Buzzing in faster

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Buzzing in faster

Postby nhscody » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:02 pm

Yesterday was my second Quizbowl competition and I think we did fairly well, but there were a few things holding us back that I am trying to find solutions to. One place I missed a lot of points was buzzing - the questions were fairly easy, so everyone knew the answer, and I was always on the losing end of that. Is there any technique to buzzing faster or a way to practice it without a buzzer system? In one particularly close round, it was the difference between winning and losing, although it was just a prelim and didn't cause a lot of harm, as we still made it.

Sorry if there is another thread on this, but I didn't notice one.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby SunWukong » Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:51 pm

There are lots of theories about the fastest way to buzz. Some people claim that various ways of holding your buzzer will make your faster. I’ve even heard people say that having a full bladder makes you more edgy and thus faster. The one thing about buzzer speed I believe is that you are faster if you know the material better. If there are a bunch of players just buzzing on the “pin factory” clue for the Wealth of Nations, for example, you can win the buzzer race if you heard the clues leading up to it and started thinking “this might be the Wealth of Nations.” Even if you aren’t sure and don’t want to buzz on those early clues, knowing what a question on the Wealth of Nations might sound like and thinking of it early allows you to think ahead and say “well, a pin factory clue is probably coming soon” and hold your buzzer with the intention of buzzing as soon as you hear the word pin. That will give you a huge advantage over opponents who have to process the clue and then buzz. If you don’t want to just buzz in on every Japanese historical figure with Tokugawa, but are tired of losing buzzers races, prepare yourself in advance. Know that the question writer is probably going to mention the Battle of Sekigahara and press your buzzer the instant you hear “Battle of Seki…” You can even go a step further and buzz on “battle” sufficiently late in the question with the logic “the other notable Japanese figures (the Meiji Emperor, Oda Nobunaga, etc.) aren’t uber well known for military exploits while Tokugawa is, so a fairly late clue about a battle probably means its Tokugawa.” Of course, the best way to get the tossup first isn’t to buzz faster on a certain clue, because it will ultimately be a tossup. The best way to get the question first is always to have more knowledge. If you just buzz a clue before your opponents, you always win the buzzer race. It sounds like what’s happening is that there are a couple fairly new teams who are just buzzer racing on giveaways. The best way to win these games is not to learn how to buzz faster than your opponents but just to learn more than your opponents. What set was this tournament on? Does your team use a buzzer system in practice?
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby tintinnabulation » Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:50 pm

Like Mr. Barry of ACE Camp fame says, there's no use being the fastest to buzz if you don't know the answer. Concentrate on learning more than your opponents. But I know from experience that if you're playing a bad format, there's not really much you can do about learning more. If you could formulate a guess in your head, like it's been said above, then you can guess which clue you're looking for next and can buzz faster when you start to hear it. As for innate buzzing skills, I think that after a while, you kind of develop a sixth sense of when others are about to buzz and when you need buzz to beat them to it. Not really helpful, I know.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby nhscody » Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:30 pm

I understand what you guys are saying about learning more, which is a strategy that is sure to work, but these questions we were playing were just plain easy in the prelims. I don't want to say a lot, because I assume these questions are still going to be played (they are National History Bowl questions), but in one question, the first line was a buzzer race. As for using a buzzer when we practice, there are some problems with that.

My school isn't a traditional high school that students take all of their classes at, rather it is a magnet school that gifted students are allowed to attend to take accelerated/AP classes, so some students take a full schedule there and others take only one or two. Because of this, we cannot meet up to have Quizbowl practices and at the last competition, we just pulled students from the AP history classes (because it was history bowl) to compete in spots we didn't have filled by regular QB players, so we just end up telling others what we are going to cover and work out what we don't have covered. Because of this, a few of the people who also go to my school get together with me to read packets occasionally, but we don't have buzzers and it isn't the whole team. In addition to this, there are only about three tournaments a year in my state, judging from the past, so I guess the whole learning more strategy probably would be the best thing to do.

