NASAT Tryouts California 2011

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NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Carambola! »

California has a pretty large problem. Large being the size of the state. California quizbowl is essentially divided in to Northern and Southern California. With the two regions a 6 hour drive away from each other but only one NASAT team, it is almost certain that if tryouts are held in one locale or another, people would be unhappy and good players from one of the regions would be denied a chance to try out.

There are several ways to go about this:

1. Hold tryouts in only one area and make many people unhappy and risk potentially not fielding the best team.

2. Hold two separate tryouts, allowing more people the chance to tryout. This potentially muddles up team selection (Will the spots be divided equally or by skill; how will we compare separate buzzing at separate tryouts?)

3. Hold tryouts in a middle ground which will exclude teams from both regions that cannot get drivers. Other problems include finding a location.

4. Petition HSAPQ to allow California to compete as two separate regions and allowing a fairer chance for all but causing a dilution of talent.

Discuss.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Tanay »

#4 has the least chance of success.
I think that if we are going to have some sort of West Coast Invitational or another tournament that pits the two circuits against one another, which it looks like we will, then #3 and #1 both make sense. Teams have about 6-8 months to figure out how to get there if that's really a priority.
#2 makes an equal amount of sense if #3 doesn't really work. I use #scrimmage frequently constantly and it works pretty well. Additionally, Team California used online practices to prepare this year, and that worked out fairly well.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Auroni »

I think we discussed this briefly a few weeks ago, Jeffrey. My position is more or less the same, but I'll elaborate on your options
1. Hold tryouts in only one area and make many people unhappy and risk potentially not fielding the best team.
Holding tryouts in one area (let's say at WCI, as was done this year) will inevitably mean teams from the other area will not show up. However, the dedicated teams in NorCal (Bellarmine and MSJ, and others (which I don't know about, but certainly do)), can probably make the drive down to attend one tournament in the season. It is a roughly 6 hour drive from NorCal to WCI. For circuit teams across the country, this is a very standard drive distance when it comes to tournaments in other regions populated by strong teams from that region. It should be well worth the drive, and since the date will be known from far in advance, not too much of a hassle to plan for.
2. Hold two separate tryouts, allowing more people the chance to tryout. This potentially muddles up team selection (Will the spots be divided equally or by skill; how will we compare separate buzzing at separate tryouts?)
This is logistically simpler and more efficient monetarily, but is problematic for the reasons you've mentioned. How do we compare the two distinct fields that are hearing the questions? It's very possible that the third or fourth best person in one room in one region wouldn't even be in the top 5 of people in another region. I would say that this is the second best option out of the ones listed here.
3. Hold tryouts in a middle ground which will exclude teams from both regions that cannot get drivers. Other problems include finding a location.


There is no middle ground here -- Central California is a vast quizbowl abyss. I guess there are teams such as Fresno State which occasionally attend tournaments, but they to my knowledge have never hosted a high school event, and shouldn't be burdened with the task of doing so.
4. Petition HSAPQ to allow California to compete as two separate regions and allowing a fairer chance for all but causing a dilution of talent.
They will simply say no. The idea for this tournament was 1 state - 1 team. There was a discussion about the DC/Virginia teams earlier, and it was resolved in favor of separate teams for the two. We must find some way to get one team.

Here is a fifth option: How about trying out online, on the IRC? This option should be open if WCI or a similar tournament does not get a good NorCal turnout, or if the Bay Area tournaments don't get SoCal tournouts.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Carambola! »

Online sounds like a very feasible option. However, with so many people in just one room, it seems inevitable that one may not get to display a full range of their knowledge. This is perhaps unavoidable, but I propose a solution similar to MSJ's tryouts last year. Have several rooms consisting of a portion of the people trying out. Regularly or randomly rotate so everyone gets a chance to demonstrate their knowledge against everyone else.

My contention in the case we go with the first option remains that tryouts should be rotated. Many good teams in our region were denied a shot at nationals this year because of a dearth of tournaments in our region, and the extremely late state championships that did not permit for the qualified team, San Mateo, to attend HSNCT. Most of the good players from NorCal this year are returning as opposed to graduating; this includes not only Bell and MSJ but also good players on Mills, Gunn, Harker, and Menlo-Atherton. To the best of my knowledge SoCal has graduated many seniors including Stephen, Ben, and the Arcadia team, IIRC. I feel that with the NorCal scene looking very competitive next year good Stanford or Berkeley should be chosen to hold tryouts if tryouts are indeed held in one region.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by nadph »

laserphaser wrote:Online sounds like a very feasible option. However, with so many people in just one room, it seems inevitable that one may not get to display a full range of their knowledge. This is perhaps unavoidable, but I propose a solution similar to MSJ's tryouts last year. Have several rooms consisting of a portion of the people trying out. Regularly or randomly rotate so everyone gets a chance to demonstrate their knowledge against everyone else.

