Quiz teams win big in academic ‘Triple Crown’By Josh Schonwald
Chicago’s quiz team, which competes in collegiate competitions that test academic knowledge and recall, won two legs of what is the quizzers’ equivalent of the Triple Crown.
On Sunday, April 26, Chicago took home the granddaddy of all quiz championships, the prestigious CBI, College Bowl, Inc. national title, defeating the University of Florida, 400 to 195 in the finals. Held at the Philadelphia campus of the University of Pennsylvania, the national finals of the College Bowl tournament are analogous to college basketball’s Final Four–15 teams, winners of their regional tournaments, participate in a round-robin contest; four teams advance to the finals.
Just three weeks earlier, on Sunday, April 6, a University team won the NAQT, the National Academic Quiz Tournament national championship in Los Angeles, beating the University of California-Berkeley in the finals.
In the NAQT tournament, the Chicago team, led by graduate student Subash Maddipoti, did not lose a game. Considered one of the country’s best quiz bowl players, Maddipoti turned in one of the most dominating performances in quiz tournament history, scoring an average of nearly 130 points a game, more than twice the amount of the tournament’s second-best players.
Maddipoti, who just two years ago led a team at the University of Illinois to the NAQT championship, has an ideal background for a quizzer–a deep knowledge in both the sciences and humanities. A former Ph.D. student in microbiology, he is currently a graduate student in English. “I definitely played very well,” he said. But, he added, the performance was the result of hard work and weeks of refreshing his knowledge of everything from who wrote what to what year a particular treaty was signed.
To win the College Bowl tournament, the oldest and best-known collegiate quiz competition and an offshoot of the 1950s television game show “The General Electric College Bowl,” Chicago usurped the University of Michigan, a three-time defending champion.
Only two teams in quiz bowl history have won all three national championships in the same year: the University of Michigan’s 2002 team and Chicago’s 1999 team.
A traditional quiz bowl powerhouse, Chicago has won 101 tournaments and 12 national championships in its history, more than any other team. Chicago has won the CBI title four times, the ACF title four times, and in its seven-year history, Chicago has dominated the NAQT tournament, winning the national championship four times.
While each of the three tournaments has differences in scoring and format, all quiz tournaments test academic knowledge and quick recall. Questions span academic fields, from history and science to literature and geography.
“It’s nice to go out with a championship,” said Peter Onyisi, a fourth-year, who is the president of the College Bowl club.
Members of Chicago’s national championship NAQT team were Susan Ferrari, Maddipoti, Onyisi and Matt Reece. The CBI team included Edward Cohn, Ferrari, Christian Kammerer and Onyisi.