2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:54 pm

djones wrote:
John Heslin wrote:
djones wrote:
So in an important match in the playoffs, no one staffing in the area really knew what the point situation was, so how were the teams to have any clue?
Much more later on all the points people are making, but briefly to this specific point, we had a specially designed scoring poster for the evening rounds, and for this specific bracket, I distinctly remember seeing it publicly posted. Obviously, a situation where teams don't know what the scores / records of the teams in their brackets is far from ideal, but a) beyond making a poster like this and posting it publicly, I don't know what more we could have done and b) if there was a discrepancy, why didn't teams notice it before each match?
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by djones » Tue Apr 28, 2015 7:56 pm

Great Bustard wrote:
djones wrote:
John Heslin wrote:
djones wrote:
So in an important match in the playoffs, no one staffing in the area really knew what the point situation was, so how were the teams to have any clue?
Much more later on all the points people are making, but briefly to this specific point, we had a specially designed scoring poster for the evening rounds, and for this specific bracket, I distinctly remember seeing it publicly posted. Obviously, a situation where teams don't know what the scores / records of the teams in their brackets is far from ideal, but a) beyond making a poster like this and posting it publicly, I don't know what more we could have done and b) if there was a discrepancy, why didn't teams notice it before each match?
Unlike the big posters used earlier, this was a piece of paper taped on one door. It was the door where we played our first two rounds, so I clearly saw it and our two scores were correct. How was I to know that the other score or scores on there were wrong, which is why I assumed we needed to win the match outright to advance?
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:01 pm

djones wrote:
John Heslin wrote:
djones wrote:
If you consider any metric besides the one they considered, Northmont should have advanced. We had the best overall record (12-1 versus a pair of 11-2 teams) and we had the best point differential in the circle of death (NM +60, Centennial -30, GD -30). The difference was we didn't score as many points against the team not in the circle of death as Centennial did.
I think this is flatly wrong since I have Centennial also with a +60 point differential (+110 against Northmont and -50 against GDS). I would agree that any likely metric short of packets would exclude GDS, but then Centennial has both total points and head to head over Northmont.
If those numbers are correct (which I definitely trust that they are), then I definitely stand corrected in that part of my statement, but its funnier in that your point differential in the GDS match does not match what either the scoreboard said OR what a different staffer told me was the score. One person said that you lost to GDS by 30, then another said that it was 130. The 30 point differential is what we were considering going into the match, while the 130 point differential was what I was commenting on (since it was the most recent thing I had been told).

So in an important match in the playoffs, no one staffing in the area really knew what the point situation was, so how were the teams to have any clue?
I recall that I wrote down that GDS beat Centennial 350-320 in the first round, though I do not recall anything else except for the fact that GDS scored 190 in their game against Northmont (I think). I think I was nominally the site captain of this mini RR, though the other staffer (Maggie Larkin) never got back to me regarding the scores of her games (including GDS-Centennial), so I had to ask teams and consult the scoresheets from the control room. That night, the points situation I interpreted matched that of the Centennial coach's, though in retrospect I should have had all coaches agree on the scores. I apologize if my tiredness got in the way of anything that night, but it does seem that the correct team advanced based on the specified metrics.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by djones » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:03 pm

Even that though Ben doesnt match what Centennial had as the score, as they said they lost by 50. I am not disputing that the correct team advanced according to the metrics, I am saying that no one knew what the hell was going on because everything posted was wrong.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:26 pm

jonpin wrote:I think one difficulty with a number of the alternative schedules being produced is just the length in terms of rounds and time. A 48-team double elimination bracket which rewarded preliminary excellence might give 16 group champions a spot in the winners' bracket while second and third-place teams start in the losers' bracket. Playing that bracket out NAQT-style (everyone plays every round) would take 7-8 rounds. (16/32 -> 8/24 -> 4/16 -> 2/10 -> 1/6 -> 1/3, NAQT-style final four takes 2-3 rounds). Playing a true 32 or 48-team DE takes longer. These would be entirely reasonable suggestions if there weren't an entirely separate competition taking up all of Sunday morning and late afternoon, but with the Bee there as well, it's very difficult to add any more rounds to the Bowl.
I couldn't agree more. Again, a comprehensive post will follow soon, but just to advise anyone proposing alternate schedules, keep the following points in mind:
1. 13 bowl rounds on Saturday and 3 on Sunday is the absolute max we can do.
2. With a field in the Varsity of 156 this year, and almost certainly a higher # next year, there are lots of logistical limits to having the tournament be double elimination at all levels.
3. A better way to get to more competitive games more quickly would be to have top, middle, and bottom brackets out of the morning rounds, corresponding to the top 2, middle 2 and bottom 2 in each morning group. Potentially the same could be done for the afternoon rounds.
4. With space for just 3 rounds on Sunday, those games are going to need to be single elim at that point in the tournament no matter what - there's not enough time at this point for a 4th game without risking the tournament ending at 6pm or some time like that.
5. The express point of a tournament is not to ensure that precisely the best N teams in the field reach the final N slots. Having some variability in a tournament keeps things far more interesting for more teams, and in any case, I think the cream has always risen to the top by the last 2 rounds of the tournament no matter what format we've ever used. Note also that in all 5 years, now, of NHBB, the top seed has won the Varsity, and this year, it happened in the JV too, so at least at the high end, I think the format has always let the top teams excel (this is also due to the fact that since it's just one subject, there's less chance of a team getting a "bad" packet for their strengths the way there is in regular quizbowl.)
6. I personally do not have an ideological ax to grind with regards to how the playoffs are set up although I do always want to have a final match, and the structure of the playoffs needs to be practical within the allotted time we have for it. I'll be drafting a few proposals once this discussion concludes and submitting the workable alternatives to the top 32 Varsity teams this year for a vote.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by czheng0708 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:54 pm

Personally, I had a great time. I haven't been to NHBB Nationals since 2012 and for most of my team, it was their first experience all together.

1) I commend the NHBB organization and David Madden for the incredible progress that they've made over the last few years.
2) I am the Captain of West Egg (that team in the Northmont/Centennial/GDS bracket that wasn't much of a factor). GNS/WE has been slowly making a comeback onto the scene and we're starting to partake in nationals competitions again. Perhaps it's because of our lack of experience, but we were exhausted by our last match and really couldn't put up a fight against any team. I recognize that we're a young team (two sophs, two jrs, and a senior) and that there's still loads of improvement for all of us. Either way, i wasn't a huge fan of the round robin at like 8 pm. But considering how packed the entire weekend was, I don't know what else could have been done.

Nevertheless, thank you to everybody who wrote, edited, staffed, and participated in this tournament.
Christopher Zheng
Great Neck South High School '15
University of California, Berkeley '19

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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Cody » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:08 pm

czheng0708 wrote:But considering how packed the entire weekend was, I don't know what else could have been done.
one might consider abandoning the Russian nesting doll principle of running tournaments, and, you know, cutting some.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by johntait1 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:37 pm

'd rather have had a 2 person final, mostly because it takes away the advantage of "going fishing" which seemed to be really pervasive in the later rounds of the JV Bee. Basically, two pretty wild guesses would be made really early on in the question since there was nothing to lose by guessing. With only two people playing as opposed to four, there would be a reason not to guess, making it about who actually knows more history instead of who can pull things out of thin air. Then again, I didn't really notice the round dynamics changing much in the JV Bee final, even with only two people up there competing. The Varsity final seemed to be entirely different from the JV, with a lot less guessing happening. At least the National History Bee had a 2-man final, though. I think a 2-man final between John Connor and I, playing to more than 7 points, would have been the best way to determine a national champion, if there was time for that.
I definitely agree that there is way to much guessing in the playoffs of the JV Bee. I probably should have emphasized that more after my experience last year, so apologies to all of the JV contestants who suffered from it this year. I recall in the semifinals I knew the answer to one question but the other contestant negged it to kill the question. This is really annoying because the person who actually has the knowledge is unable to demonstrate it. The thing I'm a bit confused about is that your post indicates that you feel that the problem existed less in the four person varsity final than in the two person JV final, yet you would prefer the two person final? I'm a bit confused on that part, maybe you could elaborate a bit more?
Quizbowl is an exercise in knowledge, but it's also a game, and in a game there are strategies. Wildly guessing or nuking a tossup to prevent others from getting points is a valid strategy with both benefits and risks.
I don't really see the risk of wildly guessing at the end of the question to prevent the other players who actually know the answer from buzzing in. All it does is kill the question and prevent the person with actual knowledge from gaining the points.
If a player actually legitimately knows the answer, they probably should have buzzed before the giveaway. The reason why people aren't penalized (in quizbowl and in NHBB) for guessing wildly after the end of the question is because by then guessing wildly is pretty much the only thing you can do.
I feel this is a bit more true at the varsity level than at the JV level. In freshman year there were a few times where I only knew the answer at the giveaway. Even sophomore year on some really obscure clues at the Nationals level I only knew it at the giveaway. Personally I think that knowing the giveaway is still more knowledge than not knowing the giveaway and thus should be rewarded accordingly.
Even that though Ben doesnt match what Centennial had as the score, as they said they lost by 50. I am not disputing that the correct team advanced according to the metrics, I am saying that no one knew what the hell was going on because everything posted was wrong.

