Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Apr 14, 2014 7:39 pm

I do not care about the parameters of this voting exercise, especially since it is meaningless unless (as I have previously noted) you establish some sort of consensus as to the criteria for "greatest team of all time." As I think I have said elsewhere, it is completely unclear whether, by the "greatest team of all time," people mean something like "who was best in comparison to their contemporaries"; or "who, if plucked out of their era with a time machine, would fare best today in a hypothetical tournament on 2014 ACF nationals-type questions"; or "who, if plucked out of their era with a time machine, would fare best in a hypothetical tournament on 2014 ACF nationals-type questions, assuming hypothetically that the team was first allowed to 'get up to speed' on modern question styles and the contemporary canon"; or some other set of criteria. Having made that point yet again, I'll offer a few disjointed observations about teams from 1995-2000, since I played against all the ones on this list (with the possible exception of 1998 Stanford--I didn't play ICT that year because it was at the same time as a grad school open house I attended).

I was only a freshman at the time, but I remember 1995 Harvard as a powerhouse. As I recall, Jeff Johnson emerged on to the circuit at that year's Penn Bowl, where he tore people apart; he then dominated at that year's ACF nats.

I don't think the 1996 Georgia Tech team was as impressive. Yes, they mowed teams down at that year's ACF nats; but as I've suggested elsewhere, that was a set edited by Jim Dendy which really played to their strengths. By this, I don't mean to imply that Jim or Georgia Tech cheated; instead, I mean that the kind of tournament Jim was wont to produce (i.e., one that did not stray far from the canon of the era) was very well-suited to that Tech team, which knew then-canonical clues cold but didn't have the kind of wide-ranging knowledge someone like Jeff obviously possessed. My recollection is that that Tech team was much less formidable at tournaments produced in different manners (that year's Wahoo War, for instance).

I've already noted that I think my 1999 Chicago team was the best--speaking strictly of it vis-a-vis its contemporaries--of my playing career. That 1998 Virginia team was also very good, though--I was playing at or near my peak, and I had several very good teammates.

Since I'm amused to see someone in this thread opine about whether I was better or worse after I went to Chicago, I'll say that in my own view I was at my peak from 1997-2001, and I suspect I was at my best as a player in my last year at Virginia and first year at Chicago. That was a period in which I played in seven national tournaments (not counting CBI), winning six of them (four ACF, two NAQT) and finishing second in the other (when my Chicago team lost to Subash's Illinois team in the finals of the 2000 ICT). By saying that I was "at my best as player" I mean that I was at my most focused and intense--I really cared about winning, played a full docket of circuit tournaments, went to practices, etc. Doubtless I knew more stuff in 2010 than I did in 2000, but I am of the view that I was a better player in the earlier period.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Apr 14, 2014 9:15 pm

Andrew's third option ("Who, if plucked out of their era with a time machine, would fare best at a hypothetical tournament on 2014 ACF nationals-type questions, assuming hypothetically that the team was first allowed to 'get up to speed' on modern question styles and the contemporary canon") articulates some pretty clear and fair grounds for discussion, I think. I'd also be fine with adding a hypothetical ICT performance.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Apr 14, 2014 11:45 pm

In the spirit of Matt's suggestion, then, I offer a few further thoughts.

If we are using the hypothetical framework of "team that, if plucked out of their era with a time machine, would fare best in a hypothetical tournament on 2014 ACF nationals-type questions, assuming hypothetically that the team was first allowed to 'get up to speed' on modern question styles and the contemporary canon," my votes for the top five teams of the 1995-2005 era would go to the following:

1995 Harvard
1999 Chicago
1999 Maryland
2004 Chicago
2005 Michigan

My next five would be the following:

1997 Chicago
1998 Virginia
2002 Michigan
2003 Chicago
2004 Berkeley

And, of those, I think my 1999 Chicago team and Zeke's 2005 Michigan team were the best two. Again, I am using the criterion of "let the team get up to speed on modern question styles and the contemporary canon"--which those teams would have eagerly done. Also, I am taking "that year's team, given its overall talent and performance" as the metric; thus, I am downplaying teams where one player had one transcendent tournament (e.g. 2003 Chicago) and focusing on the "team-year" as the relevant unit for comparison. (To take a more contemporary example--I probably played as well at 2010's ACF nationals as I did at any tournament in my career; but I wouldn't put that year's Stanford team, as a whole, in my all-time top ten.)
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Cheynem » Tue Apr 15, 2014 9:40 am

If I can be waspish, what do you think would be the 1995-2005 era teams that would do the weakest using that criteria (again, this is ex post facto criteria, so I'm not disparaging their wins or successes)?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby grapesmoker » Tue Apr 15, 2014 11:24 am

I had the privilege of playing against and then watching that 2005 Michigan team, and, Subash's personal demolition of the 2003 ICT aside, it might be the most impressive performance I've ever seen. That team lost once in the playoffs to a very strong Chicago team that featured Seth, Subash, Selene, and Susan; in other words, chock full of luminaries. To win twice against that team, at the end of a very long day (I believe the tournament ended well after 8 pm), is just a really impressive achievement.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:06 pm

I don't really want to disparage any teams of the earlier era. Instead, I'll say that I think that the 1996, 2001, and 2006 teams are generally weaker than the rest; the fact that a team may have finished in the finals of ACF nationals in those years should probably not be regarded as an indicator that such a team belongs in the pantheon of all-time greats.

Another overarching thought: I think some members of the current generation tend to imagine that "the quizbowl dark ages lasted until [some relatively recent year], and that antediluvian quizbowl has no connection to the game we now know and love." As should be clear, I think that's a misguided interpretation of quizbowl history. To my mind, and setting aside the earlier phases of the game (which are a mystery to me as well), there have roughly speaking been two eras of quizbowl. First, there was the era from around 1994 to around 2003. During this era, question quality was (by modern standards) highly variable, to say the least; but this era was marked by a gradual trend toward modern canons of question construction. (Not coincidentally, this was also the pre-Google era of quizbowl.) Second, there is the current era, which to my mind began around 2004 and lasts until the present. I don't see drastic sea changes between the good quizbowl of 2004 and the good quizbowl of today--in my view, a set like the Manu Ginobili or my 2005 ACF nationals could be played in 2014 (in a way that, e.g., the 1996 ACF nationals set could not be, at least without causing a riot).

The relevance of this to the present discussion is that there are a number of top players and teams who bridged the gap between those two eras. Most obviously, there is myself, having won ACF titles as early as 1997 (a set that was squarely in the "first era" discussed above, and which I would probably shudder to revisit today) and as recently as 2010 (a set that was squarely in the current era, and which I assume everyone would concede is an exemplar of contemporary "good quizbowl"). But the same can be said of Zeke, Subash, and a number of others who also came of age in the earlier era (both Zeke and Subash were significant players at ACF nats in 1999, for instance), but who also were superlative players in the early days of the contemporary era.

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.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby salamanca » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:32 pm

Inspired by Andrew’s recent posts I wanted to offer the following observations and reminiscences about some notable teams from the mid to late 90s and early 2000s.

