Fixing NHBB Nationals

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Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Tue May 08, 2012 2:29 am

As promised, here is my initial evaluation of what went wrong, and how we can best fix things:

1. Field Cap
Clearly, we were unprepared for dealing with the number of teams we had. That said, though, it's not so much the number of teams that was unmanageable, but rather the fact that we were understaffed. More on how to deal with that issue in a second. But beyond that, we certainly need a field cap for next year. Right now, we will set this at 132 Varsity and 48 JV teams. That's 180, or 16 fewer than we had this year. While we were understaffed, if we had had 16 more high-quality readers, we would have been basically where we needed, provided that they understood their roles. If, and only if, we are completely confident in our abilities to handle more teams, will we expand this, but 144 Varsity and 60 JV would almost certainly be the upper limit for next year. Note also, that this does not include middle school teams at all. Middle schools will certainly be welcome to compete in the National History Bowl next year, but the exact structure of Nationals for middle schools won't be determined until August. Ideally, we'd look to have a separate National Championships on Memorial Day weekend, but that remains to be seen.

2. Lack of Trained Staff
As mentioned in the other thread, we had about 10 trained staff members bail on us in the week prior to the tournament. This left us scrounging, but in the future, we'll look to train more staff throughout the year. My moving to DC is largely predicated on accomplishing this, but I'll also be reaching out to people around the country. Increasing the funding reimbursement to $250 will help tremendously in this regard; in certain circumstances, we may be willing to go over this amount, but I believe that with a sustained recruiting push for staff in the DC area, we can build a reader corps that can serve from one year to the next, which would be extremely helpful for continuity purposes.

3. No more split brackets, and a limited approach to "On-site" matches
There will be no more split brackets between sites at NHBB, ever. On site games will be limited to the JV in its entirety in the morning, and Varsity consolation matches in the afternoon. This will help ensure that all contention teams who would play in the playoffs at the hotel in the evening will also be at the hotel in the afternoon.

4. Guides to sites
I know that many schools dislike having to navigate the unfamiliar, error-prone DC metro system, or else have to navigate parking. Beginning next year, NHBB will provide a staff escort to all on-site matches, and when teams register, their registration fees will include metro passes for 4 students and 1 adult to get to the sites and back.

5. 40 minute intervals for the Bowl, 45 minute intervals for Bee rounds. 2 hours and 20 minutes for lunch.
Many of the problems stemmed from an over ambitious schedule. With 40 minute Bowl rounds, 45 minute Bee rounds, and well over 2 hours for lunch, we can build time into the schedule in case one room somewhere hits a snag. This also allows us more time to catch any mistakes in stat reports and for us to double, triple, and quadruple check the rebracketing.

As I've been awake for 24 straight hours, and in the three nights prior got a total of 6 hours of sleep, I'll leave it here for now, but I'll be back with additional suggestions tomorrow evening after discussing plans to improve logistics with Matt Weiner on Tuesday. For now, though, I'd appreciate any comments on the above. Thanks!
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue May 08, 2012 7:47 am

These are all good points, and things that do need to be fixed. I also like, Dave, that you pointed out things with concrete fixes that can be worked on with real solutions.

I also want to suggest something as well, that others have mentioned in the other thread.

I think we should go to classic 20/20 tossup/bonus. The current format is gameshowy, gimmicky, and not conducive to the best or most knowledgeable teams winning. Why are some questions worth 30 points for a buzz in the third sentence and some worth 10? The answer lines really weren't any harder. The bonus questions in the second round had extreme variability in difficulty: some were so easy that i'm sure almost any team could answer them, whereas others were as difficult as "hard" parts to usual history bonus questions i see at regular tournaments.

Just my two cents.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Tue May 08, 2012 11:23 am

Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:I think we should go to classic 20/20 tossup/bonus. The current format is gameshowy, gimmicky, and not conducive to the best or most knowledgeable teams winning. Why are some questions worth 30 points for a buzz in the third sentence and some worth 10? The answer lines really weren't any harder. The bonus questions in the second round had extreme variability in difficulty: some were so easy that i'm sure almost any team could answer them, whereas others were as difficult as "hard" parts to usual history bonus questions i see at regular tournaments.


I have not done any official survey, as I haven't been keeping track just talking about the NHBB and it's format to around 40 teams throughout the year. It was a mixed bag, but there was more of a preference for the 4 quarters. As long as the questions are good, there are many teams who don't care about the format, and even appreciate being able to play different formats.

With that said, there is a perception the 4th quarter's 30-20-10 scoring can imbalance a match and make it unfair. I can't say whether this perception is accurate without looking at the scoresheets and seeing the quarterly breakdown. In the games I read, I can't recall any match where the 4th quarter dramatically changed an outcome. In the Maggie Walker-North Quncy playoff game I read, I recall going into the last question Maggie had a 240-220 lead and thinking "In tu/b North Quincy would have to get the toss-up and still answer 1 bonus, but if they 30 this, they win." Turned out Maggie 30'd it and my own musings didn't matter, and the two teams had been virtually even in every quarter.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Weighted Companion Cube » Tue May 08, 2012 12:54 pm

Truthfully, I greatly enjoyed the four-quarter format. I just think that moving forward, you should really reevaluate the point distrobution. It was almost a worthless victory to do well in the first 2 quarters, as one could close any gap fairly quickly in the last two quarters.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Public safety diving » Tue May 08, 2012 1:06 pm

A few years ago, PACE faced a similar issue with its own three-period format. It was ultimately decided that it was too complicated and didn't actually add anything to the game compared to a standard 20/20 format.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue May 08, 2012 1:49 pm

Harry, as you weren't in PACE when that was decided, I'm not sure where you thought that was the case. As I was in PACE, I remember one of the major reasons the format was changed was that the sets were far more difficult to write, not because the format was itself convoluted.

