What is College Bowl?

What is College Bowl?

In a typical College Bowl match, two teams of up to four players face off, both trying to earn more points than the opposing side. The first question is a tossup question, which would be structured something like this:

In it, the author recounts how Piero di Cosimo watched hospital patients projectile-vomit at a wall, and how Fra Bartolomeo died of an overdose of figs. Its introduction establishes the author's conception of the biomorphic nature of art, which culminates in the terza maniera , characterized by Leonardo da Vinci. Despite its centrality to the study of the Renaissance, anecdotes included in it, such as Giotto's drawing a perfect circle to gain a commission, are probably apocryphal. The first edition of it was published in 1550, with Michelangelo the only living man included, but the author inserted himself into the 1568 version. This is, for ten points, what foundational work of art historiography by Giorgio Vasari?

        ANSWER: The Lives of the Artists or The Lives of the Most Excellent Italian Painters, Sculptors, and Architects (accept Le Vite delle più eccellenti pittori, scultori, ed architettori; prompt on "Vasari" before the last word)

Competitors are allowed to answer or "buzz in" at any point in the question; however, they are not allowed to consult with their teammates before giving a response. In some formats, correct responses early in the question - before the "power mark," an undisclosed point midway through the tossup - yield more points. Point values are as follows:

Correct, before the power mark: +15 points

Correct, after the power mark or if no power mark exists: +10 points

Incorrect, before the end of the question: -5 points

Incorrect, after the end of the question: 0 points

If a player answers a question incorrectly early in the question, his or her teammates do not have an opportunity to buzz in. The other team listens until the end of the question to answer. If neither team gives the correct answer, no bonus question is read, and the moderator proceeds to the next tossup.

Once a player has answered a tossup question correctly, the moderator stops reading and proceeds to a bonus question, a three-part question giving one team opportunity to earn up to thirty points. The topic of the bonus has nothing to do with that of the tossup. Unlike with tossups, players are allowed to collaborate in determining an answer. A sample bonus might look like this:

Given the biblical quotation, identify the book from which it comes for ten points each.

[10] "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

        ANSWER: Matthew

[10] "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation"

        ANSWER: Isaiah

[10] "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

        ANSWER: Leviticus

After the end of a bonus question, the moderator proceeds to the next tossup. Usually a round consists of twenty tossups, and although twenty tossups are written, they are often not all read. Occasionally a round goes into tiebreakers - extra tossups and bonuses - and the team with more points at the end of the round wins.

Because we go to so many tournaments, we play with several different styles of questions, of which National Academic Quiz Tournaments (NAQT) and Academic Competition Federation (ACF) are the most popular. To see some typical questions, look in the Stanford Packet Archive. For a more general discussion of quiz bowl, including formats and subject matter, consult the Wikipedia article on Quizbowl.

The best way to learn how College Bowl works is by playing. Harvard students of all ages and levels of experience are welcome at our practices, which are held on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 7-9 PM in Memorial Hall 303.