The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NAQT

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The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NAQT

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:47 am

Now that I'm on my way out of collegiate quizbowl, it's time to tell the full story of what went down on the Chicago quizbowl team in 2012, up to, including, and beyond Shantanu's "hinting" answers to the 2012 ICT. I should say that I believe I have a complete understanding of the events, but it's possible parts of the following are not complete. Notably, I was not directly a party to some of the key conversations between NAQT and the Chicago club's board.

Shantanu returned from his four terms of "study abroad" (i.e., academic leave) in the spring of 2011, several weeks before ACF Nationals 2011. There was an agonizing period in which Selene, Jimmy Ready, and I tried to get him to play on the team for that, and he refused to commit, essentially for no reason. In the summer of 2012, there was a lengthy (and, in retrospect, amusing) courtship during which Ike, Sam, and I tried to persuade him to edit and write for Peaceful Resolution, which he ultimately also refused to participate in with his infamous "GJR-GARCH" email. During the academic year 2011-2012, Shantanu seemed to re-involve himself in Peaceful Resolution, to the point that he promised several individual writers he would take on their assignments, only to do nothing. At Pennbowl 2012, which we played at Northwestern, he approached Ike about overthrowing me as co-editor. I finally confronted him in practice and openly accused him of lying to me about his writing progress.

Things went downhill from there. When discussing Nationals A team composition early in the year, he had said the two of us would play together and we had conducted practice on that basis, but around February, as I was up against PR and pretty much writing it full time, he started maneuvering to have me removed from the A team. I was told the board did not agree with that move, but while I was spending my umpteenth late evening in Regenstein writing questions, I received an all-club email informing me I wouldn't be part of the ACF Nationals A team lineup. I immediately flew into a rage, biked home, and told the board if that lineup prevailed, I would play neither national tournament and seriously consider walking away from PR (a tournament the club had agreed to write as part of our post-Seth-and-Selene team development, but which not one member of the proposed A team was involved in writing or editing, and which Shantanu had tried to sabotage.) Ultimately I told them I wouldn't do that only thanks to the commitment I'd made to Ike and to the rest of the community that had made plans to play it. But I told the board that would be my last involvement with Chicago quizbowl.

Following that, Tyler Smith agreed to withdraw from the A team, though he was our only science player, and the team of me, Shantanu, Daichi, and Matt Menard was agreed on. For ICT, which Shantanu was prohibited from playing thanks to prior editing commitments to NAQT, the lineup was to be me, Tyler, Daichi, and Doug. During the four weeks between Peaceful Resolution and ICT, Shantanu apparently conducted several private "practices" with what he referred to as the "Core A team," namely himself, Daichi, and Matt. The Thursday afternoon before ICT, Michael Arnold arrived in Chicago and several of us went out to an early dinner before practice. When we returned, Shantanu was in the midst of reading ICT packets to the team, and a question on the Second Vatican Council came up. After it was answered, possibly by me, Shantanu muttered something along the lines of "fuck that bullshit," to which I replied "Ohhhhhhh, that's right, you're pretending to be Catholic." Shantanu first got quiet, then became enraged at length, and after a very awkward rest of the practice multiple teammates, including Marnold, said I ought to apologize in the interest of team unity. A compromise was engineered in which he reciprocally apologized for saying that the occasion on which the Catholic Church finally abandoned the Blood Libel was bullshit, but the situation remained awkward for the next two days, to the point that we abandoned our plan to play the Guerilla tournament following ICT as a team, which was intended as practice for ACF Nationals.

This was, of course, the time during which Shantanu was looking at the ICT set repeatedly despite having nothing to do with its editing. I believe the hints he gave that were thereafter connected directly to tournament questions were all given on the morning of ICT itself, in the car he took to the tournament and during the milling-around before it began, but I strongly suspect there were other attempts by him, though perhaps not understood at the time. In my mind, there is no doubt why he did it: he wanted to establish the team's dependence on him and he wanted other players to get good buzzes thanks, they would assume, to the time they spent preparing with him.

In any case, it was clear during the prelims to the players who had ridden with him to the tournament that he had hinted directly at question lead-ins, and when they had a chance, Matt and Jimmy approached Selene and then Seth and told him of their suspicions. I'm not sure if I heard the first inklings of this before or after Selene and Seth were told, but it was sometime during tournament play. (During which Chicago A had the in-retrospect-surreal experience of winning a match against MIT by five points, due to four or five Josh Alman powers, allowing us to make the top bracket.... UPDATE 4/3/2014: I'm about 75% certain this match was moderated by Andy Watkins.)

Following the playoff rounds, Jimmy and Matt were questioned by NAQT's higher management about the specific circumstances surrounding the questions that had been hinted and told "that sounds suspicious, but we don't have any concrete evidence." The two of them reported back to the rest of the board and to me during the finals of ICT, and afterward everyone went to dinner, including Shantanu, Daichi, Marnold, David Seal, Seth, Selene, and Andrew Yaphe.

During NHB the following day, Seth emailed Jimmy that several of the clues Jimmy had given to the NAQT brass the day before did in fact turn up elsewhere in the set, and Matt provided a couple of other examples of Shantanu's hints that he'd remembered--all of them corresponded to clues in the set.

