The Williams College Bowl Team once again proved its academic prowess, winning the regional championships for the second year in a row. The four-person team, composed of Joel Iams ’01, Lydia Haile ’02, Sergio Espinosa ’02 and David Rosenblum ’03, is now headed to nationals, which will take place at the end of April.
College Bowl is similar to Jeopardy in that there is a moderator who asks questions on a variety of topics to two teams of four people. Each match consists of two eight-minute halves and about 17 to 20 questions. The players ring in when they think they know the correct response and then must answer without consulting the rest of their team. If the answer is correct, the team receives 10 points and the chance to answer a bonus question worth 20 to 30 points.
However, when they give a wrong response, the question is turned over to the other team, and, if the wrong answer was given before the question was finished, the team is penalized five points.
The regional competition is set up with two round-robin brackets. Williams’ first match was against Amherst, which normally does well, but the Williams team won that match with a very comfortable margin. After more victories against Northeastern and UMass-Lowell, the team lost to Harvard, which, according to Iams, “was simply more aggressive, faster and scored a lot more points than us.”
However, the team made it to the finals against Harvard, where it won two games to zero. Haile said, “It wasn’t even close at any point, really.” Iams concurred, “Essentially, we did to them in the finals what they did to us in the round-robin.”
The victory against Harvard was especially satisfying for the team. Harvard is generally assumed to have the best team in New England, and while this is often true, it has not won Regionals for two years. Harvard can also draw from graduate students including, this year, a third year law student playing on its team.
Next up for the team is Nationals, taking place at Bentley College in Boston. Williams will be competing against 15 other teams, one from each region of the United States. The team is optimistic about its chances of placing well. Iams said, “I don’t think any of the teams we will play are clearly better than us, and a lot will depend on how aggressive we are, how quick we are, and the composition of the question packets.”
He continued, “I’m optimistic that we can place in the top four if we have a good tournament, and if we’re really on top of our game, we can have a shot at winning the title.”
Last year, the team also qualified for Nationals, but ran into problems when its faculty advisor was unable to meet with the tam. Since the league it competes in requires a representative of the school administration in order to play, the team was disqualified. Hopefully, this year will go better.
Iams said, “We’re looking forward to putting that behind us.”