Underwhelmed

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Underwhelmed

Postby your mom » Sun Apr 09, 2006 2:01 am

I've never been vocal in commenting about a tournament before, but I feel justified in saying that I found this year's ICT to be rather disappointing and unsatisfying, and I am compelled to make my feelings known. A couple things:

1) The tournament wasn't especially well run. It certainly wasn't bad, but it could have been better. The whole deal with emergency room changes, room number switches, extended walks through the rain to compete in multiple buildings is all understandable in a sense, but really not optimal for a tournament charging as much as NAQT does. Yeah, that's right, I think the ICT is too expensive- I'll echo previous sentiments on that subject. I also had a moderator's cell phone go off in the middle of a round, which was very unprofessional. I'm sure I could think of some more things, but in total I mean to say that for an organization like NAQT that prides itself so much on atmosphere and pizazz and all the cute little touches, it fell short of what one might call, say, "a sound tournament with good questions."

2) The questions. This year's set was rather frustrating, and I personally enjoyed it even less than the set of last year. I am well aware of Andrew's influence on the questions this year, and I very much appreciated hearing the many questions that I could clearly tell he had written/edited and rewritten, but there was still just a staggering amount of crap that left me endlessly dismayed. Packets with tossups on Howard and then on Australia should be avoided, as should many questions on food and obscure board games and well, the list goes on. Maybe this is just me being bitchy and not understanding the wonders of the NAQT distribution, but I found myself looking at packets after rounds simply thinking, "you've got to be kidding me. what is this stuff?." Something has got to be done to make these questions more playable. Change the distribution, change the system, change something. Andrew clearly did some good things with the set and there were definitely some solid questions being generated, but on the whole, it wasn't good. On the national level for a major tournament like ICT, I think it is fair to expect a top-notch set for our money and our time. This year at least, cannot in my mind be defined as such. If one were to even dream of comparing it to the ACF Nats set for example, hilarity would indeed ensue.

3) I too have my issues with the protest handling procedures. We had an early game with a bunch of protests in it, all of which were noted and then our moderator left the game at the half, came back and said that two of the protests (bonus parts) were left up in the air, while another protest (a tossup on carbon nanotubes) he claimed was resolved in favor of our team, and obviously we played on. As our team won by more than 20 (the total bonus points that were still supposed to be in question), we figured all was well and carried on. In the morning, we found that the results were switched around and we had our win taken away without ever being notified of this. This is kind of poor practice that we were explicitly told that a ruling had been made on a tossup (with a large point swing, obviously), only to have everything reversed later that night. To be honest, we rather breezed through our last bonus or two because we had gotten the last tossups right and knew we would win by more than 20. Granted, that's our fault, but had we known that the protest was not actually resolved, we may have been able to do things differently and avoid losing by 5 points. That whole situation did not seem right to me. Somebody needs to get things decided and make one ruling, rather than making one and then overturning it without telling a team hours later. I don't know much about science so I can't speak to the rulings themselves, but I was pretty annoyed about the whole thing, and I thought it could have been handled more professionally. I don't usually get very up in arms about things like this, but this one got to me. I also completely agree with Weiner about his protest, but that's beside the point.

Maybe I was just having a really bad two days, but this event almost got me really down on quiz bowl, an activity that I love. I did not enjoy this tournament, and while I hardly claim that my enjoyment should be a concern for anyone, I suspect that others share my feelings to some degree. My concerns have little to do with winning games or losing them either, because I equally enjoy both when I can hear some good questions and have some good competition. That was not the case this wekend. I just didn't feel that this tournament really provided a particularly good quiz bowl experience, and it certainly was not what it had the potential to be.

Please, however, let it be known that I know and respect many members of NAQT, and I think very highly of what the organization does in many facets of its existence. I'm very much behind NAQT and I think it has a great place in quiz bowl. I seek not to offend, I have no malicious intent, and I think nothing negative about anyone in the organization. I merely voice my thoughts on the subject of the ICT in order that maybe something might be done to remedy some of its problems.

Anyone else agree/disagree?

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Postby Rothlover » Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:08 am

I too have nothing qb-related against any particular member of NAQT, am friends with several members/writers and find they do get a lot of things right in running their events (and in understanding extenuating circumstances, etc.) In particular, it was great to be able to monitor results in real time.

However, it is clear to me that NAQT does have things it needs to address. Firstly, the aforementioned high cost of entrance. I understand NAQT isn't making money off ICT and it reimburses the travel costs of many staff, but the amount of money one pays to get 12-13 guaranteed matches on 3.5 line questions is absurd. I believe ACF's base fee was more than $100 less, and even if one didn't write a packet it was still $75 cheaper (and the fact that it was all held over one day allowed for teams to save on hotel costs, or spend Friday dodging broken glass in scenic Detroit.) Something should be done to keep costs down for college players, most of whom are paying out of pocket.

Secondly, I personally believe questions should be longer and halves should be lengthened. For an example of a solid timed tournament with relatively long questions I would point to MLK 2005, where halves were longer, but the questions were more clue dense. As was noted in the previous thread, are such short questions really passable (even if they are well executed) when question writing has evolved so much? A lot of people put stock in this national, so why not take steps to "legitimize" the material as much as possible.

Unlike some people who may be more partisan than myself, I enjoy some of the esoteric things naqt chooses to write on, but I often think it could be done better. I enjoyed the idea of "The Turk" tu at last year's ICT, but appreciated the execution of the "chess automatons" at ACF this year better. I heard there was a tu on the split-fingered fastball that still had Bruce Sutter in power, and I would be surprised if the q was particularly interesting or pyramidal. I had an excellent teammate last year who was put off from qb following what he viewed as "the asininity of questions on Claritin." I guess my point there is to just make questions "better," something enough people noted at SCT.

Also, from my own previous experience as well, NAQT's policies for tiebreaking are frustrating. Bits and pieces of packets should not make for acceptable tie-breakers, nor should half-packets. What is wrong with H2H, bonus conversion or a full match? If the potential for ties makes it likely that 2-3 matches will need to be played, why not have 2-3 packets out there for such a purpose, and if not, use a consistant unbiased statistical measure. Protest resolution should be handled "better" and alternate answers could also stand to be increased. ACF also often lacks some acceptable answers, but they have been pretty excellent with regards to handling protests from my experience. For the money teams pay, don't they deserve proper research of an issue they bring forward? Isn't that a base requirement of a national tournament from an organization?

NAQT has a lot of good people working for it, many of whom are competent. They should be working towards addressing the concerns brought forth by people interested in the propogation of "the game." The people of naqt were all players once, and they should remember the standards they themselves would have wanted when attending a national event.
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Postby MLafer » Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:52 am

Unfortunately, no matter how kindly one phrases complaints of this nature, NAQT will do absolutely nothing, as they do every year. Other people I know send their complaints through the official channels instead of posting them on a message board, but all they get for their effort is a "thanks for the input".

The fact is that NAQT is run by people who like writing questions the way that the questions are currently written, and do not care if a certain vocal group of people do not like them. They may also claim that a "silent majority" would prefer that the questions stay as they are, and use this to justify their unwillingness to change.

But I encourage this silent majority to prove me wrong by posting in this thread how much they like NAQT, and why.
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Postby grapesmoker » Sun Apr 09, 2006 9:51 pm

I'm going to be much less diplomatic than David was, not that I have a reputation for being diplomatic anyway.

This ICT was bad. It was nowhere near what I would expect from a national tournament. To have such questions at this level from a team of people that knows how much we care about question quality is unacceptable. Stupid bonuses, tossups with clues that were fresh 5 years ago, giveaways in the first line, mountains of trash, facile current events questions, and geography, and just plenty of generally poor questions, this tournament had it all. The science questions, at least in physics, were usually pretty lame, including a number of questions on elements.

I've got the set in my hands, and once I have had a chance to comb through it thoroughly, I'll post some of the more egregious examples. One thing is clear, however: NAQT has either (a) learned nothing from the criticism directed towards it for the SCT set, or (b) has taken note of that criticism and decided not to act on it, for whatever reason. When I approached R. Hentzel during the tournament and expressed my dissatisfaction with the questions, I got a brief nod for my troubles and no indication whether anything I had said (and I hadn't had a chance to go into detail) would be taken into account.

This was not a tournament worth driving 9 hours for, as I did. It was certainly not a tournament worth paying $240 for, as I did, out of my own pocket. That the entry fee could even range so high is absurd, and if I pay that sort of money, I expect far better quality of questions than what I got at ICT.

Attending this event has made me think that NAQT doesn't care what the better players think of its questions. It cares mostly about catering to (what it thinks is) the tastes of the 3/4ths of the field that isn't going to complain about question quality, and it feels secure in its knowledge that that other 1/4th that actually cares will just show up anyway, because hey, it's a national championship.

I, for one, am done with this bullshit. I've voiced my concerns repeatedly and been assured each time that NAQT pays careful attention to them. All evidence points to the fact that even if NAQT does acknowledge them, it doesn't care enough to change. If that's the way it's going to be, I'm just going to take my money and my energy elsewhere.
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Postby bird bird bird bird bird » Sun Apr 09, 2006 11:57 pm

I shouldn’t be wading into this discussion this late at night, but I just wanted to note that I enjoyed this tournament and thought that the question quality was a substantial improvement over the last ICT I attended (the 2004 version).

It seems to me that complaints about the ICT resolve into a few clusters:

1. Question length. Here the timed format, as has been discussed elsewhere on this board, really is the elephant in the room. Suffice to say that a number of people believe that timed rounds are an archaic relic of quiz bowl’s game show past, to be relegated to the same dustbin as recognition rules. I for one am ambivalent on this issue. Is there anyone out there who prefers timed over untimed rounds on grounds other than tournament logistics?

2. Question distribution. Too much trash, current events, and geography. Not enough social science, fine arts, or mythology. Or so goes the refrain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find the abundance of geography to be a good thing, indeed the chief reason for my continued presence at the ICT. As for the rest, I have little enough opinion, as replacing trash with fine arts simply changes the names and dates in tossups I am helpless to answer. I do wonder if players are assuming philosophical distaste for current events in published distributions rather than the obvious technical problems associated with the use of current events in packet submission tournaments.

3. Question quality. This is, I think, largely separate from the above complaints, as Jerry mentions lame physics questions, rather than “not enough physics questionsâ€
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Postby Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:13 am

grapesmoker wrote:Attending this event has made me think that NAQT doesn't care what the better players think of its questions. It cares mostly about catering to (what it thinks is) the tastes of the 3/4ths of the field that isn't going to complain about question quality, and it feels secure in its knowledge that that other 1/4th that actually cares will just show up anyway, because hey, it's a national championship.

