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ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistory

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 11:21 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
Or as Will Nediger suggested, "the BEEEEES and the Worms"

“Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun.”
--Every tossup on Clifford Geertz ever

Pretty much everyone acknowledges that quizbowl questions don’t exist in a vacuum; any given question is influenced by the questions on the same or similar subjects that came before it. Most people call this concept “the canon”, and use it to get better at the game and influence their own editing efforts.

However, this isn’t a post about the mechanics of writing or playing – it’s a post about the personal and social aspects of quizbowl. Everyone loved following the big-name interpersonal rivalries in QB - Bollinger vs Jackson in the modern era, Jerry vs Seth vs Mike in times previous - but all that people tend to note is the win-loss record and scores. There’s so much more happening any given game between two good players (especially two players who have been around for forever) that gets overlooked in favor of focusing on who beat who to what tossup and when. Furthemore, I’ve never seen a good account of a player’s internal monologue during a game, which I hope to provide here.

In his post about writing ACF Nationals, Ike mentioned that it was “poetic” that the question clenching the game; I thought a lot about his choice of words, and realized there was actually way more poetry and history in that game than I initially realized.


As we went into our respective final-round matches, both Chicago and Penn were x-1. Penn took a severe beating from Maryland in Round 13, and Chicago dropped a game to us a few rounds prior in a great nail-biter lost to history. Both of us managed to emerge from our next games with a win, thankfully – us over UVA in a game that saw four tossups go dead, and them over UMD in a game Chris Manners later described as his “worst ever”. The shift in the question set was perceptible, but I knew the key to winning was to keep your head down and remain unfazed by difficulty. Or, as I’d been telling myself since I was a sophomore at Brown: just get the science.

I walked out of the room, towards Chicagoans Chris Ray and John Lawrence in the hallway. Chris and I shared our traditional handshake/bro-hug greeting that usually began our interactions over the past ~8 years or so (I’m not sure how this started, incidentally). All of us were obviously elated that we had made it this far. At the beginning of the year, John and I were particularly excited about the prospect of a Penn versus Chicago final. Then, of course, Matt Bollinger returned. We had a brief exchange at that point, at which I told him that he shouldn’t lose confidence in the Penn-Chicago final – I was very happy to be proven right. In some form of final irony, I actually owe Matt for what was to follow – had UVA not beaten Maryland, there was a chance that Jordan Brownstein could have crawled his way out of the pit to a final over us.

You couldn’t ask for a group more suspended in quizbowl’s webs of significance. I am fortunate to have played with Saajid and Patrick for four years, and both of them put in spectacular amounts of work to get us to this point – Saajid literally studying until he injured both of his hands and keeping us inspired to continue. It was their last chance to win a title - and functionally, mine as well. Chris Chiego, who joined our team this year, had also made his mark, helping propel us to 2nd at ICT 2015 and putting the game against UVA away with a clutch buzz on the Green River. Interestingly, in previous years, Chris had been instrumental in Penn taking some bad losses they shouldn’t have against UCSD (at ACF nationals 2010 and ICT 2012, something Auroni will crow about whenever given the opportunity - ex here), though now he worked for us, putting away American history questions and introducing the team to the wonders (?) of craft beer.

On the other side, Chris, John, and I had played against each other and edited tournaments together several times over the years (in keeping with the spirit of this work, I won’t try to back-calculate my win-loss record against them. I doubt I could remember all of those games anyway). In fact, I believe I had given John his first editing task, therefore cementing my instrumental role in the rise of the music mafia. James Lasker, someone who I proudly called teammate for his four years at Penn (and defended against Matt Weiner online), was now on the other side of the table. I remember telling John and Max the year before that I never really got to see James develop, and that I hoped the Lawrence system would help one of my descendants win a title even if I couldn’t. Then, there’s Max Schindler, ever-cheerful font of humor, excellent science player, and all-around swell guy. We had already developed a bit of a repartee, given that part of his role was beating me to the science questions, but I’ve only played against him for two years at this point.


I don’t remember much between that time and the time of the final, but I do remember sitting on that stage, waiting for the packet was interminable.

While looking out into the crowd, I noted that the Penn and Chicago crowds were approximately the same size, since both of us had brought three teams. We didn’t have the benefit of Chicago’s infinity dollar budget, but Sarita Jamil’s logistical wizardry had landed us a grant that covered part of our travel. I was proud to be part of a large team, even though I had very little to do with its expansion other than showing up to play.

I wondered how difficult the packet would be. People were already talking about how the difficulty took a real jump during the playoffs, but I only noticed in the last round, where tons of tossups went dead. Finals past have included science tossups I couldn’t get by the end (like “Inductively Coupled Plasma”), and just a few rounds prior there was a Civil War question that Chris Chiego didn’t know by the end – this is somewhat akin to a tossup on a [EDIT: human] disease I’ve never heard of, except even harder.

While listening to a song on loop, getting in the quizbowl mood, I noticed a few alerts on my phone; unfortunately, because it was a new phone, my contacts list wasn’t populated. One text mentioned how ten years had prepared me for this. Another wished me luck. Jason Zhou from Chicago had posted a picture of the stage on Facebook. Nice kid. Wrote for NHBB. Will probably be really good in a few years. Finally, the Stanford team had come back after winning the UG final. Good for them! That Andrew Wang kid seems alright, though. He’ll get more chances.


Finally, we could start. I grab a new apple (a habit I developed at ICT this year). I mark my notebook with “End of Time” where the opponent’s name usually goes, meaning that song from Chrono Trigger was now stuck in my head. Ugh, should have thought that out. Jerry was reading. Makes sense. Poetic, for obvious reasons. Ike was scorekeeping. Sounds good. Playing against Chicago. On a stage. Again? It’s 2008 all over again. At least Selene and Susan weren’t there to battle over biology. But Chris Ray gets those questions sometimes. Hopefully Billy Busse didn’t write his questions out of the Army Field Manual or shitty Sci-Fi Channel Movies.

Tossup 1. It’s a fluid dynamics “condition”. Is it “no-slip”? Has James taken fluid dynamics? I don’t think so, he never mentioned it. It can be prefixed with “quasi”. Is it “steady-state?” No, that’s an enzyme kinetics thing, I’ve derived that, can’t be that. Max buzzes, says “inviscid” I think. Neg. Good. Sit, wait. Earth’s rotation? Oh, Coriolis equals pressure gradient. The fuck is that called? Oh, I wrote about it for MO 2011. Buzz, geostrophic, good. MO 2011 was the first tournament Saajid, Patrick, and I worked on together, so good start there.
Some bonus about horses full of My Little Pony references. This is dumb. Patrick knows Clever Hans. That’s good. 10 on the bonus.

Tossup 2. Art. Come on, Saajid. Wait, that annunciation, that flight into Egypt. There was a flight into Egypt tossup against Yale at ACF Nationals 2010. Auroni was reading. We almost lost that game. That sounds like Henry Tanner’s version. Is this just Tanner? Those biographical details line up, he went to France didn’t he? Wait for it. Wait for it. “Father and son”, buzz, Tanner. Good. Should have gotten it earlier.
Jazz bonus, defense. Saajid 10s it. That’s fine.

Tossup 3. Poem. Don’t care. Don’t care. Don’t care. Don’t care. Wallace Stevens? No one knows? Something about his mother being religious. Cool. No loss. Probably not going to read that, sounds boring.

