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Buzzerfest thoughts?

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Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 12:49 am Post subject: Buzzerfest thoughts? Reply with quote

Hey guys, I couldn't get to Buzzerfest for reasons incredibly out of my control, though I wanted to go badly, so I will live vicariously and ask how it went.

First, the ego, what did anyone there think of my packet? I know Chris had problems with some of my tossups, thinking Maiastara by Brancusi was too obscure (hes def right about that) and that the Lubavitcher Rebbe was too obscure (I disagree with him on that).

I am also trying to get the q's for the playoffs of our free TRASHdemic tourney, so I want to know what people thought of the q's, the running, the editing, TJHS's amazing performance etc. I wish I could have been there.

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Chris Frankel

Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 183
Location: Houston, TX; Princeton, NJ

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 3:34 am Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought things went pretty well, though we finished pretty late (8:30) and lots of the rounds were long, mainly because only a few of our veteran club members made it to staff the tournament.

TJ was definitely legit. I had expected them to barely make the top bracket, but they outdid all expectations by sweeping every team but Maryland. The depth of their knowledge and their limited experience with the canon (though apparently they practice on college packets) is their bottleneck, but their strength is their balance and solid all around coverage by four strong players. I don't know how they'd hold up on ACF Nationals or a tough Regionals, but they could tear up a Fall level tournament. Also, as a sidenote, thanks to TJ's coaches for being good sports about the large amount of ribald content in the packets. Though probably not high school appropriate, it did, in my opinion, add some extra flavor to them.

I want to see what other people say before I comment about my editing decisions. I was fortunate to have had several hundred questions over from my past effort at writing a tournament by myself, because otherwise I would have had to rewrite a huge number of questions or leave in ones that were not up to my standards. Pretty much every packet that came in was radically different from what I was given, so anyone with comments on specific questions/packets would do better to direct them at me than the attributed author. In the near future, I may write a super-specific sample distribution and possibly a general guide on writing.

I look forward to hearing comments.
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Joined: 29 Aug 2003
Posts: 97
Location: Swarthmore College

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 12:33 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Also, it should be added that TJ had incredible buzzer speed. Our team isn't known for winning buzzer races usually, but we fared even worse than usual against TJ. And, they somehow managed to buzz in, usually correctly, before Freeburg/Wang (especially impressive considering that usually the only way to win against those two is to hope they guess wrong more often than not; we had a 50% success rate yesterday...)

The packets were mostly quite good (if a bit easier than expected), although they did have that indelible "drunk Frankel" smell about them. There was definite consistency that comes from having virtually every packet radically altered... Far far too much ribald stuff (especially for freaking high schoolers), and while I don't mind maybe one or two cracks at other people in an entire tournament, the seeming 1/1 "bash Weiner, Wolpert, and O'Neal in the most unsubtle way possible" distribution was excessive.

And it did run a bit late. But I had fun nonetheless, and we'll be back next year.

EDIT: What/who the hell is Lubavitcher Rebbe?
The purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure pure reasoning, and inhibit clarity. With a little practice, writing can be an intimidating and impenetrable fog!
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Chris Frankel

Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 183
Location: Houston, TX; Princeton, NJ

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 8:51 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

In my defense, I will say that when Sam from TJ (jewtemplar) first contacted me about the possibility of playing a month or two ago, I explicitly stated the packets would most likely contain such "ribald content" and that they should be aware of that in case it would dissuade their coaches enough to change their minds about going to BF. I don't know how much their coaches themselves knew, but I made sure to at least be up front with the TJ players. That said, I admit it was a bit awkward to see the TJ coaches cringe each of the many times something like that came up, but I hope that this, and not question quality, is the biggest source of complaints.

As for difficulty, the original intent was to go hardcore ala Illinois Open this year, but that was also when I had interest from teams like Michigan, Cornell, Yale, and Weiner; all of whom pulled out for reasons ranging from CBI to buying antiquated video games. In light of that development, as well as the noticable scaling back of difficulty at ACF Nationals, I decided to tone things down to make the tournament more accessible to the remaining field, though perhaps I may have done so more than I intended and skewed the questions, particularly the bonuses, towards the easy side. Still, it was good to see that none of the teams seemed to be overwhelmed by the questions (proof that ACF partisans actually do care about accessibility).
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Dan Greenstein

Joined: 20 Apr 2003
Posts: 211
Location: Laurel, MD

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 9:59 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

I was disappointed that I was never lampooned in the packet set. Did I miss something?

The question set was very good. The difficulty level seemed to shift strangely between rounds, such that my team was 30ing bonuses left and right one round and then getting only about 10-20 the next. Thankfully, there were not many mechanical problems, but there were a few hoses too many (meaning, more than zero). While I enjoyed the ribald content, I agree with others that it was too much.

