Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

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Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Thanks to everyone involved in the production of this set, including the overseers, my two fellow editors, and all of the writers, with special thanks to those who wrote their questions on time and also those who volunteered to write extra; you guys are awesome.

Edit: I can't remember if Donald was technically an overseer, so thanks to him to for making sure everyone who was supposed to had the set on time and of course, thanks to the schools who hosted mirrors.

The set can be found here.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by nafitzgerald »

I would consider this set a success. I saw a round in which all 20 tossups were answered, which made me very happy (the average Minnesota team is not particularly good; I remember a 45-15 round at last year's mirror of Hunter Prison Bowl*), and most rounds saw most tossups answered.

I do think that the set could have been slightly easier, at least for our field. No team had above 20 PPB (though some came close), and I thought that there were rather few buzzes on lead-in or even middle clues. Neither of these were big problems, however, as everyone seemed to have a more-or-less good time.

As in any set, there were a few bad apples. The two that stick out to me are:
1. The slave revolts tossup, unfortunately the very first of the set, which was way too hard: the final part of the giveaway was Nat Turner, which is about where I would have gotten it (though I'm admittedly not the best at American history). Wikipedia has a "series of articles on North American slave revolts" (see the sidebar on this article), which might explain this.
2. The Constantin Brancusi tossup, which didn't even describe "Bird in Space" before the giveaway. Apparently some people were getting it by the end, but still, it seems a bit too difficult.

I can post these in their entirety if people feel the need to discuss them further; however, they are minor flukes in what I thought was otherwise basically a solid novice set.

*A fine set, as far as I remember, which was too hard for some of the less experienced teams in the field.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Deviant Insider »

This was a very good set, and I am grateful to the people who contributed to it.

I don't know if anybody has done any analysis of scoresheets for this, but it seemed like some categories went dead a lot more often than others. A lot of the lit went dead, though I don't know if I'd make any changes based on that--if tossups on Ibsen and Tennessee Williams go dead, then it's possible that the best solution is to tell teams to learn something about Ibsen and Williams. The same is true for Fine Arts. To some extent, this is due to my own team's weaknesses, but there were few teams if any taking advantage of my team's weaknesses.

I do wonder, however, to what extent social sciences and philosophy belong in this set. From an educational standpoint, it makes sense to have them there because they are significant and novices who will one day become experienced players should start learning that stuff, but from a competition standpoint, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense because novice teams have so little knowledge in those areas. I'm not sure what the solution is.

This is a minor issue, however, and I hope we'll see Version 2 next year.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by David Riley »

Second the above comments, and I would be interested in hosting the northern Illinois incarnation of next year's novice set.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

As i said multiple times at Maggie Walker in October, to Dr. Barnes that day, to Sarah at other times, and on the boards here a few times as well... i loved this set.

Nothing is ever going to be the "perfect difficulty" for any target audience... not for extreme novices, nor for super hardcore quizbowl specialists. But this came close.

I'll agree with David when he says that the Lit and Fine Arts were probably the lowest-converted categories, but that's not really because they were too difficult, it's just things those students hadn't been exposed to yet.

Here are the questions i found slightly too difficult to be tossed up at this low-level truly novice event:
(caveat: i still am not sure if the purpose of this event was to just have an easy and accessible tournament for young players, or a set to "introduce" said players to the canon... if it's the latter, a lot of these i will retract, but if it's the former then i'm sticking to my opinion)
~Baha'i (i know it's a religion, but it's not one that most teenagers have heard of unless they've already been playing quizbowl for a bit)
~Bela Bartok (not well known enough of a composer for kids who have never really had any fine arts classes covering classical music)
~No Exit (why not just toss up Sartre? works by authors that a lot of these kids already don't know are really difficult to ask about in tossup questions)
~Gibbs Free Energy (this isn't something that really any freshman should be expected to know that's not currently going to TJ)

There are others on the border, but those were the ones that i don't think should have been there.

I may read through the bonus questions again, but most of those appeared okay except for a couple outliers i'm sure that might have been too tough.

Overall though, this set was great and something i will encourage my younger players to read and study, as the questions are full of good, useful, and common clues they'll see many more times.

