into two pools of 6 and four of 5 – the 6-pools do a round-robin, while the 5-pools pair off and have a team play all five teams in the paired pool (eg: pools C and D have 5 teams, with C1 playing D1 to D5, C2 playing D1 to D5, D1 playing C1 to C5, etc.). Once everyone has a 5-game record with a (hopefully) diverse range of opponents, rank the records for the whole field to split teams into the playoff tiers.

That being said, the initial pools were also uneven, and was noticed before the tournament began. Pool A had four teams from last year’s top ten playoff in Ontario (UTS, Lisgar, White Oaks SS, and Abbey Park), while Pool D had none (though that pool had KVHS). While it is true that it is difficult to seed the first tournament of the year, especially if team composition changes over the summer, the two Oakville teams should have been noticed. Abbey Park finished with the highest R-value thanks to that tough pool, and easily won the second tier. Also interestingly, Pool A had teams that finished 1 & 2, Pool B had teams 3 & 4, Pool C had teams 5 & 6, and Pool D had teams 7 & 8 (though the distribution below that was spread more evenly).

Despite the schedule, this was still a good preview for Ontario. There is a fairly clear cluster of teams with R-values over 100% that should be vying for provincial playoff spots. St. Michael’s looks ready to fill the void in Toronto representation left by RSGC. TMS and Abbey Park will build off their solid provincials debuts last year and contend for Monday games come May. While I don’t wish to imply that all teams’ fates are set, my early prediction is that eight of the ten Ontario playoff teams participated last week – the absences being Glebe CI and a potential Waterloo or Peel team. Hopefully many of these teams will take a crack at another tournament later in the year.

Speaking of which, the tournament schedule carries on. Lisgar hosts a novice quizbowl tournament next weekend, and Carleton will host an event on December 1 open to all levels of high school teams. Those tournaments will likely only have the eastern Ontario teams, but I’ll have reports after their conclusions.

Congratulations to all the teams that played at UTS last week, and good luck in your future tournaments.

UTS Fall update

Every Reach champ since 2006 in attendance

A quick update of the UTS Fall tournament (full results once I get back and have all the scores).

Lisgar CI won the tournament with a 300-230 final over UTS. Westmount SS and Martingrove CI were the other semifinalists. 32 teams competed, and the playoffs were set up to sort everyone in a rank from 1 to 32.

The incomplete round robin (first 5 games of an 8-team schedule) produced some strange underlying numbers. I’ll get to those in a fuller update.

Congratulations to all the competing teams, and thanks to UTS for hosting.