I think that the 30 point superpowers in the last quarter of the tossups are a poor idea because I don't think I'm comfortable with superpowers in the first place outside of some novelty events, which was where they originally went. As is, it's a very imperfect science and probably does allow far too much imbalance in the game. However, 4 quarter formats are not inherently bad, and I'm continually annoyed at the board's reaction to them. Yes, we get it, almost all four quarter sets historically sucked, and good quizbowl, by a series of historical accidents, coalesced around the NAQT format. That doesn't mean other formats can't be legitimately fair if done correctly. A lot of people are sort of acting like there's something inherently flawed about keeping a non-detrimental vestige of old formats around, and there isn't, so stop it already. The only thing that is wrong about four quarters is when the questions are bad, or the format is prohibitively long, which this format seems to not be. If Madden wants to run four quarters, that's his prerogative and not a real aspect of the event to criticize.

I would say that while the format is not prohibitively long, it is obviously still going to add some time. If Madden wants to cram 15 rounds into a single day, he could probably have done that much more easily with 20/20. If you're going to have a four quarter format, you have to learn to be content with maybe a couple fewer games total in the tournament. Again, as long as the format is still short enough to offer everybody 10 or more games, I would say this is a fine situation. I would think it would be pretty ideal if History Bowl were to run 10 rounds on Saturday and then run the playoffs on Sunday morning, allowing the same schedule. I previously recommended having Friday night and Sunday afternoon split up the Bee, and I stick by that suggestion, but you could also run Bee games on Saturday night and finish the Bee on Sunday afternoon as well, or even run Bee games on all three days.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Public safety diving » Tue May 08, 2012 2:08 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:Harry, as you weren't in PACE when that was decided, I'm not sure where you thought that was the case. As I was in PACE, I remember one of the major reasons the format was changed was that the sets were far more difficult to write, not because the format was itself convoluted.

My bad. I think I was combining the debate over PACE format with the debate over bouncebacks in my head.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Northern Central Railway » Tue May 08, 2012 2:32 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:Harry, as you weren't in PACE when that was decided, I'm not sure where you thought that was the case. As I was in PACE, I remember one of the major reasons the format was changed was that the sets were far more difficult to write, not because the format was itself convoluted.

I think that the 30 point superpowers in the last quarter of the tossups are a poor idea because I don't think I'm comfortable with superpowers in the first place outside of some novelty events, which was where they originally went. As is, it's a very imperfect science and probably does allow far too much imbalance in the game. However, 4 quarter formats are not inherently bad, and I'm continually annoyed at the board's reaction to them. Yes, we get it, almost all four quarter sets historically sucked, and good quizbowl, by a series of historical accidents, coalesced around the NAQT format. That doesn't mean other formats can't be legitimately fair if done correctly. A lot of people are sort of acting like there's something inherently flawed about keeping a non-detrimental vestige of old formats around, and there isn't, so stop it already. The only thing that is wrong about four quarters is when the questions are bad, or the format is prohibitively long, which this format seems to not be. If Madden wants to run four quarters, that's his prerogative and not a real aspect of the event to criticize.

I would say that while the format is not prohibitively long, it is obviously still going to add some time. If Madden wants to cram 15 rounds into a single day, he could probably have done that much more easily with 20/20. If you're going to have a four quarter format, you have to learn to be content with maybe a couple fewer games total in the tournament. Again, as long as the format is still short enough to offer everybody 10 or more games, I would say this is a fine situation. I would think it would be pretty ideal if History Bowl were to run 10 rounds on Saturday and then run the playoffs on Sunday morning, allowing the same schedule. I previously recommended having Friday night and Sunday afternoon split up the Bee, and I stick by that suggestion, but you could also run Bee games on Saturday night and finish the Bee on Sunday afternoon as well, or even run Bee games on all three days.


The 4 quarter vs. 20/20 debate could go on for ages, but one thing I must say about the four quarter format is that it helps keep teams from getting completely shut out. Even with it being Nationals my site had some very, very lopsided scores in the morning (including 470-40 and 390-50). I looked at the scoresheet from the 470-40 game, and all 40 of the losing team's points came in the lightning round. I read the 390-50 game, and the only reason the losing team got any non-lightning round points was because they 30'd the tossup whose answerline is less than half a mile from their school. Going through the stats, there were 9 varsity and 7 JV teams who didn't get to 100 points in any of their morning matches. I wouldn't be surprised if some of those teams got all of their points in some games from the lightning round.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Auroni » Tue May 08, 2012 2:39 pm

As I was in PACE, I remember one of the major reasons the format was changed was that the sets were far more difficult to write, not because the format was itself convoluted.