Tossup 4. A city, ancient city. Come on, Patrick. Wait, isn’t that clue about Croesus of Lydia? Is the city called “Lydia”? Buzz, fuck they said Lydia, neg. They don’t pick up “Sardis”. Sorry guys. Dial down aggression.

Tossup 5. Philosopy. Fuck, Gaston Bachelard was on my list, forgot to read about him. John gets good buzz on “History”. Philosophy bonus, don’t know John Salis. Oh, that’s Derrida. Oh, that’s Levinas. Fuck, can they pull it? Yeah, they did. 20 for them.

Tossup 6. Organism. Bio. Fuck, this had better not be taxonomy bullshit. No, it’s probably a model organism. Good. Fucking lungfish. It responds to blue light, has a gene with two words in its name? Is it just Arabidopsis? No, it can’t be. FRQ gene, that’s…I can’t remember. Oh, Oak Ridge strain, seven chromosomes. Neurospora! Chris Ray buzzes. FUCK. Wait. There’s no way he knows “Neurospora”. Calm down. Neg, you bastard, neg! Yes, good. Wait. Wait. Auxotrophs and Beadle and Tatum. Yup. Buzz, Neurospora Crassa. Good.

Oh, Oswald Moseley. Chris Ray told me about his son really liking dominatrices or something. Can’t get Notting Hill, but Patrick knows about the Mitford sisters. I knew that clue about Lord Curzon, though, from writing about him in Penn-ance. Could have been useful.

Tossup 7. Character. Come on Saajid. Noise, don’t care. Poodle. Wait, isn’t that a thing from Fau-…John Lawrence already got it. Bonus starting with impossible Japanese author. Ike, this is your doing. Other two parts are easy. 20 for them.

Tossup 8. Music. COME ON SAAJID. He gets it! GOOD WORK DUDE. If he’s the music mafia you’re goddamn Eliot Ness.
Organic chemistry. Reducing agent in the Barton-McCombie reaction. I can’t remember. Jerry says “Tributylene hydride”? Oh, TributylTIN hydride/Bu3SnH! Man, Billy, that’s tough. Sodium cyanoborohydride on imines, straight from Chem 36, just don’t fuck up the pronunciation, go slowly. Ozonolysis for the 20, easy enough.

Tossup 9. History. “Forty Thieves”. Wait, is this just the Old-Court/New-Court Controversy? Yep, there’s Francis Blair. I should buzz now. Why am I not goddamn buzzing?! Fuck, Robert Penn Warren clue, of course John knows it. Oh, he’s prompted. “This has a name?’ You bet your ass it does! Neg 5. Pick it up. Oh god, some religious history thing. Only get 10 for catechism.

Tossup 10. Classics. Come on Patrick. Confident buzz with “Head of Pompey”…but a neg. Oh, that sucks. Oh, Thetis and Iris, that’s just Hector’s body. Good idea for a question, Ike. Jesus, this bonus on ships is fucking impossible. 10 for Vasa. Its gun ports were too low! I can’t remember why I know that, though.

Halftime. Score’s 110-65. Good. Need more points. Barrett Block and David Xu are chanting “QUA-KERS QUA-KERS”. Those jokers.

Alright, starting up again.
Tossup 11. Physics. Cool. Don’t know jack about coherent backscattering, should learn. Oh, that swimmer thing. Fuck, what were the conditions for the Scallop theorem again? Surface states of topological insulators, don’t know that. What did that fucking Scallop theorem say?! Oh, doubly-degenerate spin-one-half eigenstates of a Hamiltonian, Kramers theorem! Buzz, that’s time-reversible. Good.
Great, Saajid is worried about this lit bonus. Oh, I know this one, blow out the candles. Man, Dennis Jang wrote a tossup on Night of the Iguana like 8 years ago but I don’t remember this middle part. Wow, detail from The Rose Tattoo. Oh, Saajid knows it, something about condoms. That’s funny because sex. Great. 20.

Tossup 12. Some lit thing. Saajid negs. Dude, that already came up, come on. Wait, wait, wait. Oh rats, Saajid knows it at the end, but John doesn’t. Matt Jackson puts another tally on the “Dead Tossups” count. Man, we really suck at quizbowl Good thing UVa’s not here to see this.

Tossup 13. Some book. Sounds Arab. “The Pillar of Salt”, wait isn’t that that Saudi thing? No that’s “Cities of Salt”, don’t neg. Intro by Sartre? But this isn’t a Fanon thing. And Chris Ray negs with “Wretched of the Earth”. Oh, Albert Memmi, is that thing…buzz, Colonizer and the Colonized? 10. I’ve heard of that, but don’t’ know where from.
Oh boy, computer science! My favorite kind of science because I don’t have to know it. Easy part, complexity classes. Oh, I knew that. Middle part’s interactive proof, which Will Butler wrote an impossible CO tossup on a few years ago. Good, he knows that too. The last part. Ok some kind of graph problem that Saajid doesn’t know. Throw out answers, throw out answers. Come on, Wikipedia. Nope. Oh fuck it’s just what it sounds like, Graph isomorphism. Well whatever.

Tossup 14. A politician. Don’t know this, don’t know that. Foreign minister, oh that’s the Spanish Marriage thing which I know nothing about. Patrick buzzes, says Palmerston. Neg 5…and the question says Palmerston just 5 words later. LORD PALMERSTON! PITT THE ELDER! Focus Eric, Simpsons binge later, quizbowl now. That’s alright, Patrick, you knew what was going on. They don’t pick it up. Good. Oh, Guizot! He comes up.

Tossup 15. A sculpture, I think. Self-oxidizing? Is this Spiral Jetty? No, that’s stupid. Chris Ray buzz. Nope, it’s not Bird in Space in this death packet! Oh, Richard Serra, that’s probably Tilted Arc but Saajid knows. 10 points, good work. Bonus. Is that from the Shanemah? Fuck, my comic book version never came in. Oh, there’s an easy part on Rustam. And an equally gettable part on Zaal. Cool, 20.

At the 15, 190-55. Good. We need two more goddamn questions, and we’ve clinched it. Stay calm. Stay calm.

Tossup 16. Some location. This sounds like one of those utopian communities. But I don’t know any of this. Wait, they make refrigerators? Maytag? Kenmore? Chris Chiego guesses Kenmore, but no dice. Fuck, Amana also makes refrigerators. Man, you know something, I really hate questions related to refrigerators in quizbowl. All of them suck. There was that physics tossup on them in like 2012 CO which was completely retarded, but this is even worse.

Tossup 17. Ok, “two-word concept”. Keep that in mind. “Two-word concept”. “Two-word concept”. Oh, a flaneur. False consciousness. Oh, Michel de Certeau, he’s that guy from the “France” tossup in SCT 2013 that Evan Adams beat me to. Buzz NOW. Time slowing down like Kyle Katarn using Force Speed. Voice cracking. This will clinch it. Don’t fuck this up. Does “everyday life” have two words? Yes? THEN SAY IT, BASTARD!

10 points. The world goes red. Fuck am I having a stroke? No, its psychosomatic.

WIN. YESSSSSSS. Wait, this table isn’t conducive to embracing teammates. Sit back down. Saajid 20s this bonus. I don’t even pay attention. I’ve stopped caring.