Georgia Tech 1996- As Andrew points out above this was a powerhouse team on rote academic questions that was more limited on deeper stuff. Still they were a sight to behold at 1996 Nationals which, if my memory serves correctly, featured 40 some teams with a playoff RR in which the top 12 teams all played each other.

As a side note, this was the first Nationals I attended and watching my own team, Maryland (who finished second), play against this team, as well as Andrew’s VA team, Tentarelli’s Cornell, Eric Bell’s Oklahoma, R. Hentzel’s ISU, and a ton of other notable teams, really inspired me to take the game more seriously and to appreciate the importance of work in getting better. In fact, it was after this tournament that Dave H. gave me his copy of the 3rd edition of Benet’s that I would later pass on to Paul Litvak.

Needless to say Tech dominated everyone at that tournament by routinely first-cluing a ton of questions and putting up crazy bonus conversion #s.

Harvard 1998- This was a Jeff Johnson led Harvard team that gave Andrew all he could handle in the Finals. Johnson was a legit, legit player on the hardest questions of the day and this was probably the closest that someone got to beating Andrew at ACF during his first dominant run.

Maryland 1999- I was the fourth on this team at ACF Nats, that featured Dave Hamilton as its best player, with myself, Mike Starsinic, John Nam, Christine Moritz, and Julie Singer switching places as the supporting players throughout the year. I think we gave Andrew the closest match at ACF that year, but I’m talking at least a 100 point spread and he finished like 3-4 games clear of the field which also featured a very good Berkeley team and an up and coming Illinois.

Illinois 2000- The first team to beat a Chicago team led by Andrew in a Final (ICT) since his arrival in the Windy City. Very well balanced, with all four players (Subash, Mike Angel, Chris Vicich, and Vishnu J.) contributing. I think they actually beat Andrew in the RR of ACF Nats but lost to us in the penultimate game of the playoffs thereby setting up a single game final where Andrew beat them decisively. An underrated team, in my opinion, that worked hard to get better.

Michigan 2001- My first ACF title team and probably the weakest of the three I played on. The other challengers included a dangerous Kentucky with McKenzie/Kendall and Virginia with John Kenney/Steve Perry who did not match up particularly well with us (i.e., Adam and I knew humanities better than either of these teams’ best two and thus matches were rarely close- case in point, I think we may have beat that same VA team by 500 or so in the ICT finals the next year). But the most notable development that year was the performance of Michigan’s B Team that year. They almost made it into the finals (they lost a play in game) at both ICT and ACF and were led by Ben Heller and Paul Litvak who had dedicated themselves to mastering old ACF packets and were thus dangerous on any clue that had come up before.

Kentucky 2002- The best of Kelly M.’s teams during his prime. Very solid on all humanities, they crushed everyone but us that year at ACF Nats when we won the double. Had real problems when questions started nibbling on the edges of the canon, but up to ACF Regionals level could really play with anyone, including Subash and Andrew led Chicago teams of that era.

Berkeley 2003- I have to admit that before ACF 2003, I did not think any Berkeley team was ready for prime time. I mean they were nice people, they beat up on Stanford every year, but to me the real power during that era was always in the Midwest. I was, of course, wrong.

This was Seth T.’s breakout performance on the Berkeley A team next to Jeff Hoppes. They also had Jon P. and David F. who were no slouches. They beat us on the final question of the RR game we had against them when they 30ed the last bonus to win by 5 after we’d talked ourselves out of a bonus answer that would have sealed the game. My Michigan team then went into overdrive in the playoffs, which featured a pretty steep ramp up in difficulty and saw us trounce everyone, including Berkeley in the first game of the finals. Those playoffs, by the way, were probably the best stretch of games I ever played in terms of buzzes relative to the questions. A stretch that unfortunately was followed by the most gut wrenching defeat of my career when we lost to Berkeley at what seemed like 11 PM in the second game of the finals.

Michigan 2003- See above. Me, Adam, Paul L. (when he was doing 20 next to me on SS/Lit/Phil), but we couldn’t get Lafer as our fourth due to team politics, otherwise things may have turned out differently and we may have been the first school to win three straight ACFs. In my opinion, one of the best teams ever up to that point on hard humanities, back when science players were a luxury.

Berkeley 2004- I think the best of those early 2000 Berkeley teams. Destroyed us at ICT that year (thereby also motivating the shit out of me for the next year) and, as Jeff H. has recounted before, pushed an Andrew and Subash led team at ACF Nationals that year, even beating them once in the RR. Hoppes, Teitler, Vinokurov, and Luo.

Chicago 2004- often hailed as the best team ever- featured Subash, Andrew, Matt R., and Ed Cohn. They were certainly awesome on bonuses, but, and I think Andrew can correct me if I’m wrong, Andrew may not have rated this team as highly because there was a lot of overlap between him and Subash which led to less than ideal team play at times. Still, one of the most fearsome collections of talent I’ve ever seen line up in front of a buzzer.

Chicago 2005- Andrew, Seth, Selene, and Pericles (for Current Events/Trash) at ICT, Subash, Seth, Selene, and Susan at ACF. Obviously the team to beat that year. Crazy coverage over a wide swath of categories. We knew we had to work incredibly hard to compete with this team.

Michigan 2005- The best Michigan team I ever played on… myself, Kemezis, Lafer, and Wolpert. Deep, deep coverage of all humanities with Lafer and I in particular learning the nooks and crannies of the then canon so we could dig out points on bonuses. Between Lafer and Leo a more than perfunctory coverage of science that averted science from becoming a weakness. Also, a very even keeled, confident demeanor, which, in my opinion stemmed from a tournament we played earlier that season: Illinois Open. At that tournament we played as our full A team, while Chicago played with Andrew, Seth T., Subash, and Paul L (who had graduated from UM). We split games with them and I played particularly well during the game we lost (I think I went 8-1), so even after we lost in the final to that team (in a pretty close game), we knew that we had it in us to beat anyone that year and I think it gave our team a ton of self-belief going forward.

Berkeley and Texas A&M 2006- very solid teams that played very similar lineups to the teams they had the year before and broke through at ICT and ACF respectively when the competition was weaker. Take, for instance, A&M who barely beat a Michigan team featuring Adam K. and three solid supporting players, Dave Rappaport, Will Turner, and Ryan Westbrook, on the last question in a final game.

Chicago 2007- Seth T.’s first ACF victory as the captain and true number one for Chicago. Andrew and I wrote this tournament and this team was the class of that ACF Nationals. I don’t even think they had a close game. That being said, Illinois was still improving and Jerry’s Brown would not emerge as a true powerhouse until the next year.

2008- did not attend either Nationals

Chicago 2009- the most impressive of Seth’s Chicago teams to my mind, at least on ACF. Seth was the steady tossup getting machine we now know and love and, though frequently derided for reasons other than his play, Shantanu gave that team the ability to convert harder humanities tossups and bonuses that Seth and Selene didn’t know about. Michael Arnold played a good garbage man role and the science coverage was just impressive. They beat Andrew and Stanford, Jerry and Brown, Sorice and Illinois, and a tough Minny team that year.

Brown 2009- A very good team that unfortunately played without its second best player, yet still managed to make the finals. Great science coverage and underrated Humanities depth against most teams unless you were facing Andrew Y. With Eric M. may have won the title.

