NHBB Nationals thread

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NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Sun Apr 27, 2014 8:46 pm

Post here. Thanks for everything! I'll chime in in a few days after I decompress.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by johntait1 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 3:57 pm

First of all, I would like to thank all the NHBB people, especially Mr. Madden, for such a wonderful weekend of history competition. It was truly an unforgettable and extremely enjoyable experience. I would also like to thank Matt Weiner and HSAPQ for writing the questions, and for all the staff who made it possible.
I felt the logistics of the tournament were even better than last year, which was great.
That being said, I did think of a few concerns off the top of my head
1. Round 5 and 14 of the History Bowl felt different from the other rounds of our tournament because the questions seemed to be less standard history(monarchs, battles, presidents, etc) and more unusual(general tossups on priests, justices, water, etc). Our team noticed it immediately, and our score was ~200 in those two rounds while we broke 300 every other round. After round 14 I talked to the other team, and they agreed, saying they happened to get a round they were especially good at. Did any other teams feel similarly, or am I just imagining things? The thing doesn't really have to do with strength of opponents because even in playoffs against other very good teams we were putting up an average of 330.
2. The single elimination playoffs seemed to work very well in varsity, with many of the top seeds advancing, but in JV I remember the #2 seed was defeated first round or something in a very close game? I felt like it would have been better for them to get a second chance, considering they had done so well in the afternoon rounds against very tough competition. As mentioned earlier, this would require a lot more time, but I feel like the number of prelim and afternoon games could be reduced, as I felt like it was basically the same thing over and over with variations more based on individual packets than the opponents, same with History Bee. I still feel like its a bit strange for a team's fate to come down to a certain packet which they might not be the best on when they've done so well the rest of the day.
3. I really liked the US History Bee format of going out on four negs and neg 1 in playoffs, because it meant a lot less guessing, and also that players could get a chance on questions even if their opponents kept on choosing to guess. History Bee this year with eight players many times meant a lot of guessing by players, especially in playoffs, where it seemed like on half the questions players would guess randomly and quickly reach strike 2, and then finally stop guessing. I'm not sure if this was just me, or if other players noticed a difference from the US History Bee changes, so please chime in.
Anyways, these are just my initial reactions, as I'm still trying to digest what exactly happened this weekend. Again, I want to emphasize that the experience was extremely positive in all the events I competed in (US History Bee, History Bowl, and History Bee), and that the above things are just a few concerns that I had and I'm not sure if they are legitimate, so I'd like to see what others felt.
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 4:31 pm

From my perspective as a high-level staffer and as a coach, this was by far the best NHBB from a logistical standpoint. The biggest things I can recommend for next year are:
(1) For the love of god, don't add anything more to the weekend. Enough said.
(2) Make sure the people expected to read late into the night on Saturday (plus a few backups) know who they are, where to be, and when to be there in advance of the weekend, as well as giving the war room a list of those people. From what I heard, at least one of the people written on the bracket as a second-round reader had no idea of that, and was told by someone in the Lee area that he was done for the night. There really isn't any reason it should take 40 minutes to turn over one round of single-elimination. Along these lines, I don't think a staff email was ever sent out telling people in advance what their projected roles were for the weekend; that might've helped.
(3) Half of this suggestion is due to wanting more recognition for the winners of things, and half is to try to amend for a screw-up I made: Present the USGO winners at the bracket announcement convocation on Saturday evening. This way, we/you don't need to rush through grading and entering the written tests, and the tab room can devote a little more attention Saturday evening to running the quiz bowl portion. Giving out those trophies 10 minutes after the competition ended meant that we were giving trophies after 11pm to tired kids who have another national championship to get up for early the next morning, in front of a mostly-empty ballroom (if this sounds familiar, there's a reason) and I will admit, it meant that when I accidentally told Andrew Feist the wrong result for the 3-4 tiebreaker, we didn't get a chance to fix the error before trophies were presented. The next time everyone is all together is the Bowl playoff bracket announcement, which is a great chance to recognize great competitors. Maybe announce those awards to take place at 6:30 (still giving people a good length of time to eat/return to the hotel). The one downside, I admit, is that some competitors are only around for the USGO.
(4) NHBB TV seems like a great idea. For the videos taken in the Grand Ballroom, you need to edit this stuff before putting it on Youtube. I'm watching the JV National Championship in an effort to determine the exact problem behind my next point, and 10 minutes into the video the game hasn't started yet!
(5) I don't understand why things seemed to drag during the Sunday finals. My feeling is that David has gotten better as a moderator, but he loves to stand on ceremony, and that outside of games he has a tendency to just keep talking at times. Reading a varsity semifinal at the same time as the JV final, I futzed around unsuccessfully with the scoring program for a few minutes, felt like I had a late start, and had the game go to overtime. I rushed back to the Grand Ballroom and they were in the second quarter. A brief pause between quarters is fine, and score checks during the fourth quarter are fine, but if people start talking between every question, a 20-minute game lasts for 35.
(6) Written rules reminders for the Bee staffers, examples of competently-filled out scoresheets for at least the Bee if not also the Bowl, and detailed instructions on protest resolution (as well as a process for communicating protest resolution back to the players, if that didn't happen this year). One USGO staffer handed in a scoresheet that stretched to question #41 "because there were six protests", some on Sunday didn't alert their site captain of protests, and one Sunday bee reader stopped after question 30. Yes, everyone should be listening during the morning meeting, but it's before 7am, and even some of the people who are physically there might not be all mentally awake, so a written copy of instructions goes a long way towards avoiding silly errors.
(7) Also, just in general, the bee scoresheet just isn't very good, and it lends itself to about eight different ways for people to screw it up (which they do). I'll design a better one over the summer.
(8) Something I probably mentioned in the week after NHBB III and then forgot about until Sunday at noon was the suggestion to put a fourth person in the tab room on Sunday when there are fewer game rooms needed, so that two can work on Varsity and two on JV with the dual entry system

If this all sounds like behind-the-scenes stuff, that's because it mostly is. I didn't get any complaints from my team about things running poorly, and they noticed that they weren't ever sitting around for an hour wondering what was going on. The player experience at NHBB IV was, like I said at the top, the best yet, and the competition was outstanding. The fact that Jon Leidenheimer, the eventual national champion in the Varsity Bee had to fight his way through a tiebreaker with Pat LeBlanc after besting Sam Blizzard, Ben Jones, and Tabitha Walker--and that was a SEMIFINAL--says to me that any of the top 10 could've had a shot at the win if things worked out a little differently.

There will be no ten-page rant from me this year, and my team is already looking forward to and strategizing for NHBB V, so don't mistake the length of this list for me saying the tournament was bad, it's just me offering suggestions to tighten it up and make things run even a bit more smoothly.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:21 pm

So I suspect I may be the moderator that Jon alluded to earlier. I was specifically told by Will Mantell to show up at 8:15 AM on Saturday morning to start reading initial rounds and then to show up again at 1:45 PM to start reading the second round of games. I did both of these things and things went smoothly.

At the end of Round 10, I asked my site leader if I was done for the day. He said yes, so I went to Chick-fil-A and then home. To be fair, I found it a bit too good to be true that I was already done for the day at 4:30 PM, but I figured that with Will being as meticulous as he was about telling me when to show up for first and second round games, he surely would have told me to show up at a certain time for the playoffs if I was needed/wanted.

At 8:00 PM, I get a phone call from a serious-sounding George Berry asking me where I was. Apparently, I was supposed to be reading a playoff game and nobody told me.

With the caveat that I wasn't there for the playoffs, the National History Bowl seemed to run smoothly, and even though things inevitably went wrong (a team got stuck on the DC metro, keys for one of the rooms at my site were misplaced) none of these things ended up causing a substantial delay. The kids seemed to be having fun and the questions were good, though I'll second the comment above that one of the rounds had an unusually high amount of social/non-traditional history questions.

