2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Tue May 01, 2012 1:20 am

Sorry, what is "A Change of Jungles" under my name?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby nadph » Tue May 01, 2012 8:40 am

thejeopardyfan wrote:Sorry, what is "A Change of Jungles" under my name?

It's a tier indicator corresponding to a range of posts you've made so far on the board (in this case, indicating that you've made 6 or fewer posts). Other tiers include "Prisoners of Hope" (to 99), "Tales from the King's African Rifles" (to 249), "The Wild Green Earth" (to 499), "Quartered Safe out Here" (to 749), "Defeat into Victory" (to 999), and "The Road Past Mandalay" (for everything beyond). The theme seems to be autobiographical military fiction; past themes have included the Seven Samurai and novels by Sinclair Lewis.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby kristinsausville » Tue May 01, 2012 8:45 am

My husband Justin and I were readers at the tournament and we were very frustrated with things that happened. I'm about to head out the door, so a brief outline --

* We were reading at the hotel both in the morning and afternoon, and while the morning went fine, the afternoon was a mess. We ended up not even starting until after 3:30, and that was after having to draw up a round robin schedule ourselves once the various teams showed up. There was no communication as to what was causing the delay.
* The room in which we were staying was used for matches, and we came back after the afternoon games (more on that in a minute) to discover that it had been trashed. There was a giant empty Dunkin Donuts box laying out on the floor, our bed was in disarray (we came back to the room between the morning and afternoon rounds and ran into housekeeping on our way in, so the bedroom was in pristine condition when we left), and someone had eaten some snacks that I had left in the bedroom. Completely unacceptable! I would be embarrassed if my 3- and 4-year-olds behaved like that! Next year, every effort should be made to have readers read in their own suites.
* Tournament staffers were rude to the readers. When I was asked if our room was going to be used for the playoffs or if it was ok for Justin and I to go back to it, I got a very sarcastic response that the person I asked was "97% sure" it was done for the day. Considering the logistical nightmare that ensued in the afternoon, that was hardly comforting. Fellow readers also received rude, sarcastic responses when they asked pertinent questions like exactly where in the buildings that hosted events in DC they should go in the afternoon.
* We were also told that we would have until 8:20 Sunday morning to leave our room, so imagine our surprise and frustration when kids began knocking on the door at 8.

I won't even get into some of the things that I know happened at some of the embassy sites since I wasn't personally there but I believe a lot of apologies are owed to the various DC sites that welcomed the bowl.

I do want to say that Justin and I did enjoy the actual reading itself. All of the teams for which we read were a delight. We would consider doing it again next year for that reason alone, but would need some sort of guarantee that if our hotel room was to be used for matches, that one of us would be the reader there.

As far as the communication difficulties went, we had some ideas for ways to improve for next year, specifically utilization of social media. An official bowl Twitter account or Facebook page could have been used to pass along information such as starting times, which teams were supposed to go where, and meeting places rather than relying on runners. For scores, some sort of collaborative central database that readers/scorekeepers themselves could update would save a lot of time.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue May 01, 2012 10:48 am

Alright. Here is what i observed.

I volunteered for this tournament on Saturday. I was not compensated for anything except $15 in cash for meals. This is of no problem to me as i wasn't here to get paid and wasn't here to feel like i was earning anything but maybe some connections and other abstract rewards. So, no further talk about money; i do not want to be further compensated for my role on Saturday.

I showed up at 7:30am with Caesar Rodney's buzzer set. I checked in with Joe and Raynell and the set was promptly and properly tagged. While i didn't know where the buzzer was during the day, i was told i could check on this at any time. I trusted the organizers and my set was ready when i wanted it later in the evening. I do appreciate this, as it was one of the things i worried about before i came. I appreciate the care taken with my buzzer set and i wanted to thank Joe and Raynell for making sure it was returned with care.

The next person that i saw was Nick, who let me know right away where i would be reading and when i would need to be ready. I had read a copy of the rules and had no questions; the rules provided to us in the e-mail were clear and direct and concise. I appreciate whoever typed this abridged form of the rules because they were very helpful for those who hadn't read in a four quarter format. My experience with "bad quizbowl" in the past and Chip questions in a four quarter format actually helped me, because i knew i would have to read the lightning round quickly in particular.

I was told to be ready in my room by 8:20. I showed up around 8:10 just to be safe... this was the 600 level in "Capp" in the hotel. I stayed in the hotel all day. My site coordinator was Jerome Vered. Jerome is a nice guy. Jerome also cared a whole lot more about knowing every person's (and player's) name throughout the day, and i'm not sure how necessary that was. I ended up being about as much of the site coordinator as he did. He started our games probably around 9:00 or 9:15, and we finished by about 12:20 or 12:30. Getting all the paperwork organized, including scoresheets that had no labels on them except for team names (even those were missing sometimes) was incredibly frustrating. I ended up being the person, after each round, that ensured that scoresheets had what they needed. I'm sure i ended up missing some because i had to read my own games as well.

Some of the people staffing in our area read very slowly, or poorly (according to the kids). Many could not keep score and moderate at the same time. Many were not knowledgeable of the game rules. Many (as i was overhearing games, being the first moderator finished after every round) were talking before, during, and after questions about things that were not important. It's one thing to joke with the teams for a moment; it's another to make jokes or remarks on practically every question. This is a Nationals competition. Take it seriously.

My point is that many staffers did not seem to have the knowledge, experience, and honestly the know-how to be competent for this tournament. I was not here for the rules meeting which i assume was Friday night, but the next time this competition is run, basic rules need to be stressed. Keep accurate score. Do scorechecks. Label everything on the scoresheet. Do not talk extraneously. Read quickly and clearly. Announce the point values for each correct tossup. Get the game started. Get the kids out of there when it's finished. Do your job consistently, competently, and concisely.

Nevertheless, the morning rounds actually went okay, and i think we finished at an alright time compared to some others. Lunch was a good amount of time and probably appropriate.

I was sitting on a couch next to the room Nick was coordinating in, and he came out and said "you're just the person i was looking for, i need you." Turns out they wanted me to be a site coordinator for the afternoon rounds in the hotel, in "Capp" 200. Fine. It didn't seem very difficult. I was worried about having a very old phone and being poor at texting to report results, but i figured it out after looking like my mom trying to text. It still wasn't pretty, but apparently the scores got there.

I was told to be in my room by 1:20. I was there at 1:00 just in case. One team showed up almost immediately, from Mount St. Joseph's. Another team came somewhat after that, probably around 1:20. They hung out in the hallway. I did not have any other moderators. In fact, another one, a coach from Iolani, did not show up until 2pm. A third, a coach from DCC, did not show up until 2:45pm. I was told originally we were supposed to start our matches at 1:45 if the teams were there. They were not.

I suddenly heard, through the grapevine (a parent who was talking to her team who was talking to another team downstairs) that there was some sort of meeting. I was never officially notified of this, nor do i know what the meeting ever entailed or where it was. I assume teams were told what areas to go to, in their groups of 6. The teams came, en masse, to our area right just before 3pm. The only correspondence with any offical NHBB staffer was a call to Nick at 1:45 saying i should sit tight, and a text from Joe saying "yeah huge mess" at like 2:20.

The teams came up, and the moderators, which now included a Hunter alum, had to figure out a 6-team round robin schedule on our own. I can imagine how chaotic this must have been in other areas, but we drew one up in about 2 minutes and gave the teams numbers and which of the 3 rooms to play in. Other areas had much more difficulty with this, as the lack of experienced volunteers was evident. We had fast readers in our area, and miraculously finished before 5:30. Most places in the hotel did not come close to this efficiency. I reported the scores via text as i was told, and marked the scores and W/L on the big paper i took up to the area. I also took down the buzzer system the best i could at 5:30. Another staffer came into the room (her room, apparently) stunned that i was still there. Little did she know that many rooms were used up until 6:30.

After coming downstairs, the bulk of the chaos was evident. It was obvious that playoff rounds would start horrendously late. There were protests (including a long, drawn-out, and somewhat vitriolic one from DCC that ended up not even mattering because of an adding error; i will let other staffers discuss this if they wish but it's been reviewed over and over again in IRC the last two nights so there's no point in discussing it here). There were misplaced and missing scoresheets. There were teams already wanting their buzzers and staffers promising them they would be available later. There were teams wondering when anything would start. There were coaches asking how much time for dinner they would have since they just got downstairs at 6:30. There were kids just walking in asking about which teams went 5-0 and meandering around looking at scoresheets and posters.

Teams, coaches, players, parents, and just about anybody who wanted to come in were walking into the warroom (i guess that's what it was) all the time in the early evening. I have never seen anything like this. This is entirely due to the lack of communication and poor scheduling and logistics that spiraled out of control as the day progressed. Teams were told in the morning that playoffs may start by 6:30. The meeting for this was closer to about 8pm.

While in the warroom, after eating a quick dinner since i realized i was needed there, Dave Madden made me print off the rest of the packets of questions. Every packet of rounds 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 were entirely printed and stapled together by yours truly, between 6:15 and 6:45. Why these were not printed and taken care of, like, a long long time before this... i have no idea. Dave just told me to do it, off his personal computer, so i did. I labeled them and placed them face-down in the corner of the room and made sure no one but staffers came back there. It was as secure as i could get them without losing track of their placement. I wish i came up with a better system but it's all i could think of at the time with all the madness going on in this room.

During all this, there were huge amounts of games that never got reported scores until someone like Joe or Jon or Greg got a hold of them, often by relying on text messages from students to coaches about how they did in the afternoon. Some scoresheets never made it to the room. The funniest thing i saw all day, by the way, was when we returned a buzzer set to a team around 9:15pm, and they opened it only to find all the scoresheets from a morning site inside the case. We were wondering for hours where these were, and for 9 hours they were inside a buzzer system's case. This is the sort of thing that happened all the time on Saturday, but it's probably the craziest and silliest example. Still, it's not far from what we usually encountered working in there.