EDIT: whoops, wrong author
Last edited by Down and out in Quintana Roo on Sun Jan 03, 2010 2:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by New York Undercover »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote: Here are the questions i found slightly too difficult to be tossed up at this low-level truly novice event:
~Gibbs Free Energy (this isn't something that really any freshman should be expected to know that's not currently going to TJ)
When is chemistry taken over there? At my school, we take chemistry 1 in 10th grade and I'd say that a significant number of the students could get the clue off "negative values of this quantity indicate that a reaction is spontaneous." OK sure, this is not entirely disagreeing with your point; perhaps freshman shouldn't be "expected to know this" but I would think that this phrase applies to a number of science tossups in physics and chemistry- superconductor, torque, ideal gas law, isomers, electronegativity...

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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Unicolored Jay »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:
I'll agree with David when he says that the Lit and Fine Arts were probably the lowest-converted categories, but that's not really because they were too difficult, it's just things those students hadn't been exposed to yet.
I agree with this, since when I first started doing this quizbowl stuff I was weakest in Lit, Fine Arts (except for music, but that was because of my playing violin and being exposed to it already), and Social Science. If this was my first TU/B set I definitely would not have gotten a lot of those.

~No Exit (why not just toss up Camus? works by authors that a lot of these kids already don't know are really difficult to ask about in tossup questions)
No Exit is by Jean-Paul Sartre. But yeah, that's still a little too difficult for a novice set.

Looking through the sets, I think Akhenaton and some of the science may have been too difficult as well. The problem with this science is probably differing experiences on how early one learns that stuff, so I don't know if that was avoidable or not.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Arquette wrote:
Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote: Here are the questions i found slightly too difficult to be tossed up at this low-level truly novice event:
~Gibbs Free Energy (this isn't something that really any freshman should be expected to know that's not currently going to TJ)
When is chemistry taken over there? At my school, we take chemistry 1 in 10th grade and I'd say that a significant number of the students could get the clue off "negative values of this quantity indicate that a reaction is spontaneous." OK sure, this is not entirely disagreeing with your point; perhaps freshman shouldn't be "expected to know this" but I would think that this phrase applies to a number of science tossups in physics and chemistry- superconductor, torque, ideal gas law, isomers, electronegativity...
All the others are things they may have heard of at some point, or learn in class a good amount. I can tell you (and maybe my high school sucks, and yeah we're just a regular public high school in a poor district) but i never once learned about Gibbs Free Energy in either 10th grade Chemistry or even optional 12th grade Advanced Chemistry, and i went to the same high school at which i currently teach and coach.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Bird Sonata wrote:

~No Exit (why not just toss up Camus? works by authors that a lot of these kids already don't know are really difficult to ask about in tossup questions)
No Exit is by Jean-Paul Sartre. But yeah, that's still a little too difficult for a novice set.
Whoopsies. That's what i get for reading twelve packets in like twelve minutes.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

If I'm not mistaken, I think there was a Camus tossup too.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity »

I'm gonna agree with Mr. C here on the issue of lit and fine arts; however the issue of pointing out Gibbs Free Energy is one thing as well that can be looked at for the future of this excellent set. For example I am in no way advocating it shouldn't be a tossup answer, but then again the whole issue is that I never learned it at all in Honors Chemistry in high school, and if you ask a majority of quizbowlers in poorer schools that question, close to majority wouldn't get the answer.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I'm wondering if future novice sets should even attempt to write on 1/1 chemistry. It wouldn't be much of a tragedy if there were three questions of biology, some of which had some chemistry content.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by New York Undercover »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:
Arquette wrote:
Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote: Here are the questions i found slightly too difficult to be tossed up at this low-level truly novice event:
~Gibbs Free Energy (this isn't something that really any freshman should be expected to know that's not currently going to TJ)
When is chemistry taken over there? At my school, we take chemistry 1 in 10th grade and I'd say that a significant number of the students could get the clue off "negative values of this quantity indicate that a reaction is spontaneous." OK sure, this is not entirely disagreeing with your point; perhaps freshman shouldn't be "expected to know this" but I would think that this phrase applies to a number of science tossups in physics and chemistry- superconductor, torque, ideal gas law, isomers, electronegativity...
All the others are things they may have heard of at some point, or learn in class a good amount. I can tell you (and maybe my high school sucks, and yeah we're just a regular public high school in a poor district) but i never once learned about Gibbs Free Energy in either 10th grade Chemistry or even optional 12th grade Advanced Chemistry, and i went to the same high school at which i currently teach and coach.
That's fair; I, on the other hand, can tell you that at I never learned what torque is in physics 1 in 11th grade. I'm sure that is not the case in AP Physics, but that is clearly irrelevant. I think the point that you didn't learn something which I think is quite significant in chemistry (did you learn about enthalpy and entropy? in my experience those go somewhat hand-in-hand with Gibbs Free Energy, at least in being taught the concept) may just say something about a flaw in your curriculum. (FWIW, I also go to a "regular" public high school in a fairly poor district)
I think novice high school sets present an interesting issue. At the freshman level, there's a large portion of the canon that a qber wouldn't be exposed to if he hasn't done qb before. Much of chemistry and physics would fit here, as would a lot of the fine arts/lit canon. I disagree with Andy that we should shrink the distribution for chemistry (unless his suggestion was in jest; I'm pretty bad at interpreting sarcasm on the internet and I could really see it going either way) because I think we could make a similar argument that we should shrink the distribution of physics, and probably literature and fine arts too. Gibbs Free Energy is an important chemistry concept (as is torque to physics, as Things Fall Apart is an important novel), and I don't think it's a strong argument to say that we shouldn't expose novices to questions on these concepts because "regular" students wouldn't know of them. That's how we learn, isn't it? Hearing a question on something we don't know in a set that is at our level implies the concept's importance and should motivate us to learn more if we expect to convert TUs in that subject in the future.
I guess one question I have is how astute is our goal to have every tossup converted? Being on this board, I realize that 95-15 matches are not ones we want, but is it a huge deal if 4 tossups on significant topics of the canon that may not be that well-known to novices don't get answered? As long as the clues are at the appropriate level, I wouldn't view such a situation as suboptimal

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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Dan-Don »

David Riley wrote:Second the above comments, and I would be interested in hosting the northern Illinois incarnation of next year's novice set.
What makes you think Viator won't get it again haha? :wink:
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:I'm wondering if future novice sets should even attempt to write on 1/1 chemistry. It wouldn't be much of a tragedy if there were three questions of biology, some of which had some chemistry content.
Particularly considering that until sophomore year or so, at many schools, for many students, biology is the vast majority of science that is taught, with earth science coming in second.
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I think No Exit was too difficult, but I also think that Sartre is one of those authors who, at the high school level, is more difficult as a tossup than his most famous work. Who would write a Harper Lee tossup before they would write a To Kill A Mockingbird tossup, for instance?

I ran a small mirror of this tournament, and all in attendance enjoyed it quite a lot. There were a few questions that went dead, and a few that the coaches remarked were probably too hard, but several players commented that they liked the bonuses and thought the difficulty was spot-on.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
Sartre
I think No Exit was too difficult, but I also think that Sartre is one of those authors who, at the high school level, is more difficult as a tossup than his most famous work. Who would write a Harper Lee tossup before they would write a To Kill A Mockingbird tossup, for instance?
This was my thinking, Hannah, thanks for beating me to it. I wasn't so sure about the No Exit TU, but it was one of the last to be written, we were pretty much out of Euro lit at this level otherwise, and it's definitely something novices will encounter later in their careers. A large part of my goal with this tournament, and though I cannot speak for Charlie and Zhao I assume theirs as well, was to teach people things when possible, and I tried to apply that where I could to the answers that ended up on the harder side.

To counter a previous suggestion that there may perhaps be too much lit, I think the issue lies more in subdistribution. I'm not sure what the ideal lit subdistro would be for a high school novice tournament, but I think this was closer than at least the first HAVOC, which if I remember correctly attempted 1/1 world lit (I honestly don't quite remember the specific distribution of either, sorry, but I think we tried that at least once). I also really don't see a problem with some questions going dead if they are exposing new teams to highly relevant things; I don't think we can realistically expect full TU conversion all the time.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Deviant Insider »

If one was writing a Freshman Only Tournament, it would be tempting to make half or more of the science Bio, but this tournament attracted a lot of Sophomores and even some older students, so I think the science subdistribution they used was fine.

