Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:11 am

Research conducted in my role as a dedicated-amateur quizbowl historian has convinced me that, even more so than the ridiculous sequence of events at the finals game itself, this "forum" held after the 1997 College Bowl national tournament was the one event that, more than any other, triggered the sea change in the average (i.e., not ideologically committed to ACF) quizbowler's perception of College Bowl. Can people who were there tell us more about this event?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Yor, the Hunter from the Future » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:27 am

icarium wrote: "Personal memories include coming across the 3 Boys and a Goy team for the first time. This was a group of middle-aged and older former quizbowlers who played many of the open and masters tournaments of that time despite never coming remotely close to winning any of them as far as I know."
Actually, IIRC, 3 Boys and a Goy "tied" with us (us = me, Carol, Joon Pahk, and Ed Cohn playing as "Quizbullah") for first at that tournament. Thanks to the tournament organizers not having a key for the rooms until 60 minutes after the scheduled start time and other sorts of predictable sluggishness, Ed Cohn had to catch the last train back to Swarthmore before the final began. We decided that without Ed our team was probably toast, so we left without playing the final. Samer declared us and 3 Boys and a Goy co-winners or something to that effect.

Re: the 1995 CBI Nationals in Akron, I remember thanks to still-recurring nightmares that arriving teams were confronted by "Zippy," the gigantic kangaroo mascot that embodied the indefatigable spirit of the host University. Other than that, the weekend was a blur other than my getting an unsportsmanlike conduct warning for stalling out the clock. We [George Washington U] were leading Illinois in the second half of our match and my crime was waiting to be prompted to give an answer to a bonus with a smirk on my face that made it obvious my team knew the answer yet preferred to obstinately sit there on our patient asses until asked for it. I guess it would have made for better imaginary 1950s-style television if I gifted our opponents as much time as possible to mount a comeback. Anyone still have some old CBI intramural packets? I would love to show the WKU players what they missed by not being born a few decades earlier.

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:44 am

The intersection of "people who attended the 1997 CBI forum" and "people who are currently active on this board" may be, in its entirety, "me." And I confess that I remember little about it, except that I was not abashed about expressing my contempt for the proceedings.

I do recall that John Edwards, who had driven up to the tournament with me, harangued the CBI people present about their segregationist attitudes toward historically black colleges (John was in law school at Howard at the time). I believe that I expressed outrage over some of the aforementioned aspects of the CBI format (e.g., variable-value bonuses and tossups that would take an abrupt 90-degree turn in the middle), only to be told that they thought it was "more fun" for the "audience" if players weren't always buzzing in early and boringly answering questions based on something as tedious as knowledge. Other than it being a contentious affair, and other than my likely being furiously sarcastic (this was when I was an uncompromising young Turk, not the casual ironist I have since become), I don't remember much about it.

I don't feel like scouring the Internet to find out--do any posts from the period exist? I feel certain that we must have extensively rehashed the events of this tournament, including the forum, online on the old newsgroup.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:59 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I don't feel like scouring the Internet to find out--do any posts from the period exist?
Here's a start.
On April 22, 1997 during his Young Turk period Andrew wrote:The University of Virginia will not be defending its CBI national championship. If you would like to know why we have decided it is no longer worth our time and money to participate in CBI tournaments, please read on.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 29, 2014 5:57 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: There are other people still extant in the world of quizbowl who were playing at the tail end of the previous era (e.g. Seth, Jerry, Matt Weiner), and who have much more first-hand experience watching current players on top-level questions than I have. I would, of course, be interested to hear their opinions. But my own view--from having played the best teams as recently as four years ago, and from seeing the best teams at ICT since then--is that my list of "best teams, 1995-2005" have not been surpassed by more recent iterations of quizbowl excellence.
I'll respond to this invitation. I think that the topic of where today's quizbowl standards come from could be discussed to almost any length, but in the context of evaluating players, all we have from before around 2004 is subjective impressions. If you saw Jim Dendy play (which I did not) and where and how he buzzed, you can try to project that forward and figure out whether his knowledge base would match with current questions. Just looking at stats, you don't learn much of anything -- there are people who consistently won scoring prizes at College Bowl nationals and at NAQT and ACF events prior to the growth of modern standards who I am convinced have absolutely no actual knowledge and would struggle to break 20 ppg on the HSNCT today.

I will talk about what I think was a grand change in quizbowl culture from the playing end, that few people saw as a historic process at the time, but in retrospect was the source of much that has come since. This is based on both my own experiences as a serious player beginning with the summer after my junior year of high school in 1999 and through college, and on what I've read in scouring old communications fora from during and before that time for QBWiki information.

The old style of playing and writing was intimately tied to the conception of quizbowl as a "gameshow without cameras." As quizbowl originated in the Southeast in the 1970s to fill the gap left by the cancellation of an actual gameshow with cameras, College Bowl, this is not surprising. But I'm not talking here about the fact that questions were short and focused on trivia, or even that we do things like use buzzers, keep score, and schedule games in non-coincidental half-hour time blocks. Rather, I'm talking about how there was the notion that any person who had the skill to play something like Jeopardy could walk in and participate and perhaps do well. People formed teams based on who had a knack for "trivia," for intuiting where "clever" questions were going, and for putting up with the culture of game show fans that this attracted (about which, much more anytime you want me to share it -- the modal personality of 1990s quizbowl seemed to be quite dreadful). Teams had practices, mostly consisting of drilling each other on complying with the paradoxically both inanely strict and never predictably enforced timing and recognition rules of College Bowl, and beyond that, there was no real notion of "preparing" for quizbowl beyond a few people flipping through An Incomplete Education or the like -- the idea was that you found people who were naturally good at retaining "trivia," maybe filled out the team with someone majoring in a component of a broad subject area that you needed help in such as science or geography, and hoped for the best. The elite teams of this period, especially the high school teams, were the ones who realized you could do literally anything else and passed down treasure troves of binary-association lists to memorize. This was, of course, a time when computers were not something everyone had at home and the Internet was only just starting to be accessible to those outside of research facilities, so a lot depended on having the right paper archives (and having the right players who would not lose or destroy study materials that had been carefully built up over many years).

So basically, the teams that tended to be the top in college quizbowl of the 80s and 90s either had people whose natural literary/academic interests coordinated, by chance, with the sort of material that was asked (Jeff Johnson, Matt Colvin, Julie Singer), people who were preternaturally gifted at finding and retaining interesting and amusing facts about core topics in the liberal arts, aka "trivia" (John Sheahan, Tom Waters, Ken Jennings), or people who just seemed to stick around forever and absorb the "canon" by osmosis (John Nam, Robert Trent, Robert Margolis). If you could combine 2 or more of those player types into one person (R. Hentzel, Andrew Yaphe, several of the Georgia Tech patriarchs) then you were well on your way to as many Top 5 finishes at nationals as your academic plans allowed you to remain eligible for, without really needing to do a lot of further work.

It seemed that there were some rumblings at the 1990s Maryland program about really focusing on getting better at quizbowl, not by clicking a ballpoint pen as fast as you could while watching Jeopardy or memorizing a list of 100 poems and their authors, but by making some rational analysis of what had come up in packets before and predicting what would come up in the future, then learning the clues for those answers, both the ones that writers seemed to consistently recycle, and those in external reference sources that future writers would be likely to use. My impression is that these notions were really crystallized into a coherent idea about how the metagame worked by Zeke, who brought them to Michigan and put them into practice there, both with his own efforts and those of his first generation of disciples such as Paul Litvak, Ben Heller, and Matt Lafer.

I like to think that I had discovered something roughly analogous when I was pondering how to step up my game prior to my last year of high school (this will be the most "indulgent personal reminiscence" section of this post and may be skipped at the reader's desire). The program I was a part of had built up a rapid and formidable tradition in its first four years of existence from 1993 through 1997, reaching the end stages of the terrible but very prestigious nationals available to high school teams of the time all four years, winning the local TV show each time, etc. In the three years since Amanda Goad's graduation, the team had first taken a step backwards, lost its stranglehold on the local Richmond circuit, and failed to make as much of an impact at nationals, until my junior year when a very talented group of seniors who were what I would identify above as type 1 or "Jeff Johnson" style players in that they just had a lot of knowledge, scaled down to the high school level, recaptured some of the former glory including a local TV show win and a third-place run at the NAC in 1999.

