2013 NAQT Cheating Scandal

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The 2013 NAQT Cheating Scandal, dubbed Watkins-gate after its chief instigator Andy Watkins, was a scandal in which several members of the quizbowl community were discovered to have accessed questions for NAQT tournaments before they happened. In all cases, the accusees worked in some capacity for NAQT.

Andy Watkins


After the 2010 ICT, in which Watkins' power numbers matched the far superior players Seth Teitler and Eric Mukherjee, some suspicion was cast on whether he had used illegitimate means to gain an advantage. These suspicions were further stoked by the fact that Watkins' individual performance at 2010 ACF Nationals was quite lackluster in comparison, both quantitatively and qualitatively (e.g. with much fewer "good" buzzes).

These suspicions were relayed by several quizbowlers to the relevant authorities. In the intervening years, Watkins would become more and more of a negatively-viewed figure (see for example the 2011 PACE Coup), and eventually left quizbowl entirely after beginning graduate studies at NYU.

The Event

Subsequent to all of this, it was revealed in March 2013 that Watkins had cheated at the 2009, 2010, and 2011 ICTs. Specifically, it had been discovered that Watkins had used his access to NAQT's internal writing/editing software to view the first forty characters in several questions in those tournaments. The cheating was discovered during an NAQT inspection of computer logs in the wake of similar cheating by Joshua Alman, and the earlier cheating incident with Shantanu Jha.

Title Changes

Media Coverage

Unfortunately (for the rest of the Harvard team), the cheating incident was uncovered just a month after 125 Harvard students had been caught cheating on a take home test in an introductory government class, and happened to coincide with Harvard's upset victory over New Mexico in the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament. The first report came from Insider Higher Education, followed closely by the Manhattan-based blog Gawker, and then approximately twenty other newspapers and media outlets.

  • "Veritossed" - the initial Insider Higher Ed article [1]
  • "Epicenter of Evil"-the Gawker article [2]
  • Harvard Crimson-featuring commentary (albeit very little) from Stephen Liu [3]
  • Minneapolis Star-Tribune-featuring commentary from Andrew Hart and Mike Cheyne [4]


  • Matt Weiner's hyperbolic pronouncement about Watkins that "Everything you [Andy] touch you destroy" (based on Watkins' work on 2011 PACE and this cheating scandal) largely sums up the community's view of Andy, who probably tops most lists for "Worst Person in Quizbowl" at this point.
  • The combination of Watkins' and Alman's behavior led Evan Adams to proclaim that the phrase "better at science than Eric" should be a code word for "cheating"
  • Several memes spawned by the incident ("Good faith", "tiny transgressive thrill") continue to circulate.


Other Cheaters

In addition to Alman and Watkins, Joe Brosch and Scot Putzig were also discovered to have cheated at 2010 HSNCT and 2010 ICT respectively. Their wins were vacated and they were subsequently banned from future NAQT events.