The 2013 Challenge Bowl
by Dean Clark
Taras Zaporozan and Tim Hayward of the University of Manitoba rallied from a slow start to win the 8th Annual SEG Challenge Bowl Monday afternoon before a large, and very enthusiastic, audience at the Hilton Americas.
The Canadian team was in last place after the first series of questions to the five teams which had made it to the final round. In fact, the Canadians were 61 points behind the leaders, Luiz Arce Perez and Sebastian Cervantes of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and 51 points behind the United States pairing of Brandon Lutz (Univesity of Alabama) and Khemraj Shukla (Oklahoma State University).
However, the Canadians picked up a stunning 105 points in the second round of questions. This was the same total that the other four teams combined to put on the scoreboard (which was literally present, albeit some tinkering was required). The second round ended with the Canadians holding a 169-155 lead over Mexico and this was never threatened in the final round in which the eventual winners were the only team to add to its score.
The final totals were Manitoba 179, Mexico 155, Alabama-Oklahoma State 135, University of Texas at Austin 121, and Colorado School of Mines 106. The winners split the first prize of $1000. The second place team won $600.
This edition of the finals began with 11 teams, all of whom had won regional competitions held around the world throughout the year. The other contestants were the University of Lagos, China University of Petroleum-Beijing, Makerere University, the University of Pisa, King Saud University, and Novosibirsk State University.
The official score had been manually tabulated in the first seven editions of the Challenge Bowl finals. However, it was kept digitally in 2013, an innovation which allowed a running total to be occasionally flashed on a computer screen. Some glitches occurred in the first elimination round, requiring some manual adjustment of the scores, but emcee Peter Duncan managed a slick "workaround" and the system worked efficiently in the second round and the finals.
Duncan, attired as always in his white coat, kept the crowd laughing with a string of witty asides, many at the expense of his fellow Canadians (but who, obviously, had the last laugh when they received their prize money).
Duncan's commentary was augmented and effectively punctuated by the Wild River Band which also heightened the festive mood with a string of western swing songs. Duncan offered a prize of $1 to anyone in the audience who could name any of the tunes. However, only one person was able to collect. Modesty prevents his name from appearing in this report.