At that time I was a fairly active player but never more than a decent one -- I was the captain of a high school B team and I could score 25 ppg and lead teams to eighth-place finishes at tournaments that my school's A team won or finished second at, basically. I was cruising on an aberrant level of interest in history and a lifetime of watching Jeopardy. I had a few formative experiences that indicated to me that there was another way, right as the burden of leading a team with a burgeoning legacy of success fell on my shoulders (the A team all graduated and our coach moved on from teaching, meaning my development had to come hand in hand with John Barnes first learning how to coach during the following year). The main one was deciding to attend the 1999 PACE NSC with three other juniors. This was the last hurrah for our coach, who had just led a tiring and complicated trip to New Orleans for the NAC where our seniors expected to contend for the championship and ended up falling just short, and was interested in sending the next generation off with a more low-key event focused on the future.

My team was thrilled to do well enough in the prelims to qualify for the 12-team playoffs on Sunday, despite the fact that we lost every game once we got there (including to senior Dave Madden's Ridgewood team!) What really got me thinking wasn't learning that we could probably continue to be around the 12th best team in the country based on the knowledge gained from our schoolwork and a few years of playing experience, which I had already figured out, but what I saw as a spectator for the finals between State College, coached by the legendary Julie Gittings who along with Zeke and Subash is probably identifiable as one of the three people who first discovered the real operation of the quizbowl metagame, and Rockville, a team whose time on the national scene blazed short and bright under the brief student teaching career of Maryland alum and old-school ACF personality David Hamilton. Both coaches were operating on a level unheard of in high school quizbowl at the time -- again, it was a few teams in the Atlanta-Charleston corridor who were dedicated to memorizing lists and flashcards and their spiritual outposts at Detroit Catholic Central and elsewhere, and then a sea of people whose only saving grace was their classroom talent, who had absolutely no idea how to focus specifically on getting better at quizbowl. These teams were different. State College consistently got buzzes and pulled hard bonus parts that could only be explained by them having some reliable way of predicting what answers would come up and purposefully learning potential clues for those answers. Rockville was doing the same thing at a somewhat lower rate of success, but also demonstrated incredible team discipline -- I saw them actually put their buzzers on the table and fold their hands in their laps in unison when their opponents made an incorrect tossup guess, and they had a very regimented procedure for determining the optimal bonus answer to give in time. These days, such things seem obvious, but at the time, they were revolutionary.

So, my team spent the next summer doing things that I am sure no other high school program except State College was doing at the time -- having regular practices three times a week at members' homes and public libraries, systematically reading through packets from the then just-emerging Stanford Archive, the haphazard and mysterious predecessor to quizbowlpackets.com (no one quite knew exactly when it would be updated or who the individual responding to emails was, during the early 00s years when Stanford was a much more marginal program than it became under Kevin Koai, Andrew Yaphe, and Benji Nguyen later on). Most importantly, we wrote questions, intentionally too hard and too exotic for high school standards of the time, then edited them down to the plausible bounds of acceptability for our tournaments, or just threw them away as unusable, knowing that it was the process of writing that we were engaging in for our benefit of players, and not any expectation of getting monetary value from the end product.

The point of this overlong digression into my teenage years is that it paid off big time. We were consistently in shootouts with SC for the top spots at tournaments that year, and ended up playing them in the final of the HSNCT in June of 2000. It also caused the effect of us having an incredibly frustrating time at tournaments that did not reward the acquisition of knowledge as well as what passed for the good circuit at the time -- while NAQT questions from 2000 and the first several PACE NSCs look laughable to modern eyes, the gap between them and Answers Plus, Questions Unlimited, and local retired coaches writing things in buzzer-beater style was already quite noticeable then, and the experience of playing the latter was excruciating. So, from my own experience, I know that once people start realizing that getting better at quizbowl by learning things is possible, a dramatic change in question styles must inevitably follow. I also know that there is no guarantee at all that someone who was good in the 1990s is necessarily good at the skills valued by quizbowl today, and that extends to people who continued to hide in the ever-receding number of dark crannies where they could practice their "trivia" and button-pressing skills into the last decade.

Since the Michigan team laid down their string of nationals finishes from 2001 onward, more and more teams adopted their approach and the new accessibility of packets and began to do focused learning of quizbowl topics, which, again, went hand in hand with demanding questions that rewarded having superior knowledge about academic topics rather than this question which I randomly picked out of a 1999 packet set without going hunting for anything particularly offensive:
Published in 1920, this work is subtitled "A Novel of Ironic Nostalgia." In rather ironic fashion,
Newland Archer doesn't shoot for the "new lands" of the Countess Olenska, but instead convinces her to
not divorce her husband, and he rather ironically settles for Mae Weiland. FTP, name this work about
classes in nineteenth-century New York, written by Edith Wharton.
This tossup nicely demonstrates everything that was wrong with old quizbowl writing -- it's structured around a basically nonsensical bit of very tame humor that informs you how the protagonist's actions are "ironic" according to somebody, it leads off with the first bit of information that the writer found in whatever compendium of short blurbs about famous novels he used to write it without regard to whether that information is useful, it rewards people who memorize lists of easily digestible binary-associations such as "subtitles of famous novels," it's completely wrong (that isn't the subtitle of the novel at all, but rather of a 1996 study of the book by a critic, and one of the three main characters' names is spelled wrong in such a way that it would probably not sound like the name to someone who has read the book), and if you know anything whatsoever about the answer line, you will get the question on the seventeenth word, because you've just been told the name of the protagonist, rendering the subsequent "clues" entirely pointless in discriminating between two teams. Functionally, this tossup will play exactly the same as one that asks "What book is about Newland Archer?" and contains just enough fluff around that functional part to pass muster for the extremely lax standards of 1999. There's no point to reading The Age of Innocence or even spending 15 minutes learning clues about it from a secondary reference, because unless you were born with good enough reflexes, you will never get this tossup over someone else who knows the name "Newland Archer" and is faster on the buzzer than you.

There was pushback not only from the more obviously self-interested people (poor Kenny Peskin, Doug O'Neal, and Craig Barker just didn't want to see their College Bowl glory diminished by the quizbowl world moving on from caring about that style of play) but also from people who were having their very notions about what quizbowl was for challenged. Isn't this an amateur, casual game for fun? Isn't trying to discover undervalued skills in the system and exploit areas where a lot of return can come from a little work somehow unsavory? I'm reminded of something a high school coach in the Southeast said to me online about a week ago -- that the biggest PR problem he has is that bad teams get enraged when they find out where good teams come from, and consider learning things specifically for quizbowl to be "tantamount to cheating."

However, in the end, the new style of play and of writing won out, because it obviously was better, and in a game whose only motivation for you to participate is enjoying competing and winning, an approach that allowed you to do so was always going to be more attractive than mocking people for putting in effort and demanding that we all stay mediocre, which was the main tactic of the apologists for the old system. To bring this back to the original question, I think that it would be hard to transplant more than a very few people from before the Zeke/Subash revolution in quizbowl prep to the modern era and expect them to compete. I also think that the top of the field used to be much more thin that it is now -- while a Zeke/Kemezis Michigan or a John Kenney-led Virginia from 2001 could acquit themselves impressively at 2014 Nationals, the bottom of the playoff bracket there would be struggling mightily. The awe inspired by the national champions in some years obscured how comparatively weak some of the 2nd, 3rd, or 10th place teams were. I'm reminded specifically of 2002 (when flat-out bad player Nathan Freeburg led Florida State to 6th place at Nationals), 2003 (when an incoherent ICT tournament format led to a 3rd place Maryland team with no one particularly great on it, and a Yale team led by one of the most long-lasting of the old-school fraud players, Mike Wehrman, finishing 5th), 2004 (when a Florida team composed of nothing but trivia/reflex guys somehow finished 2nd at ICT ), and 2005 (when friggin Rochester managed a 3rd place ICT finish as the era of the old NAQT flavor began to wind down). Few of these kinds of teams would be able to win the third bracket of either nationals today. In the latter part of the 2000s, the idea that quizbowl teams should focus on academic material and good questions and not devote substantial amounts of their time -- or in a lot of cases, all of their time -- to playing trash or organizing tournaments on high school questions began to filter out of the so-called "ACF cabal" and become the mainstream. As a result, there are more good teams today than ever, and teams who currently finish in the 15-20 range of nationals and the poll could probably go toe-to-toe with the 3rd or 4th place teams from 10 years ago.

