the goings-on out west

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Chico the Rainmaker
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the goings-on out west

Post by Chico the Rainmaker »

I know most of the people who post here are located in the midwest or on the east coast, but for anyone who is interested, La Jolla A finished 12-0 including a victory over San Dieguito A (10-2 for the day) in the championship, to win the UC Irvine Baby Anteater Bowl VIII (......I think, it might be VII and I wouldn't know) today (by now yesterday for some of you). Santa Monica A was third at 11-1, and Arcadia A was fourth at 10-3. I can't give any further results or stats, since I'm simply a player and not involved with the running of the tournament in any way.

.....Speaking of the running of the tournament, a situation arose in one of the matches that sparked a long, rather bitter protest on which I would be glad to get some people here's opinion. The way the tournament was set up, the 24 teams were divided into two brackets, a round-robin was held in which every team played the other eleven teams in its bracket, and the team with the best record in each bracket would advance to the championship. It happened that we (Santa Monica A) and La Jolla A were in the same bracked and were both 9-0 heading into our match. Since the first tiebreaker was head-to-head matches, whichever team won this match would win the bracket. My first problem with this match was that the room assigned for this match didn't have any working buzzers; we had to clap when we wanted to buzz. I know it might be a little unfair to a couple other teams, but wouldn't it make sense to move this match, the most important of the day in our bracket, into a room with working buzzers and move another match involving teams that had no chance to win the bracket (everybody else at this point) into that room for their match? That point aside, the match was close throughout and there arose a situation on a bonus that ended up determining the match. Since I obviously can't give the names of the answers that were involved, I'll use "X" for the right answer and "Y" for the specific wrong answer that was involved. Upon hearing the bonus, one member of our team said (directed it seemed to me, but of course that's the moderator's decision), "it's (X)." Right after that, another player said, "No, no, it's (Y)." After nobody else on the team confirmed or rejected either of the answers, each of them (neither of whom was the captain) shouted their answer (answer "Y" shouted a bit louder, I think) toward the moderator. The moderator asked our captain for our team's answer, and he gave "X," which, as I said, was correct. We ended up winning the match by five points, so La Jolla's coach protested that bonus, saying answer Y had been directed and was thus our team's answer for the bonus. The moderator then left the room, conferred with some other moderators (none of whom were in the room at the time) and decided that we would have a three-tossup playoff to determine the winner. La Jolla won this playoff, which led to them winning the match, the bracket, and the championship. Now, I have no argument with La Jolla, they are a great team and played a great match, my problem lies with the moderators. Firstly (and I think everyone can agree), the playoff was the wrong way to go. Either accept the correct answer and give us the ten points and win, or say that answer Y was our answer and give La Jolla the win outright, there was no situation that would've resulted in a tie. As for resolving the protest itself, I believe (and I could be wrong) that since two conflicting answers were directed, the moderator is supposed to go to the captain for the answer (as he did originally). Wasn't, then, the situation originally handled correctly? And shouldn't the protest have been denied? The reasoning given to us for the decision was, and I quote, "I am God." He went on to compare himself to Zeus and his fickleness, but never gave us an outright reason for the ruling.

Obviously, being a member of the team that got the short end of the stick, I am a little biased. Anyone else's thoughts on this?

Edit: Added San Dieguito A's record and spelled their name right
Last edited by Chico the Rainmaker on Tue Feb 28, 2006 12:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Whether an answer was directed at the moderator is a judgment call and is generally not protestable in standard quizbowl practice, and personally I always do what the moderator did and ask the captain to clarify if multiple answers are flying around. However, NAQT's rules, which I presume you were using, are not totally clear on that point, so I can understand that the TD accepted the protest. What is not understandable is how he resolved it. Declaring the game a tie and playing a tiebreaker is not an option; either you won by 5 or lost by 5. On a somewhat relevant note, using head to head as a determination of tournament advancement in the first place is very misguided.
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

I have no strong opinion on which way it should have been ruled. More information might be helpful. What was the moderator's practice in recognizing answers in the rest of the match? Did he just seem to take the loudest answer that he thought came his way, or did he insist on receiving answers from a "captain" ? Based on your spin of the situation, I am inclined to agree with your position. But, after listening to the other side, I might be persuaded differently.

