Reach Scores Audio #19

2018 Lisgar Tournament, Glebe vs UTS A


We’re at the end of the preliminary round-robin. From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 9 match has Glebe CI against UTS “A”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • The Rhodesia question was a bit misleading because “Rhodesia” did not have its nationhood well-recognized, and because Mugabe overthrew the briefly-rerecognized colony of “Southern Rhodesia”. I accepted the latter answer and nobody felt the need to protest in this matchup.
  • There is a German performance of “As Slow As Possible” on an organ that is playing its 13th note until September 2020. It still has more than 600 years to go.
  • A team scramble was a repeat. I imagine this was a mess to sort out in closer rooms; I threw it out. Without replacement team scrambles on hand, the only way to resolve it is to awkwardly read the first tiebreaker with team scramble procedure, then continue the three unrelated tiebreakers just to the team that answers.
  • A Mersenne prime is, indeed, of the form of one less than a power of 2 (3, 7, 31, etc).

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #15

2018 Lisgar Tournament, KVHS vs UTS C

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 5 match has Kennebecasis Valley HS against UTS “C”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • Disputes were settled on the spot, including that aluminum is not commonly considered a metalloid.
  • An answer of “Henry Tudor” for “Henry VII” could be argued as ambiguous (Henry VIII and his short-lived son Henry would also have had the Tudor name). However, “Henry Tudor” was a name used for a significant portion of Henry VII’s life, and almost never used to refer to the later generations. The response of “Henry Tudor” can be considered acceptable.
  • There was definitely a Welsh theme going on this round. In addition to the above, there was a question about the origin of the term “Prince of Wales”.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #14

2018 Lisgar Tournament, Almonte vs UTS B

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 4 match has Almonte DHS against UTS “B”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • There is a pause due to a noisy gust from a vent. Don’t think it was a gas leak, since we all survived.
  • The exchange after the question about the namesake of two provincial capitals:

Player: “Queen Victoria?”

Me: “Yes, she is the namesake of Regina.”

Player: “…And what’s the other [provincial capital]?”

Me: “…Victoria.”

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #13

2018 Lisgar Tournament, UTS C vs Glebe

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 3 match has UTS “C” against Glebe CI. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.


  • This was the first match with eight players at the table, requiring the use of a bad buzzer on my system. The light is embedded and out of view on the signaler, so I have to interject every now and then to say the player’s light is on.
  • The Ivy League error in the pack required very on-the-fly judgment. The format of list questions would force the game to stop to resolve the continuation of the list in a more serious tournament (especially for a list with five total entries).
  • Singapore was indeed made independent against its wishes after a vote by the Malaysian government. Usually, a nation’s independence comes from the local population seeking it.

Thanks for listening!

2018 Nationals results

The heat was on.

Fifteen teams from across Canada competed in Toronto last weekend for the Reach for the Top national title. It was a very decorated field, with 16 championships among them going into the competition.

Saturday saw the round-robin portion. The big shake-up in the standings came from London Central SS defeating UTS in their match, which gave Central the head-to-head tiebreak for the top of the leaderboard. Kennebecasis Valley HS gave Central their only loss of the day, while Martingrove CI was the other school in the top four seeds.

Sunday playoff competition ended up playing out mostly as expected by seeding. In the play-in round, Kelvin HS gave a close 360-340 upset over the Renert School, but the eliminations still resulted in the top four seeds in the final four. St. George’s School and Eric Hamber SS, both from BC, gave the biggest scares in the quarterfinals, with St. George’s briefly leading over KVHS and Eric Hamber losing in the closest match (330 to 400 for Martingrove).

Monday was for the final four. In the first semifinal, KVHS jumped out to a quick lead over Central, hoping for a repeat of the win they pulled off in the round-robin. Central, however, picked up most of the points in the middle round of the game and finished with a 440-300 victory, sending them to their fifth national final. In the other semifinal, UTS repeated what they did in the Ontario final and took a strong 550-280 win over Martingrove to head to their ninth final. The final, a rematch from 2012, had the reverse outcome of the round-robin game and gave UTS a 520-280 victory over Central.

Congratulations to UTS for their unprecedented fifth title, and also congratulations to all the participating teams representing their provinces. The database link to the results is found here.

The top four teams (UTS, Central, Martingrove, KVHS) have been well-documented on this site, and they are no strangers to the high end of the competition. They are all perennial challengers to the title, and will be in the future. Some top players will graduate, but their clubs are so deep and well-organized that they will return with other players vying for the trophy.

The next four teams (alphabetical order of Eric Hamber, Kelvin, Old Scona, and St. George’s) demonstrate a divide in the field. While the BC teams gave close quarterfinals, there is a gap that keep the top four in the top four; 3 Ontario teams and KVHS have been the semis in three of the last four years. I believe the difference comes from those teams being able to play multiple tournaments throughout the year; it keeps them in competition mode all year and exposes them to more topics. I hope that other regions look to this model as a productive way of boosting teams.

