Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

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Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Have at it.

Some basic guidelines, given how many things were going on:

If you want to discuss the specifics of the college set, I'd recommend doing so in the thread in the college discussion section for that purpose. And by recommend, I mean really, do it there, so we don't have two discussions going. However, if you want to talk about the set in relation to how you'd like to see it changed for next year (what I mean is, if we were to run a college style 20/20 again next year at this event, and you have some thoughts that are more high school-specific or anything about using such questions for this event in general), that can go here.

I'd be interested in knowing a few things. What did you think of the card system (I know it had some repeats, it wasn't technically ideal, I mean more like card systems in general)? What about the two different playoff formats (four brackets, one rebracket vs. two bigger brackets and some kind of finals series)? Have your eyes been opened to the wonders of German warnings against lung cancer? Don't hold back guys.

If people have general thoughts on the issue Diachi raised in the tournament thread (teams not playing out rounds for placement), I'd be interested to hear those as well. Essentially, I'd want to keep playing no matter what, though I can understand why someone who just loses an elimination game has no desire to jump in and play for 13-16 or whatever. I'm unsure how I feel about teams leaving when they're in playoff brackets. I mean, hey, if you want to leave before it starts, it's not like anyone will keep you there against your will. But once you start I think that's a commitment to finish the bracket out (since you could be replaced, hypothetically, by another team that might WANT to play had you declined prior to the start of the rounds). As for taking buzzers, I think there was a college discussion a long time ago about it, but is there an accepted norm for a team that wants to leave before playoffs (even if the team is IN playoffs) and wants to take its buzzers, which are necessary to continue the competition? I don't actually know what the group consensus is on this.

I'll say one more thing: the performance of the teams (not just the top few, but really the whole field) was extremely impressive. Teams like Whitman, Dorman, Charter, and TJ are simply dominant, but what was may be even more impressive to me is what the median of the playoff teams were doing. Even Division II teams with little experience took the questions mostly in stride, despite what must have been a seriously challenging difficulty level for such young and relatively inexperienced teams. More than anything else, I find the overwhelming appreciation for legit quizbowl and playing tough competition that I saw today, among all kinds of teams, extremely encouraging. You guys rock. On that note - we did have a few teams that I've not really seen on the circuit before, so if anyone from those teams is lurking around here, feel encouraged to introduce yourselves and let us know what you thought of the event.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Arian Fathieh »

I had a great time. As a Div II team, I can attest that I had a hard time convincing my team to continue playing. I think that teams who have never actually played that many games in a row experience great fatigue. We ended up getting 4th in Div II on Saturday, which I believe qualifies us for nationals, so sticking around paid off. But, since we were all so tired, Sunday went horrendously. Notably we negged 9 times against TJ E (still won though).

The card system was annoying; I prefer round robin of some sort. We played Chattahoochee B 4 times and Blake 3 times. A card system needs a larger field of teams. Another minor complaint is that we had to play in a room without a buzzer. After playing all the way to the first round robin, we asked for a buzzer set and got one immediately. I don't know if that buzzer was sitting in the war room the whole time, but we definitely would have liked to have received it sooner. In another room, there was a trumpet blazing in the background. For both days. For the whole tournament. I guess that guy really likes practicing his trumpet? :lol:

I think my biggest complaint about Div II was that there really was no inspiration to win. We always felt we were playing horribly, but were just winning because other teams were playing even worse. Chattahoochee didn't even play their consolation match for first place. First place in Div II isn't glorious at all, much less the 13th place finishes others were competing for. Now, I enjoyed myself regardless due to the quality of the questions and the sheer amount of practice and quizbowl goodness but the competitive side of me never got flared up at all.

But these are small complaints. The readers were great, the organizers were responsive and helpful, and the questions were well-written. A+ tournament. Well done guys.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by powerplant »

Arian Fathieh wrote: I think that teams who have never actually played that many games in a row experience great fatigue
I totally agree. The closest thing that I've had to that many rounds was NAQT nationals, and that was just twelve rounds over two days, and while Dan and I were able to handle it relatively well, I know that our players that haven't had as much experience were just trying to stay awake at the end. This wasn't really anyone's fault, as everything ran smoothly transitioning, but the rounds took a long time.

I think that the second day was a lot better than the first. While timed matches aren't the greatest thing, they do just about guarantee that things are over quickly, and that wound up coming in handy when Garfield was trying to get back to Cleveland at a reasonable hour. The structure for the playoffs on the second day seemed much better too, even though Garfield couldn't stay.

All in al though, a great tournament, some really great teams, fast and competent readers, and a chance to see some familiar faces. Good job putting something this big together, I had a great time.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

A card system needs a larger field of teams
Yeah, you might have a point there. On the other hand, my ludicrous attempts to match Dan Schafer's algorithm to my rooms are also probably a factor. You should only have ever had one repeat in the prelims though - do you mean you played Chattahoochee four times this weekend total (including playoffs)? That's sort of to be expected as you and Chat B were clearly in the top group in Division II and we did playoff round robins.
I don't know if that buzzer was sitting in the war room the whole time, but we definitely would have liked to have received it sooner.
No, it definitely wasn't - about 3 promised buzzers did not show up and another 2 were broken and unusable. We had to wait until some teams went home Sunday to free it up, which would have happened right about then. Sorry for the slaptacular.
In another room, there was a trumpet blazing in the background. For both days. For the whole tournament. I guess that guy really likes practicing his trumpet? :lol:
There was some kind of world trumpet competition (I'm not kidding) going on at GMU this weekend. Nobody should have been in our rooms practicing though, so I wish I'd known about that and we could have asked them to move. Just think of it as a little celebration every time you powered a question.
I think my biggest complaint about Div II was that there really was no inspiration to win. We always felt we were playing horribly, but were just winning because other teams were playing even worse. Chattahoochee didn't even play their consolation match for first place. First place in Div II isn't glorious at all, much less the 13th place finishes others were competing for. Now, I enjoyed myself regardless due to the quality of the questions and the sheer amount of practice and quizbowl goodness but the competitive side of me never got flared up at all.
I'm not sure how practical it is, but I'm not sure I'd like to use college questions for division II next year. Did you feel like the difficult was higher on Saturday or Sunday? Using four different sets in a single event might be a hassle, but it's worth it to avoid the situation you described. I'm curious, is it the whole idea of division II you weren't a fan of, or the fact that the questions sort of sucked some of the flavor out of the game?