Where a team like 2014 Virginia or 2009 Chicago stands in relation to the very best one or two teams from the dark ages is always debatable, and changeable by very small distinctions such as the presence of a natural history savant like Adam Kemezis on Michigan 2002 and not on Illinois 2013. What is clear is that the overall level of play and the competitiveness of the second tier have risen significantly thanks to the change in the idea of what quizbowl is supposed to be that a small group of people, especially the Michigan folks led by Zeke, brought to the game 15 years ago.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by jonpin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:13 am

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Montclair State ... we deaffiliated from CBI shortly after winning the tournament, which I like to think contributed substantially to the format's decline and eventual disappearance.
Princeton's lexicon wrote:At 1997 CBI nationals at Montclair State, Jenn somehow convinced the team to spend an evening at the mall, where Jeff Crean and Peter Coles found a malfunctioning basketball game that gave free plays. Crean and Coles, well documented College Bowl addicts, displayed their typical insanity and played the game for three and a half hours, accumulating 4000 tickets which they redeemed for a slinky and a football.
In possibly-related news, Princeton also deaffiliated from CBI after 1997.
3 1/2 hours and all you got was a damn slinky and a football? Hopefully a legit football, not a foam mini-football. Also, "the mall" near Montclair State? I'm gonna have to prompt you.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:22 am

We had an extra packet left over this year but I think everyone was too exhausted for any sort of all-star game. I like the idea though.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:23 am

grapesmoker wrote:We had an extra packet left over this year but I think everyone was too exhausted for any sort of all-star game. I like the idea though.
I'd clamor to bring this back too
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:26 am

I have to imagine that the growth of the internet and the creation of public packet archives had a lot to do with the level of play in college quizbowl becoming much higher. Aren't high school teams also way better now in general - like didn't it only become standard for good high school teams to practice on college questions in the middle of the last decade?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:31 am

I just want to add a small correction to Matt's history: actually, the Stanford team of the early aughts was quite active. The peak of that team was probably 2003 and 2004 when both Raj Bhan and Joon Pahk were playing.

I have various recollections of West Coast quizbowl in the early modern era that I'd be happy to share if people are interested.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:14 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I have to imagine that the growth of the internet and the creation of public packet archives had a lot to do with the level of play in college quizbowl becoming much higher. Aren't high school teams also way better now in general - like didn't it only become standard for good high school teams to practice on college questions in the middle of the last decade?
As someone who was a small part of that arms race, I'd say yes. I think the emergence of Chris Carter's hs packet archive had a lot to do with this as well. Those of us who wanted to play college questions could, and teams who were not yet comfortable with that suddenly had free, hs-level practice material available. I was just telling Eric Xu and some of my UVA young'uns about witnessing the tail end of the changeover from a time in which old teams with massive paper archives (like Maggie Walker, State College, and TJ) were necessarily more dominant than new programs without those resources to a brave new world of parity ushered in by the internet.

Obviously the major battles were won before my time, but 2006-2010 was an exciting time to be playing hs quizbowl (in the Mid-Atlantic, at least). In that time, housewrites began to be mirrored, single elim playoffs more or less disappeared, the math comp revolution took hold...but I'll refrain from getting too far afield from this thread about the history of the college game.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:37 am

jonpin wrote:"the mall" near Montclair State? I'm gonna have to prompt you.
I have no idea (I was a junior in high school at the time). I wonder if Jeff Crean is reading this thread... Failing that, we can ask Jeff and Jen the next time Green Hope attends HSNCT.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:49 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I have to imagine that the growth of the internet and the creation of public packet archives had a lot to do with the level of play in college quizbowl becoming much higher. Aren't high school teams also way better now in general - like didn't it only become standard for good high school teams to practice on college questions in the middle of the last decade?
Public archives have helped, as has the end of the packet trading days. Basically, back before the modern era, lots of the best tournaments could only be acquired by trading or paying for them. So if you knew people and were into that kind of thing, you could amass a nice packet library and have some good studies with packets well beyond what was available on the Stanford Archives. If you were new to the game or not well connected and trying to get started, you were screwed.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by salamanca » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:09 pm

Subash’s surprising, though most welcome, cameo in this thread, has reminded me that I did not directly address his and the Chicago A team’s imperious performance at ICT in 2003 in my previous post about notable teams. Part of the reason for this is that various other contemporaries have discussed it at length, e.g., Andrew, Seth, Jeff H., Jerry, and I didn’t feel like it needed to be rehashed yet again. But in the celebration of Subash’s return to the boards I’ll offer the following thoughts…

Suffice it to say that we (Michigan A) were the defending champions and after playing them for the first time at the tournament, I basically knew we were playing for second. Part of that was based on how we lost. It came down to the final two questions and Subash got both of them, in fact, I think Subash powered a question on Christina Aguilera’s song “Hero” to clinch it (which was kind of indicative of how in the zone he was), but we played out of our minds, powered 5 questions, while Subash “only” powered six and still lost by 75: 440-365. The next time we played they blew us out, as they did everyone else the rest of the day. But I distinctly remember feeling like I had to just buzz whenever I had any inkling against Chicago, which is something I’ve rarely felt in my career. For instance, at one point, I powered a TU on Henry Latrobe, not a name that came up often in QB back then, on some words indicating that there was gothic influence in his later buildings, no substantive clues in other words, Subash was right behind me.

As an aside, I’ll quickly address Matt W.’s point further up-thread about our fourth place finish and MD’s ascension to 3rd that year. This was actually the result of a “secret play in game” between us and Berkeley that R. Hentzel devised before the final because of their ridiculous tie break system. If you look at the final stat line for that tournament Chicago was clearly at one level, but Berkeley and us were very, very close, and then there was a precipitous drop off. In that play in game btw, we lost on the last question when a TU that ostensibly started as a Lit question turned into a bird question and Jeff H. powered it- you can imagine my dismay.

Anyways, my sense was that Subash had so steeped himself in the back catalog of NAQT clues that coupled with his natural excellence and all the work he’d put in back in 2000 and 2001 that there was just no stopping him that day.

And just because I feel like it, I’ll expound some more on Subash’s reflections on the 2000 season. The Illinois team he played on was a very good team with a strong science base. They obviously beat Andrew at ICT and could have won ACF that year as well. Subash transformed himself from a really good number one, to the second best tossup player in the country by the end of the year between ACF Regionals and the Nationals season. Paul L. loves this story, but after losing to my Michigan team at ACF Regionals in 2000, Illinois was pretty pissed off and about a week later I received a short e-mail from Subash congratulating me on the victory. That e-mail ended with the line, “but I’ll be ready at Nationals,” or something akin to that. Needless to say, I didn’t take it too seriously, but when he showed up with Illinois at ICT and ACF in 2000 he had taken his game to another level and obviously went toe to toe with Andrew and beat him at ICT. To a player like me and my Michigan team, this was inspirational and, I like to think, upped the ante for play in the Midwest during those early aughts.

I should also note that Subash’s most impressive QB performance may not actually have occurred at ICT in 03, but at the ACF Regionals I edited in 02, where on a team with Andrew he put up like 70 next to an admittedly rusty Andrew’s 40 or so as they ran roughshod over the competition. It was the only time I can remember a person buzzing primarily on humanities (though Subash knew bio/biochem as well) outscoring Andrew. My own impression is that by the end of both of our active careers, around 05 or so, that Subash and I, at least on ACF, were the only people that could buzz consistently early on a wide swath of Nationals level and beyond humanities and compete with Andrew on those subjects (note: I said compete; I also don't want to deny that there were some very good players with particular niches, e.g., Kelly T. on art, Adam and Jeff H. on some history, Seth T. and K. and Susan F. on myth, etc., that could also buzz consistently early on Nats level humanities questions).

In my next post, I’ll address some of the interesting points that Matt W. brought up in his history of the metagame.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by jonpin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:18 pm

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I don't feel like scouring the Internet to find out--do any posts from the period exist?
Here's a start.
On April 22, 1997 during his Young Turk period Andrew wrote:The University of Virginia will not be defending its CBI national championship. If you would like to know why we have decided it is no longer worth our time and money to participate in CBI tournaments, please read on.
From way down that thread:
The fictional ideal that a question must lead to a uniquely indentifiable answer from the get go is very seldom achieved. It is a rare question indeed that leads to a single answer without other possibilities from the first phoneme, or even the first few words as the players hear them. Yet every sound the moderator utters is a potential clue for the player,
Yes, Tom Michael, the fact that there is more than one answer should someone buzz at the lead-in "This man was--" means that we should never complain about hoses.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:27 pm

I keep hearing these horror stories filtered down from old about the "rogues gallery" of quizbowl (Tom Michael, Andy Goss, Jason Mueller, Jason Keller - who I actually overlapped with) etc; whatever happened to most of these people?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by salamanca » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:32 pm

Christina Aguilera’s song “Hero”
I was wrong, the song was "Beautiful." Just wanted to set the record straight, lest I've upset some Aguilera fans.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:33 pm

I believe that Jason Keller quit quizbowl to focus on crossword puzzles (and possibly also competitive Scrabble) and has been extremely successful at this. I believe there was actually an epidemic of people quitting quizbowl for scrabble around 2007, which claimed at the very least Jason Keller and that player from Furman who now goes by Quinn James (I forget her original name, back when she was a he).