I'm obviously biased here, but this very clearly applies to NHBB too.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Cheynem » Tue May 08, 2012 2:52 pm

I agree with Charlie in that there is nothing inherently wrong with the four quarter system. I wish the College History Bowl used such a system so that we could play college level difficulty lightning rounds.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Tue May 08, 2012 3:16 pm

I'd just like to note that of the problems NHBB had this past weekend, its game format would rank low. If this becomes the focus of "fix NHBB," then you're just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Tue May 08, 2012 3:19 pm

I didn't realize that so few others agreed with me. I won't make a ruckus about it anymore.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Tue May 08, 2012 3:25 pm

I'm not saying it's not worth discussing, but I am saying that if you want to actually fix the major problems with the tournament, you should address those problems, which are far more of a logistical nature than a "how good/fair/whatever" is this game format.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby jonpin » Tue May 08, 2012 5:49 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:I would say that while the format is not prohibitively long, it is obviously still going to add some time. If Madden wants to cram 15 rounds into a single day, he could probably have done that much more easily with 20/20. If you're going to have a four quarter format, you have to learn to be content with maybe a couple fewer games total in the tournament. Again, as long as the format is still short enough to offer everybody 10 or more games, I would say this is a fine situation. I would think it would be pretty ideal if History Bowl were to run 10 rounds on Saturday and then run the playoffs on Sunday morning, allowing the same schedule. I previously recommended having Friday night and Sunday afternoon split up the Bee, and I stick by that suggestion, but you could also run Bee games on Saturday night and finish the Bee on Sunday afternoon as well, or even run Bee games on all three days.


Some high-level people, and I am honestly not sure if Madden was among them, had mentioned three days of official competition. I think one way that could work nicely would be as above, but if the competition was staying at only two official days (allowing teams to arrive Friday night), I've floated moving to the "alternate shot" format used at regionals. For instance:
Saturday 8:30am - 11:30am: Bowl prelims (Rounds 1-5)
Saturday 11:30am - 1:30pm: Travel to second site, lunch
Saturday 2pm - 5pm: Bowl playoffs (Rounds 6-10)
Saturday 5pm - 7:30pm: All return to hotel, dinner
Saturday 7:30 - 10:15pm: Bee prelims

Sunday 9am - 11:30am: Bowl knockout, through to semifinals
Sunday 11:30am - 1pm: Lunch
Sunday 1pm - 1:30pm: Travel to Mount Vernon
Sunday 1:30pm - 2:30pm: Bee finals [confirm how long this actually took once at Mount Vernon this year? Shouldn't be that long]
Sunday 2:30pm - 3:30pm: Bowl JV, Varsity finals
Sunday 3:30pm - 4:00pm: Awards, everyone goes home

The obvious advantage here is that a few staffers can use Saturday evening to firm up the Bowl knockout bracket (having that ready for distribution at the end of the Bee prelims), and then use late Saturday night to total up the Bee standings (having the list of finalists and results available when people wake up Sunday morning). Another advantage of a schedule something like this is that teams that do not advance to the final stages of either tournament have Sunday completely available to explore DC, which is part of the purpose of holding the tournament in such a location. One thing that I'd like to stress is if you're expanding the tournament to three days, do not increase the length of the tournament! That would defeat the purpose of expanding to Friday. What are people's thoughts on doing something like the above?
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby cvdwightw » Tue May 08, 2012 6:37 pm

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:
As I was in PACE, I remember one of the major reasons the format was changed was that the sets were far more difficult to write, not because the format was itself convoluted.


I'm obviously biased here, but this very clearly applies to NHBB too.
The NHBB sets are difficult to write because most competent writers are writing in tossup/bonus format and non-standard things like "one part related bonuses" and "single-subject lightning rounds" aren't things that even competent writers can get exactly right on the first few tries. The problems with old PACE format being difficult to write for included the impossibility of difficulty-balancing the category quiz and the tossup contortions required to keep 20-point powers from being handed out left and right. There's a difference between "there's a steep learning curve that is preventing good writers from being able to produce their best work" and "parts of this format have become near-impossible to write well."

The other major contributor to the NHBB sets being difficult to write is that coming up with the required number of difficulty-appropriate non-repeating history answer lines is difficult to do. There were roughly 60 unique answer lines per bowl packet; this jumps to 80+ answer lines per packet with a standard 20/20 + tiebreakers. Moving to 20/20 history while keeping the packet number requirements the same isn't going to magically create new accessible answer lines out of thin air and could even result in more-than-occasional impossible hard parts.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue May 08, 2012 7:23 pm

Dwight, I don't know that that way of looking at it is right either, because for the 60 bonus parts, you only really have to come up with 20 topics and then can use up a lot of the answerlines in related topics (since there are still only 20 bonuses). So there might be more answerlines, but there are fewer times where repeats and overlapping subject matter are a problem.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Scaled Flowerpiercer » Tue May 08, 2012 8:50 pm