My contention in the case we go with the first option remains that tryouts should be rotated. Many good teams in our region were denied a shot at nationals this year because of a dearth of tournaments in our region, and the extremely late state championships that did not permit for the qualified team, San Mateo, to attend HSNCT. Most of the good players from NorCal this year are returning as opposed to graduating; this includes not only Bell and MSJ but also good players on Mills, Gunn, Harker, and Menlo-Atherton. To the best of my knowledge SoCal has graduated many seniors including Stephen, Ben, and the Arcadia team, IIRC. I feel that with the NorCal scene looking very competitive next year good Stanford or Berkeley should be chosen to hold tryouts if tryouts are indeed held in one region.
While I agree with you that NorCal quizbowl is rising steadily, I would definitely not write off any of the Southern California teams next year. Torrey Pines will still be extremely legit; they retain Sharad and a number of players whose names I don't know but who are definitely good. Rancho Bernardo retains Lucas and others, so they will be good, and La Jolla retains everyone besides Ben and thus remains a strong contender (and they have pretty good B and C teams too, so they'll reload well). Arcadia also brings back many players, and I think Santa Monica does as well. There are also other teams who appear to be developing programs; the large number of good tournaments UCSD, UCLA, Irvine, and others are hosting this year means they will have a large number of chances to get better. Overall (and this is in no way meant to disrespect any of the teams on the NorCal circuit, MSJ and Bellarmine included), I still think talented players appear to be concentrated in the south.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Tanay »

laserphaser wrote:Online sounds like a very feasible option. However, with so many people in just one room, it seems inevitable that one may not get to display a full range of their knowledge. This is perhaps unavoidable, but I propose a solution similar to MSJ's tryouts last year. Have several rooms consisting of a portion of the people trying out. Regularly or randomly rotate so everyone gets a chance to demonstrate their knowledge against everyone else.
I spoke to Auroni about this and we figured that an Illinois-like tryout could be utilized. What I mean by this is that you can have one room each for literature, science, fine arts, and social studies to select the best candidate in the state from each one (perhaps RMP as well). The rest of the spots (1-2 total) can be filled by generalists that didn't win one of the categories but are good overall. We can have different scheduled tryouts for each subject, so your idea of splitting the competition will work.
laserphaser wrote:My contention in the case we go with the first option remains that tryouts should be rotated. Many good teams in our region were denied a shot at nationals this year because of a dearth of tournaments in our region, and the extremely late state championships that did not permit for the qualified team, San Mateo, to attend HSNCT. Most of the good players from NorCal this year are returning as opposed to graduating; this includes not only Bell and MSJ but also good players on Mills, Gunn, Harker, and Menlo-Atherton. To the best of my knowledge SoCal has graduated many seniors including Stephen, Ben, and the Arcadia team, IIRC. I feel that with the NorCal scene looking very competitive next year good Stanford or Berkeley should be chosen to hold tryouts if tryouts are indeed held in one region.
Holding NASAT tryouts shouldn't be dependent on which region has more good teams by any measure. The point of NASAT is to select the four or six players that can most effectively represent California, and as Nikhil points out, I see a roughly even distribution of good individual players from both regions.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Carambola! »

It goes without saying that good teams are backed up by good players, does it not?
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Tanay »

laserphaser wrote:It goes without saying that good teams are backed up by good players, does it not?
Sure, but that assumption alone shouldn't be a deciding factor in where tryouts are held. Furthermore, Team California isn't necessarily better off just picking the players that score the highest per game or have the most powers or whatever it may be. An arts specialist from an unknown school who always gets their three tossups in that subject, for example, could be more valuable than another generalist who puts up a bunch of points for a well-known team.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Carambola! »

The problem is we don't know who those specialists are, and I believe an area with a higher concentration of good schools will have a higher concentration of these specialists.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by cvdwightw »

laserphaser wrote:The problem is we don't know who those specialists are, and I believe an area with a higher concentration of good schools will have a higher concentration of these specialists.
Well, here's the thing. In NorCal there are two schools that have a very good chance of being top 10 nationally at the end of the year and...not much else. In SoCal there are a bunch of schools that are perennial HSNCT playoff teams, but unless La Jolla gets really good really fast there's not a top-tier team in the bunch. That's two entirely different meanings of "higher concentration of good schools." If we hold tryouts in NorCal we risk missing out on potential SoCal lockdown specialists who aren't ever going to get beyond about 33rd place at HSNCT due to the lack of generalist tossup scoring; if we hold tryouts in SoCal we risk missing out on potential NorCal lockdown specialists who play with the dominant generalist that can get them deep into the playoffs.

