Michael Kohn

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Michael Kohn
Michael Kohn.jpg
Noted subjects Fine Arts, Literature, Religion/Mythology, Mathematics
Current college Durham University (2022-)
Past colleges Cambridge(2021-22), Imperial(2018-21)
Stats HDWhite • NAQT

Michael Kohn is a player for Durham University and the current president of UK Quizbowl. A Mathematics PhD student, he also is an amateur conductor, currently conducting Durham University Palatinate Orchestra's chamber orchestra and previously founding Kohncertino during his undergraduate at Imperial. For this reason he is considered to be an AFA specialist, but has large areas of the canon that he has not encountered naturally as a musician, leading to weaknesses in non-orchestral music. His particular quizbowl and reading interests broadly align with his specialisms, although he is a generalist and can buzz on, and especially neg on, most categories. During his quizbowl career he has won 3 student tournaments: 2021 SMH, 2022 BSQC, and 2024 ACF Regionals.

University Career

Michael began his quizbowl career by signing up on a whim to play the 2018 EFT set. After playing only a few tournaments in his first year, he was then helped to get better at quiz by Brandon Blackwell and former Imperial Quiz Society President Conor McMeel, gaining a grounding in most of the University Challenge/ Quizbowl canon. He then led Imperial's quizbowl teams in the 2019-20 season and 2020-21 season, serving as Secretary of the society in both years. In the 2020-21 season, he was on the first Imperial team to win a non-novice tournament, beating Southampton A in the final of the 28-team Southeast-Midwest housewrite 2021 Southeast-Midwest Housewrite, and achieved one of Imperial's best results at BSQC beating Cambridge A along the way.

Leaving Imperial in the capable hands of one of his closest friends and quizbowl protégés Fatima Sheriff, he then transferred to Cambridge for a Masters degree in Pure Mathematics, and played quizbowl for Cambridge A. This culminated in a team of himself, Liam Hughes, Delia Cropper, and the first UK appearance of Harrison Whitaker winning BSQC 2022, only losing to Oxford B.

Michael began a PhD in low-dimensional topology at Durham university in 2022, and soon joined their quizbowl team, appearing on the side that achieved Durham's best result in modern BSQC history with an equal 4th place finish at BSQC 2023. He can be found on Durham A alongside Sam Moore, Isaiah Silvers and Kai Madgwick. After their surprise BSQC placing, the team trained hard, with Michael choosing to read about (but not card) literature, some further fine arts and some mythology. The team made their first final in November 2023 at ACF Winter, where they lost to Edinburgh in the final. After a disappointing finish at ARCADIA, their efforts were rewarded by clinching Durham's first major title at ACF Regionals 2024, beating Oxford A on the final tossup of an advantaged final, and losing only to Imperial A. The day contained a game Michael describes as one he'd never be able to top, ever, when he got 11 tossups against Cambridge A. He then quickly went on to neg 5 times in a single game against Imperial B.

Michael also appears at some open tournaments, usually on punningly-titled teams with former Imperial player Felix Swift Roberts. He was a captain in 2023's Deep Bench, and his team, Pardon My Bench Judi Dench, won the tournament by over 15 points, scoring 69 points total. He also plays alongside Liam Hughes, Fatima Sheriff and Michael Hutchinson, amongst others, for the Zoomsbury Group in COQL and OQL, and listens to many famous albums in the hope of discovering more popular culture; he considers one of his best buzzes to be a neg on Jagged Little Pill purely because had he not blanked on the name of the album he'd have powered popular music, something he would not have been able to do when starting out at quizbowl.

Aged 19, Michael captained Imperial's University Challenge team, who reached the semifinal of the show in Season 50, losing three games, first to Strathclyde, and twice to victors Warwick University. Due to a high number of games played, he amassed 45 correct starters and a large number of negs, one of the highest totals in recent history. He then selected and trained the winning Imperial team for season 51, and assisted in training Imperial for season 53, before retiring completely from anything to do with University Challenge.

Michael first got involved in UK Quizbowl's committee as Blog Editor for the 2020-21 season. He then progressed through more major positions, first as Communications Officer and then as Tournaments Supervisor, before becoming President in the most recent elections. He is overseeing projects involving recording equipment, a new UK Discord server, a University of London quiz society, a greater variety of tournaments including more 1.5 dot tournaments hosted in the UK, amongst other things. After the 2023-24 season Michael will leave named positions for good, and retire from student quizbowl, though hopes to be seen near a buzzer and the close friends he has made along the way at open tournaments.