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!

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.

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.