On a side note, I often get concerns about the order of teams on my tournament pages. In the Ontario and national tournaments, there are no published ranks for several teams that are eliminated part-way through the playoffs (for example, 5-8 at Nationals). I list those teams in order of R-value; it stems from my original intention of using the R-value as a way to determine teams that deserve progression to higher tournaments, though for Nationals it is moot.

The bottom half of the field got consolation matches. As has been noticed in the comments of the last post, the consolation tournament can end up as the most productive use of your tournament fee: most consolation teams played at least as many matches as the champion, UTS! The consolation model is a good way to get more playing time in, but as has also been noted, it is a shame the eliminated quarterfinalists can’t find a way to get more matches.

The Renert School finished as the consolation champion for the second year in a row, beating fellow Albertans from Webber Academy. Both teams matched their best-ever Nationals result. Cobequid EC earned consolation third place over Fredericton HS.

Fort Richmond Collegiate from Manitoba was the only new team in the field. It is always good to see teams earn a nationals experience, and hopefully they can continue to challenge the regular front-runners in the province.

Marianopolis College was the Quebec representative. They did not have as good a result as some other years, but as I have said before, the Quebec system has inherent difficulties in developing consistent clubs. Next year will be an entirely different lineup, and they could have entirely different results.

Auburn Drive HS rounded out the field. While I suspect it is only a minority opinion, I feel the need to address the idea that they didn’t deserve to be there. In short, they did. The Reach national model is based on fair representation across all the provinces, which includes Nova Scotia. Up until the early 2000s, most provinces only sent one representative. With only one representative, it was difficult to tell if the provincial runners-up could have been one of the top teams in the nation as well (eg: Lisgar CI has three national titles despite no provincial titles). The Nationals field began expanding to include more runners-up, including from the maritime provinces. In 2010, the final was two maritime teams. In 2008, both New Brunswick teams made the semifinals. Regions go through ebbs and flows of relative strength, and the second qualification spots do help give representation if any provinces have resurgences. It is true that Nova Scotia competition and participation is at a low point right now, but there is nothing stopping them from being stronger in the future, so the runner-up slot should still remain as a route to Nationals. There is merit to discussing alternative qualification methods, but it should not come with dismissive attitudes to regions of Canada.

I’d like to finish on a more pleasant note, so I’m glad to hear of all the camaraderie and good spirits the teams had. Ultimately, everyone is there for the enjoyment of the same activity, and it displays true character to takes wins or losses in stride. Good luck to all the teams next year, and once again, congratulations to UTS this year!

2018 mid-Nationals update

The elusive UTS-KV final is still possible…

The 2018 Reach for the Top national championship is now deep into the playoffs, with only three games remaining.

London Central SS faces Kennebecasis Valley HS in the first semifinal tomorrow. Central enjoys a surprise top seed after beating UTS in the round-robin, while KVHS will be hoping to repeat their own upset of Central that happened in the round-robin. There is not too much statistical difference between the two teams, but Central will have a slight edge on a longer and balanced pack.

UTS meets Martingrove CI in the other semifinal. This is a rematch of the provincial final, where UTS handily took victory. Martingrove is going to have a very tough challenge in this match – a victory would have to be the biggest playoff upset since the 2013 Bellerose run. UTS’ raw R-value of 157% smashes the Nationals record; before this, seven teams were clustered in the 140-145% range to top the all-time charts. Interestingly, Martingrove has been very consistent these last three years: 135%, 136%, and 136%.

The preliminary results table is found here. It will need to be updated to include playoffs and rankings that come from those games. I will have a fuller write-up for all the other teams once I get some time later this week.

Good luck to the semifinalists!

2018 Nationals Preview

Who can pull off the longest soundcheck?

The Reach for the Top national championship will be upon us in less than a week, and 16 teams will gather in Toronto to compete for the title. Last year’s winner, Lisgar CI, did not qualify this year, but many other former winners will be in attendance. Here is a preview of the competitors (sorted by province):

British Columbia

St. George’s School

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1991, 2004)

Eric Hamber SS

  • Most recent national result: 2nd (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 2nd (2016)

Sir Winston Churchill SS

  • Most recent national result: 7th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 5th (2008)

After fielding two new teams last year, BC returns some regulars with a very competitive history. St. George’s was possibly the most dominant team of the 1990s and had an almost-uninterrupted national attendance streak from 1991 to 2008. Eric Hamber will have its runner-up 2016 finish still in mind, while Churchill has been the most regular BC attendee this decade. The provincial order of finish (listed above) may mean nothing; last year, the BC teams finished nationally in reverse order. All three teams will be looking for quarterfinal spots.