Is the constant buzzer race thing an anomaly of this competition? The questions seemed to get harder as we moved on to the point where it wasn't, but the last competition I went to was NAQT and there were almost none. If it isn't always like that, I can see where the learning more thing would be a lot more helpful.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby Smuttynose Island » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:24 pm

Unless you are first line buzzer racing on the majority of questions, which means that the set is too easy for the field, learning more is going to help you get more questions than working in "buzzer speed." Which means that it is much more worth your time studying than sitting in a room pretending to buzz in. With that being said, the best way to get better at buzzing in fast is to learn more and playthe mire zso that you can anticipate where the question is going, just like Daniel said upthread.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby Great Bustard » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:31 pm

nhscody wrote:I understand what you guys are saying about learning more, which is a strategy that is sure to work, but these questions we were playing were just plain easy in the prelims. I don't want to say a lot, because I assume these questions are still going to be played (they are National History Bowl questions), but in one question, the first line was a buzzer race. As for using a buzzer when we practice, there are some problems with that.

My school isn't a traditional high school that students take all of their classes at, rather it is a magnet school that gifted students are allowed to attend to take accelerated/AP classes, so some students take a full schedule there and others take only one or two. Because of this, we cannot meet up to have Quizbowl practices and at the last competition, we just pulled students from the AP history classes (because it was history bowl) to compete in spots we didn't have filled by regular QB players, so we just end up telling others what we are going to cover and work out what we don't have covered. Because of this, a few of the people who also go to my school get together with me to read packets occasionally, but we don't have buzzers and it isn't the whole team. In addition to this, there are only about three tournaments a year in my state, judging from the past, so I guess the whole learning more strategy probably would be the best thing to do.

Is the constant buzzer race thing an anomaly of this competition? The questions seemed to get harder as we moved on to the point where it wasn't, but the last competition I went to was NAQT and there were almost none. If it isn't always like that, I can see where the learning more thing would be a lot more helpful.


I'm very surprised as to the talk of constant buzzer races, and describing the questions as easy, especially as the overall scores at this NHBB tournament were not particularly high and it was played on B set (only two teams out of nine scored 1000+ points in 5 rounds of prelims). Yes, our playoff questions are meant to be a bit more challenging to differentiate better, but having directed a number of B set tournaments this year, I think the set is quite challenging. I agree as well that a few questions are likely a bit too easy in the first line (though I think the overwhelming majority are just fine) but some level of buzzer races is inevitable at most tournaments. PM me with any question details you remember, but this is the first criticism of NHBB B set being buzzer-race heavy that I've heard from anyone this year, and it's been played at about 15 tournaments so far.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby nhscody » Sun Mar 11, 2012 4:33 pm

The first line buzzer race was definitely an anomaly, but I've been thinking that it might be because the only questions I've played before were very pyramidal (is that the word?) and these were shorter, which seems to affirm what you just said.

EDIT: Reading around the site, I realize why I thought it was easy. It is easy compared to the one released set of questions I could find from nationals last year, and the study guide says seems to say that nationals are harder. The reason it seemed easier to me, I guess, is because playing through that packet, I got way less than at the actual competition.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby ProfessorIanDuncan » Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:33 pm

In our school this past week we had an annual competition between grades in our high school and one of the events was a mock quizbowl event. (They were just edited :chip: questions so that there were no hoses). I managed to win quite a few buzzer races because i recognized this and i buzzed as soon as I knew that I knew the answer. Buzzing in when you recognize the clue, especially on easy questions, allows you to be that split second faster but you will still have enough time to pull out the answer from the back of your brain. I also second what Daniel said about expecting an answer. I have won buzzer races because i was waiting to be sure and lost the points altogether because i was expecting a different answer thus confusing me for a second, enough time for me to lose the points. Also I thought, and this may be because my team did better on the A set, that the B set was harder than the A set. However, scores dont differentiate between how hard the questions were perceived to be because it all depends on how good the competition is at the tournaments.
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Re: Buzzing in faster

Postby Smuttynose Island » Sun Mar 11, 2012 7:01 pm

nhscody wrote:I've played before were very pyramidal (is that the word?) and these were shorter, which seems to affirm what you just said..


"Pyramidal" just means that the earlier clues are harder than subsequent clues. It has no bearing on how long a question is or how hard a question is. The questions used at History Bowl sites are just as pyramidal as any set produced by NAQT or any non-History Bowl HSAPQ set.
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