Overall my impression of the situation from the perspective of a third party observer with no leaning toward either side is that the situation was way too chaotic, and the teams didn't know what was going on, which is really unfortunate. In our bracket, I don't remember seeing a huge poster either(or the points at all). However, before our round 3 match, our moderator explicitly told us that whoever won the match would advance and whoever lost the match would not advance. A huge thank you to our moderator for the instruction, and I hope that in the future all teams will understand the situation clearly.

I couldn't agree more. Again, a comprehensive post will follow soon, but just to advise anyone proposing alternate schedules, keep the following points in mind:
1. 13 bowl rounds on Saturday and 3 on Sunday is the absolute max we can do.
2. With a field in the Varsity of 156 this year, and almost certainly a higher # next year, there are lots of logistical limits to having the tournament be double elimination at all levels.
3. A better way to get to more competitive games more quickly would be to have top, middle, and bottom brackets out of the morning rounds, corresponding to the top 2, middle 2 and bottom 2 in each morning group. Potentially the same could be done for the afternoon rounds.
4. With space for just 3 rounds on Sunday, those games are going to need to be single elim at that point in the tournament no matter what - there's not enough time at this point for a 4th game without risking the tournament ending at 6pm or some time like that.
5. The express point of a tournament is not to ensure that precisely the best N teams in the field reach the final N slots. Having some variability in a tournament keeps things far more interesting for more teams, and in any case, I think the cream has always risen to the top by the last 2 rounds of the tournament no matter what format we've ever used. Note also that in all 5 years, now, of NHBB, the top seed has won the Varsity, and this year, it happened in the JV too, so at least at the high end, I think the format has always let the top teams excel (this is also due to the fact that since it's just one subject, there's less chance of a team getting a "bad" packet for their strengths the way there is in regular quizbowl.)
6. I personally do not have an ideological ax to grind with regards to how the playoffs are set up although I do always want to have a final match, and the structure of the playoffs needs to be practical within the allotted time we have for it. I'll be drafting a few proposals once this discussion concludes and submitting the workable alternatives to the top 32 Varsity teams this year for a vote.
I'd like to clarify that I'm not trying to propose alternate schedules to help our team's cause or anything. I'm not sure if I've been misinterpreted or not, but I'd just like to clarify a bit so that my thoughts are clear to prevent any future misunderstandings. My previous post was just an observation about what other teams felt about the weekend. Personally our team benefited enormously from the current format and placed much higher than it would have otherwise. I just put out some ideas off the top of my head to help people who are way more familiar with the logistics to think of something that would please everyone. I added the disclaimer earlier that my ideas may be entirely unfeasible because I am totally clueless on logistics.
I also would agree that the top varsity team did win the tournament and the second best team did finish in second, and not just this year: I've felt that this has been the case for the past three years. Thus, I think the criticism I've heard more from others I've talked to is that they could have finished better than they did. Personally it has been the opposite this year for my team this year.
JV is a bit different: last year the fourth ranked team finishing first and the ninth ranked team finishing second, and the top ranked team losing in the first round of the playoffs, the number three team not making it out of prelims(although I heard in that case the top players arrived late), and the prelim and playoff point total rankings being quite different from the actual rankings. This year the second place JV team was unranked coming into Nationals I believe. However, with the JV having one less game than varsity due to the finals spacing, I think that changing the format will be even harder.
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:41 pm

Cody wrote:
czheng0708 wrote:But considering how packed the entire weekend was, I don't know what else could have been done.
one might consider abandoning the Russian nesting doll principle of running tournaments, and, you know, cutting some.
I'm sure the nearly 200 people each who signed up for the US History Bee and US Geography Olympiad and the over 400 people who competed in the Bee on Sunday would wholeheartedly agree with you.
David Madden
Ridgewood (NJ) '99, Princeton '03
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by High Dependency Unit » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:43 pm

johntait1 wrote:This year the second place JV team was unranked coming into Nationals I believe.
Just want to mention that Saratoga definitely flipped their JV A and JV B teams (I believe Saratoga JV A went 1-4 in the morning or something ridiculous like that). Saratoga JV A had a Madden Rank of 9-I remember this because I was supposed to play them in the playoffs, assuming they won their group.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by John Heslin » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:48 pm

christino wrote:
I recall that I wrote down that GDS beat Centennial 350-320 in the first round, though I do not recall anything else except for the fact that GDS scored 190 in their game against Northmont (I think). I think I was nominally the site captain of this mini RR, though the other staffer (Maggie Larkin) never got back to me regarding the scores of her games (including GDS-Centennial), so I had to ask teams and consult the scoresheets from the control room. That night, the points situation I interpreted matched that of the Centennial coach's, though in retrospect I should have had all coaches agree on the scores. I apologize if my tiredness got in the way of anything that night, but it does seem that the correct team advanced based on the specified metrics.
Ben, I definitely did not intend to undermine the official score which I would trust over mine for that particular game. I was seated in the audience while the teams were seated close together so it was sometimes difficult to tell which team won a toss-up from my position. I recall we were locked out of winning with a few questions to go which seemed to be the end of the tournament for us and I lost a bit of concentration at that point. I had 350 GDS to 300 Centennial as my final score but I think we scored on all the last few questions and I may have stopped adding. One of our never-say-die team members, Anant, was keeping track of the announced official scores and may be able to confirm it. I agree with David Jones that it would be good to have available up-to-date official scores for the evening rounds, especially on-line.
John Heslin
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 28, 2015 9:49 pm

On the matter of the scoring poster in the Centennial/GDS/Northmont/West Egg bracket, I have found the poster and am looking at it now. If anyone wants a photo of it emailed to them, let me know and I can do that too. Here's what's written on it. Note that all numbers are clearly legible, so this wasn't an issue of bad handwriting or whatever:
Team Number Team Name State Seed Rd1 Rd2 Rd3 Record Total
1 Northmont OH 4 440* 350* 250 2-1 1040
2 Centennial A MD 13 320 510* 360* 2-1 1190
3 Georgetown Day DC 20 350* 190 350* 2-1 890
4 West Egg A NY 29 140 180 180 0-3 500

* = win. On the sheet this is denoted by circling the result. The site captain was supposed to read for the #1 seed in all three games though I am not sure if that happened.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by djones » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:03 pm

Dave, I think you are missing the point. No one has ever disputed that is what was written on the scoreboard. There are two questions:

1) Were those ACTUALLY the scores of the matches? I wasn't in the room for Centennial's matches except when they played us, so I'm not sure what the scores were. Ben marked the scoreboard off of what a team told him. Centennial didn't have that score. If everything on the bracket sheet was correct, why was I told by a staffer that the score was actually 350-230.

