Masterminds (quiz bowl)

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Starring David Guistina
Country of origin United States
Running time 30 minutes
Original network Time Warner TW3
Original release 2003
Related shows Quiz bowl, college bowl

MasterMinds is an academic quiz bowl program active in Upstate New York. There are currently four regions with associated leagues: Albany, Rochester, Syracuse, and Buffalo. Some games in the Albany and Rochester regions are broadcast on public-access television.



MasterMinds is an academic, Quiz Bowl-type program in Upstate New York that uses NAQT as its question source. Masterminds uses NAQT A-Set questions. Two teams of four players face off answering questions on a wide variety of topics including literature, history, science, visual and auditory arts, philosophy, social science, geography, current events, and popular culture. Rounds consist of two eight-minute timed halves.

Toss-Up Questions[edit]

Toss-Up questions are worth 10 or 15 points apiece. They are asked, and any one person from either team can buzz in and give the answer. If they get the question correct, they earn 10 or 15 points for their team which then has the opportunity to answer a bonus question. If a player interrupts the question and supplies an incorrect answer, that player's team is penalized 5 points and may not answer the question again, letting the other team wait until the question finishes to answer. If an incorrect answer is given after the question is finished, or if the second team interrupts incorrectly after the other team has already been penalized, no penalty is given, but the team that answered incorrectly cannot answer again. If a player rings in on a toss-up before the "power mark" on the packet, he/she "powers" the question and earns 15 points instead of 10. Players may not confer with their teammates during toss-up questions by verbal or nonverbal means.

Bonus Questions[edit]

These questions are aimed for the team to work together to answer. Bonuses are worth 30 points total and are usually broken down into three, 10 point parts. Conferring is allowed and encouraged. Anyone on the team that correctly answered the toss-up may answer the bonus question.


Regular Season[edit]

During the Regular Season, the teams in each region are divided up into leagues. Most leagues have six teams, though some have five or seven. In the 2016-17 season, Albany and Buffalo had five leagues, Rochester had ten, and Syracuse had two. The leagues are run with a double or triple round robin format, depending on the number of teams. All teams play twelve regular season games across six rotations, meaning that teams usually play two games each rotation, though they may play more if they were unable to go to an earlier one. There is generally one rotation each month, and they are held at schools in the league. Individual statistics, such as the number of questions answered correctly, the number answered incorrectly, the number "powered", the number of games and halves played, and the player's average points per half, are kept.

Many participating schools also have Junior Varsity teams, which are ostensibly for students in 10th grade and below. There are generally fewer Junior Varsity teams in each league than Varsity teams, so their tournaments are often quadruple or hextuple round robin. Junior Varsity games are run on the same questions as those for the Varsity division. There are no playoffs for Junior Varsity.


The top half of Varsity teams (rounded up) by win-loss record from each league advance to the regional playoffs. The playoffs are run with a double elimination format. The playoffs for Albany, Buffalo, and Rochester are spread across multiple days, beginning in mid-to-late April and ending in late May. In the Albany and Buffalo playoffs, the teams that qualified for playoffs are separated into two groups, each of which plays the first four rounds of playoffs, and the teams that remain after those games (two undefeated and four once-defeated) play again at a later date to decide the regional champion. The Rochester league is similar, except that initially the teams are divided into four, and the final match takes place at a date after its competitors are determined, due to fact that there are many more teams in Rochester than in Albany or Buffalo. Correspondingly, Syracuse, the smallest region, concludes its playoffs on a single day. Individual stats are not kept in the playoffs, though an MVP and "All Tournament Team" are stated, presumably on the basis of total points obtained.

The winner of each of the Regional Championships advance to the State Championship in June. The State Championships usually take place at LeMoyne College. The State Champtionships are run in a round robin format: each team plays each other once, and a champion is decided based on win-loss record. Like in the regional playoffs, individual stats are not kept, but an MVP and "All Tournament Team" are named. The questions used in the regional and state playoffs are of the same difficulty as those used in the regular season (they both come from NAQT A-Sets, which are substantially easier than most questions sets used in mainstream, non-Masterminds quizbowl).

