**Above, Isaac Newell ’18 (center) won the GeograBee on Tuesday.**
Poised with their hands above their buzzers in Upper Left of Paresky Commons, the five finalists in the 19th Annual GeograBee listened anxiously to the final question: “In the 1840s, the Sultan of Oman relocated his capital to a small island off the coast of East Africa. Name this island, which became a center of ivory and slave trade.”
On Tuesday, Isaac Newell ’18 became the 19th GeograBee champion with a total of 24 points out of the maximum 90. Chris Russo ’15 got second place with 17 points, and Akhil Rajan ’17 placed in third with 16 points.
“I honestly did not expect to win since I had heard how knowledgeable some of the other competitors are beforehand. The competition was definitely very intense and also I got off to a slow start, so I was a bit anxious during the 30 questions. After winning, I was pleasantly surprised that I did it,” wrote Newell in an email to The Phillipian.
The competition was moderated by Christopher Jones, Instructor and Chair in History, and was organized by Susanne Torabi, International Student Coordinator.
The intensity of the competition contrasted with the relaxed atmosphere of the audience, as onlookers broke out in laughter and applause as participants raced to the buzzers with answers ranging from Iceland to Ouagadougou.
“With the buzzer system you have to be on your toes and ready to push the buzzer as fast as possible. That got me a little nervous since I’m not always very good at getting things fast,” said Newell.
Despite this, Newell ended up winning the round, breaking the two-year tie streak between Abbot and Flagstaff Clusters.
Newell said that although he did not train specifically for the GeograBee, he reads world news and is passionate about world geography.
“I regularly read the news, so keeping up to date on current events inherently teaches you some geography and provides a context for remembering it. I also enjoy looking at maps and I have an atlas and globe in my room in Pemberton Cottage which I look through occasionally,” said Newell.
This year, the all-school finalists were given monetary prizes. The winner won $100, the student in second place $50 and the third-place participant $25.
Participants in the finals answered 30 geography questions. The contestant that answered the most questions correctly was declared the winner. Contestants gained three points for each correct answer and lost one point for each incorrect response.
At the dorm level, each dorm that showed 100 percent participation and answered an average of 50 percent or more of the first ten questions correctly in the preliminary round qualified for a pizza munch in April.
This year, Abbot and Flagstaff Clusters tied for the top scores in the preliminary round, with both clusters scoring an average of 73 percent correct answers in the first ten questions. All dorms but one this year qualified for pizza.
The first GeograBee occurred in 1997 and was proposed by Nels Frye ’99.