The organization left much to be desired. The tournament director should not be intoxicated in any way on the day of the tournament. The moderators were mostly mediocre; there should have been a greater effort made to get Lenny, Brad, Ray etc. I am not sure when Brandeis dropped, but it would have been nice to have an extra game in the first 11 rounds. The tournament ran pretty late for a 14 round tournament.

All in all, not a bad thing, going out on top. However, I had high expectations for this tournament and I am a little disappointed they were not met.
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Chris Frankel

Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Posts: 183
Location: Houston, TX; Princeton, NJ

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 10:34 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I really wish the organizational issues would have gone better. In retrospect trying to do Newman's Day while running the tournament was a bad idea, although just as much of my early morning ineptitude was also a result of the fact that I hadn't slept in 40 or so hours (it's been a loooooong week). The lack of staffers was beyond my control, though. Lenny and Brad outright refused to come, for whatever reason, and few, if any, people even did the service of replying to my numerous e-mails begging for help. Of those club members who thankfully did come, only two were not first-year players, so experience was sadly at a premium. I'll have to have a talk with my team about the poor turnout, but like I said, I was well aware of the staffing shortage and just felt helpless to do anything about it.

The lack of games mainly came as a reponse to the fact that I had 4 teams (Weiner, Penn, Yale, Brandeis) drop in a span of the ~1.5 weeks before the tournament. Remember, I had originally hit the 15 team cap in registrations. I really wanted to keep a house team to give everyone more games, but since we were so desperate for help we had to scrap it (3 of the few Princeton people who showed up were slated for that team).

Glad to hear you liked the questions at least. The set's not going to be used anywhere else, so if you want, it'd be helpful to hear some of the subjects/questions that seemed problematic in particular.
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Joined: 22 Apr 2003
Posts: 284
Location: Burke, VA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 11:17 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

TJ's team didn't really have a problem with the ribaldry. As for Steve's parents (serving in loco coach, if you will), I should have informed them about that beforehand. I know I don't have much to say about question quality, so feel free to not listen to following:
The questions were easier than recent acf regionals packets and the buzzerfest from 2002. Most of the the first 11 rounds were really closer to PACE nationals than ACF regionals. Difficulty seemed to grow exponentially during the playoff, as perhaps evidenced by us beating in the first round the Freeburg-Wang team that beat UMD in the third. I thought the questions were really high quality (can't speak to whether they were too "canonical" or whatnot). There were a few instances of unfortunate structuring, like "Claggart" being the first character mentioned (I think) in a billy budd tossup, and "It ain't necessarily so" being the first number mentioned in a porgy and bess tossup. There were other such instances of the sound of 8 judge buttons clashing in unison, but I dont remember the specific content.

All in all, the tournament was fun, and I know I'll be pining away for non-trivial tossups on vector calculus and classical music and the like until we return next year (unless we cramp your wolpert-bashing, autoeroticism-noting, scatalogically-inclined style).
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004
Posts: 28

PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2004 11:31 pm Post subject: Reply with quote

If that Porgy and Bess tossup was from my packet, the original topic of the tossup was on Sportin' Life, but Chris said he was going to change it to one on Porgy and Bess in general.
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Joined: 02 Mar 2004
Posts: 26

PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 2004 12:52 pm Post subject: nicely done Chris Reply with quote

I enjoyed myself immensely. I was very pleased with the editing...most questions were truly pyramidal (the only egregious examples otherwise I can remember off the top of my head were "It Ain't Necessarily So" being the first song in the "Porgy and Bess" tossup, "Parson Yorick" as the opening clue for "Tristam Shandy" and a poorly written Immoralist tossup. The Billiards at Half-Past Nine should probably have shied away from architecture a little bit longer but I was happy to see a tossup on the book.

TJ was truly impressive. Their sheer balance would allow them to place well even at an ACF regionals. Their depth needs more but they would definitely be the class of any Div II tournament they entered.

Kudos to Chris for the editing and writing; logistics were less exemplary but I think he's fully aware of that and nothing more needs to be said.

my 3 cents
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Joined: 30 Jan 2004
Posts: 9
Location: Somewhere in or around Washington DC

PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 2004 1:32 pm Post subject: Buzzerfest Reply with quote

I had a good time. Thomas Jefferson's two seniors will likely make UVA a top-10 team next year. We were fortunate to escape their clutches, especially late in the day when being geezers began to catch up with Adam and I. Thank heavens the questions were somewhat harder for the playoffs. Swarthmore and the "happy warriors" known as Freeberg/Wang also played well, and have been enjoyable opponents at various tournaments over the past year.

The questions were excellent, although the viciousness of the attacks on various individuals inserted into *every* round bordered on bizzare at times. For the record, I am *much* better looking than Matt Lafer.

The venue (First Campus Center) is a great place to hold a tournament. They have coffee, food, comfy chairs, etc. Parking is not a problem on Saturdays, and I had a good 40 minutes to wander around the art museum and head up to the street fair on Nassau Street. I think Princeton ought to consider putting in a bid for the NAQT ICT if they haven't already done so.
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