It's also slightly relevant to report that following ICT and especially NHB, Shantanu had embarked on yet another round of A-team-composition machinations. He said that Charles Tian's excellent performance at that tournament qualified him for a spot on the A team, and that Matt should be kicked off it. Needless to say, that infuriated Matt. I now think Shantanu had planned something like this since February: since Matt was the only member of the board who was also an A team candidate, he would suggest a team that included Matt and not me, and then try to have Matt kicked off later so the eventual composition would be him, Daichi, Charles, and probably Tyler. In order to put Shantanu off his impending doom, I pretended to agree in part with that plan: we should play a five-person team, and I told Daichi to suggest that solution to Matt, which he did in an email that asked Matt to consider the idea "in good faith."

Sometime during the day on Sunday, I forget precisely when, I learned from elsewhere that 1. NAQT had the capability to monitor activity in Shantanu's editing account, and 2. NAQT had in fact established that Shantanu had repeatedly accessed the set in the weeks and especially the days leading up to the tournament. As far as I and the other board members were concerned, this was a smoking gun. What followed between Sunday evening (April 1, 2012) and Tuesday evening (April 3) was an email correspondence between Jimmy, Matt, and NAQT regarding the appropriate action to be taken thenceforward. Specifically, Andrew Yaphe wrote that
1. it was "almost certain that Shantanu engaged in activities that *should* be described as cheating,"
2. it was incompetent and pointless cheating, and
3. the evidence was "scant and circumstantial" and wouldn't justify taking further action against Chicago as a team.

The board and I did not agree that the evidence was scant and circumstantial--quite the contrary. Matt and Jimmy asked NAQT if they had investigated Shantanu's account activity (without revealing that we already knew they had), and NAQT pointedly never confirmed that or denied it. In retrospect, my interpretation of NAQT's position and strategy is that they believed the Chicago board was concerned primarily with not revealing our (unwitting) complicity in cheating, and that once NAQT determined for itself the actions didn't materially affect the outcome of the tournament or the awarding of a national championship, they were offering not to reveal what had happened, thinking that is what we wanted.

I considered this chain of events frustrating and inadequate, as it seemed to me that by not admitting their direct knowledge of Shantanu's inappropriate actions and through their seeming reluctance to do anything about the situation, NAQT was just hoping it would all go away by mutual consent. Furthermore, I had a family trip to Israel starting on the evening of Wednesday, April 4. At a meeting in my apartment on the Tuesday, the board and I agreed that Shantanu's actions could not be simply ignored, that even if we'd wanted to, it was likely that thanks to the large number of people who already knew something of the story, it would eventually come out. And if that happened, it would make the Chicago team look even worse, and justifiably so.

I should say frankly: I was implicitly threatening the board that **I** would reveal Shantanu's behavior if they did not want the team to do so as such, an action I never would have taken had I not already built up the grievances I described above. In order to back up that threat, I invited Doug Graebner (who was not then a board member) to my office on that Tuesday morning and told him what was going on, because I knew that as a man of integrity he would never even think of keeping the matter secret by mutual consent, and I wanted to create a sense of urgency on the part of the board members. In my opinion, the NAQT upper management, and Andrew Yaphe specifically, were trying (rather ham-fistedly) to use their age, experience, and quizbowl standing to intimidate the younger Chicago board members into not revealing that their company's trust was grossly misplaced and their tournament's security compromised.

[EDIT 4/3/2014: I've withdrawn the accusation of intimidation by Yaphe or anyone at NAQT; see below.]

At that Tuesday night meeting, the board agreed that Jimmy and Matt would email the NAQT people saying that whatever they chose to do, Chicago would explain what had happened at ICT to the community at large and that the two of them would first confront Daichi, then Shantanu. The next day I left for Israel, and when I finally re-connected to the internet on Friday morning I had an incredulous gchat from Ike Jose and saw the two HSQB posts from NAQT and from Chicago. I don't know exactly what transpired at NAQT regarding their eventual announcement, but I heard that at Chicago's team practice on the Thursday evening, Seth, Selene, and the board drafted Chicago's response to NAQT's rather cryptic initial announcement. I also heard that when Jimmy and Matt confronted Daichi, he claimed to have had his own suspicions about Shantanu's "hints," and that when they then confronted Shantanu, he lied disgracefully and at length, with each attempted explanation vitiated by the next round of evidence Jimmy and Matt confronted him with.

Thus ends the Secret History. I'm certainly not comfortable with all of my conduct during the affair: encouraging the late A team confusion to distract Shantanu and Daichi from their larger problems, manipulating Doug as part of a plan to shake the board into siding with my way of viewing things after previous attempts to persuade them against Shantanu by more straightforward means had failed, and threatening to expose NAQT's security problems and their attempted cover-up are not actions I would have anticipated being capable of in advance, but I realized afterward I didn't regret them given the circumstances and that brought me to a place of self-knowledge that has been, oddly, a comfort ever since. Mostly because I think I was correct that the threat Shantanu posed to everything good, right, and honest justified a drastic response, and because NAQT was unjustifiably complacent about its security problems. In the aftermath of the Alman and Watkins revelations, I tried to put some of the focus on the organization because my experience as recounted above suggested a company that was defensive when its integrity was brought into question, especially since the rumors about Watkins had been circulating for years (the period of Shantanu's fall was the first time I heard them) and the "investigation" NAQT undertook was obviously inadequate. Even if the means by which Shantanu accessed tournament material were quite different than the loophole exploited by Alman and Watkins, the jump to deny and sweep under the rug rather than investigate and come clean was present in both cases.