Honestly, the biggest source of stress seemed to be the elevators, which became overcrowded choke points several times each day. In the future, NHBB might want to look into whether they can get all of their rooms on the bottom few floors of the hotel, so that people can realistically take the stairs.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Beevor Feevor » Mon Apr 28, 2014 5:44 pm

As a moderator and player at this, perhaps I can offer some suggestions on both ends? Overall, I thought this was the best History Bowl that I've been to yet, and I enjoyed it immensely, but some things could definitely be tightened up for future nationals.

1) Running the scoresheets after every other round in the playoffs. I know this was discussed in the war room before the afternoon rounds of the bowl, and I understand that it's more important that the scores be entirely correct when determining the final 32-team playoff bracket. However, as a moderator who had to run from the 8th floor to the lobby and then back up due to the elevator taking forever, I imagine that there has to be a better way. I definitely second the suggestion of making more of the rooms on lower floors, and I feel like the playoff matches Saturday night, which had rooms basically only in the lobby and the lower few floors of Capital and Arlington, were the best way to go.

2) Moderator awareness. This doesn't refer to bad moderating or anything of the kind, but making sure that all moderators know before the tournament where exactly they're projected to go at what time would be really nice. I, for one, was not aware that I was reading Geography Bee on Friday night after I got there late due to a personnel issue, and also had no idea that I'd be moderating a JV Geography Bee semifinal. Not that I wasn't perfectly willing to do those things, and I would have signed up to do them had I had the opportunity, but a set schedule and location for moderators to be at all times during the tournament would facilitate things considerably. On a similar note, with regards to the Bowl playoff rounds Saturday night, obviously this has been said above in the thread, but it's important that moderators (especially the more experienced ones) know that they'll be reading playoff rounds before the actual competition happens (aka, the week before NHBB actually occurs). Same goes for the scorekeepers for the playoff games, who were basically snatched one by one from a group of people hovering who weren't told to read the Saturday night rounds.

3) Internet access. I know that a lot of the moderators had their newfangled smartphones with 4G on them and everything, but as someone with a glorified brick as a phone, texting the numbers was difficult. I understand the difficulties of providing internet to all those rooms, but some form of internet for the weekend would be appreciated greatly.

4) Technology. The projector had some issues during the finals with the standings and all that; even sitting in the front row, I couldn't see any of the names without squinting heavily. Announcing it over the speaker was a good call, as well as telling everyone what rooms they were in, but maybe a posted physical copy on the wall outside of the Grand Ballroom might make that easier as well, so that Bee finalists aren't straining to hear or see where they're supposed to go after the ceremony.

5) Timing. This is a pretty good problem to have; I remember my first NHBB where I spent two hours in a hot hotel rooms with 3 teams, my own team, and Jerome Vered while waiting for afternoon rounds to start. This year though, I instead had about two and a half hours for lunch after the end of the Bee rounds. While it's certainly a good thing to have the morning preliminaries conclude that much faster than expected, I feel like the dawdling at lunch could be cut down, unless there's something important that happened during lunch that the staffers on Sunday needed to do in that time.

Overall, I have very little comments about NHBB. This was by far my favorite tournament to attend so far in my Quizbowl life, and the competition was staggeringly good. Some of the wonderful things this weekend include the fantastic moderating staff (no moderator I saw this competition was anywhere near incompetent, and most were very intelligible and quick), the good time management on Bowl rounds, the lack of disasters on the DC transportation level, and the overall high competency level of all the staffers and people at the hotel. Thank you very much NHBB for the lovely time, and assuming nothing else is added to this weekend (it's definitely long enough...), I look forward to another year of it next year!
Eric Xu
Western Albemarle High School '15
University of Virginia '19

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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:48 pm

I have no idea whether NHBB is now profitable or if so by how much or if not than how far in the red it is, but in response to Eric's #3, this was something that was brought up last year, and at the site captains' meeting in the morning, I asked whether there was internet in the NHBB suites where games would be played. I was told no, and I said "A moderator isn't going to want to pay $15 so he can report scores for your tournament", and David's response was "I don't want to pay $15 for that either." We didn't seem to have significant cell phone issues this year, and the hotel phone was helpful for getting scores from within the building, but it couldn't receive outside calls. It didn't turn out to be a huge problem at the end of the day.

To Bruce, you were one of a few from what I heard, but not the only one and as to that and Eric's #2, this is a thing that I was seriously annoyed about. Last year, after having been told for a few days before the tournament that the playoff rooms would be figured out ahead of time, they were "figured out" when I was told as we wrote out the bracket "pick some rooms". I stressed this wasn't OK and told it would be better. Thursday night upon being asked if I would be able to print the paper brackets which were os useful last year, I said yes and suggested we spend the relative downtime of Saturday morning picking playoff rooms. The response was "That will happen tomorrow [as in Friday]. I will fill that poster in with rooms, readers, and scorekeeps in in advance this year. On the to do list for tomorrow." Saturday at noon, I asked about it and was told by someone (I think Will), "That is the next thing he is going to do." A few hours later, I was told that he was assigning moderators, and when the posters came down to the tab room around 5, there were no rooms listed and I was told to pick rooms at which point I noted that I didn't even have a list of rooms we were using! So part of the cross-checking time was spent doing that. We did fix a few errors (some data entry, some misread numbers), and had the 1-32/1-16 confirmed with plenty of time to spare, but I couldn't print the brackets because the printer was in the room with the TV cameras set up, and then when we got that, we realized we didn't have enough paper. The one thing that definitely has to change about NHBB TV is that it shouldn't be in main headquarters, because duh.
Anyway, the point of all that was that you had no way of knowing you were assigned to read a second-round playoff game, Bruce, and neither did your site captain, because Madden decided that mid-afternoon. The most frustrating thing about the NHBB experience as a whole is when Madden says he will do something in post-tournament discussion or pre-tournament preparation and it doesn't ever happen (note that there is still not a field cap!).

To Eric's #4 and #5:
#4 - The Bee playoffs poster was put together and ready for 1pm and for some reason didn't come upstairs until much later. I don't know why.
#5 - "This year though, I instead had about two and a half hours for lunch after the end of the Bee rounds. [...] I feel like the dawdling at lunch could be cut down, unless there's something important that happened during lunch that the staffers on Sunday needed to do in that time." Most blocks of the Bee finished just before noon, but the last one had a delay somewhere and we got the last scoresheets at 12:15-ish. We finished processing to get the Bee playoffs set before 1. It's nice that you had 2 1/2 hours of downtime, but there were students who had 45 minutes before they had to be ready for the JV final or Varsity semis. That window really can't be shrunk any.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:00 pm

Hey, if someone can send me or post the final scores of the Bee finals in both divisions, I can post the final standings.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by johntait1 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:18 pm

Hey, if someone can send me or post the final scores of the Bee finals in both divisions, I can post the final standings.
JV Quarterfinals: Well, you read for us so I guess you have this already. By the way, you did a wonderful job, thank you very much!
JV Semifinals:
Daniel Yan: 5
Tajin Rogers: 2
Adam Davies: 2
Chandler Burrows: 5
Eric Wolfsburg: 5
Garrett Johnston: 1
Alex Schmidt: 2
Shashank Madhu: 0
We went to sudden death tiebreakers. I got the first one on J. Edgar Hoover to advance first. The second one went dead. Chandler Burrows got the third one on Battle of Cowpens to become the second finalist.
JV Finals:
Daniel Yan: 12
Chandler Burrows: 7
Varsity Finals:
Jonathan Leidenheimer: 12
Sameer Rai: 8
Eric Xu: 7
Nathan Weiser: 6
Cheers!
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:33 pm

Are all of the sets used at NHBB clear now?
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:36 pm

Cheynem wrote:Are all of the sets used at NHBB clear now?
It seems like all Bee, Bowl, and USGO packets are now posted on hsapq.com/samples, so I assume so.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Mon Apr 28, 2014 7:54 pm

I thought NHBB IV was a very well run tournament on the whole, from my point of view.