2) More importantly than any of the scoring mess is: Why was there not an actual tiebreaker procedure in place to break a tie to determine who plays for the national championship. You will recall that I approached you BEFORE we played Centennial and was not happy with the situation, so this is not an issue of sour grapes. Eliminating two teams from a national championship tournament because they didn't run up the score enough in their wins is not something that occurs in any other reasonable format. I know NHBB doesn't have PPB as an option, so the only other option is playing it off through questions. We had been playing quiz bowl for 12+ hours at that point- what's another 30 minutes to have a real resolution to a tie. PACE does it, NAQT's format avoids it. There needs to be a better solution. Playing it off (if you keep this 8 by 4 format) is the only real way to do it.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:10 pm

djones wrote:Dave, I think you are missing the point. No one has ever disputed that is what was written on the scoreboard. There are two questions:

1) Were those ACTUALLY the scores of the matches? I wasn't in the room for Centennial's matches except when they played us, so I'm not sure what the scores were. Ben marked the scoreboard off of what a team told him. Centennial didn't have that score. If everything on the bracket sheet was correct, why was I told by a staffer that the score was actually 350-230.
No, that's understandable, I just didn't know if someone misreading it quickly may have played a role.
djones wrote:2) More importantly than any of the scoring mess is: Why was there not an actual tiebreaker procedure in place to break a tie to determine who plays for the national championship. You will recall that I approached you BEFORE we played Centennial and was not happy with the situation, so this is not an issue of sour grapes. Eliminating two teams from a national championship tournament because they didn't run up the score enough in their wins is not something that occurs in any other reasonable format. I know NHBB doesn't have PPB as an option, so the only other option is playing it off through questions. We had been playing quiz bowl for 12+ hours at that point- what's another 30 minutes to have a real resolution to a tie. PACE does it, NAQT's format avoids it. There needs to be a better solution. Playing it off (if you keep this 8 by 4 format) is the only real way to do it.
I am 100% open to introducing tiebreaks in subsequent years, and in retrospect, there was almost certainly a better solution available here. I'll hash out my full thoughts on the matter along with much else by Sunday (I have another Nationals in Canada on Saturday to prepare for this week...). On the other hand, the same principle regarding tiebreaks could also apply to the first and second stages of the tournament, which we've run for four years along these lines, and no one had ever even broached the subject to me on that point. Obviously, though, having announced a format, we weren't going to change it midstream, and I know that it's not sour grapes. Anyway, I appreciate your thoughts, and everyone else's on the matter, and we'll certainly have some format fix here to address this next year, though I'm still not entirely certain what the exact best way is to address it.
David Madden
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:36 pm

djones wrote:Dave, I think you are missing the point. No one has ever disputed that is what was written on the scoreboard. There are two questions:

1) Were those ACTUALLY the scores of the matches? I wasn't in the room for Centennial's matches except when they played us, so I'm not sure what the scores were. Ben marked the scoreboard off of what a team told him. Centennial didn't have that score. If everything on the bracket sheet was correct, why was I told by a staffer that the score was actually 350-230.
Since John says that Centennial scored at least 300 points in that game, I think it's highly unlikely that the 230 figure is correct, and that the staffer (by the way, who was it?) probably either switched the first two numbers on the scoreboard or the scoresheet.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by djones » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:51 pm

christino wrote:
djones wrote:Dave, I think you are missing the point. No one has ever disputed that is what was written on the scoreboard. There are two questions:

1) Were those ACTUALLY the scores of the matches? I wasn't in the room for Centennial's matches except when they played us, so I'm not sure what the scores were. Ben marked the scoreboard off of what a team told him. Centennial didn't have that score. If everything on the bracket sheet was correct, why was I told by a staffer that the score was actually 350-230.
Since John says that Centennial scored at least 300 points in that game, I think it's highly unlikely that the 230 figure is correct, and that the staffer (by the way, who was it?) probably either switched the first two numbers on the scoreboard or the scoresheet.
Yeah, thats obvious at this point. I trust that what John has is the actual score (or whatever his student says it was if there was a discrepancy there). I'm not sure who the staffer was. I assumed it was the reader of the match, but since you said that was Maggie, that obviously wasnt the case. I dont know a ton of the NHBB readers, so unfortunately I cant say with any degree of certainty.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by jonpin » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:18 am

Re: the Varsity evening groups, I had hoped that each two-room block would basically run independently with the Room 1 staffer gathering all the scoresheets and thus being in a position before their Round 3 game to say "OK, I have both of you 2-0, this is for the spot in the quarterfinals" or "Looks like this team will have to win by at least 50", etc. In the moderate chaos of the evening staff meeting, I wasn't able to recommend that to the 8 people heading those groups.
Great Bustard wrote:2. With a field in the Varsity of 156 this year, and almost certainly a higher # next year, there are lots of logistical limits to having the tournament be double elimination at all levels.
Well, at least we've dispensed with the tradition of you saying there will be a field cap the following year and then never following through.
3. A better way to get to more competitive games more quickly would be to have top, middle, and bottom brackets out of the morning rounds, corresponding to the top 2, middle 2 and bottom 2 in each morning group. Potentially the same could be done for the afternoon rounds.
4. With space for just 3 rounds on Sunday, those games are going to need to be single elim at that point in the tournament no matter what - there's not enough time at this point for a 4th game without risking the tournament ending at 6pm or some time like that.
5. The express point of a tournament is not to ensure that precisely the best N teams in the field reach the final N slots. Having some variability in a tournament keeps things far more interesting for more teams, and in any case, I think the cream has always risen to the top by the last 2 rounds of the tournament no matter what format we've ever used. Note also that in all 5 years, now, of NHBB, the top seed has won the Varsity, and this year, it happened in the JV too, so at least at the high end, I think the format has always let the top teams excel (this is also due to the fact that since it's just one subject, there's less chance of a team getting a "bad" packet for their strengths the way there is in regular quizbowl.)
3. Sounds reasonable, as this year we had gentle cut (6->3), gentle cut (6->2.5), sharp cut (4->1), and I think we could really stand to make the afternoon groups higher-quality. However, I would recommend that there be some form of played-off tiebreaker. It feels really awful for a team to go 4-1 in the morning and be eliminated.
4. I am totally OK with the final rounds being single-elimination, but there needs to be more efficiency in the operation of these last rounds.
5. The express point of a national championship is to crown a national champion. If the best team is far-and-away the best team, it doesn't really matter how you structure it, that team will come out on top. But that doesn't make all formats equally valid. Given the amount of upsets in the evening rounds, I wonder whether the afternoon groups didn't do the best job in ranking the teams.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Apr 29, 2015 2:21 am

jonpin wrote:
Great Bustard wrote:2. With a field in the Varsity of 156 this year, and almost certainly a higher # next year, there are lots of logistical limits to having the tournament be double elimination at all levels.
Well, at least we've dispensed with the tradition of you saying there will be a field cap the following year and then never following through.
I don't believe I had said there would be a field cap for either this year, or last year, nor, in retrospect, did we need one either year. That said, having more teams does not equate to not having a field cap, and I may consider one for next year, once I know what our limits at the hotel are and until we've secured sufficient staff. We had 246 this year over 216 last year and 198 the year before. This seems like a sustainable growth rate; going up by about another 10% next year to ~270 should be fine. Interestingly, I learned this year that there are more rooms at the Crystal Gateway Marriott that can work as game rooms than I ever thought (assuming the hotel staff sets them up as we had told them to...).
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Ndg » Wed Apr 29, 2015 4:48 am

Great Bustard wrote:Interestingly, I learned this year that there are more rooms at the Crystal Gateway Marriott that can work as game rooms than I ever thought (assuming the hotel staff sets them up as we had told them to...).
... which we've learned isn't the safest assumption. It seems like the hotel staff was already at their limits with regard to how quickly they could set everything up. There's no shame in not running the most gigantic tournament possible if it means a smoother and more enjoyable experience for all of the teams.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by johntait1 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:22 am