If anyone has any questions about or corrections to what appears here, I'd be happy to answer them.
Last edited by Tees-Exe Line on Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:58 am

For those interested in the sillier aspects of this story, I present the GJR-GARCH email:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by marnold » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:13 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For those interested in the sillier aspects of this story, I present the GJR-GARCH email:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:20 am

Apparently Shantanu wrote: I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
Man, he must have wrecked the SAT verbal
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:55 am

Shantanu wrote:I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
Ahahahahaha, oh my god, what a colossal asshole!

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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:58 am

that has to be self-aware parody, right?
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Muriel Axon » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:21 am

marnold wrote:"RANINE AND FLATULENT" FREE TO THE FIRST TAKER!
This raises a good question: Can frogs fart?
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:32 am

Muriel Axon wrote:
marnold wrote:"RANINE AND FLATULENT" FREE TO THE FIRST TAKER!
This raises a good question: Can frogs fart?
Marshall editing Peaceful Resolution
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:10 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For those interested in the sillier aspects of this story, I present the GJR-GARCH email:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
Requesting that this be known as the "fun with a thesaurus so I sound so fancy" email.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Cheynem » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:10 am

Lost in all the Shantanu assholery is Marshall's accusation that NAQT was effectively trying to sweep the Shantanu cheating thing under the rug. Does anyone from NAQT wish to comment further on this?
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by vinteuil » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:26 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For those interested in the sillier aspects of this story, I present the GJR-GARCH email:

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have little proclivity to place myself as the proximal cause of a consortio interruptus twixt this redoubtable coupling of editors. Indeed, it seems inimical to the intellectual harmony requisite for the production of a high quality tournament for me to spend the next few months plying my facility with GJR-GARCH models in liegelike service to the volatilities of mind of editors who have crystallized amenable allocations of responsibility.

Should such practical considerations seem insufficient, I shall establish my deeper misgivings. For if we defecate upon the principle of prima facie claims I know not what order might be imposed but that of vatic utterance. Gentlemen, you must therefore pardon my bafflement and my abjuration, for if a man's claim be silently usurped on the overeager velleities of a blackguard, he is surely less compromised in stupefied observation than in ductile abettings of sibilant machinators.

The excessive length of my silence is no doubt deserving of objurgation, but so far as the salient role was believed mine as recently as M. Bailey's missive of August 17, the problem of opacity now lies squarely upon you as does the burden of the impropriety I allege. It is possible I am so abhorrent, so obstinate yet erratic before the right and proper judgment of oracles whom I know not, that merely to inform me (or anyone else) of my deposition would have been vicious. But again I must beg your pardon, for I think such perfidious conduct more characteristic of some incontinent being, ranine and flatulent.

All of this is now past, and to all besides myself, irrelevant. Thus I prefer indifference; I am sure the tournament, though its genesis be too maculate for my taste, will be excellent.

Good day,
Shantanu
M. Bailey, by David Henry Shantanu
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:29 am

the happiest boy wrote:Requesting that this be known as the "fun with a thesaurus so I sound so fancy" email.
not uniquely identifying
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:33 am

Cheynem wrote:Lost in all the Shantanu assholery is Marshall's accusation that NAQT was effectively trying to sweep the Shantanu cheating thing under the rug. Does anyone from NAQT wish to comment further on this?
Yes, we will respond to this post. I plan on consulting the rest of NAQT's members and reviewing my email archive from April 2012 before I provide an official response.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:56 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:For those interested in the sillier aspects of this story, I present the GJR-GARCH email: [snip]
Yeah, wow.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:32 pm

Quizbowl history is the gift that keeps on giving.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill » Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:22 pm

marnold wrote:TEAM NAMES! GET YOUR TEAM NAMES, HERE! "RANINE AND FLATULENT" FREE TO THE FIRST TAKER!
I'm fond of "Ductile Abettings of Sibilant Machinators" myself.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:29 pm

Documents and commentary about this situation follow.

1. Our response to this was handled by NAQT's officers (a group that does not include Andrew). Andrew had essentially no communication with outside parties over this issue, either as a formal representative of NAQT or informally.

Here's the full text of Andrew's email (parts of which were quoted by Marshall above).

Note that this email was sent to R., to me, and to Seth; it was in no way a public attempt to "intimidate" the Chicago club leadership. Seth asked permission to forward it to the Chicago club's officers (which Andrew granted).
On April 2, 2012 Andrew Yaphe wrote:So, here's how I would summarize my sense of the situation:

(1) I feel almost certain that Shantanu engaged in activity that should be characterized as "cheating."

(2) However, the cheating he engaged in appears to have been extremely incompetently done, not to mention somewhat pointless.

(3) In addition, the evidence we actually have of the cheating is extremely scant and circumstantial, and would not--in my view--justify taking any formal action against Chicago as a team.

In particular, I just don't see the "smoking gun" here that I would want to see -- where such a "smoking gun" would be something along the lines of Shantanu saying "remember that in The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas they talk about having a car named 'Godiva'" (to take an example of a lead-in clue that appeared at the tournament, and which, to my knowledge, has not been used in quizbowl previously, insofar as I wrote the tossup directly after reading the book and without reference to any quizbowl archive). If we had evidence of such a "smoking gun," I would perhaps be inclined to reevaluate the situation.