I then was asked to help out upstairs in the ballroom. I got trophies ready, ran around with Dave for some reason back and forth, and assumed i was getting ready to read playoff games which i was listed to do. But Raynell came to me and said he needed my help in the Middle School division. There was a cheating accusation where apparently a player had read (perhaps accidentally) answers of the packet of questions since he was sitting right next to a moderator, in a semifinal game. The results of that game, and apparently the other semifinal game (i don't know if said accusations were also proclaimed there) were thrown out. Raynell read one of them, and i read the other between St. Ignatius and Homer-Center (i think, or something). According to a parent/coach/whatever, after the game - which went into OT - "the wrong team won" and she stormed out of the room. This was the conduct i saw from parents, only middle school parents, for the hour or two i was in this area. The kids, on the other hand, were saying things to one another like "i'm really sorry this had to happen, i just want us to play games and everyone to do our best," whereas it was the parents who were saying things like "you just ruined our team's reputation and they will never earn it back, you ruined everything, i can't believe this." Alas.

I ended up reading the Middle School final as well, because Raynell appeared to be having a nervous breakdown or something. It was a fun, great game, and Longfellow came out on top. I had a really good time reading those middle school games and many parents and kids told me how much they enjoyed my reading as well, trying to just get everything to be fun again after a very frustrating couple hours. I had a scorekeeper in this game, whose name i've forgotten, that also did an incredible job talking to the kids and encouraging them to play their best and be good sports. It was the best hour i spent at the entire tournament, those last two games.

After that, it was so late that i couldn't stay any longer, and i left at 9:30 for my 2 hour drive home. I believe the Varsity quarterfinals were being read at the time. I would have been happy to read more but i had been awake since 4:30 in the morning and it wasn't going to happen.

Let me end by saying this: the kids loved playing the games. Every since match i moderated was enjoyable. The questions were of good quality (we'll discuss them perhaps later, but there won't be a lot of criticism from me because i enjoyed the questions a lot). The games were fun. The teams were excited. The atmosphere was positive and encouraging, and i make sure to keep it that way. This is a tournament with so much potential to be amazing, but the logistics and scheduling ruined it for many people.

Staffers needed to be better-informed. Staffers needed to be more well-trained and well-versed in rules, and just better moderators. I realize there are only so many people around who can do this. But it's fixable with more training.

I will happily volunteer at NHBB 2013 if needed. But many things need to be addressed before i can confidently say that this is a competition i would like to bring my own team to. As of now? No, i would rather they not attend.

Sorry for the length of this post.

EDIT: I had a really funny typo. I wonder who saw it.
Last edited by Down and out in Quintana Roo on Tue May 01, 2012 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby tabstop » Tue May 01, 2012 12:22 pm

I don't have much to add, since apparently my greater physical distance from the main site meant that all the craziness dissipated before it got to me. (There was only one afternoon team that was late to my site, and that was only seven minutes late, and once two teams showed up without a schedule I figured I would have to make one and did.)

The afternoon communication needed to be improved (I got three phone calls asking whether I had all my teams, despite my having texted three full rounds of scores back to HQ). I had made sure my morning teams had their placements before they left, but I was in Judicial where there were wildcards so I couldn't direct them where to go completely, and my afternoon consolation teams seemed to have been directed where to go correctly, so I can't speak to that.

But I agree that some sort of central website with results and new bracket placements is essential. PHP is not my native language, but I would be more than happy to create or assist in the creation of a tool to do this. (I definitely tried to hammer out a very rough overview on the train ride home.)
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby kristinsausville » Tue May 01, 2012 12:45 pm

tabstop wrote:But I agree that some sort of central website with results and new bracket placements is essential. PHP is not my native language, but I would be more than happy to create or assist in the creation of a tool to do this. (I definitely tried to hammer out a very rough overview on the train ride home.)


I imagine that even something as simple as a spreadsheet uploaded to Google Docs could be made to work.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Tue May 01, 2012 2:40 pm

I can't think of anything that ran smoothly. And this is not to knock down Dave, Greg, Raynell, Nick, or anyone else involved in organizing the tournament. What I've heard most often from coaches is, the failure wasn't because incompetant people were running the tournament, but it was well-intentioned people trying to do too much with too little time. I believe this is an apt characterization, it was audacious and admirable you wanted to give teams a great experience, but it was completely unreasonable and a failure none the less. I've heard from several schools already they will not register for Nationals next year, not because of finances, but because they were that badly frustrated and don't want to deal with the headache of it all again.

I actually think, for the most part, the readers this year were good, and an improvement on last year. I'm not really focused on how fast readers go. At a large national tournament you're going to have a variance of speed and ability. Nick, who was in charge of staffing, was telling readers should be done within 30 minutes. I mean, understand the format, rules, and scoring and I think 22-30 minutes is a reasonable expectation to have 1 round finished. I didn't hear too many horror stories about readers this year (as I did at last year's nationals). There was 1 case, where someone was so notoriously bad, he would only be halfway through the 2nd quarter when everyone else was finishing their rounds...every time. When a coach asked if the site-coordinator could get the reader replaced the SC said "He'll get better," but apparently this did not happen. Anyway, I think for the most part, Nick and the moderator training sessions worked, at least in understanding rules and getting done with rounds in a reasonable amount of time.

One thing that needs to stressed though, is moderators must take firmer control over their room, by limitting chatter between questions and being the official of that match. I did hear quite a bit more grumbling that readers let their rooms get too chatty between every question, which slows everything down. Also, it was rather depressing to hear that parents interfered with games, and in some rooms it was like little league baseball parents arguing with an umpire over balls and strikes. Moderators are not infallible, and make mistakes, but the type of behavior displayed with chatter between every question and parents debating with moderators can't be tolerated. In mod-training next year, I think this needs to be made much clearer (even though, I agree the rules printed out and training were concise and well done by Nick).

Readers honestly, I feel were the best part (besides the questions and competition), and the rest was just a mess. The #1 problem is the field more than doubled from last year, and the staff was unable to handle the size. Please, please, please, for the love of everyone's mental and physical health, set a field cap next year. Set stricter qualifications and only grow the field size in manageable increments. One coach reminded me that HSNCT did not have 200 teams in their second year, and this tournament simply was not ready to handle that many teams. I know I'm not the only person who survived on 7 hours of sleep total (fri-sunday) and a diet of cookies...so please, Dave. I beg. Set a field cap. You will also avoid the other mistakes that compiled (like all the buzzer and schedule mix-ups) because there were too few people who were trying to juggle too many responsibilites for a 198 team tournament. The stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep just leads to a host of mistakes being made.

I think the problems with not knowing where teams' buzzers were located, is a good example of what went wrong and solutions to insure it doesn't happen next year. Joe Brosch had a good system going when registering buzzers as teams were checking in and then having people number and tag them, then assign them to a room. The problem is Joe was dragged away to do other things, and at one point I was registering buzzers, before being dragged off to do something else, which put someone else on buzzers. Assign a person to be in charge of a certain area of the tournament and DO NOT rope them into doing other duties. I think the reader situation worked out well, because Nick handled readers, and everyone knew he was the person to see. This sadly, wasn't the case with buzzers, scheduling, stats, team registration, taking money...etc. So, have 1 person in charge of a specific department, perhaps give them 2-3 redshirts to assist in that area, and keep them ONLY in that area. Once people were roped away to go handle something else, not only was the staff over-worked, but it just left areas (such as registering buzzers) incomplete and led to mix-ups by not knowing where teams' buzzers were located.

So, put 1 person in charge of buzzers, 1 person in charge of stats, 1 person in charge of scheduling...etc And give them a couple people to assist in these matters. That way if coaches and players have questions they know who to go see, and 1 person isn't overloaded with trying to do stats but also answering scheduling, playoff times...etc. And have a couple people floating to be available to help if room keys, or with whatever else needs to be done. Instead of what happened with Joe having a good buzzer system set up, but then being roped into other responsibilities. Dissemination of duties and responsiblities did not happen, and that's what I think led to much of the disorganized and overall, frustrating atmosphere.

That's kind of just my opening comments, there's a lot of things left unsaid, because this post can go on for much much longer. If anyone wants to know the messes on Saturday, I'll do my best to answer what went wrong.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue May 01, 2012 5:16 pm

Does Dave maybe now believe us when people were saying he should have a :capybara: field cap?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby sir negsalot » Tue May 01, 2012 5:47 pm

As a participant, my experience was good overall. We didn't go through the type of craziness that some of the other brackets did. The hotel was definitely better than last years'. Some of the external match sites felt like they were being used simply for the sake of variety, not because they were particularly interesting. However, Anderson House went quite well. I was puzzled why some of the teams had these massive entourages with them, something I didn't notice at HSNCT. Luckily the suites were large enough to hold young siblings, grandparents, etc. There might have been too many teams to handle, and it might be wise to be more restrictive with qualification and open wild-card slots later. The wide variety of states represented was good to see though. If possible, I hope to be able to volunteer at the NHBB in future years.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Culture is intrinsically impossible » Tue May 01, 2012 5:48 pm

I was originally going to post this in the thread about 60-second rounds but on further thought decided to make this a general constructive criticism of the tournament.

I'd like to start by complimenting HSAPQ on what I considered a fantastic set, with excellent variety across all historical themes and time periods. That said, there were some problems with difficulty control, but I am nonetheless impressed that they kept most of the set accessible, considering the sheer number of answer lines used over the course of the weekend.

I stayed judgment on this issue till I had a chance to play at a national level on this format against some of the top teams in the country. I think that, after all the matches I have played, my original point still stands: the current format is unnecessarily convoluted and inadequately rewards the kind of deeper knowledge that can only be found in multi-part bonuses (I'm excluding the category round from judgment for now because it is still effectively only one bonus on a single topic). There's no reason to reward tossups that are acquired earlier in the 2nd round with a bonus rather than the ones in the first. If Person A knows Topic A really well and Person B knows Topic B really well, I can't really justify Person A getting 20 points (or possibly 30 points in the final round) for his Topic A knowledge and then only give Person B 10 points for his Topic B knowledge. It is also clear that with the intense difficulty reached by some of the 60 second rounds, it would offset any trivial appeal of "variety."