Few things on my mind:

1) The Grand Ballroom set up for bowl playoffs... is it possible to get a podium that is off stage and facing both teams, right down the middle (a la HSNCT)? The moderator and teams configuration for that was somewhat awkward, if you speak into the microphone then you aren't directly facing the moderator, and if you want to face the moderator you essentially have to yell your answer. I also do not see why if there was a second staffer in the room, why keeping individual stats is more pertinent than actually doing buzzer clearing duties (which one of our backups ended up doing).

^It's not a terribly bad issue but I think it's worth rectifying.

2) and it's a general NHBB thing: why can't there be a more crystal clear way of a moderator distinguishing right answers from wrong answers in the 60 second round? There was an instance where it led toward a question answer being spoiled on the bounce back, and it overall is confusing when trying to keep track and no clear indication is made.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by KnicksRule » Mon Apr 28, 2014 8:19 pm

Overall, this was a really fun tournament to play and the questions were high quality as well.

Just a quick question about USGO: The packets on HSAPQ were significantly different than the ones we played. Were some questions spliced together from the "thirds" of the 5th packet? Also, I am fairly sure I never played packet 4 throughout the playoffs. Was this a reserve packet or was it not used in JV?
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:11 pm

KnicksRule wrote:Was Packet 4 a reserve packet or was it not used in JV?
Packet 4 was a reserve packet and was not used on Friday.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:19 pm

With the disclaimer that I wasn't there: I worry that it will be difficult in the future for the US History Bee, Geography Olympiad, the Bee, and the Bowl to all occupy one three-day time span, and wonder if participants think the US Bee was a valuable use of time/resources or an extraneous use of person-power on the day that Geo Olympiad was also occurring. Was the staffing and logistical situation stable for both events? I have also heard conflicting reports as to whether a staff mirror of CHB or the trash bee(s) were slated to happen concurrently with the Friday events for high schoolers, and where the trash bee questions came from if they did occur -- could someone provide more details?
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:29 pm

RyuAqua wrote:With the disclaimer that I wasn't there: I worry that it will be difficult in the future for the US History Bee, Geography Olympiad, the Bee, and the Bowl to all occupy one three-day time span, and wonder if participants think the US Bee was a valuable use of time/resources or an extraneous use of person-power on the day that Geo Olympiad was also occurring. Was the staffing and logistical situation stable for both events? I have also heard conflicting reports as to whether a staff mirror of CHB or the trash bee(s) were slated to happen concurrently with the Friday events for high schoolers, and where the trash bee questions came from if they did occur -- could someone provide more details?
IMO, the USHB was more fun than I expected, and I hope it continues. It was run very well and didn't interfere with other organizational stuff as far as I saw. Although all the events tire you out by the end of the weekend, it's still worth playing them all. Also, having USHB finals during the opening ceremony is great as there isn't much motivation to attend if you have already been to nationals before.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:35 pm

Sniper, No Sniping! wrote: 2) and it's a general NHBB thing: why can't there be a more crystal clear way of a moderator distinguishing right answers from wrong answers in the 60 second round? There was an instance where it led toward a question answer being spoiled on the bounce back, and it overall is confusing when trying to keep track and no clear indication is made.
I believe that happened while I was reading; I apologize if it unduly affected your team. In the beginning of Saturday, my personal philosophy was to just get through the lightning round questions as fast as possible without saying anything besides the question and announce how many points the team got after it was over, but I changed that a bit for the last several rounds after teams indicated they wanted to know if they got each part correct or not. I think that more concrete rules regarding the 60 second round would help a lot, since in my personal experience there have been a lot of variation regarding minor things like reading the leadin before the time starts and making the timer visible to the team.

I was at this tournament from Friday morning to Sunday afternoon, where I staffed the US Geography Olympiad and Bowl and played the US History Bee and the Bee.

Friday (US History Bee):

One very good thing about the US HIstory Bee was that it made sure to keep track of who checked in and who didn't, and passed that info along to moderators so that there was no confusion over whether to wait for a player who didn't show up to a round.

[this is a post in progress since I can't find how to save a draft in editing]
Last edited by Urech hydantoin synthesis on Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:10 pm

RyuAqua wrote:With the disclaimer that I wasn't there: I worry that it will be difficult in the future for the US History Bee, Geography Olympiad, the Bee, and the Bowl to all occupy one three-day time span, and wonder if participants think the US Bee was a valuable use of time/resources or an extraneous use of person-power on the day that Geo Olympiad was also occurring. Was the staffing and logistical situation stable for both events? I have also heard conflicting reports as to whether a staff mirror of CHB or the trash bee(s) were slated to happen concurrently with the Friday events for high schoolers, and where the trash bee questions came from if they did occur -- could someone provide more details?
I'm not sure of too much of the plan going forward in regards to the US History Bee, but I do know that the start of USGO will be moved up a few hours.

The US History Bee was a rather small event (88 participants if I remember correctly) and it was all coordinated by the middle school bee staff (Eric Huff, Nick Clusserath, and their four interns) so that put no added pressure on us. It was also not concurrent with USGO so I don't know per se if any staff did do both, but it would have been feasible.

As far as staffing/logistics were concerned with regards to USGO, the list I had for staffers proved to be rather different than the people that showed up, but we had more than enough staff for both parts of that. If it weren't for one room missing its key and the fact that stats was under a pretty intense timecrunch (unlike with the bowl or the bee, seeding doesn't fall on the same time as lunch or dinner), that would have run pretty well on-time.

The Sports and Entertainment Bee questions were coordinated by Victor Brady. He wrote some of the questions, as did some other people I do not know the name of.

The mirror of College History Bowl was not an NHBB-sponsored event so I can't speaktoo much to that. That was put together by Matt Weiner I believe; it did not interfere with anything that happened on Friday.
Raynell Cooper
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by gustavus.adolphus » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:28 pm

Despite not having attended a national-level Quizbowl tournament before, I thought this year's NHBB was really well run. The questions seemed almost perfect, save for a tossup with the answer being "elimination of smallpox", not having totally unique clues, "rinderpest". The timing was done well, with lots of buffer time, and despite some delays, there was really no actual problems because of that. I'll definitely look into attending next year, perhaps with a team.
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Wichita Collegiate, 2017
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 28, 2014 11:29 pm

My policy on lightning rounds is that teams definitely deserve to know if they were right or wrong, as oftentimes there's a finite list of plausible answers and just like on 3x10-bonuses, you have the right to know that the previous answer can be removed from that list. I also feel teams should know which part they're on to help budget their time. If a moderator feels that saying "Yes. Two:" or "No. Seven." takes too long, at minimum they should nod or shake their head to indicate right or wrong after each answer.

Daniel, thanks for the compliment on my reading (darn that Ricardo and his comparative advantage) and for the scores. I left after the semifinals and before the final, so all I needed was what you provided. Here are the 1-32 rankings of the playoff participants in the bee (subject to the caveat of whether Julian U. is considered to have forfeit down to 32nd place or registered a score of 0 in the JV quarterfinals).
Attachments
2014 Bee Final Standings - Junior.pdf
(267.55 KiB) Downloaded 190 times
2014 Bee Final Standings - Varsity.pdf
(189 KiB) Downloaded 236 times
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Apr 29, 2014 10:04 am

So on the 60 second rounds:

Dave Madden said during the moderator meeting that I attended that he was leaving it up to moderators as to how to signal that answers are right or wrong. My understanding is that some moderators use silence to mean "you're wrong" and say "that's right" when the answer is correct, and vice-versa. Some may say "yes" and "no", etc.

