Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

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Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by setophaga »

Carnegie Mellon Quiz Bowl will host Mellon Bowl XV on its Pittsburgh campus on Saturday, October 28, 2017.

Questions: NAQT set IS-170.

Format: Standard NAQT Format (, timed rounds.

Nationals Qualification: The top 15% of the field will qualify for NAQT's HSNCT. The top 15% of small schools will qualify for NAQT's SSNCT. This is a PACE Gold tournament: the top 20% of teams will qualify for PACE's NSC tournament.

Field Size: There is an initial soft cap of 16 teams, with potential to expand to a hard cap of 28 pending staff.

Registration: To register, please email me at saapte [at] andrew [dot] cmu [dot] edu with the number of teams, buzzers, and moderators you plan to bring. Registration will close on Friday, October 20. We have reached a comfortable cap of 24 and thus registration has been closed.

Fees and discounts:

-First team: $75
-Additional teams: $65 each
-Buzzer system: -$10 each
-Moderator/scorekeeper: -$15 each

Minimum fee per team: $40. Buzzers must be completely functional to receive discount; moderators should be experienced.

Payment: Please make checks out to "Carnegie Mellon University". We prefer to be paid with cash or check on the day of the tournament; please email if you need to make other arrangements.

Schedule: Day-of registration will be from 8:30 to 9:00 am, with round 1 starting by 9:30. Number of rounds and playoff/finals format will be determined by the field size. Logistical information will be provided to registered teams.

IMPORTANT: Under PA Act 153 regulations, all students participating in this tournament MUST present a signed waiver from CMU's Child Protection Services in order to play. We will email a PDF of this waiver to each team upon registration. If students are under 18 years of age, a parent must cosign. If you have any questions, please direct them to me at the email above.

Field (teams/buzzers)
South Side (3/1)
Chartiers Valley (1/1)
Allderdice (4/1)
Indiana HS (2/0)
Yough (2/0)
Boardman (1/1)
NPCA (1/1)
State College (2/2)
Westmont Hilltop (2/1 + 1 moderator)
Winchester-Thurston (2/1)
Shady Side (2/1)
Alagar (1/0)
George Washington (1/1)
Last edited by setophaga on Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:13 am, edited 2 times in total.
Sameer Apte
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by aberrant_mushroom »

FINAL Field Update, 10/20

South Side 3
Chartiers Valley 1
Allderdice 4
Indiana HS 2
Yough 2
Boardman 1
State College 2
Westmont Hilltop 2
Winchester Thurston 2
George Washington 1
Alagar 1
Shady Side 2

Also, we are pleased to announced that Mellon Bowl is now PACE gold-certified! The top 20% of teams will qualify for PACE NSC!

REGISTRATION IS NOW CLOSED!! We have hit our hard cap of 24 teams.
Srishti Srivastava
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by Ndg »

You may want to correct the date of your tournament listing so people can actually search for it.
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by ppadmanabhan »

Thanks to CMU for hosting. Despite some serious issues, the readers were great and we had a fun time playing teams we normally don’t get to see; congrats also to Alagar Homeschool for playing a great tournament! However, we did have some grievances with the tournament; these can largely be separated into two categories, seeding and organization.

1. Blatantly incorrect seeding - Looking at every team’s PPB after the preliminary round, it is obvious that one bracket was much more difficult than the other two. Alagar Homeschool and Allderdice A, the #4 and #10 ranked teams respectively on the GPQB preseason poll, were the consensus top two teams from Pennsylvania at the tournament. Even just having both of the Pittsburgh powerhouses in the same morning pool is bizarre, but including Boardman after we were ranked #6 on the Ohio preseason poll makes this bracket blatantly unfair and displays a lack of research into the field. The fact that the three of us had the highest PPBs after 7 rounds proves this. I’m not trying to boast about my team or split hairs over specific rankings, but just pointing out that there was ample data available. Based on the tournament structure, one of these three teams would have to drop to the consolation rounds. This not only undermines the validity of the tournament’s final standings, it hurts the experience for both whoever lost the half-packet tossup-only tiebreakers as well as every team in the 7th place bracket.

It is extremely frustrating to go 6-1 in the morning rounds, with a loss to the runner-up and a win against the eventual champions, and be denied the chance to play for the championship. In addition, stats for Boardman from this year on both 167A (Solon Fall) and Glasgow Scottie (Brookfield) were readily available online prior to the event. At Solon Fall, we had a slightly higher PPB than Allderdice A. Many other teams at the tournament went to HSNCT last year, so looking at those results, it is easy to see that Alagar returned almost everyone while Winchester Thurston and State College A graduated the bulk of their scoring. (Or in the case of the former, the entire A team.) I understand that the seeding probably reflected last year’s Mellon Bowl results, but teams can change drastically in the course of a year and there were ways to account for this. I also think asking for team rosters beforehand can help resolve some seeding issues.