NHBB should make haste to switch to 20/20 for next year before inertia sets in and some bureaucracy coalesces at the top of the organization that resists any sort of change to a format that needs it (see: National Science Bowl). This tournament clearly needs a format that is consistent and simple a la PACE or mACF so that rounds can be better done on time (our finals match against Hunter happened at 11:30, well more than 14 hours after the tournament itself started and nobody watched it because everyone was sleeping). That said, David, make your ambitions to have teams compete at "sites of historical importance" less lofty next time. Some of these arrangements, as enumerated before, were logistical train wrecks to the point that even Matt Weiner, one of the most experienced TD's in all of quizbowl, couldn't figure out what was going on. And yes, cap the field. You really need to do this.

Another thing that really needs to stop is the hyping of certain players or teams by the executive director of the NHBB himself. Though I'm sure it wasn't David's intention to convey this, it gives way too much of an impression of bias and grandstanding. There's no reason to single out players as "contenders for the national championship" when it's the tournament itself that's meant to decide who takes home the trophies (this time by a well-deserving Hunter squad and Alex Frey). It just serves no discernible purpose.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby The Predictable Consequences » Tue May 01, 2012 9:04 pm

I agree with what's been said so far. I think that the most important priorities are a field cap, streamlining of the stats system, and making sure new teams know what they're doing. I think something like a "New Team Orientation" Friday night would be a big step in the right direction for a tournament that attracts a lot of teams unused to quizbowl at a large national level. The orientation should go over proper tournament procedure (don't leave after the morning, as a team was contemplating doing this year before I talked them out of it), how to get around DC, and especially how to improve. I had a couple of opportunities to point out the most important QB resources to teams, but a comprehensive overview of good quizbowl in a cohesive meeting I believe would be much more effective in reaching teams and coaches.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby BethL » Tue May 01, 2012 9:54 pm

I ended up reading the Middle School final as well, because Raynell appeared to be having a nervous breakdown or something. It was a fun, great game, and Longfellow came out on top. I had a really good time reading those middle school games and many parents and kids told me how much they enjoyed my reading as well, trying to just get everything to be fun again after a very frustrating couple hours. I had a scorekeeper in this game, whose name i've forgotten, that also did an incredible job talking to the kids and encouraging them to play their best and be good sports. It was the best hour i spent at the entire tournament, those last two games.


That was me. Thank you! You did a fantastic job at getting those kids back on track too! To even get them laughing before we started was great. It was wonderful to work with you! I will keep score with you anytime.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Tue May 01, 2012 11:46 pm

Administratively, I think that all the points made about specializing jobs, etc seem like they are on the right track - issues in general seemed to stem from just a general lack of knowing what to do.

As I think was the same for many people, the morning rounds went off nearly without a hitch - we had one slower moderator who bogged us down, but other than that things ran smoothly, and we ended on time despite starting a little late due to metro issues.

The afternoon, on the other hand, was a bit chaotic, as others said with having to wait a very long time for teams and readers to show up, and the delay here was perhaps the low point of the tournament for us, we got to hang out with the other teams in our bracket for a while, but it was really just an hour and a half or so of downtime here was not very fun.

I will share the opinion though that in general it seemed like everyone had a lot of fun while games were actually occurring. There were a couple of slow/bad moderators throughout the day, but the majority did the job very well, and the questions generally seemed very good (independent of any complaints regarding format...), and the only real complaint I or anyone else I saw had on the questions were some "weird" answerlines/descriptions of an answerline (though the weird answerlines should have been fine if you had real knowledge, and the latter was really just a single case of an amendment being called a law which is always confusing)

While I like the idea of multiple locations, I think this was especially difficult this year as rebracketing was used and it sounds like many teams did not have any clue where they would be playing in the afternoon or even went to the wrong place - perhaps this idea should be put on the shelf next year and be saved until a one-site tournament runs more smoothly. A field cap also seems like a reasonable idea, as does the "make it harder to qualify but also make wild cards more of a thing" idea - I think the size of this year's tournament proved the extent of the interest in a National History Bowl, but at this point it is probably more important to make sure that the "product" as is is as good as it can get before making it available to too many people.

Finally, while I think I would have some comments with reference to Ankit's opinions on the question format, I have already written a lot and also I think that perhaps that should go in another thread as there is enough to discuss here just regarding logistics.

PS: Someone mentioned the DCC protest before, and as it involved my JV team, I know most of the details though my coach and the JV team know far more, it was really a very complex series of events in the game that, as was mentioned, ended up mattering in no way because the difference in points which everyone thought would turn the outcome of the game did not exist due to a score-adding related error.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby jonpin » Wed May 02, 2012 1:30 am

I'd like to start off by saying that this post reflects the views solely of myself. I am not speaking on behalf of the members of my team, nor any other staffer/volunteer at the tournament, nor in any official capacity as a moderator of this forum. Also, I am not speaking as a matter of personal animus towards any person involved with the tournament. This is all just based on what I saw and heard around me over the weekend. Because this is turning into a book, this is Post 1 of 3. Post 2 will be on Sunday's events, and Post 3 will be opinions and suggestions. They'll show up eventually.

Friday
Check-in was handled well, at least when I was there. There was some confusion, in that I had intended to pay for the bowl with a check, and the bee with cash, since we had overpaid at regionals. Since the only thing I had that served as an invoice before Thursday was the screenshot of the registration page, I just brought a check for the amount of the bowl. Whoever was there took the check, but was confused by what I was saying about the cash, so that didn't happen at that point or later. I owe you a bit of money, David. I picked up our check-in folder; I'm not sure what was inside it as I mingled everything together. Some teams on Saturday had signs; if we had one, I never saw it, but it wasn't a big deal.
David had seen me right when I came in, and wanted to ask me something; I was warned it may be a request to use my room for competition, but in fact he was asking me to help out Nick with the moderator meetings. I had stopped in briefly for the meeting to get my polo and clear up some quick questions. Interestingly, the note of "What if it's tied at halftime?" was quite important to settle--three consecutive matches I read were level entering the lightning round. Anyway, I told David that I would be happy to help out with some after the evening Bees, but that I was there as a coach and my team wanted dinner, so I was unavailable then.
I missed the start of the opening ceremonies, but they were reasonable. A few things to point out: the Raynell challenge exemplified several things about the Dave Madden Experience that I find negative: he has a very game-show treatment of everything, revealed partly in his moderating style. He also tended to ramble a bit in introducing it, and I'm not sure how many people cared. The "ceremonial-but-actually-counting opening tossup" was more than a little strange, and the message of "On time means early" with respect to the weekend's schedule was stressed.
The Friday night Bees were a hilarious mess. I can only imagine how awful they would have been if the field had been half of what Madden said the cap was, since the adult Sports Bee had roughly 25 people and barely ran with that. One person was calling out the schedule for each participant in each bee, which obviously took a really long time. Even one more person who could've taken one of the two subjects would've cut this time considerably. Once we had assignments, we went up to the room and waited in the hallway. There appeared to be well over a dozen people clamoring as moderators, but we sat there for 10-15 minutes waiting for someone to come by with a room key, then waited for ten more minutes for a moderator who said he had just been drafted to work, then another five more minutes for packets. Once the three rounds were over, we returned downstairs for finals, and the buzzer system that was set up didn't actually work, nor did the second one retrieved, and the third one had us moving the tables when someone reported that the youth bee had finished and we could move back to the main ballroom. We'd have been better off going back to a bedroom. The questions during this bee were OK; many were very transparent, but not awful except for the one that I strongly protested. I and some others noted the lack of sports-themed prizes which had been mentioned as likely.

Saturday
Because of the demand that we be at our away site before its scheduled 8:30 beginning, I rushed my kids through breakfast and we got on the Metro. In the tunnel from the hotel, Madden gave me two extension cords because he said my site needed them. Because of a sluggish early morning subway system, we arrived at German Marshall Fund at roughly 8:20-8:25. The GMF liaison saw me in my red polo and asked if I was the staffer she was waiting for; thinking I was the last coach to get there, I said yes, but in fact it was the case that the Site Director wasn't present. While we waiting, the liaison assigned rooms--one was a kitchen open-air to lobby--and I tried to do as much pre-planning as possible. Site director John arrived at 8:50 saying he had been assigned to deliver buzzers to different away sites. We found out that the other bracket at GMF was attached to Slovenia, which had one room and one constant team, while their opponent would be shuttled back and forth. The Brindlee Mountain coach, whose team was playing round 1 in Slovenia, reported that they had contacted her and the directions were crap.
The morning went fairly well if slow, because of the obvious problem of having to wait 15-20 minutes between rounds for the shuttle. When I thought out loud that the driver should return to GMF during the round because our game would finish first, a team said that was impossible because the driver was the one reading games at Slovenia. Seriously, what the :capybara: were you thinking? That had no chance to work out well. By round 5, the JV games were at halftime before my second team had arrived. The site director was taking time to text scores in to someone, but I have no idea what that accomplished. The online schedules were never updated, not that I particularly expected them to be. The site director had all the info necessary to determine 1-6 rankings (save the last Slovenia game), and while waiting for my round 5 team to arrive, another coach and I worked out what we could.