Tossup 18. Oh, some science thing. I should care. Blah blah blah. Oh, Vogel-Fulcher-Tammann equation. I think that was in Lederberg. Oh, of course Max knows the clue from Lederberg before me. There’s some poetry right there (this has been a very common occurrence over the years, including Andy Watkins beating me to a zinc finger tossup at ACF nationals 2010 because of it. It was ACF, so he wasn’t cheating). Good thing we’ve won already, or else that'd be really aggravating.

Tossup 19. Literature. I could not care less. John gets it. Some bonus points are gotten. Cool.

Tossup 20. History. Man, you know what’s history? This final. Stuff happening. Early buzz from Patrick….HOLY SHIT A QUESTION ON THE ON-TO-OTTAWA TREK!
Actual e-mail correspondence from 9/9/2011 wrote: Eric: Hey can you write a tossup on On to Ottawa for Editors 5 of MO?
Patrick: As in the On to Ottawa Trek? That I can do. I did a gr. 10 project on it.
Eric: Cool man. Thanks!
What a way to come full circle! CA-NA-DA! CA-NA-DA! Much cheering and applause. I can hear Carol Wang’s laughter. GOOD JOB, PATRICK!
Oh, Physics bonus. I only know one part. There’s some counterfactual universe in which that’s super sad, but not this one!


We won! Finally! Shake hands with other team. Hug Chris Ray. Guy I’ve played against for almost a decade. Stop crying, you sissy. Hugs all around! Oh fuck, I can’t not cry when Jerry hugs me. I finally did it, Jerry! And Bruce apologizes before hugging me. Heh, that’s so Bruce. Text Linna. She’s happy too.

Finally, I can unclench. Of course, my post-quizbowl headache starts to set in, but the monkey on my back for the last 8 years is finally gone. Standing ovation when getting trophy. How kind! I’m hungry. Good thing I have this apple.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 11:25 pm
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Finally, I can unclench. Of course, my post-quizbowl headache starts to set in, but the monkey on my back for the last 8 years is finally gone. Standing ovation when getting trophy. How kind! I’m hungry. Good thing I have this apple.
And that's why ACF bought two first place trophies that year.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Fri May 01, 2015 11:45 pm
by Oh No You Didn't
Can you win the REAL ACFNATIONALS though?

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 12:36 am
by The Ununtiable Twine
Black Miao wrote:Can you win the REAL ACFNATIONALS though?
Imposhibibble! Imposhibibble!

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 2:55 am
by Ike
This was an interesting read. I think it's interesting to capture how players feel and react to tossups and bonuses. Of course, not all of these memories are particularly happy - like I sure as hell try not to remember what happened at ICT 2012 in the finals - I remember the rest of the tournament really well!

I guess what's particularly interesting is that in my later years as a player I had much more theoretical musings on how to play each question against certain opponents. For example, consider Seth Teitler as a British literature player. If I could sense that the literature question was on George Eliot*, Evelyn Waugh, John Fowles, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, or the like, my aggression would go way up - because I knew that he knew those kinds of books well. But if it was a question on something old-timey, like The Faerie Queene, Shakespeare, or something modern and challenging - like Penelope Fitzgerald, I could sit and wait and just get the question.

If you were a good player in 2013, I probably had a strategy on how to play against you - of course a lot of this strategy was contingent on Billy Busse getting 3-4 science tossups, Aaron almost having a lock on music. Etc. If you go back and look at Illinois under my tenure, we often outperformed given our ppg / ppb, and I humbly suggest it has a lot to do with our game strategy in addition to luck and knowledge.**

*Seth, I think you once first-clued a Romola tossup. Seriously, are you ~that~ masochistic?

**This is also why I think it's perfectly okay to put teams at national tournaments through a hard series of questions. Writers and editors for nationals are there to determine a national champion; part of that means determining who can roll with the punches and reassess their strategy given a packet - obviously we do that by writing stuff on easy answers as well. But if you don't feel a bit bruised from playing ACF Nationals, well then Nationals isn't doing its job.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 02, 2015 11:30 pm
by Oh No You Didn't
Eric Billy doesn't appreciate u ragging on his refrigerator tu

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 12:40 am
by The King's Flight to the Scots
Good stuff, Eric. I definitely relate on a couple points - here's what I went through in that 2015 ICT final, which was definitely one of the best matches I've ever played in.

Penn rocked us in our playoff match, aside from my out-of-nowhere power on Marcus Theory. I'm pretty worried, but luckily, Daniel and Tommy are convinced we're going to win. I listen to "Power" on repeat, we do our thing in the first match, and we're coming in with our confidence back. Let's hope that carries through.

Tossup 1. Okay, it's a city in classical Greece or Italy. Wish I remembered the damn Roman kings. Huh, I wonder if Timophanes' brother would be named Timoleon - hey, they named Timoleon - oh god Patrick already buzzed with Corinth. Whatever, move on.

Tossup 2. "This scientist." Throw a meaningful glance at Tommy and Daniel so that they know to get in quick. Compsci...whoa Daniel's buzzing. "Knuth," man? Really? Wait, he's right? SWEET!

Tossup 3. You know, I knew I should have studied the AGIL paradigm at some point. Sociology is annoying. Freudian stages....another thing we should have learned....Tommy with the clutch FTP buzz on "latency!" Keep gettin' dem checks guys.

Tossup 4. Novels where somebody goes back in know, I really hate it when author tossups start out with plot descriptions of really crazy incidents - "guy gets accidentally sent in time to Baghdad," whatever. Not even like, aesthetically, though. I'm just pretty sure that if I'd studied the answerline at any point, I'd have noted down and remembered that memorable lead-in. And sure enough, it's John Barth, and Saajid gets it. Mehhhhhh. Not at all something I've ever known.

Tossup 5. "Prematurely air-conditioned supermarket" in power KA-CHING! Ha ha ha music.

Tossup 6. Somebody writing magazine articles about the poor in the 1880s, hmmm...could this be Jacob Riis? Or maybe Nelly Bly? It's a "she," it's an investigative reporter traveling to Europe and investigating the plight of the lower classes...yeah, I'm going in with Nelly Bly! *Buzz* said Toynbee Hall? Uhhhhhh Jane Addams! Whew.

Tossup 7. Science science science oh sweet Tommy powered pair production! Good science, Tommy.

Tossup 8. Welp, guess Chris Chiego knows everything about least it's an answer Eric would have beaten us to anyway.

Tossup 9. patient, you have a bad habit of getting excited about Greek myth and saying the almost-right answer. An epic where Rhea raises an army? What the...oh, it's Nonnus' Dionysiaca, better buzz with "India" bah too late. Missing Classics twice in the same packet isn't a great look. Move on.

Tossup 10. What the hell is going on in this tossup? The Proslogion? What the hell is a "thing" that appeared with Jesus during the transfiguration? I don't think it was the ark of the covenant...that's a neg that Harvard made against us at Penn Bowl 2012, it turned out that the tossup was on fire and just weirdly called it an "object." Could this be...ahhhh fuck "inner light," Penn's got it. Fuck.

Tossup 11. Business Plot? REALLY? Again? Rrrrrrrrrgh. Penn gets it.