I didn't go to ICT this year, but I didn't have to to post this. This is exacty how NAQT's logic works. As Lafer said, NAQT claims that there is a "silent majority" that supports their sets and questions etc. Well, there is. There are a lot of players and teams that will enjoy ICT as is, and, as jerry said, the rest will mostly come anyway because it's there. Why should NAQT accept criticism? They can keep putting out the same crappy product and nobody will care. Their moneymaker is the HS division anyway, and their product there isn't half bad for what it is. ACF has a different philosophy and is run by people that are interested in producing the best set possible. That, in my eyes, is the primary difference between ACF and NAQT, much more than the timed rounds, character limits, topic distribution, etc. Trying to make the best set within the structure of the format in which one's working. I refuse to believe that R. doesn't know the SCT and ICT sets were crap. Maybe the other writers just snicker at the tossups on "tusk of a narwhal" for which "horn of a narwhal" is not an acceptable answer, but at least some of the higher ups willingly put out this crap because they don't have to do better. Getting a Subash or Andrew to do what they are able to do is good enough. What's my point? I don't know, it's not that we shoudn't complain. It's just that NAQT operates economically; if they can make the same amount of money putting out shit, then why put the extra effort into putting out not shit?
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Postby bird bird bird bird bird » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:15 am

A slightly more philosophical addendum to my post above, reflecting on timed rounds and the rewarding of knowledge.

1. On second thought, I just realized that there are indeed good reasons to abolish timed rounds, or at a minimum to keep the final tossup of the half on the clock, as NAQT already does for the final bonus. First: the clock-killing neg clearly punishes knowledge, as it encourages players on a team with a twenty-point lead and five seconds remaining to buzz in and spout ignorant gibberish rather than attempting to use those seconds to answer the question. Second: timed rounds arbitrarily punish players who have specialist knowledge in whatever subdistribution’s tossup is begun with only a few seconds left on the clock.

2. I mentioned geography above as the chief reason I will not storm out of future ICTs in a huff. The other is of course the power tossup, an innovation so obviously rewarding of deep knowledge that I find it staggering that it has not yet been adopted by ACF, a format whose partisans value lengthy tossups for precisely that reason. Obviously there are inequities in the placement of the power mark, but I see no reason to believe that these are any more insuperable, or irresponsive to player feedback, than any number of the judgments ordinarily required of a packet editor.

In conclusion: I enjoy both ICT and ACF nationals and would be hard-pressed to choose one over the other. My ideal tournament would be untimed rounds of lengthy power tossups with a 3/3 geography distribution. As no one has ever produced such a monstrosity, I make no claims as to its general applicability.
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Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:34 am

There were a couple of moments where I looked at my teammates and uttered the words "I hate NAQT", but they were mostly after frustrating losses and had more to do with my own performance (and that of my team) than with problems with the tournament.

But overall, I don't think this tournament, question-wise, was as bad as everyone's making it out to be. I mean, what else do you expect from NAQT? Was there a "golden age" before I started college when NAQT had an ACF-style distribution that it stuck to? If not, then I assume you all knew what you were getting into when you signed up for the tournament.

(BTW, before I get tarred and feathered and accused of being in the pay of Dwight Kidder, let me just say that I fully agree with the criticisms over how poorly the tournament was run. The protest resolvement left much to be desired and the tournament getting kicked out of its original rooms was simply unacceptable. And Friday should be 7 rounds. But I don't see how these questions are particularly bad for NAQT. They are even surprisingly good given how bad SCT was)
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Postby Trey » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:11 am

I found this to be a particularly frustrating quizbowl experience, even for NAQT. As a set, the distribution might have been even, but there seemed to be considerable variability among packets (e.g., two Australia toss-ups in the same packet, one packet that apparently discarded things like mythology and science in favor of multiple bonuses on foreign politicians, etc.). What was and was not acceptable/promptable seemed arbitrary, and protests were resolved by fiat rather than fact. The most frustrating aspect, however, was the tendency of matches to have seemingly random outcomes. Without dredging up too much from long-debated arguments on quizbowl theory, it does seem that NAQT has become almost CBI-like in its tendency to produce bizarre single-game results. Is this intentional, so that every team has more than just a theoretical chance to defeat any other team and thus an incentive to keep coming back/purchasing the product?

Over and over again, it seemed like the questions were written by someone who'd given up on concepts like pyramidality and relevance, and instead opened an almanac or threw a dart at the periodic table and regurgitated whatever facts happened to be there. Maybe the disappointment is not so much in the quality of the questions themselves as in the disparity between expectations and results; with the intelligence, experience, and commitment to the quizbowl community of the members of NAQT, the expectations of quality for the ICT were high. I do not feel that this set was worthy of a tournament that can rightfully claim to be the premier collegiate quizbowl event of the year.
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Postby grapesmoker » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:56 am

[quote:9e4f7487ec=\"bt_green_warbler\"]I shouldn’t be wading into this discussion this late at night, but I just wanted to note that I enjoyed this tournament and thought that the question quality was a substantial improvement over the last ICT I attended (the 2004 version).
[/quote:9e4f7487ec]

I didn\'t play in 2004; the first ICT I was in was 2003, before I had formed my current strident opinions regarding question quality. I thought the 2005 ICT was marginally better than this one, especially in the playoff rounds, although not having the questions on hand makes it difficult to evaluate this.

[quote:9e4f7487ec]1. Question length. [/quote:9e4f7487ec]

Being restricted to 4 or 5 lines doesn\'t mean you can\'t fill those 4 or 5 lines with informative clues.

[quote:9e4f7487ec]2. Question distribution. Too much trash, current events, and geography. Not enough social science, fine arts, or mythology. Or so goes the refrain. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I find the abundance of geography to be a good thing, indeed the chief reason for my continued presence at the ICT. As for the rest, I have little enough opinion, as replacing trash with fine arts simply changes the names and dates in tossups I am helpless to answer. I do wonder if players are assuming philosophical distaste for current events in published distributions rather than the obvious technical problems associated with the use of current events in packet submission tournaments.[/quote:9e4f7487ec]

Jeff, that\'s like having a tournament that contains 3/3 physics and me saying, "I don\'t see the problem with 3/3 physics because I can answer those questions." As much as I\'d enjoy picking up those points, it would be an unbalanced packet. Geography is a niche distribution that should have 1/1 per round. I would be sorry if you didn\'t come because geography was reduced, but that\'s not really an argument against reducing it.

I should mention that I was playing solo at this tournament. Doing so makes one far more sensitive to question quality and distribution than when one is playing with teammates because for me, every question matters in every match. Obviously the trash/geography axis put a huge dent into my bonus conversion as compared to ACF Nationals, for example, where I was converting more points per bonus than many of the teams above me.

[quote:9e4f7487ec]3. Question quality. [/quote:9e4f7487ec]

This is, in fact, my main complaint.

[quote:9e4f7487ec]No Fashoda crisis tossup should ever, ever grant power after Marchand. Yes, the name belongs somewhere in the tossup’s midsection, after the leadin and before “FTP name this 1898 crisis in the Sudan.[/quote:9e4f7487ec]

Here\'s a tossup I wrote on Fashoda for Penn Bowl:

[quote:9e4f7487ec]One of the participants of this event was motivated by the desire to complete the “red line” while the other participant’s force of 150 men was commissioned by Gabriel Hanotaux. That force required a 14-month march from Gabon to reach the location of this event, while the other side was delayed by the battles of the Atbara River on April 8th, and Omdurman on September 2nd. Theophile Delcasse, simultaneously juggling fallout from the Dreyfus affair, pressed for a peaceful resolution to the standoff between Jean-Baptiste Marchand and Herbert Kitchener during, for ten points, what Anglo-French encounter in Sudan, which ended with French withdrawal on November 4, 1898?

Answer: Fashoda crisis or incident[/quote:9e4f7487ec]

Remove a couple of sentences and you have a pyramidal NAQT question. Too bad writing that question required thinking and research, unlike slapping "Marchand" down for the second clue.
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Postby bird bird bird bird bird » Mon Apr 10, 2006 11:18 am

Jeff, that's like having a tournament that contains 3/3 physics and me saying, "I don't see the problem with 3/3 physics because I can answer those questions."


I did not mean to claim that NAQT’s current distribution is ideally balanced or that every tournament should have more geography. I intended only to provide one vote in favor of the belief that abundant geography and quality questions can in fact coexist.

Geography is a niche distribution that should have 1/1 per round.


The argument that NAQT’s geography distribution is unbalanced should, I think, derive its support not from the presence of extra geography but from the exclusion of some other discipline, one presumably attractive to a larger set of players. The ICT finals packet had two geography tossups (Panama and Mt. Elbrus) out of twenty-six; a typical ACF packet has one out of twenty. This does not strike me as an obvious imbalance (while three geography tossups probably is in fact excessive). So, what was eliminated from this packet to provide another geography tossup? To provide an extra trash tossup? To provide a current events tossup?
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Postby sbkinney » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:25 pm

My two cents:

I am unwilling to blame either NAQT or Maryland for the problems with the rain and the room conflict issue. As far as I know, R isn't a god and doesn't have some sort of girdle of weather control straight out of Norse myth. As for the rooms, it seems to me that the incompetence lies squarely with their reservation office. If someone would like to provide evidence supporting their claim that NAQT/Maryland should be responsible for these issues, I'm more than willing to hear it.

I thought the moderators were good overall, though there were one or two seemingly inexperienced moderators whom I encountered. During Wisconsin's 13 rounds, we heard nearly 23 tossups were read per round, on average. I found this to be acceptable. Some of my teammates expressed desire to play more rounds than just 13. This is a legitimate complaint, though I will admit that I am not so hardcore as I prefer shorter tournaments. The last ACF Nats I attended left me so drained that I thought I was going to fall asleep standing up.

The cost was relatively high. However, NAQT does provide transportation and lodging for volunteers to help ensure that quality moderators are present. I think that this policy helps ensure that more experienced and competent staff are present than you might find at your typical tournament. It also allows for the massive number of trophies which NAQT awards. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall nearly as many awards being given out at ACF Nats in 2004. It would be nice if the cost could be cut some, but I don't think that the current cost is unreasonably high. If Hentzel comes to the next tournament with diamond encrusted teeth and a jewel-bedecked gold R around his neck, then I might become suspicious that the cost was too high...

As for question quality, I thought that some of the science questions were rather basic. The viscosity tossup was (at least to me) ridiculously easy, the magma tossup seemed more suited for an invitational series, the prayer tossup had too much power, and there were several other questions that struck me as being too easy. However, there were also a lot of questions that I thought were well-written and of appropriate difficulty. I do think that the difficulty varied a bit too much, but I don't think the overall quality was that bad.