Of course, this isn't to say that we should continue to allow Shantanu to be involved with NAQT in any way. I think we have good cause to terminate him from the organization, and to inform him that he will not be invited to any future NAQT events in an official capacity of any kind. (I don't think we can ban him from showing up to a tournament if he wants merely to spectate at one.) But I don't see good cause to take any official action in response to this stuff, at least on the basis of the present evidence. (What Chicago may choose to do internally is, in my view, their own business.)
2. Seth's communication to the Chicago club officers
On April 2, 2012 Seth Teitler wrote: [To Matt Menard and Jimmy Ready --JTH]
Hey guys,

here's Andrew's response to the email I sent. I did mention the Dutilleux cello concerto and the "Henry thinks he may have killed a woman in the Dream Songs" bit, which seemed like the most suspicious examples to me, but Andrew knows way more than I do about music and poetry, and he doesn't seem to think there's a clear smoking gun here.

I'm pretty tired, so I'll stop here for now, but I think there are some options for a club response to this that fall short of "banning Shantanu from the club" that may be worth exploring.
(It is worth noting, in this context, that our investigation of NAQT's server logs was not completed and distributed to NAQT's membership until the morning of Tuesday, April 3rd.)

3. Here's a brief timeline of NAQT's response to the developing situation (which is worth comparing with Marshall's timeline of the Chicago club's response above). [Server log details edited after consulting with R., in response to Marshall's post below --JTH]

Saturday, March 31st (day of the ICT itself)

-Chicago players express their concern about Shantanu's behavior to Seth

-Seth reports the concern to R.

-R. briefly confers with Seth and Andrew (to verify that the material being discussed indeed appeared in the 2012 Division I ICT)

-R. consults with NAQT's officers present on site and agrees to discuss the situation with Shantanu. Preliminary review of our server logs reveals a pattern of suspicious access.

-R. asks Shantanu about the situation and receives a response that we, collectively, deemed unsatisfactory to explain the patterns reported by the rest of the Chicago team

Sunday, April 1st (one day after ICT)

-no official response from NAQT on this day (R. was driving back to the Twin Cities; I was moderating at College History Bowl)

Monday, April 2nd (two days after ICT)

-R. completes review of the NAQT server logs; Seth, Andrew, and R. exchange emails excerpted above. I spend the afternoon on a plane back to the Bay Area

Tuesday, April 3rd (three days after ICT)

-R. informs NAQT's membership about what occurred at ICT and about the results of our server log investigation (which confirm that Shantanu looked at a large number of ICT questions in the period immediately prior to ICT)

-NAQT's members reach a consensus that we should issue a public statement, but that we should not name Shantanu directly

Wednesday, April 4th (four days after ICT)

-(morning) R. agrees with the group decision that we should issue a public statement.

-(afternoon) R. drafts (and I edit) a public statement about the incident. We agree on a text that will be posted to naqt.com the following day

Thursday, April 5th (five days after ICT)

-We publish a public statement on naqt.com (the text is available here; we do not name Shantanu, but we indicate that his behavior "undermine[d] the integrity of" ICT and that his involvement in NAQT has been terminated.)

-I cross-post NAQT's statement to this forum. Matt Menard posts a statement on behalf of the Chicago club. (Like our statement, Chicago's statement does not name Shantanu.)


Our review of the situation concluded that we did not have enough evidence strong enough to justify publicly identifying the guilty party (and thus making us a target for potential legal action). The evidence in this case was qualitatively weaker than that in the cases subsequently revealed in March 2013, for which we did not hesitate to name the players involved.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:07 pm

Thank you for your response and clarification, Jeff. Two immediate points come to mind:

1. This is the first I've heard, ever, that anyone at NAQT confronted Shantanu at that ICT, and I'm pretty sure the same is true of my teammates. What was Shantanu's explanation there? Why was it inadequate?

2. Regarding the timeline of the server investigation, I can say definitively that I heard about its outcome by that Sunday night because I remember telling someone else about it then. Of course, I have no primary knowledge of that investigation so it could be that I received false information about such an investigation in advance of its actually happening, but that when it did happen its outcome corresponded exactly with what I'd been told had already been done. That strikes me as far-fetched.

[Edit: see updated timeline in Jeff's post above.]

The impression I get from your email is that Andrew and the others at NAQT were of the opinion that absent the server investigation, there was not sufficient evidence to make a public statement about the matter, and that once the investigation's results were told to the other principals, their opinion changed. Is that accurate?
Last edited by Tees-Exe Line on Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:15 pm

Tees-Exe Line wrote:Thank you for your response and clarification, Jeff. Two immediate points come to mind:

1. This is the first I've heard, ever, that anyone at NAQT confronted Shantanu at that ICT, and I'm pretty sure the same is true of my teammates. What was Shantanu's explanation there? Why was it inadequate?
We received conflicting and evasive answers. In our opinion, Shantanu's behavior justified the suspicion expressed to us by his teammates.
Regarding the timeline of the server investigation
I don't know exactly when we started this; R. reported the final results to NAQT's members on Tuesday morning (which is the earliest extant reference to these server logs in my email).

Edit: R. reports that we did conduct a preliminary investigation on site before discussing the matter with Shantanu; I have updated the timeline above. --JTH
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:39 pm

What role did Andrew play in all of this?
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by setht » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:33 pm

I was the first NAQT member to whom Jimmy brought his suspicions. I went and told R., and then we asked Jimmy to come in and tell us what he'd noticed. Andrew and Jeff were there as well; I don't remember if others were also present.