Stanford 2010- Andrew playing out of his mind with a trio of supporting players that provided some science coverage on bonuses and occasionally a TU or two. Not Andrew’s best team, but to my mind his best performance at a Nationals considering the level of competition and the questions.

Minnesota 2010- So I used to always think the two best teams to not win a title in a given year were my Michigan team at 2003 ACF or Subash/Seth’s Chicago team at 2005 ACF, but I think this team may be better than both of those. A true four man squad anchored by Brendan’s encyclopedic knowledge of previous clues, Andrew and Rob’s real humanities knowledge, and Gautam’s science coverage, they pushed Stanford to the brink and defeated such great teams as Jerry’s Brown, Eric M.’s Penn, Seth’s defending champion Chicago, and Stanford in the RR. Their comeback in the finals was amazing to watch.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Cheynem » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:55 pm

Thanks for posting this, this is great to read.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Wed Apr 16, 2014 2:52 pm

Zeke's delightful post has inspired me to follow up with a few more specific reminiscences of my own. Some of these will have very little connection to the ostensible theme of this thread, but I figure nobody will mind.

First, as Zeke correctly suggests, the 1996 ACF nationals was huge, and had a very large playoff round robin; the same was true of the 1995 edition (my first ACF nationals, as a wide-eyed freshman). As I recall, in 1995 my Virginia team lost game after game in that RR playoff, only to beat down a clearly exhausted Tom Waters (playing solo) in the final round. Also, respect should be paid to that 1996 Maryland team, which was clearly the second-best that year (though they were also clearly intimidated by Georgia Tech, which mowed them down).

Zeke is also right that that 1998 Harvard team was very very good--Jeff and I were virtually even at that ACF nationals. (I think I maybe had one or two more tossups than him in the three matches we played, including a two-game final where we had to win both after losing to them by one tossup in the RR.) My favorite memory of that final is Jeff attempting to protest a question about the right-hand rule to John Sheahan (who was reading, and who had edited the set); it was unclear which of Jeff and John knew less about the topic.

In the spirit of continuing to agree with Zeke, I agree that that Maryland team gave us our closest game at 1999 ACF Nats--but it wasn't especially close. That was also the year in which we beat Berkeley by like 500 points in the ICT final, which prompted Don Windham to send me an email out of the blue to congratulate me on getting 14 tossups in the final and "put the fear of God" into teams at the upcoming ACF nats (this was when ICT preceded ACF). Though my fondest memory of that tournament was powering an inexplicable tossup on Andrew Gaze in the finals.

Having shared so many fond memories, I will say that my least favorite memory of 2000 came from our game against Illinois in the RR. To understand this anecdote, you need to be aware that NAQT packets at the time had more tossups than bonuses--I think it was 26/24, though I could be wrong about the exact numbers. Thus, it was possible to get to the end of a packet and have tossups, but no bonuses, remaining. (Do not ask me why NAQT did this--it was long before I started writing for them.)

Anyway, both my Chicago team and Subash's Illinois team were undefeated going into the game. Before the last tossup, we called a timeout, and were told by R. that we were up by like 30, and that there were no more bonuses. Accordingly, we all put our buzzers down, allowing Subash to get the last tossup (on John Nance Garner--I remember it well!). Then, as we were getting up to shake hands, R. sheepishly announced that he had "skipped a bonus," which he proceeded to read to Illinois, who proceeded to win over my vehement and unavailing protests. Of course, Illinois went on to beat us in the two-game finals; but had we won that game, I think there wouldn't have been a finals at all.

To offset that lamentable memory, I'll note that after the tournament (which ended in early afternoon), Zeke, Subash, and I wandered off to get drinks near the BU campus; we ended up at some bar where we were joined by a team from (I want to say) Georgia, who recognized us from the finals and bought us several rounds. In any event, all of our individual trophies were left at that bar, where I like to think they remain to this day.

Maybe I'll post some 21st-century reminiscences later if I find the time.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:35 pm

I was going to proceed past the year 2000, but remembered that I hadn't said anything about one of the great institutions of late-20th-century quizbowl. Of course, I refer to Khon Hoc. More generally, I thought I'd offer a brief rundown of the history of summer masters tournaments--which, again, is presumably irrelevant to this thread, but which I feel like doing.

When I came into the college game, there were two summer masters events: Philadelphia Experiment (at Penn) and Tennessee Masters (at Knoxville). These were, in effect, distant ancestors or cousins of ICT and ACF nats. Pat Matthews, who would later be a founder of NAQT, ran the former; while Carol Guthrie, who was a founder of ACF, ran the latter.

I attended both in 1995, the summer after my freshman year. At Tennessee Masters, I learned that what I had thought was an unsurpassable experience of quizbowl funk--namely, playing ACF nats in un-airconditioned rooms in Knoxville in April--was nothing compared to playing in un-airconditioned rooms in Knoxville in high summer. That would have been the first (and perhaps the only?) time I played Don Windham, in one of the final incarnations of his "Legion of Superheroes" team. That year's Philly Experiment also featured one of the long-awaited super teams of that era, as Jim Dendy and Tom Waters joined up for the first time ever (with Al Whited and ... someone else). It was a great pleasure to watch them scowling in the crowd during the finals, which my team played against the "Three Boys and a Goy" team (another frequent agglomeration that played that era's summer events).

The next year I presumably played both of those again, but don't remember anything about them. That might have been the year that John Sheahan and I teamed up and won Philly Experiment, or maybe that was 1997--the years all blur together. I'm pretty sure 1997 was the final Tennessee Masters, which was won by a team of me, Sheahan, and Brian Rostron (I think).

1997 was also the year that I decided it would be nice to have an ACF-style summer masters event on the East Coast. Thus, I organized the Maryland Masters and persuaded Bobby Shepard (of NC State) to edit it. The only thing I really remember about it now is that it was a Saturday-Sunday affair, and at the end of Saturday's games, we discovered that Sunday's playoff packets had not been assembled. (I think the questions had been written, but they hadn't been put into packets, randomized, etc.) My teammate Peter Braxton volunteered to forgo the playoffs and save the tournament by doing the last-minute editing, for which--17 years later--I salute him.

The next year Tennessee Masters was defunct, so I decided to write an ACF summer tournament in its place--the Virginia Open. As I recall, Tom Waters and Eric Hillemann beat a feisty Maryland team to win it. When I moved to Chicago for grad school, I decided to relocate the tournament for my own convenience; thus, the Chicago Open was born. I believe I also wrote the first one myself, then the next year asked Subash to work with me on it as a packet-submission tournament.

But I meant to discuss Khon Hoc! There were at least two iterations of this wonderful tournament, held at Maryland (in 1997 and 1998, I think) and written entirely by Maryland's own Khon Lien. So many things to love about this tournament. First, it was written in Khon's inimitable version of English. Second, the distribution contained many more questions on pro wrestling and Playboy magazine than any other tournament of which I am aware. (Adam Fine's formidable knowledge of both subjects helped propel me to my second Khon Hoc title; that knowledge dismayed Al Whited, who also teamed with me at that tournament.) Third, not only were teams formed by a draft of everyone in attendance, but Khon allowed teams to trade players mid-tournament. Fourth, the trophy each year was a black plastic salad bowl taken from the Maryland cafeteria, with a piece of masking tape on it on which "Khon Hoc champion" was scrawled. (Sadly, mine got lost during a move at some point.) Finally, the tournament always concluded with everyone going to the Maryland student union bowling alley, where the Maryland players of that era (who all, mysteriously, appeared to have taken a college course on bowling) displayed their impeccable form.

