Team History

The University of Chicago, a Midwest power in the early 1980s, burst onto the scene again after Anand Raman restarted the team in the late 1980s. His nucleus of players reached the 1988-1990 CBI National Tournaments, finishing 10th, 4th, and 1st (with Ken Hite, Ben Fine, Rafi Lauter, and Erin McKean). The arrival of Josh Boorstein and John Sheahan in 1991 led Chicago back to the 1992 CBI Nationals (10th) and into the ACF format. Chicago nearly achieved the "double" in 1993, winning the ACF National Championship (Boorstein, Sheahan, Sendhil Revuluri, and Peter Freeman) and finishing 3rd at CBI Nationals. In 1994, Chicago did achieve the double, with the same ACF team and a CBI team of Sheahan, Revuluri, Freeman, John Edwards, and Kevin Klowden. In 1995, Chicago finished 2nd and 5th at the CBI and ACF Nationals. 1996 was a bit of a "rebuilding" year, as we finished 8th and 15th at CBI & ACF Nationals, respectively. In 1997, Chicago captured the inaugural NAQT World Championship with an exciting overtime win over Harvard, along with a second place ACF finish and a 4th in the CBI Nationals. 1998 was a good year for Chicago, as we tied the all-time national record for tournaments won in a year, with 8, though the team was unable to win any national titles. In 1999, Chicago had what was arguably the best season ever for a quizbowl team anywhere, as we captured all 3 national championships and almost doubled the national record for tournaments won, with 15.

A more detailed history will be available soon- thanks to Peter Freeman and Mike Zarren for this one.

Presidents of the Chicago Team, in chronological order:

Anand Raman, Erin McKean, Rob "Spoony" Greenspoon, Peter Freeman, John Edwards, Christian Edstrom, Mike Zarren, John Tangren, Mike Altman, Peter Onyisi, Kathleen Moriarty, Nick Poulos, Tim McElroy, Seth Alan Teitler, David Seal, Michael "marnold" Arnold, Jimmy Ready, Samuel Martin Bailey, Tracy Lee, Connie Prater, Michael Coates, Max Schindler, Jason Zhou, Samir Khan, Tim Morrison, Matthew Lehmann, Ben Miller, Vivek Sasse, and Robert Condron.


Here is a listing of the University of Chicago's National Championship Teams:

1990 College Bowl, Inc.

Ben Fine, Ken Hite, Anand Raman, Rafi Laufer, and Erin McKean

The Chicago team came back from a 4th place finish in 1989 to oust GWU (with Gary Greenbaum), who had ousted Chicago in '89, and beat MIT twice (after MIT had beaten them in the winner's bracket) to take the title. Major MIT player: Chip Hunter. (Jim Bales might have been there too.) The "Dover Sole Award" was named for the answer of Ben Fine, who got "Horowitz" off of "He subsisted mainly on dover sole..." Ben was a 32ish math grad student who retired, Ken was a masters in IR student who graduated, Rafi and Anand were seniors, Erin was a first year. A really bad tape of some of the matches exists in the Chicago College Bowl archives.

1992 Penn Bowl II

Peter Freeman, Josh Boorstein, John Sheahan, John Edwards, Rob Greenspoon

After finishing in the middle of the pack in the inaugural Penn Bowl, Chicago began its legendary run of good fortune in the City of Brotherly Love by jumping out to a 13-1 record in the preliminaries. Its only loss came against eventual bracket-winner Princeton, in a high-scoring game which ended with over two minutes left on the clock after the moderator ran out of bonus questions. After defeating both the A and B team of eventual CBI runner-up Stanford in the playoffs, the stage was set for a rematch of the 1990 CBI finals against a Chip Hunter-led MIT (which would win its only CBI championship some four months later). In a close match highlighted by the only question ever written entirely in Klingon, Josh Boorstein clinched victory by nailing a surprisingly CBI-ish tossup about 1992 being the Chinese Year of the Monkey. This was Josh's first tournament win as a player for Chicago, and it also marked the first wins for a pair of freshmen named Sheahan and Edwards.

1993 Academic Competition Foundation

Peter Freeman, Josh Boorstein, John Sheahan, Sendhil Revuluri

In just its second year of existence (having skipped 1992), ACF Nationals was still a relatively small affair, featuring just 12 teams in a single-round robin. Playing together for the first time, the quartet of Boorstein, Sheahan, Freeman, and Revuluri got started on what would become a 70-game winning streak by finishing the tournament undefeated. In a noteworthy display of good round robin scheduling, the final round featured a matchup between an undefeated Chicago team and the undefeated hosts, Maryland. Sheahan pounced on the first tossup of the game after the words "As he stood before the firing..." only to ruin an otherwise nice buzz by answering, "One Thousand [sic] Years of Solitude." Fortunately, the team recovered from this and won in a rout, taking home the first of its ACF Nationals titles.