At my first college quizbowl tournament ever, my Chicago E team (consisting of me and two people who never played a quizbowl tournament again) just narrowly lost to Jason Mueller's Missouri A, and I vowed revenge. Alas, I never played against Jason Mueller again and have no clue what became of him. I remember he once did ask Seth Teitler if Berkeley was a good school for engineering, so perhaps he pursued that.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:50 pm

Like Zeke, I was very interested by Matt's discussion of the "metagame." I think in broad strokes, he is quite correct, though his sense of the pre-2000 history is a bit off. (Unsurprisingly, since he wasn't around at the time!)

What Matt describes is a culture in which people try to work systematically and rigorously to "step up their game." This existed in the 20th century as well. When I was an undergraduate, there were definitely players and teams who tried to better themselves in ways comparable to the ones described in Matt's post. (I know nothing about the high school circuit of the time, or at the slightly later period described by Matt, so I have no notion of how, or whether, any of the techniques developed by certain college teams filtered down to e.g. the State Colleges of the world.) The Maryland team of the mid- to late-'90s, for instance, very much exemplified this kind of approach. They had focused practices at which players would keep notebooks of clues that came up. (I attended a number of these practices, and was impressed by their seriousness.) They wrote a ton of questions, both for use in practice and for tournaments. Various members of the team studied particular parts of the distribution, in an attempt to create balanced teams that had deep knowledge across the board. This is the culture from which Zeke emerged, and while I give him enormous credit for adopting and expanding upon these practices, and for transmitting them to later generations of Michigan players, it would be a mistake to posit that they emerged, Athena-like, from Zeke's head around the year 2000. (As Zeke himself, I know, would be the first to acknowledge.)

Likewise, I did similar things over the course of my undergrad career. My efforts were basically individualistic--I never developed, or cultivated, the kind of team-wide effort that Maryland displayed--but I also did a number of things to "step up my game" starting in my freshman year of college, including individual study and extensive writing of questions. Obviously I didn't have things like "searchable Internet databases of hundreds of past sets," but that just meant that it was harder for someone like me to learn stuff for the game, not that I didn't do it.

This actually taps into one of the central areas of dispute in '90s-era quizbowl discussion. One camp of people argued vehemently that this was "just a game," by which they meant "quizbowl should be a purely amateurish activity." They would ridicule and denounce Maryland (and Maryland-like) teams for things like "writing down clues in notebooks" and "rigorously practicing" and anything else that smacked of, well, taking the game seriously. This was also one of the not-so-secret subtexts of arguments about whether (e.g.) questions should be pyramidal, or variable-value bonuses should be allowed. The people who were opposed to things like pyramidality or standard bonus values were usually the same people who didn't think that anyone should study or work to get better at the game; thus, they approved of features of the game that penalized greater knowledge (e.g., tossups that would take an abrupt "twist" in the middle) or that increased randomness (e.g., variable-value bonuses).

By contrast, people like myself and various Marylanders argued in favor of, well, taking the game seriously. Obviously our position has prevailed, which is fantastic--but, from a historical perspective, it is important to note that this was one of the central debates of the '90s.

Another aspect of this was the '90s-era debate about "dinosaurs"--i.e., people who were beyond (in some cases, well beyond) their undergraduate years. The lines of demarcation will be unsurprising: people who advocated a cult of "amateurism" were in favor of capping participation, and really dreaded the specter of ancient players running roughshod over poor, defenseless newcomers to the game. I always thought this was absolute nonsense; in particular, as an angry young man, I wanted nothing more than to play (and, ideally, vanquish!) the very best players, whoever they were, and however old they were. This was also one of the central points of the wars about ACF--a lot of its opponents back in the '90s thought that it was pernicious because it allowed "dinosaurs" to maintain their dominance for years and years, while other formats would undermine the alleged inherent superiority that such veterans possessed. One might have thought that such criticism would have been dissipated by my leading a team to an ACF nationals win, and then founding the modern version of ACF, at the age of 20, though I don't think it was.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by icarium » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:16 pm

RyuAqua wrote:
themanwho wrote:
icarium wrote:4. ACF/NAQT Regionals/Sectionals - Despite improving over the course of the season, these two tournaments only solidified the fact that we were considerably behind Chicago and Michigan at both formats. Over the course of the next two months, I probably worked as hard as any time in my life over the last 20 years with the possible exception of preparation for parts of my medical boards. What I did, I can expound upon if people are curious, but isn't particularly a fond memory and therefore better left for another post.
I'm certainly curious.
I will second that I, too, am certainly curious, as is probably uniformly true of my generation of quizbowlers.
My preparation was nothing special, only time-consuming. At the time, superficial knowledge was much more rewarded than it is now, e.g. knowing an author's first work, or his "fifth" best-known work could often guarantee a tossup and in some cases a power as well. As a result, my preparation was tailored to accumulating and memorizing that kind of knowledge. To my recollection I only used three reference sources - Benet's (think it was the 4th edition but might have been the 3rd), Britannica (the actual books), and something like the Columbia Reference Encyclopedia (the exact name escapes me but I do remember it was a massive blue tome). In addition, I had compiled my own "frequency" list which was just an agglomeration of Carleton's database, an earlier list I'd created, and my notebooks and packet collection. I then began writing lead-ins on all the topics on my list in slightly different iterations. For example, I would take someone like Dickens and write a lead-in for the following -
1. each novel with the main character, love interest, villain
2. first work, last work, first novel.
3. basic biography, including birth and death dates, wives and mistresses, notable friends (I included the dates not so much for memorization purposes but to be able to provide historical context so as to more easily narrow down possible answers as the questions progressed)

I did this with writers and their works, historical figures, battles, famous events, mythology, and opera (I didn't touch religion, philosophy, or econ unless I'm misremembering). I also made sure in the case of mythological figures or characters to write lead-ins that noted their occurrence across genres. An example that still stands out is Faust, about whom I learned in an operatic, novelistic, poetic, and mythical context. Consequently, I answered a question, much to Ezequiel's later amusement, on either Die Faustbuch or Johann Spies, both of whom were way too hard to be answer choices. The only other things I remember devoting time to were all the world leaders (and I learned all of them at the time), all the national capitals, and as many of the major geographical features as I could, e.g. every major country's tallest peak and largest lake. Oh, and I read or went back and read all The Economist's for the previous year. I don't remember doing anything special with painting and sculpture, but this was less than a year after I had completed my minor in art history and felt fairly confident about those subjects.

As far as I can recall that was the extent of my preparation. This came about a month or two after I realized that I had no desire to continue with my graduate program in microbiology and had decided to transition to working in my family's pharmaceutical business at the end of the school year. So, I had the luxury of devoting an excessive and probably unhealthy amount of time to this project. As you can see, there was nothing particularly innovative about what I did and the primary factor in success was the massive amount of time that I invested. By the time ICT had rolled around I think I had just shy of 32,000 one and two-line tossups worth of lead-ins across my various .doc files. In retrospect, I wouldn't recommend this to anyone unless you can compartmentalize your life. I could not and became obsessive about it, becoming unhealthy and isolating myself in the process. I think that for the rest of the time I played I never took qb as seriously and by the summer of 2003 had lost all desire to prepare/study. I played the next two years with the knowledge that I had become good enough or had good enough teammates (Andrew) to win almost all of the time. When I came up against a talented and complete team who was also willing to put the work in and despite having excellent teammates (Seth, Susan, Selene), I couldn't quite carry the load I needed to and we lost to a better team, which is the story of 2005 Nats. I wish I had a chance to compete against Michigan and Berkeley in 2003, but one of my closest cousins selfishly scheduled her wedding the weekend of ACF.

Anyway, lunch break is over. I'll come back to this and the various memories when I next have some free time.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Coelacanth » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:03 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:The one and only good thing I will say about CBI nats is that it always featured an "all-star game," which pitted the #1, 3, 5, and 7 overall scorers at the tournament against the #2, 4, 6, and 8 scorers. This was a lot of fun, and allowed for some very interesting combinations of teammates.
"Always" is something of an overstatement. There was no all-star game at the first couple of CBI nats that I played in (starting in 1988). Indeed, I don't think individual stats were kept until 1991, which was the first year of round-robin play at CBI. I think the all-star games started in 1991, but my memories of the end of that tournament are distorted by my then-rage at being screwed out of the title (when that was a thing that still mattered). I know for sure there was an all-star game in 1993 at USC, so they began at some point between 1991 and 1993.

