IHBB Asian Championships 2019 Tournament Report

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IHBB Asian Championships 2019

The 2018-2019 Quiz Bowl season in Asia has come to an end, but it certainly saved the best for last. The IHBB Asian Championships took place over the weekend of 14-16 June at JW Marriott Khao Lak Resort & Spa in Thailand. This tournament was the largest Quiz Bowl tournament ever in Asia with a staggering total of 59 teams hailing from all over the region participating in the competition.

The detailed results can be found here.

Table of Contents

Academic Bowl

Sports and Entertainment Bee

Geography Bee

History Bee

History Bowl

Conclusion


Academic Bowl

The Varsity division of the Academic Bowl featured numerous strong teams from all over Asia, including HSNCT veterans Seoul International School, Singaporean powerhouses Hwa Chong (HCI) and Raffles (RI), as well as Sunway International from Malaysia. Raffles lost their opening game to Hwa Chong A but proceeded to bounce back and win the rest of their prelim games, achieving a 4-1 record. Seoul International managed a 4-1 record as well, losing only to Raffles. Hwa Chong A and Sunway both went 3-2 in the prelims, with Sunway beating Hwa Chong A in a tight game. As for the other teams in the field, Hwa Chong B went 1-4 while Ruamrudee of Thailand went 0-5.

In the playoffs, Raffles overcame Sunway 430-270 while Hwa Chong A came from behind to beat Seoul 400-270. Hwa Chong A trailed during the early game but scored 240 points in the second half to achieve a fantastic comeback win. Hwa Chong players made several remarkable buzzes during their second-half blitz, including a first line buzz on “Whales” by Tony and another first line on “Victor Hugo” by Joyanne. The finals, as such, was ultimately an all-Singapore affair. Raffles dominated the first half, and although Hwa Chong played better in the second they were unable to pull off another comeback and the game concluded in a 390-230 victory for Raffles. Samuel Foo, Raffles’s first scorer, put up a spectacular display, getting powers in almost all categories. This exciting game was but the first of many more clashes between Singapore’s two top schools over the course of the weekend. More on that later!

In the very small Junior Varsity division, Tsinghua International, led by former Montgomery Blair player Brian Xu, was certainly the favourite and they did not disappoint. Tsinghua managed to achieve a perfect 6-0 record over the course of the double round-robin prelims, with no other team coming close to challenging their dominance. Singapore’s National Public School (NPS), the alma mater of the legendary player Vijay Siddharth, did well and emerged from the double round-robin with a 4-2 record, losing twice to Tsinghua. La Salle Green Hills (LSGH) A of the Philippines finished with a 2-4 record, while Renaissance of Hong Kong finished 0-6. As Tsinghua had a clearly superior record over second-ranked NPS after the round-robin, there was no need for a final in the JV division and Tsinghua finished as champions.

The Middle School division was the largest of the Academic bowl age groups, with 8 teams. La Salle B, led by the phenomenally talented John Lance Bautista, emerged as the joint top team after the prelims alongside Hong Kong’s German Swiss International School, with both teams boasting a 4-1 record. NPS B from Singapore, NIST from Thailand, India International School in Japan and Shanghai’s Concordia International all finished with a 3-2 record, with the top 2 amongst them (NPS and NIST) making playoffs.

La Salle B defeated NIST 440-130 in the first MS Semifinal to advance to the finals, while German Swiss managed to overcome NPS B 330-180 after a superb first-half performance. In the finals, La Salle B played extremely well and won the game 450-180, a result which foreshadowed La Salle’s and John Lance Bautista’s dominance over the MS field throughout the weekend.

Division Winner Runner-Up
Varsity Raffles Institution Hwa Chong Institution A
Junior Varsity Tsinghua International National Public School A (NPS)
Middle School La Salle Green Hills B National Public School B (NPS)

The complete results for the Academic Bowl can be found here.