So ends another installment of "vague reminiscences about the quizbowl of two decades ago" ...
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby salamanca » Thu Apr 17, 2014 12:57 pm

So the only traditional Masters tournaments I recall playing in the 90s were the (last?) Philly Experiment and the VA Open the year before I started grad school at Michigan in 2000. I think a team of John Nam, Arthur Fleming and I finished 4th at the first and then Adam, Arthur, Shaun H. (?) and I finished third at Andrew's tournament in Charlottesville. Needless to say, the questions at the latter were so much better than at the former. I also distinctly remember being very disturbed by 3 Boys and Goy, the odd t-shirts they wore (save for Lorin Burte, who looked like a TV sitcom dad, even then), and just puzzled by some of the other strange smelling folks who attended those events.

But that is neither here nor there, 'cause what we are really here to talk about is Khon Hoc. As Andrew notes, Khon was some dude on Maryland C or sometimes D who just decided to write tournaments. His questions were insane. For instance, he wrote a literature question on the play _Antigone 2_, which was an unpublished work written by the prof. who taught the Honors symposium that Khon had taken. What's even more amazing is that somewhere in my notebooks I wrote down characters for this play, you know, just in case it were to come up again. Packets at Khon Hoc could have random themes, like birthdays or wrestling, and, worst of all, later when he became a dental student, on dentistry. They were incredible to read aloud. I remember actually having to leave the room because I was laughing so hard as Phil O'Donoghue read through a Khon Hoc Finals with all the gravitas he could muster.

Finally, although I did not bowl I am still looking forward to Andrew's or other folks' remembrances of the early 2000s...
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:42 pm

salamanca wrote:But that is neither here nor there, 'cause what we are really here to talk about is Khon Hoc. As Andrew notes, Khon was some dude on Maryland C or sometimes D who just decided to write tournaments. His questions were insane. For instance, he wrote a literature question on the play _Antigone 2_, which was an unpublished work written by the prof. who taught the Honors symposium that Khon had taken. What's even more amazing is that somewhere in my notebooks I wrote down characters for this play, you know, just in case it were to come up again. Packets at Khon Hoc could have random themes, like birthdays or wrestling, and, worst of all, later when he became a dental student, on dentistry. They were incredible to read aloud. I remember actually having to leave the room because I was laughing so hard as Phil O'Donoghue read through a Khon Hoc Finals with all the gravitas he could muster.


Have any packets from this event survived into the present day or been digitized? I'm very curious if anyone could track them down.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Kouign Amann » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:49 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Finally, the tournament always concluded with everyone going to the Maryland student union bowling alley, where the Maryland players of that era (who all, mysteriously, appeared to have taken a college course on bowling) displayed their impeccable form.

To build a tangent off a tangent, here's another vaguely quizbowl-related story about this same place:

The Stamp bowling alley is near and dear to the the St. Anselm's class of 2012 (here ends any relation this story has to quizbowl; its only relevance is that it happened to me and Jacob's friends) because it was the focal point of one of the most entertaining events of our senior year. At St. Anselm's, juniors and seniors have every Tuesday morning set aside for community service in the surrounding neighborhood. Some people worked in elementary schools, retirement homes, food banks, etc. "Service," as we called it, was not held in particularly high regard by anyone, and because we could drive ourselves there and back and were essentially unsupervised, most people left as early as possible to go get lunch somewhere.

One day, a group of food bank people decided to skip service altogether, drive to UMD, and go bowling at Stamp. A great time was had by all, apparently, and then they departed for Checkers. Unfortunately, our dean of students decided to have Checkers that day as well, and the inevitable confrontation took place when he drove up and saw them all sitting around. In the end, 13 students (which was 43 percent of our senior class) were suspended for giving into the allure of the bowling alley.

It's truly a magical place in the hearts and minds of many.

(Matt Bollinger also has some stories about the great things his class did in College Park instead of going to service, but I'll let him tell them.)
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:52 pm

salamanca wrote:what we are really here to talk about is Khon Hoc.


Yes, yes we are.

I played Khon Hoc IV and V.

-The first three tossups of Khon Hoc IV were "Cone," "hoc," and "four."

-I did surprisingly well on the "beers of the world" theme packet

-One of these Khon Hocs had contributions from Josh Allen. Players could earn superpowers by following a correct tossup response with "Josh wrote this tossup!" (However, identifying a non-Josh-written tossup as written by Josh earned a neg regardless of the actual response.)

Stats from Khon Hoc IV, including the Khon Points from the halftime games

Khon's report on Khon Hoc II
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Rufous-capped Thornbill » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:32 pm

Someone needs to find these question sets.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby grapesmoker » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:36 pm

Inkana7 wrote:Someone needs to find these question sets.


Berkeley used to have many boxes of printed sets. I wonder if those still exist and if they do, whether the contain any Khon Hoc.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Cheynem » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:45 pm

Some of Khon Hoc (1997) is on the Stanford Archive, although it seems fairly nondescript from what I can parse. Perhaps it was crazier the first year?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby jonah » Thu Apr 17, 2014 2:57 pm

Cheynem wrote:Some of Khon Hoc (1997) is on the Stanford Archive, although it seems fairly nondescript from what I can parse. Perhaps it was crazier the first year?
In case anyone else is having trouble finding them, they're just listed under 1997 Ad Hoc Bowl II.

grapesmoker wrote:
Inkana7 wrote:Someone needs to find these question sets.
Berkeley used to have many boxes of printed sets. I wonder if those still exist and if they do, whether the contain any Khon Hoc.
I believe it is those boxes that Jeff gave me to scan. They didn't contain anything that I could identify as Khon Hoc, although there were a number of packets that I couldn't identify at all.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:06 pm

Believe me, late-stage Khon Hoc is very identifiable.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby grapesmoker » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:08 pm

bird bird bird bird bird wrote:Believe me, late-stage Khon Hoc is very identifiable.


I presume one of the symptoms is bleeding eyes.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Thu Apr 17, 2014 3:28 pm

I'm glad Andrew brought up the old Tennessee Master's tournaments, which I played a bunch in the early 90s. Don Windham and Carol Guthrie were the de facto deans of quiz bowl in the South in the late 80s and early 90s, and Carol and others would write the Tennessee packets, while Don, her husband (one of two spouses, unofficially, but I reckon that's for another thread!) played with his Legion of Super Heroes (often including Robert Trent, sometimes Charlie Steinhice, etc.), as Andrew noted.

But I wanted specifically to provide a brief anecdote about my first encounter with this so-called "Andrew Yaphe." I had come to Orlando to teach at Valencia in '93 and didn't do any playing for a few years, as I was no longer a student and in those pre-internet days often didn't even know when or if the TN Master's was happening. But in '97 I came back with Raj Dhuwalia and two of my former Valencia players, figuring on taking some beatings but having some fun.