Mr. Madden, would you mind posting the other scores from the round robin playoff rounds? The webpage still isn't filled out yet, and I'm curious what the scores were in the games. Thank you.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Ndg » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:22 am

johntait1 wrote:Mr. Madden, would you mind posting the other scores from the round robin playoff rounds? The webpage still isn't filled out yet, and I'm curious what the scores were in the games. Thank you.
On a similar note, none of the bee/olympiad playoff results are posted, either. Or really any acknowledgement anywhere on the website that people won things this weekend.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Maury Island incident » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:29 am

johntait1 wrote:
'd rather have had a 2 person final, mostly because it takes away the advantage of "going fishing" which seemed to be really pervasive in the later rounds of the JV Bee. Basically, two pretty wild guesses would be made really early on in the question since there was nothing to lose by guessing. With only two people playing as opposed to four, there would be a reason not to guess, making it about who actually knows more history instead of who can pull things out of thin air. Then again, I didn't really notice the round dynamics changing much in the JV Bee final, even with only two people up there competing. The Varsity final seemed to be entirely different from the JV, with a lot less guessing happening. At least the National History Bee had a 2-man final, though. I think a 2-man final between John Connor and I, playing to more than 7 points, would have been the best way to determine a national champion, if there was time for that.
I definitely agree that there is way to much guessing in the playoffs of the JV Bee. I probably should have emphasized that more after my experience last year, so apologies to all of the JV contestants who suffered from it this year. I recall in the semifinals I knew the answer to one question but the other contestant negged it to kill the question. This is really annoying because the person who actually has the knowledge is unable to demonstrate it. The thing I'm a bit confused about is that your post indicates that you feel that the problem existed less in the four person varsity final than in the two person JV final, yet you would prefer the two person final? I'm a bit confused on that part, maybe you could elaborate a bit more?

I think the problem came down to the players, more than the rules. I think once some of the people playing JV right now move up to the varsity division and play four-person finals, it's going to turn into what we had this year in JV, with a lot of wild guessing and question-killing. I don't know if this is a larger trend or not, and maybe other people could say more about this, but I noticed a demographic shift in varsity versus JV. Correct me if I am wrong in saying this, but a lot of the earliest NHBB teams were the most active quizbowl teams. A lot of the highest finishers in the varsity division (with the notable exception of Saratoga) are members of high-level quizbowl teams as well. And by teams, I mean actual teams with ~4 people on them.

However, NHBB has also found some support in solo players in non-traditional quizbowl places, some of whom have moved into quizbowl as well (Alex Schmidt, the Alagars). A lot of this support comes from the existence of the Bee, which gives solo players a chance to show themselves against other solo players, as opposed to having to face 4-person teams. The Varsity division seems to have not felt the effects of this movement yet.

If you look at the preliminary standings for the Varsity Bee, you'll see that the first 13 highest finishers are all members of Morlan-ranked top 50 quizbowl teams, and number 14, Ben Bechtold of Ridgewood, is no slouch at quizbowl himself. Continuing to go down the list, you'll see more familiar team names (Maggie Walker, Richard Montgomery, DCC, High Tech, LASA). Most of the best players in the varsity division are quizbowl players, meaning that they are used to playing a format in which you lose points for wrong answers. In other words, a format that does not reward guessing.

Now, taking a look at the JV prelim standings, it doesn't seem at first glance to be so different. Myself, Luke Tierney, Andy Huff, and Michael Borecki, members of strong quizbowl teams, appear near the top. However, once quarterfinals were played, the semifinal came out very different from what preliminary rankings would have predicted. In prelims, there was no need to guess. Against stronger competition, though, players had nothing to lose by taking early shots in the dark.

I really don't know what happened in any of the other quarterfinal rooms, since scores aren't up. In mine, there didn't seem to be so much of a problem with guessing, and the four top seeds (me, John Connor, Luke Tierney, and Jonathan Tran) did advance to the semis, as did fifth seed Alex Schmidt. The other three spots were filled with lower seeds, non 6-8. I also feel that on every question in the semifinal, there would be two quick guesses and a buzzer race late, because people didn't want to take the neg.

In the two person final, guessing was much more harshly penalized, yet I didn't see it go down much at all. I blame this more on the players being raised on the NHBB format than having a two person final, which I would have preferred for the US History Bee.

Hope this clears up your confusion somewhat.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by tabstop » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:53 am

Ndg wrote:
johntait1 wrote:Mr. Madden, would you mind posting the other scores from the round robin playoff rounds? The webpage still isn't filled out yet, and I'm curious what the scores were in the games. Thank you.
On a similar note, none of the bee/olympiad playoff results are posted, either. Or really any acknowledgement anywhere on the website that people won things this weekend.
Every year I think I have this fixed and every year it turns out I don't. Anyone who has game scores from playoffs that aren't up there, please send them to me (you can PM me here or email) and I will get them on the web tracker as soon as I can.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by High Dependency Unit » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:25 pm

Something that may actually be very helpful in the bee playoffs would simply be slightly reducing the number of people in each room. This lowers the incentive to guess (you are more likely to be the first to truly know any answer), and should allow for more separation between players (in my quarterfinal room, the final scores were something like (Colin-5, Arianne (Los Alamitos)-5, Doug Simons-4, Matthew Robbins-4, Me-3 (includes a very late -1), Samuel Kao-3, Daniel Ma-3 (had a late -1 as well?), one of the Alagars-0). A different subject (not a category, but even a specific answerline) for just one question could allow basically any of us to advance to the semifinals. Decreasing the number of players decreases this variability, because each player should be able to answer more questions. At the same time, a greater portion of players get to advance to the semifinals if we still advance 2. A format with 6 quarterfinal rooms of 6, then 2 semifinal rooms of 6, and a 4-person final could work very nicely.

Regarding the bowl, I'm not sure how to quickly match up the top teams, but a 16-team double elimination bracket takes 7 rounds if you start all teams in the winner's bracket, and 6 if you start some teams in the loser's bracket. Cutting either a bee round (do we need 6 in the prelims?) or a bowl round would free up extra time.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by luke1865 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 1:40 pm

Did anyone else think that the JV and Varsity finals played out in an almost eerily similar fashion? Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that the course of the two games was remarkably similar.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 12:29 am

luke1865 wrote:The thing I found most irritating about Bee was the lack of penalty for buzzing in early. In semi-finals, at least 5 questions were just killed by people.
I find myself agreeing with the above quote, but if there was a penalty for buzzing in early (like being deducted points or something, if that's what was implied by "penalty"), then it would be a lot harder to hit 8 points. I guess putting in a penalty would make people more cautious about buzzing in early and waiting until they were sure about their answer, but if you unintentionally buzz in and completely blank out, you wind up losing points. These are just my thoughts on the "penalties for buzzing in early" issue.

By the way, I think nationals went really well. This is my second time at NHBB nationals, and I liked how smoothly both my nationals experiences were. My only complaints would be about how the US History Bee finals, at least for the JV part (I think someone already mentioned this earlier), had nine people compared to the usual two people going one-on-one. I never quite figured out why there was a sudden shift to nine finalists for the USHB finals.

Also, I didn't understand why for the Varsity Bowl, the top 32 teams were put into 8 brackets of 4, while the JV Bowl, the top 32 teams did the single seed elimination. My main question on that is: Why didn't the two divisions have the same playoff type?