I don't think I'd want to just toss the division II teams in with our hilariously stacked Division I field. For one thing, we then DEFINITELY couldn't use differen question sets. I will say that I was expecting a larger division II field, so maybe that would have made it feel like more of an actual tournament. Next year we'll work on reaching out to more local teams.
I totally agree. The closest thing that I've had to that many rounds was NAQT nationals, and that was just twelve rounds over two days, and while Dan and I were able to handle it relatively well, I know that our players that haven't had as much experience were just trying to stay awake at the end. This wasn't really anyone's fault, as everything ran smoothly transitioning, but the rounds took a long time.
Yeah, I am quite sure it was grueling. One of the things we were going for was a pre-nationals feel, so that includes some pretty long days. I think players who haven't experienced that before will have benefited a whole lot from WoQ when they go to play at nationals. I know some people aren't so much up for that, but I felt that if I was going to charge teams for 24+ rounds, they should get them. Next year, we might try to work on something that makes the guaranteed game count lower but makes it possible for anyone who wants to to play through all rounds. Glad you had a good time dude.
The structure for the playoffs on the second day seemed much better too, even though Garfield couldn't stay.
Yeah, you thought so? How come? We went with it for time purposes only, but I was hearing this from teams, so that's something I'd like discussed (as it will likely determine which one we go with next year).
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by powerplant »

DumbJaques wrote:
The structure for the playoffs on the second day seemed much better too, even though Garfield couldn't stay.
Yeah, you thought so? How come? We went with it for time purposes only, but I was hearing this from teams, so that's something I'd like discussed (as it will likely determine which one we go with next year).
I think that the second rebracketing was a bit of a headache, and definitely caused some confusion, as teams were sent back to rooms, some people wandered back to the lecture hall, or were just generally misinformed. (I was told that Garfield had a match, even though we didn't).
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Youse Da Force »

Like I said in the other thread, I understand leaving early. Some teams had planes to catch or long trips home, like we did. I think simple discouragement isn't enough of a reason to leave. But if you do, you do need to ask, or at least notify, the TD as soon as you can, to make sure you messing things up for everyone else. About buzzers, I'm not aware of what was discussed in college, and am not going to find it right now. If you are leaving, you kind of have to have your buzzers, especially if you don't live nearby. But like leaving, you have to ask if it's ok, as early as you can. And you should help move buzzers if its needed.
DumbJaques wrote:
I totally agree. The closest thing that I've had to that many rounds was NAQT nationals, and that was just twelve rounds over two days, and while Dan and I were able to handle it relatively well, I know that our players that haven't had as much experience were just trying to stay awake at the end. This wasn't really anyone's fault, as everything ran smoothly transitioning, but the rounds took a long time.
Yeah, I am quite sure it was grueling. One of the things we were going for was a pre-nationals feel, so that includes some pretty long days. I think players who haven't experienced that before will have benefited a whole lot from WoQ when they go to play at nationals. I know some people aren't so much up for that, but I felt that if I was going to charge teams for 24+ rounds, they should get them. Next year, we might try to work on something that makes the guaranteed game count lower but makes it possible for anyone who wants to to play through all rounds. Glad you had a good time dude.
Yeah, it was pretty intense playing for so long straight. I'm glad I'm acquainted with it though, because of nationals. I have some ideas for how to keep awake, which we'll need, as we're flying in the morning after prom.


I think one of my favorite parts was being able to see everyone from ACE camp again, even if it was only briefly in the hallways or as an opponent.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by btressler »

We liked playing 24 rounds, it was a good warmup for nationals. Thanks for letting us meet teams that we wouldn't normally see until nationals.

I was wondering: if this is done again, could the registration allow for entries in just one of the two days? If this would have been possible, I might have brought the whole crew for Sunday, and have just the A team play the Saturday rounds. It also would have facilitated me bringing five buzzers, since buses have more room than my car.

I know the intent was to have the same schedule both days, but since that didn't happen anyway, why not let us register the days separately?

If we are using the cards in a future event, could we have a version where the repeats don't start in round 3 please?

I suggest to avoid the leaving early phenomenon, post a schedule when the tournament gets announced. Then people will know how late the event is going to go.

Thanks again, we had a good time, even if school was quite a drag yesterday due to lack of sleep.

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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

Stat74 wrote:I suggest to avoid the leaving early phenomenon, post a schedule when the tournament gets announced. Then people will know how late the event is going to go.
Teams were promised that Sunday would end anywhere between 3 to 4:30, in order to get them to come.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

If you want to reach out to the local teams/want more teams in Div II, a good starting point is to lower the entrance fee. A lot.

The number of rounds we play in Div I and the extremely high quality of opponents (at least partially) justify a high entrance fee, but it seems that the Div II experience was not too different from that at any ordinary local tournament.

I enjoyed the playoff format for the first day very much. I hope that it doesn't change next year. Also, card system with 22 teams, as some people have said already, didn't really work out well.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

I was wondering: if this is done again, could the registration allow for entries in just one of the two days? If this would have been possible, I might have brought the whole crew for Sunday, and have just the A team play the Saturday rounds. It also would have facilitated me bringing five buzzers, since buses have more room than my car.
This was allowed this year but discouraged (discouraged in the financial sense, meaning that teams didn't get a 50% discount, more like a 30-40% one). We'll probably make a clearer provision for that, sorry it wasn't really explained in a standard way.
If we are using the cards in a future event, could we have a version where the repeats don't start in round 3 please?
As I said in my first post, we know the card system wasn't technically ideal - we'll be sorting that out for next year, if we do a card system. Since I doubt anyone here is under the impression that our card system worked the best way it could have, I'd prefer to see more of a discussion on using card systems in general (obviously we'll be fixing the card system if we use it, though I'm not sure if we'll end up using it).
Teams were promised that Sunday would end anywhere between 3 to 4:30, in order to get them to come.
Well, that's not really right. Teams were who were already set on coming raised concerns, so I tried to re-do the schedule to end it by 4:30. It ended up just not being practical to do so many rounds before then, though I hope next year we can clean it up enough to swing 4:30. It wasn't as if we promised something in order to convince teams to attend. As I recall ,only James Island and Dorman NEEDED to leave by 5:00 to catch a plane. Dorman had been set on coming for about a month and was prepared to come and need to leave early, and it was for that reason that we tried to end by 4:30. James Island added to the field about a week and a half ago. I'm sorry we couldn't end by 4:30, but it's not really accurate to say that we made a promise we couldn't keep to lure teams into attending.
If you want to reach out to the local teams/want more teams in Div II, a good starting point is to lower the entrance fee. A lot.

