The Challenge

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The Challenge was a televised quiz bowl show that aired in the Tri-State (New York/New Jersey/Connecticut) area between at least 1993 and 2013. It was a staple of bad quizbowl in the area, with many "quiz bowl" or academic teams competing solely on the show.

The Challenge was originally sponsored by Tri-state network News 12, and was hosted by various newscasters for the network. In 2009, the show was transferred to MSG Varsity, and was last hosted by former American Idol contestant Jared Cotter.

1993 format

The host of this version was Paul Spychala. Each week, two teams of three competed in a tournament. The first round was seven minutes long and contained five-point tossups and bonuses (without bouncebacks). The second round was the category round; each team received three directed 10 point questions in the same three categories. When a player answered a question correctly in a category, that player could not answer for the rest of the category. Whoever got the most questions in the round won the opportunity to answer a 20-point question. The third round was a 7-minute all-tossup round. In this round, questions were worth 10 points, but a wrong answer allowed the other team to answer for 20 points.

2000s format

Two teams of four competed in a single-elimination tournament. Teams started with 100 points. The format was three rounds: In the first round, questions were all multiple choice and come from four categories (always pertaining to history, literature, science, and computational math). The question and choices were displayed as the host read the question, but the players could not buzz in until the question was finished. Players could confer during the reading of the question and before someone buzzed. Each question was worth 5 points. Additionally, a randomly-selected question in each category was designated a "Power to Learn Bonus Question": if a team answered the corresponding tossup, that team could answer a (non-multiple-choice) bonus question for five additional points.

The second round was the lightning round. The team that is behind chose one of two categories for questions. Each team had 60 seconds to answer up to 10 questions. The team that answered the most questions correctly won 10 points. If there was a tie, both teams got 5 points.

The third round consisted of four categories of short-answer questions. Questions in this round were worth 10 points, but 10 points were deducted for a wrong answer. Again, bonus questions were hidden in each category, and wrong answers to bonus questions did not deduct points. The team with the most points won the game.

2008 changes

In 2008, further changes were made to the format. Now, the lightning round gave both teams 5 points for each correct answer. Additionally, the penalty in the third round for wrong answers was removed. Finally, the game ended with the "Complete 180 Round," where four new categories with three questions each were offered. The first question in each category was a tossup for 10 points, the second and third questions were worth 15 and 20 points respectively and are offered first to the team that got the previous question correct.

After the 2008 season, changes to the format were relatively minor: in 2009, the bonus questions during the first round were replaced with a 20-point "Get the Picture" bonus, a hidden image that would be progressively revealed by certain questions and, if not solved before the end of the round, would be fully revealed for both teams to buzz on. In 2010, the Get the Picture was removed, leaving the first round as only multiple choice questions.

The all-time record for highest score in one round is 600 points (500 if you subtract the 100 points given at the start of the game), set by Kellenberg in round one of 2009-10.

It should be noted that despite the show being bad quizbowl, nearly every active Quizbowl team in the region was formed to compete on the show.


Year Champion Second T-3rd T-3rd
2012-13 Mountain Lakes Greens Farms Northport Farmingdale
2011-12 Ardsley Mountain Lakes Wilton North Babylon
2010-11 White Plains Kellenberg Bellport North Shore
Year Champion Second Third T-4th T-4th T-4th
2009-10 Horace Greeley Kellenberg Staples East Brunswick Smithtown East Horace Mann
2008-09 Great Neck South Greens Farms Horace Greeley Horace Mann Bergen County Academies Kings Park
2007-08 Horace Greeley Yeshivah of Flatbrush Bergen County Academies Plainview-Old Bethpage JFK Wilton Sachem North

The Tri-state bracket has been changed multiple times. When NYC and Westchester-Hudson Valley were first added, there were five regional champions (LI, NJ, CT, WHV and NYC) and one wildcard. Starting with the 2008-09 season, the number of Long Island teams were doubled, and separate champions were named for Suffolk and Nassau counties. For the 2010-11 season, separate champions were crowned for Bronx and Brooklyn, and the field for the Tri-state tournament was increased to eight teams, including one wildcard.

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