Previous winners[edit]

State Winners[edit]

2016-2017: Bethlehem
2015-2016: Bethlehem
2014-2015: Bethlehem
2013-2014: Bethlehem
2012-2013: Bethlehem
2011-2012: Fayetteville-Manlius
2010-2011: City Honors
2009-2010: Bethlehem
2008-2009: Guilderland
2007-2008: Williamsville East
2006-2007: Irondequoit
2005-2006: Bethlehem[1]

League Winners (Bolded Teams won States)[edit]

Year Albany League Buffalo League Rochester League Syracuse League
2016-2017 Bethlehem Williamsville East Hilton Manlius-Pebble Hill
2015-2016 Bethlehem Orchard Park Pittsford Sutherland Fayetteville-Manlius
2014-2015 Bethlehem Williamsville East Brighton Christian Brothers Academy
2013-2014 Bethlehem Williamsville East Brighton East Syracuse-Minoa
2012-2013 Bethlehem Lancaster Geneva Fayetteville-Manlius
2011-2012 Bethlehem St. Joseph's McQuaid Jesuit Fayetteville-Manlius
2010-2011 Bethlehem City Honors McQuaid Jesuit Manlius-Pebble Hill
2009-2010 Bethlehem Williamsville South McQuaid Jesuit Jordan-Elbridge
2008–2009 Guilderland Grand Island McQuaid Jesuit Fayetteville-Manlius
2007–2008 Guilderland Williamsville East Fairport Fayetteville-Manlius
2006–2007 Bethlehem Canisius Irondequoit Manlius-Pebble Hill
2005–2006 Bethlehem Williamsville East School of the Arts Manlius-Pebble Hill
2004–2005 Bethlehem Clarence Brighton Manlius-Pebble Hill
2003–2004 Bethlehem Clarence Wheatland-Chili Corcoran
2002–2003 Doane Stuart St. Joseph's McQuaid Jesuit
2001–2002 Niskayuna Clarence Geneseo
2000–2001 Christian Brothers Academy Clarence Greece Arcadia
1999–2000 Berne-Knox-Westerlo Canisius School of the Arts
1998–1999 West Seneca West Greece Arcadia

Leagues and Teams for the 2017-2018 Season[edit]

Albany Leagues[edit]

League 1

  • Amsterdam
  • Broadalbin-Perth
  • Galway (2017 League 1 Champion)
  • Gloversville
  • Johnstown
  • Mayfield

League 2

League 3

League 4

League 5

Buffalo Leagues[edit]

League 1

League 2

  • Canisius
  • Cardinal O'Hara
  • Christian Central
  • Olmsted
  • Starpoint (2017 League 2 Champion)

League 3

League 4

League 5

Rochester Leagues[edit]

League 1

  • Brighton (2017 League 1 Champion)
  • Churchville-Chili
  • Northstar Christian
  • Penfield
  • University Prep
  • Wilson
  • World of Inquiry

League 2

  • Gates Chili
  • Greece Arcadia
  • Hilton (2017 League 2 and Regional Champion)
  • Rush-Henrietta
  • School of the Arts
  • Spencerport

League 3

  • Albion
  • Brockport (2017 League 3 Champion)
  • Elba
  • Holley
  • Kendall
  • Pembroke

League 4

  • East Rochester
  • Greece Athena
  • Greece Odyssey
  • Greece Olympia
  • Livonia
  • Mercy (2017 League 4 Champion)
  • Wheatland-Chili

League 5

  • Bloomfield
  • Dundee
  • Geneva (2017 League 5 Champion)
  • Marcus Whitman (2017 League 7 Champion)
  • Newark
  • Penn Yan
  • Red Jacket

League 6

  • Midlakes
  • North Rose-Wolcott
  • Pal-Mac
  • Sodus
  • Wayne
  • Williamson

League 7

  • Canandaigua (2017 League 6 Champion)
  • Clyde-Savannah
  • Lyons
  • Mynderse
  • Romulus/South Seneca
  • Waterloo

League 8

  • Irondequoit
  • McQuaid Jesuit
  • Pittsford Mendon
  • Pittsford Sutherland (2017 League 8 Champion)
  • Victor

League 9

  • Fillmore (2017 League 9 Champion)
  • Honeoye
  • Keshequa
  • Mt. Morris

League 10

  • Aquinas
  • Eastridge
  • Fairport (2017 League 10 Champion)
  • Webster Schroeder
  • Webster Thomas

Syracuse Leagues[edit]

League 1

  • Cato-Meridian
  • Jordan-Elbridge
  • Moravia
  • Port Byron
  • Skaneateles (2017 League 1 Champion)
  • Southern Cayuga
  • Union Springs

League 2

  • Bishop Ludden
  • Christian Brothers
  • East Syracuse-Minoa
  • Fayetteville-Manlius
  • Manlius-Pebble Hill (2017 League 2 and Regional Champion)
  • Solvay



  1. ^ "Championships". 
  2. ^ Hoffman, Michael. "League". 

External links[edit]