WEB EXCLUSIVE: Academic Competition Club hosts tournament

The GW Academic Competition Club hosted a regional trivia tournament Saturday and named a team from Princeton University the winner after 16 rounds of competition.

The GW team, which finished in the top eight of 64 teams at a national tournament earlier this semester, ran the competition but did not participate.

GW will host a national championship tournament later this spring.

More than 75 students from 12 colleges and universities participated in the eighth-annual Juan Carlos Viscerra Memorial Invitational Academic Competition, which tested students’ knowledge about subjects ranging from religion to popular culture.

Teams competed in round-robin style with a playoff bracket at the end during which the top-scoring teams, Princeton and the University of Virginia, faced off for the title.

Other participating schools included New York University, Duke University and Swarthmore College.

Although the GWACC competes in a variety of different formats in competitions throughout the year, the competition can best be described as a “group jeopardy,” in which players ring a buzzer to answer questions.

Some questions are formulated ahead of time by different teams, and others are written by professionals. While most subjects are academic, such as geography, religion and the social sciences, questions also include the areas of current events and popular culture.

The GW team has been “the team to beat in this region” this season, club president and senior Jon Needle said.

The team has traveled all over the country participating in national events since 1987. Most recently GW students have traveled to Northwestern University in Illinois and UCLA in California.

Needle said he enjoys being able to “represent the University academically” through the competitions.

The GW team, which consists of 15 undergraduates, is broken into teams of three for competition. Students are then matched against three or four members from another school for competition.

Tim Young, a former team member and graduate student at GW, acts as the “elder statesman” of the team, coordinating practices and coaching the students. Young said that the teams practice twice a week by reviewing questions from past tournaments.

Alan Dodkowitz, one of few freshmen on the team, said he competed in many academic competitions in New Jersey throughout high school.

“I got involved (in the club) last semester when I saw a few posters up and then went looking for more information,” he said.

Ben Mudrak, a sophomore from the University of Virginia, said the knowledge they are “tested” on is not material they study, but facts they have retained from high school and elsewhere.

Mudrak said studying for the tournaments is not as difficult as it seems because “there is really only so much you can ask.”

The GWACC will host its next event, the 6th annual Beltway Bandits “trash” tournament Feb. 24. The tournament asks exclusively pop-culture questions.

GW will also host the Academic Competition Federation National Tournament, for teams who qualify by winning matches during the season and at regional competition, April 21.

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