Most students at New Trier, especially Honors students, take Freshman Physics, Sophomore Chemistry, and Junior Bio. I realize that we are in the minority, but we are not unique.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by centralhs »

Out of curiosity... who was the target audience for whom this set of questions was written? I assumed by the term "novice" that it was intended for students with little experience playing at the high school level. However, if there were students at the 11th or 12th grade level playing on it, it makes me wonder whether they were new players or players with prior quiz bowl experience. The Georgia mirror of this set (hosted by Alpharetta High School) was a standard J.V. tournament, with a field made up of high school J.V. teams (exclusively 9th and 10th grade students) as well as some middle school teams.

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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

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centralhs wrote:Out of curiosity... who was the target audience for whom this set of questions was written? I assumed by the term "novice" that it was intended for students with little experience playing at the high school level. However, if there were students at the 11th or 12th grade level playing on it, it makes me wonder whether they were new players or players with prior quiz bowl experience. The Georgia mirror of this set (hosted by Alpharetta High School) was a standard J.V. tournament, with a field made up of high school J.V. teams (exclusively 9th and 10th grade students) as well as some middle school teams.

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We aimed it at people who had little to no experience playing good quizbowl, but gave hosts some freedom to set their own guidelines which had to be approved by us. I think most just ran it as a straight-up JV tournament.

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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

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centralhs wrote:Out of curiosity... who was the target audience for whom this set of questions was written? I assumed by the term "novice" that it was intended for students with little experience playing at the high school level. However, if there were students at the 11th or 12th grade level playing on it, it makes me wonder whether they were new players or players with prior quiz bowl experience. The Georgia mirror of this set (hosted by Alpharetta High School) was a standard J.V. tournament, with a field made up of high school J.V. teams (exclusively 9th and 10th grade students) as well as some middle school teams.

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We allowed hosts to determine what "novice" meant for them: generally, we wanted to reflect the same distinctions that have come up in recent college discussion about what an "easy" tournament is and what a "novice" tournament is. That is, so-called "stock clues" aren't an issue (since kids haven't played before, or not much, so their ability to shout "the Goldman equation! SO EASY" would be limited); they aren't any easier than their "natural difficulty." And so forth.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:since kids haven't played before, or not much, so their ability to shout "the Goldman equation! SO EASY" would be limited
High schoolers LOVE tossups on the Nernst equation!
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

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Sir Thopas wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:since kids haven't played before, or not much, so their ability to shout "the Goldman equation! SO EASY" would be limited
High schoolers LOVE tossups on the Nernst equation!
So true, man!
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by centralhs »

High schoolers better love Nernst Equation and Gibbs Free Energy as they seem to come up at pretty much every tournament -- I'm not sure whether these concepts are taught in high school science classes or not, but tournament writers certainly seem to view them as highly important. Lately the Bose-Einstein Condensate seems to come up in every high school tournament as well.

By the way, I really like this set of questions. I am happy to have a set to use with my J.V. team -- a team consisting of players with absolutely no quiz bowl experience who definitely need to learn what types of facts make up the high school "canon". Are there any other strong, challenging sets out there that people would recommend using with brand new players?

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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

centralhs wrote:High schoolers better love Nernst Equation and Gibbs Free Energy as they seem to come up at pretty much every tournament -- I'm not sure whether these concepts are taught in high school science classes or not, but tournament writers certainly seem to view them as highly important.
Every chemistry book I have seen at the high school or community college level makes a big deal of Gibbs Free Energy in its chapter on enthalpy and entropy, and we definitely spent large portions of time on it in my remedial chemistry class in 11th grade. We never covered the Nernst equation or electrochemistry, but this could be accredited probably to the remedial status of the class.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by fee6 »

As a new quizbowl player who just started our school's team this October, and the fall novice tournament being the first quizbowl tournament I have ever played on, I felt that the difficulty of this set was just fine. It did a good job of using well-known topics for almost every question - even the questions we did not get were met with "ohhh" 's by my teammates and me after the answer was revealed. As for the previously mentioned questions (Gibb's free energy, Bartok, No Exit, etc.) our team, though we were by far nowhere close to the top team at our tournament, knew most of them rather early in the question, and all of us had certainly heard of them before by the giveaway. After reading many more sets since playing on this set, I see that the questions here were almost all taken from the most popular sections of the canon, as far as I can see. Thanks for writing a great set.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Jesus vs. Dragons »

