British Student Quiz Championships
The NAQT British Student Quiz Championships (BSQC) is an annual quizbowl tournament that determines the best quizbowl team in the United Kingdom. First held in 1998, the tournament was held for the nineteenth time in March 2023. The questions are provided by NAQT, but are Briticised to suit a British audience.
First incarnation (1998-2003)
The inaugural BSQC was held at Imperial College in London in 1998, although that tournament was called "QuizIC." Because they won the first series of the revived BBC2 quiz show University Challenge, Imperial had been invited to the 1997 ICT, which was the impetus for the creation of a quizbowl circuit in the United Kingdom. With Oxford and Cambridge colleges competing individually, the tournament drew eight teams and resulted in a 470-215 win for Balliol College, Oxford over Trinity College, Cambridge. (Note that the first three BSQCs used "British" scoring, by which each bonus is worth a total of 15 points rather than 30)
The 1999 BSQC was held at Oxford under the direction of Rob Linham at the Oxford Union Society. The tournament featured 11 teams from Oxford (Balliol, Oriel, St John's, Christ Church), Cambridge (Trinity, Selwyn), Imperial, Birkbeck, Manchester, Bristol, and the Open University. In a repeat of the previous year's final, Balliol College, Oxford defeated Trinity College, Cambridge by a score of 460-360.
The 2000 BSQC was held in Manchester and was attended by 8 teams from Oxford (Balliol, St. John's), Cambridge (Trinity, Darwin), Manchester, Imperial, Durham, and the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology. As in the previous two years, Balliol College, Oxford, defeated Trinity College, Cambridge, in the final, this time by a score of 490-265.
Cambridge hosted the 2001 BSQC, which featured 12 teams from Cambridge (Trinity, Clare, St. Catherine's), Imperial, Birkbeck, Bristol, Hull, UMIST, the Open University, Manchester, the University of East Anglia at Norwich, and Oxford. This tournament was controversial because Oxford played as a single university (and was consequently only allowed to field one team), rather than as individual colleges. The same Oxford team that had finished 9th at the 2001 ICT won the final by defeating Trinity College, Cambridge, 500-335. (Note that 2001 was the first BSQC to use standard "American" scoring with ten-point bonus parts)
The 2002 BSQC was also held in Cambridge, this time with a few changes to the format. Teams qualified to attend it by participating in regional "qualifying tournaments," one held at Manchester and the other at Oxford. Additionally, both Oxford and Cambridge now competed as single universities and both were allowed to field two teams. In all, 10 universities competed at the BSQC, representing Oxford (2 teams), Cambridge (2 teams), Manchester (2 teams), UMIST, Imperial, UCL, and Birkbeck. Oxford A finished the round robin undefeated at 9-0, one game ahead of Manchester, but Manchester won a one-game final 435-260 to win Manchester's only national title.
The 2003 BSQC, held at UCL, was by far the largest tournament ever held in the United Kingdom and featured 18 teams: Oxford (5 teams), Cambridge (5 teams), Manchester (3 teams), UCL (3 teams), Imperial, and Warwick. Three groups of six fed into three divisions of six, which resulted in a top bracket of Oxford A, Oxford B, Manchester A, Manchester B, Cambridge A, and Warwick. Oxford defeated Manchester in a final to repossess the dented plate that has remained ever since at the bottom of a box that is now in Edmund Dickinson's room.
Despite the large number of teams that attended the 2003 BSQC, there was too little interest to hold another tournament in 2004. One of the reasons was that fewer and fewer universities could field competent teams, even as the best universities fielded more teams than ever before. Manchester and Oxford were so much better than the rest of the field that the nascent British circuit atrophied. This problem was compounded by the fast decline of the Cambridge team after the graduation of its key leaders. At the same time, University Challenge was not helping new teams join the British quizbowl circuit, since it was accepting bad teams on the program as the result of a lottery and was so unpopular that it was nearly canceled. Oxford and Cambridge continued to play their annual varsity match after 2003, but for many years that was the only form of inter-university quizbowl played in the United Kingdom.
June 2011 saw the revival of the BSQC. The tournament used the 2011 HSNCT set which was Briticized by Kyle Haddad-Fonda. Oxford swept the tournament with Oxford A and B taking first and second respectively; however, teams from Cambridge, Manchester, and Imperial preformed well.
2012 saw the eighth BSQC take place at Imperial. The tournament ran on a version of the 2012 ICT-DII set whose Briticisation was led by Edmund Dickinson. An Oxford A team of Kyle Haddad-Fonda, Alison Hudson, Alex Bubb and Chris Savory went unbeaten to win the tournament.