 

Sports and Entertainment Bee

The Sports and Entertainment Bee was played on the evening of the 14th and was very much a fun and enjoyable event for all participants. The most remarkable moment of the S and E Bee occurred during the finals of the Varsity division. Samuel Foo (Raffles, Singapore) was tied for first going into the final tossup, and the new entrant to the circuit (who only began playing this year) managed a superb second line buzz on “Quiz Bowl” to win the Sports and Entertainment Bee, picking up his second championship of the weekend. A video of the Varsity Sports and Entertainment Bee Finals can be found here.

Division Winner
Varsity Samuel Foo (RI)
Junior Varsity Manan Bulani (NPS)
Middle School Alex Mueller (German Swiss)

The complete results for the Sports and Entertainment Bee can be found here.

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(Raffles Institution’s mascot, Griffles, appeared frequently throughout the weekend)

International Geography Bee

The Varsity Division of this year’s IGB Asian Championships was a fairly small one, and it ultimately proved to be the stomping ground of Sherwood Cheung (Diocesan Boys’ School, Hong Kong, China). Sherwood buzzed out easily in every round, finishing with a total of 36 points and making the bee finals. Sherwood was joined in the finals by Harith bin Hashim (Sunway, Malaysia) who finished with 21 points, as well as Toey Nilparkdee and Pariwat Quangkananurug (both from Ruamrudee, Thailand).

In the finals, Sherwood once again demonstrated his dominance, buzzing out 8 on 19. Toey finished second with 7 points, while his fellow Thai compatriot Pariwat finished third with 5 points. This year’s IGB Varsity field was smaller and less fiercely contested than usual, but the same could not be said for the JV field. 

The Junior Varsity division of the IGB featured a field that included many top Asian players, some of whom arguably could have done well even at the Varsity level. Notable names in the field from Singapore included NPS’s Geography specialist Manan Bulani, Hwa Chong’s Loh Yun, as well as Chew Chian Hong from Bukit Batok. All of the Singapore players made it into the finals, where they were joined by Brian Xu (Tsinghua, China) who was the top seed with 32 points in the prelims, as well as other famed Asian players such as Guy Jothaprasert (ICS, Thailand), Rayhan Puthucheary (Sunway, Malaysia), Alejandro Espino (ICA, Philippines) and Balashiva Kalirajan (Tathva, Japan).

The finals was an extraordinarily intense round, with many tossups being buzzed on very early. Manan Bulani notably had several spectacular first lines, and he managed to emerge victorious by buzzing out 8 on 25. Brian Xu showcased his talents again by finishing second with 5, while the fantastic Guy Jothaprasert came in third with 3. Rayhan and Chian Hong both came within a whisker of the podium, scoring 2 points each. The JV division was, in general, the most intensely-contested division of the tournament, something which would be demonstrated again and again throughout the weekend. A video of this exciting final can be found here.

The Middle School field for IGB was the largest, with 40 players competing. Yashas Ramakrishnan from NPS, a noted geography specialist who picked up gold at the IGB regional tournament in Singapore, was a major title contender and did well in the prelims, advancing to the finals with 25 points. Thomas “TJ” Dukes of Dalat topped the prelims after a fantastic performance with 31 points. Yashas and Thomas were joined in the finals by Ivan Yuan (SHSID, China), Aditeya Sukumaran (NIST, Thailand), Nathan Ouyang (Concordia, China), Jeffry Han (West Island, Hong Kong, China), Nathan Rosenzweig (German Swiss, Hong Kong, China), and Eugenia Tong (Renaissance, Hong Kong, China). Interestingly, the 12-year-old Evan Koay from Malaysia, playing Quiz Bowl for the first time, acquitted himself well and managed to place highly enough to qualify for the IGB World Championships next year. He is certainly a young talent to look out for in years to come.

The finals for MS, like that for JV, was extremely close with no player buzzing out. Yashas, despite not being the top-ranked prelim player, managed to win the day with 6 points. SHSID’s Ivan Yuan managed second with 5, while Aditeya came in third with 4. The result merely reinforced the common saying that, regardless of the prelim score, anything can happen in a final, a point which was driven home again and again during the weekend.