In any case, you probabaly should have won by 5 or lost by 5. But, the moderator, himself, was probably somewhat ambivalent. Not wanting his ruling to decide the game and, thus the tournament, he took a compromise position, declaring a tie, so that the winner could be decided by actual play. I am not saying he should have done it that way, but I understand his motives. Declaring himself "God" (or even a "god" ) was his way of trying to cut off debate.

BTW, I agree that you should have had buzzers. But, unless there were some questionable close calls on who was first to buzz, it is probably irrelevant. I do not know the trouble or the delay it would have been to get buzzers. Unless the teams in the room were strongly against having no buzzers, I can understand why they might have proceeded without buzzers for the sake of expediency.

It does leave a bad taste in your mouth to lose by questionable decisions on the part of tournament officials and moderators. My team was eliminated just today by a couple of questionable decisions. My inclination is not to protest too vehemently unless the decision is especially egregious. I mean, as bad as feels to lose on a questionable decision, it sometimes feels just as bad to win on one.
Last edited by jbarnes112358 on Sun Feb 26, 2006 12:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

Matt Weiner wrote:On a somewhat relevant note, using head to head as a determination of tournament advancement in the first place is very misguided.
Why?

Wouldn't it be somewhat unsatisfying for team A to lose a tournament to team B in the situation where team A defeated team B in a head-to-head match, perhaps even winning by a wide margin, just because team B managed to pick up a few more points than A along the way?

I understand the contraindicating scenario where team A team pulls a fluke upset of B, where B was clearly the dominant team overall based on the scores in other matches in toto.

In order to resolve these possible injustices, would it be too arbitrary or convoluted to develop some sort of hybrid tie-breaking system in round robin tournaments? For example, head-to-head winner (team A) wins the tournament, unless team B has at least x more total points than team A.
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Post by Chico the Rainmaker »

In regards to how the moderator recognized answers the rest of the match, there was no clear protocol for bonuses. It seemed to me that if an answer was clearly (and of course the term clearly is always open to interpretation) directed at the moderator and not at a teammate in the same direction, he would take the answer; that is, in my understanding, the answer did not have to come from the captain. But I should add that for most of the match, both captains had been giving all the bonus answers anyway, so I'm not 100% sure. I should add that this was the first time we'd had that moderator and that the other moderators had varied in their methods of accepting bonus answers.

As for the rules the tournament was using, it was never really made clear to us. They told us that we'd have two seconds to answer a tossup after we buzzed and five seconds to answer each bonus, which fits with NAQT rules. However, the rounds were 20 untimed tossups, rather than NAQT's two nine-minute halves. The timing rules aside, though, my best guess would be to say that they were using NAQT rules (and of course NAQT questions).
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Post by jrbarry »

If you play a complete round robin within a division, head-to-head SHOULD be the first tiebreaker.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

I DISAGREE. Using head-to-head double-counts a single game which is not terrible, but also isn't the best thing one can do. The fairest thing to do is to play-off meaningful record ties which, if you're running on an IS set, ought to be easy if you've planned right. If that's not possible for some reason, using an outlier-independent measure of team quality is better than double-counting a single game (you choose your favorite measure; gross PPG is good if the teams have played the same opponents excepting one another.) Head-to-head is behind either of those in fairness.
But anyway, to get back to the point, the decision of a moderator on something like what answer was given shouldn't be protestable. The fact that the moderator prompted the captain for an answer indicates that he had not previously accepted a directed answer from someone else (as, in that case, he says that the answer is either wrong or right) so you guys kind-of got the screw job there if your recounting of events is accurate.
Further, a playoff should never occur in this situation. Either one team got the bonus points and won, or they didn't and the other team won; there's no way a tie can occur since there's no way to get 5 points on a 10 point bonus part. The answer that the team gave is either right or it isn't; there's no ground on which to compromise.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

jrbarry wrote:If you play a complete round robin within a division, head-to-head SHOULD be the first tiebreaker.
No. As Mike alluded to, this double-counts a game. You already won that game to put yourself into the tie in the first place; you can't count it again to break the tie without, fairly, also counting all your other wins and losses a second time and re-creating the tie. Basically you're telling the team that loses that, for some reason, only the one game which causes them to be knocked out of the tournament counts twice for some mysterious reason, and all other games count once.