Jimmy and Matt later got in touch with me to inquire after NAQT's response. As a result, I started a separate email correspondence with R., Jeff, and Andrew. It was during that internal correspondence that Andrew sent the email that Marshall mentions. With Andrew's permission, I passed that email along to Jimmy and Matt, in hopes that it would be useful to them in deciding what the Chicago club was going to do. To clarify, I think Marshall has misread Andrew's email: my take on it is that point 1 indicates personal belief, and points 2 and 3 speak to whether the tournament results were compromised, and whether there was clear evidence of complicity by players or the Chicago club. In short, "I believe Shantanu cheated, it looks like it didn't change game results, and it looks like the players and the club as a whole were innocent." I don't want to put words in Andrew's mouth—that is my take on what his email said, and it agreed with my take on the matter. I thought Andrew's email nicely summarized our thoughts (certainly my thoughts), and our likely course of action (since the official post hadn't been made yet). That's why I thought it would be useful to pass along.

Just so we are all clear on this, I want to emphasize that there was no "email correspondence between Jimmy, Matt, and NAQT" (I certainly wouldn't describe my email exchange with them in those terms). Andrew never sent them any emails (and vice versa). The one email from Andrew that Jimmy and Matt saw was the internal email that I passed along, and it clearly stated that the Chicago club was of course free to do as it saw fit. I passed on the email because Jimmy and Matt had solicited information on NAQT's take on matters. I can't imagine how this could have led Marshall to form the opinion that "the NAQT upper management, and Andrew Yaphe specifically, were trying (rather ham-fistedly) to use their age, experience, and quizbowl standing to intimidate the younger Chicago board members into not revealing that their company's trust was grossly misplaced and their tournament's security compromised." I hope that opinion will be immediately discarded, in light of what I've said.

I also want to say that while I came to believe then (and still believe) that Shantanu cheated, my standard for forming that kind of personal belief is much lower than the standard that I think NAQT has to adhere to before doing something like announcing "NAQT has determined that player X has cheated."

-Seth
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by setht » Thu Apr 03, 2014 6:36 pm

the happiest boy wrote:What role did Andrew play in all of this?
Andrew made valuable contributions to internal discussions focusing solely on what NAQT should do. He also graciously allowed me to pass on one of his internal emails to Chicago club leaders because I thought it would help them out.

I am very sorry he was unfairly impugned because he helped me (and, I hope, Jimmy and Matt).

-Seth
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:02 pm

What most amuses me about Marshall's post is its description of the "place of self-knowledge" at which he has arrived.

I didn't want to get dragged into this, but since Marshall has accused me of being personally responsible for a nefarious scheme of intimidation, I don't see how I can avoid weighing in. First, Seth's factual summary of the events of that fateful weekend is entirely correct. To be clear, the following is the entirety of my personal involvement in this situation:

(1) Seth sent an email to me, R., and Jeff outlining the concerns regarding Shantanu and asking for our take on the situation.
(2) In response, I sent the email quoted above by Jeff, in which I provided what Seth asked for--i.e., my take on the situation. This email, obviously, was purely internal to NAQT.
(3) Seth emailed to ask if I would allow him to pass my email along to some people on the Chicago team.
(4) I said yes.

In addition to not communicating with anyone on the current Chicago team about this situation, I haven't communicated with any member of the Chicago team about any aspect of the team since I decamped for law school in 2007. I barely know who the "Jimmy and Matt" discussed in this thread are; to my knowledge, I have never directly communicated with either of them about anything.

This brings me to my second-favorite sentence in Marshall's post:
In my opinion, the NAQT upper management, and Andrew Yaphe specifically, were trying (rather ham-fistedly) to use their age, experience, and quizbowl standing to intimidate the younger Chicago board members into not revealing that their company's trust was grossly misplaced and their tournament's security compromised.
The delightful irony of Marshall's post is that it so nicely illustrates the dangers of rushing off half-cocked to make false and baseless accusations. The legal term for this is "defamation." As it happens, I am an easygoing, non-litigious person who wouldn't dream of pursuing legal action against Marshall for a statement like this, even though it is completely false and is arguably defamatory. But not everyone is as easygoing as I am! This is why a company--or, dare I say, a grown-up--has to think a little more carefully before committing itself to public denunciations of any kind. It is also why--as Seth observed--there is a difference between an internal expression of personal opinion and a public declaration of fact.

As I said, I am an easygoing person and am more amused than outraged by Marshall's completely baseless allegations about me. That said, I wouldn't object if Marshall were to post a retraction and/or apology. I like to think that doing so would help to enhance the "comfort" in which, he informs us, his current state of "self-knowledge" has allowed him to luxuriate.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Thu Apr 03, 2014 7:51 pm

setht wrote:II think Marshall has misread Andrew's email: my take on it is that point 1 indicates personal belief, and points 2 and 3 speak to whether the tournament results were compromised, and whether there was clear evidence of complicity by players or the Chicago club. In short, "I believe Shantanu cheated, it looks like it didn't change game results, and it looks like the players and the club as a whole were innocent." I don't want to put words in Andrew's mouth—that is my take on what his email said, and it agreed with my take on the matter. I thought Andrew's email nicely summarized our thoughts (certainly my thoughts), and our likely course of action (since the official post hadn't been made yet). That's why I thought it would be useful to pass along.
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:First, Seth's factual summary of the events of that fateful weekend is entirely correct
If this is what the author of the email says it meant, then I'll take him at his word, but that is not how the email was received by the Chicago board and by me. Most crucially, the statement "the evidence we actually have of the cheating is extremely scant and circumstantial" appeared to us to be belied by the (apparently partial) internal investigation we knew NAQT had already undertaken. When, as I understand, Jimmy and Matt questioned NAQT about that investigation, they were not answered.