Overall, my general impression is that it was not a bad tournament. I consider myself part of the "silent majority" of NAQT supporters. Until now, I haven't publicly defended the format. However, if NAQT made the changes many of the most vocal dissidents suggest, I would almost certainly cease to participate. Let ACF be ACF, let NAQT be NAQT, and let CBI be CBI. If all three events were the same, there'd be no point in having three national events.
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Postby ValenciaQBowl » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:44 pm

I sympathize with the frustration expressed by Jerry and others about the distribution of questions at this year's ICT. My Valencia team didn't play very well, and some of that had to do with the difficulty of preparing for some of the content. I mean, I can help my players get ready for questions on Fashoda, Edith Wharton, or Le Nausee, but how do you prepare for questions on barbershop quartet, lungfish, etc? In conversations with folks between rounds, I kept finding myself unable to articulate how to describe many of the questions, but I guess "non-canonical" will do.

The quality was a little up and down, too. Reading in DII, I noted that the power placements seemed odd at times, and I often found myself saying, "That's still a power" after an answer, and often the teams were just as surprised.

Having said all that, as I've averred here before, I knew what tournament we were attending. As the previous poster wrote, NAQT is indeed NAQT. I don't think they don't heed suggestions made by players, but they do often present certain non-academic content (and a huge emphasis on current events, even in academic questions), and I don't think that's going to change too much. To their credit, NAQT brass were emphatic about accurate scoresheet marking, as they want to investigate "answerability" of questions, so maybe that will help for future tournaments.

I hope Jerry will change his mind about playing NAQT, but in my mind he is making a rational choice: if one knows one doesn't like the cost and content of a tournament, one should not go. Going and hating it doesn't make much sense. My players, however, really enjoyed the whole tournament experience--seeing lots of different teams, visiting a cool city, spending time with each other--as did I, even if it's not the best format for us. So we'll be there next year (qualification pending, of course).
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Postby Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:04 pm

sbkinney wrote:The cost was relatively high. However, NAQT does provide transportation and lodging for volunteers to help ensure that quality moderators are present. I think that this policy helps ensure that more experienced and competent staff are present than you might find at your typical tournament. It also allows for the massive number of trophies which NAQT awards. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall nearly as many awards being given out at ACF Nats in 2004. It would be nice if the cost could be cut some, but I don't think that the current cost is unreasonably high.

Really? Trophies? I got one last year at ICT, it was a little plastic plaque that said something about my place individually in D2. Maybe this is my "ACF bias," and maybe it's self-righteous, but I don't need pieces of plastic to tell me how well or not well I did at a tournament. Most academic tournaments--including SCT--we run and that I've gone to in other regions give out books (mostly cheaply purchased at used book stores or donated) as prizes. Regardless of that, there were no trophies at ACF nationals this year, and I personally heard no complaints. Perhaps next year, just in case, I'll bring cookies in case the winners want one on top of the respect and congratulations they get from their peers.

As for bringing in moderating staff, yes, they bring in good moderators and house them. But the fact is that the cost is so high that it bankrupts a lot of teams that can't get funding. Most of the time we say that lowering entry fee is secondary to managing travel cost when talking about drawing teams to an event, but piling that kind of fee on top of what it already costs to get teams to the event can prevent programs from sending multiple qualifying teams. NAQT should find ways to lower their cost, period.

sbkinney wrote:However, if NAQT made the changes many of the most vocal dissidents suggest, I would almost certainly cease to participate. Let ACF be ACF, let NAQT be NAQT, and let CBI be CBI. If all three events were the same, there'd be no point in having three national events.

I and many others continue to be amazed that people think the concept of pyramidality should be unique to ACF. That questions should have easy clues before hard clues. As for the "game" aspects of NAQT, most here are in favor of maintaining them. Many like the power tossups and timed rounds, but questions that could have just one or two more clues would allow a little wiggle room to better separate players with different levels of knowledge rather than having many tossups come down to buzzer races on early clues. I don't think anyone's talking about the 7-8 line tossup of ACF, and I don't think anyone's suggesting that NAQT should be like ACF. You're right, let them be different, because each should have its own place on the circuit. But that doesn't mean NAQT shouldn't make more effort to improve its questions within the bounds of its format. If pyramidal questions one to two clues longer would chase you off, I'm sorry to hear that.
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Postby Chris Frankel » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:33 pm

ICT 2006's fee is one of the few things I can comments as I haven't actually gone to the tournament, but with that said:

I think Eric may be a little harsh on the trophy issue, not in the sense that your average player needs a trophy for validation, but in the sense that it can be a reasonably interesting way of presenting awards, and in the sense that those things can have some good in terms of impressing administrative types for the sake funding future club endeavors. But that said, it probably is worth questioning whether it makes sense to provide trophies to the fourth place undergrad individual scorer or the tenth place D2 scorer if the costs are such that an entry fee twice what the most expensive circuit tournament may charge is necessary.

If you look at NAQT's potential discounts, you can sort of guess what they're trying to do with those costs, as they offer a pretty lucrative $100 discount for staffers. Of course, the discount, while a nice gesture, soon becomes impractical as you consider that the additional costs of lodging and travel for a team-affiliated staffer add up, let alone the issue of making someone give up a whole weekend without playing. I don't envy NAQT's position or have any solutions on how their high staffing needs may tie into this, but again it might be worth examining how they allocate staffers and how they pay for staffers to attend and see if there were some way to reduce costs.

The fee is certainly problematic, enough so that it can create a major financial onus on the teams attending (we sent 3, so thats another $320, or basically the costs of sending 3-4 teams to a circuit tournament coming from the difference between what NAQT cost us in fees and what ACF Nationals would have cost for 3 teams). That it's been compounding by an average of $30 or so over the past few years is also a disconcerting sign.

In fairness to NAQT, this is the first time multiple sources (myself included) have come out to express reservations over the price. I don't think anyone is under the delusion that NAQT is trying to rob people with high fees, but I hope the people in charge do take these concerns into account and see if they can trim the most superfluous costs in order to keep the price more in line what that of other tournaments. It's also worth noting that the usual bone of contention, question distribution and quality, can be fixed (that is, not turned into ACF-lite, but merely an NAQT with more academically focused and pyramidal/balanced questions) without incurring substantial economic costs, as opposed to concerns that your 10th place individual scorers may feel slighted by not getting a trophy of their own.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:52 pm

ekwartler wrote:Really? Trophies? I got one last year at ICT, it was a little plastic plaque that said something about my place individually in D2. Maybe this is my "ACF bias," and maybe it's self-righteous, but I don't need pieces of plastic to tell me how well or not well I did at a tournament. Most academic tournaments--including SCT--we run and that I've gone to in other regions give out books (mostly cheaply purchased at used book stores or donated) as prizes. Regardless of that, there were no trophies at ACF nationals this year, and I personally heard no complaints. Perhaps next year, just in case, I'll bring cookies in case the winners want one on top of the respect and congratulations they get from their peers.


You know, I used to assume that all ACF players thought like this, but when I got extremely crappy books for ACF Regionals prizes, I heard no shortage of complaints, and it was from the good players who I thought wouldn't give a flying **** about what sort of prize they got.

You'd be surprised how much people apparently care about prizes.
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Postby setht » Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:58 pm

I've attended every ICT from 2000 to 2006, and I feel that the 2005 and 2006 ICT sets were the best ICT sets I can remember. Admittedly, I didn't have much of a sense of question quality for my first several years of playing, but I'm confident that anyone who had issues with the question quality in this year's set would find the earlier sets more objectionable. Any perceived improvement in the quality of the ICT set doesn't excuse the failings of this year's set, but I think that these last 2 ICT sets have pointed to what ICT could be: a good tournament, distinct in style and content from ACF Nationals, which does a good job of differentiating between top-, mid-, and bottom-level teams. The difference between the earlier ICT sets, and the 2005 and 2006 ICT sets, has convinced me that there's hope for significant future improvement of the ICT. I don't think the ICT is a lost cause.

Before I start commenting on the questions, I want to comment on the issue of protests. My team wasn't involved in any game-deciding protests, but we did run into multiple protests in the course of our games. From what I've heard, it seems there were many protests through the course of the tournament, and it also seems that at least some of these protests were not resolved in a very satisfactory manner. I think there were several questions that were missing some alternate answers that should have been there; if this is the case, that's obviously something to work on for next time. Ultimately, NAQT should set a clear protest-resolution policy, make sure the teams and staff are aware of it, and then stick to it at all times.

Now, the question set. As I said before, I felt that this was one of the two best ICT sets I've heard. Things I thought were good include:
-the vast majority of the questions seemed pyramidal
-the vast majority of the questions focused on topics of real interest (no tossups on the letter e, no bonuses on ingredients of twinkie filling)
-none of the bonuses felt like completely free 30s (there were certainly plenty of 30s on bonuses, but none of the bonuses felt ridiculous)
-the vast majority of the clues rewarded knowledge, rather than rewarding players who figured out some cutesie puzzle


Things I thought were not so good:
-several questions, while pyramidal, started out a bit too easy or had overused lead-ins
-a few questions did not seem to have much of a pyramid (e.g., kinetic theory of gases--see below)
-while I felt that none (or almost none) of the bonuses felt too easy, there were a few that felt significantly harder than average (e.g., the Charles Brockden Brown bonus)
-while I felt that there were very few "silly general knowledge" questions in the set, there were still a few, and they seemed pretty bad (e.g., beehive)


Some thoughts on specific questions:
-the tossup on kinetic theory of gases, from what I remember, consisted mostly of a list of underlying postulates. When I learned about this in class, we learned about all the postulates at the same time, and I assume this is generally true in other people's classes that cover the topic. Assuming this is true, how does a list of 3 or 4 postulates represent a tapering in question difficulty? Presumably you either can get the question off of 1 or 2 postulates, or you can't get it off of postulates at all. I thought this question really could have used some other clues. A second problem I had with the question was that I couldn't tell what answer I was supposed to give: those postulates could be clues to "ideal gas," "kinetic theory of gases," or "ideal gas law." Possibly I missed something at the start of the question that ruled out everything but kinetic theory; if not, that was another question that was missing some acceptable alternate answers.
-the tossups on nickel and selenium seemed to start with plenty of boring clues. I don't like clues on weights of isotopes; I suppose they help narrow down on a region of the periodic table, but if there's going to be an element tossup, I'd much rather hear clues about the real-world significance of that element or its isotopes. Also, I believe the nickel tossup mentioned an isotope that's doubly magic, then stated that that isotope has filled shells of neutrons and protons. I'm guessing that the second sentence explaining the meaning "doubly magic" didn't represent any decrease in difficulty for any player--if you know which elements have doubly magic isotopes, you probably know what doubly magic means.

I don't have the set, and I have a terrible memory for questions, so I'll stop there. I remember not being thrilled with the tossups on "magma" and "nebulae," among others, but without the set it's hard to see if there were real flaws in those questions, or if I just played badly on them.


