BC College Bowl Jam Discussion

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BC College Bowl Jam Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

So I guess some of us too cool for the ICT went to Boston College's trash tournament yesterday.

Since I'm pretty sure this was the school's first time holding a house written trash tournament, I'll take it easy on the criticism. First, I'll say that the NBA Jam rules were pretty creative and added a lot to my enjoyment of the tournament. I'd like to encourage the school to keep doing the tournament (always having more trash tournaments during the year is nice), but here are some of the things I think they ought to do differently:

First of all, have an overall editor. It seemed pretty clear after the multitude of repeats, a packet not having powers, and many packets having several questions in pretty niche distributions (such as more than 1/1 hockey per packet, multiple 24 villains in a packet, multiple questions on indie rock or metal, etc.) that there was no overall editor making sure that the packets met some sort of uniform distribution.

Second, I don't think it's a very good idea to have more than one house team playing in a house written tournament. As far as I could ascertain, most of the delays came from shuffling around moderators and printing packets out at the last minute. If there had been a constant staff of good moderators, I get the feeling we could have been done much earlier (as it was, I believe we did 8 rounds in 8 hours). It also didn't help that a lot of rounds didn't have a scorekeeper, which also slowed down the game.

As for the questions themselves, some packets were obviously stronger than the others. Most packets had pretty inconsistent bonus difficulty, with the music, at least to our team, seeming to be consistently harder than the rest of the bonuses throughout the day. On top of this, a lot of the tossups were far too biographical (giving lots of details about where someone was born or graduated from college), and had far too few clues on what their works were. For example, a Santana tossup I believe did not mention a single song of his.

I do have to say that the Scrubes theme packet and the first playoff packet were overall pretty good. And while they weren't perfect, if the rest of the tournament was up to their caliber I think it would have been a much more enjoyable day.

Anyways, I hope that Boston College holds this event next year and incorporates some of these changes to make the tournament much better.

By the way, for anyone curious, I did record these rounds, and they'll be up on the podcast (check out http://quizbowlcast.blogspot.com) whenever I finish getting the previous stuff up.
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Post by Rothlover »

So, what happened as far as results?
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Post by Mike Bentley »

Teenage Mutant Ninja Gerbils (can't remember the school... I think perhaps Tufts) beat us (Maryland / ICT Trash Contigent) in the finals 299 to 180. For some reaosn they didn't use SQBS, so I don't know if stats are coming.
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Post by pray for elves »

Mike, the Gerbils are not associated with any school, although you could sort of vaguely associate them with BU if you want (but just in your head, since it's been quite some time since any of them were there).

Note: we (Brandeis) were playing rather shorthanded compared with our usual trash lineup at this tournament, but my (hopefully constructive) criticisms still stand.

I did appreciate the extra rules, which, for the benefit of the rest of you, were as follows:
NBA Jam Rules:

If a team answers three tossups without the other team having answered a tossup during that time, they are considered to be "on fire". When on fire, the following rules take effect:

1. Converted tossups are worth 2 extra points: 12 normally, or 17 for power.
2. Teams on fire can use a "fire punt" once each time they are on fire. This works like a usual punt, except that you can get more than one per round by being on fire, being doused, and catching fire again.
3. Teams on fire can "goaltend": when the team not on fire buzzes in on a question that the team on fire has not yet answered, a member of the team on fire can call out the answer, and if they are correct before the person who has buzzed gets their answer out, the question is considered to be dead.
4. Teams remain on fire until the other team has successfully answered a toss-up.

Based on the criteria, a team can get a toss-up, neg on the next five questions, then get two more toss-ups and be considered to be on fire if the other team has not answered any questions during that time.
The Santana toss-up didn't mention any songs or albums or collaborations, or anything that he actually had done musically other than the fact that he had played violin, then guitar, and moved from Mexico to the USA. Of course, that packet had a lot of trouble with some questions being too short and not having nearly enough clues.