Tossup 12. Okay, they're going on a run here. It's been a rough bunch of tossups and we need to stop the bleeding. "This set of literary works," okay, a good sign. There's a limited number of answers it could be, and it's going to be a standard answer from western literature, which is our bread and butter against Penn. Okay, Tomas Rodaja is the main character from "The Lawyer of Glass," buzz with "Exemplary Novels."

We got six tossups, which is more than it felt like! Not down too badly. We can win this, but urk, closer than I'd like.

How's Tommy feeling about this? I look over, Tommy has that competitive deathstare on his face - dude's got no doubt that we're gonna pull this out. Glad he's more sure than I am.

Why have I been so passive this game? Am I happy about winning the first game of the advantage, so I'm just going to rest on my laurels this time? Matt Jackson would never do that...he sure didn't at NAQT States in 2010. I need a little more edge.

Enter Yami MattBo. He's like regular MattBo, only he's taller, he smirks more, and he has no qualms about crushing dreams. He wears the Millenium Buzzer Pedal on Kanye West's Roc-a-Fella Records chain.

Yami MattBo doesn't make excuses, he just makes buzzes. He also makes fewer references to geek culture. Go figure.

Tossup 13. It's a Rick Ross clue! JR's gonna buzz, right? ...Daniel's buzzing? Oh god oh god please be right...YES! Weird to think that trash has been so great for us all day. Guess I'll take it.

Tossup 14. Chinese art...get ready for the end of tossup buzzer race, I guess. Hmm Patrick gets "bamboo" late off of knowledge of Japan. It always feels bad when somebody snaps up a tossup late and you're not buzzing - seems like it's a case of you *not* knowing something rather than them having impressive knowledge.

This is about the point when I realize we're not just gonna pull away this time. Our usual MO is to fight them close in the first half, or get behind a bit, and then just rip out a streak of questions in the second. Looking like this is gonna be more of a shootout. Not too accustomed to those situations in quizbowl, but I ran plenty of close fourth laps in the 1600 way back when...there's always that temptation to congratulate yourself for your great 1500 and lose on the home stretch. Don't let up an inch. We gotta win. And we will.

Tossup 15. Woo, Penn negged the Wars of the Roses question! Time to mop up "St. Alban's" at the end and pretend I'm smart.

Tossup 16. Huh, I've heard of The Towers of Trebizond at some point - don't know who wrote it though. Thankfully Penn doesn't either.

Yami MattBo takeover

Okay, this next clue sounds like it's talking about Thomas Babington Macaulay, so the next clue is going to be about the Lays of Ancient Rome if it's him. Penn might know that too, so we gotta time this right. Wait for it...wait for it...drops "Horatius," GO NOW. YES.

Tossup 17. Well, it's two boxers. It's either Ali/Foreman or we don't know it. And it's not them. Please go dead...please go dead...please go dead...please go dead...please go dead...okay it's over and Penn doesn't know it LET'S GOOOOOOO!

Tossup 18. Eric gets hydrogen. We'll live with that. Tommy doesn't seem perturbed.

Tossup 19. "As an architect, this man..." Okay, so it's a guy not mainly known as an architect. Maybe it's a modern sculptor or painter. Who could this be...wait, Pancasila? Wait this isn't not an artist NOOOOOOO. Well, Eric would have gotten world history even if it weren't that.

Yami MattBo: Whatever. Just win. Or it's your head next.

Moving on!

Tossup 20. Early neg from Saajid on Mahler's know, we already commented that we have a Mahler question every time we play Penn. There was already a Mahler bonus part in our previous game against Penn. This is really happening, huh? I'll take it.

Tossup 21. Tommy with the heartbreaking neg, "cephalopods" for "octopi." Gotta love the aggression, though. Let's take it home.

Tossup 22. "This senator..." So, it's a samurai staredown between JR and Chris Chiego here. JR draws...and hits with Menendez! WE GOT THIS!

Now we face a bit of a dilemma. Daniel tells me we're up 15, and the clock's running down, which means we could delay and keep Penn to just one last tossup. If we 30 it and delay then that's almost game.

On the other hand, we don't know whether we'll 30 this bonus or not. We also can't be sure that Daniel's score is right given how fast this game is going...and losing on THAT kind of fuck-up would be the worst. If it comes down to a tossup 24 situation, can we handle that?


Tossup 23. Well, we 30'd the bonus, Penn powered the tossup but didn't 30 their bonus, and it's off to a last tossup. Could have secured the win by delaying after all! Doesn't matter. Let's roll.

Tossup 24. Okay, this is a woman depicted in a bunch of pieces of art. One of the paintings is called Night Shadow, which suggests this isn't just "Venus" or something - it's more modern. I do know that there's a painting of Helga Testorf called Black Velvet, which is a pretty similar title, so let's stick with that theory...okay, "the collection of pictures featuring this woman," suggesting that this is a single, non-divine woman painted by one artist. Shown at the National Gallery of Art in 1986....eesh, am I going to buzz on this?

Yami MattBo: Just buzz. Take the hit if you lose, it'll be your fault, just end it on your terms. That's your job. You're not entitled to happiness; you're entitled to responsibility.

Me: "Testorf."
Yaphe: "I'm sorry?"
Me: *small heart attack* "Helga Testorf."
Yaphe: Yes.

First thought: Thank god, I didn't fuck everything up.

Second thought: We won? WE WON! Tommy's hard work all year isn't going to go to waste; dude deserves it. No matter what, we've won four titles in four years, and I won us our last two ICT's in dramatic fashion. Good stuff.

Third thought: We...may have ruined Eric's best chance of winning a title. I can't feel bad about this - Tommy, JR, and Daniel were all awesome all day, and I came through for them - but ugh. If we can't win at ACF, I really hope that dude can pull it off.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 2:09 am
by Kouign Amann
These narratives are delightful, and I hope more people make more of them.
The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:Matt Jackson would never do that...he sure didn't at NAQT States in 2010. I need a little more edge.
I can't say I'm surprised, but it's certainly heartwarming to know that all these years later, that game still motivates the fuck out of Matt Bollinger. One day I'll try to find and share with the qb history board the Facebook message he sent me and Jacob before NSC 2010, which was all about getting revenge for that game. And we did! #tsushima #oceanicfeeling

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 2:49 am
by Sima Guang Hater
The King's Flight to the Scots wrote:Enter Yami MattBo. He's like regular MattBo, only he's taller, he smirks more, and he has no qualms about crushing dreams. He wears the Millenium Buzzer Pedal on Kanye West's Roc-a-Fella Records chain.

Yami MattBo doesn't make excuses, he just makes buzzes. He also makes fewer references to geek culture. Go figure.
Pictured, before ICT final:


Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 3:08 am
by Oh No You Didn't
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: Pictured, before ICT final:
does this mean that this was you after the ICT final?

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 6:12 pm
by Ike
Wow, Matt - thanks for posting this, it's really enlightening in many ways. As you've probably figured out by now if you're reading my posts, I think there is a gaming aspect to playing tossups that people don't discuss as much nowadays. Recent surfacings in that player thread thread made me recall my 2012 game against Harvard at Nationals - who I believe consisted of Stephen Liu, Ted Gioia, Dallas Simons and Graham Moyer. Since some of you have already asked me what some of my strategy was in playing tossups, I'll give a microhistory of tossup 19 in that game.

