Quiz-bowl kids

By CAITLIN E. CURRAN  |  January 8, 2009

Quiz-bowl question writing is an art unto itself, based on the concept of "pyramidality." Each question starts off general, then slowly, establishes context with each phrase adding information. The idea is that it's easier to answer the completed question than to anticipate its direction. Only the most agile and knowledgeable player can buzz in and guess an answer based on the first clues.

"I would say successful quiz bowlers need a certain degree of self-confidence," says freshman Dallas Simons, a former high school quiz-bowl star and the Harvard team's newest celeb. "Playing styles in quiz bowl run the gamut of people who buzz on impulse to people who buzz only when they are 100 percent certain they are right.

"Though it may be a little extreme, an old coach once told me that a player 'has to think they know everything,' " he says. "And I think that holds true."

Caitlin E. Curran now knows that Socialist Party of America candidate Eugene Debs won three percent of the popular vote against Roosevelt in 1904. She can be quizzed further at onegoodthing@gmail.com.

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