The unrelenting Jersey sun inaugurated another sweltering day at the Westin Princeton. Within its grand venues and snaking halls, safely ensconced in a cocoon of frigid air, nine teenagers sat at a metallic table, phones drawn, Duel of the Fates softly obscuring the hum of the aggressive AC in the background. With bated breath, they… continued to await the beginning of proceedings as a delay dragged on for five, fifteen minutes. One parent, chest swollen with valor, read out a question for the baying horde. One competitor buzzed in on “Farrokh Bulsara,” correctly guessing “Freddy Mercury.” Another immediately protested that he could not buzz in twice.

Twenty-five minutes past nine, an impostor started humming the among us theme as an incredibly subtle nod to having basically snuck in, but he eventually relented to attend his Task Force (he later returned and learnt of that event’s delay as well). Anyhow, the moderator had indeed arrived and briefed the table on the rules. He soon produced a laptop and the slideshow of image clues with all the vigor of a middle-aged man presenting his laptop in a hotel conference room at 9:30 AM. As more clues are revealed and become more obvious, less points are awarded per correct answer. Each contestant can buzz in only once, but the question never dies until everyone has exhausted their attempt.
The audience beheld much exasperation as contestants grappled with Cuban sandwiches (Tampa), lighthouses (Long Island), a presidential campaign rally (Colombia), Fukuyama and Ford Coppola (Francis), damask(us), and a cherry red piano (Elton John). Contenders get good buzzes on Pennsylvania, the Moncada barracks for Castro, Lincoln’s assassination, and Mesopotamia. Despite five preceding days of brisk competition, the contestants were electrified: table-slapping and cries of despair, realization, and joy betrayed a tension no less present than during the main Bee and Bowl. In the end, nine had entered the Junior Varsity preliminaries, and four advanced to the finals.
A surprisingly close race at the finals decided the top three to be awarded gold, silver, and bronze medals. Abhivir Arvind Iyer won overall, Arin Parsa claimed second, and Thomas Glotfelty earnt third. This result is yet another expected victory for the contestants, particularly the top two. All of them were finalists at the International History Bee, the flagship competition at the Olympiad, with Iyer and Parsa receiving bronze and silver respectively. Both contestants formed part of the International History Bowl team that won silver. Both of them have also received multiple medals for other events as well, largely being considered, along with Robert Wang, the top IHO competitors of their division.
Ethan Lu
Junior Varsity, Massachusetts