Japanese Students Lam, Siu Compete at National Bowl

Over spring break, Andover students Wynne Lam ’06 and Vincent Siu ’06 journeyed to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Japan Bowl National Championship. On March 5, 22 Phillips Academy students competed in the New England Japan Bowl Competition in Boston. Students from across the state demonstrated their knowledge of Japan in four separate levels of competition, which were divided according to the difficulty of the questions. In the level three competition, the team of Natalie Ho ’05, Jennifer Kim ’05 and Blake Hawk ’06 won second prize, while Jennifer Davis ’05, Palmer Rampell ’06, and George Pratt ’06 won third. Lam and Siu won first prize in the level two competition, earning the right to compete in the Japan Bowl National Championship on March 26. “After winning in the regional competitions in New England,…we were pretty confident in our ability. We studied some over the break, which limited our break to very little free time,” said Siu ’06. Soon after their arrival in Washington, Lam, Siu, and their fellow competitors were treated to dinner by the head of the Japan Society. The level two competition consisted of three parts: a round of team questions to be answered orally, toss-up questions, and a round of written team questions. The team questions compromised numerous textbook questions, as well as extra material the Japan Bowl Society provided for the participants to study. Theses included Japanese phrases, onomatopoeia, Kanji (Chinese characters), history, culture, geography, and terms relating to Japanese plays and acting. Lam and Siu fell ten points short of reaching the final round, and they took home fourth place in the competition. Instructor in Japanese Teruyo Shimazu, who traveled to Washington with Lam and Siu, said of his pupils, “They did their very best, and being number four in the whole country isn’t bad at all! I was very proud of the students, and as a matter of fact, I received great comments about them, and despite their upsetting result, they behaved gracefully to the other people around them.” Lam and Siu felt that the biggest difference between the regional competition and the national finals was the differing scoring systems. In the finals in Washington, the 21 teams were broken into seven groups of three, and the three teams receiving the highest point totals advanced to the final round. The New England regional competition employed a more conventional scoring format, in which teams engaged in head-to-head competition, with the winning team advancing. Both Lam and Siu felt that the scoring system used in the national competition greatly hurt their chances of winning. “It was obvious on the scoreboard, a team got 135, and another got 45, and another got 65. While our team scored 105 points we were 10 points shy of the third place finisher, so we couldn’t make it to the final round,” said Lam.