When the board (and I) convened on the evening of Tuesday, April 3, it appeared to us that three days had transpired in which NAQT had 1. conducted a review of the events, and 2. determined the evidence didn't warrant taking action against Shantanu (through our apparently erroneous interpretation of Yaphe's email). We concluded that it did and that the team could not overlook it. According to Jeff's timeline, NAQT had made the decision to take action against him by the following morning, in light of the more exhaustive investigation into his activities on the server. I suppose, then, it's unfortunate the parties weren't in closer contact, but you can presumably see why, given what we'd read in your email, we had formed the conclusion NAQT did not intend to take action.

Finally, regarding the allegation of intimidation, I'll withdraw it because it was premised on the idea that NAQT wanted Chicago to agree not to take public action against Shantanu, and I see now that was not Yaphe's stated position. I was never shown the full email, and specifically not the line "What Chicago may choose to do internally is, in my view, their own business." However, I'm still puzzled by the company's actions and Yaphe's. Regarding the latter, I still don't understand how the evidence of Shantanu's cheating was "extremely scant and circumstantial" knowing what he knew when he wrote that email. And it seems to me that in this case, as in the 2013 cheating scandals, the company was more concerned with avoiding legal liability for defamation from the cheaters it stopped short of naming (in Shantanu's case) or actually accusing of cheating (as in Watkins') than it was in owning up to its security problems before the many honest quizbowlers who paid to play its tournaments (and who had previously informed them about their system's vulnerability). It may be rash to "go off half-cocked" by accusing you of intimidation, but it's also unfortunate to repeatedly find reasons not to act against that cheating and couch that inaction in legalistic prudence that borders on myopia.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:40 pm

I guess I shouldn't hold my breath until I get that "retraction and/or apology." And, since you are continuing to call me out, I will continue to respond to the parts of your posts that are directed personally to me.

I understand that you and Shantanu, like Ahriman and Ormuzd, were locked in an apocalyptic struggle to the death for the soul of the Chicago quizbowl team. We are all indebted to you for your careful recitation of the pertinent details; were it not for this kind of record, our grandchildren would never truly apprehend just how close the 2012 Chicago team came to the eternal perdition of pretentiously overwritten emails and overvaluing of Catholicism. Try to understand, however, that to an outsider like myself, it may not have been patently obvious, as an unquestionable axiom of quizbowl morality, that Shantanu was evil incarnate. To be more precise: To me, Shantanu was just some dude I barely knew. Likewise, you and everyone else on Chicago were also just some dudes I barely knew.

Thus, when I was informed by Seth of the Chicago team's suspicions, I lacked the benefit of your vantage point of knowing that Shantanu was a force of pure malevolence. Had I known that, of course, I would necessarily have come to the same conclusion you arrived at. What else could I possibly have concluded? Unfortunately, I was in a position of ignorance, and had no choice but to make my best effort to reach a fair assessment of the facts Seth presented to me. Ridiculous, I know; but, alas, the truth. On those facts--as is stated in my email--I concluded that there was simply no "smoking gun" that we could point to as clear evidence of Shantanu's transgressions. To my mind, saying things like "Dutilleux wrote a cello concerto" just didn't rise to that level--that's the kind of fact that could easily come up in some other high-level set that anyone might read in a car while driving to a tournament. Having been in many such cars, and having listened to people read many a tournament in that manner, it seemed plausible to me that such repetition of non-distinctive facts could be a coincidence. Again, I was waiting to hear that he had brought up some fact that was much more unique to that year's ICT. In particular, when you bear in mind how many of my humanities lead-ins are, as John Lawrence has recently informed us, unknown to anybody in the field, there should have been any number of unique-to-that-year's-ICT clues for Shantanu to have mentioned.

I do not expect you to accept this explanation; I only regret that we weren't much more closely in contact years ago, so I could have followed the details of your courageous battle with Shantanu as you were actually fighting the good fight. Instead, I have to live vicariously through these posts, which is a poor substitute indeed.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Fri Apr 04, 2014 12:47 pm

You're not the first person not to realize that Shantanu was evil, but my point is that you didn't have to in order to understand that he cheated. You had my teammates' account of what happened in the car and you had your colleagues' report of his inappropriate and otherwise inexplicable use of the company's database, more of a "smoking gun" than any one clue from the tournament could ever be, which was what caused us to take action even under the false impression that NAQT wasn't planning to do anything. Maybe in your mind it's a comfort to paint me as some sort of zealot who, by implication, no "adult" would listen to. It's a common response when someone who considers himself judicious turns out to be wrong to paint those who were proven right as irrational ("you can't blame me for discounting what Marshall said--he's a raving lunatic! Not agreeing with him actually shows how thoughtful I am, even if he did happen to be correct in this one instance--it must have been a fluke.").