In 2013, the tournament again took place at Imperial. The tournament was notable for the participation of John Lawrence, who was completing his Masters Degree at King's College London. Lawrence's KCL team went undefeated through the 11-team round robin to take an advantage into the one-game final against Oxford A. However, Oxford A (Alex Bubb, Zachary Vermeer, Hasneen Karbalai, Ewan MacAulay) overturned the deficit with 505-295 and 625-275 victories to keep the trophy firmly in Oxonian hands.
BSQC 2014 saw the field size grow to 15 teams, necessitating two prelim brackets for the first time in the modern era of BSQC. Oxford A and Oxford B cruised to the top of each of their brackets with average winning margins of over 300 points. In the playoffs, Oxford B took a shock win over Oxford A but then dropped a game to the Open University, forcing a one-game final between the two Oxford teams. The final was close throughout, with Oxford A (Joey Goldman, Zachary Vermeer, Charlie Clegg, Hugh Binnie) ahead by 5 points going into the final tossup. However, Oxford B (Henry Edwards, Hasneen Karbalai, Ewan MacAulay, Nikil Venkatesh) snatched the final question in an 8-way buzzer race to win 410-385. This was the first time a non-Oxford A team had won the revived BSQC.
The two-bracket 15-team format remained for 2015, as BSQC was held for the first time as St. Paul's School in London. New universities also appeared, including Nottingham, a combined London team, as well as Edinburgh, marking the first appearance of a Scottish team at BSQC. The Oxford A team of Charlie Clegg, Joey Goldman, Ewan MacAulay and Zach Vermeer were undefeated in their group, while the other prelim bracket was led by Warwick A (James Leahy, Ashley Page, Sophie Rudd and Ben Salter) and London (Pietro Aronica, Jimmy Chen and Chris Savory) both with a 6-1 record. In the afternoon, Warwick were only able to win one game, while London took three wins, but suffered a crucial defeat at the hands of the ultimately undefeated Oxford A, who won yet another title and sealed every match by at least 260 points.
For 2016, the tournament was extended to 18 teams (including the only appearance by the School of Oriental and African Studies), prompting three six-team prelim brackets. Oxford A (Joey Goldman, George Corfield, Daoud Jackson, Spence Weinreich) and Cambridge A (Sam Cook, Evan Lynch, Ewan MacAulay, Oliver Sweetenham) both comfortably won their brackets undefeated, and while Oxford B (Charlie Clegg, Francis Clark-Murray, Chris Stern, Lucas Bertholdi-Saad) dominated most of their matches, an upset loss to Warwick A (Sophie Rudd, Ben Salter, Emily Stevenson, Thomas Van) kept them from the top spot. Cambridge A and Oxford A were the favourites to win, and a 415-370 Cambridge win over Oxford gave the Tabs the advantage going to a potential two-game final. Oxford comfortably won the first part 510-280, triggering the second match. Despite a terrific 65-point game from Ewan MaAulay, though, Oxford clinched the title by just five points, winning the match 385-380.
In 2017, the inability to find a suitable London venue led to the tournament's emergency relocation to Warwick, where St. Andrews joined Edinburgh as a second Scottish team, while an exhibition team, known as "The Corrs", featured students from Goldsmiths and Queen's University Belfast. Oxford A (Charlie Clegg, George Corfield, Daoud Jackson, Spence Weinreich) and Cambridge A (Sam Cook, Evan Lynch, Ewan MacAulay, Oliver Sweetenham) were once again undefeated in the morning, and the third prelim bracket was won by Cambridge B (Tom Hill, Joseph Krol, Julian Sutcliffe, Elysia Warner), also undefeated. In the afternoon, Cambridge beat Oxford comfortably 485-320 to secure the lead, but a shock 345-240 loss to Cambridge C (Vitalijs Brejevs, Daniel Chiverton, Richard Freeland, Carys Redman-White) put the two rivals on level pegging going to the final. The single-game end of the tournament saw a decidedly sub-optimal nine negs and three dead tossups, as superior bonus conversion allowed Oxford to secure an eleventh national title.
