The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post Reply
User avatar
Forums Staff: Administrator
Posts: 3086
Joined: Wed Apr 21, 2004 6:21 pm
Location: Columbus, OH

The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by DumbJaques »

I know there's been discussion of this issue in various threads, but I wanted to centralize and generate discussion about the more exigent issue (what are we going to do about this?), rather than why we find ourselves in this position to begin with (infinite one-off subject packets, etc.).

As far as I know, there isn't really a firm idea for a late winter/early spring open, though a couple of people have expressed an interest in contributing. Unless there's some mysterious chief editor who wants to ride in and save the day, it's looking like those folks won't be enough to actually host an event.

So, I see two somewhat novel options we still have:
1) Use Oxford Open, but (if Oxford is open to it) making the tournament more of a collaboration with a group of experienced American editors. In addition to presumably producing one of the best Oxford Opens yet, this plan would spread the work around, allow people who don't have a ton of time to still contribute top-quality material, and add a huge number of high-quality submitted packets to the Oxford pool. The British set, of course, could still run with full British content, with replacements for the American set.
The cons here, of course, are that it's hijacking someone else's set, which shouldn't remotely be done unless the current editors are totally on board. It's also not actually clear to me that we even have that smaller group of editors to collaborate on the project.

2) Use a more Guerrilla-like model, with editors mainly dealing with repeats and whatnot, with a commonly-understood agreement that the teams attending will actually write really good, difficulty-controlled packets. In theory there is nothing preventing this from working out pretty well - any Spring Open will certainly have ~15 teams across the country capable of producing a high-quality packet. But it will require things like rigorously imposing discipline on teammates, submitting packets well ahead of time, putting in the same effort you'd put in for a set you were editing, and most importantly of all, actually controlling our nefarious urges to subject poor bastards everywhere to our "innovative" ideas.

My personal vote is for the second option, which would require at least one reasonably competent coordinating editor and a collaborative buy-in from the attending players.
Specifically, what we need is social pressure. View this as a chance to demonstrate that you can put a tight packet together, adhere to difficulty and length constraints, etc. Alternatively I guess we could also impose hilarious packet penalties for obvious garbage, but there are issues with adjudicating that sort of thing.
Chris Ray
University of Chicago, 2016
University of Maryland, 2014
User avatar
What do you do with a dead chemist?
Posts: 26
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 3:27 pm
Location: UK

Re: The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by What do you do with a dead chemist? »

We had a small discussion on the topic (well, at least tangentially related to option 1) at the end of last term about potential americanisation of OOT, and agreed that last year's method wasn't the optimal way to go about it in the future (particularly given our loss of Spence and Aidan). In the case that there is the interest across the Atlantic, we would certainly be open to a group of Americans adapting the set, although we would need to discuss in more detail internally before making it packet submission or taking on external editors.
Christopher Stern
Oxford 2014-18
Real life 2018-?
User avatar
Mike Bentley
Posts: 6176
Joined: Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:03 pm
Location: Bellevue, WA

Re: The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by Mike Bentley »

I'm willing to help out with a small amount of editing/question contributions on this, although I'm less enthusiastic about a guerrilla model.
Mike Bentley
VP of Editing, Partnership for Academic Competition Excellence
Adviser, Quizbowl Team at University of Washington
University of Maryland, Class of 2008
User avatar
naan/steak-holding toll
Posts: 2357
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

Thanks for making this thread, Chris.

I'd happily submit for a guerilla model, though I think the editors of the set should be willing to write 3 editor packets (for play-in / finals) in addition to curating, writing some limited replacements, and powermarking. As you mention, a "gentlemen's agreement" of "submit the best good-faith packet effort you can, as if you were writing your own tournament" would be good.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor
User avatar
Posts: 901
Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:36 am
Location: New York, NY

Re: The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by ThisIsMyUsername »

As I understand it, the late winter / early spring open serves two main functions: (1) it affords retired players (upon whose benficent assistance we rely to write and staff many regular-season tournaments) another opportunity to play a tournament before the summer; (2) it serves as a "tune-up" before the national tournaments, so teams can play a stronger selection of teams than they are used to (including some open teams and some from outside of their region) on a Nats-proximate set.

The two options that Chris suggests are both viable (in the barest sense) for fulfilling the first function. But neither is viable for fulfilling the second. Oxford Open cannot and should not be pitched at near Nats difficulty. And there aren't 11-12 teams in the circuit that could write serviceable high-difficulty packets without editorial intervention. To take the point further, my memories of the submitted packets I have seen in the past few years of editing packet-submission tournaments make a suspect that any guerrilla-written all-subject, tossups-and-bonuses tournament written at or above regular difficulty would end up being a pretty crappy set.

Should it become clear that this open slot needs to rely upon guerrilla forces to summon up questions (and thus that the possibility of fulfilling what I listed above as function (2) is shot altogether), I would advocate that we abandon hopes of creating an all-subject, tossups-and-bonuses tournament, and instead produce a weekend of smaller tossups-only events. I think that all of the reasonably successful recent guerrilla tournaments have been tossups-only and limited in subject matter. The reason for this is rather clear. They require fewer rounds and each round can be written by one individual or by a pair. For any subject, we can find eight individuals or pairs who could produce a short set's worth of well-written tossups-only packets. But I sincerely doubt we can find eleven quartets of players who can write decent tossups and bonuses in all twenty sub-categories, sans editorial supervision.
John Lawrence
Yale University '12
King's College London '13
University of Chicago '20

“I am not absentminded. It is the presence of mind that makes me unaware of everything else.” - G.K. Chesterton
Slightly Less British
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2016 11:08 pm

Re: The Spring Open: What Is to be Done?

Post by Slightly Less British »

To add to what's being said above, Oxford are actively trying to tone down the difficulty a little from last year: it was felt that in some areas of the distribution we were exceeding our stated difficulty. Hopefully this will mean that this year's tournament will be more competitive for all the teams at the main site in the UK, but it is definitely not going to be Nats, Nats-minus or probably even regular-plus difficulty. Americanisation taking place led by American editors is a feasible prospect, and please let me know if you'd be interested in helping out, but I don't think we're currently looking at bringing in American editors for the British version of the tournament.
Frances Clark-Murray
Oxford '19 (Quiz Society President '17-'18)
UCL ‘21 (or ‘22, or ‘23, or maybe longer)
Post Reply