Furthermore, regarding this business of "intimidation," let me say you were the one "member" of NAQT who communicated with us at the time. In this thread, your email has been presented as the thought of some guy who didn't know the people involved but formed his opinion solely based on The Facts. As I've said, your opinion did not take account of all the facts, and it was all we heard from anyone seeming to speak for the organization.

Finally, since you've insisted on restricting the sphere of admissible evidence against Shantanu to clues from the tournament, according to my record one such clue was that Shantanu mentioned in the car that John Ashbery won the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 because Auden was giving them out, a story for which Shantanu provided hilarious fake historicity by claiming he'd heard it from Dana Gioia. The following bonus appeared in the tournament:
Packet 10 of the 2012 ICT wrote:He concluded that “Our days put on such reticence / These accents seem their own defense” in the title poem of his second collection. For 10 points each—

A. Name this man, who won the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 for his book Some Trees and a Pulitzer Prize for his book Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

answer: John Ashbery

B. Ashbery wrote a thesis at Harvard on this British poet, who selected Some Trees for the Yale Younger Poets Prize. This man's works include “September 1, 1939” and “Musée des Beaux Arts.”

answer: W(ystan) H(ugh) Auden

C. Ashbery's book Other Traditions includes a section on this poet who collaborated with her lover Robert Graves on A Pamphlet Against Anthologies and A Survey of Modernist Poetry.

answer: Laura Riding (accept Laura Riding Jackson or Gottschalk or Reichenthal)
As far as I can source the controversy, it stems from an exchange in the Times Literary Supplement in 2008. Does that count as specific enough?
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Cheynem » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:01 pm

You seem to be arguing at vaguely cross purposes. From what I can tell, Mr. Yaphe's e-mail reveals these points:

1. Yaphe is saying that NAQT should take no action against Chicago AS A TEAM. This is a pretty important distinction as one could conceivably argue that Shantanu may have been colluding with some non Jimmy or Matt teammates and thus Chicago should have been stripped of their wins/face sanctions/what have you. This is something that benefits Chicago as a team.

2. Yaphe seems to believe Shantanu was cheating in the sense that he believed him to be doing illegal shenanigans. However, he was also unsure (for whatever reason) that there was enough to indisputably prove this, especially in a legal sense.

3. Yaphe suggests Shantanu should be terminated from NAQT and banned from NAQT events (presumably what Marshall wanted).

4. Yaphe suggests Chicago can do whatever they want with Shantanu.

The issue here seems to be less "did Yaphe believe Marshall about Shantanu?" and more about "should this have been made public more quickly?"
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:52 pm

If you don't want to be regarded as a "raving lunatic," it might be advisable to rave less, or at least to do so in a less loony manner.

The basic underlying principle of your posts is that you appear to hold me personally responsible for not having conducted the kind of inquisition you presumably would have been happy to lead, had you been in my shoes. Again, I deeply regret my failure to lead the torchbearers at the 2012 Shantanu auto-da-fe. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. As I have explained at great length, I was presented with a specific set of facts by Seth and asked for my opinion, which I provided him. Obviously you are unable, or unwilling, to recognize that I was working from the limited information I had available to me; you likewise appear unwilling to accept that I was acting in good faith, though what I would have had to gain by writing my email the way I did is, to put it mildly, unclear.

Correcting your blunders is becoming wearisome, but here are a couple more:
Furthermore, regarding this business of "intimidation," let me say you were the one "member" of NAQT who communicated with us at the time.
So I guess you aren't even "withdraw[ing]" this charge, as you grudgingly claimed to do in your previous post! Again, you seem not to understand what "communication" means. I communicated with Seth, who asked my permission to pass my email along to people he was speaking with on the Chicago team, which I granted him. I was not myself "communicating with you." In fact, it was Seth who was the "one 'member' of NAQT who communicated with [you] at the time." If you failed to understand that at the time, well, that would not surprise me, as you seem prone to such failures of understanding. To continue to insist on this mistaken point, despite what has been said in this thread, seems like willful ignorance.

Second, you have triumphantly adduced the following as the perfect "smoking gun" that I unaccountably overlooked:
according to my record one such clue was that Shantanu mentioned in the car that John Ashbery won the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 because Auden was giving them out
Again, I am devastated to have to rain on your parade of spite. Unfortunately, I have looked back at the email Seth sent to me, R., and Jeff regarding the Chicago team's suspicions, and there is no mention in it of Ashbery or this question. I do not know whether you will agree that I could not have been expected to respond to a fact of which I was unaware.

I honestly don't see the point of continuing this exchange. You seem entirely committed to believing that I wronged you personally; you seem entirely unwilling to recognize the facts that render your belief specious. Which isn't to say that I still wouldn't be open to that "retraction and/or apology" I so quixotically invited!
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:56 pm

I agree it's pointless to continue the argument; I'll simply close by saying that I did withdraw the charge of intimidation and not grudgingly. I returned to the matter because I wanted to give you some understanding of how your email was interpreted, even if that's not how it was intended.