A record 20 teams from 12 different institutions were present at the 2018 tournament, which returned to its initial home of Imperial 20 years after its first iteration. New teams for this tournament included Queen Mary's University, London (or QMUL) and Leicester, as well as a returning all-London team. The four five-team prelim groups were won by Oxford A (George Charlson, Daoud Jackson, Alex Peplow, Jacob Robertson), Cambridge A (Sam Cook, Jason Golfinos, Elysia Warner, Yanbo Yin), Cambridge B (Richard Freeland, Joseph Krol, Ephraim Jacob Jacobus Levinson) and Cambridge C (James Devine-Stoneman, Daniel Lawson, Rosie McKeown, Oliver Sweetenham), with Cambridge A showing an advantage on PPB. Despite a spirited attempt by Southampton (James Carrigy, Josh Holland, Niall Jones, Evan Lynch), Cambridge A and Oxford A trusted the top spots, and this time Oxford had the advantage thanks to an earlier 200-point win over Cambridge. After Oxford Brookes won a middle bracket tiebreaker against Manchester A, the final began. Solid 50-point games from Jason Golfinos and Elysia Warner drew Cambridge level with Oxford for the final game. The encouraging form exploded as Golfinos and Yanbo Yin powered three tossups each and Cambridge recorded a bonus conversion of 23.33 PPB to storm to victory, 515-225. This was the first BSQC victory for Cambridge, and the first for a non-Oxford university since Manchester in 2002.
28 teams from a total of 17 different universities participated in BSQC 2019 at Imperial, including the first (and so far only) appearances of Exeter, Cardiff and City, University of London (City), the latter of which fielded former Oxford players Joey Goldman and Harry Samuels. The four preliminary groups were won by Cambridge A (Joseph Krol, Sam Cook, Yanbo Yin, Richard Freeland), Oxford A (George Charlson, Oli Clarke, Isaac Brown, Jacob Robertson), Southampton A (Evan Lynch, Niall Jones, Lorna Frankel, Dom Belcher) and City, all going undefeated. After the playoffs, Oxford A and Cambridge A stood on top with 10 wins and 0 defeats each, going on to play a one-game final. Cambridge took an early lead in the final, leading 100-25, before a string of tossups in Oxford's favour gave them a comfortable lead, with 215 points to Cambridge's 95. Cambridge then launched their own comeback, maintaining a narrow lead for the next several questions. The final few tossups went to Oxford, resulting in their reclaiming the BSQC title. A recording of the final can be watched on the UK Quizbowl YouTube channel.
28 teams from 13 different universities participated in BSQC 2020, again hosted at Imperial. Despite the large field size, no new universities entered in 2020, although Sheffield entered for the first time since 2014. The preliminary groups were won by Oxford A (Oliver Clarke, George Charlson, Jacob Robertson, Alexandra Hardwick), Cambridge A (Joseph Krol, Sam Cook, Boyang Hou, Eli Hong), Southampton A (Evan Lynch, Niall Jones, James Carrigy, Steve Barnes) and Warwick A (Ben Beardsley, Jamie Keschner-Lycett, George Braid, Andrew Rout). One prelim match saw the largest margin of defeat in British quizbowl history, when Southampton A beat Edinburgh B by 715 to -25. Cambridge A led the field after the playoffs, with a tie for second place between Southampton A and Oxford A. Southampton won the play-in match, making 2020 the first BSQC final to not feature Oxford. Southampton began the final by building up a formidable lead, which was then mostly eroded by Cambridge, who were still 40 points down going into the final tossup. A neg by Southampton and a 30 on the bonus by Cambridge seemingly gave Cambridge a 5-point victory. However, a protest from Southampton was ruled in their favour, giving them the victory and forcing a second final match. The equally-tense second final was won by Cambridge, providing them with their second BSQC title.
BSQC 2021 was the first to be capped at 24 teams, requiring qualification through performances in other tournaments. The tournament was held over Zoom due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and used the 2021 WORKSHOP question set. The universities of York and Birmingham competed in BSQC for the first time in 2021. The prelim groups were won by Oxford A (Oliver Clarke, Alexandra Hardwick, Jacob Robertson, Alex Peplow), Oxford B (Seoan Webb, Alex Gunasekera, Freddy Leo, Laura Cooper), Cambridge A (Joseph Krol, Liam Hughes, Boyang Hou, Daniel Lawson) and Southampton A (Evan Lynch, James Carrigy, Ethan Lyon, Dom Belcher). The playoff rounds ended with Oxford A two wins ahead of the next highest team, having beaten Cambridge A in their final match, who themselves had taken a surprise defeat to Imperial A. This made 2021 the only BSQC not to be decided by a formal final round. Thus Oxford A reclaimed the BSQC title for 2021.
