This tournament is history!
The Canadian History Bee and Bowl happened today at Lisgar CI. I don’t participate in IHBB events any longer, but I decided to drop by for some observations.
This event was probably the only real chance to preview Ontario teams before Ontario Reach provincials. It’s not the best comparison because the tournament is single-subject and uses a different question style, but there is enough to give qualitative impressions of teams.
In the senior division, UTS defeated Bayview SS in the final, and Royal St. George’s College beat Lisgar for third place. As far as I could tell, these were “A” teams, though UTS rotated through substitutes regularly. Bayview’s appearance in the final was quite a surprise after upsetting the #1 seeded RSGC in the semifinal.
RSGC earned that #1 seed, though. The competition was strong and they earned an important win over Lisgar in the round-robin. I was uncertain about the team going in, having no information available, but RSG proved themselves and should be a formidable opponent in the SchoolReach season. A drawback is that they are very dependent on a single player, so an off-game from that player can lead to upsets like the one seen today. Nevertheless, RSG deserves a good seed for Reach (I said that last year, but that’s another story…).
UTS thoroughly earned that championship, too. Their route to victory required beating Lisgar twice, who would have been entering the tournament as favourites. I am not sure if the UTS team prefers history and that gave them the edge, or whether they have improved in all subjects since Lisgar’s February tournament. I would consider UTS the #1 pre-provincials team.
Westmount was the other Ontario school in the senior field. They have a good knowledge base and they surprised me with some difficult answers they earned, but they are just a tier down from the top teams that participated today. I still think they would be on the bubble for Ontario Reach playoffs, like most past Hamilton representatives.
Finally, another impressive characteristic of the senior field was the performance of grade 11 players. If the teams were that good this year, imagine 2018!
For when players are stuck in the past.
Four regional tournaments are being played today for the Canadian division of the International History Bee & Bowl. Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver all have events today, with Montreal and Saint John scheduled later.
The IHBB is the international branch of History Bee & Bowl in the US. It was established by former Jeopardy! champion David Madden, and holds competitions in several countries. The Canadian regional sites lead to a national championship (held in Montreal for 2017), and many top participants qualify for a History Olympiad in the summer.
The team event is the History Bowl. Two teams face off to compete in a four-round game. Three of the rounds are variations on quizbowl’s tossups. The third round is a unique lightning round where each team selects a category they prefer, then get exclusive access to answer as many snapper-style questions (up to 10) that they can in one minute.
The individual event is the History Bee. Usually, 4-8 players compete on the same buzzer set, with multiple rooms occurring simultaneously to accommodate everyone. Everyone competes individually to answer from 30 multi-clue tossups worth one point each. If a player reaches 8 points, they step aside (“shootout” style) and get some bonus points based on how quickly they reached 8 points. The preliminary phase usually has several rounds, with players shuffling between rooms to vary the competition, and the players with the highest combined point totals proceed to playoff games.
Canadian History Bowl has hit off best in the GTA, bringing in the biggest fields and attracting teams that don’t even play SchoolReach or quizbowl. Other cities still struggle for attendance, but get by.
For today, Lisgar should win the senior division in Ottawa. They will probably also get the JV title, but few teams are competing for it. Toronto will be a clash between UTS, Royal St. George’s, and Westmount. I will respect player anonymity, but the Toronto Bee will likely preview two top contenders for the 2018 Reach for the Top national title.
Good luck to the participating teams!
Disclosure: I received money from IHBB for tournament directing services in 2015. I no longer participate in IHBB events.