Division Winner
Varsity Sherwood Cheung (Diocesan Boys’)
Junior Varsity Manan Bulani (NPS)
Middle School Alex Mueller (German Swiss)

The complete result for the International Geography Bee can be found here.

 

History Bee

 

The Varsity History Bee featured numerous prominent players already mentioned many times throughout this report for their performances in previous events. Raffles’ formidable generalist Samuel Foo, Hwa Chong’s first scorer Kevin Ong, longtime player and HSNCT veteran Edward Lee from Seoul International all showcased their fantastic history knowledge during the prelims, easily making it through to the 12-player semifinals. Other prominent players who made it through the intense prelim field into the semifinals included Jackson (Hwa Chong, Singapore), Insoo Kim (Seoul International, Korea) and IGB champion Sherwood.

For the semifinals, the top 12 players from the prelims were split into 2 rooms of 6. In each room, the top 3 players would advance into the finals. The Varsity semifinal rooms were arguably lopsided, with one being harder than the other. Samuel Foo, Edward Lee and Kevin Ong were all in the same room (video of the match can be found here), and all 3 managed to advance to the semifinals. In the other semifinal room, Insoo Kim, Jackson and Jeonghyeon Youn (Ruamrudee, Thailand) managed to advance to the final, with Sherwood, unfortunately, missing out.

In the finals, Samuel opened with a neg on Mobutu Sese Seko with “Lumumba” but bounced back with a buzz on the Battle of the Boyne and swiftly got several other tossups. Other players, too, quickly got on the scoreboard, with Insoo Kim getting a first line on Yi Sun-Sin and Kevin getting a good buzz on the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. At the halfway mark, Kevin and Samuel were tied with 4 points, while Insoo followed closely with 3. Samuel negged again on “Rotterdam” with “Amsterdam”, but Kevin negged immediately after on the “Sui” dynasty with “Tang”. At tossup 25, Kevin and Samuel remained tied on 4, with Insoo and Edward at 3. The game remained closely fought, and Samuel led the field with 5 points going into the last tossup. Edward got the final buzz, “James Madison”, to force a tiebreak for first with Samuel. Samuel ultimately won the match with a good buzz on “Time of Troubles”, consigning Edward to second place. Kevin finished third, while Jackson took fourth by beating Insoo on the tiebreak “Pentagon”. Insoo and Jeonghyeon Youn finished fifth and sixth respectively. The full video of this incredible match can be found here.

The Junior Varsity Bee was also an intensely hard-fought one, with early favourite Brian Xu topping the field with a whopping 50 points in the prelims, the highest prelim score across all divisions. Qiaohan Du from SHSID followed closely with 47 points, while Chew Chian Hong racked up 42 points. Various other prominent young talents joined the aforementioned players in the playoffs, including Alejandro “Aji” Espino, Rayhan Puthucheary and Guy Jothraprasert. 

The JV semifinal featured the top 18 players divided into 3 rooms, with the top 2 in each room advancing. At the end of some very grueling matches, the 6 finalists were confirmed to be Brian Xu, Qiaohan Du, Chew Chian Hong, Alejandro “Aji” Espino, Rayhan Puthucheary and Miguel Santino (La Salle Green Hills, Philippines). Several strong players, including Guy, Manan Bulani and Pablo B. Esguerra Jr (La Salle Green Hills, Philippines) unfortunately missed out.

In the finals, Alejandro played incredibly well, getting numerous good buzzes, including an early one on the Battle of the Boyne. In the face of this shockingly good performance, Alejandro’s main competitors wavered, and he managed to buzz out on tossup 30, winning the gold medal. Brian Xu, the early favourite, unfortunately underperformed and came in second with 6 points. SHSID’s Qiaohan Du followed in third with 5. Rayhan came in fourth, while Chian Hong took fifth and Miguel the sixth spot, with Miguel losing to Chian Hong on a tiebreak. Alejandro’s fantastic finals result came despite his low prelim score (36), yet another reminder that anything can happen in a final. 