I bring this up merely as a pedantic point of historical accuracy; in all other senses Andrew's characterizations of the era are quite apt.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by tabstop » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:07 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:I believe that Jason Keller quit quizbowl to focus on crossword puzzles (and possibly also competitive Scrabble) and has been extremely successful at this. I believe there was actually an epidemic of people quitting quizbowl for scrabble around 2007, which claimed at the very least Jason Keller and that player from Furman who now goes by Quinn James (I forget her original name, back when she was a he).
Nathan James, as I recall. And while Keller still goes to ACPT and all, he's definitely been more successful at the scrabble (both as player and organizer).
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by salamanca » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:52 pm

This is the culture from which Zeke emerged, and while I give him enormous credit for adopting and expanding upon these practices, and for transmitting them to later generations of Michigan players, it would be a mistake to posit that they emerged, Athena-like, from Zeke's head around the year 2000.
As Andrew points out in his post addressing Matt W.’s personal history/discussion of the metagame of quizbowl, my own philosophy on the game, e.g., why play, how to get better, creating balanced teams, etc., was formed during my early years as an undergraduate at MD.

Back when I started playing, roughly 1995-96 (though I didn’t really get serious until after 96 Nats), MD was a national power primarily because they got good HS players from well established programs, but more importantly because people like Marc Swisdak, Ramesh Kannappan (sp), and Mike Starsinic (some of the elders when I was there and before my time) encouraged members to take the game seriously.

This meant that, at a minimum, all regular members of the team carried a dedicated QB notebook and after tournaments people would take the clues/notes they wrote down and look up more information when they got home so that, ideally, they could then write a question on that subject. MD also had two serious practices a week, where we read old ACF packets (we had a large packet archive) and/or practice questions that members of the team would write—Matt Colvin notoriously wrote about 50 packets of just TUs on things, some crazy, he wanted to learn, e.g., art, social science, religion, but other MD team members, including me, would also write TUs on things they were interested in just to read them at practice. These were often written from Benets or Britannica, but this would give one a solid grounding to buzz, if not at the beginning of a question, then at the end. MD also wrote packets for every invitational tournament (about 15 a year) and MD wrote a portion of the TIT every year. And who can forget the all day pre Nats practices, where members of the team would literally practice from sunup to sundown on old Nats and Masters level questions at someone’s apartment the weekend before ACF Nats.

Some people obviously took this regimen more seriously than others. Both Arthur Fleming and David Hamilton, for instance, became outstanding players during my time at MD by basically following this template. The team also thrived. Indeed, from 1991, the first year of ACF, until 1999, the year I played on the A team at ACF Nats, MD finished 2nd or 3rd every year save for 1995. However, the team never broke through to a title, which convinced me that other, more systematic things needed to be done if I was ever going to be able to compete against Chicago once I came to Michigan.

So the year I got accepted to UM for grad school, I did a few things to prepare. I made copies of every ACF Nats and all of the Masters Tournaments that we had up to that point and I tried to learn humanities subjects by literally sitting down with hard copies of the packets to harvest lead-ins and giveaways and then I would recopy those clues in a set of notebooks I had. I would also look stuff up and add additional facts to my notes. I also started just writing questions, many of which became the basis for MLK in 2000, which morphed from what was basically a minimally edited CBI like tournament that year to a modified ACF tournament much to the chagrin of the UM old guard.

Once at UM, I also began having focused extra practices with the young players on our team who wanted to get better. We would only read questions from tournaments that were strictly academic and written by teams who wrote in a pyramidal style (again, this was anathema to many of the older guard who were happy reading NAQT invitational sets and Trash). Our practices would often include moments where we would pause after a certain clue so that I could note that this was something that came up often and if knowledge needed to be supplemented I would have subject matter experts, e.g., Adam on Roman history for instance, speak on it. I also encouraged people to write questions, make lists, and all of the other tried and true methods to getting better that had worked at MD.

This was later taken to another level by Paul, Ryan, Leo, etc. who made electronic flash cards of the old clues they had. In fact, I think Ryan M. even tape recorded himself reading clues and went to sleep listening to them (to this day he will kill anyone on a John Hay TU). I also introduced all day practices the week before Nats, we would often invite Chicago or Illinois to those, and we would play actual games under game conditions, sometimes until midnight. Finally, the UM of my day wrote whole tournaments, MLKs, Kleist, Artaud, Singles tournaments, I (basically) wrote Regionals in 02 and 03, Auspicious Incident, etc. But, again, all of these ideas stemmed from my time as an UG at Maryland.

Of course, at the same time that this was happening at UM, Subash and his team were pushing themselves at Illinois, and guy named Kelly at Kentucky also became a rising force (he too used flashcards extensively and wrote the Wildcats). Because we were all in the mid-west we would play each other at every tournament and all of these teams plus Chicago with Andrew, Mike Z., Alice, Ed, Matt R. Peter O. Susan F., Selene k., Seth T. etc., were consistently pushing each other to get better at every tournament we played. It was, as they say, a heady time to be playing QB.

Next, more to come on some of Matt’s discussion re: tiers of teams.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:02 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Another aspect of this was the '90s-era debate about "dinosaurs"--i.e., people who were beyond (in some cases, well beyond) their undergraduate years. The lines of demarcation will be unsurprising: people who advocated a cult of "amateurism" were in favor of capping participation, and really dreaded the specter of ancient players running roughshod over poor, defenseless newcomers to the game. I always thought this was absolute nonsense; in particular, as an angry young man, I wanted nothing more than to play (and, ideally, vanquish!) the very best players, whoever they were, and however old they were. This was also one of the central points of the wars about ACF--a lot of its opponents back in the '90s thought that it was pernicious because it allowed "dinosaurs" to maintain their dominance for years and years, while other formats would undermine the alleged inherent superiority that such veterans possessed. One might have thought that such criticism would have been dissipated by my leading a team to an ACF nationals win, and then founding the modern version of ACF, at the age of 20, though I don't think it was.
The impression I get from reading this debate is that it was focused mainly on defending the legitimacy of College Bowl's rule, which settled on capping teams to a maximum of one graduate student and all players to six years of participation in official College Bowl events irrespective of their degree status or participation in other tournaments, from some point in the early 90s through the demise of College Bowl's program. There seem to be indications that in earlier periods, this rule was experimented with, and 0 or 2 grad students may have been the cap at other points in time. Anyway, the implication seemed to be that people were defending this because they wanted to defend College Bowl in the first place, and that independent tournaments, even those run by College Bowl apologists in a College Bowl style, had no real restrictions on which students could play. Can you speak to this point?

Another question I'd like to get the answer to is what ACF's and independent tournaments' attitude towards people just showing up and playing without even being students at all was. It's only as recently as 2012 that we realized that allowing open teams into random in-season events probably isn't the best thing for the legitimacy and growth of college quizbowl, but it was the norm from at least the start of my career in 2000 to treat official ACF events differently and make sure exhib teams didn't enter the championship bracket and affect the actual standings. I'm given to understand that people, e.g., "playing for" Maryland even at serious events like ACF Regionals and Nationals when it was an open secret that these individuals didn't really go to Maryland anymore used to be a thing in the mid-90s. Comments?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:44 pm

Matt Weiner wrote: The impression I get from reading this debate is that it was focused mainly on defending the legitimacy of College Bowl's rule, which settled on capping teams to a maximum of one graduate student and all players to six years of participation in official College Bowl events irrespective of their degree status or participation in other tournaments, from some point in the early 90s through the demise of College Bowl's program. There seem to be indications that in earlier periods, this rule was experimented with, and 0 or 2 grad students may have been the cap at other points in time. Anyway, the implication seemed to be that people were defending this because they wanted to defend College Bowl in the first place, and that independent tournaments, even those run by College Bowl apologists in a College Bowl style, had no real restrictions on which students could play. Can you speak to this point?

Another question I'd like to get the answer to is what ACF's and independent tournaments' attitude towards people just showing up and playing without even being students at all was. It's only as recently as 2012 that we realized that allowing open teams into random in-season events probably isn't the best thing for the legitimacy and growth of college quizbowl, but it was the norm from at least the start of my career in 2000 to treat official ACF events differently and make sure exhib teams didn't enter the championship bracket and affect the actual standings. I'm given to understand that people, e.g., "playing for" Maryland even at serious events like ACF Regionals and Nationals when it was an open secret that these individuals didn't really go to Maryland anymore used to be a thing in the mid-90s. Comments?
In my view, this doesn't quite capture the spirit of the debate. Of course, CBI had the rules you identify (one grad student per team; no more than six years total of participation). But those particular rules were epiphenomenal to the larger debate, which was dominated by this fear that "dinosaurs" (which usually meant "older players who were involved with ACF") would take over the game and crowd out younger players. In other words, I don't think the people in the quizbowl community who took this position were using it as a pretext for defending CBI policies; I think people had this anxiety independent of CBI. (As may be clear, I thought that CBI was ridiculous, and I also thought that this position about "dinosaurs" was ridiculous; but I regarded them as independent.)