Furthermore, under the logic that beating someone makes you the better team no matter what else happened, remember that to tie in a round-robin team B must have beaten a team who beat team A. The whole idea of head to head rests on such faulty premises; when you're playing the same field, PPG is the optimal tiebreaker when extra packets to play off the tie are not available, followed by other statistical measures such as bonus conversion.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Just a quick note that in this situation, there was no tie. The outcome of the game would put one team at 10-0 and the other at 9-1. It seems reasonable to me that the 10-0 team should advance (though, of course, I'd prefer 2 to 4 to all teams making a playoff).

And this situation worked out especially well in being the last match of the day. I can recall a tournament I was at once where it was the first match of the day that decided things, in that two teams were easily ahead of the rest of the field, leaving the losing team waiting all day for a fluke loss or two.
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

Matt Weiner wrote:Furthermore, under the logic that beating someone makes you the better team no matter what else happened, remember that to tie in a round-robin team B must have beaten a team who beat team A. The whole idea of head to head rests on such faulty premises; when you're playing the same field, PPG is the optimal tiebreaker when extra packets to play off the tie are not available, followed by other statistical measures such as bonus conversion.
The result that B beat C who beat A is a rather weak comparison. People often use, usually in jest, such supposed transitivities to show how Poduck U. is better than Duke in basketball or what not. The fact is that the head-to-head result, in spite of the weaknesses you cited, is very common as a first tiebreaker in round-robin situations in sports. Perhaps it is because actual victories are much more important in most sports rankings than are margins of victory or other such stats.
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

Furthermore, the fact that B beat C who beat A, or that B beat C by a larger margin than A did, can be misleading given that questions differ from round to round. Maybe C was especially competent on the questions in the round where A drew them. Perhaps, C would have also beaten B on those same questions.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

But, you see, all the things you just cited are just as valid arguments against using head-to-head (in fact, are more valid arguments against it) than for it. To use precisely the same analogy you chose, on the same basis you used, I can claim Georgetown is clearly better than Duke because Georgetown won head-to-head. But I'm actually pretty sure that's just not true.
Also, why is the head-to-head win automatically valid while we can assume that the other loss is just a fluke? That's a rather poor assumption, in general. I've seen any number of cases where the exact opposite was true by all measures.
Anyway, the point is, if you want a better predictor of outcome, you should use something with a wider sample size. If you can't use just record for reasons of a tie, and you can't play-off the tie, then considering performance over an entire tournament is, all else equal, more valid than considering it over a single game (the result of any single game is more likely to have been a fluke than the results of all the games, all else equal.) Somewhat arbitrarily saying one game counts twice is less fair or valid, even if people do use it; your argument that it should be used because it's popular is a rather transparent instance of the appeal to common practice fallacy.

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Edit: corrected small error.
Last edited by Captain Sinico on Sun Feb 26, 2006 10:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Chico the Rainmaker »

NoahMinkCHS wrote:
And this situation worked out especially well in being the last match of the day.
Just to clarify, this was not the last match of the day in our bracket. I said that there were twelve teams and each bracket, with each team playing all eleven other teams in their bracket. At the time of our match, both La Jolla and us were 9-0, with two more matches remaining (including the one between us). La Jolla's victory and the tiebreaking method used rendered the eleventh and final match of the bracket, with La Jolla 10-0 and us 9-1, meaningless (though as their 12-0 record indicates, La Jolla won that match anyway).