Hosted at Imperial, BSQC 2022 was the first in-person quizbowl tournament in the UK since BSQC 2020, with 24 teams from 12 universities taking part. Oxford A (Oliver Clarke, Jacob Robertson, Oliver Hargrave, Michael O'Connor), Cambridge A (Michael Kohn, Liam Hughes, Harrison Whitaker, Delia Cropper, Tony Ford), Edinburgh A (Ben Russell Jones, Nicholas Winter, Niall Karunaratne, Holly Parkinson) and Imperial A (Adam Jones, Justin Lee, Michael Mays, Enoch Yuen) topped their respective prelim groups. The top bracket playoffs were unusually competitive, with all teams registering at least one defeat. After the playoffs, Cambridge A led by one victory against runners-up Edinburgh A for an advantaged final. In what was their seventh consecutive appearance in a BSQC final, Cambridge won the title by defeating Edinburgh A 340-235.
In a departure from previous years, BSQC 2023 used questions from the new IQBT Undergraduate Championship Tournament, including for its dedicated qualifying round. No new teams participated, although KCL returned following a three-year absence. This was also the first BSQC not to be attended by Manchester. Prelim brackets were won by Cambridge A (Harrison Whitaker, Liam Hughes, Abigail Tan, Oscar Despard), Edinburgh A (Nicholas Winter, Ben Russell Jones, Patrick Hartley, Elian Corstanje), Imperial A (Justin Lee, Michael Mays, Adam Jones, Enoch Yuen) and Oxford A (Jacob Robertson, Omer Keskin, Mehmet Tatoglu, Oliver Hargrave). By the end of the playoff matches, Imperial A and Oxford A led with one defeat each, with Imperial having beaten Oxford A 305-255 and having lost to Edinburgh A 255-185. Imperial and Oxford went on to play in a one-game final, the first not to feature Cambridge since 2015. Oxford built an early narrow lead, which was soon closed by Imperial. A string of incorrect interruptions from Oxford handed the win to Imperial, with the final scoreline reading 370-185. This was the first time since 2002 that a non-Oxbridge university won BSQC. A recording of the final was uploaded to YouTube.
* From 2014 to 2019, ties between teams with similar win-loss records were not broken.
|Institution||Number of participations||Years||Best result||Notes|
|Oxford||19||1998-2003, 2011-2023||1st (14x: 1998-2001, 2003, 2011-2017, 2019, 2021)||Includes entries by individual colleges from 1998 to 2000: Balliol, Christ Church, Oriel, St. John's|
|Cambridge||19||1998-2003, 2011-2023||1st (3x: 2018, 2020, 2022)||Includes entries by individual colleges from 1998 to 2003: Trinity, Christ's, St. Catharine's, Selwyn, Darwin, Clare, Downing|
|Manchester||18||1998-2003, 2011-2022||1st (2002)||n/a|
|Imperial College London||17||1998-2003, 2011-2014, 2016, 2018-2023||1st (2023)||Included in London team in 2015|
|Warwick||13||2003, 2012-2023||3rd (2x: 2014, 2017)||n/a|
|Southampton||11||2011, 2013-2022||2nd (2x: 2020, 2021)||n/a|
|Oxford Brookes||9||2011, 2014, 2016-2022||11th (2x: 2011, 2017)||n/a|
|Bristol||9||1999, 2001, 2016-2017, 2019-2023||7th (1999)||n/a|
|Sheffield||8||2011-2015, 2020, 2022-2023||3rd (2012)||n/a|
|Durham||6||1998, 2000, 2019-2020, 2022-2023||3rd (1998)||n/a|
|University College London||5||2002-2003, 2014, 2019-2020||8th (2x: 2002, 2003)||Included in London team in 2015 and 2018|
|Open University||4||1999, 2001, 2013-2014||3rd (1999)||n/a|
|Birkbeck College London||3||1999, 2001-2002||4th (2001)||n/a|
|King's College London||3||2013, 2019, 2023||2nd (2013)||Included in London team in 2018|
|University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology||3||2000-2002||4th (2000)||Merged with University of Manchester in 2004|
|Queen Mary's University, London||3||2018-2019, 2021||15th (2021)||n/a|
|Birmingham||2||2021, 2023||15th (2021)||n/a|
|University of London||2||2015, 2018||2nd (2015)||Includes students from UCL, KCL, Imperial, LSE and Goldsmiths|
|St. Andrews||2||2017-2018||14th (2018)||n/a|
|York||2||2021, 2023||18th (2021, 2023)||n/a|
|University of East Anglia||1||2001||5th (2001)||n/a|
|London School of Economics||1||2014||11th (2014)||Included in London team in 2015|
|School of Oriental and African Studies||1||2016||10th (2016)||n/a|
|City, University of London||1||2019||3rd (2019)||n/a|