As to your second question, my sense is that people didn't really care about school affiliation for any tournament but nationals. Certainly for any circuit tournament in the '90s, nobody cared (or, such is my recollection) if people teamed up with whomever--this is how I played so many tournaments with John Edwards. But people did care about this at nationals--I think that people would always do something (e.g., sign up for a class) to render themselves a more "official" student at the school with whom they were affiliated for a national-level tournament, whereas they didn't care in the slightest about affiliating with anyone for other tournaments.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:10 pm

I wanted to follow up on my earlier post about the "seriousness" with which certain people and teams (myself; Maryland) approached the game in the '90s by writing about the evolution of question writing.

As I've suggested, a number of people in the '90s took the game very seriously, and did so in ways that would seem familiar to the intense younger players today. If you only know that era from looking at the question archives, however, you might well assume that people couldn't have been "serious" back then, because the questions look so different from modern productions. As I've extensively explained, this would be an erroneous perception.

I suspect that it's extremely difficult for players today to appreciate what quizbowl was like in the pre-Google era. Take, for instance, the 1997 Wahoo War. I haven't looked at that tournament since, well, the late '90s. But I wrote most of it, and in doing so, I had no Internet resources to call upon, because they didn't exist. So the tournament got written on my Macintosh computer (the LC ... something that I won for finishing first at the Panasonic tournament my senior year of high school), out of whatever books I owned or got from the library. No doubt the questions varied wildly in length, quality, and other salient characteristics. But it would be shocking if they didn't vary in those ways, given the resources we had to rely upon.

Thus, even though individuals and teams were sometimes just as serious and dedicated in the '90s as they are today, the questions weren't necessarily commensurate with their approach to the game. Again, I think this is a function of the limited resources available in that pre-Internet era. Starting around the year 2000, however, it became possible to access a much wider range of question-writing resources while sitting at one's computer. This expanded the horizons of the game enormously.

In my recollection, it was myself and Zeke who saw the possibilities and really seized upon them. Between 2000 and 2005, the two of us pioneered what became the "modern" style of writing--i.e., tossups that were uniformly lengthy and clue-dense, along with bonuses that were equally meaty and uniformly structured in an easy/medium/hard format. I think of tournaments like Zeke's Manu Ginobili or my 2005 ACF nats as being the end product of this evolution--all the tossups are quite substantial and clue-dense (even by contemporary standards), and the bonuses all attempt to offer teams an easy, medium, and hard part (even if their notion of a "hard" part is insanely hard, and their notion of a "medium' part isn't much gentler). As I remember it, the two of us saw that it would be possible and desirable to write that kind of question, and set an example that others followed; the rest is history.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:02 am

Oh yeah, that's right: mACF bonuses used to come in a wide variety of formats. It always added to 30, but you had the [10] [5], where for all three parts you got a hard clue and an easy clue if you didn't get it on the hard clue, the [5] [10] [15] where the easy clue was worth 5 and the hard 15, the 30-20-10 here you got a hard clue, medium clue, and easy clue for the same answer and got the points depending on which clue you knew it on, etc. This was totally still a thing my freshman year in 2004.

I don't think CBI had this kind of variety, did it? Where did these come from? Where there theoretical debates on them back in the day?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:51 am

In addition to those, CBI had even weirder varieties of bonus, the one-part 20-point and one part-25 point perhaps foremost among them.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:54 am

You still see it in much older NAQT packets, but there was also the 15/5 bonus in the same style as the 10/5 Bruce described. I also remember the 5/10/20/30 where you got points based on the number of parts you got right.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:31 am

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Oh yeah, that's right: mACF bonuses used to come in a wide variety of formats. It always added to 30, but you had the [10] [5], where for all three parts you got a hard clue and an easy clue if you didn't get it on the hard clue, the [5] [10] [15] where the easy clue was worth 5 and the hard 15, the 30-20-10 here you got a hard clue, medium clue, and easy clue for the same answer and got the points depending on which clue you knew it on, etc. This was totally still a thing my freshman year in 2004.

I don't think CBI had this kind of variety, did it? Where did these come from? Where there theoretical debates on them back in the day?
CBI had all this and more.

In addition to these, and the already-mentioned single-part 20, 25, or 30 point questions, there were several other forms. CBI questions were written with the clock in mind, so having more than two distinct parts was extremely rare. You'd frequently get bonuses with multiple answers in the same prompt: "Name the three largest..."; "Name this book, the author, and the main character"; "Put these 5 things in order from earliest to latest/largest to smallest/whatever".
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Apr 30, 2014 10:06 am

And CBI had spelling toss-ups! I loved sniffing those out. They'd go something like, "A plant without sun could become etiolated. FTP, spell "etiolated." To buzz in first on these, which were usually a lot easier than that weird example I just came up with, you had to sense that there was no other way the question could go. I actually remember getting one on "briquette," as in charcoal briquette.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by jonpin » Wed Apr 30, 2014 8:52 pm

Coelacanth wrote:
Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:Oh yeah, that's right: mACF bonuses used to come in a wide variety of formats. It always added to 30, but you had the [10] [5], where for all three parts you got a hard clue and an easy clue if you didn't get it on the hard clue, the [5] [10] [15] where the easy clue was worth 5 and the hard 15, the 30-20-10 here you got a hard clue, medium clue, and easy clue for the same answer and got the points depending on which clue you knew it on, etc. This was totally still a thing my freshman year in 2004.

I don't think CBI had this kind of variety, did it? Where did these come from? Where there theoretical debates on them back in the day?
CBI had all this and more.

In addition to these, and the already-mentioned single-part 20, 25, or 30 point questions, there were several other forms. CBI questions were written with the clock in mind, so having more than two distinct parts was extremely rare. You'd frequently get bonuses with multiple answers in the same prompt: "Name the three largest..."; "Name this book, the author, and the main character"; "Put these 5 things in order from earliest to latest/largest to smallest/whatever".
For instance, the bonus that I (famously, in my own mind) shocked Minnesota with at the 2006 NCT, which went something like "Isaac Newton proved there were four possible orbits for a planet to take around a star. One of them, the perfect circle, appears not to occur in nature. 5 for one, 15 for two, 30 for all three -- name the other three shapes for a planetary orbit."
CBI definitely had all the other screwy types of bonuses, the 2x[15/5] (For example: "Name the work of literature from a quote for 15 points, or if you need the author, for 5 points."), or the 10 + 15. The 30-20-10 was still around in CBI until the bitter end, and in NAQT until mid-to-late decade as I recall.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Muriel Axon » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:08 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:And CBI had spelling toss-ups! I loved sniffing those out. They'd go something like, "A plant without sun could become etiolated. FTP, spell "etiolated." To buzz in first on these, which were usually a lot easier than that weird example I just came up with, you had to sense that there was no other way the question could go. I actually remember getting one on "briquette," as in charcoal briquette.
This reminds me of the old KMO questions our state championship used to use: "George Gershwin wrote Rhapsody in Blue. For 10 points, what's the complementary color of blue?"
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:16 pm

The 5-10-15 bonus was from a time when there was very little conscious thought about what bonuses were for and the same sort of "feels right to the layman, is totally wrong when you think about it" instincts that produced head-to-head tiebreakers also gave rise to the idea that certain answers should be worth more points due to being harder.

I think that, in the zeal to purge unfair or stupid bonus styles like 5-10-15, or those that could theoretically be useful but seemed to never work out in practice like 30-20-10, we have gone slightly too far in making everything 10-10-10. In particular, I think there is a place for "for 5 points each, list six things that...." style bonuses if and when the premise is such that scoring will reflect the same distribution we try to achieve with 10-10-10.

One of my "favorite" kinds of stupid bonus format (i.e., amused me in how symbolic it was of quizbowl not getting its act together) was the "ordering" bonus. It seemed that no one, even people who loved writing these, ever knew how you were supposed to score them -- do you get points for the absolute or relative position of the items? Does getting one wrong "stop" the answer or can you get more points for having a correct pair later in the sequence? These bonuses stuck around for 10 years without anyone figuring this out. It was even funnier when they appeared in formats with bounceback bonuses!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Kyle » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:30 pm

dtaylor4 wrote:I also remember the 5/10/20/30 where you got points based on the number of parts you got right.
These were brutal when they were "A, B, both, or neither" bonuses. This seemed to happen most in science and math. Here's one from the 2005 HSNCT:
2005 HSNCT wrote:For 5 points for one, 10 for two, 20 for three, or 30 for all four--are these statements true of the {dot product}, {cross product}, both, or neither?

A. Is {commutative}

answer: _dot_ product [The cross product is ~anti~-commutative.]

B. Gives a scalar [SKAY-lur] result

answer: _dot_ product

C. ~Always~ gives a non-zero result when applied to a pair of non-zero vectors

answer: _neither_ [Dot product is zero for perpendicular vectors; cross product is zero for parallel vectors.]