It would have been a very good idea to have printouts of schedules for each team, not only for the morning, but in advance of the afternoon. That way, at the end of the morning session, we could gather everyone together and say "First place was Team A, here's your afternoon assignment. Second was Team B, here's your assignment." With actual room numbers, rather than just a "You're in the block of floors 3/4." With all due respect to the gigantic undertaking that was the Magical History Tour, this was one of the reasons why you said you would stop holding regionals a month before the national tournament, so that you could focus on logistical planning. Instead, the field wasn't set until a week or so before, meaning there wasn't much time for setting brackets and preparing advance material.
Anyway, my students finished up though I was still reading Round 5 (I got the team arriving from Slovenia every round, which was probably for the best as that way I could keep them from falling too far behind). Our last round ended, we updated the standings, and saw that in fact the last tossup in my game had decided who moved on and who would have to wait for a possible wild card. By this time it was 12:45 or so. My team wanted lunch, but I said that it would be at least a 45-minute trip back to the hotel, and I wanted us to go back first, so we would know how long everything was delayed and therefore how long we would have for lunch.
In fact, because of track delays at Dupont, we got back to Crystal City at around 1:45. We hurried through the mall and tunnel, and I walked into Rosslyn II and asked "What time do the afternoon games start?" For some reason that COMPLETELY escapes me, Nick said "Seven minutes ago." I know now that there was absolutely no chance any games had started, because no one even knew who would play who, so Nick must have been saying that the original schedule had those games starting seven minutes earlier... which, I mean, no :bees:, I know it's 1:52 and the tournament's running late. I want to know how late, so I know if we have time to get lunch, or what. I immediately respond "That is BULLS---." I don't think that was out of line: we'd been warned repeatedly that lateness meant forfeiting games, and I was not going to stand for us having to forfeit games due to inept selection of sites. I know now that other places faced delays possibly as bad as ours, but at the time, I thought we were the only group of teams hurrying back to make it in time.

At just that moment, Madden came in and saw he had to talk me down. He said we could go get lunch, but "Do so quickly, and come right back. We're starting soon." I commanded my team to follow those instructions, even telling one kid who had gone to the bathroom to just take his meal with him back to the hotel. We went to our tower, and I got to the pod central to find a put-upon Paul Nelson. I was the third-ish moderator to show up out of six, and we had far from enough teams. Long story short, Paul was unable to ever get firm word on who was supposed to be in our block nor anything else. At some point, teams from Bracket A came up bearing schedules they'd been given; much later, there were rumors of schedules for Bracket B. Both of those had errors in which teams were in them, that we found out much later--though at least we found out those errors before we started playing games. Meanwhile I turned on the hockey game and dozed off.
Afternoon play started at 3:45. I had Chattahoochee in my room for all five playoff rounds. They were in good spirits, and their opponents were as well. I did my best to catch up to the pre-announced schedule. I engage in minor banter with teams while moderating, and at one point quipped before a game (in homage to 1010 WINS's slogan), "You give me 22 minutes, I'll give you a game of History Bowl." In fact, timing myself, that game took 19 minutes because of quick buzzes. Still, there's no reason at all a game should take more than 30 minutes, so 35-40 minute windows should be plenty. The other moderators in our block were also satisfactory, and we finished Round 10 at about 6:30-ish. Both brackets broke 5-4-3-2-1-0, so we knew the eight knockout teams from our half of the bracket. The other half of the bracket......

Again, I had no knowledge of how the other parts of the tournament were doing in terms of scheduling, and I had volunteered to fill a gap in the playoff moderating schedule, so I went to headquarters to get a status report and schedule projection. Eventually I told my team to go get dinner in the mall, because I had no idea how long they would have before knockouts would start. I decided to do what I could to help out in planning, and perhaps regretted that decision. Steve Frappier and I helped out the official above-the-fold staff to determine the brackets. Others have mentioned the lost scoresheets and chaos of that nature. At one point, while I was sorting scoresheets and totalling scores on the JV charts, Madden told a staffer coming in with piles of envelopes and packets to talk to me; neither I nor he knew why. Every so often, Madden would ask how close I was to having the JV bracket ready, and the answer was always "What the hell is the deal with this Pope John Paul II scoresheet, when Iolani is the team on the schedule?"
At some point, someone answered with "Yeah, we know about that, we're calling that the Iolani fiasco. Through an apparent sheer failure to count wins, the wrong team played three rounds in a JV playoff bracket, so all three rounds had to be made up. Not sure where they found the packets, but that took obviously more than an hour to fix.
Meanwhile, Matt Weiner and David Madden were resolving a the "Moscow-Washington hotline" protest in the DCC-Irvington game. I came in late, but from my understanding, Matt's ruling was that the acceptance rather than prompting of "Russia" is not something that can be protested, and therefore if it's taken at the time, it's good. Everyone involved with the game at the time disappeared, and I tried to ascertain what that did to the standings. Despite several people's insistence that it was Varsity, the game in question was actually JV, which was good because that meant I knew where the scoresheet was. And the scoresheet says DCC 170+, Irvington 170 (OT) after allowing Irvington 10 points for the tossup in question. In other words, DCC had won, and was still protesting the question. This is not DCC's fault; their moderator told them he had deducted Irvington's 10 points and that was what caused the tie, and that if the answer was accepted Irvington would win 180-170; this was wrong. I tried to find DCC to see if they had a scoresheet to cross-check; two players got two feet in the door before being pulled back by a coach who had discussed this :bees: for an hour and was sick of it until I said "No, really, I think you have won the game despite the protest." Much time was spent tracking down Irvington because Madden never compiled contact information for the teams. Since Irvington hadn't been keeping a separate score, once they checked my math, they acquiesced to the ruling and DCC was declared the winner of that game. Oh yeah, the moderator of the game, “Swade”, was not ever reached to provide insight on what had happened.
This created a seeding tie, of course between DCC and Bergen--my team. Where Steve and I had resolved a seeding tie in varsity by coin flip, I was for the sake of perfect transparency not willing to be the person who flips a coin to determine my own team's opponent. Madden hemmed and hawwed for a few minutes before declaring morning record to be the next tiebreaker; my team had the higher performance and got the higher seed.
By this time, I had gotten really sick and tired of being a red-shirt whipping boy. Parents and relatives would come up to me and ask where their student's game was, and I had no idea. No one did except for Madden. At one point, with us about to announce the round of 16 for Varsity and JV, I told a (grand?)parent in front of Madden, "Once we announce this round, we'll post the brackets and we'll do our best to put room numbers, so you can see where they'll play their next round also." Despite being literally the easiest thing in the world to do, room numbers were never written on the bracket. I have to guess teams kept reporting back to the ballroom and standing around for 15-20 minutes waiting for the next set of assignments, which is incredibly poor.

My team lost in the Round of 16 and retreated to their rooms; I went to the ballroom to tell Matt what I'd discovered about the DCC-Irvington game and while we stood around with some other staffers discussing things that had gone wrong, Madden came over unbeckoned and said something which I hope he realizes was really :capybara:-ing stupid: "You know what's nuts about this day? We're gonna finish on time." It was 9:20, and the quarterfinals had not yet started. The schedule given to moderators on Friday had the finals starting at I believe 9:30 (maybe 9:45), so this was obvious fantasy.
When I realized I was standing among people who were getting assigned to read games, I backed out of the room quickly to go get dinner and watch hockey in the hotel bar. A parent of a middle school student there for the bee discussed strategy with me, and at one point I saw Greg Bossick. I wanted to ask him if it was over yet, with the time past 10.
He and another staffer (Maggie, I believe) were cornered by a group of parents from Homer Center MS, the team which had gotten screwed over by the apparently bull-:bees: cheating accusation. The loudest and most insistent father freely admitted he'd been drinking for a while and that was fueling his anger. Putting together the pieces I picked up then and later from conversation with Raynell: St. Ignatius Loyola accused a player on Homer of looking at the packet (I don't know how), and the accusation came from all parties--students, parents, coach. Raynell made the ruling to replay the game on the basis that he hoped that would make it go away, but Loyola won the replay in overtime. The student accused of cheating is apparently competing in the $50,000 bee two weeks hence, and his parents noted that they couldn't trust the latter competition to be on the up-and-up after what they'd been through today. Reference was made to "video evidence" that would clear the team of cheating, and that no one looked at. Raynell reported to me that he looked at the video and it was completely inconclusive.
After talking to my team and telling them what their curfew was in advance of Sunday morning’s Bee, I returned to the ground level after 11, curious to see who had won. I found the varsity final still going on somehow, and liveblogged the ending, so I can report it was 11:37pm when the tournament ended. Hunter was a very strong champion, and Bellarmine a deserving runner-up.
As noted above, this is long enough for now, so I’ll talk about Sunday in a later post.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed May 02, 2012 7:05 am

BethL wrote:
I ended up reading the Middle School final as well, because Raynell appeared to be having a nervous breakdown or something. It was a fun, great game, and Longfellow came out on top. I had a really good time reading those middle school games and many parents and kids told me how much they enjoyed my reading as well, trying to just get everything to be fun again after a very frustrating couple hours. I had a scorekeeper in this game, whose name i've forgotten, that also did an incredible job talking to the kids and encouraging them to play their best and be good sports. It was the best hour i spent at the entire tournament, those last two games.


That was me. Thank you! You did a fantastic job at getting those kids back on track too! To even get them laughing before we started was great. It was wonderful to work with you! I will keep score with you anytime.

You were great Beth. Thanks so much again. And i appreciate your compliments as well.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby dollmi » Wed May 02, 2012 1:41 pm

Last year we experienced the disastrous organization of this tournament, but we decided to give it a second chance this year. Things can improve a lot in one year. We were hoping.

I was pleased with the change in venue for the hotel. Last year we booked our hotel rooms the day after we qualified, and the main hotel was full. From our end, the accommodations were excellent. It was a good idea to have a hotel that could accommodate many of the matches.

Everything on Friday went smoothly for us. We arrived early and checked in at the very beginning. We got our hotel rooms early as well and even had some time to explore D.C.

Saturday was another story. I was the coach with our JV team this time, and my co-coach went with our Varsity team. For the JV team, our only issue was a moderator who told us that the teams were not allowed to write during the other team’s 60 second round. So, they couldn’t write down the incorrect answers. They could confer with one another but not write anything down? I texted my co-coach to make sure that wasn’t a rules change at all sites and challenged it as soon as we got to the next room. I was told that I was correct. Players could write at any time.

