Playing under a pseudonym

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Playing under a pseudonym refers to the act of a team or individual players using a name other than their real one. The primary reasons for using a pseudonym are:

  1. to circumvent restrictions imposed by their institution
  2. to avoid having to follow proper procedure (e.g. not bringing an adult chaperone)
  3. to be funny
  4. to facilitate cheating (e.g. Basileus)

Regardless of whether the original intent of playing under a pseudonym was comedic, many names are chosen to be in-jokes of some kind. Because many pseudonyms are employed by high school players, this has a tendency to backfire.[1]

The use of pseudonyms obscures violations of question security and damages the usefulness, accuracy, and completeness of statistics. Generally speaking, both of these practices are considered hallmarks of bad quizbowl (although the use of pseudonyms by individuals is generally looked down upon more than if teams do it).


NAQT officially allows teams to play under a pseudonym, including at the high school and middle school national tournaments, provided that a coach or parent writes in to request it. In such cases, teams are assigned a pseudonym "[city of origin] Scholars". It is generally considered a faux pas to publicly associate a high school team with their pseudonym, as teams typically have been given explicit permission to use it and have legitimate reasons.

In at least one case, individual pseudonyms were employed at a national tournament and then rotated to avoid statistics from being meaningfully attributed to any player.

Now that we're done talking about Naveed Bork's quizbowl America, I do think that there are points of discussion that are worth talking about here: the presence of semi-closed tournaments in some regions.

-Ike Jose[2]

In 2016, Will Alston played under the pseudonym "Isaac Biggerstaff" (a reference to Isaac Bickerstaff, pseudonym of Jonathan Swift) on the UCSD team at a closed mirror of Terrapin after privately receiving permission from head editor Jordan Brownstein; this caused a snafu, as he was not affiliated with UCSD in any way (Eddie Kim also played the tournament under the pseudonym "Klaus Fuchs", which he regularly did).[3] The resulting discussion included Ike Jose calling Naveed Chowdhury "Naveed Bork", inspiring the name of a later side event.

Open teams can chose to play any name, and as they do not represent an affiliation it is not considered playing under a pseudonym for them to do so. However, players occasionally will take on pseudonyms while on such teams.

See also


  1. Re: Announcement: Penn Bowl 2018 by 1.82 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:33 pm
  2. Re: Non-students playing closed tournaments under false name by Ike » Sat Dec 17, 2016 9:03 am
  3. Non-students playing closed tournaments under false names by 1.82 » Fri Dec 16, 2016 5:46 pm