The Middle School Bee was the largest, with 89 players competing, but it was also perhaps the age division with the least surprises. John Lance Bautista, considered the definite favourite even before the tournament, blitzed the prelims and easily topped the charts with 48 points. Lance’s fellow La Salle compatriot Yanni ranked second in the prelims with 46 points, while yet another La Salle player, Carlos Sebastien L. Santos, ranked third. They were joined in the playoffs by several other prominent players, including Ivan Yuan, Jeffrey Ilhan, Eugenia Tong, and Yashas Ramakrishnan.

The MS playoffs, like the JV one, featured the top 18 players divided into 3 rooms, with the top 2 in each room advancing. Lance and Yanni navigated their way through their semifinals very easily, buzzing out on 17 and 20 respectively in their rooms. They were followed into the finals by Ivan, Jeffrey, Eugenia and Tharit Rajatapiti (NIST, Thailand). Yashas Ramakrishnan was ultimately a casualty of the semifinals, alongside some other prominent players including Audrey Yuen (Harrow, Hong Kong, China).

Ultimately, Lance and Yanni dominated the finals, with Yanni at times pushing Lance very hard. Lance’s raw talent and sheer volume of knowledge were too much, however, and he buzzed out on tossup 26, taking gold. Yanni came in second, with 7 points, while Ivan came in third with 5. Jeffrey took fourth at the expense of fifth place Eugenia after beating her on a tiebreak. Tharit managed to take sixth place with 2 points. The astounding displays from many of the MS players, especially Lance and Yanni, was amazing to watch and it is hard to imagine just how good they will be when they reach Varsity age. The Philippines will most certainly be one of the strongest Quiz Bowl countries in Asia for the foreseeable future.

Division Winner
Varsity Samuel Foo (RI)
Junior Varsity Alejandro Espino (ICS)
Middle School John Lance Bautista (LSGH)

The complete result for the International History Bee can be found here.

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(International History Bee Varsity Division champion Samuel Foo, with Mr. Madden)

History Bowl

The Varsity division of the History Bowl was almost certainly the age group with the fiercest competition, featuring several of Asia’s best players and teams. It was made even more intense by the fact that several of the top Junior Varsity players, including Rayhan Puthucheary and Brian Xu, opted to play in the Varsity division alongside their older teammates instead for the bowl. It was hard to pick a clear favourite for the Varsity division, but the primary contenders included Asia’s sole HSNCT representative Seoul International, Brian Xu’s Tsinghua International, Rayhan Puthucheary’s Sunway International, as well as the extraordinarily strong Singaporean teams Hwa Chong A and Raffles. Players from all of these teams had already distinguished themselves over the course of events earlier during the weekend, and now, in the finale, they would once again showcase their credentials as the best history players in all of Asia. 

In the prelims, Seoul International, Tsinghua, and Raffles all managed to go 5-0, with Seoul also accumulating the most points in the prelims (1940 over 5 games). Hwa Chong and Sunway finished the prelims with a record of 4-1, with Hwa Chong A losing narrowly to Raffles on a tiebreak after a 260-260 tie. Chinese team ESAGUFS A, making their second appearance at an Asian championship, also played very well in the prelims and managed to go 4-1, losing only to Hwa Chong A. All of the aforementioned teams made the playoffs, along with two teams that went 3-2: Sherwood’s team Diocesan Boys’ A and South Island School, both from Hong Kong.

