Designate Bowl

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Designate Bowl is an informal variety of quizbowl in which players designate teammates after buzzing. It was once played frequently at Chicago practices, usually during the last half-hour of practice or during Spring Quarter after ACF Nats. It was created by David Seal and Michael Arnold.


Questions are answered by buzzing then designating another person on your team to answer at that point. A player can buzz and designate teammates an unlimited number of times, but each player can only be designated once. Any verbal or non-verbal communication that implies knowledge of the answer is forbidden. After a neg, the negging team is locked out until the moderator reads at least one word, though the opposing team(s) may buzz immediately after the incorrect answer (this rule is designed to limit the power of the "buzz-back" strategy describe below).

Though Designate Bowl could theoretically be played on any kind of packet, the results are best when played on terrible questions that have lots of non-specific clues, hoses and ridiculous answers. This set has yet to be matched for Designate Bowl excellence.

Strategies and Playing Styles

Perhaps the most effective Designate Bowl strategy is the "buzz-back." A player will buzz when she personally knows the answer; the player will then designate a bewildered teammate who negs, but with the expectation that other members of the team will then buzz immediately to designate the original player. Seth Teitler may be the foremost proponent of this strategy. The one word lockout penalty for negging was specifically introduced to weaken this playing style. Other drawbacks to this strategy include (1) the fact that the questions used for Designate Bowl are usually so terrible and non-pyramidal that having a genuine knowledge advantage is rare and (2) the tendency for teammates to mistake a genuine buzz (i.e., "I don't know this, but I bet X does") for a "buzz-back" buzz.

Shantanu Jha began his Designate Bowl career as unquestionably the worst player in the game (though some critics claim that Paul Gauthier, who committed the hideously embarrassing Designate Bowl gaffe of buzzing in, forgetting that he was playing Designate Bowl, and attempting to answer the question himself, is actually the worst Designate Bowl player of all time), though has since improved to respectability. The mind-meld between Seth Teitler and Selene Koo was deemed so complete as to be unfair, leading to an unofficial rule that they must be on opposite teams.


After the game was informally introduced to the circuit at-large following the 2009 NSC, the first scored tournament of Designate Bowl was played following the Chicago Open Trash Tournament during the 2009 Chicago Open. After a four-team round robin, the team of Mike Sorice, Andrew Ullsperger, Rom Masrour and Selene Koo finished undefeated.