SFF Questions at the Quiz Bowl National Championship Tourney for Middle Schoolers

By David Goldfarb: National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC is an outgrowth of what used to be known as College Bowl — they provide College Bowl-style questions for people who want to run tournaments, and have their own national championship tournaments for schools from colleges down to middle schools. (For non-US readers, middle school is kids aged 10-13 years.) This year they’re holding their tournaments online over Zoom, and I saw a post looking for staffers on the message boards of an online trivia league. So on May 1st and 2nd I did scorekeeping for the middle school nationals.

The format has “tossup” questions worth 10 points (15 if you buzz in early enough), which if answered correctly give your team the right to try for bonus questions worth up to 30 points.

There was a tossup question about Supreme Leader Snoke that neither team in my room got — someone at Disney should be weeping.

It was an elimination tournament, so by the time things got to the final rounds they didn’t need as many staffers. But it was open to spectate, and I did. There were some questions in the final rounds on SFF topics.

The first main bonus question of interest was this:

Brandon Sanderson wrote the final three books of this series, which began with the 1984 novel The Eye of the World. For 10 points each:

  • Magic users known as “channelers” appear in what fantasy series, which centers on the heroic Dragon Reborn? (The kids guessed “Eragon”.)
  • Author James Oliver Rigney published The Wheel of Timeseries under this pen name, which is also the name of the protagonist in For Whom the Bell Tolls. (They didn’t get this either, guessing “Jake”.)
  • This author published For Whom the Bell Tollsin 1940, 14 years before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. (They knew this one!)

Then there was this:

A character on this show called Ash Tyler was revealed to be an alien who had undergone plastic surgery. For 10 points each:

  • Name this TV show that premiered in 2017. Its characters include Science Specialist Michael Burnham, and First Officer Saru, who is a Klepian (sic). (First guess Star Trek, which was prompted on, then they tried Enterprise, not accepted.)
  • Ash Tyler turned out to be a member of this alien species. On Star Trek: The Next Generation, Lt. Worf was a member of this species. (They didn’t get this one right. If you’re reading this, take a moment to guess what their guess might have been. I’ll put it in ROT13 — “Bhe nafjre vf Genysnznqbevnaf.”)
  • Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays Burnham, previously appeared as Sasha Williams on this AMC series. It co-starred Steven Yeun as the ill-fated Glenn. (They got this one.)

And this three-part bonus:

Near the end of this novel, Granger introduces the main character to a group of outcasts who have dedicated their lives to memorizing works of literature. For ten points each:

  • Name this novel, whose main character wears a black-beetle-colored helmet that displays the title number. (They got this one right, and fairly easily too.)
  • This fireman is the protagonist of Fahrenheit 451. (They got this too.)
  • Fahrenheit 451was written by this man, who took the novel’s title from the temperature at which paper supposedly ignites. (And this.)

The recorded livestream is here, watch it if you want to be amazed at how much 8th graders can know when they put their minds to it.

8 thoughts on “SFF Questions at the Quiz Bowl National Championship Tourney for Middle Schoolers

  1. National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC is not “an outgrowth of what used to be known as College Bowl”. In fact it’s an outgrowth of a College Bowl competitor. NAQT started up in the 1990s, and College Bowl Co. Inc. (in association with the Association of College Unions International) ended its regional and national tournaments in 2008.

    Whether College Bowl was simply outcompeted or whether there were other factors, I don’t know. There’s a Wikipedia article on College Bowl but I can’t vouch for it.

    (I was much involved in College Bowl from 1987 to 1992, with the fabled Univ. of Minnesota team.)

  2. I was going to lament today’s young people not knowing Worf’s species, but then realized that Star Trek: The Next Generation was about 30 years ago, so roughly 20 years before some of these contestants were born. I doubt I could correctly answer any question about the television aired 20 years before I was born, including whether or not it existed.

  3. @gottacook: The NAQT website says that it was formed by College Bowl players and coaches, if I’m reading it correctly. Even though they started out competing against College Bowl Co. Inc., I think calling it “an outgrowth” isn’t unreasonable. In any case, the point is to give a little context to what these questions are, for people who might have heard of College Bowl but not Quiz Bowl, rather than to dive deep into its history.

  4. D.G.: I didn’t mean to appear as though I have any reason to defend CB Co. Inc.; some of my ex-teammates happily switched 20 years ago, when both organizations were active, and I’m sure I’d have done the same if I’d remained in Minneapolis. As to the question of whether people reading this board are already familiar with (at least) the old TV version, I’d guess that most of the Americans here would have heard of College Bowl, or at least would have seen the scene in Diner with a segment of a TV episode.

  5. I remember the old “GE College Bowl” TV program from “way back when”. In fact, I was a member of my college team (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) my senior year (1967–gosh–almost 55 years ago); we won one and lost one. They were my second and third appearances on national TV. (The first was the year before, when the UNC-CH Men’s Glee Club, in which I was one of the baritones, performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” just before our European Concert tour. I’ve not been on national TV since.) Got two free weekend trips to New York out of College Bowl, and a medal, which I put on a bracelet and gave to my mother. (It was passed back to me after she died; I still have it.) “GE College Bowl” was the ancestor of the present-day College Bowl franchises. (There used to be a similar program on British TV called “University Challenge”.)

  6. @Sam Long

    (There used to be a similar program on British TV called “University Challenge”.)

    There still is. People post episodes to Youtube. You can watch them.

  7. Quiz bowlers more deeply knowledgable than me can clarify this, but the way I understand it University Challenge was the British licensee of College Bowl and when College Bowl went into suspended animation (it never really died) University Challenge continued.

    Something happened because College Bowl is coming back as a summer show on NBC hosted by Peyton Manning.

  8. Martin is largely correct. College Bowl was running off-camera tournaments until 2008. It has some association with the Honda Campus All-Star Challenge, a tournament still running in 2021 and sponsored by Honda for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. I don’t know if College Bowl merely licenses the format or does more in organizing the HCASC.

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