Justin Landry (Season 1)
Nobu and Mio Adilman (Last Two Seasons)
Michie Mee (First Two Seasons)
Sabrina Jalees (Final Season)
CBC: 2001–2004 (aired on both radio and television)

SmartAsk was a more risque version of Reach for the Top.

Qualifying for the ShowEdit

In order to qualify, schools had to send in an entry to the CBC on a specific topic announced for on the show's website. 124 schools were chosen at random. For the first season, 125 schools were chosen; this is because the winners of the previous season would receive an automatic place in the next tournament as defending champions. 122 of these schools would each play with another school from their province or region on radio, while the teams from the territories automatically advanced to the television show. These 64 winning schools would then compete in a single-elimination tournament, with one match each day (Monday through Friday) and it ended with the championships, which happened on a three-day weekend (Friday through Sunday). The championship games were only taped after the first twelve weeks were finished airing.


The game had four different formats: one for the radio version, and one for each season of the television version. In any case, there were three or four players on each team: three of them competed on air, and the fourth one (if necessary for that team) was used as an alternate.

Radio GameplayEdit

These games aired every Friday from September to November of the school year, generally lasting 15 minutes in length. There were three rounds.

The First Two RoundsEdit

The host would ask a question, but contestants could only buzz in after he finished reading it; this was called, "no preemptive buzzing (or NPB)". Players who did so would lose their shot at answering the question. Each category was centered on a certain school subject, and each category contained either three or four questions. The last category of the second round was general knowledge. There was no penalty for a wrong answer, and if a player was wrong, the captain of the other team would get a chance to answer and steal. In this version, the rounds were much shorter, giving the final round more importance. In between these rounds, the host interviewed the team captains.


Questions were worth 10 points in the first round, and 20 in the second round.

Final Round: Lightning RoundEdit

Questions in this round were worth 30 points and were all pot luck. Unlike the first two rounds, only one player could attempt each question and a wrong answer deducted 30 points. Plus, contestants could buzz in while a question was being read. The lightning round lasted for 90 seconds. Even though this round wasn't longer than on television, the earlier rounds were shorter, making this round more important in determining the winner.

The Alberta league had their own version of this round. Each team was asked questions for 30 seconds, still earning 30 points for correct answers, and losing 30 points for wrong answers; passing was allowed, and the question would become a push (the score would remain unchanged).

Season 1 GameplayEdit

The game was played in four rounds.

The First Three RoundsEdit

These were NPB rounds; unlike the radio series, however, teams who buzzed in early would not be able to buzz in again for 1.5 seconds (similar to Jeopardy!). As the game went on, the questions would increase in difficulty. Each round consisted of three categories, each containing anywhere from three to six questions. The categories had humourous names, relating to them in some way.


Question values in each round were as follows:

  • Round 1 – 20 points
  • Round 2 – 50 points
  • Round 3 – 100 points

Final Round: Lightning RoundEdit

This round had the exact same rules as the radio show, except the questions in this round were worth 50 points each, up or down. The length varied, although the teams were not told how long it would be.

Contestant InterviewsEdit

One player from each team was interviewed at a specific point in the game: before the third and fourth rounds, and the contestants stayed in their seats.

Scoring RecordsEdit

Generally, winning teams scored at least 1,000 points. In four games, both teams scored at least 1,000 points. The highest score in this season went to Victoria School, who scored 2,120 points in the first round.

Season 2 GameplayEdit

For this season, the game was played in five rounds.

The First Two RoundsEdit

These were NPB rounds; however, there were differences.

Round 1Edit

The questions were each worth 20 points in this round, but the round went in the following order:

  • Two Categories
  • Video Question
  • One Category

Each category consisted of either three or four questions. The last category was known as "Mio's Moment" and was given by Mio wearing an embarrassing costume. (Mio came out in a Speedo numerous times; this is generally agreed to be his most embarrassing costume. Other embarrassing costumes from this season were Mio as a cheerleader, Mio as Mia, and "Mio of Green Gables".)

Round 2Edit

The questions in this round were worth 50 points each and there were two categories, again each containing either three or four questions.

Round 3: Dawg Eat DawgEdit

This round was played similarly to the Final Jeopardy! Round on Jeopardy!, except the teams had to bet on members of the opposing team, not themselves. The teams were given a category, and they each chose one member of the opposing team to answer; the bet had to be a positive integer and a multiple of 10. The chosen players were then asked the question and had five seconds to write their answer on their chalkboard. Afterwhich, they showed it to the host. An incorrect answer meant the opposing team's wager was added to their score; a correct answer, however, meant the opposing team would lose their bet.

Some teams (notably semi-finalist Three Hills School) bet lots of points in this round, after scoring them in the NPB rounds. Other teams did not (notably champion Merivale High School, who only ever bet 10 points in this round).