We ended behind schedule in the morning and were told to wait for instructions. We were more than a half hour behind schedule when we were told to report back to the hotel to receive our instructions. Even though there was a chart with results posted on the wall, we could not be told where to go. (I had already figured out where we would be going, but I was waiting for the official word.)

As soon as I heard that, I knew it was going to be a disaster. We were told we would have a schedule in hand when we left our morning rounds. That’s what needed to happen. The morning sites needed to direct teams to the afternoon sites. They should have had schedules prepared without team names on them. They would just have A1 vs. B6 or whatever, and then the names of the teams would be filled in later. But, you would have a piece of paper telling you exactly where you were playing and in what rooms.

After last year, I was prepared. We took the Metro and I left my kids at a restaurant for food. One of my players ordered food for me, and I went to the war room to stand there to wait for results. I stood there for a full half hour until someone could tell me where to go. They were only able to tell me where to go because I was able to tell them who had won one of the matches. Otherwise, I still would have been waiting there. I rejoined my team and had 10 minutes to eat my food before we had to be at our competition room at 1:45. I was told we would receive our specific room schedule when we got to the floor of Arlington Tower.

When we arrived, there was one other team there and our site captain. Our site captain had two room keys, and he didn’t have any idea who the teams would be. I waited 15 minutes before offering to go downstairs to find out what was happening. Our players were sitting in the hallway playing cards when I left.

I arrived downstairs to the mess of coaches and players in the lobby, all waiting to be told where to go. To further add to the inconsistencies of this tournament, I was talking to the coach of one of the varsity teams from my area. She told me that they had to forfeit their first match because they arrived too late. They had issues with the Metro. From posts above, it seems like that wasn’t enforced consistently.

Eventually they called JV coaches into the Lee room and read off schedules. Why couldn’t the schedule have been printed on a piece of paper and handed out? Why did we have to read them one by one and have each of them write everything down? Or couldn’t it have been posted on the website? Anything! There were long delays between the contention brackets and the consolation brackets, and then they came back with changes. We just sat there waiting for the longest time. My students were texting me that they were in the room with one of the other teams playing cards. For two hours.

Once we finally had a schedule, I took it upstairs to give to my site captain. He wasn’t provided with a copy. Apparently, we were assigned a room on the 18th floor that did not exist, so that was another issue entirely. He had to redo the schedule and figure things out on his own.

My team was set and knew where they were to be, so I left to deal with an issue with our Varsity team. They had been competing at Anderson House starting at 1 o’clock, and they were forced to play Richard Montgomery twice. They are a very nice team, but who wants to play them twice when you are trying to make play-offs?? A team had gone to the wrong room, so they just had our varsity team play them again. They had to be out of Anderson House by a certain time, so they could not resolve the protest there. There wasn’t time. They had to just keep playing.

I went downstairs to file a protest with David Madden while the JV rounds began. I missed a game and a half while I sat downstairs waiting. I was told to just wait—they would resolve something. They had an extra packet, and they would find the team that we should have played. He was busy dealing with other issues, so I just waited. People kept showing up to register for the Bee, and I kept telling them to come back later since no one was around.

Eventually he told me to bring my team when they get back from Anderson House, and he took my cell phone number. I could go back to my JV team.

I went back to JV until Varsity arrived, and Will (the site captain from Anderson House) had already spoken to our Varsity team and had a resolution by the time I arrived back downstairs. They could find the teams and we could straighten it out here at the hotel. I let my co-coach deal with it and returned to JV.

I was glad I did, because JV was almost over at that point. Apparently two teams out of our group left after all the confusion, so we only had three afternoon matches. They only played 8 games total. They were finished and free to leave.

I sent them for food and went to watch the Varsity match that was occurring to replace the second Richard Montgomery match. But, I’m still confused by this. We were playing Chaminade Madonna A. They were in Judicial, and we were in Legislative. I think they just pulled them because their coach was helping. Regardless, the wrong teams played each other in one round at Anderson House. I’m wondering if it is larger than that though. We only should have played Richard Montgomery if they lost one of their morning matches. If they were the #5 seed, did they really lose one of their morning matches? Or did everyone at Anderson House just get lumped into one giant group instead of two separate groups of 6? I’m curious to see the results when they are finally posted to figure it out.

Either way, we were just glad to get out of there on Saturday night. We may still enter the regional tournaments, but this will be the last trip to D.C. for the National History Bowl for us. Two years of poor organization is too much.

Sorry for the length of this post. I know I’m not the only team with stories like this.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby theflyingdeutschman » Wed May 02, 2012 3:34 pm

dollmi wrote:I sent them for food and went to watch the Varsity match that was occurring to replace the second Richard Montgomery match. But, I’m still confused by this. We were playing Chaminade Madonna A. They were in Judicial, and we were in Legislative. I think they just pulled them because their coach was helping. Regardless, the wrong teams played each other in one round at Anderson House. I’m wondering if it is larger than that though. We only should have played Richard Montgomery if they lost one of their morning matches. If they were the #5 seed, did they really lose one of their morning matches? Or did everyone at Anderson House just get lumped into one giant group instead of two separate groups of 6? I’m curious to see the results when they are finally posted to figure it out.
.


As a member of the Richard Montgomery team at History bowl, I can confirm that we did lose a match in the first round, Southside beat us by a score of like 270-220 or something. And our team did not experience any issues other than the aforementioned unfairness from playing the same team in our bracket twice in the afternoon and a long wait until playoffs began.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Lightinfa » Wed May 02, 2012 4:49 pm

theflyingdeutschman wrote:
dollmi wrote:I sent them for food and went to watch the Varsity match that was occurring to replace the second Richard Montgomery match. But, I’m still confused by this. We were playing Chaminade Madonna A. They were in Judicial, and we were in Legislative. I think they just pulled them because their coach was helping. Regardless, the wrong teams played each other in one round at Anderson House. I’m wondering if it is larger than that though. We only should have played Richard Montgomery if they lost one of their morning matches. If they were the #5 seed, did they really lose one of their morning matches? Or did everyone at Anderson House just get lumped into one giant group instead of two separate groups of 6? I’m curious to see the results when they are finally posted to figure it out.
.


As a member of the Richard Montgomery team at History bowl, I can confirm that we did lose a match in the first round, Southside beat us by a score of like 270-220 or something. And our team did not experience any issues other than the aforementioned unfairness from playing the same team in our bracket twice in the afternoon and a long wait until playoffs began.


I'm very curious too how seeding was done because Maggie Walker with an undefeated record was seeded lower at 8.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby sir negsalot » Wed May 02, 2012 4:51 pm

The first five games did not carry over. Seeding was determined by record and cumulative points in the second set of 5 games.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby dollmi » Wed May 02, 2012 4:57 pm

theflyingdeutschman wrote:
As a member of the Richard Montgomery team at History bowl, I can confirm that we did lose a match in the first round, Southside beat us by a score of like 270-220 or something. And our team did not experience any issues other than the aforementioned unfairness from playing the same team in our bracket twice in the afternoon and a long wait until playoffs began.


I'm glad to hear it wasn't as big of a mistake as I originally thought!
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Lightinfa » Wed May 02, 2012 5:18 pm

sir negsalot wrote:The first five games did not carry over. Seeding was determined by record and cumulative points in the second set of 5 games.


Thank you for the info!
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Edward Powers » Fri May 04, 2012 11:59 am

Granted that there were many serious logistical problems that need correction if the NHBB National Tournament is to flourish in the future, it is also true that there were some outstanding performances over the weekend worthy of recognition that should not be forgotten.

So, congratualtions to all those who performed at the highest levels---Hunter & Bellarmine in the Varsity Division; Northmont & Chattahoochie in the JV division, and of course all of those in the Bee who made it to the Championship Finals at Mount Vernon---to Mark Arildsen, Alex Frey, Bruce McCuskey and Richard Yu in the Varsity Division, and to Jon Leidenheimer and Sameer Rai in the JV Division.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby jbarnes112358 » Fri May 04, 2012 2:50 pm

Can anyone provide a link to the playoff results, such as a bracket with scores to show how the playoffs transpired?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Edward Powers » Fri May 04, 2012 7:54 pm

Coach Barnes,

I do not think such a link exists just yet, but I could give you a rough idea about how the final 8 teams played, since i stayed to the very end and did have access to the handwritten Final 8 bracket, which had most but not all of the final 8 scores. There might be some errors here, so if any of the 8 teams can help with corrections, please feel free to do so.

In the Quarterfinals, my team, # 2 seed Saint Joe's. played a very tense and back & forth match with # 10 Bellarmine, which came down to the last question tied at 250-250. Bellarmine 10'd the last question to win, 260-250, and would play the winner of #3 George Marshall and # 6 LASA, which Marshall won, something like 270-220 if my memory of the hand written brackets hanging in the main ballroom serves correctly. Then Bellarmine defeated Marshall something like 290-210 to reach the Championship Final.

On the other side of the bracket, # 1 Hunter defeated The #9 University School from Tennessee something like 310-230, while #13 DCC "upset" # 5 Richard Montgomery, but I have no recall at all of the actual final score. Then Hunter played a very close match with DCC in the Semi's, and the Hunter kids told me they won by only 20 or 30 points in what must have been a very competitive match. This led of course to the Final, which was close until the speed round, at which point Hunter grabbed about a 100 point lead going into the 4th quarter, a lead which was extended to a final score of something like 310-190.