The number of rounds we play in Div I and the extremely high quality of opponents (at least partially) justify a high entrance fee, but it seems that the Div II experience was not too different from that at any ordinary local tournament.
This is an interesting thought. We might consider running basically separate events next year, with Division II following a different schedule and maybe even using different questions. We basically switched to that Sunday and teams seemed to much prefer it. Perhaps keeping the elite, national draw of Weekend of Quizbowl's Division I field while providing more of a "standard" tournament experience for Division II teams would be preferable.

While I see the philosophical wisdom in this argument, I wonder how many teams really didn't come because of price (as opposed to not knowing about it/not wanting to play for two days/not wanting to play on such challenging questions).
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas »

As a Div II team, I can wholeheartedly support not using college level questions next year- at least for D II. Watching your team and the opposing team scratch their heads during every science question gets old pretty fast.
As seems to be the popular sentiment, I enjoyed Sunday a little more than Saturday. Everyone on my team got some questions on Sunday, which says good things about the difficulty.
As for the repeated teams, I didn't find it very troublesome. Plus, now the guys from Langley and Howard are our "Special Friends," as one teammate put it.
Sidenote: Didn't have any problems with the readers. At all. They were all very, very good.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

Never Hit Tina wrote: As for the repeated teams, I didn't find it very troublesome.
Maybe not for DII, but when part of the stated purpose of the tournament was to provide lots of matches against teams you wouldn't normally get to play, it was a bit unfortunate to play over the course of 2 days:
Charter 3x
Stuy 2x
Richard Montgomery 2x
Walter Johnson 1.5x
GDS 2x
etc.
Not that I have anything wrong with playing them and having a good competition, but when we're playing teams multiple times whom we play with normally anyway, you know, oh well.
Sidenote: Didn't have any problems with the readers. At all. They were all very, very good.
Yeah, this is definitely true. The 6 or 7 readers (!) I had were really good.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by Gonzagapuma1 »

metsfan001 wrote:
Sidenote: Didn't have any problems with the readers. At all. They were all very, very good.
Yeah, this is definitely true. The 6 or 7 readers (!) I had were really good.
Yea, all of our readers were muy excellente, except one guy named like Johnathan Migan or something like that.
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

metsfan001 wrote:
Never Hit Tina wrote: As for the repeated teams, I didn't find it very troublesome.
Maybe not for DII, but when part of the stated purpose of the tournament was to provide lots of matches against teams you wouldn't normally get to play, it was a bit unfortunate to play over the course of 2 days:
Charter 3x
Stuy 2x
Richard Montgomery 2x
Walter Johnson 1.5x
GDS 2x
etc.
Not that I have anything wrong with playing them and having a good competition, but when we're playing teams multiple times whom we play with normally anyway, you know, oh well.
Sidenote: Didn't have any problems with the readers. At all. They were all very, very good.
Yeah, this is definitely true. The 6 or 7 readers (!) I had were really good.
I agree with Guy. We wound up spending a lot of our time on the first day playing teams that we saw frequently: our first playoff bracket consisted of RM, Hunter, and WJ, all of whom we see at many competitions throughout the year. We also had a number of repeat matches (though this is to be expected near the top of the bracket). I also had no problem with the readers. I found Jonathan, Matt, Dr. Chuck, and Byko to be especially outstanding.
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Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

Despite the preexisting presence of a thread devoted to discussing this tournament, a group of the attendants of this tournament have decided that in order to properly and publicly display our critique of this tournament, that a new thread related to what needs to be said needed to be made.

Measured in terms of number of games of quizbowl played by teams on quality questions, the Weekend of Quizbowl was certainly a successful event. However, some of us who moderated over the weekend wish to make known a number of issues we had with the mode of the tournament's operation and direction. From beginning to end, the tournament suffered from poor planning, ad hoc decision-making, and inadequate organization, to the detriment of the experiences of many of the teams in attendance. In addition, we feel that many
of Chris Ray's actions before, during, and after the tournament displayed an unfortunate disrespect towards players, moderators, teams, and the norms of the quiz bowl community. We write not to attack Chris's intentions or his character, but to condemn some of his actions. While we applaud his initiative and his ongoing advocacy for the game, the Weekend of Quizbowl bordered on a fiasco, and it's important to the future of the game and the community that Chris's mistakes not be repeated.

Directing a high school quiz bowl tournament is a challenge not to be taken lightly. A tournament director must make sure dozens or hundreds of players move efficiently through a building over the course of ten hours. Skilled volunteers must read out hundreds of accurate questions. A first-time TD hardly ever does anything perfectly. When we volunteered to help at the WoQ, we generally expected Chris Ray, who had directed at least one high school tournament before and had played in dozens during his high school career, to be capable of putting on a solid event. Instead, the weekend was wracked with irregular scheduling, haphazard staffing, and telltale signs of inadequate planning.

Many elementary steps that could have been taken to ensure that the tournament would run efficiently and with a minimum of chaos were not. Instead of noting before or during registration where each buzzer system would be used, moderators were told to just grab a buzzer system when they headed out to their rooms. This resulted in confusion when the tournament concluded Sunday evening as teams trolled around the game rooms to collect their buzzers, unsure where, or whether, they would find them.