D. The result doubles in magnitude if you double the length of one operand

answer: _both_
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Apr 30, 2014 9:51 pm

Kyle wrote:brutal ..."A, B, both, or neither" bonuses
The correct values for A and B are of course "bovine" and "Russian aircraft manufacturer." (Packet guidelines for the 2000 Wisconsin Elvis, which must have been among the very last circuit tournaments to use variable-value bonuses and the recognition rule)
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu May 01, 2014 4:14 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:The 5-10-15 bonus was from a time when there was very little conscious thought about what bonuses were for and the same sort of "feels right to the layman, is totally wrong when you think about it" instincts that produced head-to-head tiebreakers also gave rise to the idea that certain answers should be worth more points due to being harder.

I think that, in the zeal to purge unfair or stupid bonus styles like 5-10-15, or those that could theoretically be useful but seemed to never work out in practice like 30-20-10, we have gone slightly too far in making everything 10-10-10. In particular, I think there is a place for "for 5 points each, list six things that...." style bonuses if and when the premise is such that scoring will reflect the same distribution we try to achieve with 10-10-10.
I think Matt is right about this, and raises a good point. The old welter of bonus formats (including the 5-10-15, the 30-20-10, the "put these things in order," etc.) was pretty unintelligent--people often seemed to select these formats almost at random, without giving any reflection to questions like "why should you get three times as many points for knowing the 'hard' part of the bonus as for the 'easy' part?" As a practical matter, it made good sense to standardize every bonus to 10-10-10. Doing so eliminated a lot of unfairness, and since bad or mediocre writers and editors (i.e., most writers and editors) couldn't be trusted with more "exotic" bonus formats, it was better just to adopt one Procrustean style across the board.

That said, I don't see any a priori reason why it wouldn't be possible to play around with different bonus formats to see if it's possible to make any of them work within the confines of the modern game. If anyone is looking to try something different at an experimental tournament, this seems like an area where you could do something worthwhile.

I think there are a number of other areas, actually, where our "zeal" to purge the game of unfairness or stupidity (as Matt correctly puts it) may have caused us to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Take, for instance, the use of biographical clues in literature. Back in the benighted old days, these clues were common (from pure trivia like "Born in [year]" to old-timey chestnuts like "He met John Galsworthy on a ship"). These were almost invariably the product of lazy writing (someone generating a perfunctory question by copying a few clues out of a biographical entry in an encyclopedia), and as part of the "realification" of the game, they were purged. It made sense for us to do away with them; that said, I think that there could be a place in the game for intelligently crafted, well-written questions that relied on clues from literary biography. Again, this is where experimental tournaments can do a real service to the community--if I were writing a lit singles tournament, I would be inclined to try throwing in a "literary biography" subdistribution to see if there is a way to make such clues work in the context of contemporary quizbowl.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by vcuEvan » Thu May 01, 2014 4:21 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Take, for instance, the use of biographical clues in literature. Back in the benighted old days, these clues were common (from pure trivia like "Born in [year]" to old-timey chestnuts like "He met John Galsworthy on a ship"). These were almost invariably the product of lazy writing (someone generating a perfunctory question by copying a few clues out of a biographical entry in an encyclopedia), and as part of the "realification" of the game, they were purged. It made sense for us to do away with them; that said, I think that there could be a place in the game for intelligently crafted, well-written questions that relied on clues from literary biography. Again, this is where experimental tournaments can do a real service to the community--if I were writing a lit singles tournament, I would be inclined to try throwing in a "literary biography" subdistribution to see if there is a way to make such clues work in the context of contemporary quizbowl.
I absolutely agree with this. Tommy and I are both planning on putting some of these clues in our questions for CO Lit Singles and I hope the other writers do the same.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu May 01, 2014 4:27 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Take, for instance, the use of biographical clues in literature. Back in the benighted old days, these clues were common (from pure trivia like "Born in [year]" to old-timey chestnuts like "He met John Galsworthy on a ship"). These were almost invariably the product of lazy writing (someone generating a perfunctory question by copying a few clues out of a biographical entry in an encyclopedia), and as part of the "realification" of the game, they were purged. It made sense for us to do away with them; that said, I think that there could be a place in the game for intelligently crafted, well-written questions that relied on clues from literary biography. Again, this is where experimental tournaments can do a real service to the community--if I were writing a lit singles tournament, I would be inclined to try throwing in a "literary biography" subdistribution to see if there is a way to make such clues work in the context of contemporary quizbowl.
I absolutely agree with this. Tommy and I are both planning on putting some of these clues in our questions for CO Lit Singles and I hope the other writers do the same.
It seems like some of this information has already started to come back here and there -- the Vachel Lindsay question in the 2012 PACE NSC brought up his self-proclaimed 'discovery' of Langston Hughes, Minnesota Open 2012 had a tossup on Branwell Bronte which would be answerable from biographical info on the sisters' lives, etc. More generally, it seems like a lot of the hard prohibitions of the past have loosened up into suggestions, since people are more judicious about finding useful, unique, and academic clues even within the prohibited types of thing (e.g.: "no chemistry tossups on elements!" has obviously fallen by the wayside since people reach for real reactions and not for "this element is found in some of your dandruff shampoo"-style chestnuts). And that's fine.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by grapesmoker » Thu May 01, 2014 5:18 pm

I don't think the problem was ever with actually substantive biographical clues so much as it was with "cute" chestnuts. Of course, part of what constitutes good question writing is the ability to figure out which biographical elements are relevant and which are just filler.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by powerplant » Sun May 04, 2014 8:38 pm

So because of this thread's discussion of old quizbowl and the evolution of the game, I reached out to Jeff Kipnis, who the qbwiki credits with setting packet length at 20 questions when he was a player with Georgia Tech in the 1970s. He has agreed to meet up with me so I can ask him questions about his playing days, and I figured I'd ask here if people had specific things they'd like me to ask him? I have no idea how much time he'll give me or how much he'll remember but I figured this was a neat opportunity. If he's okay with it I'll try and record our conversation as an interview and upload an mp3, otherwise I'll just try to jot down as much as I can and type it up.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sun May 04, 2014 9:38 pm

powerplant wrote:So because of this thread's discussion of old quizbowl and the evolution of the game, I reached out to Jeff Kipnis, who the qbwiki credits with setting packet length at 20 questions when he was a player with Georgia Tech in the 1970s. He has agreed to meet up with me so I can ask him questions about his playing days, and I figured I'd ask here if people had specific things they'd like me to ask him? I have no idea how much time he'll give me or how much he'll remember but I figured this was a neat opportunity. If he's okay with it I'll try and record our conversation as an interview and upload an mp3, otherwise I'll just try to jot down as much as I can and type it up.
First off: this is really cool. Kudos to Joe for doing this and to Jeff for agreeing to it.

Secondly: I think it would be really cool if we expanded from this idea and started attempting to document a lot more of the early history of our game. For every player who is returning to the forums and the community right now, there are many more former players we don't know much about. And we don't have much information from before the early 1990s, when (and we can throw out modern standards of good quizbowl somewhere on this trip back through time) there are instances of something resembling quizbowl having been played for several decades. I think we could probably all work to reach out to some of the early figures of quizbowl history, and see how many of them would be as receptive to talking to us as Jeff Kipnis.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by dxdtdemon » Sun May 04, 2014 10:12 pm

I can recall from playing CBI that Dan Fuller from that "3 Boys and a Goy" team mentioned earlier loves to talk about college bowl and protoquizbowl from that time period, so if anyone happens to be going by the Kent State branch campus in New Philadelphia, OH, he might be someone to interview.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon May 05, 2014 7:12 am

powerplant wrote:So because of this thread's discussion of old quizbowl and the evolution of the game, I reached out to Jeff Kipnis, who the qbwiki credits with setting packet length at 20 questions when he was a player with Georgia Tech in the 1970s. He has agreed to meet up with me so I can ask him questions about his playing days, and I figured I'd ask here if people had specific things they'd like me to ask him? I have no idea how much time he'll give me or how much he'll remember but I figured this was a neat opportunity. If he's okay with it I'll try and record our conversation as an interview and upload an mp3, otherwise I'll just try to jot down as much as I can and type it up.
I'm interested in knowing more about the history of the pre-ACF "national championships," a general description of how a quizbowl season worked before the Internet, and anything he can say about the co-evolution of the Southeastern scene and College Bowl, but of course any info is good info.

This is a cool idea and I hope anyone else with a connection to an old-timey quizbowl figure will get them to come here and post or interview them.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Coelacanth » Mon May 05, 2014 9:14 am

Matt Weiner wrote:a general description of how a quizbowl season worked before the Internet
First off, there were far fewer tournaments. I know the southeast had a much more well-developed circuit when I started playing (late 80s), but here in the Midwest the most non-CBI tournaments I ever played in a YEAR was three.