The standard in college quizbowl (at least when I was playing) is that moderator silence means you're right, and if you're wrong the moderator says "no", or "no, sorry" or, if its Andrew Hart, "that's wrong". I suspect this is likely the standard in high school quizbowl as well. NHBB might do well to create a standard so teams don't have to make moderator-by-moderator adjustments.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 29, 2014 11:50 pm

Okay, so at least the first phase of my decompression period has ended, so I'll consider this as good a time as any to start my take on this past weekend. I'll add more thoughts over the coming days, especially responses to the suggestions above-thread (some of which are good ideas I hadn't thought of, some of which are good ideas I have thought of, and some of which won't work for various reasons). Anyway, first off, thanks to everyone who attended, staffed, and made this weekend happen. This was far and away the best staff we ever had at Nationals, which made things run smoothly for teams, and was a huge help in my ability to enjoy the weekend rather than be stressed about it. Thanks especially to Eric Huff and Nick Clusserath (US History Bee, Buzzers and protests), Will Mantell (Staff director), Nolwenn Madden (help desk), Raynell Cooper (USGO director and NHBB TV), and Victor Brady and Bunnie Hadsall (all-around helpers for the entire week leading up to and during the tournament who printed the set and put together the scoring posters). I both hope and anticipate that with this being our second successful Nationals in a row, that that will help bring more qualified staff to NHBB 2015. As it was, the reader corps this year featured numerous skilled readers (though some were reading NHBB for the first time), and that helped things run by and large smoothly.
Overall, here are two top ten lists of what went well, and what needs fixing. These aren't necessarily exact, or in order, but were some things that struck me either way.

What Worked
1. US History Bee
Eric Huff and Nick Clusserath can speak more to this than I can, but I was delighted with the turnout for this. Not only did we have 85+ players for an inaugural National Championship, but we had many of the best players in the country, which gave this legitimacy. While I'm not about to change the National History Bee rules, I felt the rules variation here (4 interrupts then you're out in prelims, and -1 for interrupts at all times in the playoffs) worked well as a change of pace. Some things to expect for 2015 here include a JV division, an entry fee more in line with the National History Bee, and more spread out prize money. We will also certainly maintain the USHB final as a part of the opening ceremony - that was an exciting finish to the event. Overall, I was pleased that we launched a new competition successfully, but don't worry - this is the last and final major event that will be added to the weekend. It is indeed long enough, and moreover, the International History Olympiad gives us much more breathing room to launch new competitions (which we look forward to).

2. NHBB TV
I'll take credit for the initial idea, but the execution and credit for this goes to Bunnie (and her helpers, David Godfrey and Nathan Davis, plus Aaron our videographer who was great) on the technical side, and Raynell on the content side. I literally told Bunnie when she arrived in DC a week ago Monday that this would be a cool thing to have, and within a week, we had purchased all of our own technical equipment and somehow made this work. I have no technical prowess whatsoever, so thanks to them for making this work, since I wouldn't have known where to start. Raynell, in turn, then ran with the interview concept which was awesome, and turned out great. I've already been emailing coaches and principals with links and this will help teams keep coming back. As of this afternoon, there were something close to a total of 3000 views on our National History Bowl youtube channel which is less than a week old. We set this up in the control room, since we didn't want to allocate a room for something we honestly sure wasn't going to work, but next year, we can easily work on the optics (and it will be elsewhere, because, indeed, duh - now that we know we can do this). Also, expect a lot more NHBB TV updates over the course of the year, not just at Nationals.

3. Staff and Coaches' Receptions
These were both well-attended and gave me a chance (at least on Friday at the coaches' reception) to talk with coaches from around the country in an informal setting. Thanks to my wife Nolwenn for baking for this and for doing all the shopping for drinks and supplies. A big thank you as well to all-around NHBB superstar staffer Bob Borders for bartending both evenings. This isn't something that anyone commented on above, but I think there's value in events of this nature, and I'm glad we got a good turnout for these.

4. The Set
Overall, I think the set was excellent, and I thank everyone who wrote for it. I agree with Matt's philosophy on geography (we'll try and incorporate more of those principles into the USGO exam next year too), and I think the history worked out well. I didn't go back and edit round by round for balance of non-traditional history, though I'll add that I think 60 second rounds on such are perfectly legitimate. Our overall philosophy is that history is everything that's happened in the past, including our literary, artistics, and scientific heritage. It doesn't bother me at all if some of what would usually be construed as other subjects in standard quizbowl works its way into NHBB. If the distribution was off, I apologize, though I don't think this was necessarily as much an issue as people are making it out to be. In any case, a broad-based approach is both more reflective of history as an overall discipline, and helps to keep the appeal of NHBB broad.

5. Bee Prelims
With the exception of the odd door that somehow had its latch open from inside when it was closing and various other minor issues of this sort, this went super smooth. AND we added 30 questions (5 per round) over last year. Moving up the staff meeting helped, though next year, I'll be sure to get a powerpoint going, and have rules summaries on hand. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was walking out of the hotel entirely for fifteen minutes around 10:15 on Sunday to go grab coffee and a donut at Dunkin Donuts down in the Crystal City shops. I couldn't have fathomed doing that either of the three prior years (including last year, when the Bee ran basically on time, but I ran around like crazy the whole time ensuring it did).

6. Sponsors
I was really happy that HMH and History sent both a representative and a photographer (I'm really eager to see the photos), and had a backdrop on hand. And the bump in prize money to $25,000 was awesome too. Certainly no one plays quizbowl just for the money, but whether to help defray travel costs or help recognize top talent, having this does matter. It will take decades, but ultimately, I want to have the nation's top colleges give full scholarships for quizbowl just as they do for things like volleyball and fencing that unless you're auditioning to play Zorro aren't likely to be nearly as important to your success in both college and life. This is the tip of the iceberg, and I thank History and HMH for their support in bringing that tip that much farther out of the water this year (excuse the metaphor).

7. Stats
Stats went great; there were no major delays or snafus due to stats at all. Andrew Feist's NHBB scoring program proved its weight in gold yet again, and Jon Pinyan and Andrew Ibendahl also did a great job turning everything around. The only real delays in stats were in the USGO, but that was my fault for not having enough turnaround time built in. That's an easy fix for next year, though (see tomorrow's post), and overall, there's not much at all that needs adjusting here. A big thank you to Jon, Andrew F., and Andrew I. for their hard work (and having a fourth person in the tally room on Sunday is certainly possible for next year, if it would help).

8. International History Olympiad
It was great to see everyone get excited about this during the opening meeting. It seemed like with every bullet point on the slide show, the buzz in the audience increased. I can't tell you how excited I am to start planning this - I think we have a chance to do some real innovative events that will make for by far the most international quiz bowl event ever held. And the enthusiasm, from what we've seen so far, is no less overseas. Overall, the opening ceremony went pretty well too, though we will have larger screens next year. Not that it really matters from a player's point of view, but last year, we paid the hotel $3000 to rent their AV equipment for a weekend. This year, we bought it all for $2000! It will get used again in June at middle school nationals too.

9. Geographic Diversity
I am delighted that areas such as Kansas, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Mississippi, and even Saipan (!) were both well-represented and had a good deal of success at Nationals. I will keep doing what I can to encourage crossover participation into standard quizbowl (though unlike with NHBB, I don't have additional time to organize tournaments there). As I've said elsewhere, though, this is a process that is both basically inevitable, but only in the long-term. If people want to help shorten that time horizon, I'm all for it, and am happy to talk up quizbowl, hand out flyers, etc. But at a certain point, NHBB can only do so much. On the other hand, people should keep in mind that NHBB is itself a quizbowl competition, and even if a team just plays NHBB, that's already a feather in their quizbowl cap.

