The student quizbowl calendar has kicked off, as it has many times before, with ACF Fall, a novice tournament hosted this year at the University of Cambridge. With 16 total teams in attendance, this was the largest tournament ever held by the Cambridge Quiz Society, as well as the largest in-person mirror of ACF Fall ever held in the UK, showcasing the continued healthy growth of inter-university quizbowl. Being set early in the academic year, ACF Fall provides a chance for both brand-new players and those with a bit of experience under their belt from the previous year to compete.
As with many years previously, a small team of writers set to work adapting the questions to suit a UK audience, swapping out the less accessible questions for slightly more British content. Thanks are owed to Ben Russell Jones, Rhys Lewis, Abigail Tan, Omer Keskin and Oliver Church for their efforts in ensuring the set was enjoyable for all that day.
Hosting in Cambridge came with unique logistical challenges. The large field necessitated splitting the tournament across Newnham College and Christ’s College, with two simultaneous morning briefings for the players. Furthermore, a string of train cancellations delayed the arrival of many teams, while trouble with the scoring software pushed the start time back again. However, the squad of experienced tournament staffers on hand helped to retrieve much of the time lost at the start.
The teams were split into four brackets to play a three-round round-robin, with the top two and bottom two from each being seeded into playoff brackets of eight for a fairer competition. Imperial A, Durham, Oxford B and Cambridge A, who fielded more experienced players in their teams, managed to clear their respective morning brackets—despite all but Cambridge being short-handed at the start.
Birmingham applauding Sheffield A following a close 270–240 victory in the seventh round.
The playoffs featured a plethora of unpredictable turns and dramatic moments. Durham snatched a win against Cambridge B in a round that had five points in it going into the final tossup in round 4. In the next round, Sheffield A would overturn a 105-point deficit against Warwick B, having been on negative points until the sixth tossup. In a seventh-round Imperial derby, Imperial B lagged behind Imperial C in score until nearly the very end, in what would be the only tiebreaker match in the tournament, which the B team took. Meanwhile, after six comfortable victories, the powerhouse that was Oxford B suffered a surprise defeat from Imperial A, thereby losing the advantage they would otherwise have had going into the final.
The tenth round concluded the proceedings, with Oxford B and Cambridge A tied on eight wins and one loss for a one-game final. With Oxford B having beaten Cambridge A earlier in the day by 280 points, and Cambridge A down a player since then, one would be forgiven for thinking it a foregone conclusion, but this was certainly not the case. By the halfway point, the lead had been exchanged four times, with both teams scoring impressively on the bonuses. The match was only decided at the final tossup, which Cambridge A took, making this the third year in a row where the Tabs have won ACF Fall. Full stats for the day are available here.
UK Quizbowl would like to thank the Cambridge Quiz Society for rising to the challenge and hosting a successful tournament, as well as the moderators who gave up their time to ensure everything ran smoothly, and of course, all the players for signing up and giving it their all. We hope to see many of you return for future tournaments—keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages for announcements.