Beating The Addiction: Quiz Bowl’s Reality Trivia Crack

By Amanda Madenberg
Who was the twentieth president of the United States? What is the name of the scientist who discovered Uranus? Who played the role of the infamous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter in the movie Silence of the Lambs? Which artist is a key figure in dadaism and surrealism?
Time’s up!
Sound familiar? That’s probably because you’ve spent countless hours frantically trying to answer these questions on Trivia Crack. But have you ever considered competing in something similar as a team sport?
That’s what the Quiz Bowl Club is all about—answering trivia questions on a variety of subjects before the opponent knows the answer. At team competitions, four students from each participating school have the opportunity to answer a toss-up question; whichever school hits the buzzer first gets to answer the question. If that school answers the question correctly, there is a bonus question that is worth more points.
South’s nationally ranked Quiz Bowl Club would probably give you a run for your money in Trivia Crack: the team has competed in multiple state and national competitions at prestigious colleges such as Yale and Princeton. Recently, the team tied for first place at the Scarsdale Invitational, but lost the last buzzer question against Kellenberg High School. South took first place at the regional Quiz Bowl last year and once a few years ago even came in twenty-first place out of 300 teams at Nationals.
So far, the team has yet to lose a preliminary match. “We’re aiming high this year,” the club’s president, Christopher Zheng, said. The team has not been to nationals since 2012, and right now the students are working with administration to try to go again this year. The team qualified for 2015 nationals this past September.
There’s actually a method to this madness: even if competitions are “suspenseful,” the club strategizes on ways to create the best team possible.
There are many possible ways to form teams.Advisor Ms. Deborah Cassetta encourages her students to form teams with students who are knowledgeable in different areas. For example, someone may be good in history, another in art, and so on. “I want them to bone up on history and current events and assigned new stations for them to watch to understand the government,” Ms. Cassetta said. She even made study sheets and organized study groups, which “worked wonderfully.” When the students study together, one student typically tutors the others on a certain subject so everyone has enough knowledge to participate in competitions.
Ms. Cassetta, who taught history in college, has advised the club for four years. “The competitions are very competitive—it’s like Jeopardy on steroids,” she said. Usually the club has two or three teams attend each competition, and students are placed on an A, B, or C team based on skill level.
But the club isn’t only based on trivia knowledge. Since tournaments are long and the students study thoroughly, the relationship of the people on the team really contributes to its success. “The best part about Quiz Bowl is that there is a lot of variety: dynamic people with different interests,” Zheng said.
The team members depend on each other. One time recently, the A-team was losing a preliminary match, partly because one member dropped out of the competition at the last minute. But by the end, the team caught up and the game was tied, requiring a tiebreaker question. “You could just feel the intensity filling the room—I wanted to jump out of my seat!” Zheng said. After a silence, the last-minute replacement correctly answered the question, and the team pulled out yet another victory.
“Intense and suspenseful moments happen all the time, and they’re an amazing part of the game,” Zheng explained. “Some of my fondest memories of high school originate from Nationals.”
So what do you think? Do you know who the Under Secretary of the Domestic Finance treasury is?
At least now you know one more answer to Trivia Crack: Matthew Rutherford.