I also feel that I should mention, upset as I am with the way the tournament was run, the set that was used was an "A" set, and thus only contained twelve packets. This, coupled with the fact that each team played eleven games in the round-robin part of the tournament, meant that only one team from each bracket could make the playoffs (assuming you do want at least one team from each bracket to make it and not two from one and none from the other). So while I agree with NoahMinkCHS that at least two teams per bracket should've made the playoffs, the packet situation rendered that an impossibility
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

ImmaculateDeception wrote: To use precisely the same analogy you chose, on the same basis you used, I can claim Georgetown is clearly better than Duke because Georgetown won head-to-head. But I'm actually pretty sure that's just not true.
Yes, but let's assume Duke and Georgetown were in the same league, they each play every other team in the league on neutral courts, and they end up with identical records. Suppose these are the only games they play all year. Now suppose Georgetown wins the head-to-head. Georgetown would most likely end up higher in the polls, and thus be considered the better team.

There are certainly complicating factors in using total points from other games in breaking round-robin ties. The order in which teams play each other can definitely matter. I already mentioned the differences in questions sets. Another factor might be that teams may have different levels of motivation near the end of a tournament. For example, a team that is out of the running might not try as hard, might sub more, etc.

Another possible problem with using total points to break ties is the unseemly necessity of running up scores on weaker foes just to pump up point totals. In our local regional tournament, we used a round-robin with total points as the primary tiebreaker. I just hated having to run up scores on people as long as there could theoretically be a tie. I really wanted to sub in some less experienced players so they could get valuable playing time, but could not reasonably do so until we had the tournament sewn up, which did not occur until the last game.

This site seems to be a pretty good discussion of round-robin tournaments:
http://www.answers.com/topic/round-robin-sports

It is really an interesting mathematical topic. I am not really disagreeing with your conclusions, just pointing out that it might be a complicated problem , and without a definitive solution.

I think we would both agree that the best solution would be a play-off game.
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Post by Captain Sinico »

While it's true that using anything short of the ideal, i.e. breaking the record tie by playing it off, is going to result in non-idealities, e.g. encouraging running-up the score or having seemingly less important results matter if you use total points; double-counting a single, potential fluke match and completely ignoring everything else so that only one match really mattered if you use head-to-head; being outed as a complete retard if you use a coinflip; etc. because breaking by total points (or whatever) and breaking by head-to-head both lead to about equally unfortunate non-idealities, it's best to use the one that's statistically the most fair. As long as you ran a number of matches that's a lot more than one, as every tournament probably should, that's going to be something that takes performance over all matches into account, like total points.
This is precisely because question sets and performance are widely variable. Placing all the onus on a single match in light of those things means that you're doing the minimum possible to eliminate that variability when making your predictions, since you're using the smallest valid sample possible to predict something (as I said, unless you use something like sudden death tossups or a coinflip to break the tie.) Thus it is exactly because of the variabilities in the game that you shouldn't use head-to-head if you can avoid it.
The non-idealities engendered by using total points can be mitigated as long as everyone knows the total points potentially matter. Then, the instances where people stop caring because the game's mathematically over or whatever will be minimized. In fact, one could argue that this allows for a more exciting game on the whole, since every question potentially matters. And incidentally, as total points are already widely used to break polygons of death (many-way record ties that can't be broken by head-to-head), I always assume they'll matter to some extent when I'm playing or leading a team. That doesn't mean you should be a jerk (most would argue I don't need any more reason, I guess); it just means that you should treat every point like it's (as) important (as anything else in quizbowl), because it might well be.
That said, I'm not extremely passionate about this issue, and few people are. It's not a complete travesty in my eyes if a tournament uses head-to-head; the rules are just demonstrably (if not always very much) less fair, on average, than they could be for what's usually no good reason.