I think NAQT should split its SCT/ICT writing activities from its high school/IS set writing activities (assuming this hasn't already happened) in the following senses:
-relax the character limit a bit on questions for SCT/ICT, and have writers send in questions that are intended from the start for SCT/ICT. Game times can be lengthened, or somewhat fewer questions can be put in each round, or whatever.
-forbid writers from sending in blocks of questions on the same topic for SCT/ICT sets. I understand that it's more efficient for me as a writer to sit down and submit 10 Moby-Dick tossups with some amount of variation in clues right after reading the novel than it is to write a completely new tossup on the novel every few years, but I think players can abuse the current system by combing old SCT/ICT sets for question topics that come up more than once, then making a point of memorizing some clues for those topics. I think this is probably less of an issue for the IS/high school writing side of things, since there are many more of those sets being produced every year, and the same people don't play all of those sets every year, so any given player has less opportunities to exploit a question clump.
-allow subject editors and set editors to kill (or boot to long-term storage) certain questions that just don't belong: the tastes of the circuit do evolve with time, and a question submitted today may not get used for years, at which point it may no longer be considered acceptable. I understand that killing such a question represents a waste of time and effort for both the writer and the editor who has to deal with killing the question, but I think that's better than letting an unacceptable question into a set. If there's a clump of similar Moby-Dick questions, each of which is acceptable, but there've been 4 such questions in the last 6 SCT/ICT sets, it might be good to set the rest of the clump aside for a couple years.
-change the distribution significantly from IS sets/high school sets. I understand that there are already some differences, I just think they should be heightened. I know there are people who really enjoy the geography, current events, and pop culture questions. Two of my teammates were particularly looking forward to the food questions. I think it's fine to have 2 tournaments a year (including a national tournament) with a higher percentage of geography, current events, and pop culture than most circuit events. I'm not sure anyone's particularly excited by the general knowledge category. In any case, I don't think anyone would be terribly distraught if the frequency of geography, current events, and general knowledge questions was reduced somewhat in favor of more "academically-oriented" questions on religion/philosophy/mythology, social science, fine arts, etc.


I've spent way too much time on this, so I'll wrap up. If you have thoughts on what was good/bad about the set, or what can be done to make future SCTs/ICTs better, I encourage you to post--NAQT may be slower to implement big changes in response to player feedback than many people would like, but I think they really do want to produce tournaments that college teams at all levels will find interesting, challenging, and enjoyable.

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Postby yoda4554 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:15 pm

As I believe was discussed in a thread a while back, the standard ACF/invitational distribution is more or less arbitrary. There's no particular reason why it exists other than some people decided they liked it and other people agreed enough not to argue and get it changed. It certainly doesn't represent the distribution of courses of study at a typical university, or else we'd have tons more economics and psychology (and I imagine such questions would look substantially different than typical econ. and psych. questions do now). And for that matter, the notion of trying to make quizbowl strictly "academic," when its process reduces complex events, concepts, and writings on which people have spent untold thousands of hours and pages studying into blunt 100-word summaries, is intuitively a bit silly on its face.

I like trash questions, and am glad that they exist in NAQT. For that matter, a lot of the trash at this tournament was pretty well-written and well-distributed, random board games notwithstanding--- I liked the Eve Harrington, Gorillaz, and "Welcome to the Jungle" tossups and the classic rock couples bonus, off the top of my head. Certainly, they were better written and on better topics than at the SCT. I can't speak to the current events or geography in terms of quality, but I'd be willing to bet that more people at the tournament have actual interest and knowledge in those subjects than, for interest, sociology and anthropology. The best player on my team is certainly much more interested in the former, and it's one of the reasons, I think, he was uninterested in attending ACF Nationals.

I also think that questions such as the "barbershop quartet" one are good precisely because they reward knowledge, while one can't prepare for them. Granted, a canon is quite useful for obvivous reasons, and I wouldn't want to do without it, but "preparing for," to me, reads as "faking." It's a reason I enjoy non-stupid general knowledge (why is there such a bias against it?), as sucky as I am at it, but also common-theme types of questions, in that they tend to still reward actual knowledge without rewarding trivial or quizbowl knowledge. There was an interesting moment at ACF Nationals when I was watching a game between two really good players who are relatively weak on music, but both of whom had picked up reasonably tough tossups on specific works of music familiar to the quiz bowl canon earlier in the day against my team, go blank on the fairly easy "preludes" tossup. I think a few of those kinds of questions per round is a good thing.

Also, while I haven't looked at this for more than my team, I don't think ICT was any more "random" than ACF Nats in terms of specific game results. At ACF, we beat three teams (UCLA, VCU, and Brown) who performed consistently better than we did throughout the day, while the only similar game for us at ICT was our loss to UNC. And to an extent, there should be this kind of thing at any tournament. Presumably, if two balanced and intellectually curious teams are playing each other, even if one is markedly better than the other, there are a wide variety of possible packets on subjects that the weaker team has been more interested in more recently than the stronger. The only way I can conceive of to avoid that would be to make the questions so hard that only a team that's spent a lot of time preparing and nailing their giveaway skills will get much right. This, I suspect, would be an unsatisfying tournament.

I also want to support the power. I actually think it's more suited to ACF than NAQT, due to the increased answer space. Since the questions are somewhat more obscure, the likelihood that someone will get the tossup based on bare giveaway knowledge increases. Thus, a team with little legitimate knowledge of anything being asked still has a good shot at beating a team with deep but spotty coverage. It seems intuitively wrong that a team that gets a tossup early on a book someone's read will get many fewer points than a team that takes the other three lit. questions based on author/work/character association. The power would work to offset that.

Also, I'd really like to know how people on this board are using the phrase "giveaway." As far as I'm concerned, "FTP, name this spoof legal voyeurism by Aristophanes," is a giveaway, while "dog gets tried for stealing cheese" is not. The latter is not a good clue to have in the first line of a tossups on The Wasps, as it was in the finals, because it's a relatively well-known as far as scenes from that play go and comes up in a bunch of tossups, but then again, I only register that because I've heard a couple of Wasps questions since I've read the play. If that weren't in the finals, I don't know how much an effect its less-than-idealness would have; I suspect that people who know more about the play would still get it before people who don't know much about the play.

That said, I think it would be unfair to say that this tournament was no better than the SCT, and it would be a bit rose-tinted to say it was nearly as good as it should have been. On the one hand, there were no one/two clue tossups that I remember, relatively less clueless phrases, and (perhaps a first in an NAQT set) no Simpsons questions masquerading as literature. I really like the Sam Sheperd and Cormac McCarthy questions. On the other hand, there were lots of questions along the lines of that Wasps question that had stuff that was too easy too soon or started with trivia (Bald Soprano, Perfect Day for Bananafish, the Masaccio Trinity, Born in the USA, etc.). There were lots and lots of bonuses on Revolution-era England, two tossups on Moghul emperors, two Australia questions in one packet, etc. It would be really nice if NAQT questions could be slightly longer, maybe averaging their current hard cap on length at about 5 lines.

Also, just a thought on question length... does question length need to be uniform across a tournament? For example, I imagine there are lots of people who know stuff about Walt Whitman. You could write a really long Whitman question and still be legitimately separating actual people playing at the tournament with every clue; while I liked the Whitman tossup, it seemed like it ran out of room for actual references to Whitman poems, which is a shame. ACF Nationals, on the other hand, had an ACF-length tossup on A New Way to Pay Old Debts by Phillip Massinger. Now, I'm going to guess maybe 2 or 3 people at the tournament had ever seen or read this play; someone can correct me if I underestimate its popularity. Thus, most of the question is wasted space for any practical purpose. If there's going to be a tossup on that play, would it be terrible for it to be four lines long?
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Postby Matt Weiner » Mon Apr 10, 2006 2:50 pm

yoda4554 wrote:I also think that questions such as the "barbershop quartet" one are good precisely because they reward knowledge, while one can't prepare for them.


Maybe if the tossup was on the history and significance of barbershop quartets this would be true, but instead the clue that I imagine everyone buzzed on was "[an old person who is fairly well-known for having a side career as an amateur singer] formed one with [three other people.]" Basically, the question rewarded counting to four and then knowing that "barbershop quartet" is a popular style of old-person music. Maybe that's better than not being able to count to four and not knowing what a barbershop quartet is, but in general the question was the kind of "puzzle" that is mostly dissapearing from quizbowl--including mostly dissapearing from NAQT--and was all the more noticeable given how delightfully rare it was in the rest of the set.

No one is saying that trash/GK needs to be entirely eliminated. Every single academic tournament, ACF Nationals included, has at least some trash. However, it seems that the way that trash/GK is written at NAQT has morphed into an overt ideological statement on the part of certain NAQT people, and they are intentionally writing it poorly in order to show that they can do so without suffering economic consequence. In fact, at least one NAQT writer has semi-publicly proclaimed that he knowingly writes horrible non-knowledge-based GK questions for the sole and intentional purpose of pissing off academic players. A well-thought out philosophy about the distribution or a statistically reliable accounting for the preferences of the players are good reasons to write questions in a particular way; spite is not.

Chris Frankel wrote:I think Eric may be a little harsh on the trophy issue, not in the sense that your average player needs a trophy for validation, but in the sense that it can be a reasonably interesting way of presenting awards, and in the sense that those things can have some good in terms of impressing administrative types for the sake funding future club endeavors. But that said, it probably is worth questioning whether it makes sense to provide trophies to the fourth place undergrad individual scorer or the tenth place D2 scorer if the costs are such that an entry fee twice what the most expensive circuit tournament may charge is necessary.


I think if we all recall trophy shop visits for tournaments we've run and consider the trophies NAQT gives out, it becomes unlikely that too much of the money is going there. I think I could purchase that set of trophies for around $700 all told at any of the places I've used when running events. It seems like reimbursing staff travel, paying editors, and company profit are more likely destinations for that $240 per team.

setht wrote:Before I start commenting on the questions, I want to comment on the issue of protests. My team wasn't involved in any game-deciding protests, but we did run into multiple protests in the course of our games. From what I've heard, it seems there were many protests through the course of the tournament, and it also seems that at least some of these protests were not resolved in a very satisfactory manner. I think there were several questions that were missing some alternate answers that should have been there; if this is the case, that's obviously something to work on for next time. Ultimately, NAQT should set a clear protest-resolution policy, make sure the teams and staff are aware of it, and then stick to it at all times.


In addition to the problems with the actual rulings that were outlined already, I'd like to note something else that was really terrible about the protest procedure. Apparently the moderators were told to pre-emptively read replacement tossups in case the ruling was that questions should be "thrown out." I don't like the idea of the person ruling on the protest knowing exactly what will happen as a result of the ruling, nor do I like an overeagerness to throw out questions when the correct resolution (as in our protest, for example) would be to simply rule the original answer right. Assuming evenly matched teams due to the fact that a single question under protest will swing the game, in most scenarios a thrown out tossup followed by a replacement question has a 50% chance of rendering a successful protest moot. This is needless penalizing of a team for protesting, reminiscent of Chip Beall.

setht wrote:-none of the bonuses felt like completely free 30s (there were certainly plenty of 30s on bonuses, but none of the bonuses felt ridiculous)


Well, there was the "Cavelliera Rusticana, Verga, Mascagni" question that seemed to fall off the desk of the high school championship editor and into the ICT Division I basket. Otherwise bonus difficulty was pretty well-managed, I agree.