But nationals was still great, though.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 30, 2015 10:40 am

Great Bustard wrote:
Cody wrote:
czheng0708 wrote:But considering how packed the entire weekend was, I don't know what else could have been done.
one might consider abandoning the Russian nesting doll principle of running tournaments, and, you know, cutting some.
I'm sure the nearly 200 people each who signed up for the US History Bee and US Geography Olympiad and the over 400 people who competed in the Bee on Sunday would wholeheartedly agree with you.
Without actually advocating one side or other w/r/t this issue: It is not the case that popularity with participants is an immediate justification for any/all efforts required on the production and logistics side to keep an event happening. It's certainly great to know that these events are popular as one piece of information to keep in mind going forward. But I think it is also worthwhile to think about what the additional efforts required to put on US History Bee and Geography Olympiad actually are, and whether they cause undue additional strain on other parts of the weekend apparatus or on people. The additional 500 or so questions it takes to produce these events are not trivial, nor is the extra day off from work/school that many coaches, participants, and staff have to take to be in Crystal City by Thursday night/Friday morning. It well may be that that's all worth it and participants would be so extremely disgruntled if either or both of these events were dropped in the future that their presence is really beyond question. But there is a more thorough and earnest assessment to be done here before one can assume that that's the case.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:09 pm

Matthew J wrote:
Great Bustard wrote:
Cody wrote:
czheng0708 wrote:But considering how packed the entire weekend was, I don't know what else could have been done.
one might consider abandoning the Russian nesting doll principle of running tournaments, and, you know, cutting some.
I'm sure the nearly 200 people each who signed up for the US History Bee and US Geography Olympiad and the over 400 people who competed in the Bee on Sunday would wholeheartedly agree with you.
Without actually advocating one side or other w/r/t this issue: It is not the case that popularity with participants is an immediate justification for any/all efforts required on the production and logistics side to keep an event happening. It's certainly great to know that these events are popular as one piece of information to keep in mind going forward. But I think it is also worthwhile to think about what the additional efforts required to put on US History Bee and Geography Olympiad actually are, and whether they cause undue additional strain on other parts of the weekend apparatus or on people. The additional 500 or so questions it takes to produce these events are not trivial, nor is the extra day off from work/school that many coaches, participants, and staff have to take to be in Crystal City by Thursday night/Friday morning. It well may be that that's all worth it and participants would be so extremely disgruntled if either or both of these events were dropped in the future that their presence is really beyond question. But there is a more thorough and earnest assessment to be done here before one can assume that that's the case.
Since these events were all contained on Friday, I don't really see how their existence impacts and what time the bowl would end on Saturday.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Apr 30, 2015 3:49 pm

Angry Babies in Love wrote:Since these events were all contained on Friday, I don't really see how their existence impacts and what time the bowl would end on Saturday.
I don't either, perhaps because the Bowl's end time on Saturday isn't relevant to (or a dismissal of) any of the substance of my post. The "this issue" which I referred to in my previous post was "cutting some [events]," not the Bowl end time referenced by Christopher Zheng upthread.

There's more to the question of whether the entire series of events is run well than what time the Bowl ends on Saturday. My post gave several examples of factors to consider beyond the question of end time in ascertaining whether an event is worth continuing / whether to consider cutting it, which NHBB's directors have heretofore not addressed publicly. The expansion of the NHBB "weekend" over time from 2 full days to 2.5 days and now 3 full days (to say nothing of the Lorenz Cup!) has both positives and negatives and I would like to see a fuller assessment from players, staff, coaches, writers, etc. of whether that expansion is on balance a good thing.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Thu Apr 30, 2015 4:10 pm

Matthew J wrote:
Angry Babies in Love wrote:Since these events were all contained on Friday, I don't really see how their existence impacts and what time the bowl would end on Saturday.
I don't either, perhaps because the Bowl's end time on Saturday isn't relevant to (or a dismissal of) any of the substance of my post. The "this issue" which I referred to in my previous post was "cutting some [events]," not the Bowl end time referenced by Christopher Zheng upthread.

There's more to the question of whether the entire series of events is run well than what time the Bowl ends on Saturday. My post gave several examples of factors to consider beyond the question of end time in ascertaining whether an event is worth continuing / whether to consider cutting it, which NHBB's directors have heretofore not addressed publicly. The expansion of the NHBB "weekend" over time from 2 full days to 2.5 days and now 3 full days (to say nothing of the Lorenz Cup!) has both positives and negatives and I would like to see a fuller assessment from players, staff, coaches, writers, etc. of whether that expansion is on balance a good thing.
I was referring specifically to the original issue that Christopher Zheng brought up, which was the bowl end time. I'll defer to Madden to comment on the rest of that.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Victor Prieto » Thu Apr 30, 2015 9:15 pm

Matthew J wrote:I also want to single out Will Mantell, whose work on the staff side of this tournament was utterly tremendous in quantity and quality, for special recognition. Will was a key force in holding the tournament(s) together against a variety of forces, events, and contingencies, and did an exemplary job keeping his cool and being whatever was needed pretty much whenever it was needed. I really hope he gets all the praise he deserves, and look forward to working with him again soon.
Agreed. Will had an enormous list of responsibilities this past weekend, and he heroically coordinated all of it quite well.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by luke1865 » Thu Apr 30, 2015 11:16 pm

Generating Steam Heat wrote:
johntait1 wrote:
'd rather have had a 2 person final, mostly because it takes away the advantage of "going fishing" which seemed to be really pervasive in the later rounds of the JV Bee. Basically, two pretty wild guesses would be made really early on in the question since there was nothing to lose by guessing. With only two people playing as opposed to four, there would be a reason not to guess, making it about who actually knows more history instead of who can pull things out of thin air. Then again, I didn't really notice the round dynamics changing much in the JV Bee final, even with only two people up there competing. The Varsity final seemed to be entirely different from the JV, with a lot less guessing happening. At least the National History Bee had a 2-man final, though. I think a 2-man final between John Connor and I, playing to more than 7 points, would have been the best way to determine a national champion, if there was time for that.
I definitely agree that there is way to much guessing in the playoffs of the JV Bee. I probably should have emphasized that more after my experience last year, so apologies to all of the JV contestants who suffered from it this year. I recall in the semifinals I knew the answer to one question but the other contestant negged it to kill the question. This is really annoying because the person who actually has the knowledge is unable to demonstrate it.
Several questions that I knew the answer to were killed.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Fri May 01, 2015 11:30 pm

Mucho Macho Man wrote:Cutting either a bee round (do we need 6 in the prelims?) or a bowl round would free up extra time.
This doesn't seem to be a bad idea.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by johntait1 » Sat May 02, 2015 1:47 pm

Mucho Macho Man wrote:
johntait1 wrote:This year the second place JV team was unranked coming into Nationals I believe.
Just want to mention that Saratoga definitely flipped their JV A and JV B teams (I believe Saratoga JV A went 1-4 in the morning or something ridiculous like that). Saratoga JV A had a Madden Rank of 9-I remember this because I was supposed to play them in the playoffs, assuming they won their group.
Oh ok that makes sense I guess, Bruce told me something about balancing their A and B teams but I wasn't sure if they completely flipped them or not.
I definitely agree that there is way to much guessing in the playoffs of the JV Bee. I probably should have emphasized that more after my experience last year, so apologies to all of the JV contestants who suffered from it this year. I recall in the semifinals I knew the answer to one question but the other contestant negged it to kill the question. This is really annoying because the person who actually has the knowledge is unable to demonstrate it. The thing I'm a bit confused about is that your post indicates that you feel that the problem existed less in the four person varsity final than in the two person JV final, yet you would prefer the two person final? I'm a bit confused on that part, maybe you could elaborate a bit more?

I think the problem came down to the players, more than the rules. I think once some of the people playing JV right now move up to the varsity division and play four-person finals, it's going to turn into what we had this year in JV, with a lot of wild guessing and question-killing. I don't know if this is a larger trend or not, and maybe other people could say more about this, but I noticed a demographic shift in varsity versus JV. Correct me if I am wrong in saying this, but a lot of the earliest NHBB teams were the most active quizbowl teams. A lot of the highest finishers in the varsity division (with the notable exception of Saratoga) are members of high-level quizbowl teams as well. And by teams, I mean actual teams with ~4 people on them.

However, NHBB has also found some support in solo players in non-traditional quizbowl places, some of whom have moved into quizbowl as well (Alex Schmidt, the Alagars). A lot of this support comes from the existence of the Bee, which gives solo players a chance to show themselves against other solo players, as opposed to having to face 4-person teams. The Varsity division seems to have not felt the effects of this movement yet.

If you look at the preliminary standings for the Varsity Bee, you'll see that the first 13 highest finishers are all members of Morlan-ranked top 50 quizbowl teams, and number 14, Ben Bechtold of Ridgewood, is no slouch at quizbowl himself. Continuing to go down the list, you'll see more familiar team names (Maggie Walker, Richard Montgomery, DCC, High Tech, LASA). Most of the best players in the varsity division are quizbowl players, meaning that they are used to playing a format in which you lose points for wrong answers. In other words, a format that does not reward guessing.

