Penn Bowl

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Penn Bowl is a college quizbowl tournament held every year at the University of Pennsylvania. Though originally a packet submission tournament, the questions have been housewritten by Penn since 2013. The question set is usually mirrorred across the U.S.

For the entire 1990s, it was indisputably the most prestigious invitational title, and even until 2002 or so it drew a 64-team field, equal in size to the NAQT ICT and bigger than any other event. It nonetheless featured a reliably annual flare-up of either terrible questions, trainwreck logistics, scandalous protest resolution, or some combination of those things. From 2003 to 2006 the tournament grew smaller and smaller, and instead of being an interesting chance to play a variety of nationwide teams on bad questions, it was just a regular local tournament with bad questions. This trend in question quality reversed from 2007 onward, and Penn Bowl now draws several teams from further north and south.


Penn Bowl was formerly a two-day tournament. In the years of 64 or 68 teams, about six rounds were played on Friday night and the balance on Saturday. The field was split into four groups and played a round-robin. (This took at least 17 rounds because teams couldn't play their own packet.) The top four teams in each bracket advanced to a single-elimination playoff.

The tournament was famous for its delays. (Indeed, one joke called it "Penn-ding" Bowl.) Teams would show up late on Friday night, and again on Saturday morning. In 2001, the tournament stopped for an hour while a new packet was assembled due to the wrong set of questions being read. Also, the need for thirty moderators often placed inexperienced players into the role.

The tournament was on the clock until 2002. Subsequently, the tournament went untimed but maintained NAQT-ish questions in style and length for a few years. The tournament is now mACF in style and gameplay, and played over one day.

The 2005 Penn Bowl was held in spite of an impending snow storm. As the day progressed, the storm got worse and stranded many teams including Maryland in Philadelphia for the night.

From 2007 to 2009, Matt Weiner was the chief editor for Penn Bowl. This move was widely praised for bringing a marked increase in quality of the questions in the tournament.

Since arriving at Penn in 2010, Eric Mukherjee has overseen the tournament, with the exception of the 2011 iteration, in which several non-Eric Penn people oversaw a Penn Bowl of significantly greater length and difficulty (and ironically subtitled the tournament "Written Entirely by Eric Mukherjee"). Logistics generally improved, with the exception of the 2012 iteration (see below), with the event generally being well-received, if not slightly above its difficulty targets.


Penn Bowl Date Champion Second Editor(s) Field size Notes Stats Packets
Penn Bowl I February 2-3, 1991 Princeton Penn State 31 Some info Packets
Penn Bowl II January 1992 Chicago MIT Packets
Penn Bowl III January 1993 Vanderbilt Chicago Packets
Penn Bowl IV January 28-29, 1994 Georgia Tech Chicago Pat Matthews 44 More teams were expected, but a snowstorm reduced the field. Packets
Penn Bowl V January 27-28, 1995 Chicago Maryland Pat Matthews 64 Packets
Penn Bowl VI January 27-28, 1996 Michigan Maryland Pat Matthews 64 Often called the best of all the old-style tournaments (College Bowl-style questions and rules, very large field) by old people. Some info Packets
Penn Bowl VII January 24-25, 1998 Chicago Vanderbilt Jason Arvey 64 Penn Bowl was not held in 1997 so that Penn could host the first NAQT ICT in its traditional place. Packets
Penn Bowl VIII January 29-30, 1999 Chicago South Carolina Mario Lucero 64 Some info Packets
Penn Bowl IX January 22-23, 2000 Yale Cornell Penn team Featured three of the top four seeds losing in the first playoff round on a packet with a lot of food-related trash tossups.
Penn Bowl X January 26-27, 2001 Michigan Princeton Samer Ismail Packets
Penn Bowl XI January 25-26, 2002 Princeton Virginia Samer Ismail Packets
Penn Bowl XII January 24-25, 2003 Michigan Berkeley Samer Ismail 58
Penn Bowl XIII January 23-24, 2004 Yale Michigan Samer Ismail Featured David Isaacson whining his way into a victory via the "nobody held a gun to their heads" incident Packets
Penn Bowl XIV January 22, 2005 Florida Rochester Nobody Snow! Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XV January 2006 North Carolina Maryland Charlie Steinhice Packets were a Sword Bowl mirror. This was a bad idea. Packets
Penn Bowl XVI January 20, 2007 Brown Chicago Matt Weiner, Eric Kwartler, and Noah Rahman 21 Early expiration of room reservations led to the last few rounds not being played, meaning the first round robin could not be completed, and many teams did not get a chance to play each other Partial stats Packets
Penn Bowl XVII January 26, 2008 Maryland Vanderbilt Matt Weiner and Billy Beyer 22 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XVIII January 24, 2009 Chicago A Brown Matt Weiner, Mehdi Razvi, and Mike Bentley 24 Stats (Midwest mirror stats, Northwest mirror stats, Southeast mirror stats) Packets
Penn Bowl XIX January 25, 2010 Harvard A Brown A Mehdi Razvi, Sid Chandrasekar, Chris White, and Eric Mukherjee 25 Prelim stats Packets
Penn Bowl XX February 12, 2011 UVA Maryland Mehdi Razvi, Dominic Machado, Ming Lin, and James Lasker 18 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXI January 28, 2012 UVA Yale Eric Mukherjee, James Lasker, Saajid Moyen, Patrick Liao 18 The latter rounds were written during the tournament itself. Citing exhaustion, writing stopped with packet 13 (Editor's 10), which would not have been sufficient to complete an advantaged final if Yale had won game one (thankfully, they didn't). Succeeded by the final, and exponentially more disastrous, incarnation of Penn Bowl Trash. Stats Packets
not held February 2, 2013 Mirror of VCU Closed held in its place
Penn Bowl XXII October 19, 2013 UVA Columbia A Eric Mukherjee, Saajid Moyen, Patrick Liao 24 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXIII (not officially numbered) October 18, 2014 UVA Maryland A Eric Mukherjee, Rob Carson, Patrick Liao, Will Alston 27 No major issues; finished 13 rounds for all teams by 6 PM and the finals by 7 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXIV (not officially numbered) October 24, 2015 Maryland A Columbia A Eric Mukherjee, Rob Carson, Patrick Liao, Ike Jose, Eddie Kim 38 No major issues; finished 12 rounds for all teams by 6 PM and the finals by 7 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXV October 22, 2016 Maryland A Princeton Eric Mukherjee, Ike Jose, Will Alston, Patrick Liao, Ankit Aggarwal, Chris Chiego 28 No major issues; finished 12 rounds for all teams by 6 PM and the finals by 7 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXVI October 21, 2017 Columbia A Virginia A Jaimie Carlson, Jason Zhou, Jordan Brownstein, and Eric Mukherjee 30 No major issues; finished 13 rounds for all teams by 6 PM and the finals by 7 Stats Packets
Penn Bowl XXVII October 20, 2018 Yale A Maryland A Eric Mukherjee, Jordan Brownstein, JinAh Kim, Jaimie Carlson, and Samir Khan 38 Stats Packets