ValenciaQBowl wrote: To their credit, NAQT brass were emphatic about accurate scoresheet marking, as they want to investigate "answerability" of questions, so maybe that will help for future tournaments.


This is laudable, and I think NAQT would do wonders for longstanding complaints about its lack of transparency as well as illuminate some of the allegations about trash accessibility by releasing the resultant data. I predict that the Kenji Johjima tossup was by far the worst-converted.
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Postby No Rules Westbrook » Mon Apr 10, 2006 4:40 pm

Without having attended this year's ict, I want to say something in response to this crucially true idea that naqt produces wild and aberrant single-game results. It's true that at any good acf tournament (see this year's nats), there are some "upsets." The difference for me is that after losing an acf round like that, you feel as though you deserved to lose it - i.e. you didn't buzz where you should have, you did buzz and said the wrong things, etc. When you lose those types of rounds at ict for example (assuming the existence of the type of defects that have been hashed out in this post already), often you're more inclined to just shrug your shoulders and think "huh, that was quick, how did that happen." This difference speaks to the general frustration that I think a lot of players feel, aside from the empirically obvious truth that naqt results can be just plain nutty. Also, to add to the "that was quick" observation, no tournament should ever end at 3 in the afternoon...especially not one that involves teams traveling a boatload of miles to get to the site and then dropping over 200 buckeroos on it. I don't care how many rounds you play Friday night. For that matter, no legit national tournament should end before 7.

Also, I too wonder (and assume the answer is yes but can't see how), are there really people out there who will jump to provide a "substantive" defense of timed rounds (and the types of questions they necessitate)? In other words, a reason that isn't: 1. logistics/time concerns 2. rounds without clocks make me sleepy 3. game shows and sporting events have clocks and look how exciting they are!
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Postby MLafer » Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:43 pm

Ryan Westbrook wrote:I want to say something in response to this crucially true idea that naqt produces wild and aberrant single-game results. It's true that at any good acf tournament (see this year's nats), there are some "upsets." The difference for me is that after losing an acf round like that, you feel as though you deserved to lose it - i.e. you didn't buzz where you should have, you did buzz and said the wrong things, etc. When you lose those types of rounds at ict for example (assuming the existence of the type of defects that have been hashed out in this post already), often you're more inclined to just shrug your shoulders and think "huh, that was quick, how did that happen."


In addition, you'd be hard pressed to find many more teams besides Williams that had multiple "upset" games at ACF.

I'm going to (perhaps incorrectly) define an upset as a game where team A defeats team B, and team B had higher overall bonus conversion. Just looking at the standings, not at the individual games, we can immediately see an incongruity between ACF and NAQT results.

ACF
In the bottom bracket, other than the statistically insignificant difference between Brandeis and Torch, the bonus conversions increase as placement increases. Then you have a large leap with Brown, possibly due to an unbalanced prelim bracket.

In the middle bracket, the conversions are all around 8-9-10, except for mine, but statistically my team would have made the top bracket had i not been exhibition, so that should be thrown out.

In the top bracket, every team has a higher bonus conversion than any team in the middle or bottom brackets (excluding exhibition teams) except Chicago B is slightly lower than Brown. There is an error in Princeton's bonus conversion which I don't feel like calculating right now, but Frankel previously said it raised his team's BC an entire point, so I'm going to guess that the results are all in "non-upset" arrangement, except for A&M being ahead of Chicago/Michigan.

ICT

There are too many teams here for me to bother with going through each situation individually, but note VCU having lower BC than two teams in the second bracket, same with Virginia, Brown having lower BC than 5 teams in the second bracket and even two teams in the third bracket, and overall the near indistinguishability between skill level in say, the bottom of the first/top of the second, bottom of the second/top of the third, and bottom of the third/top of the fourth brackets.
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My two cents

Postby cvdwightw » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:06 pm

Here's some thoughts from me:

In general, I like NAQT. I like shorter tossups, especially on parts of the distribution I care nothing about, and in general, I like their distribution. Even after almost 3 years at the college level, my favorite packet set is still the 2002 HSNCT. However, like many of the posters here, I was disappointed in the tournament. I'm going to hash this out on the board, then probably edit it to a less ranting e-mail to send to them (in the vain hope someone will read it).

Logistical issues:
(1) I understand the desire to have a balance of good and not-as-good moderators in the prelim brackets, so no bracket really feels shafted. However, getting through 20 or less questions in the upper playoff bracket is unacceptable (especially considering that teams in the upper bracket are more likely to power/interrupt questions and take less time on bonuses). I'm especially peeved about the 19 question round in our game against Stanford; granted some of that was partially our fault, as Charles spent a good 20 seconds (on the clock) discussing with the moderator whether Arctic Monkeys is worthy of being a tossup answer (in retrospect, I thought I should have called a timeout, but then I realized that as Eric had frauded the answer to the tossup, we could not have called timeout in the middle of the tossup-bonus cycle). Still, if NAQT is going to provide 26 tossups, I'd like to hear at least 22 in the upper brackets.

(2) This is the second straight year where the brackets were distributed quite unevenly. Seriously, what was NAQT doing putting Chicago A, Berkeley, Rochester, Williams, Harvard, and Texas A&M in the same bracket? Or (slightly less egregious, but more personally annoying) Illinois, UCLA, Princeton, Texas, and Yale? Charles and I were absolutely shocked when we realized that one of the two statistically worst teams in the tournament as of Friday night was going to make the third bracket due to USC's no-show. Granted, the sudden cancellations NAQT had no control over, but still...you'd think that, since we had to register in advance who was coming, NAQT could have seen how that matched up with the SCT roster and how those players did. Of course, maybe I'm wrong, NAQT does seed teams and then watch everything get destroyed by teams playing much better or worse than expected.

(3) I'm not going to reiterate arguments people have already made about rain, double-booking, etc. This is entirely or partially the fault of people other than NAQT.

Questions:
(1) In general, as long as there are questions with answers and some semblance of competition, I don't really care. I play ACF. I play NAQT. I play regional tournaments of widely varying quality. I play CBI. Heck, I play my school's Dorm College Bowl, whose questions and format are so bad they make CBI look amazing. I'm not a question connoisseur. That said, I felt that this tournament was very inconsistent with quality, where a good question would be followed up by a clunker and you couldn't tell which type the next question would be.

(2) Some of the science questions were quite poor. Seriously, had I been aggressive, I would have buzzed in with "viscosity" after the words "In liquids", as it was, the next clue was quite easy. Giving the reason why organisms use the fermentation pathway as the lead-in is not good. Neither is saying there's a process with ten enzymes, then, if you're sitting thinking there might be another important ten-enzyme process, they proceed to give you the name of arguably the most important one. Meanwhile, I think Jerry, Ray, and I are in agreement that the "hysteresis" question was, if not good, certainly not bad, and some of the biology was not bad.

(3) After the tournament Ray and I racked our brains and could not come up with a single question we considered "philosophy." I understand if NAQT wants to limit the number of questions on religion, mythology, and philosophy, they have every right to do so, but it's absurd for a tournament to be pretty much entirely devoid of philosophy (especially since Andrew Yaphe had a hand in editing it). Not that I particularly like philosophy questions, but it probably would've boosted Ray's PPG by a significant amount and won us a couple of games here and there.

(4) NAQT likes trash. I get that. I like that. What I don't like is what I and my teammates perceived as the imbalance of subdistributions of trash. I'd guess the trash was something like this: 25% sports, 35% popular music our team neither knows nor cares about, 10% popular music our team had a shot at getting or music questions disguised as "other trash", 10% random general knowledge stuff, and 20% movies, TV, food, board games, and all that other stuff that goes into trash tournaments. I felt this was very imbalanced and our inability to fraud any of the popular music contributed significantly to two of our losses.

As to the timed rounds question, my only idea right now is that the more questions that are played, the less likely the worse team is to win. And a timed round with good moderators and short questions is going to do a better job of getting through more questions. Of course, this argument is mostly invalid because if the questions suck having three more questions won't do anything to help the better team's chances.

That said, I still had fun at the tournament (I would have had more fun with more wins, but what can you do?), and, qualification permitting, I will almost certainly be at ICT next year. If you want to hate me for being one of those players who despite knowing what good questions are continues to frequent and support tournaments of poor question quality, go ahead.
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Postby MLafer » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:11 pm

I decided to calculate how many total "upset" games there were in each tournament, as a percentage of total games played:

ACF
132 total games
19 upsets
19/132 = 14.39%

NAQT
208 total games
39 upsets
39/208 = 18.75%

Not as huge a difference as I would have expected from the standings; perhaps a flawed prelim bracketing was more to blame for that, and things like Georgia getting into the third bracket by beating the 30th place team and a forfeit.
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Yes, I'm totally out of the loop...

Postby First Chairman » Mon Apr 10, 2006 6:35 pm

This tells you I haven't been to ICT since it was run at Chapel Hill...

When did ICT go to a prelim bracket format? Whatever happened to power-matching every round all the time because of the inherent problems associated with "arbitrarily" assigning teams into divisions?

Am I the only one who misses ladder play? :razz:
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Postby recfreq » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:39 pm

1st of all, congrats to Cal Berkeley. IMO it was just about as good as the last NAQT tourney I played in.

My only real complaint is that this NAQT ICT gives one too many "categorical" clues that place an answer in some very restricted space of answers very early, and hence fewer "real-knowledge" clues. This would also apply to TUs in general. E.g. take the viscosity clue, if you know nothing about viscosity but only that there's a dynamic type of it, you're rewarded with 15, you don't even have to know that one other type is called kinematic, and what the difference b/t them is. In many of the question, one simple additional step of research is all that is required to make the question acceptable and even good. In this case, the density would serve as the link b/t dynamic and kinematic versions, and while it would still be an NAQT style question, this would make it quite acceptable. Similarly, letting us know it's a "function" on the Ackerman question gave it away, and took the joy out of figuring things out. On the other hand, just what was the triplet repeat ques asking for? My point is that if the answer is pretty easy, then don't let us know exactly what you want; if the answer is hard, then _do_ let us know what category of answer is expected.

The rest of my comments are based on opinion. I don't see why there's a need for random disease questions, esp. if they are in the "biology" distribution. Considering how subpar the bio distr was already, I wish there would be a single molecular biology question based on mechanism, instead of name this freakin' disease, which is classification, not science. I mean, there's a place of some of that, just not the majority.