The most egregious logistical issues with the tournament centered around the ranking and rebracketing for the playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday. The planned schedule for Saturday included two re-brackets: one after the six preliminary rounds, and one after an initial three rounds of playoffs. Rebracketing for playoffs is a time-consuming process. Rarely does a tournament proceed from the end of the last tossup in a preliminary round to the first round of playoffs in less than half an hour. On Saturday, the first re-bracketing took place over lunchtime and proceeded fairly smoothly, but the second one took well over an hour. In the meantime, staff members had to leave, and many teams no longer in contention for the championship lost interest in continuing to play. In the end, the final three power-matched rounds and the finals did not conclude until 9pm, which is far later than any high school tournament should run. On Sunday, playoff brackets that were supposed to be ready for announcing at 1:30 were not announced until 2:15, with games not starting until 2:30. By the time the playoff round-robin was concluded at around 5, half an hour after the TD had promised the tournament would end, two of the teams in contention for the championship - Dorman's A and B teams - had to depart to catch their flight. The TD interrupted a meaningful match (TJ A vs. Charter) to suggest the moderator wrap up the match as quickly as possible sothe winner could be swept away in a rush to play a Dorman A team, that by the time the TD could do anything about it, had left. When trying to determine how to run a meaningful final when one of two undefeated teams had left the building, Chris endorsed in discussions with other staffers the idea of making Dorman co-champions with the winner of an advantaged final between TJ A and Charter, yet the results post on the forums half-jokingly listed Dorman's teams as 11th and 12th, since they had apparently forfeited by hurrying to catch their flight home. Chris completely backtracked on his decision (a fair one in our opinions) that Dorman be considered as champions and mocked them by placing them in a lower position than several teams that had left even earlier.

In light of the gross delays experienced during the WoQ, we find Chris's attitude towards teams who chose to leave early stunning. Even though in an ideal world every high school quiz bowl team would have the energy to play 12 rounds of quiz bowl even when they were no longer in contention for a championship, that simply is not the way the world works. It should not be surprising that Division II teams with losing records chose to leave the tournament early rather than hang around for half-hearted consolation matches. His attitude towards teams at the tournament was sometimes unprofessional; at one point the tournament director offered a top player "hos, cars and blow" to enjoy the privilege of playing collegiate quizbowl at his own university and then on a public forum once more solicited for his own team, despite not having any position of authority on that team and not being possessed of a right to represent that team in this fashion.

Chris's approach to finding staff for this tournament struck us as both arrogant and short-sighted. Some of us were not asked explicitly to help at the tournament, and were merely assumed to be coming by virtue of being Washington-area college students. The Richmond contingent, who made up about a fourth of the moderators on Saturday, had to wait until the week before the tournament to get a promise that their hotel expenses of under $100 would be reimbursed. This entitled approach to recruiting staff probably explains why on Sunday, the tournament was 4 or 5 moderators short of the necessary contingent, requiring the recruitment of coaches into moderating duty. We know that in some areas, coaches do basically all of the moderating at tournaments, but it is not the usual protocol in the mid-Atlantic. Aside from being unfair to the players who must operate for a day without their coaches, the Tournament Director has not had a chance to go over rules and expectations with coaches who moderate. A TD can't know how coaches will react to protests, mistakes, or any of the other things that can knock a quiz bowl match of the tracks. More reprehensible than recruiting coaches as moderators, however, was the fact that on Saturday, one member at a time of TJ's 5-person C team was conscripted to moderate during the prelims. To have a player moderate at a tournament at which they are paying to play in is patently absurd. The limiting factor on the size of a quiz bowl tournament ought always to be the number of competent moderators available. Not volunteers from the audience, but experienced quiz
bowlers who can finish 20/20 in 25 minutes, handle protests, and pronounce "Goethe". If not enough such individuals are available, then the thing to do is recruit and train inexperienced volunteers before the tournament, not trust in the good will of the coaches in attendance.

The reason that coaches (and even players) can generally be trusted to step up when there's a gap in staffing at a tournament is that quiz bowl is a community based on camaraderie and volunteerism. Outside of occasional travel reimbursements, nobody ever gets paid to moderate. We all volunteered to read at WoQ because we wanted to support the teams in attendance and provide them with competent moderation. Volunteers make tournaments work. So when a TD needs a coach or a parent or two to read at the last minute, usually someone will step up, because that is how our game works. But when volunteer recruitment is entirely last minute, and three or four coaches are needed to even run all the games promised to teams, then something is amiss.

Programs run tournaments to support their attendance at other tournaments, and quiz bowl money generally remains within the system, with outflows to NAQT, airlines, buzzer manufacturers, and facilities fees. If you're going to try to profit from quiz bowl, it is necessary to provide a compelling product. Chris, while doing a good job of bringing good teams, good questions, and good moderators together in the same building, did little else to make his product seem worthwhile. The questions were purchased from other sources, the facility was obtained by the efforts of Dr. Chuck, and the card-matching system was put together by Dan Schafer. While Chris requested one tournament set in a week an advance to "edit" it, he did absolutely no work on the set, leaving in vulgarities, baffling references to collegiate players not well-known to high school players, and questions the tournament director himself decried as "hoses" and "poor questions" while playing the tournament. Chris essentially acted as a middleman for the teams in attendance. This would have been fine, and fairly inoffensive to us and to the community, had Chris put in the effort to turn the components he procured into a well-run tournament. Instead, from the moment it began, the tournament lacked direction. Chris himself opted to moderate both days, leaving other volunteers in the war room. The tournament director was generally too occupied with games to consider the direction of the tournament. The chaos surrounding rebracketing on both days was atrocious, the promised doubles tournament almost did not happen, and teams often had no idea where they were
going. Chris charged teams $200 for two tournaments, about a 100% premium over the going rate, and what teams got in return was questions they could have heard anywhere and organization that would have put to shame a seventh grader with a checklist entitled "How to Run a Quiz Bowl Tournament".

We do not speak idly. Most of us have been in charge of, or at least part of, running high school tournaments in the past. To put on an exemplary tournament requires a superhuman effort, but Chris did not even put forth the effort to run a passably good one.

We wanted to air our grievances in order to work towards a better event next year. This is a really fantastic idea, and one that promises to really improve the quality of the high school circuit. However, the manner in which it was run this year was a disappointment. We encourage people to discuss this tournament in the context of what happened and what we have written and look forward to an excellent Weekend of Quizbowl '09.