I do think that the main argument which can be made against the 4-quarter format is the difficulty of writing for it: though notably I think HSAPQ improved a lot in areas like the one part bonuses / 60-second rounds from NHBB 2011 and NHBB 2012, so moving forward, that should be increasingly less of an issue, though probably the main issues, most of which have been stated, are 1) making the 1 part bonuses consistent in difficulty, which in many cases they weren't. 2) making point distribution fair/reasonable - I agree with the notion that 1st/2nd quarter performance often feels irrelevant compared to the points available in the second half (100 points available in quarter 1, 160 in q2, 200 in q3, 240 in q4) And perhaps the removal of the superpower would be a way to make this fairer - or a return to the 2011 format of 20-15-10 power. Also the 20 point sweep bonus which I have heard people complain about would both reduce the number of points available in the 3rd quarter and help the rounds to conform a bit more with general good quizbowl ideas of fairness. (those two changes would make the point distributions 100-160-160-160)

As for the logistic changes, shifting the multiple site idea to still exist but only in case where a contention team will not need to figure out how to move from site to site seems like a good idea which reconciles NHBB's general philosophy and practicality (Also, with fewer sites, likely a larger percentage could be "cool" sites that people would enjoy being at)

Regarding Jon's proposed scheduling changes, I think that the Bowl + Bee prelims on Saturday, Playoffs on Sunday seems like a great idea (and a better idea than real competition of Friday, because I know at least my team was incapable of arriving before very late on Friday as our coach needed to be at school all day, and I am sure we are not unique in this respect); Jon's format both allows more time for playoff contenders to be all set by the time they start and, as he said, gives a free day of sightseeing to non-playoff teams, something I imagine everyone would appreciate.

As for the comments of the need to acquire a huge selection of answer lines - while i am not so sure how much a change to 20/20 would help - i think this is a fairly notable issue, though i think at this year's nationals it was done very well without repeats, and perhaps the easiest solution to free up more answers would be an increase in the fine arts / other "not history in the history part of a quizbowl distribution sense" questions, albeit probably only slightly (some of my teammates complained about an incredibly small...like 1 question over the course of the day small...sports distribution, such things could probably be enlarged slightly)
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Wed May 09, 2012 2:24 am

jonpin wrote:Saturday 8:30am - 11:30am: Bowl prelims (Rounds 1-5)
Saturday 11:30am - 1:30pm: Travel to second site, lunch
Saturday 2pm - 5pm: Bowl playoffs (Rounds 6-10)
Saturday 5pm - 7:30pm: All return to hotel, dinner
Saturday 7:30 - 10:15pm: Bee prelims

Sunday 9am - 11:30am: Bowl knockout, through to semifinals
Sunday 11:30am - 1pm: Lunch
Sunday 1pm - 1:30pm: Travel to Mount Vernon
Sunday 1:30pm - 2:30pm: Bee finals [confirm how long this actually took once at Mount Vernon this year? Shouldn't be that long]
Sunday 2:30pm - 3:30pm: Bowl JV, Varsity finals
Sunday 3:30pm - 4:00pm: Awards, everyone goes home


Jon brings up a number of very good reasons for why, from a stats perspective this format works well. My issues/questions with it though are as follows:
1. We need 40 minutes to travel to Mount Vernon in case of traffic, which we hit this year.
2. Once we arrive at Mt Vernon, it takes well over 1 hr to do the Bee finals the way we did them this year, which seemed to me to be a good way of doing it (namely, 10>5>2 >1 in JV with 4, 6, and 10 correct answers needed for the three stages, and 2(10>5>2)>1 (so four students are in the Varsity final), with 4, 6, and 10 also needed. If we have fewer answers needed to advance, there's a lot more chance involved right at the place you want it least.
3. I understand how from a timing point of view doing the Bowl finals out at Mt Vernon works, but this would necessitate an extra bus and preclude people from watching it who were not out there.
4. We're not going to a 3 day format - too many people were adamantly opposed to that. This includes doing any official Bee competition on Friday; there are simply too many people who arrive late then, and this would be unfair to them, even if it would work well from a logistics standpoint.
5. Trying to do all the Bee prelims from 7:30-10:15 seems overly ambitious to me, at least for next year. If we run 45 minute rds, then 7:30, 8:15, 9:00, 9:45 brings us to 10:15, whereas I'd really prefer to have a 6th round in the mix (and apologize profoundly for axing the 6th round this year - more on that tomorrow). On the other hand, we could conceivably start the Bee at 7pm, but even then with 40 minute rounds (which I really want to avoid), we're looking at a very late setup. Plus, if we run late at all, then we're talking about hundreds of kids playing after 10pm, when they started their days around 6:30 and had been playing since 8:30am or so. That seems to me to be defeating the purpose.