There was too much variability in the number of questions read. I remember hearing 19 to 21 TUs in at least 4 of our rounds, and I think we lost most of them. This variability can perhaps be seen in the bonus conversions. I'm not saying we should have finished higher, but three of the teams ahead of us had at least 1.5 lower BC than us (we also had higher PPG than 4 teams above us, so who knows). I agree that TUs should make the most difference in NAQT style tournies, but when you hear only 19 TUs, the BC should make a difference. Also, when the brackets are unbalanced, the fact that the record carries over to the next round makes it essentially unfair to teams who played tougher competition in the 1st round. We should considering starting over with a clean record during the playoff round, b/c if you don't, then you're essentially saying that we believe that the originally bracketing was as good as we could make it compared to the playoff bracketing. But this is clearly not the case, the playoff bracketing gives us a much better idea of what's going on, and there's no reason to assume that games played here are equally meaningful when compared with the initial round. The way it is right now, if you played in a tougher initial bracket, you get penalized in the final standings. (Come to think of it, Charles only had 13 negs and Dwight finished an amazing 7-23-0, and with only 3 players, our unwillingless to buzz was probly what doomed us.)

If I didn't hear incorrectly, I believe one of the questions had "Homage to Mrs. Bradstreet" as the answer. Looking it up, it looks like the correct title is "Homage to Mistress Bradstreet." Perhaps someone to confirm or refute this, not that it mattered in our game's outcome.

The NAQT distr is what it is, so no complaining about 3/3 geography is really legitimate, although I do hope that there would be some social science that is not masked as biography or current events.

(As an aside, the fact that Jerry only had 3 negs on day 1 tells you that this tourney was probly decent, at least on day 1. Yes, this is an arbitrary scale.)

Generally speaking, we had fun. The set was ok, and probly good compared to NAQT sets I've played in in the past. If you compare costs, then ACF Nats was a bargain, and I won't be coming to ICT next year, mostly b/c of economic factors and the fact that we just won't be able to compete at the top bracket level next year. If those issues would go away, I'd play ICT again.
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Postby fleurdelivre » Mon Apr 10, 2006 7:43 pm

Just so no one can claim the opposition is always a silent one:

Quit insulting the barbershop quartet tossup! It was my only power all tournament, because The Usual Suspects is an awesome movie which more people should have seen and remembered. For general trash, it was a fun question, if somewhat ridiculous...but who else would allow such whimsy? Only NAQT, and that's not inherently a bad thing.
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Re: Yes, I'm totally out of the loop...

Postby Dan Greenstein » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:06 pm

E.T. Chuck wrote:This tells you I haven't been to ICT since it was run at Chapel Hill...

When did ICT go to a prelim bracket format? Whatever happened to power-matching every round all the time because of the inherent problems associated with "arbitrarily" assigning teams into divisions?

Am I the only one who misses ladder play? :razz:


ICT has had the 4x8 bracketing system since 2004. They also had a variant of that system in 2001 and 2002, wherein the fields were divided 3x12 (in D1) and the playoffs consisted of four games cross-bracket (6x6).

In 2003, NAQT did some weird power-matching scheme that will probably not be repeated because the third place team got there by virtue of winning their last seven games despite losing to the fifth place team, thanks to a fortuitious draw in the last four games.
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Postby DanTheClam » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:08 pm

I'm going to start this off by saying that I did not enjoy this year's ICT very much. After the tournament, our team discussed it and decided that the best adjective to describe the tournament was "mediocre." It certainly wasn't bad almost all of the questions were acceptable, if you didn't mind the distribution. Of course, who other than NAQT writes an allegedly academic tournament with probably about 35% as much RMP (combined) as Trash (statistic completely made up, but it definitely felt that way)?

I'd really like to ask about subdistributions as well; was it just me, or was there about 4/4 on Indie Rock bands nobody cares about in this tournament? The "Arctic Monkeys" tossup was certainly one of the lowlights of the tournament for me.

And, indeed, I thought this tournament was markedly worse than last year's ICT. It was a step backwards, and it really indicated that NAQT just flat out doesn't listen to those who care enough to comment on their product.

However. It was much better than SCT, for which I am extremely thankful. SCT was, simply, egregiously bad. If ICT had not been such a signficant improvement over SCT, this would probably be another post just as angry as many of the previous ones; we spent a lot of club money on this tournament that could have been better spent on superior tournaments. However, while not as good as last year's (which, really, was a decent tournament, although certainly not up to par with any recent ACF tournament), ICT at least recovered ground from the horror that was SCT.
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Postby matt979 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:31 pm

grapesmoker wrote:When I approached R. Hentzel during the tournament and expressed my dissatisfaction with the questions, I got a brief nod for my troubles and no indication whether anything I had said (and I hadn't had a chance to go into detail) would be taken into account.


Depending on the exact timeframe, "during" the tournament is not the ideal time to expect full attention from a tournament organizer. If someone had come to me with similar feedback the years I was in Division 1 control room, I wouldn't have had the capacity to do more than nod and react as appropriately as possible. Even this year as "just" a reader that may have also been true.

Maybe NAQT should have a Saturday post-tournament forum for feedback and face-to-face discussion? Just an idle thought.

More notes from an NAQT member (and ICT quasi-organizer) who emphatically does not speak for NAQT:

Since I was notionally on the protest committee I'll take my share of responsibility for the Arminius/Herman resolution. My part in the conversation was limited to hearing Yaphe's assertion that the theologian was known only as Arminius. If Matt W. asserted otherwise then we should have researched that. (I don't know whether he made that assertion.) I can tell you there was also a biology protest that round in need of factual research, though that wouldn't excuse failing also to research some other factual protest.

None of the questions cited in this thread were mine. One limiting factor (certainly not the only one) on the quality of NAQT questions is the quality of what's submitted. For my own part I strongly dislike writing for ICT because by subject matter I'll typically be out of my element and be well aware that a more knowledgeable person could have written a better question.

I was very disappointed to hear about the 19-question game between top-tier teams, and am sure that Joel Gluskin as logistics director would be still more disappointed. (Be sure to mention who it was if you know, or at least what room it was in, for future quality control.)

In general the best teams should get their playoff games read by at least the best half of readers. We still use a particular schedule template I put together that I'm going to tweak soon to make it easier to achieve that.
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Re: Yes, I'm totally out of the loop...

Postby jagluski » Mon Apr 10, 2006 9:36 pm

Dan Greenstein wrote:
E.T. Chuck wrote:This tells you I haven't been to ICT since it was run at Chapel Hill...

When did ICT go to a prelim bracket format? Whatever happened to power-matching every round all the time because of the inherent problems associated with "arbitrarily" assigning teams into divisions?

Am I the only one who misses ladder play? :razz:


ICT has had the 4x8 bracketing system since 2004. They also had a variant of that system in 2001 and 2002, wherein the fields were divided 3x12 (in D1) and the playoffs consisted of four games cross-bracket (6x6).

In 2003, NAQT did some weird power-matching scheme that will probably not be repeated because the third place team got there by virtue of winning their last seven games despite losing to the fifth place team, thanks to a fortuitious draw in the last four games.


Are you sure about this? When the ICT was at Wash U in 2001, there was some swiss-pairs format in the later rounds. Also, I played UCLA D2 in 2003. This was the same 4x8 format as this year, but I'm not sure what D1 was like.
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Postby NoahMinkCHS » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:20 pm

Re: Swiss pairing, I would like to see it. After playing it for two years at HSNCT, I have to say I think it's a much better system than bracketed pools. It helps prevent stacked divisions (as were mentioned above) from skewing the results, and it makes the games much more intense on the whole. I know (in general) that I enjoyed the later rounds on Sat, where we played teams of even caliber, much more than the Fri/Sat AM rounds, where opponent quality was a crapshoot.

That said, it reminds me of another question I've been meaning to ask. My team (Georgia, Div II) lost 2 prelim matches to fall to the second pool. We then proceeded to almost run the table, losing only our final match in a blowout to Columbia. My question is this: If we'd beaten Columbia, we would have been 11-2... same as Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the teams that played off for the 1st-3rd place spots. Based on my interpretation of the rules, that would have put us in a four-way tie for first. Am I right? If so, is this fair, given that we'd played only two top-bracket opponents versus seven for the other contenders? I know NAQT has very specific tie-breaking and playoff rules to eliminate... "weird" outcomes, but it seems like this one could have been a problem. (Which is why I liked the HS rules of Swiss-pair followed by double-elim playoff...) Any thoughts?
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Postby jagluski » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:34 pm

NoahMinkCHS wrote:Re: Swiss pairing, I would like to see it. After playing it for two years at HSNCT, I have to say I think it's a much better system than bracketed pools. It helps prevent stacked divisions (as were mentioned above) from skewing the results, and it makes the games much more intense on the whole. I know (in general) that I enjoyed the later rounds on Sat, where we played teams of even caliber, much more than the Fri/Sat AM rounds, where opponent quality was a crapshoot.

That said, it reminds me of another question I've been meaning to ask. My team (Georgia, Div II) lost 2 prelim matches to fall to the second pool. We then proceeded to almost run the table, losing only our final match in a blowout to Columbia. My question is this: If we'd beaten Columbia, we would have been 11-2... same as Harvard, Stanford and Caltech, the teams that played off for the 1st-3rd place spots. Based on my interpretation of the rules, that would have put us in a four-way tie for first. Am I right? If so, is this fair, given that we'd played only two top-bracket opponents versus seven for the other contenders? I know NAQT has very specific tie-breaking and playoff rules to eliminate... "weird" outcomes, but it seems like this one could have been a problem. (Which is why I liked the HS rules of Swiss-pair followed by double-elim playoff...) Any thoughts?


You are not correct. All teams in the top bracket must finish ahead of the first place team in the 2nd bracket. Therefore, making the first bracket guarantees you 8th place. Even if you ran the table, you would have done no better than 9th.

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Postby MLafer » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:36 pm

If so, is this fair, given that we'd played only two top-bracket opponents versus seven for the other contenders? I know NAQT has very specific tie-breaking and playoff rules to eliminate... "weird" outcomes, but it seems like this one could have been a problem. (Which is why I liked the HS rules of Swiss-pair followed by double-elim playoff...) Any thoughts?


I don't think this is a problem - most college tournaments with bracketed playoffs will have results like this. Overall record is irrelevant to final ranking; teams from the lower brackets cannot "jump" a bracket and finish above teams in a higher bracket. Georgia's official placement in the tournament would be 9th regardless of the Columbia game.
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Re: My two cents

Postby matt979 » Mon Apr 10, 2006 10:48 pm

cvdwightw wrote:(2) This is the second straight year where the brackets were distributed quite unevenly. Seriously, what was NAQT doing putting Chicago A, Berkeley, Rochester, Williams, Harvard, and Texas A&M in the same bracket? Or (slightly less egregious, but more personally annoying) Illinois, UCLA, Princeton, Texas, and Yale?


Blame me personally for this, in particular for talking others out of doing the right thing.

