National History Bee and Bowl (NHBB)  


National History Bee and Bowl (NHBB) is a quiz bowl-like organization which focuses mainly on history with additional questions related to historical literature, fine arts, and science. Founded by David Madden in 2010, NHBB has grown rapidly across the country, having a prominent presence in the NY area. NHBB has expanded to over 20 countries, has high-school, middle-school, and elementary-school divisions, and features many exciting events that will be expanded upon later in this article. For most events, there are four sets offered: C set (easiest), B set, A set, and Nationals (hardest). To be eligible for NHBB events, you must be under 19 years old, attend a primary or secondary school or receive the same education via homeschooling, and only play at one C, B, or A set event. The Varsity division is grades 11 and 12 (although younger students may join a Varsity team), the JV division is grades 9 and 10, and the middle school division is grades 8 and below.


History Bowl is a team event which functions similarly to normal quiz bowl in that two teams of four play each other on tossup-style questions. The Bowl is split into four rounds: tossups only, tossups and bonuses, lightning round, and tossups with powers. Each team plays five preliminary rounds against teams in your division, and any team that finishes with a record above .500 (3-2 or better or 2-2 with a bye) or that wins a playoff game will qualify for NHBB Nationals. Depending on the field size, usually the top half of teams move on to playoffs. At the National tournament, teams play in seeded groups of 6, the top 2 teams making the afternoon Upper Bracket rounds. The top Upper Bracket teams for each group then move on to the evening playoff rounds (top 28 teams for 2018). NHBB recently adopted the card system for playoffs, so teams will gain the higher card if they win. Any team that loses will play in the losers' bracket, and any team that loses in the losers' bracket will finish in whatever place their card says. 


At the regional level, History Bowl will cost $80 for a team of 3-6 players, $60 for a team of 2 players, and $30 for a single-player team. At the National level, a team of 3-6 players is $625, a team of 2 players is $450, and a single-player team is $225. Teams receive $30 off for bringing a working buzzer system, receive $75 for hosting an NHBB tournament throughout the year, and receive multiple discounts (from $30 to $110) for every session that a team brings an experienced moderator. 


With regards to the format, the Bowl starts off with 10 tossup questions in the first round that are non-conferable, meaning that teams can not discuss the tossup while it is being read. Tossups are worth 10 points each and vary in difficulty depending on the set. Teams who interrupt the question and answer incorrectly do not receive a penalty, but are locked out from answering the question. A majority of these tossups will be history-based, but every set has at least one literature, one music, one art, and one historical science question. For round 2, tossups function the same way, but for every correct answer a team gives, that team receives one corresponding bonus part related to the question worth 10 points. Teams can confer on bonus parts (which are sometimes harder than the answer to the tossup part). Round 3 is the lightning round in which teams hear a series of 8 one-line questions all related to a central topic. A team has a choice of three lightning rounds, the losing team having the privilege of choosing first. Teams have one minute to answer all 8 parts which get progressively more difficult, and teams can cut the round as a strategic move or if the questions are getting too hard. The opposing team will get the chance to answer any questions that they have heard in their entirety that the other team has answered incorrectly, meaning that if 7 of the 8 parts were read, then the other team does not hear the 8th question. A team that answers all 8 questions correctly receives a 20 point bonus for 100 points total. The fourth round functions like normal quiz bowl in that tossups are powered-marked, but instead of 15-point powers, there are superpowers (30 points), regular powers (20 points), and normal buzzes (10 points). Again, there are no negs and teams cannot confer on 4th-quarter tossups. Students who finish in the top half of all competing teams qualify for the International Geography Bowl in 2020. See here for past questions.


History Bee is an individual event in which individual players aim to correctly answer the most questions to "get out," or reach the threshold of 8 points. The questions are of similar difficulty to the bowl questions at a particular tournament. At a regional tournament, there are 3 bee rounds of 30 tossups each, played in rooms of 6 to 8 players. The top 8-10 competitors play in another round in which the first 3-4 players to get 3 points move on to a finals game in which scores are reset and players race to get 6 points. Depending on when a player "gets out," that student is rewarded bonus points (see here). If three people buzz in on a tossup incorrectly, the tossup goes dead and the student who buzzed in the 3rd time receives a -1 deduction. Registration is $15 for History Bee at the regional level.