It is very possible that the scores I have reported here for the Quarterfinals & Semifinals are slightly off, but I think the above description is essentially accurate, so I hope it helps you to discover in a broad way what happened to the Final 8.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Great Bustard » Sat May 05, 2012 2:51 pm

Hi Everyone,
Just checking in briefly to let you all know that I have both been following the discussion and am in the process of formulating a reply that will cover all the necessary issues and fixes. I will also be meeting with Matt Weiner and others on Tuesday to discuss these and other issues; once that meeting is finished, I will have an official response, likely on Wednesday night. In any case, please know that probably over 100 hours have already been spent by NHBB staff thinking over improvements - the current list of planned fixes stands at 52 different things. My apologies for the logistical headaches that accompanied the tournament last weekend; the good news, however, is that nothing here seems incapable of being fixed, and everyone should know that accomplishing this is my number 1 priority for going forward with NHBB. With that in mind, I will leave you all with the first two fixes that will start the process of fixing Nationals: 1) I'm moving to DC precisely to accomplish this and 2) yes, Charlie, we will have a field cap next year. More to come soon.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby jonpin » Sun May 06, 2012 11:56 am

Sunday
I begrudgingly put my red polo on Sunday morning and went downstairs to try to pick up my schedule and whatever else I would need for the Bee. Despite being told on Friday that "Last year the Bee draw got done at 2am Saturday night. This year we should have it done at 2am tonight", and then on Saturday that "We'll have all the schedules printed and out on the info table by 7am", there were only varsity schedules available. Further, the room rosters that I'd been suggesting be made for moderators hadn't been made yet, and I was told they would be printed one at a time--"This is a slow printer." I was internally shocked that printer was singular (as far as I can remember).
I decide to go upstairs and mentally zone out. There are already reports that the "8:05 sharp" start has been pushed back to 9:00am, which makes sense since I have no idea where to go to get packets, a room assignment, or really anything else. Again, I feel bad for all the students who got up early and decided against breakfast because they thought they couldn't wait on line for 30 minutes, and then sat around waiting for an hour.
Eventually, I get a room assignment in the JV bracket; packets will be delivered to me, and I should return scoresheets to the runner on my floor at the end of each round. It was something like 9:30 before round one was delivered to me, and a room roster was delivered shortly afterwards, along with a student who had "qualified late", and would be sitting in my room all day. Good for him, but sucks to be you if you wound up sitting all day in a room with a crappy moderator. Somewhere along here, I heard through the grapevine only five rounds were getting read.

There was consistently a long wait for my players to arrive. I suppose that's to be expected when you have players who spend one round on the 12th floor spreading out over the 9th through 3rd floors in the next round. At one point I asked my runner to check if a certain student actually existed or not, he said he would take the elevator down to central to find out because he didn't have a cell phone. The whole point of runners is to facilitate communication with central, what the hell are you doing having someone who doesn't have a phone do that?
I was always planning to wait for all of my students unless given strict instructions otherwise, because dollars to donuts any delay would not be their fault, and my resolve in that was only furthered by the tale of one parent who said that another student from his school had hurried to round three right after his round two game ended, only to find out that not only had the round two game started, but there were no buzzers available for him! What the living :capybara: were you doing putting more students into a room than there are buzzers? This parent (who was waiting for his child to arrive from his still-going previous round) was justifiably pissed.
While waiting for Round 5 to start, I was told to bring my buzzers down to the ballroom at the conclusion, and that I should take the scoresheet to Rosslyn myself because the runner had to leave. I then opened up the Round 5 packet to find it was recent world history, not recent combined history as I had figured it must be. So the most accessible packet, recent US history, was basically thrown in the garbage. Really, really stupid and unfair.

Round 5 ends, I have to gather my stuff, so I ask one or two students to take the buzzers down to the ballroom--someone later tells me that's not actually where they're supposed to go, but too late at that point--and my scoresheet to Rosslyn. Sorry to whoever's room it was that the student and I didn't clean up; we were all told to be doing things immediately and we were already way behind schedule. Two people are in Rosslyn, and at that point starting to enter the Round 4 data into a computer. I ask if they have the slightest idea what the cutoff might be, having a student who scored a reasonably impressive 35 points. The two staffers tell me to check in Jefferson. Obviously when I get to Jefferson, they have absolutely no idea what the JV cutoff is, because that's the Varsity tab room. I see Dave Madden furiously typing up an updated message re: Mount Vernon which reports that the buses will board between 1:50 and 2:00, and absolutely will not leave before 2:00 so go get lunch now. Seeing as it's 1:30, and no one knows who's qualified yet, no :bees:.

There was quite a long while of waiting around to see what was going to happen. After a while, I made one last valiant effort to find out if 35 qualified, and was told that the JV cutoff was, I think, 46. At this point, my team left to get lunch and play pickup soccer against some locals. When we returned at about 5:45, the St. Joseph team was there confirming that Alex had won the trip to France. A high level staffer, I think Greg, confirmed that the Mount Vernon final ended about 5:15-ish. With this being well over an hour after teams were promised they could be delivered to National Airport, I really hope no one missed their flight (though I figure we'd have heard about it if they did). Still, this is proof to me that no matter what time Madden says something will end, I cannot trust it. [big]IF[/big] we come back next year, I find it highly likely we will just leave Monday morning, because I can't in good conscience book any train on Sunday earlier than the time I did (an 8pm train which resulted in returning to school just after midnight) and have full confidence that we would actually make it on time, should we have students in the finals of the Bee.

At this writing, I have no idea what rank my students were in the Bee.


Thoughts on the State of NHBB
I'm not going to dance around the point: The organization of this tournament was not acceptable. My first and foremost suggestion for Dave Madden is to can all of his extraneous :bees: and spend more time actually pre-planning NHBB 2013. Nationwide outreach is a phenomenal thing, and I do not disagree that he's put quiz-bowl-like-substance in places it had never been before, but if this is what new teams get, then those teams will not stick around.
There's so much basic stuff that needs to and can easily get fixed, some of which I've pointed out time and time again over the course of the last thirteen months. One month before the tournament, I posted:
jonpin wrote:I'd like to make a strong suggestion that all teams and staffers receive by email ahead of time and in paper copy the day of the tournament an overview of the rules, so that everyone knows the procedures for subs, quarter-by-quarter play, handling common but abnormal circumstances. Also that the Game Format and Official Rules pages on the NHBB website be updated ASAP, so that teams are not surprised or confused by the rules when they get to DC.

Madden responded:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:This will be done. We will also have mandatory moderator training sessions on Friday for all readers. Finally, the format of the prelim games at Nationals is entirely the same as the format of Regionals games this year, so that should also help to avoid confusion.

I refer you to the History Bowl "Game Format" page which was not once updated ALL SEASON to reflect the 2011-12 rules. I also note that the only post Madden has made since the tournament was the one where he said there are 52 changes he's already planning for 2013. Nowhere in that post was there an actual official recognition of the winners of the damn tournament! Nor was that information ever emailed out to teams, even in the form of "Thank you all for coming, here's who won, we're working on full stats to post later". A new team which does not participate on this board would have no idea how the tournament wound up if they didn't just go to HistoryBowl.com every day and notice the new link on the sidebar. This is simple stuff that needs to be done!

I feel like I have a specific insight here, having just run a poor tournament myself. BOAT IV was really not good, it had staffer issues, rounds that averaged some 40+ minutes, and it ended after 7pm. I didn't actually leave the school until about 9pm because I had to clean up basically every classroom and the cafeteria where we had breakfast. And I was a little surprised that everyone at the tournament excused it day-of and no one (publicly) called me out on it afterward. I think the reason why is because I have a history of running tournaments well, and that I expressed immediate and sincere regret about how slowly everything was going.
For better or for worse, David Madden has not earned this level of benefit of the doubt. NHBB 2011 was poorly organized, and a number of us made a number of suggestions for improvement. David said that he would take those improvements under advisement and then what did he do? He doubled the size of nationals! He started a college division! He started a European division! He started an Asian division! He instituted three sets of regional tournaments and traveled the country for weeks directing dozens of tournaments! He started up the Middle School Bee and directed dozens of THOSE tournaments! I don't actually blame him for the last of those; it's not like the History Channel was going to sit around for years waiting for him to be ready to launch it, but it added to a nightmarish schedule that left him running on almost zero sleep and spending basically no time with actual concrete preparation for NHBB-HS.

I've often said that Madden has absolutely no sense of scale and no patience to take things one step at a time. He is ambitious, no doubt, but there comes a point where ambition is overshadowed by the complete inability to deliver. Saturday's bowl was a fifteen-round tournament. This was, and we should've spelled this out clearly and directly, absolutely crazy. Most local tournaments limit themselves to no more than 12 rounds, while some go to 13 or 14, but they are generally small, no more than 20-some teams, and all at one site. ICT lasts 13 rounds plus tiebreakers and finals, but is a collegiate tournament with a clock, 64 teams, double-staffed rooms, and only one rebracketing. HSNCT's Saturday prelims are 16 rounds long, but teams don't play every round, there are clocks and rigidly determined schedules, and again double-staffed rooms. Even then, the latter two run until about 7pm. Oh, and all of those tournaments are held at one site! Even as originally scheduled, Saturday was going to run until 10:00pm. That's too late for high schoolers, in my opinion. And there was so little material evidence of planning that events running on time was a fantasy from the very beginning.

I've been in the quiz bowl world primarily as a moderator/coach for four years now, and over that time I've attended a great number of tournaments that were poorly run or that suffered unexpected delays. It's been my personal policy that as someone who knows how to get :bees: done, I volunteer my services to get things fixed as quickly as possible for the betterment of all who are attending the tournament. As such, I spend time in nearly every tournament I staff in the war room trying to get rebracketing done as quickly as possible. At Princeton 2008, I helped the tournament recover from a computer crash that had everyone worried they would have to re-enter every single game. At states 2009 as emergency hosts, I kept individual stats on Excel while moderating so that we could recognize the top players at the end of the day. And last Saturday at NHBB, I spent what I'd estimate was about an hour straightening out a ludicrously stupid protest mess, finding scoresheets, and filling out the brackets while top-level staffers were... I don't have any :capybara:-ing idea where they were, but the war room was basically empty. Kudos to Steve Frappier for doing his part in this as well. The thanks I got was having parents ask where their students were playing or where they could sign up for the Bee (neither were questions that even had answers as far as I know) and having Madden demand every so often that the brackets had to be done soon, while the protest mess and the Iolani fiasco remained outstanding.
I had another option. I could've poked my head in to inquire about when the knockout rounds would begin, found that there was much work to be done first, left with my team for a legitimate dinner, and come back an hour later. I'm going to be completely blunt: Had I chosen that option, who the hell was going to figure out the JV bracket? To my memory, it's not like I was replacing anyone at that table, it was all pretty much just sitting there.