Of course, I had no idea who Andrew was at this time, but before we played them I heard his team was steamrolling people, which they proceeded to do to us. At some point in the second half, my team still had exactly zero points, so I whispered to Raj, "I'm going to just neg the next goddamned question just so we're on the board." The next toss-up began, "This creature had one vein running from his head to his heel"--at which point Andrew (I assume it was Andrew, anyway) buzzed in correctly with "Talos." I was so pissed that I couldn't even neg faster than this kid could answer right!

Now, obviously, that clue isn't that hard to me now, as I'm sure it's not to most, but the game was much different then, and I hadn't heard of any stinking Talos. But that tournament and an open held at South Carolina the next year, followed by the first Chicago Open, inspired me to start trying to get good at quiz bowl again (ha ha i know what you're thinking shut up).
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:12 pm

Now that we've done justice to Khon Hoc, perhaps it's time to extend these reminiscences into the current century. Here are a few more off-the-cuff recollections of the next chunk of quizbowl history.

After 2000, I decided to scale back a bit--for the next year or so, I only played a few tournaments where I knew I could hang out with Zeke, Subash, and other friends. In particular, I decided that four consecutive ACF titles was enough, and called an end (for what turned out to be the time being) to my ACF playing career. I did play ICT in 2001, leading a somewhat ragtag Chicago team to the title. My fondest memories of that tournament was the ladder play, in which we kept alternately beating Michigan A and Michigan B, who would then play each other for the right to play us again, only to be defeated by us again. That tournament also had one of the most hilarious finals I can recall, in which each team seemed determined to neg itself out of the championship--I think the Adam/Zeke Michigan team had something like eight negs in the game, after which Andy Goss excitedly rushed up to the stage and proclaimed (unironically) that it was the "best quizbowl match he had ever seen," to the bewilderment of all who had actually participated in it.

That summer, I finally got to play a Chicago Open, having turned the editorial reins over to Subash. Zeke and I teamed up with Dave Hamilton and Mike Angel, whose impressive knowledge of plays helped us prevail. That summer also featured one of the greatest tournaments ever held, the Artaud Tournament of Cruelty. Zeke and I somehow won despite continuously breaking into peals of laughter over the questions; I suspect that he will have much more to say about it.

Following those 2001 summer tournaments, I basically left the game for the next two years. I don't think I played any tournaments until 2003's Chicago Open, and even then, I was roped in by accident--I wasn't planning to play, but somebody (Adam?) dropped from Zeke's team at the last minute, and I filled in as an emergency replacement.

Since Chris Borglum is so fond of crowing about his team's triumph over us at this CO, I feel I should explain the mitigating circumstances. That year, Subash had taken a part-time job at Bloomingdale's, not because he needed the money (he was independently wealthy) but because he wanted to get an employee discount (for reasons best known to him). Just before CO, he gave me a very nice espresso machine as a present, and I had the bright idea to lug it from my apartment to CO so we could have all the free espresso we wanted during games. Until that tournament, I had always assumed that Zeke and I shared an equivalent tolerance to caffeine; in the course of the tournament, however, we learned otherwise. Our "double espressos after every round" regimen proved unfortunate, as Zeke started negging uncontrollably in the afternoon (including, as I recall, each of the last five tossups in our game against Borglum's team). Zeke was so wrecked that he was unable to eat during our traditional post-tournament dinner at Tango Sur, the beloved Argentinian restaurant on the North Side--to this day, the only time I have ever seen him incapable of eating steak!

Having been dragged back in to the game, my friendship with Subash (who was now a student at Chicago) kept me in the game. We played a number of tournaments together over the next two years, including, most memorably, ACF nats in 2004. In terms of pure talent, this was obviously a great team--I suspect that no other team has featured two players as talented as myself and Subash. But we were very lackadaisical: I had taken the previous two years off, and we were so good that we never felt pressured to do more than show up, buzz a lot, and win.

After we combined to win ACF nats in 2004, Subash and I decided to split forces for the following year--I decided to edit ACF nats, while Subash edited ICT. I don't say this to devalue Michigan's accomplishments in 2005, but rather to observe that this was an era devoid of "elder statesmen" who could edit national-level tournaments to be played by the younger generation. Between 2004 and 2007, the only way for a nationals to get edited was for one of me, Zeke, and Subash to step away from playing and take responsibility. I think that fact may have informed some of the gloomier predictions about the future of the game from that era, including Paul's oft-noticed one.

While speaking of this area, I should pause to celebrate the 2005 MLK, which was the apotheosis of Fred Bush's playing career, as his Rochester team won over a field that included a Subash-led Chicago team (which finished second) and a me-led Chicago team (which finished third). If my memory serves, that tournament was the only one between my last year at Virginia and my first year at Stanford (i.e., from 1998 to 2008) in which a team with me on it finished out of the top two--a list that includes everything from CO, ACF nats, and ICT, to a wide variety of circuit events, to oddball affairs like Chicago's in-house theme tournaments.

Anyway, that's all I have time for at the moment. I hope this will prompt some other veterans of those early-2000s tournaments (especially the delightful Kleist and Artaud!) to regale us with further anecdotes of those halcyon days.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:51 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I hope this will prompt some other veterans of those early-2000s tournaments (especially the delightful Kleist and Artaud!) to regale us with further anecdotes of those halcyon days.

Oh my god, please do. These posts are fantastic--thanks for making them!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby vinteuil » Thu Apr 24, 2014 6:39 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Our "double espressos after every round" regimen proved unfortunate.

Paging Max Schinder
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Mewto55555 » Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:27 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Our "double espressos after every round" regimen proved unfortunate.

Paging Max Schinder


What do you need, Jacob Red?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Fri Apr 25, 2014 7:07 am

Since Chris Borglum is so fond of crowing about his team's triumph over us at this CO,


I am indeed fond of crowing about that win, Andrew, but I hope you understand that's because I was on a team that beat a team that had you, Zeke, and David Hamilton on it (was Paul Litvak the fourth? Can't remember). And I picked up a "Ten Days That Shook the World" toss-up after you negged in a buzzer race with me for it. We appreciate the largesse! But any kind of win against such a historically formidable line-up is something I'll cherish, even if y'all weren't at the top of your respective games. It's a compliment, not that you need it!

That CO win came the same year my Valencia team beat a Lafer-led Michigan team in a DII semi-final at ICT and then lost the DII final to a Vinokurov-led Berkeley team: a good year!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby AuguryMarch » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:44 am

Ok, since I've been asked to recount the Kleist and Artaud, here you go....

The Kleist was the culmination of the "Summer of Paul", a Seinfeldian and Berdichevskian attempt by me to get good at quizbowl and bite into a block of cheese like an apple. With incoming freshman phenom Ben Heller, Mark Calaguas (more on him below), Canadian David Thorsley and of course, the inconstant Noel Erinjeri, we wrote and put the tournament together, having pretty much no idea what we were doing. This led to a very strange mix of questions...

