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About Quiz Bowl

Brian, David, Sam, and Lily at 2014 NAQT MSNCT
Quiz Bowl
is an academic competition played in middle school, high school and college. It is similar to the popular TV game show Jeopardy! in that questions are read to competitors, who then buzz in to answer, but it differs in that quiz bowl questions are much more difficult and better-written than Jeopardy! clues, and cover mostly academic subjects, with very little trivia.

In a game of quiz bowl, two schools are each represented by a team of at most four players. The moderator, AKA reader, reads a question, known as a tossup. Tossups in formats played at Hunter are in a style known as pyramidal. Pyramidal tossups are generally several sentences long, beginning with a leadin composed of very difficult clues, and working down, with decreasing difficulty, until the giveaway, or the easiest clue. 

There are several popular formats for quiz bowl competitions, including NAQT, PACE, and mACF. In the NAQT format, for example, players can buzz at any time during a tossup, and, if correct, get 10 points for their team. If the player gets the tossup before a certain point, they have gotten a power worth 15 points. However, if a player buzzes before the tossup has been read in its entirety and gets it wrong, their team loses 5 points (known as a neg) and nobody else on that player's team can answer (they are locked out). The team that gets the tossup correct receives a bonus worth 30 points, generally in three parts, each worth 10 points. Unlike on tossups, conferral is allowed between teammates on bonuses, and only that team can answer. For more information on quiz bowl formats, see the links below.

For more information about quiz bowl in general:
For more information about specific formats of quiz bowl:
Archives of quiz bowl question sets:
Searchable quiz bowl databases: 


Sample Questions

[Prison Bowl IV (2011), Round 2, Tossup 8]
Produced electrolytically via the Downs process, this substance is used in a qualitative "fusion test" for nitrogen, sulfur, and halogens. This element's atomic spectrum features two lines at 589.0 and 589.5 nanometers, called the D-lines, which give it a bright yellow flame test. Often stored under oil because it oxidizes quickly in air, this element is a soft, silvery metal. Its bicarbonate is known as baking soda, its hydroxide is a strong base known as lye, and its chloride is called table salt. For 10 points, name this alkali metal with symbol Na.
ANSWER: sodium [accept Na until mentioned]


[Prison Bowl IV (2011), Round 2, Bonus 17]
The title 999 line poem is written on 80 index cards. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this novel whose title poem, by John Shade, is annotated by the purported King Charles II of Zembla, Charles Kinbote.
ANSWER: Pale Fire
[10] This novel by the author of Pale Fire is narrated by Humbert Humbert, who is obsessed with the title character Dolores Haze. Humbert kills Clare Quilty after she kidnaps her.
ANSWER: Lolita
[10] This Russian-American author of a notable translation of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin wrote Pale Fire and Lolita.
ANSWER: Vladimir Nabokov
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