The two days I spent staffing NHBB were incredibly frustrating, and I joked at one point that our polos accurately represented us redshirts being set up to take the fall. I've decided that as long as I am coach, I am not going to moderate at National History Bowl, because it's two days (possibly three next year) of having to make apologies, excuses, and doomed predictions at schedules for a tournament which the people directing it expected to run on magical thinking.

Oh, and no more brackets split between sites. Seriously, that's the stupidest :capybara:-ing thing that happened all tournament, and I know from the moment it was mentioned that there was no way our site was finishing by 12.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Northern Central Railway » Sun May 06, 2012 2:42 pm

jonpin wrote:Eventually, I get a room assignment in the JV bracket; packets will be delivered to me, and I should return scoresheets to the runner on my floor at the end of each round. It was something like 9:30 before round one was delivered to me, and a room roster was delivered shortly afterwards, along with a student who had "qualified late", and would be sitting in my room all day. Good for him, but sucks to be you if you wound up sitting all day in a room with a crappy moderator. Somewhere along here, I heard through the grapevine only five rounds were getting read.


If you were a bee moderator who got a room roster, you were one of the lucky ones.
jonpin wrote:At one point I asked my runner to check if a certain student actually existed or not, he said he would take the elevator down to central to find out because he didn't have a cell phone. The whole point of runners is to facilitate communication with central, what the hell are you doing having someone who doesn't have a phone do that?


In your runner's defense, even if he had a phone that wouldn't have helped much. As far as I know none of the runners were given the phone number of the person in charge of the bee.

jonpin wrote:So the most accessible packet, recent US history, was basically thrown in the garbage. Really, really stupid and unfair.


I'm tempted to think ditching Round 6 was a last minute decision; I distinctly remember seeing all the Round 6 bee packets clearly marked and in sealed envelopes on the floor of the Jefferson room.

jonpin wrote:I feel like I have a specific insight here, having just run a poor tournament myself. BOAT IV was really not good, it had staffer issues, rounds that averaged some 40+ minutes, and it ended after 7pm. I didn't actually leave the school until about 9pm because I had to clean up basically every classroom and the cafeteria where we had breakfast. And I was a little surprised that everyone at the tournament excused it day-of and no one (publicly) called me out on it afterward. I think the reason why is because I have a history of running tournaments well, and that I expressed immediate and sincere regret about how slowly everything was going.


The power of basic customer service!

jonpin wrote:Oh, and no more brackets split between sites. Seriously, that's the stupidest :capybara:-ing thing that happened all tournament, and I know from the moment it was mentioned that there was no way our site was finishing by 12.


I wasn't affected by this, but the one thing that really gets me about this is that the suggestion to not have brackets split between multiple sites was also made after Nationals last year but apparently ignored. As someone in IRC put it, those who don't learn from history bowl...
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Francis the Talking France » Sun May 06, 2012 9:36 pm

May I ask what the actual benefits are for hosting all of these games at random places of possible significance in DC? It's not like anyone really had time to look at anything in the various buildings. Wasn't it just sitting in a room somewhere else other than the hotel?

As for the opening ceremonies, I was kind of annoyed at how long and drawn out it really was. I think a lot of people came there just to find out where the Friday side-events would be because no one actually knew. That then resulted in a lot of people missing dinner and getting antsy. All of these announcements were made and awards were given out, and I had no idea who most of the people were besides the Jeopardy panel, and I guess maybe one person who got an award? I really didn't hear any names either, because of incessant clapping. Also segueing into the next point, someone had a particularly strong propensity to clap after every single thing David said, even if it wasn't even that great of a thing. For example, we have X number of varsity teams here (insert forever-long clap here), Y number of JV teams here (insert another forever clap), Z number of whatever somethings (clapclapclap). It just wasn't at all necessary, and it prolonged the ceremony so much longer than needed.

I was only there for Friday and Sunday, but a vast majority of the troubles seemed to be on Saturday, so I won't say much else.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Sun May 06, 2012 10:46 pm

Francis the Talking France wrote:May I ask what the actual benefits are for hosting all of these games at random places of possible significance in DC? It's not like anyone really had time to look at anything in the various buildings. Wasn't it just sitting in a room somewhere else other than the hotel?

In addition to this, I also am curious if the side events will still be kept for next year or if that's going to get shelved so the focus is towards the Bowl and Bee competitions and improving the experience, you know, what people came to D.C. for. The side events really seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Sun May 06, 2012 10:56 pm

Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:In addition to this, I also am curious if the side events will still be kept for next year or if that's going to get shelved so the focus is towards the Bowl and Bee competitions and improving the experience, you know, what people came to D.C. for. The side events really seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

My impression is that the "side events" bring much-needed staff. And they are what I "came to D.C. for." Anyway, there are no such events once the Bowl and Bee have started. The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.
Last edited by thejeopardyfan on Sun May 06, 2012 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Sun May 06, 2012 11:06 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:In addition to this, I also am curious if the side events will still be kept for next year or if that's going to get shelved so the focus is towards the Bowl and Bee competitions and improving the experience, you know, what people came to D.C. for. The side events really seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

My impression is that the "side events" bring much-needed staff. Anyway, there are no such events once the Bowl and Bee have started. The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Yes it is. That's planning for meaningless side events that could have been used for planning the Bee and/or Bowl, which, as we have now discussed, were not planned well.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Ukonvasara » Sun May 06, 2012 11:11 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:In addition to this, I also am curious if the side events will still be kept for next year or if that's going to get shelved so the focus is towards the Bowl and Bee competitions and improving the experience, you know, what people came to D.C. for. The side events really seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things.

My impression is that the "side events" bring much-needed staff. And they are what I "came to D.C. for."

The "people" coming to D.C. being referred to here are the high school players--the actual centers of the event, and the only people who need to be specifically catered to.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Sun May 06, 2012 11:25 pm

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:Yes it is. That's planning for meaningless side events that could have been used for planning the Bee and/or Bowl, which, as we have now discussed, were not planned well.

The pub quiz hosts boasted that the clues were compiled two hours before the quiz was to start. Also, the Jeopardy! Bee was cut short because previous things had run long/started late. Sound familiar? I certainly don't think they plan any more for the Jeopardy! events than they do for the Bowl or Bee itself.
I guess I would suggest an alternative source for volunteers if you really don't want the Jeopardy! events.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Sun May 06, 2012 11:31 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:I guess I would suggest an alternative source for volunteers if you really don't want the Jeopardy! events.

NOW we're on to something...
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Sun May 06, 2012 11:33 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Enlighten us.


Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Sun May 06, 2012 11:37 pm

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote:I guess I would suggest an alternative source for volunteers if you really don't want the Jeopardy! events.

NOW we're on to something...

...But still no suggestion from you. Mine: Maybe a staffperson or volunteer could be devoted exclusively to planning the Jeopardy! events so everyone's satisfied. And maybe that person would have more time and energy to drum up interest and get even more volunteers, rather than take that element out completely.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Sun May 06, 2012 11:40 pm

Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?

The organizers make the Bowl an "unofficial Jeopardy! reunion." Frankly I'm stunned that you don't know about this, as I think that's the only reason some people come. But I'm not sure.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby nadph » Sun May 06, 2012 11:45 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?

The organizers make the Bowl an "unofficial Jeopardy! reunion." Frankly I'm stunned that you don't know about this, as I think that's the only reason some people come. But I'm not sure.

In my opinion, this event should be a high school academic competition first and foremost; if some people come only for the meetups and end up having (and possibly contributing to, by virtue of being less experienced/interested) a subpar tournament experience, it might be worthwhile to dissociate the two.

While I was not at the tournament myself, I heard a number of complaints about the tournament staff who were there primarily because of their association with Jeopardy, as they seemed to be less likely to be familiar with the rules or format, which also means this may have contributed to a poor experience for all concerned.
Last edited by nadph on Sun May 06, 2012 11:53 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Kouign Amann » Sun May 06, 2012 11:47 pm

Hopefully, the institution of a reasonable field cap will eliminate the need for David Madden's Jeopardy! buddies to staff this event in the future.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Ukonvasara » Sun May 06, 2012 11:49 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?

The organizers make the Bowl an "unofficial Jeopardy! reunion." Frankly I'm stunned that you don't know about this, as I think that's the only reason some people come. But I'm not sure.

Perhaps the fact that people are treating this as a reunion of game show contestants and, uh, fans rather than a professionally-run national championship tournament for high schoolers is a major part of the problem?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Sniper, No Sniping! » Sun May 06, 2012 11:54 pm

thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?

The organizers make the Bowl an "unofficial Jeopardy! reunion." Frankly I'm stunned that you don't know about this, as I think that's the only reason some people come. But I'm not sure.

Well I think all of the side events weren't necessary, but that's my opinion.

Regarding Jeopardy! Reunion; I don't think the influx of Jeopardy! people served nor intended to serve as a panacea to the staffing situation at NHBB. I'm not sure what percentage of staffers were just Jeopardy! people, but I think this staffing issue you keep hinting at could have been solved with simply instituting a field cap, for one.

Edit: what Aidan said ^. Not to sound rude but I think History Bowl has bigger priorities than making sure Jeopardy people get to chill out in D.C.

Edit 2: I echo Nikhil's sentiments. The Jeopardy! people who do nothing with quiz bowl were about as extraordinarily helpful as the random people they found to read in the final week, people who don't realize you shouldn't spell out every non-Anglicized name in the question.
Last edited by Sniper, No Sniping! on Sun May 06, 2012 11:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Sun May 06, 2012 11:55 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote:
Paula Pareto Optimality wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote: The focus on the Bowl/Bee isn't compromised.

Also, what volunteers do you keep referring to whose presence was "only made possible" by the side events?