At the national level, there are 6 preliminary rounds of 35 questions in which students also compete to reach the 8 question threshold. Usually, the top 40 players move on to the playoffs. Playoffs are extremely competitive, so that is why NHBB recently instituted a power system for the playoff Bee matches; a player receives 6 points for a super early buzz, 5 points for a relatively early buzz, 4 points for a buzz between the last power marking and the end of the question, and 3 points for a buzz after the question has finished. Players also receive a -2 for an incorrect answer while the question is being read, -1 for an incorrect answer after the question has finished, and -3 for "killing the question." Playoff rounds are also 35 questions and players compete to get 40 points. For the finals match, a player who gets 50 points wins automatically, but the player with the highest point total after 40 questions is declared the winner. Students who finish in the top half of all competing teams qualify for the International Geography Bee in 2020. The registration cost for Nationals Bee is $110. 


The US History Bee is another popular event organized by NHBB that focuses specifically on American history. To qualify for the National US History Bee, students must take a National Qualifying Exam during the lunch break at an NHBB regional tournament. There is a C (easiest), B, and A-level (hardest) exam. The exam consists of 50 multiple-choice questions worth 2 points each, incorrect answers resulting in a -1 point reduction from the total score. Students who finish in the top half of competitors in their division or score about the National Median Score qualify for Nationals. At the Nationals level, the US History Bee function just like the National History Bee, 6 preliminary rounds of 35 questions with -1 points for "killing the question." The power system is in place for the playoff rounds (2 for Varsity, 1 for JV). The finals, unlike the History Bee, are only 20 questions each instead of 40. The US History Bee is $110 at the National level. See here for past questions. 


The US Geography Bee functions similarly to the US History Bee in that for a $10 registration fee, students can take either the C, B, or A set National Qualifying Exam and finish top half in their division or score about the National Median Score to qualify for Nationals. The exam is 50 multiple choice questions with a -1 point deduction for incorrect answers and no credit for blank answers. At the National level, the exam becomes much more intensive; for the first hour of the exam, students take 40 multiple choice questions and an 8-question short answer section focusing on Geomorphology, Geography and current events, Historical Geography, Cultural Geography, Economic Geography, Urban Geography, Biogeography, and Climate Geography. For the second hour of the exam, students complete the remaining 40 multiple choice questions on a Geography Skills Test, 7-9 short answers questions focusing on practical map skills and cartographic reasoning. The students with the top 4 combined multiple choice, written exam, and map exercise exam scores have the opportunity to attend the International Geography Olympiad representing Team USA. The exams cost $85 to register. See here for past exams. 


Similar to the US Geography Bee, the International Geography Bee, sponsored by International Academic Competitions, is a bee-style competition in which players at Nationals aim to "get out" after accumulating 8 points on general geography questions. Qualifying for the International Geography Bee is the same process as qualifying for the US Geography Bee. The top-scoring competitors (around 16) in the three preliminary rounds of the Bee advance to the semifinals which are power-marked like the other bees. The top three finishers in each of the two semifinal rounds advance to the finals to determine a winner. Players that finish in the top half of all competitors qualify for the International Geography Bee World Championships in 2020. The registration fee is $80 for just IGB and $150 for both USGO and IGB. See here for the 2017 questions. 

In addition, NHBB hosts the Sports and Entertainment Bee for a fee of $25 each year at Nationals, featuring questions in all sorts of categories like pop culture, soccer, music, etc.

Qualifying for either the IGB World Championships or the International History Olympiad is no small task, but here is an overview on both if privileged to attend either. The IGB World Championships were held in Berlin in 2018 with a nice balance between competition and touring Berlin. There were 10 events offered and each qualifier had the opportunity to compete in as many as they had registered for. Team events included a bowl-style Geography event and a Treasure Hunt around Berlin. Individual buzzer-based events included the Historical Geography Bee, the International Geography Quiz, and even a Caribbean Geography Bee. Written tests included an intensive International Geography Exam with hundreds of questions, and one newer addition to the Championships was a graded simulation of the Berlin Conference. The cost of just IGB, a 7-day tournament, is $1400 for the events and lodging. For both IGB and IHO, the combined price for 11 nights lodging and all events is $2475.

The International History Olympiad in Berlin featured plenty of buzzer-style events and other entertaining competitions that all competitors were eligible for as long as they qualified for the Bowl and/or Bee competitions (with a few limitations). The two main events were the International History Bowl with very similar rules to the National History Bowl but instead of school-based teams, teams were from various states or countries, and the International History Bee with similar rules to the National History Bee. Other events included Art History, German Military History, Women's History, and many other events available here. Other competitions included a History Battery Exam, a simulation of the Potsdam Conference, a Research Competition, and a Written Exam. In addition to these, there were plenty of non-competition events like tours of historical sites around Berlin.