1994 Academic Competition Foundation

Peter Freeman, Josh Boorstein, John Sheahan, Sendhil Revuluri

The Chicago A team, which had lost only once in 71 matches prior to the tournament, lost to Georgia Tech in the preliminary round to finish second in its pool. This actually proved a blessing, as the strange double-elimination format used for the playoffs worked to knock Georgia Tech out of the playoffs, after losses to Maryland A and Maryland B. Chicago handily won its first playoff match against a Jim Bales-led MIT team, then defeated BYU B in the quarterfinals before disposing of Maryland B (fresh off of its upset over Georgia Tech). The finals were against Maryland A, who need to beat Chicago twice for the title. Chicago won the first game handily, 435-70 to seal the championship. Chicago finished the day 14-1, having scored at least 400 points in each of its playoff matches.

Josh Boorstein averaged over 50 points per game and was a deserving All-Star in his last major tournament. Peter Freeman has two principal memories of the event: answering "Angola" off the first word "Cabinda" in the playoff match against Maryland B (probably his only "one-word" buzz ever), and sharing a water fountain with Maryland's Marc Swisdak as both were ingesting Advil prior to the final. Another highlight was the drive of one Chicago contingent: it began at 6 PM Thursday in Chicago and ended at 6 AM Friday morning in Maryland. And even at 3 AM Sendhil would stray at gas stops to play video games. By late morning the Chicago team was sufficiently recovered to go duck-pin bowling. By way of celebration, several members of the Chicago team took a detour on the way back and spent a few hours driving around Dayton, Ohio looking (unsuccessfully) for the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Unfortunately, nobody can quite remember why.

1994 College Bowl, Inc.

Peter Freeman, John Sheahan, John Edwards, Sendhil Revuluri, Kevin Klowden

While 13-2 in the preliminaries was insufficient to get to the playoffs in 1993, it was good enough for first in 1994. Chicago recovered after a close loss to Virginia in the second game of the preliminaries; the only other loss was a nearly 200-point loss to Western Michigan in one of those results that only occurs when CBI questions are used. BYU finished second in the round-robin, but would not play in the finals because they were held on Sunday. Virginia, who had finished third, played in the finals. After winning the first game, 385-200, Chicago broke open a close match in the second game when Sheahan opened the second half with five straight tossups. The job was almost made easier when the volunteer scoreboarder started adding on to the first game's score during the second game. We won, completing the first ever "double" of CBI and ACF in the same year. The surest indication that CBI questions were at their (relative) best in 1994: Sheahan went 66-6, and Edwards went 44-4.

Sheahan, Edwards, and Revuluri were voted onto the All-Star team, where they were joined by Edwards' stuffed Eeyore doll, which had served as a welcome pretext for off-color double entendres by Edwards all weekend long. Freeman got even after not qualifying for the All-Star ballot by rolling a lifetime high 240 at the Florida Union bowling alley on Sunday evening. Highlights of the trip including paddle-boating just outside Walt Disney World (while Sheahan read Tacitus...not on the paddle-boat, mind you), making fun of the redneck billboards on the road from Orlando to Gainesville, swimming with the WMU team after the championship, playing NTN, and going on a Krispy Kreme donut run with Dartmouth. And we survived a flight on ValuJet.

1995 Penn Bowl V

John Sheahan, Steve Wang, John Edwards, Sarah Bruce

After a shaky start, Chicago cruised to first in its division, only to run into nightmarish single elimination scheduling luck when its first-round opponent turned out to be #16 seed Dartmouth-- a team that had shown up late, forfeited its first 5 or 6 games, then ran the table on the rest of its bracket to sneak into the playoffs. After a close win, Chicago rolled over Georgia State in the quarterfinals, then pulled out a last-second revenge win against Jim Dendy-led Georgia Tech, the team that had beaten Chicago on a controversial protest ruling in the previous year's finals. The championship opponent was ACF legend Ramesh Kannappan, playing as Maryland C, who had upset top-ranked Harvard and BYU on his way to the finals. A highlight of the finals was John "Psychic Friend" Edwards correctly answering a 30-20-10 as time ran out in the first half before a single word of the first clue had been read (Kobe, Japan), and Sarah Bruce screaming "I got it!" while conferring over a bonus about sexually transmitted diseases. Chicago won in a blowout to take home its second Penn Bowl title in four years. Most of the teams afterwards joined us for a victory party at Casa Edwards, where Sheahan discovered the joys of guzzling champagne out of the Rathemeyer Cup, and Edwards proved why union suits just never go out of style.