The main problem throughout the tournament was bonus difficulty: some bonuses were plainly too easy, while a lot of bonuses had no easier parts. Some examples include a World of Warcraft bonus that nobody outside of players of the game could have scored any points on (unless you keep track of in-game developments without playing, for some reason), and a Miles Davis bonus with two 15-point halves both asking for albums other than Kind of Blue and Bitches' Brew, or anything particularly famous by him. The latter essentially meant that you would 30 it or 0 it, because the answers were two lesser-known albums of his that a big fan would know but an average player wouldn't.

As Mike said, the editing was an issue, with problems including topics repeated multiple times in the same packet, no cross-checking for repeated topics between packets (how many times can Dave Mustaine come up?), and wildly varying bonus difficulty, as I said above.

The one egregious occurrence that I saw was that a packet on which we played a BC house team contained clues which the packet's author had knowingly discussed with members of the BC team prior to the tournament, although not necessarily after writing his questions. It's understandable that BC house teams would have a slight advantage of knowing the people writing the packets, since all of them seemed to write about a lot of pet topics (Clone High came up twice in one packet, and no other times in the tournament; once in a question about Liam Lynch, and the other in its own bonus, to which the first answer was merely "Clone High"), but writers need to avoid clues which they know they have discussed with people who will be playing on their questions. We lost that match, but even if we'd won it still would be a major issue. If any of the BC guys read this, make sure that next time you run a tournament, the people who are writing use only clues they are sure haven't been discussed with people who are going to play. In case you're wondering, the most obvious example of this discussion was a clue used in a tossup about Kirk Fogg that he had once played a charity racquetball match with Tupac Shakur and Donald Trump. All the BC people had discussed that clue with each other, and it was an early clue in the question which gave them a clear advantage.

Note: I'm not accusing BC of cheating, just of poor question protection practices, if I can call it that.

Edit: I clicked submit without putting on the last part I wanted to add:

I hope BC will try to run more tournaments in the future, because we can always use more opportunities to play. I hope they will take these criticisms in mind when they write their next tournament, and hopefully they can improve the quality, which was somewhat spotty at times. Thankfully, the writers did a good job of avoiding apyramidality, with the possible exception of the REM question whose first three words were "Radio Free Europe". Also, I talked to at least two people from BC about using SQBS for stats; nobody had a computer there, but I did tell them to download the program and try to punch in the stats.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

Yeah, I agree with the issue that the bonuses often times were "you know everything or your know nothing". I guess some of this may have been due to what seemed like the insular tastes of the BC team, which 30ed an NHL bonus (and then claimed was too easy) that no one on our team would have scored any points on.

Another thing I forgot to mention was that this tournament had the interesting problem of moving that "trash is written exclusively for people who grew up in the '80s" problem to people who grew up in the '90s. As someone who mainly grew up in the '90s I benefited from it a little bit, but it's not something that I would like to see continuing at trash tournaments. Asking detailed questions about Nickelodeon shows that have not been aired since the mid-90s really makes those questions tailored to a specific age group that grew up during that period. The same goes for stuff like that Michael Jordon videogame that really has no claim to fame amongst popular culture today. I would very much like see, in general, trash tournaments limit their questions that ask about things that one would only be familiar with through nostalgia.
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Post by pray for elves »

Is it possible that your team just lacks significant hockey knowledge? I could have thirtied every hockey bonus I heard there yesterday but for the fact that many went to the other team.

And, since the "a" key is separated from the "o" key by the whole keyboard, I should let you know that it's Michael "Jordan", not "Jordon". If it's any consolation, I had heard of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, despite the fact that I negged very early on in the question with Shaq-Fu because I never expected the question on MJ:CitWC and it was about a video game featuring a basketball player.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

DeisEvan wrote:Is it possible that your team just lacks significant hockey knowledge? I could have thirtied every hockey bonus I heard there yesterday but for the fact that many went to the other team.

