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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 18, 2009

“The thrill of the match”
GHS 8 Mastermind state tourney, come home champions

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The Masterminds of Guilderland High are the best in the state.

A team of eight competed for the Capital District at LeMoyne College in western New York on June 13 and came home as state champions.

“We came in second in the state last year. We were hoping to go back this year,” said Mark Rudolph who advises the team along with his wife, Alonna. Both are Guilderland High School teachers; he teaches math and she teaches history.

“It’s a non-athletic competition, giving students the opportunity to compete outside of the sports realm,” said Rudolph.

The oral contests feature two types of questions, said Rudolph. The first question is a speed question. Whoever pushes the buzzer first gets to answer. If the answer is right, a more complex question is posed and team members get to confer for seven seconds before answering.

Rudolph gave an example of one of those questions: “Alaska and Texas are the two biggest U.S. states, and the second-largest city in those states are each named after U.S. vice presidents. For 15 points apiece, name these two cities named after the vice presidents of President Polk and Teddy Roosevelt.”

The answer is Fairbanks in Alaska and Dallas in Texas.

The Guilderland team had to finish among the top three in its league to compete regionally. The team organizes early in September and the first match is usually in November, Rudolph said.

The Guilderland team first formed six years ago. It’s open to any high school student and all who are interested are on the team, said Rudolph. This year’s team had 16 members — Greg Barber, Herbie Goldstein, Haejim Hwang, Sunny Hwang, Beatrice Malsky, Dana McLaughlin, Alex Metzger, Sindhura Mandava, Zagreb Mukerjee, Brian Reed, Kyungduk Rho, Noah Rubin, Jeremy Simon, Ved Tanavde, Yipu Wang, and Bing Zhan.

The Rudolphs teach strategy rather than drilling facts. “They draw on the knowledge they already have,” Mark Rudolph said of the Mastermind competitors. “They are very good at recalling facts.”

He went on, “With a new team, we go over format and read lots of questions.”

The Guilderland team lost only one contest this year, to Saratoga. “They had a great season, 18 - 1,” said Rudolph of his students. “Bethlehem has been the team to beat.”

Fifteen schools competed in the regional championships, which Guilderland won in an overtime match against Bethlehem.

The best team from each of four regions — Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester — competed at the state finals.

The stronger Guilderland team members — four seniors and four sophomores; there are no juniors on the team — competed at the state level: seniors Mukerjee, Simon, Wang, and Zhang along with sophomores Reed, Rho, Rubin, and Tanavde.

 The Guilderland team was undefeated in the round-robin tournament, 3 - 0, while each of the other three teams was 2 - 1.

Mukerjee, who will attend Harvard next year, was named the tournament’s most valuable player, and Wang, who will attend Cornell, was named to the all-tournament team.

“They really get into the thrill of the match,” Rudolph said of his players. “And they enjoy the social time, too; they like hanging out with their friends between games.”

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