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!

2019 Hamilton results

No, not the musical.

The first stats of the 2019 SchoolReach season are in. Hamilton wrapped up their league this past week, with 11 teams from 8 schools. Westmount SS, no stranger to provincial competition now at this point, handily swept the field and qualified. The stats are found here.

Westmount has put up some good numbers so far this year, and their regional result sets a high bar for the other teams. I don’t expect their 224% R-value to hold up, though, largely because the “Set PPG” will increase as a few stronger regions get added later. They should end up at least over 190%, which has been a good indicator of making the Ontario final four (though Glebe missed the playoffs with >190% regionally last year).

If your region has stats to add, they can be sent to me through reachscores -AT- gmail.com. I can accept any list of results, but to be included in the R-value calculations, I need a way of knowing who played who (either a schedule or an assurance of a complete round-robin) and total points for all teams.

Also this past week, “Montcalm” (a pseudonym that a Hamilton team had to keep for the tournament) won U of Toronto’s quizbowl tournament. Results are found here. The team notably beat UTS A once in the round-robin and again in the final. Another surprise of the results was Toronto Montessori Schools, who finished with only a 3-7 record, but two of those wins came against UTS A and the Hamilton team. TMS had underlying stats comparable to when Lisgar and Glebe played in December, and combined with their top bracket finish at UTS’ fall event, they may have a crack at the Ontario playoffs.

March break begins for most Ontario schools, so there will be a brief respite before more competition resumes.

Our first qualifiers

Done before others get started.

A short update today.

Cameron Heights CI is the first (to my knowledge) qualifier for Ontario provincials. They represent the Waterloo region and earned their first-ever provincials berth last year. They reached the playoffs last year, and will try to do so again. However, I don’t have any results regarding them so far, and it could be a tough road with the good performances from Ontario teams we have already seen this year.

February is usually a bit early for regions to wrap up, so most results won’t appear until the late March or early April window.

History Bowl also has its first national qualifiers out of Vancouver and Ottawa, but I don’t have results for those events yet. IHBB Canadian nationals are held the first weekend of May.

Finally, U of T will hold a quizbowl tournament later today with the questions used at Carleton in December.

2019 Lisgar Tournament results

Where no question goes unanswered.

Last weekend, Lisgar CI hosted their annual Reach-style tournament. 10 senior and 11 junior teams from eight schools participated. Both fields played on the same set of questions, and results are found here.

Firstly, the junior division. A full round-robin was played in field with several Lisgar and KVHS teams. I did not get to see the games, but a Lisgar team went undefeated and was the only junior team to crack 100% R-value (ie: better than an average team on this set). Glebe and another Lisgar team both finished with 8-2 records and shared second place, though Glebe had the points edge.

The senior division saw strong teams getting prepared for their provincial and national runs. The University of Toronto Schools took their fourth straight title at this event by sweeping the field, both in the full round robin and the top bracket of four. Their R-value of 213% is somewhat boosted by having junior teams included in the average of teams playing the set, but it is still the best result in any iteration of the Lisgar tournament (which usually includes a junior division) so far. Lisgar, a team I will name as “AP”, and Glebe were closely matched in the rest of the upper bracket: they each shared a win and loss between themselves in the final group. Assuming they qualify and attend, all four of those teams should be contenders on playoff day at SchoolReach provincials. UTS B, though not eligible for SchoolReach, was also competitive against the top quartet, and Kennebecasis Valley HS  and Colonel By SS knew their stuff, but just couldn’t get the wins. Ashbury College, still new to the Ottawa scene, rounded out the field and left after the initial round-robin.

This was a good set for a Reach experience. There were repeats (both of the copy-paste kind and rewording of facts kind) and there was some minutiae that would not be in the grasp of a typical player (including vague 40-point openers on who-am-I), but overall, this was an opportunity to score lots of points. The round-robin match between UTS and Lisgar saw only five questions go unanswered. High conversion of questions is ideal for making sure the more knowledgeable team wins more often; games with lots of dead questions are prone to upsets when a weaker team just happens to run into a string of questions they know, and the stronger team doesn’t have enough chance to overcome it. Assuming that Lisgar makes the set available with their repeat corrections, this set is a good “proving ground” for teams hoping to make it far this year. If your region wants to use the set, contact the Lisgar coach or contact me as an intermediary (through reachscores -at- gmail.com).

There are no recordings of this tournament. Leaving a delay of several months before posting was not considerate to the participating teams, and it was out of people’s minds by the time it was released. The delay was necessary to not compromise other sites that would use the set; in the same vein, any publicly-viewable discussion of the set should not occur during the remainder of this season. Results from these independent tournaments (UTS and Lisgar) do get used for official Reach seeding, so please respect the integrity of the records.

In other tournament news, U of Toronto will hold a quizbowl tournament on March 3, making use of the “Canadianized” set first played at Carleton in December. The busy regional season will be underway, then a weekend double of History Bowl nationals and ONQBA provincials on May 4 and 5. I won’t be able to attend many events (other than Ottawa SchoolReach regionals), but I will pass along any results I get.

2019 Lisgar quick results

I heard UTS is good.

Lisgar CI hosted their independent Reach-style tournament on Saturday. 10 senior and 11 junior teams participated.

UTS A continued their title streak at this event and went undefeated to win the tournament. Lisgar finished second, while “AP” (a team I will give some anonymity to, since they might not have approval from their school) and Glebe filled out the top bracket. Results are available here.

I will make a longer post next week. That being said, I encourage teams to get this set played in other regions; contact Lisgar’s coach if interested. This also means there should be no public discussion of specific question content.

I also have to make a note after something that happened: any prospective fields I list before a tournament (independent or official SchoolReach) are only speculative. Teams still need to register/qualify with the tournament organizers before they can participate. This also acts as a notice for the multiple local clubs who might not actually be registered with SchoolReach and the league matches that are coming soon.

2019 Lisgar tournament preview

Maybe you want to finish second?

Lisgar CI is hosting its independent tournament this coming weekend. There have been events at Lisgar as far back as 2007, but this still-unnamed tournament has been an annual occurrence since 2013.

I don’t have the full list, but we can expect a diverse field from Ottawa, Toronto, and New Brunswick. UTS will look for its fourth straight title in this tournament, but they will face expected threats from Lisgar and Kennebecasis Valley. Glebe, Bell, and Colonel By will be the other local challengers, but they will probably be fighting for an upper bracket finish. The field itself is full, unfortunately, due to so many LCI alumni and local university players being off at NAQT’s collegiate regional tournament the same day, and thus unable to help staff.

This tournament has also acted as somewhat of a preview of Reach Nationals of late. Since 2015, the school that finished second here won the Reach title the following May (though in 2018, the main UTS team still won). Also interestingly, there was a shorter streak going of the winner at Lisgar not even making it to Reach Provincials in that season, but that has since ended.

I will be on staff at the tournament, and will give updates throughout the day. Please note that I will not be recording games; it is hoped that the questions will be used at other sites later, and holding off on releasing audio until after the school year was not very fair to the recorded teams when I did it last year.

Good luck to the participating teams!

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.