Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
February 22nd, 2005
Quiz Team


Quiz Team mediocre against McNicholas

Boy have I got some good stuff today. In three closely watched matches at Cincinnati State this afternoon, the St. X Quiz Team finishes off the season with one infinitesimally close loss and two wins against McNicholas.

Read on for the details…


St. X came into the Varsity match anxiously today, because our precarious three-way tie for first place in the league was on the line. So were the historical records: as I reported previously, we have a history of defeating McNick in competition.

Both teams started slow, with neither team scoring in the American Literature round. With the Math round, we were able to strike an early 6–2 lead, answering some of the following questions:

Evaluate the sine of 120 degrees.
Evaluate the cosine of 120 degrees.
Evaluate the tangent of 120 degrees.

We easily maintained our lead for a few more rounds, until McNick began catching up to us. By the time the Category Rounds had ended, they were ahead 25–26. Some noteworthy questions:

What common childhood disease is caused by a form of the Herpes virus?
In physics, stress is defined as the force applied to an object over its area. What kind of stress is parallel to the plane, rather than perpendicular to it, and requires four forces compressed into two?

The Lightning Rounds helped out slightly, increasing our lead by four points, but we then proceeded to give McNick a free ride, allowing them to score around ten Lightning Round questions consecutively, many of them easy questions as well. Of the few questions that we did answer correctly:

What branch of physics deals with the relationship between forces and the objects that they act on?

In the end, the Varsity team suffered their fourth loss of the season, 49–50, thus finishing the season with a disappointing 11–4 record. Even after it was acknowledged that we had lost, McNicholas’s coach in all her persistance attempted to challenge one of the questions during the match, in order to gain a two-point lead, instead of the current one-point lead. Needless to say, her pitiful attempt failed.

Junior Varsity

Just before the Junior Varsity match began, we began a new tradition: the sharpening of pencils. Seriously, there was a line for the sharpener. Even though each desk was stocked with a fully-sharpened pencil. Perhaps it was some kind of mental exercise, to get the brain moving, just like they got the crank moving.

The JV team fared only slightly better this afternoon. After the uneventful (as usual) Alphabet Round, Mr. Sunderhaus, today’s moderator, was called up to officiate a tie-breaker. Apparently Hamilton-Badin and St. Ursula were completely tied, an event unheard of in previous years.

We decided to wait it out, so when Mr. Sunderhaus came back, we continued the game. McNick maintained a slight lead over us for all the Category Rounds (16–24 at halftime), and impressively carried their lead over into the Lightning Round (38–41 after the third quarter). The most dynamic of the questions all came from the Life Sciences category:

What six-letter term describes a type of plant that completes its entire life cycle within one year?
What nine-letter term describes a type of plant that carries out its entire life cycle every year?
What eight-letter term describes a type of plant that completes its entire life cycle every two years?

Answer: Biennial— not “biannual,” as the team captain for McNick answered. More on this question later.

Mr. Sunderhaus told us that the Badin-Ursula tie was broken, giving Badin the victory. He actually heard an Ursula player whisper the answer first, but the team captain apparently misheard (similar to what happened to us at Northmont), and Badin took the point.

Yet again, he was called out of the room to officiate yet another tie, so the assistant captain of the opposing team decides that she’s qualified to moderate the match, which had already become somewhat heated. One of us cited “personal preference” as reason to instead wait until Mr. Sunderhaus returned, but the game went ahead anyways, despite our objections.

Mr. Weisbrod substituted me in for a few Category Rounds and a little of the Lightning Round. Though I came close to getting several answers, I didn’t quite make it. One of the questions I almost made:

What term refers to the separation of blacks and whites in—

Answer: Apartheid.

One of the McNicholas players rang in first, answering with “segregation.” Simultaneously, Harrison Lee and I begin ringing in to answer the question correctly – we both knew it; it was obvious. But even after we had rung in, the moderator would not recognize us, and continued reading: “…in South Africa.” Though she did give us credit for answering the question correctly, this “reader error” would nearly cost us the match.

At the very end of the match, we manage to pull a one-point lead on McNicholas, finishing the game at 46–45. McNick’s coach decides to challenge the answer about apartheid, which would have put us in yet another tie. But we counter with the realization that, if the moderator hadn’t accepted McNick’s incorrect “biannual” answer, we would’ve had the opportunity to score three points, which would’ve put us above McNicholas anyhow.

At this point, we were about ready to declare today another Northmont, recalling our extremely heated match against Milford that day.

Nevertheless, the Junior Varsity barely makes it out of the regular season with a perfect 7–0 record.

Second Reserve

Fortunately, the 2nd Reserve match was much more decisive. We more than doubled McNicholas’ score, finishing the game 77–47. This team also ends up with a perfect record, 4–0.

Yes, we’re upset.

Even if there isn’t an announcement tomorrow morning about today’s matches, people will find out about it. My excuse, as usual: I wasn’t even on the Varsity team. But we all know we need to work harder; in previous years, there was no talk of St. Xavier ever losing to another GCAL school. Now it’s just commonplace.

But upsets were also strangely commonplace in the league this year. Before today, the top four schools in the league all had a three-loss record for their Varsity teams – not something to brag about. And even at the Spring Tournament on Saturday, things didn’t go as planned: no, Moeller didn’t win. Neither did Ursuline or Ursula. In fact, it was Elder and LaSalle that won.

Football coaches recall that “strange” year in which LaSalle won the Cincinnati league. It’s the same strange year in Quizbowl, this year.