Honestly, I think the only way this works, would be if the Varsity Bowl were to go to 8 rounds as well. That, though, would really mean that we'd need to take either just 2 teams or as many as four teams out of the 6 team morning brackets. Then we would have contention groups of 4 in the afternoon. But I'm somewhat concerned that this allows a lot of potential for the Bowl to have too many or too few teams playing contention. Plus, all things being equal, I think only 8 guaranteed rounds for contention teams is on the low end.
Anyway, those are just my initial thoughts. I'm still thinking that the Bowl in its entirety on Saturday and the Bee in its entirety on Sunday are ok from a doing stats perspective, provided that we have more time built into the schedule, a lot more people doing stats, and a better way of getting them to home base. But I could be conceivably convinced otherwise if shown a workable schedule somehow.
More on the other stuff, and more suggestions tomorrow.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby jonpin » Wed May 09, 2012 8:48 am

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:Jon brings up a number of very good reasons for why, from a stats perspective this format works well. My issues/questions with it though are as follows:
1. We need 40 minutes to travel to Mount Vernon in case of traffic, which we hit this year.
2. Once we arrive at Mt Vernon, it takes well over 1 hr to do the Bee finals the way we did them this year, which seemed to me to be a good way of doing it (namely, 10>5>2 >1 in JV with 4, 6, and 10 correct answers needed for the three stages, and 2(10>5>2)>1 (so four students are in the Varsity final), with 4, 6, and 10 also needed. If we have fewer answers needed to advance, there's a lot more chance involved right at the place you want it least.
3. I understand how from a timing point of view doing the Bowl finals out at Mt Vernon works, but this would necessitate an extra bus and preclude people from watching it who were not out there.
4. We're not going to a 3 day format - too many people were adamantly opposed to that. This includes doing any official Bee competition on Friday; there are simply too many people who arrive late then, and this would be unfair to them, even if it would work well from a logistics standpoint.
5. Trying to do all the Bee prelims from 7:30-10:15 seems overly ambitious to me, at least for next year. If we run 45 minute rds, then 7:30, 8:15, 9:00, 9:45 brings us to 10:15, whereas I'd really prefer to have a 6th round in the mix (and apologize profoundly for axing the 6th round this year - more on that tomorrow). On the other hand, we could conceivably start the Bee at 7pm, but even then with 40 minute rounds (which I really want to avoid), we're looking at a very late setup. Plus, if we run late at all, then we're talking about hundreds of kids playing after 10pm, when they started their days around 6:30 and had been playing since 8:30am or so. That seems to me to be defeating the purpose.


I wasn't sure about the time involved for 1 and 2, especially as I wasn't sure how many questions needed at each stage. Understood on #4, and I think I support that. Friday should be about arriving and settling in. ICT wisely moved away from Friday night competition after the last of a long line of travel-induced forfeits. Very valid point on #5.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Wed May 09, 2012 11:01 am

Oh that reminds me...all playoff rooms and readers figured out in advance. The system this year, of going up to hotel room, do the playoff match, then teams go back down to ballroom to get room assignment for next round wastes a lot of time and is a pain making teams travel up and down floors like that. In the very least, have NHBB staff serve as runners to tell the teams (if they won) where their next playoff game is instead of making them go back down to the ballroom to find out.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby mithokie » Wed May 09, 2012 12:53 pm

I think that playoff room assignments should be done ahead of time and published on a bracket for the teams, so that teams can determine from the bracket where to go next. The room assignments could be determined before you even have teams registered if you know the facility you are going to be working with.

I use excel spreadsheets to create round robin schedules very quickly and accurately. With the spreadsheets I developed, I can enter a list of teams and a list of rooms into one spreadsheet, and if I have printing available, I can print schedules for teams very quickly (for example during a lunch break between prelims and re-bracketed rounds). I will be happy to share these spreadsheets with anyone who wants them, but I don't currently have a web site to host them on. If anyone is interested in them, send me an e-mail (see my signature), and I will be happy to share them.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby The Motley Eye » Wed May 09, 2012 1:03 pm

Matt, if you send them to me I can post them to the server and host them here. Also, you can post them as attachments in the forums.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby mithokie » Wed May 09, 2012 7:25 pm

The file is attached. Dan, feel free to place this anywhere you want.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby jgalea84 » Wed May 09, 2012 11:17 pm

We haven't participated in NHBB nationals, but have participated in some of the local events, so take the following with whatever amount of salt you require.

Is there really a need for a third 20/20 national tournament? To me, the unique format is one of the selling points of the NHBB. If NHBB nationals went to a 20/20 format, I wouldn't see any real desire for our team to go absent field or location considerations.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 10, 2012 12:33 am

NHBB is not going to a 20/20 format. We are, however, planning on going back to an 8-8-8 format (as far as the # of tossups in the 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarter of the prelims) in the first 10 games during the day at Nationals (as opposed to the 10-8-8 format of this year). That will help us stay on time - 20 tossups over the course of the day is an extra 10-15 minutes we can use elsewhere. Namely, the playoffs, where we are going to go to a 10-10-10 format regarding # of tossups. Originally that had been planned for this year, but for next year, I feel very confident in implementing this in the playoffs where having longer games helps somewhat to offset the single elim playoff format. Also, with playoff teams more likely to buzz in early, with fewer teams playing, and with the best moderators, this will still effectively save some time overall. It's harder generally speaking to stay on time across all prelim groups than across the playoff teams whose numbers decrease by half with each round. More fixes to come before I turn in tonight...
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby List of Fighting Spirit characters » Thu May 10, 2012 1:47 am

Why use a single elimination playoff format at all? You could double bracket it the way HSNCT does and still have a relatively small number of rounds in the playoffs.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 10, 2012 3:15 am

How? I mean, I'd love to do double elim, but because of the way double elim works and the fact that we really can only accommodate 5 rounds, I could only take 8 teams this way, right? I think after the contention rounds, limiting it to just 8 teams doesn't help - Bellarmine, for one, was the 10th seed going into the playoffs. The only way I see double elim ever coming into play would be if we went to a 3 day tournament. I'd love to do that, but the consensus seemed very much against it.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Thu May 10, 2012 12:47 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:How? I mean, I'd love to do double elim, but because of the way double elim works and the fact that we really can only accommodate 5 rounds, I could only take 8 teams this way, right? I think after the contention rounds, limiting it to just 8 teams doesn't help - Bellarmine, for one, was the 10th seed going into the playoffs. The only way I see double elim ever coming into play would be if we went to a 3 day tournament. I'd love to do that, but the consensus seemed very much against it.


