Quiz competition in Australia/New Zealand

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Quiz competition in Australia/New Zealand

Post by bsmith »

I (somewhat jokingly) considered adding an Australian state-by-state breakdown in the other thread, where D- or F would be applied everywhere. Instead, I did some brief investigations to see what is actually going on Down Under.

As a bit of an intro, I attended a high school in Melbourne for parts of grades 10 and 11. I played Canadian quiz competitions before and after my stint in Australia, but nothing in Melbourne itself. At the time, I didn’t get the impression that such competitions existed, but I attended a public school where the students were more focused on getting sports scholarships (or pro contracts) rather than academic pursuits. Nevertheless, there is a widespread semi-private school system in Australia that has been active in the usual individual mail-in math and science competitions. There isn’t much in the way of buzzer recall competitions, but here are a few I found:

University Challenge, popular in the UK, ran in Australia and New Zealand in the 1970s and 80s. New Zealand rebooted it this year, with Canterbury defeating Auckland in the final after an 8-team round-robin.

It’s Academic has been on television on-and-off since the 1960s, and is currently aired. I’m actually not that familiar with the specifics of the DC-area show, but I believe it follows the same format. It used to have teams from across Australia, but most schools these days are near the studio in Sydney.

Histrionics aired 2010-12 as a history quiz show for students in years 7-10. It had multiple choice and quick question recall, but the craziest thing is that for a 8-question category about a specific time period, they had participants dress up in costume for the era.

Off television…

IHBB has begun in Australia with events last September in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide. Later that month, they went to Auckland and Christchurch in New Zealand.

The Kids’ Lit Quiz, which began in New Zealand in the 1980s, now takes place in most of the English-speaking world, including a small portion of Canada and the US. It only recently took hold in Australia in 2012 in Queensland and New South Wales. It is specific to literature and mythology for students aged 10-13 (middle school for most education systems). I have never heard of this in North America, but you may have. Regional questions are one-liners that are either answered by buzzer or as a graded worksheet (depending on what resources are on hand in each region). The national/international championships, however, use multi-line tossups on buzzers. They still use “almanac clues” like birthplaces or publication dates, but it is surprisingly closer to “good” than most quiz competitions in the rest of the world.

I don’t know how to classify “EducationPerfect”. It is primarily an educational tool for the Australian and New Zealand curricula, but test results are gathered and used as qualifications for an annual championship. It started in 2012, but already is in over 1000 primary and secondary schools in Oceania and southeast Asia. The format is typing answers to one-line questions on a computer program. For the championships, top players attempt to answer as many questions as possible correctly in the given time frame. There is also a gala to recognize winners for various subjects (including one for “Brain Bee”, which is not the “Brain Bowl” I initially searched, but the competition specific to neurology). Unfortunately, it is possible to win this not by answering specific questions faster than other players, but through a Red Bull-fueled marathon session of answering as much of the huge database as possible (e.g.: a player answering 900 of 1000 questions correctly would lose to a player getting 901 of 10,000 questions). This would not be considered quizbowl or even “academic recall”, but I suspect that teachers that are introduced to quizbowl would just conflate the two and say “oh, we do EducationPerfect”.

Finally, as is typical throughout North America and Britain, universities and pubs hold their own quizzes. Melbourne seems to be the hotbed for it.

Quizbowl proper in Australia and New Zealand would probably need an influx of North American students to get any traction even just at the university level. Unfortunately, distance (and to a lesser extent, time zones) is a big barrier, and getting a critical mass interested in “good quizbowl” beyond IHBB is little more than a dream. As such, this is more an information post than a call for evangelism.
Ben Smith
Ottawa '08 & '10

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