Signed,
George Berry, Jonathan Magin, Charles Meigs, Evan Silberman, Matt Weiner
George Berry
[email protected]
--------------
J. Sargeant Reynolds CC 2008, 2009, 2014
Virginia Commonwealth 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013,
Douglas Freeman 2005, 2006, 2007

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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by The King »

Some of you may also be interested in this thread, especially those coming from the college circuit:
viewtopic.php?f=9&t=5216
Sovereign of Monarchy Academic Questions

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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

I'm not editing any of this except to merge it with the existing thread. Anyway, generally, my attempt to TD the Weekend of Quizbowl was fraught with errors and mistakes. This was actually my first attempt at TDing (I had previously only edited a set and not actually run a tournament), and was counting on someone else with whom I was hoping to split responsibility for various logistic issues. This person canceled two days before the tournament, leaving me somewhat ill-prepared to handle all of them, and I screwed a number of things up. I probably should have taken the initiative by making an apologetic post, so I can't really get on anyone's case for posting this.
Instead, the weekend was wracked with irregular scheduling, haphazard staffing, and telltale signs of inadequate planning.
Yeah, I clearly did not make all the preparations I needed to for this tournament. It wasn't out of lack of effort but lack of experience doing anything like this, and next year I will surely be seeking out someone who has experience running lots of events to oversee what I'm doing. I apologize to teams (and moderators, it seems) who were so offended by the state of affairs.
Many elementary steps that could have been taken to ensure that the tournament would run efficiently and with a minimum of chaos were not. Instead of noting before or during registration where each buzzer system would be used, moderators were told to just grab a buzzer system when they headed out to their rooms. This resulted in confusion when the tournament concluded Sunday evening as teams trolled around the game rooms to collect their buzzers, unsure where, or whether, they would find them.
Yeah, this was a huge screw up and something I completely overlooked. My fault.
The most egregious logistical issues with the tournament centered around the ranking and rebracketing for the playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday. The planned schedule for Saturday included two re-brackets: one after the six preliminary rounds, and one after an initial three rounds of playoffs. Rebracketing for playoffs is a time-consuming process. Rarely does a tournament proceed from the end of the last tossup in a preliminary round to the first round of playoffs in less than half an hour. On Saturday, the first re-bracketing took place over lunchtime and proceeded fairly smoothly, but the second one took well over an hour. In the meantime, staff members had to leave, and many teams no longer in contention for the championship lost interest in continuing to play. In the end, the final three power-matched rounds and the finals did not conclude until 9pm, which is far later than any high school tournament should run. On Sunday, playoff brackets that were supposed to be ready for announcing at 1:30 were not announced until 2:15, with games not starting until 2:30. By the time the playoff round-robin was concluded at around 5, half an hour after the TD had promised the tournament would end, two of the teams in contention for the championship - Dorman's A and B teams - had to depart to catch their flight.
The double-rebracket was a pretty bad idea, and one which we corrected for the second day to much improvement. I apologize for not having the foresight to tell it would be a pretty big problem, and while nobody else seemed to think it was inherently doomed when I posted it for all to see a few weeks in advance, I clearly made a bad call employing it. Again, my fault. However, I'll note that the delays Sunday were not because of lunch, but because of a start time that was 45 minutes late due not to me not being prepared, or teams not showing up, but moderators (indeed, two of whom signed this letter) showing up 40 minutes late. We definitely couldn't start without four of our moderators, and had you guys not been late, I think we would have finished by the intended time. Maybe not, as I certainly messed things up Sunday as well. I wouldn't point that out except that two of you guys signed this letter, which seems pretty messed up to me. I would have at least appreciate a call when you guys weren't there an hour after the start of registration. Again, this is in NO WAY a justification for any of my mistakes, I'm merely noting that my attempts to correct them Sunday were affected by matters I couldn't really control.
The TD interrupted a meaningful match (TJ A vs. Charter) to suggest the moderator wrap up the match as quickly as possible sothe winner could be swept away in a rush to play a Dorman A team, that by the time the TD could do anything about it, had left.
That's not true, Jonathan. All I did was check to see what tossup you were on, I certainly didn't urge you to "finish faster" or anything like that. I was desperately trying to get Dorman a final game, and I apologize to them for making them miss out on their intended final.
Chris endorsed in discussions with other staffers the idea of making Dorman co-champions with the winner of an advantaged final between TJ A and Charter, yet the results post on the forums half-jokingly listed Dorman's teams as 11th and 12th, since they had apparently forfeited by hurrying to catch their flight home. Chris completely backtracked on his decision (a fair one in our opinions) that Dorman be considered as champions and mocked them by placing them in a lower position than several teams that had left even earlier.
I never endorsed a co-champions idea, although I do remember some of you (Matt) voiced that idea. If my post seemed mocking in any way to Dorman, I really apologize, and I consider them to be the best team in terms of performance Sunday (something I told them). I received universally positive feedback from Dorman even though they suffered the worst from my screw ups. Listing them as 11th and 12th was probably pointless and I'm not sure why I did it (the 80 hours without sleep come to mind). Anyway, I'm sorry for the confusion, but it really wasn't a joke, it was just a stupid way to convey the information. The idea that I was mocking a team and a coach who I know and respect is out of line, I think.
In light of the gross delays experienced during the WoQ, we find Chris's attitude towards teams who chose to leave early stunning. Even though in an ideal world every high school quiz bowl team would have the energy to play 12 rounds of quiz bowl even when they were no longer in contention for a championship, that simply is not the way the world works. It should not be surprising that Division II teams with losing records chose to leave the tournament early rather than hang around for half-hearted consolation matches.
This was probably my biggest mistake. I did not think that teams who had paid for 24 games (more on that later) would really want to leave after 6 each day. My own limited experience with running tournaments forced me to rely basically on what I would do, which is an incredibly stupid way to decide things. I take full responsibility for the division II issues on day 1 that were caused by teams wanting to go home, and I apologize to those teams. That was why we switched to a standard playoff bracket for division II sunday, which seemed to satisfy everyone just fine. Why you feel the need to hammer this point when we were able to address it by our changes for Sunday, I'm not sure, but in any event, I apologize for lacking the foresight and experience to predict how badly asking those teams to stay would turn out. It's definitely not something I plan on doing again, though I do think it's worthwhile to give Division I teams at an event like this the option (and maybe even having the expectation) of playing every round.
. His attitude towards teams at the tournament was sometimes unprofessional; at one point the tournament director offered a top player "hos, cars and blow" to enjoy the privilege of playing collegiate quizbowl at his own university and then on a public forum once more solicited for his own team, despite not having any position of authority on that team and not being possessed of a right to represent that team in this fashion.
Seriously? This was a joke I made to someone I was socializing with in between rounds, and it resulted in everyone (including that player's parent?) laughing about it. If that offended anyone I'm sincerely sorry, it seemed like just good-natured kidding around but in retrospect I probably should refrain from that when acting as a TD. Also, I was hardly being serious in any attempts to invite anyone to play at Maryland, though even if I were I doubt those attempts would have any consequence at all. I suggest the specific person who has an issue with this speak to me in person.
Chris's approach to finding staff for this tournament struck us as both arrogant and short-sighted. Some of us were not asked explicitly to help at the tournament, and were merely assumed to be coming by virtue of being Washington-area college students.
Who are you talking about? I asked everyone who came specifically, and I asked every one of you if you could come. I never assumed you guys would come and I appreciate it sincerely. I had five moderators bow out on me the week before the tournament which left me scrambling, but it wasn't an actual lack of effort or actual contacting of moderators that caused a problem.
. The Richmond contingent, who made up about a fourth of the moderators on Saturday, had to wait until the week before the tournament to get a promise that their hotel expenses of under $100 would be reimbursed.
I responded to the request for such a promise as soon as it was made. As part of my general schedule of mistakes for this tournament I didn't start asking around for moderators until much too close to the actual tournament date, but I certainly wasn't keeping you guys in limbo about us covering the hotel expenses.
This entitled approach to recruiting staff probably explains why on Sunday, the tournament was 4 or 5 moderators short of the necessary contingent, requiring the recruitment of coaches into moderating duty. We know that in some areas, coaches do basically all of the moderating at tournaments, but it is not the usual protocol in the mid-Atlantic. Aside from being unfair to the players who must operate for a day without their coaches, the Tournament Director has not had a chance to go over rules and expectations with coaches who moderate. A TD can't know how coaches will react to protests, mistakes, or any of the other things that can knock a quiz bowl match of the tracks. More reprehensible than recruiting coaches as moderators, however, was the fact that on Saturday, one member at a time of TJ's 5-person C team was conscripted to moderate during the prelims. To have a player moderate at a tournament at which they are paying to play in is patently absurd. The limiting factor on the size of a quiz bowl tournament ought always to be the number of competent moderators available. Not volunteers from the audience, but experienced quiz
bowlers who can finish 20/20 in 25 minutes, handle protests, and pronounce "Goethe". If not enough such individuals are available, then the thing to do is recruit and train inexperienced volunteers before the tournament, not trust in the good will of the coaches in attendance.
Again, I'm not sure what "entitled" thing you're talking about. Any delay in contact moderators was due to poor planning and not arrogance. I recruited three coaches, two of whom I know for a fact to be excellent moderators and clearly knowledgeable about the rules and one whose help I was not in a position to turn away. There were some rules issues with this third coach but they cleared up after round 2. I reached deals with these teams (all teams with coaches who moderate received free questions at the least and will be getting some reimbursement checks from DACQ/had their fees knocked down by a doubly bonus rate), and they graciously offered to help us out. As for TJ C, they had a rotating sub and offered to staff - I couldn't say no because one of our more esteemed community members abruptly didn't show up to moderate as promised Sunday and didn't tell anyone. In any event, I apologize for not recruiting and training inexperienced moderators prior to the tournament, which is clearly what I should have done, and will do in future situations. Thanks again to WJ, Gov, and Hunter for surrendering coaches and to TJ for everything you guys did to help us out.
The reason that coaches (and even players) can generally be trusted to step up when there's a gap in staffing at a tournament is that quiz bowl is a community based on camaraderie and volunteerism. Outside of occasional travel reimbursements, nobody ever gets paid to moderate. We all volunteered to read at WoQ because we wanted to support the teams in attendance and provide them with competent moderation. Volunteers make tournaments work. So when a TD needs a coach or a parent or two to read at the last minute, usually someone will step up, because that is how our game works. But when volunteer recruitment is entirely last minute, and three or four coaches are needed to even run all the games promised to teams, then something is amiss.
As I said, we were totally set with staff by about a week out when we got hit with a ton of cancellations. We did our best, and had I used better planning, it wouldn't have reached a crisis level. The whole undertone of some kind of affront to qb in general here is way off base.