If I recall correctly, double elimination tends to add about two rounds to the playoffs, as compared with single elimination. When you're down to your best moderators, I would think you could afford the extra hour.

It sounds like the greatest loss of time with this year's NHBB, as with most tournaments that run far behind schedule, was dead time. Making sure you have a solid plan to get people where they need to be and doing things is the best way to prevent dead time. If more resources were put into this, then you'd likely have a few more hours to work with, and wouldn't be faced with the Sophie's Choice of "8 team double elimination bracket" or "30 team single elimination bracket."

Another question: are you investigating having at least some of the tournament at "historical" sites that are large enough to support a greater number of teams? Surely the whole "now go find landmark X" thing would work better if the number of times teams had to travel was lessened. I know you aren't doing split brackets next year, but could more be done to cut down on this?
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 10, 2012 1:29 pm

Fred wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:How? I mean, I'd love to do double elim, but because of the way double elim works and the fact that we really can only accommodate 5 rounds, I could only take 8 teams this way, right? I think after the contention rounds, limiting it to just 8 teams doesn't help - Bellarmine, for one, was the 10th seed going into the playoffs. The only way I see double elim ever coming into play would be if we went to a 3 day tournament. I'd love to do that, but the consensus seemed very much against it.


If I recall correctly, double elimination tends to add about two rounds to the playoffs, as compared with single elimination. When you're down to your best moderators, I would think you could afford the extra hour.


No, it actually adds more rounds. Because the top bracket has to wait for the bottom to sort itself out, doing double elim for even just 8 teams can take up to 7 rounds unless I really computed this wrong. I know NAQT does something to offset this, but I'm not sure how it works, and I'm wondering if that ends up actually compromising a true double elim bracket in general.

Fred wrote:It sounds like the greatest loss of time with this year's NHBB, as with most tournaments that run far behind schedule, was dead time. Making sure you have a solid plan to get people where they need to be and doing things is the best way to prevent dead time. If more resources were put into this, then you'd likely have a few more hours to work with, and wouldn't be faced with the Sophie's Choice of "8 team double elimination bracket" or "30 team single elimination bracket."


I don't doubt that things overall could have been run more efficiently in all sorts of ways, but the biggest issues were more along the lines of:
1) Moderators taking too long (solution: better training and selection of moderators)
2) Brackets being confusing / getting switched (solution: have more eyes on the brackets to avoid mistakes, and use scoring posters to make this crystal clear
3) Too little time being allotted to Bee rounds of 7 line tossups, especially in the JV (solution: easier and shorter questions, & 30, not 40 question prelim rounds next year)
4) People getting lost en route to and from sites (solution: mandate use of guide system for all but local teams; also, have fewer matches on site overall - and nothing in the contention brackets)
5) Better system of reporting and compiling stats (solution: use google docs, and have more people doing just stats. During the Bee, statkeepers should be posted throughout the hotel, not just in control rooms.)

Almost all of the delays can be chalked up to one of the four above factors. Teams may have had dead time, but dead time, per se, for staff was not a major issue.

Fred wrote: Another question: are you investigating having at least some of the tournament at "historical" sites that are large enough to support a greater number of teams? Surely the whole "now go find landmark X" thing would work better if the number of times teams had to travel was lessened. I know you aren't doing split brackets next year, but could more be done to cut down on this?


Teams will only have to travel once next year (that was also true this year, though) at most. The guide system and improved scoring posters and programs that very clearly spell out where teams need to go when will solve this problem.

On that note, I don't know how to do this, but I want to share the updated scoring posters for Nationals with teams. Can someone who knows how to do this let me know, and then I'll send them the files to be posted? The scoring posters will do more than just keep score - I want to forward them for public comment.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby The Motley Eye » Thu May 10, 2012 1:40 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:On that note, I don't know how to do this, but I want to share the updated scoring posters for Nationals with teams. Can someone who knows how to do this let me know, and then I'll send them the files to be posted? The scoring posters will do more than just keep score - I want to forward them for public comment.


What format are they in? I imagine if you upload them to your website and then post the links to the files here, people can download them and view them as they please.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon » Thu May 10, 2012 2:13 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:No, it actually adds more rounds. Because the top bracket has to wait for the bottom to sort itself out, doing double elim for even just 8 teams can take up to 7 rounds unless I really computed this wrong. I know NAQT does something to offset this, but I'm not sure how it works, and I'm wondering if that ends up actually compromising a true double elim bracket in general.