The organizers make the Bowl an "unofficial Jeopardy! reunion." Frankly I'm stunned that you don't know about this, as I think that's the only reason some people come. But I'm not sure.

Perhaps the fact that people are treating this as a reunion of game show contestants and, uh, fans rather than a professionally-run national championship tournament for high schoolers is a major part of the problem?

Then maybe it's a training issue, which can still be resolved. It's not like Jeopardy! champions aren't smart enough.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby jonpin » Mon May 07, 2012 12:02 am

thejeopardyfan wrote:Then maybe it's a training issue, which can still be resolved. It's not like Jeopardy! champions aren't smart enough.


That has literally nothing to do with it. Quiz bowl moderating is an actual skill. The art of pacing yourself to be understandable to your teams, while not dragging the tournament down; being able to make quick judgements on the acceptability of answers; having experience with minutia of rules like the "John Adams" rule... these are all things that take some practice to develop.

I don't care if you're smart, if you've never moderated quiz bowl before, I don't want you anywhere near a tournament I paid more than $300 to register for.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby saintanthony » Mon May 07, 2012 12:40 am

Having been privy to most of the post-tournament discussion between Dave Madden and the high level NHBB staffers, I'll wait for Dave to make his megapost before replying with any specific criticisms I have of the 2012 Nationals. I anticipate that his post will address most of, if not all of, these issues and concerns. Before this thread devolves into a bashing of the merits of Jeopardy! staffers I feel the need to chime in.

I think the primary issue with NHBB Nationals 2012 --overlooking the logistical nightmares and other issues relating to year two growing pains -- is the difference between what attending teams wanted and what David Madden thought those teams wanted. The vast majority of top bracket teams came to DC to play quizbowl on a national level, not having the "we're on a school trip to DC so let's sightsee and be touristy" mentality that David assumed. David thinks that teams want to play their matches at historic sites. In reality, most teams would sacrifice playing at these field locations to ensure they are playing centrally-located quizbowl that avoids transportation hassles. Likewise, David thinks that inviting a boatload of Jeopardy! contestants is a draw for some high school players who aspire to be on the show. In reality, they/we add little value. If David wants to continue to use the Jeopardy! reunion marketing ploy then more power to him. High quality moderators can be found from all walks of life and Jeopardy! success and good quizbowl moderator are not mutually exclusive. That being said, moderator training needed to be much more thorough for these first time moderators who, while literate, are not aware of the intricacies of quizbowl procedure. Also, moving away from that Cuban Missile Crisis-style poster room by using electronically maintained records a la SQBS would do wonders and free up precious manpower.

The simple truth is that David has surrounded himself with talented and capable tournament directors. David just needs to divide some responsibility next year and step back a little by delegating some of his many hats. I'm sure that giving Greg Bossick, Nick Clusserath et al increased responsibilities next year will lead to a much more efficiently run tournament and more sleep for David.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby dmleach » Mon May 07, 2012 1:07 am

I'll jump in on this topic. I was one of the volunteer staff for the tournament and agree with many of the criticisms that have been voiced. I also feel comfortable saying that I was one of the most knowledgeable, experienced, and best moderators at the tournament. I received many compliments on my reading from coaches and players, as I always do at every local and national tournaments I've worked.

Every tournament I've ever attended suffers from a lack of skilled readers. I've not once been to an event, as a player or a volunteer, that didn't have at least some moderators that weren't really up to the task. Most people don't want to give up a Saturday or an entire weekend to sit in a room reading questions. It's been awhile since I've volunteered to read for the simple reason that there are many other things I'd rather be doing with my free time.

So why did I travel ten hours from Atlanta as a freelance volunteer, unaffiliated with a team, to read at the NHBB? The two main reasons were the partially subsidized trip to D.C. and the opportunity to meet other Jeopardy! alumni. I'll grant that the latter reason wouldn't have been quite so attractive if I hadn't appeared on the show earlier this year. Nevertheless, the fact that this tournament has become a reunion for contestants was a big draw for me to make the trip. If the opportunity to meet other alumni is taken away from NHBB, I won't be back to help out next year. It's just not worth it to me to take time off work and undertake the cost of the trip if that unique aspect of the weekend is gone.

Were all of the Jeopardy! alums that came to help with the tournament skilled moderators? No; in fact I know that this was the first exposure to quizbowl for many of them. I'd hazard a guess, however, that the ratio of good to bad readers among the former contestants is the same as it is among the general volunteer population. Therefore if you cut out the reunion events, you're necessarily going to slash the number of volunteers, and thereby going to cut the number of skilled readers.

Was the tournament too big this year compared to the size of the volunteer pool? Certainly. If you were to cut the field by 75% to fifty teams you're still going to have to find twenty-five good moderators to prevent complaints. That's a tall order any way you slice it.

Andrew Chrzanowski suggested earlier in this thread that an alternate source of volunteers would be preferable. I'm curious what he has in mind. If quizbowl experience is necessary, and if you remove from the pool all the coaches of teams that are playing at the event and who would prefer to stay with their teams, who does that leave? Are there enough coaches from teams that did not qualify and former players willing to make the trip that are also skilled readers to staff a national scale tournament? How do other large tournaments manage it, or do they?
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby in on these shenanigans » Mon May 07, 2012 1:23 am

In general, Jeopardy! contestants are the sort of people who would probably make good moderators; they chose to go on the show because they're smart, and the producers let them on the show because they usually have got the social skills (clear, loud voice, friendly, etc.) that a good moderator usually has. But, as noted above, you also need lots of practice to be a great moderator, and my guess is people all assumed that the moderators at an expensive national tournament would be great. That's a very, very fair assumption, hence the backlash. But it's not backlash at staffers - it's backlash at logistics, because it's the tournament's job to ensure that staffers aren't frustrated with jobs they aren't comfortable with performing and that teams aren't frustrated with staffers learning the ins and outs of moderating on the fly.

I'm sure if you (the general you, including Jeanie) were drawn to NHBB via Jeopardy! and enjoyed the act of moderating, then we'd love to see you at regular season tournaments (around the country, wherever you're from) throughout the year. That way, when NHBB 2013 rolls around, you're experienced with all the important nuances of moderating without having to learn them in the high-tension fire that is a national championship.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Black-throated Antshrike » Mon May 07, 2012 1:27 am

dmleach wrote:Andrew Chrzanowski suggested earlier in this thread that an alternate source of volunteers would be preferable. I'm curious what he has in mind. If quizbowl experience is necessary, and if you remove from the pool all the coaches of teams that are playing at the event and who would prefer to stay with their teams, who does that leave? Are there enough coaches from teams that did not qualify and former players willing to make the trip that are also skilled readers to staff a national scale tournament? How do other large tournaments manage it, or do they?


He means getting past and present college players, who do an excellent job of moderating and make up the bulk of moderators at HSNCT and NSC.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby Culture is intrinsically impossible » Mon May 07, 2012 1:39 am

Black-throated Antshrike wrote:
dmleach wrote:Andrew Chrzanowski suggested earlier in this thread that an alternate source of volunteers would be preferable. I'm curious what he has in mind. If quizbowl experience is necessary, and if you remove from the pool all the coaches of teams that are playing at the event and who would prefer to stay with their teams, who does that leave? Are there enough coaches from teams that did not qualify and former players willing to make the trip that are also skilled readers to staff a national scale tournament? How do other large tournaments manage it, or do they?


He means getting past and present college players, who do an excellent job of moderating and make up the bulk of moderators at HSNCT and NSC.


This. I heard of more than one instance of an inexperienced moderator doing something like accepting "Tokugawa" for "Nobunaga" when even the most pronunciation-challenged experienced quiz bowl moderator would recognize the difference.
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby thejeopardyfan » Mon May 07, 2012 1:46 am

I read last year but not this year. I found it stressful, probably because, I readily admit, I didn't have experience and was in over my head. I'd love to attend quiz bowl but I don't think there's much near me (central Nebraska).
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Re: 2012 Natl. History Bee & Bowl Nationals - 4/28-29 in DC

Postby nich0103 » Mon May 07, 2012 1:58 am

I was a Jeopardy! alum moderator this year who had previously moderated quiz bowl at various points in my life, but never on the "nationals" stage. I had read at NAQT tournaments, but never National History Bowl. What I can say is that training was pretty much nonexistent for moderators. Nick was good about asking us if we had questions while we were in the training room, but everything was based on us asking the questions, not him offering up information. I can see where someone completely new to the process wouldn't even know what to ask. Hell, when one moderator asked about not receiving a polo shirt, the staffer in the room he was asking didn't even look up from stapling papers. The moderator didn't even get an answer. Dead silence in the room. Very awkward.

One of the main functions of my job is event planning, so I offer up some well-meaning suggestions:
- a printed out program or schedule for moderators. Referring moderators to the website to get rooms/times/etc. isn't good enough.
- a planned out training. You can excuse those that have read National History Bowl before, but for newbies, walk them through a typical match and maybe offer some do's/don'ts.
- I like thejeopardyfan's suggestion of having someone specifically coordinate the Jeopardy! events. I don't think they should be tossed, and if someone is responsible for them, they shouldn't create any burden at all. I mean, no Bowl matches are going on Friday night. Why not have fun little events like that?
- Have coaches/players/parents give specific feedback on moderators they liked and didn't like. I was complimented by two different parents and a number of players that I was "the fun moderator," "the best moderator they've had all day," and "very good." Letting participants give feedback allows David to pinpoint those readers who are good and those who are troublesome. The only issue anyone called me out on all weekend was not clearing the buzzer once. Plus I'll be at NAQT Nationals Memorial Day weekend, so you can't get rid of me too easily.

Some of those may be naive, but I offer them nonetheless. I really appreciate David's involvement and enthusiasm. Like dmleach, I was drawn by the thought of the partial reimbursement and the fact that I might get to once again read quiz bowl with some other Jeopardy! alums. I will continue to participate as long as they'll have me (assuming I get my partial reimbursement for this year and I can find a reasonable flight next year :grin: )

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