The Renert School

  • Most recent national result: 9th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 9th (2017)

Old Scona Academic School

  • Most recent national result: 8th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 4th (2014, 2016)

Webber Academy

  • Most recent national result: 12th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 10th (2014)

Despite losing their 2017 MVP, Renert is getting better each season and comes to nationals with a provincial title won over Old Scona. Both those teams gave scares to the bigger teams during the round-robin last year, but the nationals field is strong and they’ll have to fight for a return to the quarterfinals. Webber will probably be a step below them, but getting in the top 12 elimination bracket or a best-ever result would be a good goal.


Kelvin HS

  • Most recent national result: 5th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1970)

St. John’s-Ravenscourt School

  • Most recent national result: 10th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 7th (2007)

Fort Richmond Collegiate

  • Most recent national result: none
  • Best national result (on file): none

Coming off a strong fifth place last year, Kelvin won their provincial title this time, and will be the Manitoba team to watch. They won’t have their MVP from last year, but the lineup will still be a threat through to the playoffs. St. John’s-Ravenscourt and newcomer Fort Richmond will vie for the elimination bracket as well, though they have less nationals experience than their provincial champion.


University of Toronto Schools

  • Most recent national result: 2nd (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2002-03, 2012-13)

Martingrove CI

  • Most recent national result: 3rd (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2014)

London Central SS

  • Most recent national result: 6th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2007, 2009)

Like last year, the Ontario teams enter as favourites and should be headed for at least the semifinals. UTS’ main team has won every tournament they have competed in, but they have been beaten before and could be prone to a round-robin upset. UTS will be competing for their fifth national title. Martingrove and Central also have made several appearances at nationals over the past decade, and one of them will likely face UTS in the final. It should be close between these two; they did not face each other at provincials, but look for their round-robin match as the game to watch on Saturday (added note: Martingrove beat Central 410-280 in the final of the UTS fall tournament).


I don’t know who won Quebec, but the educational structure of the province makes it difficult to field a strong team. It will either be a high school limited to grade 11 students, or a CEGEP team consisting only of students competing together for one year. Occasionally a team makes a good run (Dawson’s 2nd place in 2003 or Marianopolis’ 4th seed in 2014), but a midfield finish is more likely.

New Brunswick

Kennebecasis Valley HS

  • Most recent national result: 4th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (2010-11, 2016)

(Fredericton HS)

  • Most recent national result: 11th (2012)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1995)

Kennebecasis Valley HS once again continues their attendance streak since 2005, having picked up three titles and a further three finals appearances during that run. They should be the greatest threat to the Ontario trio, and gave quite a scare to UTS in the semis last year. However, they have finished below the Ontario teams in other tournaments this year, so they will need to put in a superlative performance. Fredericton is included on this list if they end up being the 16th team; they were a powerhouse in the 1990s, but have spent recent years fighting for second place in tournaments with the other New Brunswick schools behind KV.

Nova Scotia

Cobequid EC

  • Most recent national result: 14th (2016)
  • Best national result (on file): 1st (1981, 2005)

(Auburn Drive HS)

  • Most recent national result: 16th (2017)
  • Best national result (on file): 10th (2008)

Cobequid is the most frequent Nova Scotia representative this century, but they have dipped since their late 00s peak. The health of the Nova Scotia circuit is waning, and lack of participation in the province (especially after the end of the Dalhousie tournament) fizzles the competitive sparks among the remaining teams. Cobequid will still put up a challenge to the midfield teams, but they (and Auburn Drive if they attend) will probably spend Sunday in the consolation bracket.

Those are most of the teams. Quebec is unknown to me, and the 16th team will likely be from one of the Maritime provinces, so I have included those provincial runners-up on the lists. There is an outside chance that the fourth Ontario team (Royal St. George’s College, conveniently a stone’s throw from the tournament site) could be called in as a replacement; they would immediately jump to quarterfinal contention in that case.

Teams will spend Saturday in a full round-robin. This will sort the entire field leading up to the playoffs. The national round-robin uses shorter packs than usual to fit more games in; a smaller question sample size can lead to occasional surprise results. However, there is new editing management that will try to weed out points from repeats and introduce subjects that haven’t been heard before. It will be a long day, but there will be times for breaks on Sunday.

Playoffs are on Sunday. The top four seeds earn byes while seeds 5 to 12 start off the elimination bracket. Most elimination games occur one at a time on stage, so there will be some downtime while teams remain in contention. For midfield teams, the consolation bracket could be the best bang for your buck; once you are eliminated from title contention, you get to play as many as five extra games to sort out ranks 9 to 16. Monday sees the semifinals, finals, and a closing ceremony.

Good luck to the national competitors! Represent your province well, and enjoy yourselves.