By: Michele DiPasquale
Most of us know about the TV game show Jeopardy, in which contestants compete in multiple categories of general knowledge from given clues on infinite topics and use a buzzer system to interrupt the question’s reading in order to get the answer right first. The show began in 1964 and is still running and as popular as ever. That being said, it’s not so surprising that this formula has been adapted to many other contests, including “Quiz Bowl.”
Quiz Bowl is a competition in which two teams are challenged to answer questions from myriad areas of knowledge, like current events, fine arts, history, literature, pop culture, science, sports, and more. Just like Jeopardy, the use of a buzzer system is implemented to allow players to interrupt the question’s reading when the answer is known.
Quiz Bowl team advisor Guy Rabner, and a teacher of Italian and Spanish at Livingston High has been a quiz bowl player since his youth and has coached since 2000.
“With Quiz Bowl it’s more about academic questions: pop culture, sports, music, history, math, science, philosophy, religion,” explained Rabner.
“During a game of 20 questions, if you answer correctly, you get to a round of 3 bonus questions. And unlike Jeopardy, you don’t answer in question-form.” he said.
“The questions start out somewhat vague, and so you may be able to answer the question early. Like, ‘what’s the largest city in the US?’ but if you answer early and get it wrong, you get locked out of that question,” Rabner explained.
Quiz Bowl offers varying levels of difficulty. There are 12 games per competition, with the Nationals being much tougher, the more you progress.
“The goal is always to win, but also to improve and have fun. Most of the kids like it because they love knowledge but also because they get to know each other, meet people and have fun,” said Rabner.
“The goal is to qualify for Nationals, which we did. We are going to Atlanta Memorial Day weekend to compete,” he said. “The prize is really the enjoyment, the camaraderie; it’s like a mini family. They love to compete and give each other a well-meaning bit of a hard time, but it’s done with humor and they really support each other,” said the coach.
Coach Rabner loves the game and stays in touch with many of his past students and Quiz Bowl team members, including one who was recently on Jeopardy.
“She came in second,” he said. “And back in 2008, I had a player who actually won Teen Jeopardy.” he said.
Jonathan Ackerman, a senior, who has been playing quiz bowl since freshman year, and is on the Livingston Quiz Bowl A-Team along with Rosa Xia, Carolyn Meng, and Jennifer Zheng, said he and his teammates love the game and the challenge.
“I always liked knowing random weird things and I’ve always been curious, so Quiz Bowl was a natural thing for me to get into,” Ackerman said. “It’s really exciting, going to the Nationals on Memorial Day Weekend. I hope we do well, and we wish good luck to everyone involved.”
Quiz bowl tournaments can be interscholastic meets or intramural events, with some tournaments based on athletic conferences, cities, and other groupings of teams. Organized quiz bowl competitions are available in most states and at grade levels from middle school and up.