This was usually the most difficult question of the game.

Round 4: The Dirty Half DozenEdit

Each of the six players was asked one question. A correct answer scored 100 points for their team; an incorrect answer, however, meant that the player above or below them (depending on the team) would get a chance to answer for 50 points. It was possible for one player to score 150 points for their team.

These questions were the next-hardest after the Dawg Eat Dawg question.

Final Round: Lightning RoundEdit

This round was played in exactly the same way as in the first season, except the contestants were now told how long it would last (anywhere from one to two minutes in most games, three minutes in the final game); unless they measured the amount of time themselves, however, they would not know how much time was left.

Player InterviewsEdit

One player from each team was interviewed individually before the second round, except this time, they were interviewed at center stage; and since there were two hosts, they took turns asking questions to the contestant.

Scoring RecordsEdit

Generally, winning teams scored 600 to 800 points. Because of the elimination of the open 100 point round and the difficulty of the Dirty Half Dozen questions, teams rarely broke 1,000 points. There were only three teams who scored at least that many points: St. George's School, who scored 1,250 in the first round; St. Malachy's Memorial High School, who scored 1,060 in the second round; and Saint John High School, who scored 1,120 in the third round.

Season 3 GameplayEdit

Just like in the previous season, the game was played in five rounds.

The First Two RoundsEdit

This was played in exactly the same way as the previous season, except the video question was renamed "Nobu Nation" after host Nobu, and Mio's costumes weren't as embarrassing as the Speedo he wore in most episodes of the previous season. (Some of the worst of the season were Mio in a tutu (he also wore the pink spandex for the rest of the game, which led to a fair deal of banter before the Dirty Half Dozen) and Mio as an armpit hair model.)

Round 3: Smart and SmartererEdit

This was the replacement for the Dawg Eat Dawg round, and it was moderated by the new hostess, Sabrina Jalees. The teams were given a category or theme (this time, however, their names were cryptic clues to their content). Each team chose their best player for the category, and those players would go to a special podium at center stage. They would then play a 45-second lightning round, where each question was worth 50 points, up or down.

Round 4: The Dirty Half DozenEdit

This was played in exactly the same way as the previous season, except the questions were not as difficult; the differences in difficulty were almost always noticed, however.

Final Round: Lightning RoundEdit

For this season, this round was overhauled. The time was extended to an average range of two to three minutes, and it was played in two halves. For the first half, questions were worth 50 points, up or down; this was doubled for the second half to 100 points. The teams were still how long this round would last, and they were also told when the point values doubled.

For the championship games of this season, the time was displayed on a monitor facing the players; this monitor also showed the player set, so that the players would always know the score.

Contestant InterviewsEdit

Just like in the previous season, one player from each team was interviewed individually before the second round, but because the podium for the third round was at center stage, the contestants were interviewed in front of the contestant podium.

Scoring RecordsEdit

Generally, winning teams scored at least 1,000 points. In nine games, both teams scored at least 1,000 points. In the first round, Central Secondary School from London, Ontario scored 2,140 points, breaking the record set by Victoria School in Season 1.

More TriviaEdit

The tapings for the TV rounds were done in November and December in the last two seasons. Various strikes in 2002 caused some of the tapings for the first season to be delayed until February 2002.

The Adilman Brothers were infamous for getting the rules to their own show wrong, often to inadvertent comic effect.

For the first two seasons, "Judge Lucci" (Luciano Casimiri) had a semi-recurring role as the show's on-air judge. The show also brought in numerous "celebrity judges" for Season 2, including such celebrities as Colin Mochrie from Whose Line Is It Anyway), Olympic gold medallist Sami Jo Small, MLB star Chris Woodward, environmentalist David Suzuki, and German folk singer Heino. The judging panel was moved off-camera in Season 3, with the title of "Celebrity Judge" given to a random audience member for each episode.

"Superfan" Andy Saunders made guest appearances during the last two seasons. His job was to give analysis, predictions, and statistics. He also handed out "Andy Awards" to the show's top players and funnier moments.

The winners of Season 1, Kennebecasis Valley High School, would continue their solid play into Seasons 2 and 3. By the end of the series' run, KVHS had the best overall record with 14 wins and 2 losses.

In Season 3, the Bishop's College School-Fredericton High School third round game went to a 3-question overtime; this was the only time this happened in the show's entire run.

In the Templeton Secondary School-Archbishop M.C. O'Neill High School first round game of the third season, O'Neill became the only team in the show's history to finish a televised game with a negative total, ending up with -120 points.

YouTube LinksEdit

Perth vs. Fredericton
Bluefield vs. Harry Ainlay
Bluefield vs. South Kamloops
Bluefield vs. St. Patrick

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