Colonel By Returns to Reach Provincials

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Colonel By has not attended Reach for the Top Provincials in so long that nobody knows when the last time we attended was. According to estimates from ONQBA (Ontario Quizbowl Association) President Ben Smith and coach Madame Chartrand, the last time our school attended was about 2005-2007. It was certainly long ago enough for us to have no “cred” whatsoever among both the Reach elites and other schools, despite winning the traditionally strong Ottawa league (other representatives include our friends from Lisgar, Glebe, and Merivale) with just a single loss, and winning a lcoal tournament with a 13-0 record against the likes of (an admittedly non-full strength) UTS (University of Toronto Schools, the two-time defending national champions) and Kennebacasis Valley High School (the two-time defending national champions before UTS).

Colonel By finished second in its preliminary pool behind UTS. We lost the game to them by just 30 points, and although the loss was disappointing (I felt the game was within reach; pun intended), there was absolutely no shame in losing to such a strong and respectable team. We entered the playoffs as the #5 seed, the highest ranked team with a loss, and the 4th highest scoring team overall. We were then eliminated with a loss to #6 seeded Merivale, finishing the tournament tied for 7th-8th.

What greatly impressed me and enriched the experience was how kind, courteous, and sociable all the teams we played were. It was very exciting meeting like-minded knowledge-thirsty students and teachers from around the province. I was also happy to shake hands with Fraser Simpson, coach of UTS, who also had a long discussion with my coach on topics I am yet to know.

Huge thanks to the dedication of Colonel By Coach Ms Permanand and ONQBA President Ben Smith for taking us to the University of Toronto – Scarborough Campus at which the tournament took place. This trip would not have been possible without them.

However, this positive experience does not mask the organization’s shortcomings. Question quality was, as always, a major issue. Silly trivial topics, low academic distribution, poor protest resolution format, lack of logical alternate answer lines, and recycled questions I remembered from last year are merely the tip of the iceberg.

Thankfully, I also learned that all students and coaches are a) aware of Quizbowl and b) aware of and fed up with the numerous flaws in Reach’s questions. Hopefully, this is a positive sign for the future: my dream is that either Reach will finally improve, or that more refined, academic pyramidal formats such as Quizbowl and History Bowl will eventually take over Canada, who is frankly, lagging behind the pyramidal-dominated USA in terms of good academic high school (and middle school!) quiz competitions.

I am not attacking Reach in a bitter manner; I simply want quiz competitions to improve and be the best they can be. Further more, I am a scholar; values knowledge and believes that relevant academic knowledge is what we should value, not infamous large birthstones, Downton Abbey, and obscure last quotes.

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