Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Certamen Semi Finals

"Qui Iupiter et Pluto frater est? Responde Englice." announced the judge. The question was, "Who was Jupiter and Pluto's brother? Respond in English." Two teams out of three took a go. One had "No answer", one said Ceres. I realized my chance and buzzed in. I answered, "Poseidon". "Incorrect!" said the judge, "The question wanted the Roman form not the Greek." My heart sank and I silently raged at myself for not saying Neptune!

On April 4, my team and I represented our middle school and went to Irvine, California for the Certamen State Convention semi-finals. Certamen is Latin for quiz bowl. It is a competition where there are 2-4 teams, and a question is asked. Each team can buzz in with a buzzer once per question. The questions are all about Greek and Latin history, mythology, grammar, Latin usage, and derivatives. There are two types of questions; Toss-Up and a Bonus. Toss-Up questions are worth ten points each, and Bonus questions are worth five points each. If you answer a Toss-Up question correctly, then you are rewarded with two bonus questions.

 Split-second thinking is a key element to be an amazing Certamen player. Certamen is as challenging as Jeopardy, but it is more nerve racking and involves more thinking in my opinion. Sometimes you know the right answer, but you start to doubt yourself. One third of the time, you think you know the answer before the question ends, but you don't want to buzz in first because you might get it wrong, but you also want to buzz in first because it might be right. Another one third of the time, the question is finished being read and you think you know the answer but don't want to buzz because if you get it wrong, your team can't help you and they won't have another chance to buzz for that question. The last one third of the time, you know the answer, buzz and get it right.  When you buzz in and answer correctly, it feels like you get back into the station on a roller coaster after an intense ride.

My team and I were losing in the first third of the game. The score was twenty-five to thirty-five to fifty. By the end of the second round, we were in second place. The score was forty-five to sixty to sixty-five. The rounds were getting more difficult. At first, it wasn't scary, and everyone was calm and ready to go. As the game progressed, every time I heard the buzz sound, my heart would leap to my throat; I wouldn't know if it was my team that buzzed in or someone else. Finally, it was the last question. The score was forty-five to ninety to ninety. As the judge said the question, I pressed the buzzer, but I was too late. The other team with ninety points buzzed in a millisecond before me. This was the question that decided who advanced to the finals. I chanted in my head. "Please get it wrong! Please get it wrong!" My chanting failed. I cried, "NOOOOOO!!!!!" Our team was devastated. However, It was a good game, and everyone enjoyed it. . This year was our school's first time doing Certamen, and we got fourth place in the entire state. I am sure we can get into the finals next year.


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