Context - It was me, Billy Busse and Austin Listerud, playing Nationals. We had taken losses to good teams and the only loss that I thought we truly deserved was against UVA, they just kind of shat on us, but oh hey what's new. I felt that if we had played more intelligently we could have beaten Yale and Michigan - the latter of whom we lost to on a tiebreaker. And I still can't believe we lost to Marnold, but I guess that's what happens when you only have three science questions and an Eocene I guess that's 2 science tossups.

Going into this Harvard game I knew we had to get all four science, split the lit and wrestle on some of the other categories if we wanted to win. Billy was on a roll and nailed the science insofar and got the tuba question. But Harvard was unfortunately, also playing well. Going into tossup 19 we were down by 15 or so, and I knew that chemistry and American Literature were the last two tossups. Billy just had been wrecking the science all day and all game, so I knew we just had to nail the American Lit over the head to win. As Harvard is answering bonus 18 I look at the lit answers that have come up insofar: Andre Brink, Strange Meeting and Danton's Death - poetry and drama have already been covered, and this is going to be American Literature. We have two 20th century tossups, so it's possible this last one could also be 20th century, but maybe, maybe not. Whatever, let's play this tossup.

This novel’s preface identifies its ideal reader as an “unseen brother of the soul.”
Huh, a novel with a preface clue that uses a specific quote? That reeks of Henry James. It also feels a bit mystical / Transcendental - This really can't be a 20th century novel - maybe early 20th century at the very latest. If it's something by Henry James, I think I'm safe, I know more Henry James novels than Ted or Graham. Next clue.
This novel’s penultimate chapter takes place during a wild carnival, where one of its characters encounters two former friends disguised as a peasant and a
Okay, Ike: you can strike off Henry James off your list, he would almost never end a novel with a wild carnival. Who else likes to write long prefaces that is 19th or 18th century? Herman Melville? Nathaniel Hawthorne? Washington Irving - wait he didn't write novels!
Wait! Is this even set in America? What is a contadina?
In its fourth chapter, another of its characters becomes lost in catacombs and encounters a sinister monk,
Oh, dear, is this novel set in Paris or Rome? Well, contadina sounds more Italian than French. Wait, Hawthorne's The Marble Faun is set in Rome. Assessing...Assessing...and Hawthorne loves to write long-ass prefaces- The Custom House of The Scarlet Letter for example! And of course he would have that mystico-religious feeling! Do monks plausibly appear in Nathaniel Hawthorne novels? They sure do! Man, should I buzz off of all of this wizardry or wait a bit? Let's see, I don't think Ted or Graham really know that many things about Nathaniel Hawthorne - probably not. Let's wait a bit more.
who is later murdered by being thrown off the Tarpeian Rock
And so were our opponents. Of course Billy puts his education to good use and makes sure we win by getting surfactants.

I think Ted was buzzing as well, but he probably called this a buzzer race because it's a middle clue that we probably both encountered. But in all actuality, it was just the last piece I needed to solve what I considered to be a very complex mental puzzle in which I was 90% sure. There are many things that I also considered as well - would Jonathan Magin be tossing up The Marble Faun (answer: Yes!), but if I knew the American Lit editor was say Jerry Vinokurov, I would be a little bit more surprised, because I think the oldest American author he really likes is Donald Barthelme. Also, we had to get tossup 20 to pretty much win. If we only needed to get one of two tossups to put it out of reach, I think I would have taken the risk, since we can just fall back to question 20.

I also think to myself now: would I have played this tossup differently against John Lawrence, MattBo and Tommy, or 2012 Kurtis Droge and Will Nediger? Against 2012 John Lawrence and Matt Jackson and Kevin Koai - probably not, I don't think I had ever played a Hawthorne question against John Lawrence so I think I am pretty safe. 2012 Matt Jackson was the scariest towards the ends of questions, not here. And if Kevin knows this, I'll be a bit surprised. Against 2012 Mattbo and Tommy - ouch that's tough. My gut feeling tells me that I should be buzzing a bit before the Tarpeian Rock since I don't put it past either of them that they might know about this book, but man oh man, it's so close that I think I would sit. Against 2012 Michigan, Will Nediger actually likes good books so I think I'm fine, but Kurtis! I think I just have to go with it, I've seen him make great buzzes on really shitty 19th century American and British novels because I know he likes this stuff (sorry Kurtis, we have different tastes!) This last part is all speculation: I wonder if I played this tossup "hypothetically right" against the greats of our time.

Of course Mike Sorice had read The Marble Faun the month before 2011 Nationals and would have saved me the fucking headache. God I miss playing with him!


Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Fri May 15, 2015 1:35 am
by naan/steak-holding toll
This thread reminds me: I need to spruce up the crappy Yu-Gi-Oh! questions I wrote for some of our club members during my freshman year - the Obelisk Open, if you will (though it wasn't a tournament) - so they are actually reasonably presentable to the quizbowl universe at large.

...if anyone is interested in such a monstrosity, of course, the questions based almost entirely on the anime as I barely know anything about the card game besides how to play it and probably can't name a single card printed after about 2005.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Fri May 15, 2015 11:57 pm
by 1992 in spaceflight
I mean, I'm game to see how badly I've forgotten the show since I was a kid if Will wants to release them at some point.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 16, 2015 12:06 am
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:This thread reminds me: I need to spruce up the crappy Yu-Gi-Oh! questions I wrote for some of our club members during my freshman year - the Obelisk Open, if you will (though it wasn't a tournament) - so they are actually reasonably presentable to the quizbowl universe at large.

...if anyone is interested in such a monstrosity, of course, the questions based almost entirely on the anime as I barely know anything about the card game besides how to play it and probably can't name a single card printed after about 2005.
This will be the greatest thing--a tournament based on people struggling to recall things they learned/watched twelve years ago.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 16, 2015 12:10 am
by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
i never see pigeons in wheeling wrote:
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:This thread reminds me: I need to spruce up the crappy Yu-Gi-Oh! questions I wrote for some of our club members during my freshman year - the Obelisk Open, if you will (though it wasn't a tournament) - so they are actually reasonably presentable to the quizbowl universe at large.

...if anyone is interested in such a monstrosity, of course, the questions based almost entirely on the anime as I barely know anything about the card game besides how to play it and probably can't name a single card printed after about 2005.
This will be the greatest thing--a tournament based on people struggling to recall things they learned/watched twelve years ago.
I'd do awful, awful things to play it but (EY MOOOOODS) could this whole yugioh thing be moved to its own thread?

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 16, 2015 6:13 pm
by The King's Flight to the Scots
I meant that reference as a self-deprecating joke, not a call for an actual anime event. If you want to run that as kind of a casual, funny post-tournament thing, it would be better to organize it privately.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat May 16, 2015 6:16 pm
by Cheynem
Yes, please stop posting about anime, which remains in violation of board rules.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:38 pm
by Sima Guang Hater
More shitty quizbowl-related refrigeration references: ... ion#p77844

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:42 pm
by Auroni

prelude: It's a criminally nice Sunday afternoon. Will, Sid, Brian and I are sitting on a green lawn, fiddling with blades of grass. We all want to win our first ring but acknowledge that it'll have been an excellent competition year regardless. They go inside. I take in the sights a bit longer. Eventually, I follow suit. Max Schindler is buying a Diet Coke. I want to buy a superior beverage (a Coke) but the card reader on the vending machine isn't working. Luckily Bryan Berend sees me and spots me the exact change needed. What a bro.