And, since the "a" key is separated from the "o" key by the whole keyboard, I should let you know that it's Michael "Jordan", not "Jordon". If it's any consolation, I had heard of Michael Jordan: Chaos in the Windy City, despite the fact that I negged very early on in the question with Shaq-Fu because I never expected the question on MJ:CitWC and it was about a video game featuring a basketball player.
Maybe it's just that hockey is significantly more popular in the Boston area than it is elsewhere. I guess if the tournament was written for Boston area teams where hockey is presumably more popular than in the rest of the country, the difficulty of hockey bonuses can be excused somewhat. But then there's the other issue of hockey coming up pretty much 1/1 per packet. Maybe that's what we get for making fun of the NAQT hockey questions in our names.

Re: "Jordon". Uh, whoops. This is how things like this happen.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

DeisEvan wrote:Is it possible that your team just lacks significant hockey knowledge? I could have thirtied every hockey bonus I heard there yesterday but for the fact that many went to the other team.
I think it's more likely that the average set of four people in the United States in general, in quizbowl, and even in trash lack enough knowledge to ask about hockey as more than a rare niche sport, since that is precisely what hockey is. It's more or less an accident that some of the people involved in founding the idea of trash tournaments and running some of the more well-known trash tournaments today happen to be hockey fans; if the distribution of these "popular culture" tournaments actually reflected what is popular among Americans or American college students or American college students who attend trash tournaments, then hockey would come up one or two times per tournament at most.
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Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

One or two times per TRASH tournament?!? I hate hockey questions but still I expect them to come up more than other sports besides the big 3 and NASCAR, and about twice per academic tournament. If I'm bad at hockey knowledge it's my fault. Plus I mean it's Boston, you gotta be hockey-heavy.
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Post by Matt Weiner »

Matt Morrison wrote:One or two times per TRASH tournament?!? I hate hockey questions but still I expect them to come up more than other sports besides the big 3 and NASCAR, and about twice per academic tournament. If I'm bad at hockey knowledge it's my fault. Plus I mean it's Boston, you gotta be hockey-heavy.
It's less popular than Major League Soccer, women's college softball, or ultimate fighting. How many times should each of those come up per tournament?
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Post by Mike Bentley »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Matt Morrison wrote:One or two times per TRASH tournament?!? I hate hockey questions but still I expect them to come up more than other sports besides the big 3 and NASCAR, and about twice per academic tournament. If I'm bad at hockey knowledge it's my fault. Plus I mean it's Boston, you gotta be hockey-heavy.
It's less popular than Major League Soccer, women's college softball, or ultimate fighting. How many times should each of those come up per tournament?
About 1/1 each per packet going by this distribution.
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Post by Zip Zap Rap Pants »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Matt Morrison wrote:One or two times per TRASH tournament?!? I hate hockey questions but still I expect them to come up more than other sports besides the big 3 and NASCAR, and about twice per academic tournament. If I'm bad at hockey knowledge it's my fault. Plus I mean it's Boston, you gotta be hockey-heavy.
It's less popular than Major League Soccer, women's college softball, or ultimate fighting. How many times should each of those come up per tournament?
women's - I didn't know there was a men's college softball :razz: ...but anyway, regardless of popularity however you define it, it's easier for people on average to name 5 NHL players (current or former) than 5 players in any other American sport besides the big 3, NASCAR, and maybe golf. People could name soccer players, sure, but naming specifically MLS players would be at least as hard as NHL. There's a guy on our team who's from St. Louis who doesn't even follow hockey these days and he's had little trouble with most of the hockey questions this year.
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Post by pray for elves »

I think in the Northeast a vast majority could name five hockey players (one of which would always be Bobby Orr), but only a small portion could name five NASCAR drivers. I'm a hockey fan, so the fact that I could name several hundred current and former players is irrelevant, but the fact that I can only maybe name ten current or former NASCAR drivers off the top of my head without really thinking hard about it is quite relevant considering that I'm from East Tennessee and have myself surrounded by NASCAR while at home.