I forget last year's details (though I do remember discussing this with someone by e-mail and strongly defending that year's brackets). This year there is no defense. The main issue relates to how we treat teams that auto-qualified from hosting an SCT: There's no way to give them a specific ranking without resorting to some hand-waving, but hand-waving may still be superior to a demonstrably unfair result. This is obviously a problem we need to solve post-haste, since we do want the best possible SCT hosts, and the teams that do best at running tournaments are often (not always, but often) also the teams that play best.

Of course imbalance can also result from teams whose rosters change significantly from the lineup that played SCT to the one that plays ICT. Anyone with non-obvious insight about what adjustments (if any) to make, should write to ict at naqt.

Again, to the teams in the bracket(s) of death, mea culpa.

P.S. I just noticed in the post right below this one the call to adapt HSNCT-style Swiss pairs for ICT. In theory I'd be heartily in favor of this, though it's such an involved process that I'm extremely reluctant to inflict it on the kind souls who've made it possible for me to flee from the stat room.
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Re: My two cents

Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:33 am

matt979 wrote:The main issue relates to how we treat teams that auto-qualified from hosting an SCT: There's no way to give them a specific ranking without resorting to some hand-waving, but hand-waving may still be superior to a demonstrably unfair result. This is obviously a problem we need to solve post-haste, since we do want the best possible SCT hosts, and the teams that do best at running tournaments are often (not always, but often) also the teams that play best.

Of course imbalance can also result from teams whose rosters change significantly from the lineup that played SCT to the one that plays ICT. Anyone with non-obvious insight about what adjustments (if any) to make, should write to ict at naqt.


Perhaps results of the year's non-NAQT tournaments should be taken into greater account than they currently are. Does the current system attempt to rely wholly on the sectionals results?

matt979 wrote:Since I was notionally on the protest committee I'll take my share of responsibility for the Arminius/Herman resolution. My part in the conversation was limited to hearing Yaphe's assertion that the theologian was known only as Arminius. If Matt W. asserted otherwise then we should have researched that. (I don't know whether he made that assertion.) I can tell you there was also a biology protest that round in need of factual research, though that wouldn't excuse failing also to research some other factual protest.


Until the result of the VCU-Stanford game is changed in the statistics, the announcement of finalists is changed to show that VCU and Chicago tied for third, and we get duplicates of the third-place trophy set in the mail, I'm not interested in hearing any more non-apologies for the atrocious laziness and arrogance displayed in pretending to resolve that protest.
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Postby NoahMinkCHS » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:51 am

jagluski wrote:You are not correct. All teams in the top bracket must finish ahead of the first place team in the 2nd bracket. Therefore, making the first bracket guarantees you 8th place. Even if you ran the table, you would have done no better than 9th.

Thanks for the clarification. That (your version) is how pretty much everyone on our team interpreted it. In the future, though, you might want to make that more explicit in the rules given, rather than
NAQT wrote:...the top two teams will advance to the finals. This will be determined by overall record (i.e., teams' records from the first round-robin carry over).

which led to my confusion.

Aside from that, count me in the silent majority that likes NAQT. It may not be perfect, but I enjoy the format more than any other I've played, and the questions in Div II -- for the most part -- were fine with me.
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Postby vandyhawk » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:54 am

(Apologies in advance for the length)

We had two games decided on protests, so I think my comments should be pretty relevant there. In both cases, they eventually gave us the win, but they weren't handled as well as I would've expected. In our match against Michigan on Fri night in round 4, my response of nanotubules instead of nanotubes was ruled wrong, and there was also the bonus on DNA stuff, where my lack of paying enough attention led me to say just polymorphism instead of RFLP, for which I protested not being prompted, and then I said satellite DNA for microsatellite, was sort of prompted, then gave the full response, only to have the moderator not accept it. We initially lost by 40, and the nanotubes tossup protest was denied rather quickly, making the bonus protest moot. It was two rounds later that Samer, who was reading that match, told us that the nanotubes protest had now been upheld upon further research, making for a 35 point swing. Someone hadn't realized that it actually mattered now for the outcome, so I guess then they looked at the bonus protest, upheld the microsatellite one, and didn't decide on the RFLP or give us a bonus for the tossup since we now had a winning margin. We were informed of all this at the end of play Fri night, but it sounds like Michigan wasn't really told, which sucks. The other game was against Rochester in the playoffs, where we trailed by 25 going into final tossup, got it, got the 2nd bonus part, and then protested the last bonus part as an equivalent but not listed answer. No one told us about a ruling one way or the other till after round 14, when we went to the control room and learned that it had been upheld, giving us the win. No one told Rochester about it either, until I mentioned it to Fred at the finals. Again, yes I loved the outcome and applaud them for looking up the info, but a timelier, more communicative ruling was expected.

For other logistics, I know all too well how reservations offices can screw up room bookings, so no hard feelings there. Moderators were all competent, though I share the sentiment of some others that I wish many of them had read faster. We never heard fewer than 20 tossups, but Samer, Kevin C., and Zeke were really the only ones we had who seemed to be doing everything they could to get through the whole packet. Given that the distribution is theoretically evenly spread out over 26 questions, it'd be nice to hear as many as possible to avoid missing certain areas. It also seems to give the game more of a rhythm when the moderator is trying to go quickly, and b/c of both of these things, I don't think it's a coincidence that we had our best games with the readers mentioned above. I kind of like timed rounds every once in a while as something different, but it definitely requires good readers to be worth it. I was a little surprised that many of the scorekeepers in DI were volunteers from a service organization who had never played quizbowl before. We use volunteers like this for our HS tournaments, and they're obviously a valuable resource and much superior alternative to not having a scorekeeper. However, many of them had major issues in the first couple rounds, and throughout the tourney, our individual stats were switched a couple times (giving me some more zeros...), and I definitely heard many say that they were on the wrong number, etc. If NAQT was planning to use the scoresheets to closely look at answerability, there could definitely be some errors.

As far as unexpected results, I challenge anyone to find a team with more inconsistent stats/results than we had. We managed to blow a 100 pt lead against Dartmouth but also gave Stanford their only prelim loss, and we didn't do much in the playoffs again but did manage to beat Rochester. It's really quite amazing if you look at our team detail in the SQBS files. For a given round, the bonus conversion ranged from 6.67 to 18.33, and in general, the higher ppb rounds were ones where we heard more bonuses. I think this says more about our team - that we have quite a bit of knowledge but also some definite holes - than about the questions, but still, those are some pretty drastic swings. The distribution of bonuses that we happened to get definitely didn't help, nor did our just plain bad play at times.

I won't dwell on the distribution much, but some quick thoughts. I can understand the draw of current events and trash for some players, but the geography continues to escape me. I was pleased with the sports subdistribution this year, which asked mostly about more recent major sports (football, baseball, basketball) that people in attendance are more likely to know. We did pretty bad on other trash, which seemed more out there, but that's just a weakness of our team. I really don't know if it's true, but I felt like there was more trash than last year, though perhaps less general knowledge. Looking back through the set, there was more classical music and myth than I had originally remembered, but I can't help asking why there are rounds with no visual arts questions? I know, and have to accept even though I don't like, that NAQT will be light on philosophy, social science, myth, and fine arts, but shouldn't visual art be a basic category and at least be present? I've noticed that they often appear toward the end of rounds too, making their presence seem even smaller than in actuality.

This was only my second ICT, last year being the first, but overall it wasn't terrible. I agree with whoever said the trinucleotide repeat tossup was kind of weird, there were definitely too many elements tossups, and the bio distribution could've used some more variation. At least the science difficulty was fairly consistent from round to round. The visual arts tossups, when present, generally had fairly easy clues early, such as in Surrender of Breda and the Art of Painting. I do remember some bonuses that were probably too easy - two Japanese history ones (Yoritomo/Minamoto/Kamakura and Ieyasu/Hideyoshi/Sekigahara), the Christmas Carol one, which I felt kind of bad 30'ing to take our first lead late in the game against Stanford, and the Raman/Stokes/IR bonus in that same round. Anyway, those are just examples I came up with off the top of my head. As many have said, I enjoyed the lack of crazy list or puzzle type tossups, and there were far fewere "empty" clues compared with SCT.

One other thing I wanted to bring up is the 2 second response rule. Does anyone else think that's too short? I haven't competed much this semester and couldn't get much prep time in before last weekend, so my brain was a little slow in the connection from "I know what this clue means" to "this is the name of the answer." I got burned by this early on with a bunch of negs where I knew that I knew the answer, but just couldn't quite come up with it in time, but could have under ACF rules. After that, I started getting a little buzzer shy till I actually had the name in my head, and lost out on a bunch of races, or powers when I knew the info from before the mark but didn't buzz right away. This is probably just me being annoyed with myself for playing so poorly at times (looking back at the questions, there are so many where I can only wonder why I wasn't buzzing yet), but I thought I'd see how others like the quick response requirement.

Overall, we had a good time at the tournament, so I guess the money was worth it - why does NAQT not have any travel discounts though? I suspect we would've enjoyed it more had we played more consistently and always up to our abilities, but as long as NAQT doesn't start making more sets again like this year's SCT, I imagine we'll be back next year.
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Postby NotBhan » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:55 am

vandyhawk wrote:One other thing I wanted to bring up is the 2 second response rule. Does anyone else think that's too short? ... ... ... I thought I'd see how others like the quick response requirement.



I agree -- I wish they'd return it to a 3-second response period. It would chew up some extra time over the course of a match, of course, but a 2-second response period always seemed pretty short to me.
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Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:35 am

In summary, here are the complaints against NAQT: the matches are too short, they use timed matches, the protest procedure is not transparent or correct, they changed the rooms, the brackets were uneven, a cell phone went off, there were too many buildings, it was raining, many of the questions were bad, the questions are too short, there is too much pop culture, there is not enough philosophy, there is not enough social science, the cost is too high, the moderating is uneven, the tiebreaking procedure is bad, there is too much geography, many questions are not pyramidal, there are too many elements questions, the science questions are generally bad, there are too few factual clues, there is too much current events, there are not enough alternative answers listed, there were two Australia tossups in the same match, the power placements are questionable, they are too quick to read replacement tossups, it is difficult to arrive on time Friday evening, the trash subdistribution is poor, some clues reward guessing rather than knowledge, they shouldn't use brackets, the response time is too short.

And, most importantly, whenever somebody complains they don't make sure that that person's concerns are dealt with immediately and perfectly.

It might help if the complainers on this board could agree on two or three problems that they see as serious. There is nothing wrong with complaining on a bulletin board, but certainly you can see why it is difficult for NAQT, which basically runs a successful tournament, to respond in a satisfactory way to all of these complaints.
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Postby grapesmoker » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:26 am

It might help if the complainers on this board could agree on two or three problems that they see as serious. There is nothing wrong with complaining on a bulletin board, but certainly you can see why it is difficult for NAQT, which basically runs a successful tournament, to respond in a satisfactory way to all of these complaints.