Tournament publicity was mostly word-of-mouth. I think there were some newsletters that came around once or twice a year (via snail mail), but mostly you found out about tournaments by going to tournaments. People would make announcements at the end and you'd exchange phone numbers. Land lines, remember; teams would often have a contact number at their student union or activities office.

Packet submission was...challenging. No internet means no www, so most teams maintained a collection of reference and resource books, things like Benet's, the World Almanac, etc. Packets would then be typed up, either using an actual typewriter or a primitive (by today's standards) PC with a really poor-quality dot-matrix printer.

Think for a moment about how you'd submit a packet without email (or some kind of internet drop box). The most common method was by simply putting a hard copy in the snail mail. If a team was running late with their question writing (some things about quizbowl have never changed), they might FAX the questions a day or two before the event. Think of the moderator experience of trying to read questions that were printed on a crappy dot-matrix printer, faxed (not sure if people remember the old thermal-printed rolls of fax paper) and then photocopied. In extreme cases teams would simply bring n copies of their questions to the tournament with them.

Eventually packet submission became more high-tech. Teams would save their questions onto a (3.5") diskette and then mail the diskette via snail mail. Since no two people had the same word processor, the files would either be .txt (no formatting) or mangled by the host's word processor (weird formatting). But still, this was an improvement since it facilitated "editing".

Consider the "editing" of a packet submitted by hard-copy only. Mostly this consisted of checking for typos and duplicates and weeding out obviously-incorrect questions. Changing the text of a submitted question was rare; most questions would be used as-submitted or just dropped. Submitters were generally told not to number their questions in case the "editor" needed to reorder them. This was done by cut & paste: cutting (with scissors) the questions and then pasting (with glue stick or scotch tape) onto a new sheet. Question numbers would then be written in with a pen and the whole thing photocopied for use.

So there was no editing in the modern sense, where someone works to improve submitted questions and impose some kind of consistency in difficulty, style, and distribution. Many tournaments turned on whose packet happened to be in play when the top teams met. Honestly, you guys have no idea how good you have it.

One more difference that has nothing to do with things being pre-internet but I haven't seen it mentioned. The Saturday-only tournament was by no means a standard. The norm (at least around here) was for teams to get in a car on Friday morning and do some kind of check-in at the playing site around 5 pm. Then teams would grab dinner and play 4 (or so) matches Friday night starting around 7. Things usually wrapped up on Saturday mid-to-late afternoon and teams would hit the road.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Mon May 05, 2014 1:47 pm

Coelacanth wrote: One more difference that has nothing to do with things being pre-internet but I haven't seen it mentioned. The Saturday-only tournament was by no means a standard. The norm (at least around here) was for teams to get in a car on Friday morning and do some kind of check-in at the playing site around 5 pm. Then teams would grab dinner and play 4 (or so) matches Friday night starting around 7. Things usually wrapped up on Saturday mid-to-late afternoon and teams would hit the road.
I remember playing a few Friday evening tournaments at Georgia Tech in the late 90s. Getting lost downtown around 11 was a blast. It's amazing that people still have problems finding their way around cities now (see Dartmouth at this year's ACF Nats). Back when we used actual maps instead of GPS, well, we saw the world all right. The last tournament I remember that had a snail mail submission system was one of the Berry Southeastern Invitationals circa 2001.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Yor, the Hunter from the Future » Mon May 05, 2014 1:48 pm

In the summer of 2002-ish, Zeke and Paul Litvak were in the DC area and organized a few practices in some basement corner of Jimenez Hall at Maryland. [side note: Is Jimenez the closest thing we have to a Quizbowl UNESCO World Heritage Site? Someone ought to stick a historical marker on a wall near the snack machines in the basement.] At the time, I remember being annoyed that they would pause after what seemed like every other question to jot down notes. I was there to “practice,” which to me meant having fun and running through rounds, and their obsession with writing everything down kept messing up the flow of the games. In retrospect, what was going on was just an entirely different conception of “practice” than what I was used to. For them, practice = work, and fun was what happened when they took the fruits of that work and mowed down their opponents with it at tournaments. I don’t remember any other practices other than those where I saw the same sort of obsession to improve. Ordinarily, at GW, Harvard, BU, M.I.T., and other places I’d sat in on, practice was a bunch of folks blowing off steam and having a good time. There is always some natural/osmotic absorption of knowledge that takes place under those conditions, but there wasn’t really a method or a science to it, at least not one that was put into play during practice itself while everyone was sitting there. I have no idea if anyone outside of earlier MD teams (or maybe Andrew) began making more out of team practices before that, but Zeke was the first person I saw that approached practice so seriously. I don’t think that the top players of the era(s) before that (80s + 90s) whose names have been bandied about in earlier posts did anything more at practice itself than play for the sake of playing.

In 1991, when I started college, good players didn’t need to take things nearly as seriously as they do now to perform well. Unsurprisingly, not many did. For instance, the first lists I made were of people who discovered particles, elements and atomic numbers, and the meaning of names of elements. I made these because I knew nothing about science. Back then, science questions were written in such a way that all I needed to do was memorize that dysprosium meant “green twin” and <<PRESTO>> I could swipe occasional chemistry tossups from science majors and people with a far superior understanding of chemistry than I had (which was and still remains essentially zilch). This sort of thing doesn't seem possible to pull off anymore, and the game is better for it. But was this approach “fraudulent” as Matt W. couched it a number of posts back? I prefer the phrase: “A creative response to the conditions of the game in the early 90s.” I and plenty of players a lot better than I took advantage of the game with which we were confronted. Was it comical? Was the game back then less ‘fair’ to experts in a given discipline than the game is today? Was it all pretty much a pile of stinky cheese? Absolutely. But was it nevertheless fun to get a tossup on Schiller off of my future wife (a classics/drama major who had recently read ALL of Schiller’s plays) from nothing more than “Born in 1759,…?” Hell yeah. Does that mean I “knew more” about Schiller than she does? Of course not. But that’s just how lots of tossups were written back then.

I’m happy QB has evolved to the point where a thorough mastery of a subject is much more difficult (but not necessarily impossible) to overcome with roguish strategies. Things are better now. But the “wild west” of the 80s and 90s was what it was. I don’t know that it makes any sense to label players or teams “frauds” just because they prepped a certain way in response to the style of questions that were being written at a given time. Dropping phrases like “friggin Rochester” and calling out one or another person by name for the mere crime of being successful is, among other things, a bit obtuse. That said, I don’t disagree with Matt’s overarching opinions on the relative ridiculousness of earlier formats & question writing styles. Just don’t blame the player. Players play the game that’s there when they play.

Re: Era Comparisons: On the one hand, I agree that if someone revved up a flux capacitor and teleported Jim Dendy or Ramesh Kannappan into a contemporary NAQT ICT, they would be badly beaten. But what we’ll never know is whether those same players, were they born in 1985 instead of 1965, would do “whatever it takes” to be as successful relative to their peers now as they were back then. Others have already raised the point that it was harder to prep effectively before things like protobowl, Wikipedia, question databases, or even—for true Triassic period folks—the internet. But what astounds me about the game today is when I read over my son’s orientation materials at his new elementary school (he started Kindergarten last fall) and notice that there is an Academic Quiz Team available as an extracurricular activity starting in *first grade*. By middle school, many kids are playing something that approximates “good quizbowl.” Give these developmental advantages and technological tools to the aforementioned dinosaurs and there’s nothing that suggests they couldn’t be just as good today.

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon May 05, 2014 3:13 pm

I almost hesitate to mention this but I'm actually able to run the originally intended contest now. I don't want to stymie these awesome stories, though! Maybe we could split threads?
Fred Morlan
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon May 05, 2014 3:26 pm

Yor, the Hunter from the Future wrote:dysprosium meant “green twin”
In the true spirit of quizbowl pedantry: it's actually praseodymium that means "green twin", which I know because the NAQT parody packet I wrote a few years ago included a two-line tossup on praseodymium.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 05, 2014 3:29 pm

I had a discussion with Andrew and M-Bo last night about this, along with a few others. I tended to take the side that this thread has been marvelous and that I think it would be more interesting to perpetuate it with stories, directed questions, and general organized focus/discussion on various themes (maybe like a different team a day or so). Others felt the voting was still worthwhile and could generate interesting discussion as well. My issue with that is I think the "survivor/voting" nature of these games sometimes limits discussion--the NBA thread has kind of been all over the place on this, for instance, with a lot of utilitarian "just vote this guy out" type posts. Maybe it would be different for a more personal topic like quizbowl. Anyway, I'm Jim Cornette and that's just my opinion.
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