After round 1: 4 top bracket teams, 4 bottom bracket
After round 2: 2 top bracket, 4 bottom bracket, 2 eliminated
After round 3: 1 top bracket, 3 bottom bracket, 4 eliminated
After round 4: 1 top bracket, 2 bottom bracket, 5 eliminated
After round 5: 1 top bracket, 1 bottom bracket, 6 eliminated

And then what is basically an advantaged best of three final, so it could potentially be 7 rounds. Single elim would just be 3 rounds for 8 teams.

As for NAQT, they have started having their 6-4 teams be treated as already having a loss in the double elim bracket. Not sure when that started. I think Jon Pinyan has worked on recreating some of the brackets for past HSNCTs.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Northern Central Railway » Thu May 10, 2012 2:23 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:2) Brackets being confusing / getting switched (solution: have more eyes on the brackets to avoid mistakes, and use scoring posters to make this crystal clear)


One way around this would be to do the following:
1: Completely ditch using Teamopolis, there's easier ways to do scheduling that don't waste so much paper and don't list rooms in different order for each round potentially confusing teams.
2: On the schedule for the morning pools, have a table to the effect of "If you get X place in your morning pool, you are at Site Q in the afternoon". My experience of having a bunch of my morning teams asking me where they were going in the afternoon and one team showing up quite late to my site in the afternoon just because they couldn't read the schedule leads me to believe this is something that would be useful. Just because the schedule is posted on the website doesn't mean teams will go to the trouble of actually looking it up or (gasp) printing it out. Give them a paper copy so they have no excuse to not be at the right place. This would require teams sticking around at the end of their morning pool to find out what place they got and therefore where they're going, but if the site captain is capable of basic math (and tiebreaking procedure) this shouldn't be a problem. This of course presumes that you will be using an even number of pools and therefore how teams in other pools did doesn't affect potential placements, like it did for teams in the Judicial supergroup who placed 4th/5th/6th in the morning pools.

If you really want to make finding out where to go in the afternoon idiot-proof, when making the afternoon schedule, don't have multiple Pool A's or Pool B's. Supergroup 1 could be Pools A-H, supergroup 2 could be Pools I-P, supergroup 3 would be Pools Q-X, or whatever. The team I referenced earlier that went to the wrong afternoon site did do because they went to the site that their corresponding pool/place in the Legislative supergroup should have gone to, but this team was in Executive.
Last edited by Northern Central Railway on Thu May 10, 2012 2:31 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu May 10, 2012 2:25 pm

I think what Dave is talking about are the cross-bracket game that NAQT has sometimes once you get to the point where only one undefeated team is left and they are sitting around waiting for their opponent.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Mewto55555 » Thu May 10, 2012 4:08 pm

Fred wrote:
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:No, it actually adds more rounds. Because the top bracket has to wait for the bottom to sort itself out, doing double elim for even just 8 teams can take up to 7 rounds unless I really computed this wrong. I know NAQT does something to offset this, but I'm not sure how it works, and I'm wondering if that ends up actually compromising a true double elim bracket in general.


After round 1: 4 top bracket teams, 4 bottom bracket
After round 2: 2 top bracket, 4 bottom bracket, 2 eliminated
After round 3: 1 top bracket, 3 bottom bracket, 4 eliminated
After round 4: 1 top bracket, 2 bottom bracket, 5 eliminated
After round 5: 1 top bracket, 1 bottom bracket, 6 eliminated

And then what is basically an advantaged best of three final, so it could potentially be 7 rounds. Single elim would just be 3 rounds for 8 teams.

As for NAQT, they have started having their 6-4 teams be treated as already having a loss in the double elim bracket. Not sure when that started. I think Jon Pinyan has worked on recreating some of the brackets for past HSNCTs.


I'm pretty sure at Round 4, NAQT has the top bracket team play a bottom bracket team, so there are either 3 teams, all of whom have a loss (takes 2 rounds), or 2 teams, one of whom has an advantage (2 rounds) to cut the number down to 6 rounds total.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby jonpin » Thu May 10, 2012 6:28 pm

Mewto55555 wrote: I'm pretty sure at Round 4, NAQT has the top bracket team play a bottom bracket team, so there are either 3 teams, all of whom have a loss (takes 2 rounds), or 2 teams, one of whom has an advantage (2 rounds) to cut the number down to 6 rounds total.


This is true. In general, everyone plays every round under NAQT double elimination. If we start from 32 teams
Round 1: 16 games.
Round 2: 8 winners' bracket games, 8 losers' bracket games, 24 left
Round 3: 4 winners', 8 losers', 16 left
Round 4: 2 winners', 6 losers', 10 left
Round 5: [2 unbeatens have byes], 4 losers', 6 left
Round 6: 1 winners', 2 losers', 4 left
Round 7-9: "NAQT-style final four" (Cross-bracket + Losers', followed by either advantage final or semifinal/final)

Still, too long, too many questions given 10 rounds earlier in the day.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Thu May 10, 2012 8:52 pm

I thought I remembered last year a tentative plan to have a round robin and single elim mix for the playoffs? By bracketing the 32 playoff teams into 8 groups of 4 and the 8 group winners then move to single elim playoffs. I rather liked that playoff format and thought it could work with the schedule (assuming the tournament had run on time though too). Was the decision to switch to all single elim, to make the playoffs 5 rounds instead of 6?
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 10, 2012 11:36 pm

Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:I thought I remembered last year a tentative plan to have a round robin and single elim mix for the playoffs? By bracketing the 32 playoff teams into 8 groups of 4 and the 8 group winners then move to single elim playoffs. I rather liked that playoff format and thought it could work with the schedule (assuming the tournament had run on time though too). Was the decision to switch to all single elim, to make the playoffs 5 rounds instead of 6?


