A year round up in UK quizbowl

A year round up in UK quizbowl

Outgoing President Michael Kohn (alongside some contributions from Blog Manager Oscar O’Flanagan) reflects on the past year in UKQB, and outlines some of our projects that we’ve introduced over the last year in addition to our stewardship of most quizbowl tournaments throughout the year:

A frequent question I, and other committee members, have been asked before is “what does UKQB do”? Founded in 2018 to be a central organising body for quizbowl in the UK, we are an organisation who organise the quizbowl calendar, prepare hosts, and use the rest of our energy to improve the resources and encourage growth of quizbowl across the UK.

Having served as various committee positions for the previous three years, when I started my time as President, there were lots of projects that had been ideas or in development over the past years that I was keen to see through. But before I get into all of that, here’s a little round up of statistics on the year and tournaments by our wonderful blog manager Oscar:

The 2023-24 academic year has been the busiest ever for British quizbowl, with a whopping 16 tournaments having been run since September, catering to players with both little and extensive experience, and everyone in between. This includes four novice tournaments, two intermediate, three medium and six tournaments on the harder end, including four opens. Across all of these, over 200 students have represented 15 different universities, of which 6 – Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Imperial, Southampton and Warwick – have managed to win at least one tournament. British Novice drew a record 24 teams across both sites, while a staggering 31 teams tried out our BSQC qualifier this year. We've also seen Durham and Sheffield hosting their first student tournaments – a boon to the burgeoning northern quizbowl scene. Further down south, Cambridge and Southampton hosted their first student tournaments since before the pandemic.

But, we're not done yet for this year; in addition to three further open tournaments, we'll be capping off the student quizbowl calendar with one more medium-difficulty tournament hosted at Imperial. Later in the summer, we also plan to run an open tournament of a more intermediate difficulty, with the hope of being more accessible to non-students without experience of playing quizbowl at university. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media pages for updates there!

At the start of the year, several members of the committee, and a computer science friend of Thomas Hart worked to set up a new UKQB server. I wanted to see a space that put the students first; not only for packet readings, but also to encourage a wider quizbowl community where students from all universities could interact, and share resources. During my time in quizbowl, I’d only really made strong friends from universities other than Imperial during my third year- those inter-society connections had been previously perhaps missing in UK Quizbowl, at least in the most accessible senses, and I’m pleased to see that the server has been well received and is so active that I’ve had to mute several channels. One highlight has been ‘Quizmas’ last December, when many of its members got together on Zoom to share fun quizzes and formats they had been experimenting with. I would encourage everyone who wants to read packets of all difficulties against people of similar experience levels to coordinate these on the UKQB server – I’m sure we can find you a reader from UKQB too.

We also invested UKQB’s funds into tournament resources. At the start of the year we bought two high-quality Anderson buzzer sets which can be brought to tournaments, particularly with the increasing geographical diversity of host universities, so that there will be sufficient, and good, sets at tournaments. After a lot of research, we also bought our recording equipment which you might have seen at ACF Regionals or BSQC. This has lead to some high definition recordings of the BSQC final, and audio recordings of many Regs games that are in our to-edit pile. For this reason, we’ve added a new post to the UKQB committee to head the video editing and manage what we’re recording for our social media. We can also use this for more than just recording quizbowl matches – what else would you like to see on our YouTube? Let us know.

After a one-year hiatus, British Novice was successfully revived and head edited by Rhys Lewis, and involved writers from many universities and two mirror sites – and, for the first time – mirrors across the Atlantic, edited by IQBT in a move that has added “Atlanticization” to the quizbowl dictionary. BSQC was Briticised and coordinated by a team headed by Evan Lynch – look out for a write up of this soon!

Our outreach and communications team have been answering questions from societies throughout the year and publicising the tournaments via our mailing lists – if you’re not on our two mailing lists for individuals (for open tournaments and moderating), do get in touch. We’ve laid the foundations for universities in London with historically low quizbowl turnout to group together to form a University of London quizbowl society, which I hope materialises over the next few years, or that university students can turn up to neighbouring universities’ societies.

We’ve also started on a series of Zoom discussions on the safeguarding/welfare side of things. Fatima Sheriff headed a discussion along with 3 UKQB members on mental health in quizbowl; a writeup can be found on the discord. We are planning in the future to discuss etiquette, diversity, as well as host a forum between societies (and interested individuals) on the best ways to run quiz societies and recruit individuals.

Overall it’s been a great year for quizbowl, not without the customary chaos of at least one tournament (the train strikes at ACF Fall spring to mind), and I’m really proud of what our committee has achieved; the student community seems bigger, livelier and much more connected than ever. As I get busier with work (rumours have it I have a PhD to write sometime), I hope to see those of you reading this around at open tournaments or the occasional packet reading on our discord! I wish all the best to our new committee, which looks to be the biggest yet…

UK Quizbowl

Student buzzer quiz tournaments in the UK.