First of all, maybe you can tell me whether the above accusations have been leveled at any of the ACF tournaments this year or other outstanding events like MLK. The fact that they have not is, I think, indicative of the relative quality of the aforementioned events as compared with ICT.

Second, I personally did not experience any problems with bad moderating or with protest resolution, but I sympathize with those who did. It's simply not acceptable to deny someone the opportunity to present their case for the protest; that by definition is what the protest is for. Neither is it appropriate to decide protests behind closed doors without notifying the teams in question. At the very least, both teams should be present at the protest resolution and be allowed to make their arguments.

Third, I don't blame NAQT for the fiasco with the rooms. I don't understand how Maryland could have booked the rooms without knowing they were double-booked. When Casey was running around trying to figure out what to do, it seemed to me that this scenario was not entirely unanticipated by him. In that case, why not start the tournament in Jimenez to begin with, since there appeared to be no chance of interference in that situation? Regardless, I didn't find that delay particularly bad; at most it was an annoyance.

My complaints are against the NAQT distribution, their choice of answers, and the way many of their questions are written. When I get home later today, I will type up my comments on the various questions I found objectionable and compile some distribution statistics.

edit: oh yeah, the tournament fee. Sorry, $240 is just too much. For $240, I better get flawless questions and 20 rounds of play.
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Postby First Chairman » Tue Apr 11, 2006 11:34 am

DR: It is difficult to sort through suggestions and complaints, but it's not impossible. Obviously there are certain things that NAQT has no control over (fire alarms, double-bookings, snow), but of the things that NAQT does control, it should/does take those complaints to heart. Now that said, it does depend on the perspective of the complaintant: a team at ICT for its first time would have a different view than a veteran player/team who has gone to at least a dozen tournaments this year. Teams that only play ICT for its nationals have a different perspective than those that play more than one (ACF, CBI, QU [just kidding]).

But the complaints can be bundled into different categories easily. It just depends on how pressing NAQT sees those problems to determine its own strategy to address those complaints if it sees fit to do so.
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What happend, AFAIK

Postby sabine01 » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:02 pm

Third, I don't blame NAQT for the fiasco with the rooms. I don't understand how Maryland could have booked the rooms without knowing they were double-booked. When Casey was running around trying to figure out what to do, it seemed to me that this scenario was not entirely unanticipated by him. In that case, why not start the tournament in Jimenez to begin with, since there appeared to be no chance of interference in that situation? Regardless, I didn't find that delay particularly bad; at most it was an annoyance.


The long and short of it was, from my understanding, MAQT scheduled through College Park. The classes that were in the Math Building were University of Maryland -- University College (distance programs), which apparently has the right to schedule College Park buildings. From what I have heard, they have separate schedulers, and never did the twain meet.

At most universities, classes/exams take precedence over any outside org. (Even student orgs). Even if it's an occasional "main-campus homecoming" of distance ed. folk... At GW they go through the same scheduler, though...

According to the College Park schedulers, they were fine. The Maryland schedulers told their Faculty Advisors they were fine. Maybe they could have booked extra rooms or Jimenez as a contingency, I don't know. For all we know, Jimenez might have been booked at the time of request and was freed up very recently. Not likely, but it's a possibility. Or maybe not enough rooms free. Ok -- maybe for one division, but not all. *shrug*

As mired as I am in University buraucracies sometimes (GW is a huge-ass one), I'm not wholly surprised that the individual scheduling offices didn't communicate with each other. I'm just glad the delay wasn't any worse...

MAQTers -- please let me know if I don't have the story totally straight...

Though the person that was complaining about walking in the rain -- if the weather were nicer that Saturday it would have been a beautiful walk.
(Sweet as people say I am most of the time, I didn't melt in the rain. You can't control the weather, after all...)

Ok -- to be fair, it may just have been frustration @ the Room situation.

Aa for the questions/protest procedure, I'll let you guys sort that out... Personally, I'm glad I had no situations warranting me settling a protest... I had trouble wrapping my head around the procedure. (But maybe that was my fatigue at the time).

Jerry -- Love the Avatar....

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Last edited by sabine01 on Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:15 pm, edited 6 times in total.
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Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Tue Apr 11, 2006 12:57 pm

In my opinion, the complaints about protests are well-founded. If you make a protest, you should be allowed to make your case and get a response that makes some sense even if you don't entirely agree with it. The complaints about questions probably have some merits, but NAQT does get good people to write and edit their questions, so I have no idea what they should do about those problems. I know the cost is high, but I don't know how you get that many moderators from out of town without charging a fair amount of money (though the point about expecting a lot for that much money is reasonable). I agree that the distribution is better suited for high school than college. Of course, my opinions don't matter because I'm not a customer.

I have nothing against complaints--I make them about my circuit all the time. My only point is that there are effective ways to make complaints and ineffective ways. (I know that it can be frustrating when what should be an effective method does not pan out.) To be effective, you (as a group) should focus on what a lot of people are most unhappy with and that NAQT reasonably could change. I realize that this board is more of a sounding board than a force for change (that is, it's a first step in a multistep process), and that's OK as long as everybody else also realizes it.

I don't mean to talk down to anybody--most of you are much smarter than I am, and I realize that I am telling you what you already know.

In Illinois, we formed a Coaches Association because the people in charge told us that doing so would make it easier for them to listen to us. I don't think you need to form an association, but you might accomplish more if key people representing key teams worked together to agree on what the most important problems are. Then again, I could be wrong.
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Postby Romero » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:13 pm

I know that I am thankful that college quiz bowl has ReinsteinD to sort out our issues for us. How would any of us deal with the complexity without his leadership. Perhaps we should appoint him head of a new college players association (modelled on his Illinois coaches association).

"but NAQT does get good people to write and edit their questions" ... HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Just out of curiosity, ReinsteinD do you have ANY connection to the college game? Pardon me if I think your opinions on the college game in general or the ICT specifically are worthless. Hell most of your opinions on the high school game are half-baked.

And just in case this is not clear...the proper reply to this post is silence. I look forward to a continued discussion of the merits of ICT and the NAQT college game from those people with direct connections to it.
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Postby Matt Weiner » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:33 pm

ReinsteinD wrote:It might help if the complainers on this board could agree on two or three problems that they see as serious. There is nothing wrong with complaining on a bulletin board, but certainly you can see why it is difficult for NAQT, which basically runs a successful tournament, to respond in a satisfactory way to all of these complaints.


Yes. When they fuck up so badly at every attempt at running a tournament that upwards of 20 perfectly legitimate complaints are generated, mostly from experienced players without the mysterious "they have complained before so their complaints are invalid" stigma on them, it's difficult for them to admit that they are so incompetent, so instead they just continue to ignore all the issues raised and blindly stumble through yet another year of running horrible tournaments that are in no significant way any different from the horrible tournaments that got the same complaints 5 or more years ago.

That is what you meant, right? Not something ridiculous like "tournaments that attract a lot of well-supported, specific, easily resolvable complaints must actually be the best tournaments"? Not an implication that the people who care enough to show how NAQT could get better are nitpicking over minor, unimportant things like "having the correct answer on the paper" or "not deciding national academic quizbowl championships on questions about blogs"? Do I get your meaning here?
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Postby Yellow-throated Honeyeater » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:34 pm

Whatever
Edit: When the same people make the same complaints again next year, I will remember not to comment.
Last edited by Yellow-throated Honeyeater on Tue Apr 11, 2006 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby QuizBowlRonin » Tue Apr 11, 2006 1:34 pm

Romero wrote:I know that I am thankful that college quiz bowl has ReinsteinD to sort out our issues for us. How would any of us deal with the complexity without his leadership. Perhaps we should appoint him head of a new college players association (modelled on his Illinois coaches association).

"but NAQT does get good people to write and edit their questions" ... HOW DO YOU KNOW?

Just out of curiosity, ReinsteinD do you have ANY connection to the college game? Pardon me if I think your opinions on the college game in general or the ICT specifically are worthless. Hell most of your opinions on the high school game are half-baked.

And just in case this is not clear...the proper reply to this post is silence. I look forward to a continued discussion of the merits of ICT and the NAQT college game from those people with direct connections to it.


Ouch. Why be so mean?
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Postby Leo Wolpert » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:08 pm

Romero wrote:Stuff about Reinstein

Thread (finally) delivers.
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Postby ezubaric » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:16 pm

I guess I'll give my two cents. I actually like the general knowledge questions. I enjoyed the barbershop question, although I think that people would be better served by questions on better known bands than "Arctic Monkeys." People would be far happier actually answering a question on "Settlers of Catan" or "Gorillaz" than having a question on "Bulletproof," "Magic Realms," or "Arctic Monkeys" be gotten on the Nacutie giveaway or go dead.

What I think many people here are forgetting is that NAQT is the only game in town that runs 32 simultaneous games with competent moderators. Most tournaments have trouble having competent staff in four or five rooms. People are going to keep going to NAQT as long as it's percieved as the "biggest" or "most legitimate" national tournament, even if it charges more to provide good moderation.

After I ran the 2002 West Coast sectionals, I had dinner with a number of people associated with NAQT, and we went through every packet, talked about when questions were answered, which questions went dead, etc. I know they care about how the questions are recieved, and I certainly have seen improvement in the quality of questions over the years ... pick up an old ICT if you want to be convinced. I think because NAQT is more of a monolithic entity with few voices that it's hard to get that sense.
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Postby Mike Bentley » Tue Apr 11, 2006 2:46 pm

grapesmoker wrote:First of all, maybe you can tell me whether the above accusations have been leveled at any of the ACF tournaments this year or other outstanding events like MLK. The fact that they have not is, I think, indicative of the relative quality of the aforementioned events as compared with ICT.


But doesn't this go back to that silent majority thing that NAQT likes to bring up? The fact that there were only 21 teams at ACF Nationals sort of indicates to me that a lot of people have problems with that tournament and express their complaints through simply not attending. The things that many people on this forum champion such as clue dense questions, stringent cannonical distribution, and even things like playing from 8 AM to 8 PM to get your "money's worth" turn a lot of people off from ACF.

ACF Nationals is a great tournament for about the top 25% of Quizbowl players. These players get to show off their deep knowledge in a predetermined distribution and I'm sure they get great satisfaction out of doing so.

I think for a good part of the "rest" of us, tournaments such as ACF Nationals are simply less attractive than the ICT. ACF Nationals is too difficult, too long, and just not very fun.

And I am by no means singing the praises of this year's ICT. Many of the complaints brought up here are perfectly valid ones. Protests obviously should be handled in a more transparent and consistent manner, questions should have all of the acceptable answers listed on them, and I still don't understand the love of geography questions. But let's not pretend that ACF Nationals is a perfect tournament simply because the "Quizbowl elite" enjoy it.
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