1997 National Academic Quiz Tournaments

John Sheahan, Steve Wang, Christian Edstrom, Mike Zarren

After going 10-2 in the 2 preliminary Swiss rounds of what was at the time the largest tournament ever (64 teams, including Imperial College of London, the British University Challenge Champions), with losses to Harvard and Berkeley, the Chicago team won 4 playoff matches to enter the final best 2-of-3 with Harvard. After splitting the first two matches, Chicago was down by 95 points in the final game with 1:10 left to go. A -5 by Harvard and two consecutive "Power Points" buzzes by Mike Zarren, along with perfect bonus conversion, allowed us to tie the game at 265 at the buzzer. John Sheahan then 15'd the first of 3 overtime questions. Neither team correctly answered the second question, and Harvard, knowing they needed an early correct answer, guessed incorrectly at the final question. Sheahan nailed it, sealing the victory at 290-265. This final game was later acknowledged as the "Greatest Moment in Chicago College Bowl History" by many past & present team members. It also received the most votes in a recent poll on the national quiz bowl mailing list as "The Most Exciting Match Ever."

1998 Penn Bowl 007

John Sheahan, Mike Zarren, Nitin Pagedar, Stephanie Walker

After going 15-0 in the round-robin of the Plaisance bracket, this team handily defeated John's Hopkins in the first round of the single-elim playoff. Beating Stanford by 20 in the quarterfinals, the team advanced to a close semifinal match against Michigan A. With Michigan ahead by 20 points with 8 seconds left, they called a time-out. Stunningly, they failed to take a clock-expiring -5, and John Sheahan answered the next tossup after "He is the best remaining example of Old Attic..." (Aristophanes). We 30'd the bonus to win after time had expired- the second year in a row in which the Chicago team pulled out a crucial last-second win at Penn en route to a victory. In the final, we beat Vanderbilt A by 185. Another highlight of this weekend was John Edwards (playing alone for Howard U) defeating the Harvard A team by 5 in the round robin.

(With the advent of NAQT, Penn Bowl has lost some of its "national championship" stature, and thus Chicago Penn wins (like 1999) will no longer be listed here.)

1999 National Academic Quiz Tournaments

Andrew Yaphe, Mike Zarren, Alice Chou, Sarah Bagby

Chicago dominated this tournament, going 15-0 on the weekend, including 3 victories over Berkeley. Our only 2 close games at this tournament were against Harvard (Sarah sealed the win by 5 with a last-second "herpes" buzz.) and Michigan (Alice's last-second 15 with "Jennie Gearhart" & 5 points on the ensuing bonus won us the game by 5.) Because of the NAQT ladder playoff system, we never played Maryland or Stanford, two pre-tournament favorites who didn't fare quite as well as expected. Our Division 2 team also finished second this weekend. This tournament also marked the end of a 70-0 year for teams including Andrew, Sarah, and Mike.

1999 College Bowl, Inc.

Mike Zarren, Alice Chou, Samuel Bennett, Chris Zimpleman, Matthew Gealy.

Not picked by anyone to win given the absence of Andrew Yaphe, Chicago won an extremely close best 2-of-3 final in Gainesville versus a strong Michigan team. After going 12-3 (losses to U-Washington, Iowa, and Michigan) in the round-robin, Chicago faced an undefeated Michigan team in the finals. The first game was all Chicago- we won 265-155 in a game that was never close. Michigan dominated the second game, winning 350-135. The final game was close; Michigan was up 40 at the half, but we took a 225-150 lead with 2 minutes remaining. Michigan fought back to tie at 220 with 15 seconds left, and 10 seconds later, Michigan incorrectly answered a tossup ("Basque") putting Michigan down by 5, and winning the game for us. ("Frisian" was the right answer.) This marked at least the 6th time that a Michigan team had lost to Chicago on the last question over the previous 3 years. Other highlights of the weekend included a visit to the fantastic restaurant owned by Alice's parents, Mike Zarren finishing second on "Win College Bowl's Money," a Peter Freeman-coached Arizona State team finishing 4th; Mike getting a question on the U of C in the All-Star game ("This university wouldn't give an honorary degree to Queen Elizabeth because she lacked academic credentials"); and Alice nominating the eventual Pat Moonen Award winner, Jason Thweatt.