I walk down the auditorium and jump onto the stage and into my seat. I tell my teammates that we're gonna knock this out of the park. The game starts

- Wait, another type of flow in another year? Fuck. Hopefully Brian knows what to do. Nope, damn, Max gets it.
- Oh no, an early English history bonus. That should have been ours, Sid's been killing that this year. Jason with the crazy pull on "Asser." They get 20.
- Okay, an artist. This is good. We've gotten like 90% of the visual arts against Chicago this year, let's keep going down that route. Okay Delaroche, so we're in the early 20th century, maybe in France, but lots of clues are going by. Who is this??? A nymph is reaching to stroke a beard, is this just Ingres?? Okay Will's buzzed in, but he waits a three or four seconds before starting his answer. Cmon dude. YES! Ingres for 10.
- Math and Physics bonus. We get the first two parts. Great work, Brian! Third part is some crazy equation. Brian has gotten 100% of those types of parts at tournaments this year due to his brilliant mind, which can switch to "doing math mode" at a moment's notice. You can do it dude. He starts giving his answer but Jerry summarily cuts him off and rules him wrong. Whatever, we'll take the 20.
- A crazy novel. Should be Will's forte. Fuck, what's "Policarpo" a character from??? Some Latin American novel, that's what. Will buzzes in and gets "Yo el supremo." No, "tu eres supremo," Will.
- A bonus about a volume of essays. We're lost. Damn, it's S/M/L/XL! I've made countless jokes off that title before. We get our token 10 on Koolhaas after betraying our lack of architecture knowledge. Whatever, that probably rules out a tossup this round.
- Okay, Auroni, a character. Time to turn your brain on. I have no idea what's going on here, is this a picaresque novel? Okay, Hildebrand and Hagen are from medieval Germanic literature, so maybe this is Attila or someone historical from the Nibelungenlied. Nope, they said Atli. Who could it be, then. Fuck, Chris Ray knows that Theodoric = Dietrich.
- Ralph Vaughan-Wiliams works, huh? Sort of an uninspired finals bonus, but whatever. Wait what, they're only getting 10???
- Okay, we're tied at 2-2 for tossups. At least this won't be the unmitigated slaughter that the playoffs game was. LET'S GO!
- Okay, someone in American history. Damn, Will knows about I Am Curious (Yellow), but he's not getting this off tangential film knowledge as he often does. Shit, who wrote the Sierra Club dissent???? Fortunately Will knows that and we get it.
- Ugh, genre American fiction. More stuff I can't help with. Will's knowledge nets us a 20, though.
- Here we go, the music tossup. I've gone 1 for 11 on music in games against John this year, but this is the most important music tossup of my entire life. Let's go! Damn, series of notes. I'm toast. What the hell are these clues? Good thing John's not buzzing. "Quintette du Hot Club du France"! That means Django Reinhardt, who I recently studied.

Time slows down. Some spirit from another dimension possesses my body and buzzes. It rifles through the Reinhardt song titles I remembered and selects "Nuages" as the one that's most likely to share its name with Impressionistic- and Romantic- sounding classical pieces. "Nuages", it confidently says. Jerry gives us 10 points.

Time resumes. I'm as disoriented as Corvo from Dishonored is when he blinks a short distance and the slowed-down music morphs back to normal. The bonus begins.

- A New Zealand economic policy. I think up "Rogenomics" but Will signals to me that it's not that one. We can't come up with it so I say it anyway. Fortunately, the next part's on the Springbok Tour, and the part after that is the Sharpeville Massacre. Another 20, but I'm starting to feel good at this point.

- Ah it's the yearly ACF Nats finals tossup on a colorful famous person. That means we'll nod along and internally laugh whilst not knowing any of the clues. Wait, Vickers is a gun guy! Damn, but Chris buzzes. And negs with Gatling! Sorry dude. I pick up Maxim soon thereafter.

- Great, it's a goddamn earth science bonus. Ughhhh. We are rescued from an ignominious 0 by Will's "spit" knowledge.

- Okay, so this is the setting of multiple works of literature, probably in England somewhere. Fuck, I know Mallory wrote Le morte d'Arthur in prison, but "prison" would be a stupid fucking buzz. Come on, I know I can think of at least one famous British prison! Finally, we get to FTP "Moll Flanders" is said and the name "Newgate Prison" surges through my mind and I buzz, releasing Will from his agony for this entire tossup. He knew what was going on for far longer than I was.

- We don't get Vanity Fair. That's not promising. Hm, a villainous character from Vanity Fair. Could this be Steyne, whose name looks similar to that of Mike Cheyne, another notorious fiend? Will doesn't seem to think so. I say something wrong. Damn, it is Steyne!

Okay, these bonuses have been killing us, but we're 6-2 with respect to tossups right now. Let's keep this up.

- Some type of system. That means this is other science or social science, so I strategically tune out. Languages on the Chomsky hierarchy! Why hasn't Will buzzed? This is probably something crazy. Wait, it could be some sort of grammar, but surely it wouldn't be the standard answer context-free grammars in this crazy Twilight Zone packet? Oh no, Max buzzes in... says "grammars that do have context." YES, IKE (who is scorekeeping) IS NODDING HIS HEAD! Will gets "context-sensitive grammars" after the neg.

- Some German guy who discovered a bone. But it's not Virchow, instead it's a middle part on Goethe! ooof. At least we get this easy part on Bodhidharma for the 10.

- A medieval European family. Okay, Sid, now's your time to shine! Several clues go by, this could be a Byzantine family maybe? But it doesn't seem like it's on any of the dynasties. Fuck, the Pornocracy! I wish I knew literally anything about that. Chris Ray picks up this brutal tossup on Theophylactus (!)

- Oh no. Everyone loves Japanese myth. They get an easy 20 for Kagutsuchi and Kojiki.

- Okay, poetry. You've read a fuckton of poetry this year, Auroni, it's time to show them what you're made of. Huh. This first poem sounds cool as shit. I should look it up after. I hear the line "Chariots - pausing - at her low gate," which sounds an awful lot like Dickinson. I buzz, before exactly placing the line, and the spirit of calculated risks again dispossesses my corporeal form and says "the soul."

- Some philosophy paradox. Seems vaguely familiar, but I've been out of my element on these bonuses. "Socratic Puzzles," that's Nozick isn't it. I confirm it for Will and we get the 20.

- Jazz tossup, on a location. The dread quickly returns. Jazz is probably the one subcategory in my purview I spent the least (or second-least) time with this year. Wait. Art Blakey... a Night at [this place]? Isn't this just Birdland? But we're in the middle of the question. Whatever, by this point, I've been emboldened by my buzzes, and we've built up a solid lead, so I go for it. And am right!

- A triple cycloaddition, huh? I know from my abortive ochem studying a long time ago, back before I delegated that off to Sid, that Pauson-Khand fits the bill. But it's not that. And then we whiff on "electrocyclic." Oooooof.

- Alright, we've gotten 9 tossups. That just means we need TWO MORE this half.