And Bettman has done horrible things for hockey. Fifteen years ago, the NHL could compete with the current "Big Three". Hell, thirty years ago, the Bruins were by far the biggest draw in Boston.Now, viewership is down, although a small yet still significant amount of that can be attributed to the stupidity of having a contract with Comcast to show hockey on Versus, which many people don't receive.

Regardless, we should probably try to keep this thread on topic: that is, as a discussion of the BC College Bowl Jam: Tournament Edition. Hockey has already been discussed, or should be forked into another thread.
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Post by mmb5 »

Matt Weiner wrote:
Matt Morrison wrote:One or two times per TRASH tournament?!? I hate hockey questions but still I expect them to come up more than other sports besides the big 3 and NASCAR, and about twice per academic tournament. If I'm bad at hockey knowledge it's my fault. Plus I mean it's Boston, you gotta be hockey-heavy.
It's less popular than Major League Soccer, women's college softball, or ultimate fighting. How many times should each of those come up per tournament?
As someone who is intimate with both the NHL and the college softball world, that statement is very wrong.

Matt is right on a previous point, the reason why NHL is a little more popular than expected in trash tournaments is the self-selection of who plays and who writes questions. The early 'fathers' of trash were concentrated in the Northeast. The NHL is more popular in the Northeast than probably in the South.

Remember, although we use the term 'popular culture', it's not all encompassing. What a college-educated or college-attending person who is really into trivia considers as part of their popular culture is not in step with what the country as a whole considers popular culture. The average episode of According to Jim got three times the viewership an average episode of Arrested Development got, but I would bet you the average amount of questions asked in tournaments would go 20:1 the other way.

Country music is on par with rap nationwide, but since the Venn overlap between country fans and quizbowl players isn't that large, we don't see a lot of questions. Same thing with ultimate fighting, although another reason for the paucity of questions in that area is the same reason why you don't see a lot of questions on individual sports such as golf and tennis -- the question universe is smaller compared to team sports. Imagine baseball if all you could ask were questions on one team.


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Post by jabels »

firstly, thanks everyone for the constructive criticism; not that we werent aware that our editing sucked but yea we had a few problems putting everything together so we appreciate that you stuck through it.

as for content of the questions, im pretty sure at some level a concensus can't be reach, and i qualify that with some level because im pretty sure everyone is going to agree to x sports questions and x music questions etc. but then within sports, how many for nascar, how many for ufc? it gets iffy. i think a lot of our packet writers tried to balance out the "big picture," if you will, just with stuff that they feel is underrepresented or omitting stuff that they feel is overrepresented--for instance i dont think there were many--if any--country music or nascar questions, at least during what of the tourney i was there for. i don't know how "fair" that is but im pretty sure its still acceptable. someone pointed out to me recently that its ok to ask a bonus requiring ridiculous detail about seinfeld, but if you do that about anything else people will complain. now, i dont think i wouldve gotten more than 5 points on the rocko's modern life bonus, but i guess in a sense i appreciate that someone asked it, because i think when you get down to it the whole point of this thing is trying to know or recall stuff that average people dont know or can't recall.

also, as a sidenote, i dont know how much question protection was an issue as much as the issue was that our team hangs out a LOT in our spare time and consequently we take in a lot of the same useless, trashalicious knowledge. i wouldnt call it "pet shit" cuz that just seems a little tactless and not really fair.

hopefully next year's tourney will run a bit smoother but i think regardless it wasn't bad and im pretty proud of the end result considering how much happened in its production. thanks for your criticisms and thanks to all those who came.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

Hey so this tournament that happened a month and a half ago?

It's finally on the podcast feed. It's been up in raw format for a while now, but if you subscribe through iTunes or some other RSS aggregator, you'll just now be getting it.

Full details can be found at the blog (see the sig).
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