History Bowl Buzzes to Top 16 Finish


History Bowl members prepare for another victory! (Source: Regina Chiem (I))

By Azeala Thompson (I) and Mary Deng (V)

On December 12, 2021, the Boston Latin School History Bowl Team finished in the top 16 at the National C-Set History Bowl tournament.

The team featured Chris Dech (I), Hanson Huynh (I), Khugan Chan (II), Biya Brook (III), William Liyuan (IV) and Kevin Wang (IV). In the tournament, the team worked together to answer questions in a buzzer-based system. Out of the 32 teams in attendance, 16 teams made it past the four preliminary rounds, placing in the octofinals.

In previous years, History Bowl tournaments took place in person, but due to the pandemic, this year’s tournament was held on Zoom. Participants responded in the chat box and answered questions on a website. Those who clicked fast enough were given the first chance to answer the question. Correct answers earned bonus questions, and incorrectly answered questions were passed over to the opposing team.

On December 11 and 12, the team advanced through four preliminary rounds. Questions covered topics ranging from ancient history to the present. This tournament tested competitors using the National History Bowl’s C-Set, which is one of the three different sets of questions. Since the BLS team has participated in a C-Set Bowl this academic year, they cannot participate in another C-Set Bowl because they will have already heard the questions.

Preparation for the competition began with in-person practices on Tuesdays, where materials from the websites were distributed, as well as online Discord practices on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Each team member specialized in a few topics from the study outlines.

Prior experience from another Jeopardy!-styled competition helped substantially with the History Bowl competition for Brook.

“Previously, I did Certamen, which is [similar to History Bowl], but for Latin, basically. I‘ve been [participating in Certamen] for the last two years. And by doing that, I gained a really good foundation of Roman history, a little bit of Greek history, [and] mythology as well.” reflects Brook.

In addition to the individual preparation, which involved practicing problems from past years, a crucial part of the preparation was dedicated to developing strong collaboration and communication.

“As a team, we worked on teamwork and discussing things and [to] make sure we have a clear and concise strategy against different teams who may be better at different subjects,” explains Liyuan.

BLS history teacher and faculty advisor, Mr. Andy Zou, was also a valuable resource in preparing for the competition. He assisted with the registration process, obtained materials for studying and answered questions related to the material and how the History Bowl works.

Mr. Zou credits the participants and the History Bowl organization for the BLS team’s performance: “This is their first official [tournament]. They did really, really well. It’s really a credit to the students themselves and the effort they put in. The History Bowl does an amazing job preparing these kids and giving them content knowledge.”

Though the tournament was competitive, as they were placed against schools across the nation such as Stuyvesant High School in New York and Newton South High School, the BLS team was satisfied with their results in the top 16.

The finish, however, also meant looking back at what more work needs to be done. Brook concludes, “I definitely could have advanced more. But I mean, I think it was the first tournament that we’ve played together as a team, and we did pretty well. We showed that we were competent.”