A "middle ground" solution is a failure for everyone. It seems to me that the only reasonable way to do things is online, with different rooms and "tryout times" for different subjects. Also, by Fezzik's Law (see the Caltech Lexicon), using a free-for-all online tryout can potentially select for a different playing style than observing players in one-on-one games (or the rough equivalent in "real life quizbowl," where it's specialist vs. specialist for the tossup).
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Carambola! »

If it appears that online is the only way to do things, how are we going to ensure that no cheating occurs? After what happened this year at PACE this is the sort of problem that must be solved.

Edit: this.
Cheynem wrote:I'm moving back home for a month this week so my appearances in #scrimmage will be far more limited for a while. I'm sure other people can pick up the ball. Let me just stress yet again that it is really, really stupid to cheat in an online setting. You may think you're impressing players with your knowledge, but here's the deal: people don't drastically change their knowledge base and overall talent from what they do at real tournaments to what happens online. I don't want to accuse some people, but if some people put up as good numbers in #scrimmage as they did in real life, they'd be winning ACF Nats solo. Consider it a fair warning.
Perhaps we ought to re-examine this system.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Tanay »

laserphaser wrote:If it appears that online is the only way to do things, how are we going to ensure that no cheating occurs? After what happened this year at PACE this is the sort of problem that must be solved.

Edit: this.
Cheynem wrote:I'm moving back home for a month this week so my appearances in #scrimmage will be far more limited for a while. I'm sure other people can pick up the ball. Let me just stress yet again that it is really, really stupid to cheat in an online setting. You may think you're impressing players with your knowledge, but here's the deal: people don't drastically change their knowledge base and overall talent from what they do at real tournaments to what happens online. I don't want to accuse some people, but if some people put up as good numbers in #scrimmage as they did in real life, they'd be winning ACF Nats solo. Consider it a fair warning.
Perhaps we ought to re-examine this system.
First of all, this quote that you...quote...is proof that there exists a system to find cheaters. That's why Mike made the post--because cheating in an online setting is actually quite noticeable and rather silly. If the moderator suspects people cheating (and that moderator can always factor in tournament performance as they do a lot), then that person can be dealt with. Also, packetpeeking can be stopped if questions are mixed up (we caught a kid the other day by making a packet of questions taken from different packets within a set and seeing his score dip by 135 points that game alone). We now do a format on #scrimmage in which the moderator makes a packet by taking different questions from other packets, and these only take about 5 minutes to "make". If that doesn't work, NASAT offers tryout questions anyway that aren't available online and therefore not owned by any player. I also hope the effectiveness of looking stuff up will be stopped by the skill level of players in that setting. What I mean by that is that it's probably hard to get to Google, look up a title, and buzz and get in, when there are other players who are simultaneously just first-lining the question by actually knowing it.

I think the bottom line is that if people aren't willing or are just unable to pay to play (and there always will be a few talented people for which this is the case), the optimal way of doing tryouts is online. It's not perfect, but I think experienced moderators can be trusted enough to call people out and make informed decisions.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by cvdwightw »

Tryout performance, especially online, should not be the single determining factor of the team. Most people involved in team selection would presumably be involved in running tournaments and can assess players' abilities to a reasonable degree. If everyone involved in running tournaments talks to each other and says "Player X is really good at subject A" then the only incentive a player has to cheat is to be perceived to be better than Player Y who is also really good at subject A. Admittedly that is a large incentive to cheat and if a player ends up earning a spot through cheating, then the California team will be that much weaker.
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by Cheynem »

I agree with Dwight. Nobody is going to believe it if Random Player from B Team waltzes into an online setting and puts up 100 PPG unless they see him person and consult his team. I'm not quite as panglossian as Tanay about stopping cheaters (googling is really hard to stop!), but I do agree that it is certainly noticeable. I don't know what people think experienced players are thinking when they cheat, but I can assure you it is NOT "Wow, that kid knew a lot." It is probably "Hmm...that's really suspicious."
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Re: NASAT Tryouts California 2011

Post by David Riley »

I don't know if anyone else would care to weigh in on this, and not that' it's going to change their minds, but given the geography (and potential number of students involved?)I would certainly side with the North/South division on this...anbody else willing to side with California here?
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