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Post by somewhereoutwest »

No wonder you guys looked pissed during the 3rd place match. You guys were gipped. The 3 TO playoff was unnecessary. Willy's "infallible" rule was stupid too. Our team was in a similar situation. On a bonus while we were conferring, one of our members happened to shout the incorrect answer really loud, but it was directed to the captain. The mod ruled that that counted as a directed answer even though the person was looked at the captain, not the mod. But, in our case it wouldn't have affected the outcome of the game. That tournament was pretty bad. I don't like untimed tournaments and the moderators at UCI weren't that good. They read really slow. The lunch situation was pretty bad because most of the teams had less time for lunch. Good game though SaMo, you guys are one of the best in SoCal.
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Post by AKKOLADE »

Just scooting this down a forum.
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Post by jbarnes112358 »

leftsaidfred wrote:Just scooting this down a forum.
Yeah, sorry I got us a little off topic. Both the issues in this thread are mostly theoretical, I suppose, but interesting. So, thanks for moving the thread.

Back to the issue of recognition: I guess the problems in the tournament could have been mitigated if only the captain (or his designee) was the one from whom an answer would be or could be accepted. You still, though, have the problem of deciding whether the captain is saying an answer to the moderator or to a team member while still under team discussion. But, it is almost always obvious which is which if the moderator is paying attention. It should be a matter of moderator discretion anyway, and not protestable.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that the team of this thread's founder was treated unjustly. But, like in all competitions, errors by officials are part of the game. Often officials are inexperienced and hence more prone to making bad calls. Perhaps we need to record all matches and use an instant replay :smile:

I suppose the only way to really avoid having an official's error decide the outcome of a match is to win by a sufficient margin that such an error would not matter. But, such errors will occasionally happen, and will sometimes decide the outcome of a match. One can only hope, that in the long run, the errors are in your favor as much as much as they go against you.
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Post by quizbowllee »

Here's another thing that I have seen happen: In a tournament where total points were used to break tie-breakers, I've seen some "B" or "C" teams take dives to their "A" teams so that they can rack up a huge amount of points. I've only seen this happen a few times, but that's a huge unfair advantage to that team.

When possible, ties should be broken with a round played. Period.
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Post by dtaylor4 »

What about in a 3-way tie, breaking it through total points in the games only involving the teams in the tie?
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Post by BuzzerZen »

I'm going to pull a Pickrell here and quote the NAQT rules...

H. Bonuses
1. Teams may confer on bonuses. It is recommended that the captain give the answer for the team or clearly indicate who will give the answer. The moderator, however, will take the first answer unambiguously directed at him or her. If conflicting answers are directed at the moderator, the captain will be asked to choose the team's answer.

So, yeah, the protest should have been rejected outright if NAQT rules were being followed. Having a tiebreaker in no way resolves the protest.
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Post by cvdwightw »

1. The way the protest was settled was, as has been noted by others, completely wrong. Regardless of the ultimate decision regarding the protest, the match should not have been settled by a three-tossup playoff. Also, the tournament director should have had final authority, not the group of moderators. From the e-mails it appeared this was not Willie Chen; if he made the final decision and indeed was not the tournament director, this is wrong. If he influenced the tournament director's decision, well, them's the breaks, since the TD's allowed to consult other officials.

2. If the La Jolla coach protested that Y was a directed answer, then clearly X must have been a directed answer as well, since Y was used to modify X. Therefore, along this line of logic, X was the originally directed answer and should be counted correct for 10 points. Had X and Y been reversed, there would have been no protest, only a very angry player.

3. UCI contacted me about moderating at this tournament, and I had to turn them down due to playing at CBI that day. Had there been no such tournament that day I would have gone to moderate, and perhaps had a slightly different voice in that ultimate decision.

4. To the Santa Monica player who originally posted this: please contact me at dpwynne at ucla dot edu regarding exactly what happened regarding this tournament as well as, if you still remember, what happened at the controversial USC tournament in December. This is the second controversy regarding a SoCal quiz bowl tournament this year, and as the tournament director for NAQT Southern California State Champs, I would like to prevent a third.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Oh, I must have missed that in looking at the NAQT rules before. Yeah, that pretty much settles it; the team in the original post got screwed.
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