Now, taking a look at the JV prelim standings, it doesn't seem at first glance to be so different. Myself, Luke Tierney, Andy Huff, and Michael Borecki, members of strong quizbowl teams, appear near the top. However, once quarterfinals were played, the semifinal came out very different from what preliminary rankings would have predicted. In prelims, there was no need to guess. Against stronger competition, though, players had nothing to lose by taking early shots in the dark.

I really don't know what happened in any of the other quarterfinal rooms, since scores aren't up. In mine, there didn't seem to be so much of a problem with guessing, and the four top seeds (me, John Connor, Luke Tierney, and Jonathan Tran) did advance to the semis, as did fifth seed Alex Schmidt. The other three spots were filled with lower seeds, non 6-8. I also feel that on every question in the semifinal, there would be two quick guesses and a buzzer race late, because people didn't want to take the neg.

In the two person final, guessing was much more harshly penalized, yet I didn't see it go down much at all. I blame this more on the players being raised on the NHBB format than having a two person final, which I would have preferred for the US History Bee.

Hope this clears up your confusion somewhat.
Hmmm, that is an interesting theory that may hold a lot of merit. It definitely clears up a lot of confusion.
I will add though that the varsity finals last year featured quite a bit of incorrect guessing even though it featured three of the top quizbowl players in the country: Sameer Rai, Nathan Weiser, and Eric Xu, so maybe quizbowl format isn't everything.
History Bowl is also bringing in some of the top NHBB teams to quizbowl: for example, Bethlehem Central has started playing more quizbowl recently because they enjoy History Bowl so much, so some of the top varsity players may have been used to NHBB format as well, so I'm not sure if Morlan rank by itself proves that the player began on NHBB. Then again, I guess maybe they have gotten more conservative after playing quizbowl?
Also, I remember last year that in US History Bee playoffs that an incorrect interrupt was automatically a neg. Was that the case this year, and did it help stop the negging at all? I'm curious if the players in JV are just more aggressive or if they were fueled by the format more?
I'll add that players may also get more conservative as they get to varsity because they know a lot more information, so guessing is not as useful as the player may actually know the answer later on.
Did anyone else think that the JV and Varsity finals played out in an almost eerily similar fashion? Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought that the course of the two games was remarkably similar.
I agree with that, with the interesting twist of Saratoga being Hunter and LASA being Saratoga.
acrosby1861 wrote:
Mucho Macho Man wrote:Cutting either a bee round (do we need 6 in the prelims?) or a bowl round would free up extra time.
This doesn't seem to be a bad idea.
I'd agree with this idea as well. Bee prelims seems a bit longer than necessary because after around round 3-4 its pretty clear who the top players that have a shot at winning are.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Sat May 02, 2015 2:20 pm

johntait1 wrote:
acrosby1861 wrote:
Mucho Macho Man wrote:Cutting either a bee round (do we need 6 in the prelims?) or a bowl round would free up extra time.
This doesn't seem to be a bad idea.
I'd agree with this idea as well. Bee prelims seems a bit longer than necessary because after around round 3-4 its pretty clear who the top players that have a shot at winning are.
Personally, I felt that with 10 rounds before the finals, the bowl took longer than needed, too. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but I was mentally drained after 10 rounds, and I couldn't really concentrate in the finals. Maybe 7 or 8 bowl rounds would be better (it would help shorten up time and lessen the mental strain a little bit).
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by jonpin » Sat May 02, 2015 7:14 pm

The idea of only getting 7-8 bowl games, or 3-4 bee rounds would--in my opinion--make a number of coaches of teams who are not contending for 1st place less willing to commit the resources to attend. I'm not about to ask my students to pay several hundred dollars each, give up an entire weekend just before APs, plus dip into our fund of money earned from hosting tournaments, all to give them less quiz bowl than they get at any old regular season tournament.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Sat May 02, 2015 7:49 pm

jonpin wrote:The idea of only getting 7-8 bowl games, or 3-4 bee rounds would--in my opinion--make a number of coaches of teams who are not contending for 1st place less willing to commit the resources to attend. I'm not about to ask my students to pay several hundred dollars each, give up an entire weekend just before APs, plus dip into our fund of money earned from hosting tournaments, all to give them less quiz bowl than they get at any old regular season tournament.
Expect a much longer post (finally) from me tomorrow, but I agree with Jon completely here. 10 prelim Bowl rounds and 6 prelim Bee rounds for both the National History Bee and the US History Bee are the optimal numbers.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Sat May 02, 2015 9:49 pm

johntait1 wrote:
Mucho Macho Man wrote:
johntait1 wrote:This year the second place JV team was unranked coming into Nationals I believe.
Just want to mention that Saratoga definitely flipped their JV A and JV B teams (I believe Saratoga JV A went 1-4 in the morning or something ridiculous like that). Saratoga JV A had a Madden Rank of 9-I remember this because I was supposed to play them in the playoffs, assuming they won their group.
Oh ok that makes sense I guess, Bruce told me something about balancing their A and B teams but I wasn't sure if they completely flipped them or not.
The flip, for what it's worth, was completely accidental per my conversation with their coach.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Nighthawk » Sat May 02, 2015 10:31 pm

Firstly, to address all the bee stuff.

I was one of the dozen or so who played bee with fewer than a half-dozen people on the buzzers. In the consolation final (played on the 6th prelim set), three of us played. It was definately much different than playing with more people in the room. There's less guessing answers, though somehow someone still neged on a question, and a but it is still there. When the winner (a kid named Patrick (I think) from Connecticut) powered out, we clapped for him then finished up the few questions we had left, and that was weird to me. It just didn't feel right to crown a winner and then play for second, and, from my reading of the rules, I think that's more or less what happened in the varsity. I think it would be better for the final round to have 3-4 players, but to eliminate the lowest scorer(s) after someone gets X points or Y questions are read to get down to two. Then, those two would duke it out 1v1 for the championship. That way, there isn't the effect of a champion being crowned before 2nd and 3rd are finalized, either for the champion's celebrations or the finalists' endgame performance.There should also, in my opinion, be some sort of advantage in being better in the prelims for the playoffs in the bee. Say, give the highest seed in each room a bonus point to start the first playoff round, make it a bit easier to advance.

Lastly, thanks Mr. Madded for actually getting plaques for the consolation bee winners/runner-ups, though y'all should consider trying to promote the consolation bee more next year. The 4 JVs had to play 6 straight rounds of bee against each other, and playing 3 rounds with the same 7 guys at state was boring enough.

Secondly,
Great Bustard wrote:
jonpin wrote:The idea of only getting 7-8 bowl games, or 3-4 bee rounds would--in my opinion--make a number of coaches of teams who are not contending for 1st place less willing to commit the resources to attend. I'm not about to ask my students to pay several hundred dollars each, give up an entire weekend just before APs, plus dip into our fund of money earned from hosting tournaments, all to give them less quiz bowl than they get at any old regular season tournament.
Expect a much longer post (finally) from me tomorrow, but I agree with Jon completely here. 10 prelim Bowl rounds and 6 prelim Bee rounds for both the National History Bee and the US History Bee are the optimal numbers.
Looking at the numbers, my school spent ~$800 in entry fees, ~$600 in hotel room costs, and over $2,500 in airfare. I was thinking we had a chance to make the upper flight in the bowl, which we (admittedly barely) didn't accomplish. But win? We'd be more likely to run out of gate 22 on foot in the KY derby and win that. We were luckly, our school picked up all of that and a bit for food as well. But we're a private school with quite a bit of alum financial support, so it was not that big of a deal for us. But for a much more tightly-financed school who has just as good of a chance, 16 rounds of play is already borderline worth it. Schools like LASA and Saratoga will come every year, but it is largely the little guys coming to have some fun and perhaps win their consolation afternoon group or make the upper flight that make NHBB a lot of their money, so you have too look at their needs too. I still have to study for Calc BC for tuesday, and was writing papers till 2 in the morning after NHBB concluded, so gave up a weekend that I kinda needed. Worth it? Yes, but it might not be for others.
acrosby1861 wrote:Personally, I felt that with 10 rounds before the finals, the bowl took longer than needed, too. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but I was mentally drained after 10 rounds, and I couldn't really concentrate in the finals. Maybe 7 or 8 bowl rounds would be better (it would help shorten up time and lessen the mental strain a little bit).
My response to this is that the top 32 is supposed to be the cream of the crop, and if you don't have endurance you don't deserve to be in the top 8. Harsh? Yes, but this is a national championship, and at this point it is a separation between the elites, and some endurance should be involved. And there are only so many flights back to places on Sunday night, so the earlier Sunday can finish the better, and part of this is as little bowl as possible on Sunday.