Post subject: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion Reply with quote
Despite the preexisting presence of a thread devoted to discussing this tournament, a group of the attendants of this tournament have decided that in order to properly and publicly display our critique of this tournament, that a new thread related to what needs to be said needed to be made.

Measured in terms of number of games of quizbowl played by teams on quality questions, the Weekend of Quizbowl was certainly a successful event. However, some of us who moderated over the weekend wish to make known a number of issues we had with the mode of the tournament's operation and direction. From beginning to end, the tournament suffered from poor planning, ad hoc decision-making, and inadequate organization, to the detriment of the experiences of many of the teams in attendance. In addition, we feel that many
of Chris Ray's actions before, during, and after the tournament displayed an unfortunate disrespect towards players, moderators, teams, and the norms of the quiz bowl community. We write not to attack Chris's intentions or his character, but to condemn some of his actions. While we applaud his initiative and his ongoing advocacy for the game, the Weekend of Quizbowl bordered on a fiasco, and it's important to the future of the game and the community that Chris's mistakes not be repeated.

Directing a high school quiz bowl tournament is a challenge not to be taken lightly. A tournament director must make sure dozens or hundreds of players move efficiently through a building over the course of ten hours. Skilled volunteers must read out hundreds of accurate questions. A first-time TD hardly ever does anything perfectly. When we volunteered to help at the WoQ, we generally expected Chris Ray, who had directed at least one high school tournament before and had played in dozens during his high school career, to be capable of putting on a solid event. Instead, the weekend was wracked with irregular scheduling, haphazard staffing, and telltale signs of inadequate planning.