- Chicago knocks down tossups 13-15. An extremely lucky pull by Max at the very end of "electron-electron repulsion," a Chris Ray buzz on "Primal Therapy" when we were nowhere, and a sick Chris Ray buzz on "Expedition of the Ten Thousand" when I was feebly thinking of "Crassus's invasion of Parthia," well-aware that my classical history luck against Jason and Chris had probably been exhausted for the year. Before each of these tossups I mouthed a silent chorus of JUST. TWO. MORE. to my teammates.

- Tossup 16. YES. A philosophical text! Luck was on our side. Yet everyone seems pretty baffled by all of these clues. Finally, Chris, who simply has to go for it to stay alive, ventures "A Guide for the Perplexed???" in a tone of voice that matched his choice of guess. Fortunately, it's clearly not something like that. And then Brian (!) picks up this crazy tossup on De Caelo, vindicating his limited "thought" study time.

- Bio bonus. Sid knows that the first part is patch clamping. Yes, that is so right! The hard part is crazy, as all of these have been, but we get the 20.

- Alright, four tossups left. We need one. This is on a novel. Could go any way. I know none of these clues, but maybe Will can get this just near the end. Clues go by. "A curved line from Tristram Shandy opens this novel." A buzz. I see that Will's light is on. My heart stops. Four seconds go by. Will makes a deeply contemplative face. Finally the words come out: "The Wild Ass's Skin."

Just after we get 10 points on the tossup, I slam my buzzer down in joy. I didn't make the primal scream I was half-saving for this moment all-year (given what was in the round, I'd have missed my opportunity, anyway). But I'm thrilled. Let's not 0 all these bonuses.

- I don't remember if we got Alexander Woollcott or not, but the second part is on The Man Who Came to Dinner, which we did convert. I feel a little sorry for John this round. That's one of his favorite plays, and at ICT last year in our game against him, it was tossed up, and he said that he'd waited years for that to come up. Oh well, I don't linger on this train of thought.

- A tossup on a world leader. Huh, these clues are cool. Philipine namesake of a city, huh. I buzz in and Brian's light goes off. In the process of celebrating, Brian and I had picked up each other's buzzers, which is sorta funny. After confirming that it was me, I get the unnecessary tossup on "Quezon."

- Princeton disaster, sure. We miss Dolly Madison and parts of the crowd laugh at us. Whatever dudes, we just won ACF Nats.

- Tossup on a religion. Oh great, it's one of the Japanese variants of Buddhism. Chicago guesses one, I guess "Jokyu" (which isn't even one, what the hell. how quickly my brain can turn off.). Tossup on Shingon goes dead.

- The bio tossup. Some enzyme, huh. Oh great, a glycogen storage disorder, so it's going to be one of those glycolysis or gluconeogenesis enzymes. Damn I learned these details about citrate allosterically activating stuff and R/T states in my metabolic biochem class. Max eventually gets PFK. Not a great look for me. But ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

- An art bonus that they 0. Ooof.

And that's that. We endured.

Re: ACF Nationals 2015 Final: An Attempt at a QB Microhistor

Posted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:47 am
by naan/steak-holding toll
Necro time! Thought I might do this for a game where I didn't end up contributing quite as much as Auroni, Matt, and Eric did in their games (in fact this is more a second praise song for Matt than anything), but which nonetheless was a pretty awesome / defining experience for me in my career - the 2017 CO Final. EDIT: Well, final game, but might as well have been a final.

To set the stage a bit: I went into this tournament fully anticipating that I'd be the fourth scorer on this team. Playing with three former ACF Nationals and CO Champions when you've never so much as been in the top bracket of a nationals (excepting Dartmouth's ignominious exit from 2014) can be a bit intimidating! However, the team ended up being a really balanced squad with good communication. Given the set's difficulty and exotic material, it was no surprise that Will Nediger ended up our best player on the day, but everyone was making good contributions throughout.

Going into the final, I was extremely nervous and a bit twitchy. This probably had something to do with the fact that, the round before, Auroni and I had begun strategically consuming Red Bull about halfway through the game, but also with the fact that I'd never played a high-stakes final before and was a bit worried, given that I'd almost screwed up our game against Jacob Reed's team. That said, the playoffs had gone quite well, and we'd won every single game by a comfortable margin - except against Rob's team, but we pulled away in the end on that one as well. We sat down to play knowing that the Jordan/Chicago 2016 team had taken one loss already, which conferred a degree of reassurance - if we could just get one of the next two, we'd have the title.

We sat down to play. Ike was reading, and we were about to go into Editors 5. Each Editors' packet felt like it had been harder than the previous one, as if Ike had been creating a game with increasingly difficult bosses for the players - though maybe this was just the day getting longer. In any case, I knew I was in for an experience.

Tossup 1. "This territory." So this is going to be something old-ish. I hear Roscoe Conkling's name and know we're in 19th century America...which means I'm probably leaning on my teammates for this one, since I know jack about old Western history. I sit through the whole tossup waiting for hints and get almost nowhere beyond what I'd narrowed down in the first couple sentences, waiting for any sort of clue I might know. The tossup goes on forever, then - of all people - Will Nediger buzzes in on the line before FTP and says "Arizona." Man, how great it is to have clutch generalist teammates. We take 10 on a computer science bonus.

Tossup 2. Max with an early neg on a literature tossup, saying "The Book of the Dead." We wait things out...and the tossup on The Encyclopedia of the Dead goes...dead, when Will can't pull it. Unfortunate, but could certainly have been worse.

Tossup 3. Biology. Goes all the way to the end - neither Auroni nor Max is able to guess it. Turns out to be a hard ass tossup on T cells.

Tossup 4. Architecture. Chris Ray with a buzz on the Abu Dhabi Louvre clue - he agonizes for a few seconds, then pulls Jean Nouvel's name. Really good buzz. It's clear the tournament's been wearing on him a bit, which gives me some hope that maybe the same is true for his teammates, but Jordan leads his team to a quick 30 on the Lost in the Funhouse bonus. Snap back to reality.

Tossup 5. "This belief system." Huh, this sounds like it's cool - I don't really have much idea what's up here, though. Talcott Parsons' name is dropped and Matt Bollinger's in a few seconds later with "The American Civil Religion." A damn fine idea for a tossup, and a damn fine buzz by Matt. Bonus is on Bohemond of Taranto, whom Matt wrote a tossup on for Nats that I suggested changes to after he got scooped by FRENCH. Third part is on Sikelgaita, Robert Guiscard's wife, who I'd looked up after glancing over the finals packets from This Tournament is a Crime. Things do have a way of coming around in this game, don't they? 30 points feels pretty good.

Tossup 6. "These devices." Physics. Alright, here's my time to shine. I'm not exactly a physics player, but I'm more of one than any of my teammates are, and I'd gotten at least four physics tossups on the day - including a crucial one against Jacob Reed's team. Against Max, though? Hey - maybe this tournament's hard and "real" enough that maybe something will go late. Or even dead! From hearing "chambers" and "ionization" I deduce that this is some kind of device used in particle physics, but I really don't know what sort of device it could be.

"For 10 points..." OK, we made it this far. Remember what they told you in Cub Scouts - "Be prepared." I've been leaning in closely, primed as I'll ever be...

" these devices which measure the properties of showers and jets..."

Snap buzz. Well, those are collections of particles...we're measuring particles...