Frater Taciturnus wrote:
centralhs wrote:High schoolers better love Nernst Equation and Gibbs Free Energy as they seem to come up at pretty much every tournament -- I'm not sure whether these concepts are taught in high school science classes or not, but tournament writers certainly seem to view them as highly important.
Every chemistry book I have seen at the high school or community college level makes a big deal of Gibbs Free Energy in its chapter on enthalpy and entropy, and we definitely spent large portions of time on it in my remedial chemistry class in 11th grade. We never covered the Nernst equation or electrochemistry, but this could be accredited probably to the remedial status of the class.
My chemistry class had an entire chapter dedicated to thermochemistry, and I think there may have been one mention of Gibbs Free Energy. It was only Chem 1, so it may very well be in Chem 2, but this is college (albeit community college) level chemistry. But this is besides the point. I read for this at Chipola's mirror and it seemed that everyone had a really good time playing it. I think this tournament really found the happy medium of "easy enough for novices" and "hard enough for better players to get it early and keep them concentrated". We had one player averaging over 100 PPR, and this was only his second tournament (his brother is Dallin, and apparently the quizbowl gene is strong in that family), so technically he is a novice, with the top 5 all averaging over 40 PPR. There were a few teams that simply watched me read and never bothered to buzz, but I do not think that can be attributed to the questions.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Frater Taciturnus wrote:
centralhs wrote:High schoolers better love Nernst Equation and Gibbs Free Energy as they seem to come up at pretty much every tournament -- I'm not sure whether these concepts are taught in high school science classes or not, but tournament writers certainly seem to view them as highly important.
Every chemistry book I have seen at the high school or community college level makes a big deal of Gibbs Free Energy in its chapter on enthalpy and entropy, and we definitely spent large portions of time on it in my remedial chemistry class in 11th grade. We never covered the Nernst equation or electrochemistry, but this could be accredited probably to the remedial status of the class.
And as for the Nernst equation, I'd never heard of it in high school, but when I was starting out in college and first encountered it at MCMNT 2008, I asked a friend who'd gone to a local public school and she said that electrochemistry (in that depth, I guess) was part of AP Chemistry. (We did electrochemistry in the sense of "this is reduction; this is oxidation; this is how you balance things; anode and cathode are words and electroplating is a thing that can happen.") She went to a pretty good public school, at least for the Pittsburgh area, granted.
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Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by centralhs »

Is there any chance of a "Spring Novice" set of questions being produced? Everyone seems to be in agreement that this is an excellent set and that it satisfies a particular need/audience in a fashion that few (if any) other sets do.

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Cassian
Lulu
Posts: 97
Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2009 11:03 am
Location: Austin, TX

Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by Cassian »

LASA hosted one of the first mirrors of this set in September. We had 12 teams ranging from fairly experienced (our hybrid B team, St. Johns) to true novice (Cistercian C, LASA C, Westlake HS playing quiz bowl for the first time ever). We thought about making it a JV or 40-rule tournament, but we decided in the end to allow any player (regardless of grade) that had not previously played at NSC or HSNCT. Though this knocked out a couple of good local teams (Temple and Bellaire), I think it provided the right atmosphere for newer teams and for teams not experienced with pyramidal quiz bowl (like most of the Dallas-area teams, which play in a Chip league during the year instead of going to pyramidal tournaments).

Overall, I thought the set played very well, and so did the other coaches. The difficulty was just about universally on target, and the bonus conversion at our site was very good even with many inexperienced teams. There were a few outliers as far as difficulty was concerned (a couple of tossups, a few third bonus parts), but overall I didn't think that was a problem. I think the people who worked on this project did an excellent job producing a canonical and accessible novice set. I personally would love to see something like this produced every year, and I hope that those responsible are able to pull together another set next year.
Jason Flowers
Quiz Bowl Coach
The Liberal Arts and Science Academy
Austin, TX

jonah
Auron
Posts: 2321
Joined: Thu Jul 20, 2006 5:51 pm
Location: Chicago

Re: Fall Novice Tournament Discussion

Post by jonah »

Any idea whether a set like this will happen again next year?
Jonah Greenthal
National Academic Quiz Tournaments

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