Many elementary steps that could have been taken to ensure that the tournament would run efficiently and with a minimum of chaos were not. Instead of noting before or during registration where each buzzer system would be used, moderators were told to just grab a buzzer system when they headed out to their rooms. This resulted in confusion when the tournament concluded Sunday evening as teams trolled around the game rooms to collect their buzzers, unsure where, or whether, they would find them.

The most egregious logistical issues with the tournament centered around the ranking and rebracketing for the playoffs on both Saturday and Sunday. The planned schedule for Saturday included two re-brackets: one after the six preliminary rounds, and one after an initial three rounds of playoffs. Rebracketing for playoffs is a time-consuming process. Rarely does a tournament proceed from the end of the last tossup in a preliminary round to the first round of playoffs in less than half an hour. On Saturday, the first re-bracketing took place over lunchtime and proceeded fairly smoothly, but the second one took well over an hour. In the meantime, staff members had to leave, and many teams no longer in contention for the championship lost interest in continuing to play. In the end, the final three power-matched rounds and the finals did not conclude until 9pm, which is far later than any high school tournament should run. On Sunday, playoff brackets that were supposed to be ready for announcing at 1:30 were not announced until 2:15, with games not starting until 2:30. By the time the playoff round-robin was concluded at around 5, half an hour after the TD had promised the tournament would end, two of the teams in contention for the championship - Dorman's A and B teams - had to depart to catch their flight. The TD interrupted a meaningful match (TJ A vs. Charter) to suggest the moderator wrap up the match as quickly as possible sothe winner could be swept away in a rush to play a Dorman A team, that by the time the TD could do anything about it, had left. When trying to determine how to run a meaningful final when one of two undefeated teams had left the building, Chris endorsed in discussions with other staffers the idea of making Dorman co-champions with the winner of an advantaged final between TJ A and Charter, yet the results post on the forums half-jokingly listed Dorman's teams as 11th and 12th, since they had apparently forfeited by hurrying to catch their flight home. Chris completely backtracked on his decision (a fair one in our opinions) that Dorman be considered as champions and mocked them by placing them in a lower position than several teams that had left even earlier.

In light of the gross delays experienced during the WoQ, we find Chris's attitude towards teams who chose to leave early stunning. Even though in an ideal world every high school quiz bowl team would have the energy to play 12 rounds of quiz bowl even when they were no longer in contention for a championship, that simply is not the way the world works. It should not be surprising that Division II teams with losing records chose to leave the tournament early rather than hang around for half-hearted consolation matches. His attitude towards teams at the tournament was sometimes unprofessional; at one point the tournament director offered a top player "hos, cars and blow" to enjoy the privilege of playing collegiate quizbowl at his own university and then on a public forum once more solicited for his own team, despite not having any position of authority on that team and not being possessed of a right to represent that team in this fashion.

Chris's approach to finding staff for this tournament struck us as both arrogant and short-sighted. Some of us were not asked explicitly to help at the tournament, and were merely assumed to be coming by virtue of being Washington-area college students. The Richmond contingent, who made up about a fourth of the moderators on Saturday, had to wait until the week before the tournament to get a promise that their hotel expenses of under $100 would be reimbursed. This entitled approach to recruiting staff probably explains why on Sunday, the tournament was 4 or 5 moderators short of the necessary contingent, requiring the recruitment of coaches into moderating duty. We know that in some areas, coaches do basically all of the moderating at tournaments, but it is not the usual protocol in the mid-Atlantic. Aside from being unfair to the players who must operate for a day without their coaches, the Tournament Director has not had a chance to go over rules and expectations with coaches who moderate. A TD can't know how coaches will react to protests, mistakes, or any of the other things that can knock a quiz bowl match of the tracks. More reprehensible than recruiting coaches as moderators, however, was the fact that on Saturday, one member at a time of TJ's 5-person C team was conscripted to moderate during the prelims. To have a player moderate at a tournament at which they are paying to play in is patently absurd. The limiting factor on the size of a quiz bowl tournament ought always to be the number of competent moderators available. Not volunteers from the audience, but experienced quiz
bowlers who can finish 20/20 in 25 minutes, handle protests, and pronounce "Goethe". If not enough such individuals are available, then the thing to do is recruit and train inexperienced volunteers before the tournament, not trust in the good will of the coaches in attendance.

The reason that coaches (and even players) can generally be trusted to step up when there's a gap in staffing at a tournament is that quiz bowl is a community based on camaraderie and volunteerism. Outside of occasional travel reimbursements, nobody ever gets paid to moderate. We all volunteered to read at WoQ because we wanted to support the teams in attendance and provide them with competent moderation. Volunteers make tournaments work. So when a TD needs a coach or a parent or two to read at the last minute, usually someone will step up, because that is how our game works. But when volunteer recruitment is entirely last minute, and three or four coaches are needed to even run all the games promised to teams, then something is amiss.

