About Our Team & What We Do
(or: "College Bowl: It's Kinda Like Jeopardy!, But Not Really.")
The College Bowl Team competes in a number of different formats of intercollegiate "quiz-bowl" style academic competition. The games are generally between two teams of four players, who "ring in" on an electronic buzzer system as "tossup" questions are being read. If we answer a question successfully, the team earns points and more detailed bonus questions on which the team can confer before answering. If we answer the "tossup" incorrectly, we may or may not be penalized, and the question is finished for the other team. Depending on the format of the match (see "Formats" below), it may or may not be timed, and the questions may be on a number of different topics. The University of Chicago College Bowl Team has won more national championships (10) than any other team in the modern era of the game, and we continue to be successful at all formats.
We practice twice a week, with practice days and locations changing from quarter to quarter to meet player schedule demands, space availability, and the general
whims of Matt Menard. An up-to-date list of practice times and locations is generally available on this website's front page. Practices are open to everyone. Our past policy has been to take every regular practice attendee
to a tournament at least once each quarter. Assuming levels of
participation remain steady, this policy will continue. (Yes,
that's right. Even if you don't know a damned thing, we'll use
our money to take you somewhere outside of Hyde Park. All you
have to do is show up.) Practices generally last for 2 or 3 hours,
with some people staying later than others.
Please note: There are generally no regular practices on finals week, or over the summer. Get in touch with us (below) if you need to know specifically whether or not we're having a practice on any given week.
(or: "How We Travel & Get The University To Pay For It.")
Since we are very well-funded, our team travels to about 15 tournaments each year, in places as near as Urbana-Champaign and Ann Arbor, and as far as New Orleans, Berkeley, Boston, and Oxford. Those are just some of the places we went in the past two years. To some of these tournaments, we will only take one or two teams of 4, and to others we will take up to 6 teams. Teams are generally selected so that each team has a good balance of knowledge covering as many subject areas as possible. For any given tourney, we usually leave sometime on Friday, returning Saturday night or Sunday morning. For some of the tourneys we play in, the questions are written by the teams, and for those tourneys, team members are expected to write part of the Chicago packet(s). Here is the current Schedule of the tournaments to which we'll be going this year.
Our team competes in three different types of tournaments, each with its own rules and specific format: ACF, NAQT, and Invitationals.
ACF (Academic Competition Foundation/Federation) was formed by several southeastern teams in 1991 as a response to their criticisms of some of the aspects of the CBI game. ACF matches consist of 20 untimed tossups worth 10 points each. Bonuses are always worth a total of 30 points, and questions are almost exclusively on academic topics, including science, history, literature, geography, and social sciences. There is no limit on grad student participation in ACF. Though the original founders of ACF stopped organizing tournaments in 1997, new organizers, including our own John Sheahan and Andrew Yaphe, have stepped in to keep the format alive. For more information on ACF, click here.
NAQT (National Academic Quiz Tournaments) was formed in 1996 by several very experienced former players in response to continued complaints about CBI's format & question quality. NAQT matches consist of two 10-minute halves, with tossups worth 15 points if they're answered correctly before a certain point in the question ("Power Points") and 10 points thereafter. Bonuses are always worth a total of 30 points. Questions are on various topics; they are a bit more academically-oriented than those of CBI but significantly less so than those of ACF. We have won every NAQT Midwest Sectional ever held (7). For more info on NAQT, click here.
Invitationals are tournaments organized by individual schools. The majority of tourneys we attend are invitationals, and they can include all sorts of combinations of, and variations on, the formats above. Some invitationals use questions provided by one of the organizations listed above, but for most invitationals, the teams write the questions, with each team sitting out the round during which its questions are read. For more information on the format of an individual invitational tournament, email the tournament directors.
So you can get some idea of what the questions we play on are like, here is a sample packet written by some members of our team.
The University of Chicago College Bowl Team is a Registered Student Organization of the University of Chicago. We receive our (generous) funding through the Coalition of Academic Teams, which includes the College Bowl, Model United Nations, Debate, Mock Trial, and Chess Teams. Web space is provided by NSIT.
For more information on our team, how to join (just show up), our activities, or anything else relating to quiz-bowl activites at the U of C, email the team President, Tracy Lee, at tclee AT uchicago DOT edu. More contact info is available via the link below.