Yes. Referencing what Andrew said, the scoring posters do this, and we will have paper copies available too, which will function as a sort of card system, telling teams where to go depending on their morning order of finish. @ Andrew - that's a good idea - what we can also do is have a number of brackets in the morning have ALL their consolation teams go to the same site. For example, Anderson House can handle 12 teams in the afternoon, or 3 consolation pools. Then, take four morning brackets and say that all of their 4th, 5th, and 6th place teams go to Anderson. Then, all the fourth place teams play each other, all the fifth place teams play each other, and all the sixth place teams play each other. That covers 12 teams right there. We could also do this at Interior, Cadwalader, or Middle East Institute, though if we have more sites than we need, we'd probably not bother with the latter two, as they're not as exciting.
The other thing that goes along with this is an earlier close to registration. Sorting this out is not overly complex, we just need more time than what we had this year. If we close registration 3 weeks as opposed to 10 days in advance, we have a lot more time to play with - even to the point of personally calling all coaches once we've released the draw and explaining everything to them.
Finally, as to the scoring posters - I won't have a chance to post them on our websites until Monday or so, as we're busy doing our Middle School Bee finals this weekend. If someone can add them here in the meantime, let me know.
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Black-throated Antshrike » Fri May 11, 2012 1:25 am

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:If someone can add them here in the meantime, let me know.


done
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National History Bowl National Championships Afternoon Contention Scoring Poster.docx
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National History Bowl National Championships Afternoon Consolation Scoring Poster.docx
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National History Bowl National Championships Morning Scoring Poster.docx
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Re: Fixing NHBB Nationals

Postby Great Bustard » Thu May 17, 2012 12:13 am

One important fix which will help on a number of fronts:
The Varsity Bowl finals are going to move to 12:15pm on Sunday. This will allow students waiting on Bee results to be occupied with watching the final Bowl match of the year, rather than beating down the doors of the stat rooms. At the conclusion of the match, the Mt Vernon Bee qualifiers will be announced. Effectively, this also cuts out one round off of Saturday night. So, we'll probably start the playoff rounds now 15 minutes later, and end 15-20 minutes earlier than we otherwise would on Saturday. Since the start of the Bee will be moved up a bit on Sunday morning, this will allow facilitate an earlier wakeup. Finally, since everyone will be in the Ballroom watching the Bowl finals, then announcing the qualifiers will be easier since most people will be in one place. This will help quite a bit both for Saturday and Sunday.
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thread split

Postby List of Fighting Spirit characters » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:06 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:D. I am moving to DC next month. Coordinating all aspects of our Nationals will be much easier (including finding qualified readers and training them above all) being based out of Dupont Circle, as opposed to Northern New Jersey.


I highly urge you to get actual history teachers with a track record of understanding history to staff this. Last year, I heard questions from staffers who refused to pronounce foreign or difficult words (sometimes skipping over them entirely!) and accepting answers like "Tokugawa" for "Nobunaga" from the students because for some reason they couldn't be bothered to actually listen to what was being said. I didn't particularly enjoy the midnight match with Hunter, but I was willing to forgive NHBB for that and many other logistical shortcomings. But I can't stand an event like this, in my favorite subject, being run by staffers who don't know what they're doing, and that rate of problem staffers will dramatically increase when you no longer have the corpus of college staffers behind you. I don't believe that it's enough to just train the staffers, because moderator discretion is such a large part of a tournament this massive, when some things may have to be decided without resorting to the protest committee (by the way, you'll ALSO need a highly qualified and large protest committee).
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Re: Announcing The United States Geography Challenge

Postby Great Bustard » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:25 pm

List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote: I don't believe that it's enough to just train the staffers, because moderator discretion is such a large part of a tournament this massive, when some things may have to be decided without resorting to the protest committee (by the way, you'll ALSO need a highly qualified and large protest committee).


(note to board staff - this may be better off in the fixing nationals thread, since this is off topic re USGC)

Split accordingly --Mgmt.

We will certainly be getting in touch with history teachers as you suggest (this also makes a lot of sense regarding outreach purposes, actually) as well as the dozens of quizbowl coaches and college players who will not be at ACF or MSNCT that weekend. One way to get around this problem in some regard is to ensure that we have experienced bracket leaders (aka site captains, though in many cases, a "site" may be just 3 hotel rooms.) who both are particularly experienced in tournament rules and procedures and have some knowledge of history and can make a quick call in some instances. Again, this isn't an excuse to have bad readers or not to train them well, but at some level, no tournament expects its moderators to have perfect subject knowledge. I've moderated at quite a few National Championships for regular quizbowl without knowing much of anything regarding hard science and I know I'm far from alone in that regard. Finally, we will look to err on the side of caution regarding inclusion of pronunciation guides in the set, as well as notes to moderators regarding possible alternate answers and things of that sort.
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