For instance, Mark wrote a 14 line tossup on Fela Kuti (less well-known back then) and when it went dead in all the rooms shrugged and said, "but he's the James Brown of Nigeria!" Another memorable tossup was in the finals between Ezequiel and Andrew's teams. A very close match, one of the final tossups was on the Brannock device (another Mark special). As I am reading line after line about its various models, its invention, John Edwards (on Andrew's team) finally buzzes in and says "It's the shoe thing!" I prompt him (as you do), and of course, he can't come up with its name. The game goes to overtime and Ezequiel wins the match on a Kazantzakis tossup, leading Andrew to exclaim "Benet's!", though I don't think the clue in question was from Benet's. The round ends, we are discussing it, and Haggai (from Ezequiel's team) starts ranting about John's Brannock buzz. "Of course it was the shoe thing! Everyone in the room knew that! But it's not like you are going to pull the name if you don't know it... why buzz? You are just throwing points away!" Haggai was frequently concerned that someone, somewhere was throwing points away. Oh also in an earlier round I pronounced Anatole France as "Anatoly Frank", which made Andrew laugh a lot. Learning!

After all the success of the Kleist and our play at ACF and NAQT that year (B team finishing 3rd at both--I think you can make the case that we were the best B-team of all time) Ben and I decided to up the ante and write the Antonin Artaud Tournament of Cruelty. The original plan was to have it in a hotel room where teams stay, block out the windows so you wouldn't know what time it was, wake people at random hours to ask them a tossup, not tell anyone the scores of any of the games, basically turn the game into a phantasmagoric experience. Eventually we backed off that idea in favor of just asking (what at the time were) some hard ass questions and having a spicy salsa tasting, because Ezequiel makes really good and spicy salsa (I had forgotten about this until Ezequiel reminded me recently). Also Mark and Ben wrote a lot of ridiculous bonus leadins about me--I think that was peak inside joke in bonus leadin. Oh, we did also make it two man teams, because if you are going to have the hardest tournament of all time, it should be played in pairs (also not that many people were actually playing). Though everyone remembers the extreme amount of social science--it ended up including close to 3/3, that was only because Noel didn't give us enough science questions, forcing us at the last minute to substitute what we had.

Then the tournament play itself was noteworthy for a few reasons. First, Subash was set to play with Vik Vaz (an incredible natural player, btw--don't know why history has forgotten about him), but Vik's flight was cancelled the day before. Subash, Andrew, Ezequiel and I were all playing basketball together (Suby's ankles... another NBA what-if-- also Andrew is the Steve Kerr of quizbowl basketball--sneaky good spot up jumper) when we got the word, and Subash ended up spending the rest of the afternoon on the phone trying to arrange him transport. Subash would yell ridiculous things into the phone like "I will charter a plane if I have to", but I think we ended up finding a flight that got Vik in early Saturday morning and flew him out early Sunday morning (As an aside, Vik slept in my armchair that night--I gave him a 20 for the cab to the airport and then 2 months later I got a hand-written check from his mom--it was really charming). The tournament itself went off well--Andrew and Ezequiel were particularly amused by it, and easily won. We also had the salsa tasting between rounds, . Noel dumped a bunch of Dave's Insanity Sauce into some jarred salsa and made someone ill for eating it (someone threw up, I can't remember who). That night many of the teams and writers got drunk on the porch of the house I lived in, and a college friend who fancied himself a literary man came over and started declaiming about various books, like Richard Power's Galatea 2.2 is a work of genius, that sort of thing. Andrew would then drunkenly and caustically deride whatever author he would bring up, much to Ezequiel's drunken delight (Richard Powers? He's crap!). I believe that night culminated with me exclaiming that Lyotard was a Reotard (apologies for the offenses).

Also I'm glad Andrew brought up Mike Angel's play knowledge--he (primarily a science player) was always reading plays because he claimed the ratio of material to quizbowl question was really low. That Illinois team was so full of spite--he and Chris Vicich were especially full of sarcasm and snark--I very much enjoyed playing against them.

Finally to set the record straight about that CO, I'm afraid to say this, but it actually wasn't Ezequiel negging all those tossups against Chris' team in the final--it was Andrew. It was very memorable to us because a) that was the only time I've seen Andrew play badly and b) since my knowledge was largely a subset of Ezequiel and Andrew's at the time, it was very frustrating to be negged so early out of the humanities that I knew a few clues later. Also our fourth was a very rusty Ben Heller, freshly returned from his exchange in England.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby grapesmoker » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:30 am

I demand salsa tastings at future opens.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Fri Apr 25, 2014 9:35 am

Ah, so no Dave Hamilton on that team. Sorry! I never remember tournament details correctly.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:56 am

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Since Chris Borglum is so fond of crowing about his team's triumph over us at this CO, I feel I should explain the mitigating circumstances. That year, Subash had taken a part-time job at Bloomingdale's, not because he needed the money (he was independently wealthy) but because he wanted to get an employee discount (for reasons best known to him). Just before CO, he gave me a very nice espresso machine as a present, and I had the bright idea to lug it from my apartment to CO so we could have all the free espresso we wanted during games. Until that tournament, I had always assumed that Zeke and I shared an equivalent tolerance to caffeine; in the course of the tournament, however, we learned otherwise. Our "double espressos after every round" regimen proved unfortunate, as Zeke started negging uncontrollably in the afternoon (including, as I recall, each of the last five tossups in our game against Borglum's team). Zeke was so wrecked that he was unable to eat during our traditional post-tournament dinner at Tango Sur, the beloved Argentinian restaurant on the North Side--to this day, the only time I have ever seen him incapable of eating steak!


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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Susan » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:01 pm

If I'm remembering this Chicago Open correctly (we're talking about 2003, right?) it was the one where Ed Cohn, Matt Reece, and I were thrilled to defeat Kelly/Seth/Raj/Chris, Andrew/Ezequiel/Paul/Ben, and R/Tom Waters/Eric Hillemann (although, somewhat less thrillingly, we ended up in fourth place behind them). This was by no means the biggest upset I have ever participated in*, nor was it the most satisfying**, but it was exciting at the time.

*defeating an Andrew/Subash/Seth Teitler/Ed team while playing with Laura Kirkpatrick, Selene Koo,and David Press at Beaver Bonspiel a very long time ago
**at a tournament an even longer time ago, when I was playing on a very mediocre Chicago B team, I walked into a room to hear my team's next opponent debating by how many points they expected to beat us in the upcoming round (it was a large number). To everyone's surprise, we beat them; this ended up causing them to lose the tournament when it forced a final between them and our A team, which the A team won.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby MLafer » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:19 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:
Since Chris Borglum is so fond of crowing about his team's triumph over us at this CO,


I am indeed fond of crowing about that win, Andrew, but I hope you understand that's because I was on a team that beat a team that had you, Zeke, and David Hamilton on it (was Paul Litvak the fourth? Can't remember). And I picked up a "Ten Days That Shook the World" toss-up after you negged in a buzzer race with me for it. We appreciate the largesse! But any kind of win against such a historically formidable line-up is something I'll cherish, even if y'all weren't at the top of your respective games. It's a compliment, not that you need it!

That CO win came the same year my Valencia team beat a Lafer-led Michigan team in a DII semi-final at ICT and then lost the DII final to a Vinokurov-led Berkeley team: a good year!


I played D2 in 2002 and that happened in 2003 so your memory is faulty there, Borglum (sadly, i think I'm being mistaken for Chris Frankel).

