posted on Dec. 7: Quiz bowl team conquers Cambridge, heads West


McMaster's quiz bowl champs conquered Cambridge. Now they've set their sights on California and the District of Columbia.

The team is hoping to raise money so they can attend two competitions — at the University of California (Santa Barbara) and George Washington University (Washington, D.C.) — as a tune up to the Canadian national academic quiz championship in Waterloo in February.

The Level IV students who make up the McMaster Quiz Bowl club — Ian Philp, Matthew Choi, Evan Jones and Adam Fysh — were delighted with their performance at the Oxford University Fall Invitational Tournament last month.

They finished in the top 10, beating three different teams from Cambridge, a team from University College London and Dartmouth College. About 25 universities and colleges from Britain and the U.S. competed in the event. The McMaster team was the only Canadian entry.

“Our placing has been making waves,” said Philp, an Arts & Science Program student.
“We're pretty proud. We're desperately looking for funding and help, whatever people can offer.” He estimates it will cost up to $8,000 for the four members to attend both U.S. competitions in January.
Philp said participating in the two tournaments before the Canadian championships will give the team an edge.

“It's kind of like the NBA All-Star game,” said Philp. “This is world- class competition and we could use the experience and practice playing with people of that calibre.”
Philp said several U.S. teams are funded just like an athletic team, have coaches and are equipped with buzzer systems and practice question packs.

The McMaster team practises individually and as a group but does not have a coach or practice packs.
“They can afford to buy them after a tournament and test themselves,” said Philp, “whereas we're going from our own knowledge and making up our questions.”

At Oxford, the questions were based on challenging topics such as ancient Greek mythology and advanced particle physics to naming various soups — borscht, vichyssoise and gazpacho were the answers — and Broadway musicals (Rent, Music Man and Chess). Philp said the provost's office and the McMaster Students Union contributed money to help defray the costs of the England trip.
“We want to keep representing McMaster,” he said. “It's farther than any Canadian team has been and we want to continue to follow this road.”