Bow Tie Bowl Adapts Amid COVID-19 Crisis

“Dillon v. Gloss upheld the constitutionality of what Constitutional amendment that enabled Prohibition?” Answer: Amendment 18. This year’s Bow Tie Bowl features questions like this and more.

Open to all students and faculty, the Bow Tie Bowl is a single-elimination trivia tournament. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak this year, the Bow Tie Bowl is happening over Zoom. The format of the Bow Tie Bowl has not changed, but there will be new challenges due to going virtual. 

One of the challenges is ensuring that the functionality of the game proceeds as normal. When the Bowl was held at school, competitors buzzed in to answer questions, allowing the process to be fully automated and leaving Mr. Roger Wistar, instructor in computer science, free to concentrate on the other details of the round. With the virtual competition, however, Mr. Wistar faces a few technical challenges. He said, “I’ve recently been struggling to tell who buzzed in first, while also making sure to keep the flow of the game going.”

Each match of the Bow Tie Bowl features two opposing teams of three people. Each team may have up to one faculty member and can include students from all grades. One team will be eliminated each round until only two teams meet in the finals. Matches feature a combination of toss-up and bonus questions; the match ends when questions in the packet run out at approximately 23 rounds or after 20 minutes have passed. According to Mr. Wistar, the average number of rounds last year was 13-15. The Bow Tie Bowl features questions from the National Academic Quizbowl Tournament, which include a variety of topics such as history, science, and literature.  

Cooper Roh ’22, head of the Quiz Bowl Club and a competitor in this year’s Bow Tie Bowl, has experienced the difficulties of playing online. According to Roh, on questions in which discussion is permitted, it is difficult to communicate with teammates without giving the answer away. This has led to new strategies such as exposing wrong answers to confuse opponents, and has caused changes in the structure to make up for the problems.

Still, Roh urges everyone, experienced or not, to take a chance with trivia, either by watching some of the Bow Tie Bowl matches, or attending a few of the Quiz Bowl weekly meetings. For students looking to stay engaged with the community, watching or participating in the Bow Tie Bowl are perfect ways to stay connected during quarantine. Even for students with no experience in Quiz Bowl, watching the Bow Tie Bowl is an opportunity to learn and have fun. Roh quotes Quiz Bowl Club’s advisor, Mr. Eric Stone, saying, “There is nothing not worth learning.” 

Mr. Lou Pressman, former instructor in philosophy & religion, started the annual Bow Tie Bowl two decades ago. Four years ago, Mr. Wistar became the coordinator of the tournament. 

The Bow Tie Bowl raises money for a different local charity every year. Last year, the money raised went to Feed the Need, a soup kitchen in Torrington, Connecticut. However, this year’s virtual competition was free to enter. 

The tournament began last week with a match on April 20 and another on April 21. Watch out for an email from Mr. Wistar for a Zoom link to spectate.