Reach for the Top is a long running quiz bowl for Canadian high school students.


TVO & CBC: 1961–1989, 2000–2009


Alex Trebek (Toronto)
Bob Cadman & Marc Coté (Montreal)


The game is similar to Quiz Bowl, the high school and university trivia game played in the United States, but with some significant differences. Reach questions include "snappers," the same as "tossups" in Quiz Bowl, which can be answered by any of the four players on either team. There are also "Who am I?" or "What am I?" questions and "shootout" questions, also open to any player. "Relay" questions are directed at only one of the teams, and "assigned" questions are directed to a single player. Questions are typically worth ten points, but can be worth up to forty points. Points are not deducted for a wrong answer.

Every game lasts for three rounds, with one minute breaks in between. As of 2009-2010, each game consists of 86 questions, plus four sudden-death tiebreakers in the case of a tie game after regulation. Contestants may answer a question before the reading of it is completed; however, a correct, anticipated guess does not earn extra points.

Question TypesEdit

  • Snappers – These are standard toss-up questions played at both the beginning and end of each round; they are known as Snapstarts and Snapouts, respectively. The first five Snapper sets consist of four questions each, while the last one has anywhere from ten to twelve of them. All Snappers have no specific category. Sometimes, a Snapper set is replaced with one of the following:
    • Chain Snappers – The answer to each question relates to the next one in some way. There are usually six of these in a set.
    • Shootout – The host asks up to twelve questions; however, each player can only give one correct answer. The first team to have all its players give correct answers wins forty points. If neither team has done so after the twelfth question, no points are awarded.
  • Open Questions – These are like Snappers, except the questions all follow the same category. Audio and visual questions are also Open Questions. Each category consists of either two, three or four questions. In the national tournaments of 2007 and 2008, interrupting a question and giving a wrong answer lost five points (similar to the American College Bowl). This was called a "Neg 5."
  • Team Questions – This is similar to the toss-up/bonus format in regular Quiz Bowl games. The first question (called a "scramble") is asked. The first player to buzz in with the correct answer scores ten points (originally five) and control of three (originally four) questions worth ten points each (though they can confer with their teammates). If neither team successfully answers the scramble, the remaining questions become toss-ups (although in some leagues the other questions are unasked).
  • ____ am I? – This question has four clues regarding a person, place, thing, or single word (in case of the last one, the clues are quotations with that word missing from each of them). After each clue is read, teams have an opportunity to guess. A correct guess on the first clue is worth forty points; each subsequent clue reduces the value by ten. If the answer isn't guessed after the ten-point clue, it is revealed and no points are awarded.
  • Assigned Questions – One question is asked to each player (who can't confer with their teammates). If they are wrong, the player sitting directly across from them can attempt that same question and steal the points.
  • Relay Questions – These are similar to the Assigned Questions, except a wrong answer ends that team's turn, and the other team can't steal. In addition, while the first three questions are worth ten points each, the fourth one is worth twenty.
  • List Questions – The teams are asked a question with five correct answers. They have had at least two formats:
    • Format #1 – This question was played between two rounds. The teams would write what they thought were the correct answers. Each correct answer was worth five points.
    • Format #2 – This format is used today. The teams alternate responses, earning ten points for a correct answer. When a team makes a mistake, the other team attempts to give the remaining answers before they make a mistake themselves.
  • Twenty-Point Special – Self-explanatory; this usually requires two parts, though sometimes it has one part that is more difficult than a normal ten-point question. The team must get the whole question right in order to score.

The tournament is divided into three different levels. At the regional level, local high school teams compete against each other to determine who goes on to the provincial level. The winners of the provincial championships then go on to the National Reach for the Top tournament. The winner is then declared the national champions.

External LinksEdit

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