10. Keeping my sanity
I'll end with a personal note. This was by far the most enjoyable Nationals for me to oversee, primarily because we both largely knew what needed to get done and had a good idea how to do it, and because I had helpers at all times who made it happen, and were incredibly fun to work with. With a staff like that to help me out (and this was true throughout the year since December when Bunnie and Victor started working), it helps me avoid burnout so that I can keep my wits about me, and focus more on strategic tasks like our pending expansion to Australia and New Zealand, and the launch of the History Olympiad. As long as NHBB can keep growing, and at the same time, the amount of work I need to do on a daily basis keeps going gradually down, I will keep investing every dollar that comes into NHBB right back into growing NHBB/IHBB, and by extension, quizbowl around the world. Your support makes this possible, and for everyone who came to Nationals this weekend, you are an integral part of that. For that you have my thanks, appreciation, and hope that you will join us again in 2015. Tomorrow, I'll list the top ten things that either didn't work or needed improving along with my ideas for how to accomplish that.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Apr 30, 2014 1:44 pm

As promised, here's my list of top ten things to improve on for next year. I'm going to start both a googledoc for staff and a survey for teams today as well which will also help us to collect suggestions for improvement while the tournament is still fresh in people's minds. I should be able to respond today to various upthread posts as well which I don't address here.

1. Mount Vernon
A big thank you to Bunnie Hadsall whose organizational skills meant that she got stuck with the most challenging of the off-site locations. This year we chartered a bus to get out to Mount Vernon, which ended up running both late and more expensive than we had anticipated. Simply put, busing does not appear to be a cost effective method for getting teams to sites. Because of a few delays, none of which were egregious, but all of which combined added up a bit, we were unable to do a second run down to Mount Vernon during the lunch break as originally planned. This meant that while the bus worked well enough to get down there in the morning, since a number of the afternoon groups were larger, we had to rely on cabs to a certain extent. The afternoon matches did basically run on time (at least everyone was back at the hotel by 6 or just afterwards), but this meant that students didn't have as much time, if any, to see the mansion.

Solution: This will be the last year we hold a portion of the competition at Mount Vernon at high school nationals. It's just too far, too expensive, too logistically complex, and we don't have enough time to take full advantage of it. Luckily, we added a few new sites this year (Hill Center & GMU) that seemed to work well, and next year, we anticipate having access to a couple of other sites we didn't this year. Also, there are 300 suites at the Residence Inn at the other end of Crystal City, and I'm meeting with the Ritz Carlton at Pentagon City on Thursday to discuss both having an official overflow hotel (see below) and getting more game rooms. Bottom line: NHBB can keep growing for years to come without relying on sites as a prerequisite. We're not about to ditch the site concept, but we recognize its limits and are eager ourselves to find hotel options.

2. Meetings for sites
The lobby of the Crystal Gateway Marriott got rather confusing at times as teams made their way to afternoon sites. Matt Weiner, in an email to me, said that when he met inside a ballroom salon rather than outside in the lobby, this made for a much easier experience. In the event, everyone got to where they needed to be on time (with very few exceptions, and none which caused a major issue) for the afternoon rounds, but there was a bit more confusion here than needed. Also, we will look to have signs with destinations and group names on them that the site captain can hold up at the door to the meeting rooms so that it's that much easier to find. We will also try and stagger the exits from the Crystal City metro platform a bit better so as to avoid confusion on the platform.

3. Saturday evening playoffs
The assignment of readers went a bit better than last year, when it was done on the spot, but certainly I could have done a better job at conveying who was expected to read playoffs (apologies to Bruce and anyone who got confused about expectations). Next year, all staff will be expected to reconvene in the ballroom at 6:45, and will have their playoff assignments in advance. We will also likely need all staff because of an issue that wasn't a major problem this year, but is set to become one if we don't fix it, and that is...

4. Single elimination / growth of JV
I understand all the arguments against single elim, though as I've said elsewhere, the NHBB format is less prone to wild point swings from one match to the next, and the history focus also helps to negate randomness in the questions. For what it's worth, Jon Pinyan pointed out to me that ALL 1-8 pre-tournament (i.e. Madden ranking) varsity seeds made the quarterfinals, and ALL were a 1-8 playoff seed.
The JV playoff draw (as expected) was far less predictable, but didn't feature many shockers, minus Iolani getting to the semifinals (they didn't have a Madden ranking at all!) as a 15 seed who had things break their way, which can happen to anyone with the right opponent and packet. This year's JV draw was 84 teams. Next year, we need to plan on 96-108, and at that point, having 16 teams make the playoffs (out of afternoon brackets of 48-54 teams) gets a bit problematic once teams start going 4-1 in the afternoon brackets and not being in the playoffs.
So, how about this as a solution: On Saturday night, 32 Varsity and 32 teams each make playoffs. The Varsity plays 3 rounds in 8 brackets of 4, with winners advancing to a 3 round knockout on Sunday afternoon (single elim at that point). The JV plays single elim, but over 5 rounds not 4. This way, the JV final match can continue being at the same time as the Varsity semis. I think this set up gives the top teams in Varsity more games (which they've been asking for) and gives a bit much better chance for JV teams to make the playoffs too. The only caveat is the...

5. Sunday afternoon rounds running late
To keep this in perspective, the tournament overall ended up about 10-15 minutes late on Sunday at the very end of the Bee finals, and nobody, as far as I know, ran into trouble with missing flights or even having it be a major concern. That said, I agree that the Sunday afternoon rounds ran slower than they could of. The major reason for that was a faulty AC adapter that caused about a 15 minute delay at the start of the JV Bowl final. The Grand Ballroom was the only Sunday afternoon room that didn't have morning matches, so we didn't discover until the buzzer check that the buzzer wasn't working (the AC adaptor, which is the most error-prone part of the otherwise super-reliable Anderson system, had overheated by being left plugged in overnight). That was what led to the largest delay as we fixed it. Also, we need a large clock that someone else can hold, but that whoever's reading can see. That led to a 5 minute delay overall, so we can axe that with a $50-$100 clock purchase which would be a good investment.
The other delays largely came from the need to do photos, but since those weren't being done on stage anyway, those should just be moved into Skyview Atrium. The award distribution process there was much better than last year, so if we do photos there instead of in the ballroom, that would also save about 10 minutes. With all that in mind, I think we can both tighten up the Bee playoffs and add an extra Bowl round. What do other people think?

6. Clarifying Rules / Reader Training
One team in particular ran into an issue with the NHBB rule (or clear lack thereof) regarding what to do in case of a student attempting to change their answer which happened in particular in a 60 second round. I will ask on the feedback survey if teams would prefer simply 8 directed questions that would be timed like bonus questions on a particular topic rather than the 60 second timing, though I do feel that the speed element of it (when done right) adds an interesting dimension. On the matter of whether to signal correct responses or not, I do still feel that this should be up to the discretion of a reader. While ideally there's enough time to say a quick yes or no, or for the reader to nod or whatever, it's more important that the reader finish the round, or get as close to doing so as possible.
There were a few other odd cases of various rules not being adhered to, but nothing that suggested systematic issues from what I heard and what people have told me. As more good readers become accustomed to reading for NHBB, whether at Nationals or Regionals, this will become less of an issue in future years. Moreover, Matt Weiner and I are planning on going through the NHBB rules in the summer and trying to bring them in line with standardized practices wherever possible (this is a quizbowl-wide initiative which I support) though there will be certain aspects of NHBB (e.g. the timing rules) that I feel strongly should stay in place. I expect to standardize the USHB for these rules as well next year, although the scoring system will remain as is (or very close to it).

7. Social Media
Posting videos on youtube is great, but we certainly need more of a plan for Twitter and Facebook next year, along with blogs, Instagram pages, etc. I'll readily admit this isn't my strength, but Bunnie wants to take this on, so expect a lot more from her there. Also, we tried doing more with press releases this year - let us know if you or your team got any coverage, since it's often hard for us to know. Finally, we'll be overhauling our high school bee and bowl websites over the summer, and will look to figure out ways to better incorporate FB and twitter at the least into that.