Playoffs are always unpredictable, and the quarterfinals displayed immediate flashes of that most interesting trend. Seoul International was pushed very hard by South Island and ultimately managed to score a narrow victory 280-120. The matches between Raffles and ESAGUFS A, as well as that between Diocesan Boys’ A and Tsinghua, largely went as expected, with Raffles and Tsinghua overcoming their opponents without too much difficulty. It was the match between Sunway and Hwa Chong, however, that proved to be most interesting. After a fantastic display from Rayhan in the fourth quarter, Hwa Chong and Sunway were nearly tied going into the final 2 tossups, and the momentum was arguably on Sunway’s side. Sunway needed to superpower or power the last tossup to win or force a tiebreak, but unfortunately, Rayhan buzzed incorrectly with “Franks” before Jackson from Hwa Chong managed to get the correct answer, “Visigoths”. As a result, Sunway failed to pull off a major upset and Hwa Chong advanced into the semifinals. 

Hwa Chong managed to overcome Seoul International in the semi-finals, just as they did in the Academic Bowl days earlier, booking a finals slot. The other semi-final match, between Tsinghua and Raffles, was yet another incredibly close game. Both Samuel Foo and Brian Xu played well, but interestingly, with 3 tossups to go, it was Samuel’s teammate Yuxuan who superpowered a tossup on “Hegel”, which Samuel followed up with a good buzz on “Britten”. Raffles secured the final tossup, “Kangxi”, to knock out Tsinghua 260-220. 

In the finals, Hwa Chong started well and all in all largely dominated the proceedings with both Kevin and Jackson playing very well. Raffles pulled off a good run of buzzes in the second quarter, but ultimately they were unable to pull off a comeback, resulting in the game ending in a solid Hwa Chong victory. A full video of this exciting match, the second all-Singapore final of the weekend, can be found here. In the third-fourth place game, Seoul played well and managed to defeat Tsinghua. The Varsity division, in general, saw some excellent displays from the numerous Asian Quiz Bowl stars, and although many of them are graduating, they will no doubt continue to serve as role models and inspirations for the Asian Quiz Bowl community. 

In the Junior Varsity division, the teams were divided into 3 pools. The top team in Pool C and across all pools in the prelims was Bukit Batok, which easily went 5-0 in the prelims, beating out strong teams such as Renaissance and ICS and finishing with a total of 1880 points over 5 games. Singaporean team NPS A topped Pool B with a 4-1 record, while SHSID topped Pool A with a 5-0 record as well. Other teams to make it into the playoffs included Straits International from Malaysia, La Salle A, Renaissance, Tathva from Japan, as well as La Salle B.

The playoffs, as always, presented some shocking results. Most teams managed to navigate their ties well, with NPS A overcoming La Salle A, SHSID A defeating Tathva, and Straits beating Renaissance after a close game. In the game pitting first seed against eighth seed, however, The World Turned Upside Down, and a bizarrely dire performance from Bukit Batok, featuring numerous incorrect buzzes, enabled La Salle B to get back into the game in the final quarter and force a tiebreak which they proceeded to win after another incorrect Bukit Batok buzz. This game was probably the most astounding example of giant-killing seen over the entire weekend and is a reminder that sometimes, in Quiz Bowl, form and performance are just as important as overall knowledge. 

In the semifinals, La Salle B, the initial eighth seed, pulled off yet another upset and managed to overcome the formidable Straits International to book a spot in the finals. NPS A played an intense match against SHSID A, which culminated in a win for SHSID. SHSID, a team considered one of the favourites alongside Bukit Batok, was now just one win away from lifting the trophy.

After La Salle B’s performances in the quarter and semi-finals, no one would dare to count them out for the finals, even if they were, objectively, the underdogs against the formidable SHSID. Alas, ultimately La Salle was not able to pull of a third major upset and succumbed to the sheer experience and knowledge of the SHSID team. Even so, credit must be given to La Salle B for their remarkable run at this tournament, and it is one we will probably remember for some time to come. For the third-fourth place game, NPS faced Straits International, and after a close but low scoring game, NPS managed to emerge victorious 190-140. This year’s JV division was somewhat less competitive compared to previous years due to prominent players either up-divisioning to Varsity or not being able to make it for the event, but even so, there were a number of excellent players showcasing their skills, and we look forward to seeing how these players perform in the Varsity division in the near future. 