2. Organization - After the morning rounds, the tournament directors wrote the standings on the chalkboard in the lecture hall; based on PPG, Allderdice A and Boardman were the top two in bracket H. However, the standings were then erased and chaos ensued when all three teams involved started to plead their cases. Finally, CMU settled on a series of half-packet tossup-only games, with Allderdice having the advantage based on PPB, as the metric to resolve the circle of death. While I do understand the merits of a tossup-only tiebreaker, I think that it was uncalled for in this situation, especially since the tournament was already running behind after the morning rounds and the delayed debacle surrounding the winner’s bracket. Any way to resolve the situation, whether PPB, PPG, or tiebreaker, would have been arbitrary, but if a plan for a tiebreaker were made more clear and decisive beforehand, everyone would have been much more likely to accept the results. Additionally, is there a reason why there are no official NAQT rules pertaining to resolving a circle of death?

There were some other minor issues as well, like ending late, but these were our main complaints. For these reasons, it is unlikely that Boardman will come back to this event next year. I hope the problems that arose can be fixed in the future.

tl;dr: Morning bracket seeding was extremely unbalanced and unfair, no plan announced to resolve circle of death, and tournament ran behind.

(P.S. My teammate Jack wanted to point out that his last initial is P, not B as listed on the stats.)
Pranav Padmanabhan
Boardman High School 2018
Youngstown State University 2018
The Ohio State University 2022
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by Important Bird Area »

ppadmanabhan wrote:Additionally, is there a reason why there are no official NAQT rules pertaining to resolving a circle of death?
In general, we allow hosts a wide degree of latitude to structure their tournaments as they see fit. (Note in particular that it is sometimes either undesirable or outright impossible to play off a multi-team tie.)
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by SouthSideCoach »

Having been to Mellon Bowl for the past 7 years, I thought this was a great tournament. In regards to seeding, there are a lot of factors that have to be considered. I was not part of any decision on seeding, and am just the coach of one tiny school, but I have recommended in the past that small schools be grouped together as much as possible for the purposes of determining who qualify for the Small School National Tournament (no idea if that happened, just pointing out that the tournament directors are getting pressure from every school for various reasons). Secondly, schools bring multiple teams, so you also have to consider separating those teams out. Also, this seemed like a field of some unusually skilled teams. Allderdice, Boardman, WTA, Alagar, George Washington, State College, etc. are all names Western PA teams know well. (Those were just some examples, there are many other skilled team, and of course every team has had great moments) There are multiple other factors as well, and no seeding will be flawless.

I'm not trying to be argumentative at all. Boardman had an extremely rough break. I completely sympathize with their position. Personally, I would put it down to bad breaks in the tournament or a lack of clarification on deciding a circle of death, rather than the structure itself, but the frustration is completely understandable.

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Samuel T. McCoy
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by zingyhall »

I would also like to begin by thanking CMU for hosting the tournament. As others have pointed out, Mellon Bowl provides a great opportunity for Western teams to compete every year. However, I agree with Boardman on the aforementioned bracketing issues.

Although State College ultimately benefitted from the morning bracket, securing two spots in playoffs, I don't believe my B team would have cleared prelims had there been proper bracketing in place. To anyone who is familiar with the high school scene, there was a clear discrepancy between groups S and H (link:

While Boardman's bracket (Highland), contained the two strongest teams in the tournament (based on the GPQB rankings), the winners of Schenley were a novice team (State College B) and Winchester Thurston A, which fell dramatically in the rankings this year due to graduation of the entirety of last year's A team.

Given Boardman's performance against the winning team (Alagar) during prelims and State College B's performance in playoffs, I think we can conclude that Boardman would have benefitted from competing in playoffs while playing consolation matches would have been a better learning experience for my novice team. Instead, a contender for first place was eliminated in the prelims and a novice team was crushed by much more experienced and competitive teams.

With all that said, the tournament was still an overall positive experience for my team, and I appreciate the effort put in by tournament organizers and readers. Despite my personal grievances, as well as sympathy for Boardman's situation, I can understand why the brackets were formed a certain way. However, I do hope more research into the field can be considered for future tournaments. I am sad to hear Boardman may no longer attend Mellon Bowl.
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Re: Mellon Bowl XV, Pittsburgh - 10/28, IS-170

Post by ppadmanabhan »

Thanks to everyone for the support. CMU has been in contact with us and we appreciate their efforts to resolve the issues.
Pranav Padmanabhan
Boardman High School 2018
Youngstown State University 2018
The Ohio State University 2022