8. Hotel Booking
I know that a number of schools encountered difficulty with the hotel in terms of the booking process. My impression was that by the end, most issues had been resolved, more or less satisfactorily, but there was poor communication from the Crystal Gateway Marriott at many points (not the least them to me as well on a number of issues). Obviously, this is one area where my control over implementing solutions is limited, but I will make sure to raise the point with them, since it seems there has to be a better way of going about this. At a minimum, I expect the overbooking to be either a thing of the past, or at least, they will inform us of it being a possibility sometime before the Monday before Nationals...

9. Check in / Crib Sheet for teams
Just about everyone got to where they needed to be over the weekend when they needed to be there, but next year, when teams check in, they should each get a crib sheet that explains the mechanics of the tournament and specifically how this affects them. Also, expect the return of the posterboards next to the help desk with all the needed info. That was a "if we had had one more day to prepare" thing for this year, and it would have been nice to have, but again, people seemed able to know where to go, even if it took a bit of explaining at the help desk.

10. Moving up / rethinking USGO
The field at USGO this year was notably stronger than last year and the final was incredible to watch. Next year, I'm thinking of once again having two separate parts of the Exam, with one part resembling the AP human geography mulitple choice, whereas the other half would more resemble this year's exam and have more of a physical geography component. Also, I think there's enough time on Friday afternoon both to move up USGO and add another quizbowl round. So expect something like this as a Friday schedule for next year:

1:00 - End of USHB prelims - this will all be done prior to lunch, just like the National History Bee
2:00 - Exam part 1
2:40 - Exam part 2
3:30 - Quizbowl Round 1
4:10 - Quizbowl Round 2
4:50 - Quizbowl Round 3
5:30 - Quizbowl Round 4
6:00 - Dinner break
7:00 - Opening Ceremonies
7:45 - Quizbowl Finalists announced
8:00 - Quizbowl Finals Rd. 1
8:35 - Quizbowl Finals Rd. 2
9:10 - Awards
9:30 - End

Also to note, the Sports and Entertainment Bee will once again be combined next year, and we will hold it again from 8-10pm on Friday. How does this schedule look / sound? There's already quite a bit of buffer time in here (the quizbowl prelim rounds will likely be done by 5:30 for some, but this, like the Bee this year, allows for a delay or two without the schedule as a whole getting off kilter) and I think the stats team would also appreciate 100 minutes to turn around the results, rather than having to do it within less than half that, while people have nothing to do other than wait. I apologize for the delay in finishing USGO this year, but this is an easy fix, and I don't expect we'll ever have that problem again. This way, we can still announce USGO results on Friday for those who won't be competing on Saturday too.

For what it's worth, my thinking in doing it all on late Friday afternoon/evening was guided by the notion of trying to have the fewest number of kids miss school that day, but even as it was this year and last, probably 90% of competing students had to miss school on Friday, and that doesn't seem to have really hurt our numbers. One last comment on USGO, I'm toying with the idea of a regional set (a la History Bee), as well as a qualifying exam that is modeled after the AP Human Geo. I think that could help get more students involved as well through notifying their AP Human Geo teachers. The USHB had a qualifying option along these lines too this year, which probably helped their turnout, so I can build on that for USGO.

Comments on other specific points people have raised to follow this afternoon. I'll be sending out the post-tournament emails today and putting up the feedback survey on the websites too.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad

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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Sun May 04, 2014 12:07 pm

jonpin wrote:From my perspective as a high-level staffer and as a coach, this was by far the best NHBB from a logistical standpoint. The biggest things I can recommend for next year are:
(1) For the love of god, don't add anything more to the weekend. Enough said.
We won't, other than to likely add 1 more quizbowl round to USGO. But with moving this up on Friday afternoon, and not doing a mirror of the College History Bowl set (those questions will get read elsewhere) at high school Nationals, this will end up making for an easier Friday. The big thing is that the 100 minute gap or so from 6:00-7:40 on Friday can now get used to hammer out the USGO playoff brackets.
jonpin wrote:(2) Make sure the people expected to read late into the night on Saturday (plus a few backups) know who they are, where to be, and when to be there in advance of the weekend, as well as giving the war room a list of those people. From what I heard, at least one of the people written on the bracket as a second-round reader had no idea of that, and was told by someone in the Lee area that he was done for the night. There really isn't any reason it should take 40 minutes to turn over one round of single-elimination. Along these lines, I don't think a staff email was ever sent out telling people in advance what their projected roles were for the weekend; that might've helped.
The reason that 40 minutes are built into the schedule is because the playoff games are slightly longer, we want to have time built in in case protests arise, and we want to give teams 10 minutes or so between games to catch their breath. Better communication regarding playoff readers/staffers, though, is an easy fix, and one which we can improve on for next year.
jonpin wrote: various suggestions regarding USGO scheduling

See plan to move up USGO during the day on Friday. USGO will be done by 9:30 next year; the awards and such should conclude by 9:45.
jonpin wrote: (4) NHBB TV seems like a great idea. For the videos taken in the Grand Ballroom, you need to edit this stuff before putting it on Youtube. I'm watching the JV National Championship in an effort to determine the exact problem behind my next point, and 10 minutes into the video the game hasn't started yet!

This will get fixed for next year. This was our first foray into doing anything like this, and it went well enough. Next year, we'll pay for lapel mics, or whatever we need to get the audio in sync.
jonpin wrote: (5) I don't understand why things seemed to drag during the Sunday finals. My feeling is that David has gotten better as a moderator, but he loves to stand on ceremony, and that outside of games he has a tendency to just keep talking at times. Reading a varsity semifinal at the same time as the JV final, I futzed around unsuccessfully with the scoring program for a few minutes, felt like I had a late start, and had the game go to overtime. I rushed back to the Grand Ballroom and they were in the second quarter. A brief pause between quarters is fine, and score checks during the fourth quarter are fine, but if people start talking between every question, a 20-minute game lasts for 35.


There were two major reasons for this - the talking between questions was not one of them. The first was a faulty AC adaptor which led to a 15 minute delay in the ballroom. Admittedly, it should have been checked earlier, and fixed more quickly, but that's what led the grand ballroom to be behind the Arlington rooms that round. The other reason was the need to accommodate the HMH / History people who wanted to do photos immediately afterwards. That was also a new thing, and we'll try and accommodate better for that next year. The trophy distribution in Skyview this year went much better than last year, when that was what caused a delay in the afternoon rounds on Sunday, though.
Fwiw, as far as standing on ceremony, I would argue that some of what I was saying was in the middle of playing for time while the buzzer got resolved, and much of the rest was just saying sort of obvious things as befits a national finals. As noted elsewhere, a little more ceremony might not be the worst thing in the world for enhancing quizbowl's overall profile, especially when you have representatives from your sponsors in the audience who are providing $25k in prize money and care about this sort of thing.
jonpin wrote: (6) Written rules reminders for the Bee staffers, examples of competently-filled out scoresheets for at least the Bee if not also the Bowl, and detailed instructions on protest resolution (as well as a process for communicating protest resolution back to the players, if that didn't happen this year). One USGO staffer handed in a scoresheet that stretched to question #41 "because there were six protests", some on Sunday didn't alert their site captain of protests, and one Sunday bee reader stopped after question 30. Yes, everyone should be listening during the morning meeting, but it's before 7am, and even some of the people who are physically there might not be all mentally awake, so a written copy of instructions goes a long way towards avoiding silly errors.