In Middle School, Lance and La Salle (La Salle E) were considered the favourites, just as they were for virtually every single event over the weekend. La Salle E was placed in Pool C (there were 4 pools in MS), which they proceeded to utterly dominate. A 5-0 record and a total score of 1830 made La Salle E the first seed for the playoffs, where they were joined by several other strong teams including Harrow and German Swiss, two Hong Kong teams which both went 5-0 as well.

For the playoffs,  there were no real shocks. La Salle E defeated NPS B 310-130, Concordia overcame La Salle C 150-130, Harrow narrowly edged out NIST 200-180 while German Swiss knocked out La Salle D 230-150. In the semifinals, La Salle E easily defeated Concordia 250-110 and strolled into the finals. In the other semifinal game, an all-Hong Kong affair, things were not so straightforward. Both teams played well and tied 190-190, and the tiebreak ultimately went the way of Harrow.

The finals featured two of the strongest Asian teams, featuring two top Asian players (Lance and Audrey Yuen). La Salle E and Lance were most certainly the favourite, and despite some frightful moments and errors on La Salle E’s part (one player answered “Epirus” for a tossup on “Pyrrhus of Epirus”), Harrow was not able to overcome their incredible opponents and succumbed to a defeat, taking second place while La Salle secured yet another piece of silverware in a very successful weekend of Quiz Bowl. This talented La Salle E team was one which arguably could have done well even at a higher age division, and we look forward to their performances and development in future tournaments. 

Division Winner Runner-Up
Varsity Hwa Chong Institution Raffles Institution
Junior Varsity Shanghai High School International Division (SHSID) A La Salle Green Hills B
Middle School La Salle Green Hills E Harrow Hong Kong

The complete results for the International History Bowl can be found here.

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(International History Bowl Varsity Division champions Hwa Chong A, with Mr. Madden)

Conclusion

On the whole, this tournament marked a notable resurgence in the performance of Singaporean teams, with both Hwa Chong and Raffles putting up dominant displays reminiscent of the days when first Singapore American School and later Hwa Chong were the preeminent History Bowl teams in all of Asia. Will this herald yet another period of Singaporean domination, or will another country come to prominence in the circuit? This will become clear in the seasons to come. 

This tournament also highlighted some very positive trends. Firstly, the growing expansion and popularity of Quiz Bowl in Asia, which can be seen not just from the unprecedented size of this tournament but also the debut of the first-ever team from Vietnam, is a good sign that points to greater interest in Quiz Bowl in Asia. The second, and arguably equally important trend, is the rise in the number of female players, especially in top teams, at least compared to last year. Hwa Chong (A and B), for instance, had a nearly equal number of male and female players, while Harrow’s first scorer was a girl as well. While we are certainly still very far away from attaining anywhere close to a healthy gender ratio in the Asian Quiz Bowl community, this is a good start, and things should only get better in the near future. 

SGQB would like to thank Mr. David Madden, Ms. Nolwenn Madden, and International Academic Competitions (IAC) for organising such a fantastic tournament and ultimately for creating this wonderful event which is enjoyed by so many bright young minds from all over Asia. We look forward to many more amazing editions of this tournament and of IHBB in general in the years to come.

Finally, as I (Boyang) am departing Asia to attend university in the UK, this was likely the last Asians I would staff for many years. I am happy to say, however, that after this tournament I can depart the Asian circuit with the comforting knowledge that the future of Quiz Bowl in Asia is looking very bright indeed.

 

Editor’s MVP of the Tournament

Samuel Foo (Raffles)

Editor’s Team of the Tournament

Samuel Foo (Raffles)

John Lance Bautista (LSGH)

Brian Xu (Tsinghua)

Kevin Ong (HCI)

Reserves

Edward Lee (Seoul International)

Alejandro “Aji” Espino (ICA)

Manan Bulani (NPS)

Sherwood Cheung (Diocesan)

 

 

 

 

By: Boyang

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