EDIT: I don't think Seth was in fact a member of NAQT at that time. Again, I think your email was the only communication we received from anyone who was. It's certainly the only such communication the board and I discussed when we were making our decision.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:16 pm

according to my record one such clue was that Shantanu mentioned in the car that John Ashbery won the Yale Younger Poets Prize in 1956 because Auden was giving them out,
FWIW, the anecdote of Auden's meeting with Ashbery is presented in the editor's note introducing Ashbery's fun sestina "Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape" in the text I use for Freshman Comp II (Literature: A Pocket Anthology, 5th edition, edited by RS Gwynn). I don't mean any implication regarding this discussion at hand other than to point out that the story of the meeting between Ashbery and Auden may not be so insanely obscure as to have no chance of coming up in quiz bowl talk about either of those poets.
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by jonpin » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:42 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:The basic underlying principle of your posts is that you appear to hold me personally responsible for not having conducted the kind of inquisition you presumably would have been happy to lead, had you been in my shoes. Again, I deeply regret my failure to lead the torchbearers at the 2012 Shantanu auto-da-fe. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. As I have explained at great length, I was presented with a specific set of facts by Seth and asked for my opinion, which I provided him. Obviously you are unable, or unwilling, to recognize that I was working from the limited information I had available to me; you likewise appear unwilling to accept that I was acting in good faith, though what I would have had to gain by writing my email the way I did is, to put it mildly, unclear.
I know less than very little about this whole controversy modulo what has appeared in this thread and the ones from the contemporary period, however from my perspective, Marshall isn't so much denigrating you as he is NAQT. The impression I get is "the only thing NAQT sent us is this letter from Andrew, who may not have had all the facts but who seemed to imply blah blah blah, and it's really poor form that they didn't really address this situation at all", not that "NAQT sent this on to Andrew who just said 'well who gives a shit' because he doesn't care about truth, goodness, and quiz bowl"
Jon Pinyan
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by jready » Fri Apr 04, 2014 2:53 pm

I'll reply to these posts at length when I have some more time, but I want to clarify that what Marshall says does not reflect the views of the people (Matt and me) who were actually interacting with NAQT throughout this ordeal. I certainly never thought Andrew was trying to "intimidate" me, and I didn't think that NAQT was trying to maliciously sweep anything under the rug.
Jimmy Ready
La Jolla High '08, Chicago '12

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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by setht » Fri Apr 04, 2014 3:26 pm

A couple quick corrections:
Tees-Exe Line wrote:EDIT: I don't think Seth was in fact a member of NAQT at that time. Again, I think your email was the only communication we received from anyone who was. It's certainly the only such communication the board and I discussed when we were making our decision.
I became a member January 1, 2012, so I was a member at the time.
Tees-Exe Line wrote:I don't know exactly what transpired at NAQT regarding their eventual announcement, but I heard that at Chicago's team practice on the Thursday evening, Seth, Selene, and the board drafted Chicago's response to NAQT's rather cryptic initial announcement.
Whoever told you this was mistaken: I returned to Madison on Monday morning after the 2012 ICT, so I certainly wasn't at the Chicago team practice on Thursday.

-Seth
Seth Teitler
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Re: The Secret History of Shantanu, Chicago Quizbowl, and NA

Post by Ike » Sat Apr 05, 2014 8:15 am

I don't know what is going on exactly in this thread anymore, but I can provide some of my experiences with Shantanu and this incident here as to get the historical record straight so that Yaphe's progeny can have a fuller picture.

1.) Shantanu does have a proclivity for sharing material that comes up in tournaments he has written with various people. Shantanu and I drove to CO 2009 together, and during the car ride there he told me the leadins to his tossups on the Apologia of Cardinal Newman, and My Name is Red for the lit tournament. I didn't know what he was doing at the time, but at the tournament, I buzzed on the first clue of the first TU, and didn't buzz until I recognized a clue from reading My Name is Rad. After the tournament, i thought it was a little strange that he would say such clues, but just assumed that he had forgotten he had written some things; I kept quiet too since the match we played didn't have a different outcome due to those buzzes.

Of course it didn't stop there. He wrote a tossup on Don Pasquale for VCU Open that same year and proceeded to tell me everything I have ever wanted to know about that opera. After playing that tossup, I talked to him later and said "what the fuck?, you have to be more careful about not compromising your questions." I don't recall how harshly I rebuked him for writing a question then feeding me a lot of info about said question, but I assumed at the time he was just being misguided toward a friend; I also concluded that as long as it didn't happen again, it wouldn't cause any more problems.

In my mind, Shantanu just doesn't know when to stop. I don't think he was trying to sabotage the UChicago team per se, but I do think that anyone whom he considered his friend on that team got unsolicited quizbowl clues they didn't want to hear until the ICT.

2.) Shantanu really did approach me that year about overthrowing Marshall Steinbaum as editor. I'm hazy as to whether he wanted me to literally topple Marshall down, or to secretly replace all of his questions - he may have suggested both plans actually, but I do remember him saying "coup d'etat." If that wasn't enough, he did promise to handle the music, and all of the lit, leading to this awkward situation in which everyone stopped writing their questions because Shantanu gave them personal reassurance that he would write it all; he then proceeded to "flake out." That meant more work for me, and I had to write a ridiculous amount of questions at a breakneck pace. I'm surprised that the tournament turned out as playable as it did in my categories, because looking back at the tournament, I don't recall writing some of these lit questions in my deliriums in the days before it.

Side Note: It seems every club has some form of drama. I've had to kick (or more accurately, have Billy Busse kick) some team members who weren't the "right fit" for our club, because we thought they were a liability and had a strong likelihood of cheating if given the opportunity if we took them to a tournament. I thought our club was bad, but nope, apparently not.
Ike
UIUC 13

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