Reach Scores Audio #5

2017 Lisgar tournament, UTS vs Merivale


From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 5 match has University of Toronto Schools against Merivale HS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • Bad phrasing in the 20-point special and a Harry Potter question. Thankfully, no team got hosed (possibly because they could detect something was up from my preemptive hesitation). Both questions started by suggesting a list, then naming a few items and requiring the player to answer the rest. If anyone buzzed and gave the (arbitrarily-chosen) answers already listed in the question, they would be burned. This practice is unnecessary in trivia and is either sloppy writing, a nefarious attempt to penalize strong teams, or both. Both questions needed a re-phrasing.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #4

2017 Lisgar tournament, Colonel By vs Merivale

Squeezed this one in today. From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 4 match has Colonel By SS against Merivale HS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • Unfortunately, a fair bit of dead air in this episode, through a combination of counting down time, doing my own scorekeeping, and having sleepiness start to kick in. The last “what am I?” took one and a half minutes (partly due to clarifying what was sought)!
  • In case the sarcasm wasn’t obvious, I am not a fan of J.M.W. Turner’s works. The frequent use of clouds and coloured skies don’t appeal to me, but it makes him famous, such as in Rain, Steam and Speed.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #3

2017 Lisgar tournament, Almonte vs UTS

Now with extra page-turning noises! From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 3 match has Almonte DHS against UTS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • Once again, I don’t think anything was left unresolved after the game. Makes the write-up easier.
  • In this round, I started noticing that the reset button on my buzzer system was causing trouble. At this point, I still had the box resting on a sweater (to muffle the speaker), so I assumed the fabric was absorbing the force of the button press. Not the case – it will get worse as the day goes on.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #2

2017 Lisgar tournament, Glebe vs LCI A

Another day, another recording! From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 2 match has Glebe CI against Lisgar CI “A”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • This was fairly straightforward, editing-wise. No post-production clarifying of questions.
  • It becomes noticeable in this round, and will happen more later on: I give 5 seconds of time via the display of opening my fingers one at a time. Silent gaps with “clicking” will appear, and I can’t cut audio very well.
  • Apparently I count out loud when tallying scores.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #1

2017 Lisgar tournament, KVHS vs LCI B

The first “episode” of Reach Scores Audio is up! From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 1 match pits Kennebecasis Valley HS against Lisgar CI “B”. Moderating and audio production by me, Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • The game room was a high-ceiling science lab. There was significant echo, but normalizing the audio helped, especially for the buzzer tone.
  • Hector Berlioz’ symphonies are not often referred to by number. Symphonie Fantastique is his first, anyway.
  • The Himalaya and Karakoram are, indeed, separate ranges. The name “K2” came about from being the second surveyed peak in the Karakoram.

Thanks for listening! The remaining rounds will be uploaded as quickly as I can finish them (hopefully by the end of the week).

2017 Lisgar Independent Tournament results

Able to declare winners better than the Oscars

Lisgar’s annual Reach-style tournament was held last weekend, with 13 teams in attendance across two divisions. Teams from the University of Toronto Schools won both. Lisgar, Kennebecasis Valley, and Glebe rounded out the top 4 in the upper bracket. Congratulations to all the teams.

I have uploaded results here. I noticed a nice bit of elegance in that all the teams finished in order of R-value; in other words, their performance in practice (wins) lined up with their theoretical performance (answering questions).

Speaking of R-value, most teams saw a drop compared to last year. While some of the upper division teams are weaker than last year (including Lisgar “A” missing their top players due to authorship), the change looks like it can be attributed to the improved performance of the less experienced division. The record R-values of last year probably came from strong teams playing other strong teams on a set that had its average PPG deflated by poor point totals in the lower division. A stronger lower division this year meant it was more difficult for top teams to “stand out”. Overall though, it does look like year-to-year R-value comparisons need to be taken with a grain of salt. NAQT’s D-value, which the R-value is derived from, does not compare year-to-year; it is only relevant for comparing teams playing on the same set (making R-value most applicable for Reach Regionals).

The quality of the question set was up and down. Based on the final results, it was clearly able to sort teams properly and not produce weird upsets. Assigned questions were balanced. Relays were balanced and parts increased in difficulty evenly. Most “what-am-I”s became easier with each passing clue. The absence of shootouts, “wordplay” questions and solving math on paper is a great personal preference. On the negative side, there were still problems associated with old SchoolReach that even modern Reach is trying to get rid of. Some questions tricked where the answer was heading – a question should never use “but” to change the course partway through. “Who-am-I”s still frequently open with biographical information about birth and education – very few people are important to know about because of the date of their birth, unless they are Jesus or from Midnight’s Children. Finally, there were too many questions about movie directors (and I like movies!) – the set needed to be guided by an overall subject distribution. All this being said, I’m aware that writing a tournament requires a lot of work (I’ve done it) and I don’t want to come across as too tough on high school students. Their work is as good as, if not better than, current SchoolReach sets.

I was able to record the matches I read. I have transferred over the raw audio to start working on it, and will probably limit the editing to removing personal information (if any) and dead air. No intros! Stay tuned here for updates.

2017 Lisgar Independent Tournament preview

A yearly event without a name.

Lisgar CI hosts their “Reach-style” tournament on Saturday. Lisgar has hosted these events off-and-on since 2007, and annually since (I think) 2013. They are “independent” in that the questions are not written by SchoolReach and the results have no bearing toward a Reach national title… but more on that later.

Most of the teams will be from the Ottawa area, but two regular visitors are University of Toronto Schools and Kennebecasis Valley HS. They have 7 Reach titles between them and at least one of them has appeared in the final in 10 of the past 11 seasons (though interestingly, never against each other). As visitors, they are invaluable for “sizing up” the strength of different regions, and together with UTS’ events, paint the picture for the Reach season ahead.

Lisgar wrote all the questions this year. This was the case in earlier years, but 2015 and 2016 had an arrangement to modify NAQT’s television packs into questions that resembled the Reach format. A consequence of Lisgar writing this year is that the A-team, as authors, won’t be playing. It’s a disappointment to not see potential national clashes, but necessary for the running of the event. Lisgar B (and C, and D…) are no slouches, though, and will likely carry the Lisgar banner to the top 3.

There’s an interesting coincidence between Lisgar’s tournament and Reach. The second-place team at Lisgar has gone on to win the Reach national title (Lisgar in 2015, KVHS in 2016). The winning team at Lisgar in those two years failed to make provincials (Colonel By in 2015 by boycott, UTS in 2016 by regional semifinal upset). The latter is rather unlikely this year (unless Lisgar “B” wins and doesn’t represent Lisgar at provincials), but watch out for the national champion coincidence again!

I will be reading games. It will be my first attempt at recording audio at this level (I did some university games back in 2006), and a trial run before Regionals. Stay tuned to find the (edited) matches in the near future.

Good luck to the teams!