Lastly, this was an excellent tournament, especially considering that there were 123 rooms in 4 different places being used all day Saturday. Thanks.
Kevin R.
St. Xavier H.S. (KY) '15
University of Louisville '19
2015 National History Bee Consolation Runner-up

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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Sat May 02, 2015 11:04 pm

Nighthawk wrote:
acrosby1861 wrote:Personally, I felt that with 10 rounds before the finals, the bowl took longer than needed, too. I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but I was mentally drained after 10 rounds, and I couldn't really concentrate in the finals. Maybe 7 or 8 bowl rounds would be better (it would help shorten up time and lessen the mental strain a little bit).
My response to this is that the top 32 is supposed to be the cream of the crop, and if you don't have endurance you don't deserve to be in the top 8. Harsh? Yes, but this is a national championship, and at this point it is a separation between the elites, and some endurance should be involved. And there are only so many flights back to places on Sunday night, so the earlier Sunday can finish the better, and part of this is as little bowl as possible on Sunday.


Lastly, this was an excellent tournament, especially considering that there were 123 rooms in 4 different places being used all day Saturday. Thanks.
I think my lack of endurance came from the time difference (I'm from CA, so I'm losing 3 hours right there), or the fact that I'm a one person team. But I agree with the limited number of Sunday flights. My input on that (the flights) would be either to leave late on Sunday or leave early Monday. Little bowl on Sunday would shorten the time, though.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Nighthawk » Sun May 03, 2015 2:48 am

acrosby1861 wrote:I think my lack of endurance came from the time difference (I'm from CA, so I'm losing 3 hours right there), or the fact that I'm a one person team. But I agree with the limited number of Sunday flights. My input on that (the flights) would be either to leave late on Sunday or leave early Monday. Little bowl on Sunday would shorten the time, though.
Yeah, my school's team was lucky to get a direct flight leaving out of town about 2 hours after school ended on Friday, and a roughly 8 pm direct departure from Regan on Sunday (both via USAirways, aka "the new American" :roll: ), as well as not having that bad of a fight/no jet lag. But the little things do add up that make the process noticably longer, like having someone not show up for the bee playoff tiebreaks (not really NHBB's fault, but possibly more communication would have helped) or not having a lightning round timer pre-set for the JV bowl final (you might be able to hear me say "oh I guess I can do it" when NHBBTV posts that match because of that).
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Sun May 03, 2015 1:59 pm

Nighthawk wrote:But the little things do add up that make the process noticably longer, like having someone not show up for the bee playoff tiebreaks (not really NHBB's fault, but possibly more communication would have helped) or not having a lightning round timer pre-set for the JV bowl final (you might be able to hear me say "oh I guess I can do it" when NHBBTV posts that match because of that).
I think the person who didn't show up for bee tiebreaks eventually did show up, but it did take a bit of time for that to happen. And for having a lightning round timer, the moderators I had already pre-set a timer, so that wasn't much of a problem. But setting up a timer does take a while, so having it set up beforehand would definitely speed up the process
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by jonpin » Sun May 03, 2015 5:19 pm

After I read the JV tiebreak, someone announced that the guy had been contacted but was 10 minutes away, so that tiebreaker didn't wind up happening until after the Varsity Bowl final. That meant that we didn't have the group assignments for the tiebreak winners ready to go (in retrospect, I should've left a message at the podium stating where each of the tiebreak winners, in order, would go for their Bee quarterfinal).

For the record, I don't have any idea why the Varsity Bee and JV Bee formats are different, and I do agree that next year (if each is of similar size), a 36-player playoff that goes 6x6 -> 2x6 -> 4 might be better. Alternatively, one could also advantage the best players (giving them an actual incentive to excel during the prelim rounds), such as either giving the very best players a bye right to the semifinals or a (small) head-start in the quarterfinals. The only other large individual competition I know of in quizbowl, the Scobol Solo, has the player who performed best in the prelims sitting out the first part of the final and then coming in automatically in the lead. Someone from Illinois can explain in more detail, I'm sure.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by Great Bustard » Sun May 03, 2015 6:11 pm

First off, a big thank you to everyone who competed at, assisted with, and otherwise made our 2015 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships possible. This was one of the largest tournaments of any kind ever (the 123 simultaneous rooms playing on Saturday is certainly a record by a wide margin) and there are hundreds of people responsible for its success. In particular, a big thank you to Matt Jackson and Eric Mukherjee for a well-received set, to the dozens of writers who contributed to it, to Will Mantell on staff direction; Jon Pinyan, Andrew Feist, and Andrew Ibendahl on stats; Eric Huff and Nick Clusserath on buzzers and protests; and Bunnie Hadsall, Raynell Cooper, Connor Teevens, and Nolwenn Madden for their assistance with numerous aspects of the tournament over the four days it ran.

Overall, I was pleased with the way that most aspects of the tournament played out. If, as was noted above, the primary purpose of a National Championship is to crown a national champion, then I don’t think that anyone can argue with our champions in any of the competitions that ran. Oddly, for the 5th year in a row, the #1 Varsity seed won the tournament in the Varsity Bowl (and for the third year in a row, the team that had finished second in the Varsity title match the previous year came back and won!) This year, the #1 seed won in the JV Bowl, and the Varsity US History Bee and Varsity National History Bee as well. The final match between Saratoga and LASA was the tensest and most exciting match I have ever read, and I don’t think anyone who was there to watch it will forget it for a very long time.

Congratulations to all our champions and to all those who qualified for Nationals on your success! Bruce Arthur made a point upthread about how students know their history better than ever. More than any comment, I was pleased to read that, as that speaks to the reason I established NHBB in the first place. My favorite thing to tell people outside the community about quiz bowl / NHBB is that students and teams raise the bar every year. With all the declinist rhetoric one hears about the US education system, it is so heartening to see that trend contradicted in such a spectacular fashion at any quiz bowl tournament, and especially at Nationals. Clearly, tens of thousands of hours were spent learning about history and geography in the lead up to Nationals, and I hope and expect that students who competed will be able to put that knowledge to good use in the years to come.

Turning back to the event itself, though, there are certainly aspects of the tournament that can be improved upon for next year. I felt that the changes we put in place from last year (e.g. more games at the hotel, not using Mount Vernon, having the Geography Quiz Bowl prelims on Friday afternoon, moving away from single elim to the extent we were comfortable with doing so) were all major improvements, and certainly there will be things that we will look to change for next year.

In this post, I’d like to give start off an overview of what I thought worked well and what I think could use improving. Some of my thoughts will answer questions people had and address comments upthread; where needed, I’ll make subsequent posts addressing comments that I don’t touch on here. I’m going to go in chronological order here; this first post will just touch on the lead up and Thursday; I’ll make subsequent posts in the coming days on how Friday, Saturday, and Sunday went.

1. Preparations

One fix for next year, is that I will certainly look to be in the DC area for at least 2 weeks in the lead up to Nationals. This year, I only returned on Monday night from over 2 months overseas running IHBB events. Granted, 90% of the work I did in April was US Nationals related (for almost everything that doesn’t involve physically running tournaments, I can work from anywhere with a good internet connection). However, this added to the overall stress of the week for me, and our Nationals team didn’t meet together until Tuesday. Next year, I’d like to move that up to the preceding Saturday, and that should allow us to do more double checking of various aspects of the preparation and cut down on the amount of work that needs to get done in a compressed amount of time.