These rules reminders existed; I am not sure why all staffers at the meeting didn't get one. If you want to rework the Bee scoresheet, that's fine by me. It wouldn't hurt to put a few of the more basic reminders on it as well, esp. regarding scoring.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad

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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Mon May 05, 2014 10:03 am

Einhard wrote: 1) Running the scoresheets after every other round in the playoffs. I know this was discussed in the war room before the afternoon rounds of the bowl, and I understand that it's more important that the scores be entirely correct when determining the final 32-team playoff bracket. However, as a moderator who had to run from the 8th floor to the lobby and then back up due to the elevator taking forever, I imagine that there has to be a better way. I definitely second the suggestion of making more of the rooms on lower floors, and I feel like the playoff matches Saturday night, which had rooms basically only in the lobby and the lower few floors of Capital and Arlington, were the best way to go.
Overall, I prioritized having games on lower floors (I trust your referring to the Saturday Upper bracket matches when you say playoffs here, btw. Playoffs for me = the knockout rounds in the Bowl and the Sunday afternoon rounds in the Bee). Part of the problem was only getting the list of rooms from the hotel that we were using for Friday's USHB a few days prior. That meant that staff rooms got switched around a bit, and with it, part of my plan in terms of where to allocate people and games. I'll look to fine tune this for next year, but the notion of prioritizing lower floors was thought of, and we were close to maxing out the available spaces at the Crystal Gateway Marriott anyway. I've already made inquiries into getting additional sleeping rooms and game rooms at a nearby overflow hotel for next year.
Einhard wrote: 2) Moderator awareness. This doesn't refer to bad moderating or anything of the kind, but making sure that all moderators know before the tournament where exactly they're projected to go at what time would be really nice. I, for one, was not aware that I was reading Geography Bee on Friday night after I got there late due to a personnel issue, and also had no idea that I'd be moderating a JV Geography Bee semifinal. Not that I wasn't perfectly willing to do those things, and I would have signed up to do them had I had the opportunity, but a set schedule and location for moderators to be at all times during the tournament would facilitate things considerably. On a similar note, with regards to the Bowl playoff rounds Saturday night, obviously this has been said above in the thread, but it's important that moderators (especially the more experienced ones) know that they'll be reading playoff rounds before the actual competition happens (aka, the week before NHBB actually occurs). Same goes for the scorekeepers for the playoff games, who were basically snatched one by one from a group of people hovering who weren't told to read the Saturday night rounds.
The scorekeeper fix for Saturday night is a good idea and easily implementable. Part of the issue on Friday, is that many people who said they would arrive at a certain time did not actually do so. This wasn't always a bad thing - some people arrived earlier than anticipated; some arrived later. That said, I thought most people who ended up staffing some event on Friday were aware they would be staffing something upon arrival. The actual event they would staff was something we needed a little flexibility on (since we wanted to make sure that we had sufficient good readers for USGO).
Einhard wrote: 3) Internet access. I know that a lot of the moderators had their newfangled smartphones with 4G on them and everything, but as someone with a glorified brick as a phone, texting the numbers was difficult. I understand the difficulties of providing internet to all those rooms, but some form of internet for the weekend would be appreciated greatly.
We know internet was an issue this year. I will ask the hotel about trying to fix this for next year, but they contract out with some outside provider to provide internet for rooms. Just so it's clear - if I had kicked in internet for all game rooms on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, this would have cost over $2000. I gladly would pay $15 as Jon hints at in one of his posts, but all those rooms add up pretty quickly, and while the system in place may not have been absolutely perfect, it basically functioned fine for the stats team to turnaround the brackets in time and was not worth shelling out an additional $2000 to slightly improve.
Einhard wrote: 4) Technology. The projector had some issues during the finals with the standings and all that; even sitting in the front row, I couldn't see any of the names without squinting heavily. Announcing it over the speaker was a good call, as well as telling everyone what rooms they were in, but maybe a posted physical copy on the wall outside of the Grand Ballroom might make that easier as well, so that Bee finalists aren't straining to hear or see where they're supposed to go after the ceremony.
We will get larger screens for next year, and can post copies on the wall outside the grand ballroom, sure. I think we can also probably print more copies of the brackets too.
Einhard wrote: 5) Timing. This is a pretty good problem to have; I remember my first NHBB where I spent two hours in a hot hotel rooms with 3 teams, my own team, and Jerome Vered while waiting for afternoon rounds to start. This year though, I instead had about two and a half hours for lunch after the end of the Bee rounds. While it's certainly a good thing to have the morning preliminaries conclude that much faster than expected, I feel like the dawdling at lunch could be cut down, unless there's something important that happened during lunch that the staffers on Sunday needed to do in that time.
As Jon mentions, we need the buffer time in case problems do arise. One bracket got a bit behind the others (though they basically finished on time too) due to a key issue, but in any case, we added 5 questions to each Bee round over last year, and still finished some brackets over 45 minutes ahead of the official schedule. Next year, the Bee will stay at 35 questions per round; for 2016, I will consider extending it up to 40 questions if I think we can add another 15 minutes to the schedule and have everything go fine. I think 6 rounds of 40 questions is the absolute max needed for the Bee, though.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Mon May 05, 2014 10:18 am

jonpin wrote: Anyway, the point of all that was that you had no way of knowing you were assigned to read a second-round playoff game, Bruce, and neither did your site captain, because Madden decided that mid-afternoon. The most frustrating thing about the NHBB experience as a whole is when Madden says he will do something in post-tournament discussion or pre-tournament preparation and it doesn't ever happen (note that there is still not a field cap!).
Two points here. Had I known that getting the rooms down was a high priority for brackets, I indeed could have done that earlier, whether before the tournament or earlier in the weekend. I was under the impression that this wasn't that big a deal, but in any case, we can certainly improve this for next year. And Jon, just to be clear, I don't doubt you had told me this at various points, it was more that I probably didn't think this was a major thing so I didn't prioritize it as much as I should have. I apologize if this led to any confusion, though it seemed to me that teams knew where they needed to go for their playoff matches when they were announced, so I don't think this led to many actual problems. The Saturday night rounds, for what it's worth, finished right on time pretty much across the boards. Next year, we'll look to have the poster with seeds, readers, and rooms done in advance of the tournament.
As for me not following through on such things, well, again, I apologize if here and there something that's an issue isn't looked into, but I think that over the four years we've been running Nationals, and NHBB in general, I've shown a high degree of desire to improve things where needed, an interest in receiving feedback, and implementing changes where necessary. For an event of this size and complexity, there will probably always be a few small things that get overlooked, though we have a running intra-NHBB googledoc going where we're collecting all the changes needed and good ideas for next year, so we do take these things seriously.
On the matter of a field cap, though, the high school attendance at NHBB the last three years has gone from 184 to 198 to 216. I feel confident that we can handle up to 260 or so for next year. I also don't expect at all we'll get more than that. Since having multiples of 12 is a good thing for the scheduling (i.e. efficient rebracketing), I may institute a cap of 156 Varsity, 96 JV for next year, but this hasn't been an issue at all for the last two years, so it's not something that really needs fixing either.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Mon May 05, 2014 5:29 pm

Schmidt Sting Pain Index wrote:
RyuAqua wrote:With the disclaimer that I wasn't there: I worry that it will be difficult in the future for the US History Bee, Geography Olympiad, the Bee, and the Bowl to all occupy one three-day time span, and wonder if participants think the US Bee was a valuable use of time/resources or an extraneous use of person-power on the day that Geo Olympiad was also occurring. Was the staffing and logistical situation stable for both events? I have also heard conflicting reports as to whether a staff mirror of CHB or the trash bee(s) were slated to happen concurrently with the Friday events for high schoolers, and where the trash bee questions came from if they did occur -- could someone provide more details?
IMO, the USHB was more fun than I expected, and I hope it continues. It was run very well and didn't interfere with other organizational stuff as far as I saw. Although all the events tire you out by the end of the weekend, it's still worth playing them all. Also, having USHB finals during the opening ceremony is great as there isn't much motivation to attend if you have already been to nationals before.
USHB will certainly continue, and it will stay in basically the time slot it was in this year (Friday morning, with finals during the Opening Ceremony). I think the major change here next year will be to add a JV division; hopefully that will encourage younger students to give it a shot. As for the timing itself of it, I'd like to manage the entirety of its prelims before lunch on Friday, do two rounds of playoffs early on in the afternoon (say at 1 and 1:30, though I'll need to consult with stats to see what the needed turnaround time is with an estimate of 150 students doing it for next year in both divisions combined) so that we can then begin USGO no later than 2:15.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad

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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Great Bustard » Mon May 05, 2014 5:46 pm

Two last comments to address here:

1. Ben's point on check in for USHB:

I am of the opinion that check in for larger individual events (i.e. the USGO and National History Bee in this case) ends up being more trouble than it's worth. Some people (for various reasons) will register, pay, and then not show up. But there's little we can do at such a late juncture to even things out (other than slotting last minute adds into rooms where people have dropped, as long as it's not top players who will louse up the seeding in the draw). Also, some people mysteriously drop out of the Bee halfway through it. Again, I don't know why, but we can't wait for them anyway. I tend to think it's better that the rounds should just start when all readers reporting back to a flight captain are ready to go. I didn't hear of any problems this year of students being in the wrong room or not knowing where to go and when to be there. It wouldn't at all surprise me if this happened in a few places (what with hundreds of students competing and all), but I'm not sure how requiring check in (esp. since inevitably some people would skip check in, but still go to round 1 as scheduled) would really help matters. We require it for the Bowl so that we can ensure that teams know where to go, but the Bowl meeting times and places are more complicated than those for the Bee/USGO. And we have all day Friday to work with there, not a crunch on Sunday morning (which is hectic enough to start off with anyway, seeing as though students need to be checked out of their rooms and at their round one game rooms by 7:45. If people are of a different opinion here, please comment, but those are my thoughts.

2. Regarding the matter of whether to say yes or no/nod/shake head/give thumbs up, etc. in the 60 second rounds

My official instructions at the staff meeting were to leave this up to moderator discretion. Some moderators almost never have trouble getting through all 8 questions. Some (though not at Nationals) almost always do. Basically, the top priority here is to get through as many questions as possible. If saying yes/no gets in the way of that, it's better not to do it. Nodding/other physical signals can also work for some people, though it may distract other readers. Some would argue to scrap the 60 second round altogether (not that we haven't heard that before), and indeed, on the feedback survey, we're asking if people would prefer questions to be in the format of 8 questions timed as bonus questions (i.e. 5 seconds, then a prompt, then 2 seconds to answer). Personally, I think that would take some of the excitement out of it, and I think speed play is an interesting variant that requires a different form of strategy. From personal experience, this hasn't been a major issue at regionals this year. But it is something that's worth discussing, and I'm open to feedback on it (bearing in mind the usual caveats that people on the forums and even those who fill out the surveys aren't necessarily a true representative sample).
As mentioned earlier, Matt Weiner and I will go through the NHBB rules this summer, ensure that every reasonable situation (at least all those covered in NAQT's rules and ACF's rules) are also covered in some way for NHBB. And ideally, this is done with an eye to standardize guidelines across quizbowl, which is an effort I support with the disclaimer that a few things I feel strongly about, including timing rules, will remain the way they are for NHBB even if other organizations do them differently.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
Founder and Director: International History Bee and Bowl, National History Bee and Bowl (High School Division), International History Olympiad, United States Geography Olympiad, US History Bee, US Academic Bee and Bowl, National Humanities Bee, National Science Bee, International Academic Bowl.
Adviser and former head coach for Team USA at the International Geography Olympiad

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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by johntait1 » Mon May 05, 2014 8:02 pm

Great Bustard wrote:
Schmidt Sting Pain Index wrote:
RyuAqua wrote:With the disclaimer that I wasn't there: I worry that it will be difficult in the future for the US History Bee, Geography Olympiad, the Bee, and the Bowl to all occupy one three-day time span, and wonder if participants think the US Bee was a valuable use of time/resources or an extraneous use of person-power on the day that Geo Olympiad was also occurring. Was the staffing and logistical situation stable for both events? I have also heard conflicting reports as to whether a staff mirror of CHB or the trash bee(s) were slated to happen concurrently with the Friday events for high schoolers, and where the trash bee questions came from if they did occur -- could someone provide more details?
IMO, the USHB was more fun than I expected, and I hope it continues. It was run very well and didn't interfere with other organizational stuff as far as I saw. Although all the events tire you out by the end of the weekend, it's still worth playing them all. Also, having USHB finals during the opening ceremony is great as there isn't much motivation to attend if you have already been to nationals before.
USHB will certainly continue, and it will stay in basically the time slot it was in this year (Friday morning, with finals during the Opening Ceremony). I think the major change here next year will be to add a JV division; hopefully that will encourage younger students to give it a shot. As for the timing itself of it, I'd like to manage the entirety of its prelims before lunch on Friday, do two rounds of playoffs early on in the afternoon (say at 1 and 1:30, though I'll need to consult with stats to see what the needed turnaround time is with an estimate of 150 students doing it for next year in both divisions combined) so that we can then begin USGO no later than 2:15.
I think the idea of JV for USHB would be a very good addition. Even as a fairly decent US History player(its my best subject, but I am by no means an expert), I had a really tough time each and every round against some varsity players who were much more competent and experienced than me. While I personally enjoyed it very much(I don't think I'll ever have the opportunity of playing Bruce Lou, Ben Zhang, Jonathan Leidenheimer, and Sameer Rai(twice) in the same event), I feel like most JV players would be intimidated after a few rounds against such elite players.
On the subject of US History Bee, a big thank you to Eric Huff and all the US History Bee staff for putting together a very well run and exciting event. I think I saw this somewhere in this thread, so I'll support the idea that spreading out the prize money seems a great way to get more people interested.
If the distribution was off, I apologize, though I don't think this was necessarily as much an issue as people are making it out to be.
Sorry if my posts seemed to make a big deal about this or anything, because it wasn't a huge thing really. However, with such a well run event, it was the one thing that seemed out of place with the rest of the event as a player, so I thought I'd point it out. Glad that I know about it now though, as we'll keep it in mind when studying in the future; we pretty much went all out on standard history and ditched everything else when studying this year, which clearly didn't work out too well(hint to future history bowl players.........)
Einhard wrote: 5) Timing. This is a pretty good problem to have; I remember my first NHBB where I spent two hours in a hot hotel rooms with 3 teams, my own team, and Jerome Vered while waiting for afternoon rounds to start. This year though, I instead had about two and a half hours for lunch after the end of the Bee rounds. While it's certainly a good thing to have the morning preliminaries conclude that much faster than expected, I feel like the dawdling at lunch could be cut down, unless there's something important that happened during lunch that the staffers on Sunday needed to do in that time.
As Jon mentions, we need the buffer time in case problems do arise. One bracket got a bit behind the others (though they basically finished on time too) due to a key issue, but in any case, we added 5 questions to each Bee round over last year, and still finished some brackets over 45 minutes ahead of the official schedule. Next year, the Bee will stay at 35 questions per round; for 2016, I will consider extending it up to 40 questions if I think we can add another 15 minutes to the schedule and have everything go fine. I think 6 rounds of 40 questions is the absolute max needed for the Bee, though.[/quote]
Yeah as a player who played History Bee and then had to play History Bowl after that I definitely didn't feel like I had a ton of time to spare. By the way, the idea of having pizza ready in the Bin was great, as our team didn't have to run and go get lunch and worry about lines or anything. A big thank you to Mr. Madden and any other NHBB people who coordinated that, our team appreciated that very much!
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
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Re: NHBB Nationals thread

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun May 11, 2014 8:58 pm

If you enjoyed the challenging questions from NHBB Nationals, or staffed and wished you had a chance to play, you may be interested in the online College History Bowl mirror taking place this coming Sunday, May 18:

http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewto ... =8&t=15853
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