And thanks for that post, Paul, finally we have all of your amazing (non-ham related) anecdotes written down for posterity.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:29 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:
Since Chris Borglum is so fond of crowing about his team's triumph over us at this CO,


I am indeed fond of crowing about that win, Andrew, but I hope you understand that's because I was on a team that beat a team that had you, Zeke, and David Hamilton on it (was Paul Litvak the fourth? Can't remember). And I picked up a "Ten Days That Shook the World" toss-up after you negged in a buzzer race with me for it. We appreciate the largesse! But any kind of win against such a historically formidable line-up is something I'll cherish, even if y'all weren't at the top of your respective games. It's a compliment, not that you need it!

That CO win came the same year my Valencia team beat a Lafer-led Michigan team in a DII semi-final at ICT and then lost the DII final to a Vinokurov-led Berkeley team: a good year!


Where do you rank the "giant turkey leg" match on your all-time list of Chris Borglum victories?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Fri Apr 25, 2014 12:37 pm

Oh man, I remember that salsa!

Also I accept Paul's correction--I distinctly remember that Zeke negged the last five tossups of one of the games at that CO, but that may not have been the final. I take for granted that I too negged up a storm at that tournament due to sheer rustiness. Really, the important thing is that we belatedly tarnish Chris Borglum's sense of accomplishment.

Paul's basketball anecdotes remind me of my favorite quizbowl basketball memory. During one of those summers, when I was spending a week hanging out in Ann Arbor, Zeke and I went to the park to play some one-on-one. Because of Zeke's size advantage, we made the games a bit more even by decreeing that he couldn't guard me beyond the 3-point line. As we were playing, a homeless guy wandered over to the court to watch and comment on our game. After I hit a couple of unguarded threes, he became agitated and started yelling at Zeke, who simply grimaced in reply. I proceeded to win the game on nothing but open threes, over the homeless guy's increasingly loud cries of "guard him! come on, guard him!" Finally, he spit on the court and walked off in disgust. Good times!

Also, I've (apparently) said it before, so I'll say it again--Richard Powers is crap.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby vinteuil » Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:14 pm

AuguryMarch wrote:For instance, Mark wrote a 14 line tossup on Fela Kuti

I was born how many years too late??
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Rococo A Go Go » Fri Apr 25, 2014 3:09 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I demand salsa tastings at future opens.


This might be the one thing that gets me to play open tournaments!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Fri Apr 25, 2014 4:21 pm

I played D2 in 2002 and that happened in 2003 so your memory is faulty there, Borglum (sadly, i think I'm being mistaken for Chris Frankel).


Gugh. Here, there, and everywhere, apparently. And my apologies if I crossed you with Chris Frankel; you certainly don't deserve that.

Really, the important thing is that we belatedly tarnish Chris Borglum's sense of accomplishment.


That you're even trying makes me feel that much better about it!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby icarium » Sun Apr 27, 2014 9:49 pm

I check this board every couple of months as a matter of routine, but this has been the only thread that has created any desire on my part to post. So here follow some of my most distinct playing memories, though you'll have to forgive me if i get the dates wrong as I've never been good with that sort of thing.

Illinois days (99-00 Season):

This was perhaps the most immature collection of individuals I have ever been around, and I'm counting myself as part of that group. There was Vishnu and his contempt for pretty much everything, which doesn't seem unusual given his late 90s Maryland roots I guess; Chris Vicich, who oozed sarcasm and spite; and Mike Angel, our captain, whose friendly Midwestern face usually concealed the malice that drove him to play. Oh also there was the nice but somewhat annoying Dom Ricci, a former MIT player, who grew to be irrationally despised by almost all members of the team. I remember we played tackle football one weekend before the season started, and I think poor Dom got leveled multiple times before he called it a day; no one else got hit by the way. There were several memorable tournaments that we attended that year and they included -
1. Philly Experiment - This happened the summer before I joined the team and Mike, Chris, and I (can't remember our 4th sadly) drove from Champaign-Urbana to Philly to participate. This was also the tournament that resulted in Andy Goss's legendary and somewhat self-delusional post-tournament recap, which featured a match-by-match breakdown that also noted some of Goss's finer (from his perspective) buzzes. 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. Also our team name was Samer's Evil Twin, which began my years-long on and off again attempts to troll Samer, a guy who was such a douche that he often kept his moderating "stats" on the chalkboard in his room.
2. An Iowa Theme Tournament - In an episode I'd like to forget, some members of our team destroyed several pieces of furniture in an episode of rage following a round we lost in large part due to a "Buzzer Race Lit" theme packet. We were an angry and unlikeable group of young men.
3. Illinifest - Speaking of things I'd like to forget - this was supposed to be a tournament written by me, which suffered from the fatal flaw that it wasn't all written by the time the tournament started. Those feelings of shame and guilt as I sat in a reference room upstairs frantically trying to churn out packets to keep up (which failed miserably) are still unfortunately very vivid as I write this. I think Chicago and Michigan ended up having a coin toss to decide the winner. After apologizing to the attendees over the next few weeks, I refunded everyone's money including 3 Boys and a Goy, who I would next encounter at a Wash. U. tourney about a month later. Before our match started one of them needled me by claiming that he hoped all the rounds had been written for that day. Despite having no defense, I wasn't amused and struck a blow for 20-somethings by proceeding to go 15-0 that round and shutting them up.
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.
5. Terrapin - Mike, Chris and I drove to College Park to partake. I don't remember the tournament, but I do remember crashing at a Maryland player's apartment and some guy on the team talking mad shit about his skills at Tecmo Bowl. I took my Giants and LT who, despite popular opinion, was better than Bo and rolled face.
6. ICT - The best part of this tournament, which Andrew alluded to in one of his posts, was the post tournament celebration at a local bar at which some random Georgia dude bought us multiple rounds of drinks. I just remember being really drunk and really happy to be in the company of friends.

This is taking longer than I'd anticipated, so I'll finish up in a day or two.

Oh, and one other thing - does this Marshall Steinbaum fellow have any friends?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby grapesmoker » Sun Apr 27, 2014 10:06 pm

icarium wrote:Also our team name was Samer's Evil Twin, which began my years-long on and off again attempts to troll Samer, a guy who was such a douche that he often kept his moderating "stats" on the chalkboard in his room.


Ahahaha I totally remember this from various ICTs!
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby themanwho » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:17 am

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.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:46 pm

Oh man, I completely forgot that Illinois tournament! No need for Subash to feel any retrospective self-reproach, as that was a delightful affair that produced what Mike Zarren used to trumpet as his all-time greatest quizbowl achievement: namely, correctly calling the coinflip that resulted in our winning the tournament over Michigan.

Also, I can't remember now, but that might have been the first tournament at which we were introduced to the charms of Monical's in scenic Rantoul, Illinois. The sight of Subash grandly ordering a Monical's waitress to bring another round of pepperoni pockets (or whatever the things were called) is one of my favorite post-Illinois-tournament memories.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby theMoMA » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:50 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Also, I can't remember now, but that might have been the first tournament at which we were introduced to the charms of Monical's in scenic Rantoul, Illinois. The sight of Subash grandly ordering a Monical's waitress to bring another round of pepperoni pockets (or whatever the things were called) is one of my favorite post-Illinois-tournament memories.


