Individual Tournament Quizzing

Published: Feb 21, 2013 by James Lex

I don’t recall ever posting about this subject, primarily because it doesn’t really matter very much. It’s much like the Master Memorization Award, in that it appears impressive, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into effective team quizzing. However, it is a part of quizzing, and there are a few ways coaches can help their quizzers do well.

Next weekend at the River Classic, there will be an individual tournament. Here’s how I’ll advise my team:

1. Everyone plays. In an open-format Individual Tournament, where all quizzers are eligible to participate, I require all of mine to compete. Even my bench players are expected to play. Opens are usually held before the team quizzing, and I want everyone to get a good read on the questions. At the Missouri Classic this year, my substitute quizzer won in her first round even though she doesn’t hit a large volume of questions in our games.

Obviously, in a merit-based tournament (one where only the top 16 or 32 scorers at the end of the tournament compete), participation is limited to higher achievers. This is one of the few situations where I pay attention to individual scoring. If I have a quizzer floating around the cut line, I may shift some rereads their way to make sure they get in. This is especially true when there’s cash on the line for winners. Again, I don’t allow my guys to opt out.

2. Go for quiz outs early. In the games leading up to semi-final and final rounds, I tell my guys to go for quiz outs. Most of the time, these tournaments put four quizzers in a room, with the top two advancing. So in a 12-or 15-question game, taking five with a 20-point bonus is nearly always good enough to advance. This allows a quizzer who predominantly hits 10s to do well in these games. Another example from the Missouri Classic. My third chair is a classic 10-point specialists. She hits 10s and quotes almost exclusively, yet she was able to make the finals in the Individual Tournament by doing her job and avoiding mistakes.

First chair quizzers are usually expected to hold for the final 30 in team games. This is a mistake in individual quizzing. The last 30 is often in the final three questions, and in a close game you don’t want to put all your eggs in one 30-point basket. Go for the quiz out, even on a 10. A quiz out will advance you nearly every time.

3. Contest sparingly. I have, unfortunately, seen some Individual games turn into contest-a-paloozas. Obviously, if something is clearly ruled incorrectly, it ought to be called. However, judgment calls are unlikely to be overturned, and the time of the contest just slows the game down unnecessarily. Your quizzers are less likely to demonstrate their advanced knowledge of the rules and more likely to annoy the judges. Annoyed judges aren’t unfair, but you’re likely to lose a 50/50 judgment call. In Individual Quizzing (as well as team competition), I encourage my guys to focus on Validity and Additional Scripture. We’ll bring obvious correct and incorrect contests, but we don’t like to get bogged down in judgment calls.

Also, to follow a mini-tangent, contesting quotes is a fairly useless endeavor. If the judges are remotely competent, you shouldn’t win them unless there’s an error on the page. I tell my guys that I refuse to try and save them from their own bad answers. Tangent over.

4. Have fun. I always say the following words before my quizzers compete in an Individual Tournament: “Do your best and have fun. If you’re not having fun doing Bible Quiz, you’re doing it wrong.” My guys are a very team-oriented group, so they don’t usually get too emotionally invested in individual accolades. It’s a nice bonus, but our eyes are always focused on the big prize.

This strategy has proven to be very effective. Most of the time, at least two of the quizzers from our team advance all the way to the final round.

A final thought: Second-chair quizzers often do very well in these events. In a traditional 1-2-3 system, First chairs focus on the 30s, and the 20s are the second priority. The third chair is a 10-point specialist, which can make it difficult to outscore a top quizzer from another group.

Second chairs are greenlit to hit anything, with one caveat: Incorrect answers (especially on 30s) can really put us in a bad spot. However, because second chairs practice hitting everything, they don’t have to adjust their game plan much to do well in individual quizzing.