Marshall Steinbaum

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Marshall Steinbaum

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Noted Subjects:
Geography, Economics, European History, Current Events, Haberdashery
Current Collegiate Team None
Past Collegiate Teams Oxford; Chicago (2009-2014)
High School Team
Middle School Team None

Marshall Steinbaum was a Ph.D. student in Economics at the University of Chicago from 2008 to 2014, although he only joined the quizbowl team in February of 2009 at the advice of his friend, later roommate, and onetime Maggie Walker and Harvard quizbowler Eric Nielsen. His first tournament was FICHTE 2009, at which he placed second on a team with Seth Teitler, Selene Koo, and Michael Arnold, and where he wondered all day why everyone was so angry and scornful of the tournament editors.

Marshall filled the crucial role of Old Man of UChicago Quizbowl during the interstices between the joint reign of Seth Teitler and Selene Koo and the coming of John Lawrence. He contributed to third-place showings at ICT and ACF Nationals 2011 and led the A team to a fifth-place finish at ICT 2012 and a controversial second place at the inaugural collegiate National History Bowl in 2012. Following the 2013 revelation that Andy Watkins had cheated at the 2010 ICT, a Chicago A team on which Marshall was fourth scorer behind Seth, Selene, and Michael was recognized as the winner of that tournament.

Marshall head-edited three tournaments during his career at Chicago: Sack of Antwerp in 2011, Peaceful Resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 2012 (co-edited with Ike Jose), and Urgent Call for Unity, the Chicago Open History Doubles tournament in the summer of 2013. His sometimes-contentious editing philosophy privileged real, especially academic knowledge and sometimes strained the received quizbowl distribution. His subject biases include a hatred for mythology, which he considers an amalgam of made-up bedtime stories and nationalistic dreck assembled to provide fake historicity to modern ethnocentric political claims, an abiding interest in making social history and historiography suitable subjects for quizbowl questions, and a belief that social science, especially economics, ought to be about recent cross-disciplinary empirically-oriented results rather than the contents of decades--if not centuries--old foundational tomes no one actually reads. In his final year at Chicago, Marshall was subject editor for History, Social Science, and "Modern World" for the 2014 tournament Cane Ridge Revival, which did a considerably better job translating his philosophy of proper quizbowl subject matter into playable questions.

During much of Marshall's tenure as Old Man of UChicago Quizbowl, the team was wracked with civil conflict between Shantanu Jha and his acolytes and Marshall, who viewed the situation in apocalyptic terms. Shantanu's checkered academic record resulted in a four-term hiatus from UChicago between the winter of 2010 and the spring of 2011, and when he returned he frequently refused to commit to playing on the team at national tournaments and failed to fulfill writing and editing commitments for Peaceful Resolution. The situation came to a head when Shantanu demanded that the ACF Nationals A team for 2012 consist of him, Daichi Ueda, Tyler Smith, and Matt Menard, at which point Marshall threatened to quit the team if Shantanu's lineup prevailed. Tyler withdrew from the A team to prevent that, but the acrimonious situation was the background to Shantanu's decision to use his editing privileges in the NAQT question database to "hint" at question content prior to the 2012 ICT in the presence of Daichi, Matt, and other team members. As a result, Shantanu was removed from membership of the Chicago quizbowl team and lost eligibility to play or staff any NAQT or ACF tournament going forward. Right had triumphed.