Rantoul! Maybe at some point I will supplement this thread with my favorite recollections of that fine city.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby AuguryMarch » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:20 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Also, I can't remember now, but that might have been the first tournament at which we were introduced to the charms of Monical's in scenic Rantoul, Illinois. The sight of Subash grandly ordering a Monical's waitress to bring another round of pepperoni pockets (or whatever the things were called) is one of my favorite post-Illinois-tournament memories.


PEPPEROLLIES

Also wasn't there some joke around Lorin Burte from 3 Boys and a Goy wearing a T-shirt that said "SLAM!"? I remember yelling "SLAM" a lot for no reason.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:39 pm

AuguryMarch wrote:Also wasn't there some joke around Lorin Burte from 3 Boys and a Goy wearing a T-shirt that said "SLAM!"? I remember yelling "SLAM" a lot for no reason.

That was Victor Rosenberg, who I have never met and have nothing but received knowledge of.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:33 pm

Indeed, I was told it was Victor Rosenberg when asking why someone had written the word SLAM! next to his name in the stats from the 2006 Terrapin, one of the final tournaments where the 3 Boys showed up. They seemed to lose interest in quizbowl right before the movement to stop letting arbitrary open teams play during in-season events was about to begin anyway.

I haven't posted in this thread because I have no good anecdotes from the real wild west days of quizbowl pre-2000 -- my college career began with two years at Pitt in the early part of the 21st century, under the leadership of fairly sensible people who did not take the team to a lot of events full of entertainingly dysfunctional personalities, and by the time I resumed my college education and quizbowl career at VCU in 2005, things were well on their way to the comparatively rational and well-behaved quizbowl universe that we enjoy today. All of the best lunatic behavior I saw was in the context of the pre-reform era of high school quizbowl, which is perhaps best suited for another thread. With that said, I am enjoying the tales here as much as anyone and I hope that more people who were around in the truly insane 70s, 80s, and 90s can be tracked down and persuaded to post here.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:00 pm

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.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:20 pm

One thing this thread is missing is a discussion of CBI, which I assume is just a vague rumor to the current generation of players.

Jerry posted something sensible recently in which he remarked that contemporary discussions of "quizbowl philosophy" are sort of otiose, since all the real battles have already been won. I thought that was entirely correct. When I see people posting about their rather finicky preferences for one genre of modern tossup over another, I can't help but compare them to our knock-down debates of the '90s, when apologists for CBI actually stalked the land and we had to have bona fide debates about whether "variable value bonuses" were acceptable. Believe me, you kids today have no idea how good you have it!

But I was going to reminisce about CBI. Mercifully, I have forgotten all of the CBI regionals I played at Virginia, though I was always charmed by the variety of other ACUI-run tournaments that were held concurrently with them. (One year a Virginia teammate and I finished second in the school's intramural spades tournament, and thus narrowly missed being confronted with the question of whether we would play CBI regionals or spades regionals. Yes, the latter was an actual thing.)

My freshman year, we drove to godforsaken Akron for CBI nats. This was the year we were coached by an asshole CBI partisan who would "prepare" us for the tournament by conducting special "CBI practices," which as I recall mostly involved him behaving arbitrarily (negging us for no reason, taking very long pauses before recognizing us, etc.) to prepare us for actual CBI gameplay. In retrospect, and considering the quality of moderators at CBI tournaments, that was probably a sound approach! My chief memory of this tournament is that we had a "curfew" which I, of course, entirely ignored; after our coach ran into me and a teammate hanging out with other teams at a Saturday evening party, he decided to "bench" us both the next morning, to the bewilderment of the teams we were playing. (I particularly recall a bemused R. Hentzel, then of Iowa State, happily defeating the residuum of the Virginia team.) The rest of this tournament is lost to memory.

The next year, we went to Tempe for nats. We made the finals, but lost on the last tossup to Michigan (which, at the time, was much more of a CBI partisan team than it would be after Zeke showed up for grad school). I distinctly remember the last two bonuses of the finals. Michigan got both of the last two tossups, and was rewarded with consecutive 25-point, one-part bonuses. The first was on Spenser's "Colin Clout's Come Home Again" (seriously!). Michigan had no idea what that was, unsurprisingly. The next one was on the equity firm KKR--the bonus told you the initials and some other stuff, and asked you what three words it stood for. Michigan knew that one just fine, and barely won the tournament on it. I could not make these things up if I tried. Possibly the greatest thing about this tournament, however, is that I rode behind Dikembe Mutombo on a people mover at the Las Vegas airport during a stopover. CBI can never take that away from me!

Finally, in my junior year, we went to Montclair State for nats. (If nothing else, CBI really showed you the world.) This was the tournament that had Herb Stempel making a special appearance (I skipped it); it also had the long-awaited "forum," in which CBI flunkies blithely lied to us. We narrowly beat a Jeff Johnson-led Harvard team in the finals to win, after which my teammate Brian Rostron started screaming "justice!" before he fell off the stage accidentally. I have, mercifully, forgotten most of the nonsense of the tournament itself. But in its aftermath, I did manage to convince the rest of the Virginia team that there was no reason for us to keep playing this asinine format; we deaffiliated from CBI shortly after winning the tournament, which I like to think contributed substantially to the format's decline and eventual disappearance.

There are lots of other things to say about the CBI era, though--again--I have probably forgotten most of them. But, for present purposes, it is worth remembering that we used to have passionate arguments about things like "every bonus should be worth the same number of points" and "every tossup should be pyramidal, and shouldn't take a surprise 'twist' to punish people who buzz early." It's hard to believe now, but these were actually open questions in the mid-'90s!

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. (In the '97 all-star game, as I recall, me and Jeff Johnson ended up on the same team vs. a Sheahan-led team; we pounded them into the ground, to Sheahan's obvious dismay.) To my knowledge, the only time this has happened at an ACF nats/ICT was the '99 ACF nats, where my team finished so far ahead of the field that there was a free packet on which to play an all-star game (featuring me, Subash, Dave Hamilton, and others). Obviously it's hard to generate sufficient packets to pull this off, but it is a very amusing experience--this is the only CBI tradition that I am saddened to see go.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Mewto55555 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:26 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: The first was on Spenser's "Colin Clout's Come Home Again" (seriously!). Michigan had no idea what that was, unsurprisingly.


Amazingly, this came up in practice less than an hour ago when we were playing some early 90s packets; it was presciently noted that "Yaphe probably knows what that shit is."
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Rococo A Go Go » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:58 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:(One year a Virginia teammate and I finished second in the school's intramural spades tournament, and thus narrowly missed being confronted with the question of whether we would play CBI regionals or spades regionals. Yes, the latter was an actual thing.)


This sounds a bit like the last SCT I went to during the NAQT-ACUI partnership. I know we all witnessed the performances of the award-winners in the poetry slam competition during the awards ceremony.

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:We narrowly beat a Jeff Johnson-led Harvard team in the finals to win, after which my teammate Brian Rostron started screaming "justice!" before he fell off the stage accidentally.


If there's anything to be said for the advancements of video technologies and cell phones, it will be that similar events to this will hopefully be preserved in future years.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Postby Important Bird Area » Tue Apr 29, 2014 12:04 am

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.
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