Tourney will test academic, chess skills
By Richard E. Baldwin
November 28, 2011, 12:00 AM

NIAGARA FALLS — Some of the brightest students and chess players in Niagara Frontier schools will compete in a Masterminds academic quiz and interscholastic chess tournament from 3 to 7 p. m. Thursday in Niagara Falls High School, 4455 Porter Road.

Masterminds uses a Quiz Bowl format in which matches are played by teams in eight-minute halves. Students must ring in and be recognized before answering questions. Correct answers earn that player’s team 10 points and the chance for the team to answer a bo-nus question.

Each team plays four students, with the opportunity to substitute all four of them at halftime, so eight different students could represent a single school in one game. Some schools have both varsity and junior varsity teams.

Mastermind teams play a 12- game regular season, with the top schools advancing to double-elimination playoffs. The statewide program was introduced in the Buffalo region in 1995.

The questions cover a broad range of topics, including art, biology, chemistry, current events, geography, history, literature, music, political science, pop culture, religion and sports.

Grand Island, Lewiston-Porter, Starpoint, Niagara Falls and Niagara Catholic high schools will compete in Thursday’s quiz program in the Falls.

The Interscholastic Chess League sponsors tournaments, individual and league play, lessons and camps. The chess tournament at Niagara Falls High School will be held simultaneously with the Masterminds academic quiz.

Chess teams are entered from Grand Island, Lewiston-Porter, Niagara Falls, North Tonawanda and Starpoint high schools and from Cardinal O’Hara High School in the Town of Tonawanda and Nichols School in Buffalo.

League organizers said the quiz and chess programs give students a chance to represent their schools in an interscholastic setting that fills an extracurricular academic void.

Team members are selected by coaches, who ask teachers from the various disciplines who some of their better students are, and then they supplement that group with anyone who responds to an announcement in the schools.

There are no minimum scholastic requirements except for those established by individual school districts for their own students.

Judie Gregory, public relations director for the Niagara Falls City School District, said: “It is a lot of fun for students and adults to see students from all over play chess well, and the quiz bowl is really cool.”


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