1999 Academic Competition Federation

Andrew Yaphe, Samuel Bennett, Sarah Bagby, Ryan Scranton, Matthew Gealy

Despite a couple close games, this tournament was all Chicago, as the second-place team, Maryland, finished with 4 more losses (14-4) than Chicago A (18-0), with two of those losses being to the Chicago team. Chicago thus completed the first ever "triple crown." There's little else very interesting about this tournament; the format almost assured that (except in the case of very evenly matched teams) there wouldn't be a down-to-the-wire final. Interesting moments included the awarding of the first Gordon Carper award to Dr. Carper, the infamous Columbia forfeit dispute, and a submitted (but not used) question by Texas-Austin whose answer was "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo." Alice and Mike particularly enjoyed reading a question about Scrooge McDuck (at ACF!) which included the words "Multiplijillion" and "Obsequintillion." Andrew was the #1 All-Star, also going 10-2 in the All-Star game. Mike insisted on being the tournament director, so he was unable to compete for a personal triple crown. We also learned after the tournament that Al Whited mixes a mean frozen drink.

2000 ACF Nationals


2003 CBI

2003 ACF Nationals


2005 Academic Competition Federation Division II

Pericles "The Disease" Abbasi, Ray Sun, Seth Samelson, Kannan Mahadevan, Bruce Arthur

With Will Turner and David Rappaport not attending ACF Nationals, Chicago's novice team was able to comfortably win the Div II title at Northwestern. Despite suffering a loss to fellow Div II team Virginia (and despite Pope John Paul II dying during the tournament), they sealed their victory by twice defeating future ACF Editor Eric Kwartler and his UT-Austin team, a feat they had earlier achieved at ACF Regionals.

2005 NAQT ICT Division II

Tim McElroy, Seth Samelson, Kannan Mahadevan, Bruce Arthur, Jeremy Newtson

Few took Chicago's Div II team seriously after they lost to Michigan at Sectionals, but they qualified as a wildcard for the NCT in New Orleans. While adding Seth Samelson strengthened the team, they still suffered some losses in both the preliminary and playoff rounds of the tournament and won three games by just five points. Still, they managed to tie Harding, whom they had lost to earlier in the tournament, for second seed and triumphed in a one-game playoff marked by an offensive explosion. But there was still first-seeded Michigan, led by Will Turner and David Rappaport, to get past -- a team that had consistently defeated Chicago during the regular season, and which had beaten them earlier that day. Michigan could claim the national title with just a single win over Chicago; Chicago needed to win two straight. Amazingly enough, Chicago did what it failed to do all season long and soundly defeated Michigan twice in a row. According to NAQT CFO Chad Kubicek, it was the first time in NAQT history that a team needed to win a tiebreaker to get into the final game had won the national title. Even more amazingly, no member of the team placed in the Top Scorers or the All-Star team.

2006 Academic Competition Federation Undergraduate

Seth Samelson, Bruce Arthur, Kannan Mahadevan, Ray Sun

The existence of the ACF Undergrad Title is disputed; the only evidence for it is an asterixed reference on the Virginia Commonwealth University team website (which claims VCU won it in 2005, but that it might not exist) and ACF Nationals Editor Andrew Yaphe's response of "yeah, sure" when asked if it exists. But if it does exist, Chicago won it in 2006 with a B team that soundly defeated Leo Wolpert's Virginia and Paul Litvak's CMU teams in the preliminaries (despite the distraction of a loud and oddly-appropriate marijuana legalization rally happening outside during the latter) and then made it into the top playoff bracket (the only all-Undergrad team there) by beating Matt Weiner on bonus conversion -- an event which led Mr. Weiner to publicly condemn the tournament's playoff system. Having clinched the Undergraduate Championship, Chicago B then almost defeated eventual overall winner Texas A&M before losing a close match on the last two tossups. The same team went on to finish second to Williams in NAQT Undergrad play at ICT the next week.

2007 ACF Nationals


2008 ACF Nationals

2009 ACF Nationals


2010 ACF Nationals

National Records:

The University of Chicago leads all other schools in national championships, whether or not one counts Penn Bowl as such. (19 or 15.) Chicago has won 40% of all available nationals since 1990.

Chicago also holds the record for number of tournaments won in an academic year, with 15 in 1998-99. (The next highest was the 93-94 Chicago team, with 8.) Andrew Yaphe currently holds the all-time record for national championships, with 8. In addition, Chicago's John Sheahan holds the all-time personal records for for tournaments won (35). Chicago's Mike Zarren is the only person ever to lose to the Region 14 team two years in a row at the CBI NCT, and holds the record for tournaments won in a single year with 12. Steve Wang holds the distinction of being the only straight man in the country who closely follows figure skating. Finally, Chicago's John Edwards holds the both the record for hairiest back, and that for most drinks during a tournament weekend. Unfortunately no one seems to be able to remember quite how many that was.

For a history of the team before 1980, click here, and click here for a list of every Chicago tournament victory since 1980!

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