Programs run tournaments to support their attendance at other tournaments, and quiz bowl money generally remains within the system, with outflows to NAQT, airlines, buzzer manufacturers, and facilities fees. If you're going to try to profit from quiz bowl, it is necessary to provide a compelling product. Chris, while doing a good job of bringing good teams, good questions, and good moderators together in the same building, did little else to make his product seem worthwhile. The questions were purchased from other sources, the facility was obtained by the efforts of Dr. Chuck, and the card-matching system was put together by Dan Schafer. While Chris requested one tournament set in a week an advance to "edit" it, he did absolutely no work on the set, leaving in vulgarities, baffling references to collegiate players not well-known to high school players, and questions the tournament director himself decried as "hoses" and "poor questions" while playing the tournament. Chris essentially acted as a middleman for the teams in attendance. This would have been fine, and fairly inoffensive to us and to the community, had Chris put in the effort to turn the components he procured into a well-run tournament. Instead, from the moment it began, the tournament lacked direction. Chris himself opted to moderate both days, leaving other volunteers in the war room. The tournament director was generally too occupied with games to consider the direction of the tournament. The chaos surrounding rebracketing on both days was atrocious, the promised doubles tournament almost did not happen, and teams often had no idea where they were
going. Chris charged teams $200 for two tournaments, about a 100% premium over the going rate, and what teams got in return was questions they could have heard anywhere and organization that would have put to shame a seventh grader with a checklist entitled "How to Run a Quiz Bowl Tournament".
Well, this is the part of the post I really think you guys are out of bounds with. First off, don't equate me with DACQ - I'm a partner, not the owner. While I ended up having to organize pretty much all aspects of this event (some at the last minute), this was not intended. It doesn't change the fact that I screwed up, but at the very least any money which I personally see from this event will in significant part be spent toward quizbowl. I'm not clear why you're criticizing the fact that Dr. Chuck offered us a place to host a tournament - would it be somehow more morally acceptable to have hosted it somewhere else? Dr. Chuck wanted a dry run for PACE (one that it definitely benefited us to use), and was able to get the rooms for free. I'm not sure who's harmed in this situation, and it's not like tournaments are run at our houses or anything. Likewise, Dan did me a favor by creating a card system that I applied to our schedule, and we used questions from NAQT and Illinois. What's the problem here? Illinois's team gets some extra money, and I hear one or two people have also hosted naqt events. As for the editing, we didn't receive the final set until the 11th hour for copying (and some of it not even until Saturday), and by that time I was so busy trying to assume the extra duties I ended up with and take care of other things that I just didn't have a chance. I should have removed some of the extraneous stuff, so I apologize for that, particularly if anyone was offended. As for moderation, you just established that we had a reader shortage and that I could hardly afford not to moderate. I should have found someone else to moderate during the rebracketing fiasco (which I did for 1 round), and that's entirely on me. It was a big mistake that I shouldn't have made.

On price: We charged $200 because we felt we were guaranteeing teams 24 games, and given that many tournaments charge around 60-100 for what usually amounts to 5-9 games, we thought it was warranted. Next year we'll be lowering the price both since in retrospect it was too high and because many teams were not interested in getting their money's worth. It's a lesson I learned, not a desire to scam anyone. Also, teams got an extremely satisfying opportunity to play good questions against great competition they wouldn't see anywhere else except nationals. That's hardly nothing. This part of your post seems to schizophrenically disregard the earlier assertion that the event was largely successful for about 25 teams.
We do not speak idly. Most of us have been in charge of, or at least part of, running high school tournaments in the past. To put on an exemplary tournament requires a superhuman effort, but Chris did not even put forth the effort to run a passably good one.

We wanted to air our grievances in order to work towards a better event next year. This is a really fantastic idea, and one that promises to really improve the quality of the high school circuit. However, the manner in which it was run this year was a disappointment. We encourage people to discuss this tournament in the context of what happened and what we have written and look forward to an excellent Weekend of Quizbowl '09.
I think it's presumptuous to declare I put forth bad effort. I messed up a ton of things and miscalculated perhaps even more, but I worked quite hard to make this work under a degrading series of problems with teams dropping, moderators canceling, my essential co-TD backing out, and a few other entertaining developments. I accept pretty much everything here as a testament to the ways in which I screwed up and things I will avoid next year, except for this. You guys have no reason to declare anything about my effort level, and it's way off base.

I hope players had a good time at WoQ. I've heard from many who did, and I offer my apologies to those who didn't - it was almost certainly due to my mistakes. Rest assured that the valid criticisms here and elsewhere will be more than taken into account next year.
Chris Ray
OSU
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University of Maryland, 2014
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by BobGHHS »

I was not going to post in this thread, but I decided that as a hs coach whose players look up to Chris Ray for what he has done for the game over the past 2+ years, I should post in his defense.

I have to say I only have met Chris in person one time, as his teammate at the 2008 MLK (for which he recruited by 2.5 ppg). When I first began talking to him on the internet 2 years ago, I thought he was an arrogant, pompous ass. As I got to know him however, my attitude changed, and having played with him at the MLK, I realized he was not an a-hole at all. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed being his teammate.

Reading through all these posts, I can't help but feel like most of them are personal attacks rather than commentary on the WoQ screwups. The problem I'm having with it all is that most of the criticisms are being lobbied not by players or coaches (there are a few), but rather by moderators and others who were in attendance... which is fine. However, nearly all of the criticisms Chris has either admitted to or rebutted and yet the same stuff still keeps getting thrown back at him. I think it is perfectly fine to post your thoughts or criticisms of the tournament(s), but personal attacks should be sent to Chris directly and not shrouded in critical posts about a tournament he may or may not have directed shoddily. It just seems like hatred towards Chris has been boiling for quite awhile and because of what happened at WoQ, now their was grounds to bring out not only WoQ criticism, but Chris Ray criticism.

Maybe naming it "BYO Dagger" was unprofessional, and Chris should definitely learn from this, but did anyone complain verbally to Chris about it? or just the moderators/qb bigshots in attendance? I'm not justifying it, but seriously, if nobody complained about it, I don't think its as big of an issue as its being made out to be.

Basically, there's been a lot of criticism of Chris surrounded by criticism of WoQ. I wanted to post something in defense of he and his desire to make the hsqb community better. I tend to not want to get into these discussions because they tend to turn into personal attacks on anyone who posts against what is being said, and frankly, I don't like being personally attacked. I think all of you (Chris, Matt, Thom Chuck, Byko, Rob, Andrew, etc.) are all helping to make the hs arena a better place, and I think criticism is a great thing when it is used correctly... to make next year a better weekend. While I think a good portion of the comments were used in the right way, some still felt like they were personal (maybe its just me).

With that, I want to say Chris, my guys had a great time at WoQ despite all the troubles.
Bob Kilner
Kent State '06 - Boise State '10
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

BobGHHS wrote:Reading through all these posts, I can't help but feel like most of them are personal attacks rather than commentary on the WoQ screwups.
As far as I can tell, this thread is more or less free of personal attacks. Did you mean to post this in the thread in the college section?
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Re: Weekend of Quizbowl Criticism and Discussion

Post by swwFCqb »

I'm confident he meant that about the ATTN: Chris Ray discussion going on in the College Discussion forum. He probably just put it in the wrong discussion.
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