"Particle detectors."

Ike gives me points, and our team gets a small morale boost. Last two tossups are exactly the sorts of plays we'll need to win - we aren't gonna be rattling off a series of absurd buzzes to pull this one. If anyone does that, it'll be Jordan, and I don't want that to happen again after Stanford Housewrite. We fail at the music bonus - that's okay, we haven't gotten a single music 30 all day, though we've done damn fine on the tossups.

Tossup 7. Auroni with a dank buzz on Vera Brittain. I have no clue who she is. We fail at a mythography bonus and get 10. That's rough. Three tossups in a row, though - good vibes.

Tossup 8. "This entity." "Eight-cords, one roof" - huh, so we're talking about China or Japan here. Probably a reform from the late 19th/early 20th century. "This policy" - wait, what's going on here? "Governor-General of South America?" "Asia for the Asiatics" - OK, buzz, that's the slogan that Japan used to justify its imperial expansion. "Japanese imperialism?" Prompt - wait,what? Oh, I know what they want me to say...fuck fuck fuck it's that thing with "East Asia" and "prosperity sphere" that I read about in two books, that Kirk and I chatted about while drunk at midnight my sophomore year...I can't get the words out of my mouth in the right order. God fucking damnit. I knew the answer and I couldn't say it.

I protest, more out of frustration at myself than anything. I really shouldn't do that. Chris Ray points out that I didn't say the words in the right order. Thanks. This Digesting Duck bonus is amusing. They almost get there on the first part, then pull to 20. With tossups going dead and them doing better on the bonuses, this could go badly quickly.

Tossup 9. "This theory." Oh man, 20th century philosophy - I'll pay attention, but no way I'm getting this over Will, Matt, John, and Jordan. Buzz about two-thirds through and Jordan beats out Will, who says "damn it." "Ooh boy" from Jordan, followed by a quick, confident-sounding answer - but it's wrong. He looks puzzled and protests at the end after Will gives the correct answer of "extended mind." Maybe he's feeling the same way I am about Tossup 8. If he wins that protest, though, that would sure suck! We manage to bungle the bonus after floating Equiano and the names of some other famous ex-slaves - I think I didn't go for that answer because I figured it must be something harder. Damn, it is Equiano. 10 again. We're getting buzzes and they're negging, but we aren't capitalizing and building our lead.

Tossup 10. Jordan with a sick buzz on Jackson Pollock. They get 20 on a lit bonus, again narrowly missing a 30. 115-90 in our favor. "Let's go" from Jordan. Indeed.

Tossup 11. Tossup on some guy that I've never heard of. Apparently it's another William Byrd. Guess I need to learn that one too. Science bonus, they get 0. Sweet.

Tossup 12. Tossup on "this character." No clue what's going on. Huh, this sounds cool -finds her in a tower on a mountain that rose “exquisitely through the vibrant clouds." Then "dance of the rainbow skirts" - wait, this is clearly an old Asian thing, maybe I might know this! "She breaks a golden hairpin" - quick buzz from Jordan, who says "Urvashi." Neg. Wait, "places it to give in a box to a lover at the end of a poem in which ministers..." oh. my. God. This is Bai Juyi's "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow", which I had put into a bad tossup on Yang Guifei for a tournament I never wrote a couple of years ago. Matt had requested a medieval Chinese history question from me and I suggested the answer of "Yang Guifei" - and he liked the idea, so I did a few clue changes and fact checks, and into Nats the tossup went. Man, I must have either A) not really paid attention to the lines in that poem as much as the idea of there being a wistful poem about Yang Guifei, B) forgotten almost everything I did read, or C) almost certainly both. Plus, I bet the translations were totally different. Anyways, Matt has the generosity to let me take the tossup after this. My one lit tossup for the tournament. Not even live, but I'll treasure it nonetheless.

We screw up yet another history bonus by forgetting where the Fon people live. That's not that hard, even! Oof. Super-easy part on this tournament could do with some tougher easy parts to go with the middle parts.

Tossup 13. "This title." Meeting and Furstenbund - we're in Germany. "Black uniforms..." wait what the hell, can it be? Nope, Jordan's in already. "Duke of Brunswick." What the fuck is that doing there? Whatever, we've had our breaks this game too. They get 10. Move on.

Tossup 14. Science. Max negs late, Auroni says a very similar answer to the actual one of "partition coefficient." Protest. We might actually win this one! Now that's up our sleeve. And we're still in the lead. Good stuff.

Tossup 15. Myth. European. Who knows how this will go! I'm pretty sure we're in classics land given "Maffeo" in the first line. Matt with a super sweet buzz on King Latinus. Nice job, dude, putting that classics education to work. Ten on Shakespeare. We have gotten so few lit 30s this tournament. We're up 155-110 - that's way too close for comfort.

Tossup 16. Math. We're done here. Max easily gets it. John with 20 on jazz. Up by 15 now. We've gotta fight. This next one's crucial to keep our lead.

Tossup 17. Music. Uh oh. We've got quantity of music players, but they've got quality. I hope this is some late-20th century thing that John isn't great at. As the tossup goes longer, I realize that this is in fact the case - don't even care that I also know nothing about those guys either, I have three teammates who could all conceivably know! Goes past FTP, and Matt gets it. 10 on bio. No matter. Keep going. 175-140. Technically need two more to clinch, but realistically, if we get 10, then they need two 20s to beat us - and that's a bit of an ask for this tournament.

Tossup 18. Religion. Good stuff - that's one of our strengths against this team. "This practice." "Hagoritic treatises" and "Apodictic dome" - okay, this is clearly something from the Eastern Roman Empire. Maybe it's hesychasm? That would make a lot of sense. A bit tempted to go in with the guess, but I don't want to be the guy who screws this up when I'm not sure. "Light seen on Mount Tabor during the Transfiguration" - alright, this is is starting to add up, mystical experience and Byzantine stuff. I'm primed to hell for a buzzword - oh, there's Matt buzzing. He says hesychasm, and it's right! SWEET. If we don't flub the bonus we're probably good. Oh huh, this isn't that hard - Taweret and the flooding of the Nile! 20 points. Now they need 50 on the bonuses. You never know with Jordan, though!

Tossup 19. Literature. Will gets it. We're done here - in the complete opposite sense from Tossup 16. I don't care about the bonus. We all know "hapticity" - then Auroni pulls part two, though, which is pretty sweet!

Tossup 20. History, and US is gone. Maybe I can get one. Shit, some old rebel guy in an English-speaking country, this sounds like something Jordan would know though. Wait, Cobeguid region? Raid on Dartmouth? Miq'mak? This has to be Father Le Loutre, right? Or that other guy who I can't remember and won't. Everyone's probably made this deduction, though. Not like it matters. No need for another neg, I've had plenty of those today already. Oh, hey, Jordan negs with the guy I was trying to think of. So it is Le Loutre after all, then. A bonus. Hey, it's the Battle of Raphia! I've played two scenarios about that battle in different games. 30 points. Yay!

We have a very excited team hug in the hallway shortly after, and all recognize Matt's incredible performance in that game. He's still got it. In the end, the score wasn't that even close - 275 to 140. But it certainly didn't feel that way during the game. Those buzzes were clutch as hell. And hey, I contributed something. Thanks, guys, for having me.