FAQ: societies and events

Getting involved with quizbowl can seem complicated, so we have prepared this list of frequently asked questions to help anyone who would like to join the community. Additional information can be found on our resources page, but also do not hesitate to contact us at contact@quizbowl.co.uk or on Facebook if there are any other questions.

How do I get involved?

UK Quizbowl’s activities are focused on supporting university quiz societies and organising quiz tournaments. If your university has a quiz society, then that is the best place to start, and they should be able to help you attend tournaments. Tournaments are advertised on this website, and associated social media accounts, as well as by the societies which host them.

When and where are this term’s tournaments?

We have a calendar of events here; tournament announcements are also published on our Facebook page. Tournaments usually take place on Saturdays within academic terms. Regular host locations include London, Warwick, Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh.

How do I attend a tournament?

Virtually all tournaments require some kind of registration in advance – there is unlikely to be a space for anyone turning up on the day. Tournament announcements will contain details of how to register for them: this is usually either via a brief registration form or an email to the organiser. Most tournaments require you to enter as a team, usually from your university society, but some offer individual entry. If in doubt, get in contact with the person or society organising the tournament.

I don’t have a quiz society at my university, or anyone else going from my university. Can I still get involved?

Yes! Many of UK Quizbowl tournaments will have spaces for teams made up of individual players who have come from different universities. There may be an option for registering individually, but if not, just get in touch with the person or society organising the tournament.

How do I set up a quiz society at my university?

The practicalities of setting up a society vary from university to university, so it is best to see what your university requires. You will need members, preferably from multiple years to ensure that it survives beyond your own university career, and regular events. Even if you do not come to many tournaments, it is important to maintain regular activity, whether through practices or other events.

How many people can I have on a team?

You can have as many people as you like on your team, but, for the vast majority of tournaments, only four people are allowed to play in a match, so teams with extra players would have to rotate playing members across the matches of the tournament.

How long does a tournament last?

This depends on the number of rounds, which depends on the number of teams and the structure of the tournament. As a rough guide, large-scale tournaments usually begin at around 10 am and aim to finish between 5-6 pm, made up of around 10 rounds (with a break for lunch).

How much does it cost to attend a tournament?

Tournament fees usually range from £30 to £60 per team. There are usually discounts available for new teams, and teams who have travelled long distances to attend. These fees pay the costs of organising the tournament, which includes paying the question writers, possibly venue hire, as well as supporting the society which hosts the tournaments.

In tandem with this, hosting tournaments can be a useful way for new societies to earn money to put towards attending other tournaments.

How do I host a tournament?

UK Quizbowl will advertise the upcoming tournaments of a term to university societies and invite offers from them to host these. Decisions regarding hosting will involve how many rooms a particular tournament needs, the accessibility of host locations, and the distribution of host locations across the country.

What are the questions like?

Tournament announcements should give an idea of the difficulty of the questions, but this is, naturally, quite subjective.

As a rule of thumb, an example set of easier questions (from 2017’s British Novice set) can be found here. Harder questions (from 2017’s Oxford Open Tournament) can be found here. Much more information about questions can be found in our introduction to quizbowl and on the list of quizbowl resources.

Where do the questions come from?

There are several sources for questions. Some will be written by members of UK Quizbowl (like the Novice set above), some by members of similar American organisations, and some by members of individual university societies, both in the UK (like the Oxford set above) and North America. They are written by people who are, or have been recently, active quiz players.

How do I improve?

Practice! Also, see the resources page for links relevant to getting better at quizzing.

Will this help me get on (or win?) University Challenge?

Probably, yes. Many quizbowl enthusiasts have found success on the show, but we can make no guarantees…

I am not a student. Can I get involved?

UK Quizbowl is primarily involved in the organisation of university student quizzing, but there are competitions throughout the year which are classed as ‘Open’, and as such anyone is eligible to apply to play in them – these events are liable to be oversubscribed, though. If you are under 18, please contact the person organising the tournament before registering.

Where do I get buzzers?

UK Quizbowl plays tournaments using lock-out buzzer sets like these. Buzzer sets are quite expensive, though. We hope that UK Quizbowl will be able to support university quiz societies in purchasing them, should they need financial help. (Some quiz societies, confident in their abilities with electronics, have made their own buzzer sets…)