2. Hotel Issue #1 – Booking rooms at the Crystal Gateway Marriott

The aspect of Nationals that I was most unhappy with was preparations from the hotel. This was the fourth year of us holding the tournament at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, and the number of issues relating to the hotel arrangements was considerably larger than in past years. The first big issue was that the hotel (in contrast with past years) ran out of double double rooms, and started putting people in king rooms less than a week before Nationals. Apparently, when teams had called and said that they wanted double double rooms, the reservations staff basically said something in many cases like “I’ve noted your preference” without guaranteeing it. But the language they used clearly led teams to believe that double double rooms had in fact been booked. This is a deceptive business practice that comes from Marriott using a call center to book rooms instead of handling that at the hotel. I’ve told the hotel of my disgust about this, and have insisted that for future years, teams be guaranteed (or, conversely, clearly told the hotel is out of such rooms) their room preferences, rather than having the hotel decide this the week before willy nilly.

3. Hotel Issue # 2 – Residence Inn vs. Crystal Gateway Marriott

More problems ensued with Marriott’s booking practices when I called and made reservations for 27 suites at a nearby Residence Inn for overflow matches (due to a need for more rooms, having been told in past years that we already were using all available rooms at the Crystal Gateway, and wanting to avoid sending teams to DC en masse). The initial phone call was made as soon as I knew we would need overflow rooms. I very clearly explained exactly what we needed, that the Residence Inn (also a Marriott brand) could contact the Crystal Gateway and confirm for themselves the setup that we needed, and the sales associate then said that everything would be great. We then signed a contract with the Residence Inn, and after I returned to DC, I went down and met with the Residence Inn people at their hotel on Tuesday of Nationals week, at which point, they all insisted that things would be fine.

On Thursday morning, though, right after I had sent out the email with where to report the night before, I learned that for whatever reason, the Residence Inn had gotten cold feet, and had transferred the rooms to the Crystal Gateway. This was news to me since a) we had already signed a contract with the Residence Inn, which had known for weeks what the set up would be like b) was coming after I had spent hours planning for how we would make the Residence Inn set up work and was resulting in mixed messages to teams and c) I didn’t know how the Crystal Gateway would make this work.

Despite all that, I wasn’t overly upset, since, if it could work at the Crystal Gateway, that would avoid 50 minutes of walking for those who had to play at the Residence Inn. So on Thursday morning, the Crystal Gateway showed me how the set up could work in some additional suites. In some of these, no furniture removal was needed at all; in some, the mattress had to be moved into the bathroom (which is odd-looking, but not a major problem). Anyway, for what it’s worth, this was a very pleasant surprise, since it will allow us to hold more games at the Crystal Gateway in subsequent years than we had ever thought possible, and this bodes well for the future sustainable growth of Nationals. Of course, I am still upset over the roughly 10 hours I spent figuring out the logistics for the Residence Inn and the fact that inaccurate information went out to teams in the Wednesday night email.

4. Hotel Issue #3 – The Crystal Gateway Marriott Gives us the Wrong Rooms (Twice)


I then sent out an email as soon as I had figured out the new control rooms / meeting spots for the Saturday Bowl groups which now were at the Crystal Gateway rather than the Residence Inn. All seemed fine… until the hotel told me on Friday afternoon that of the 27 rooms we had been given for games on Saturday, about 14 needed to be switched since the hotel had forgotten to check to see if those rooms were free of guests on both Friday and Saturday nights (they had only checked one).

So then on Friday afternoon / evening, after putting my foot down as much as possible and saying that in particular, the rooms that had been designated as control rooms could not be switched since it was too late to send another email out on room switches, I had to kill another 3-4 hours trying to fix the hotel’s mistake. In some cases, the rooms did get switched that I insisted on; in the other cases, they did not but there was an available room right next to the originally designated control room, so teams could report as scheduled, and it would sort itself out on Saturday morning. This was a major headache to get the revised info out to staff, stats, and ensure that everything would be fine, but I went to bed on Friday (around 3am) thinking things were ok.

Until the next stage of the hotel’s screw up became visible when I awoke at 6 on Saturday morning. In the process of giving me a new set of rooms (when I insisted that the control rooms needed to stay), my contact at the hotel gave me a different list than she gave to the event staff that needed to set up the rooms. That resulted in many rooms not having been set up at all (and in at least two rooms, that were not affected by the switch, the set up hadn’t been done either!). Beyond that, the hotel was woefully understaffed both with event staff to set up rooms, and front desk staff to fix key issues. This led to me, Raynell, and other NHBB staff running around like crazy for several hours bringing chairs up from the ballroom to rooms, pleading for new keys to be made, and trying to troubleshoot as quickly as possible.

Now, from past years, we have learned that the schedule needs some cushion time to allow for Murphy’s law. We also had one room set up in the ballroom salons as an emergency room in advance to prepare (this is what Daniel Yan referenced in his post). Because of planning for these things, there were delays in getting started, for which we apologize, but Round 5 ended early enough even in the most problematic pools for the afternoon games to begin on time. We know that the 2.5-3 hour gap in the middle of the day can be frustrating for teams who would like to play more (though I think 10 games, which every team got this year, is a fair amount), but please keep in mind that with 123 rooms playing at once, it’s far better for us to have downtime built in to the schedule, so we can stick with the schedule as officially drawn up for the afternoon if issues arise in the morning, as opposed to getting way behind and messing up everyone’s plans. One final note: the emergency room we had set up ended up getting used for a room where the hotel had completely screwed up and gave us keys to a room which a random guest was staying in, with their valuables and clothing visible to all who walked in expecting to play! At least they weren’t getting out of the shower when the teams walked in…

I have already met with the hotel and voiced my displeasure on these matters; both they and I have made notes to ensure that these issues will not present themselves in future years. I think we troubleshot things here as best as we could; for those teams who found themselves locked out / in rooms that weren’t set up / inconvenienced with bookings / told to go to different rooms than were actually used, we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding.

5. Lorenz Cup on Thursday


On Thursday evening, for early arriving teams, we held an event called the Lorenz Cup (see http://www.historybowl.com if you want the backstory here on the name) which was an A Set mirror for teams who didn’t get a chance to play it at Regionals. We ended up with 8 teams for this who seemed to have a good time playing it. All told, this probably didn’t take more than about 3 hours of my time the entire month leading up to Nationals, and probably no more than 20 minutes on Thursday evening (mostly during the opening meeting). I’m kind of ambivalent about whether we do this again next year; on the one hand, it was hardly a time sink for me; on the other, we only got 8 teams in for it. The event itself seemed to run fine, with the exception of two teams from one school that returned back 30 minutes late from dinner for the playoff matches. Since those were 2 of the 4 playoff teams, though, we weren’t going to disqualify them.

We’ll probably take a bit of a wait and see approach to the Lorenz Cup for next year. It’s hardly a major drain on our resources, but if only a small number of teams are interested in competing this way, it begs the question of whether it’s worth it for us to hold the event.

More to follow whenever I next get some free time, either later tonight or tomorrow.
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: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by High Dependency Unit » Sun May 03, 2015 6:53 pm

jonpin wrote:Alternatively, one could also advantage the best players (giving them an actual incentive to excel during the prelim rounds), such as either giving the very best players a bye right to the semifinals or a (small) head-start in the quarterfinals. The only other large individual competition I know of in quizbowl, the Scobol Solo, has the player who performed best in the prelims sitting out the first part of the final and then coming in automatically in the lead. Someone from Illinois can explain in more detail, I'm sure.
The one issue I'd have with this is there is a lack of separation between the top competitors (top 4 in JV went 69, 68, 67, 66, and the top 5 in varsity had the same pattern but from 73 to 69), meaning one player could get a substantial edge from just one extra preliminary point, which can come down to chance.


Regarding the hotel, we asked for a double double, and instead got a "King" and a roll-away, which the hotel also ran out of (so we were lucky). The King bed ended up being more like a Queen, which is another issue. Also, we were told by the hotel that they had run out of blankets, which can also be an issue, although we got one after my dad talked to the manager and told him/her to get more blankets from a nearby Marriott that had more. The hotel just seemed very ill-prepared for an event of this proportion, though I don't have a point of comparison.

Also, although we had a slight delay on Saturday morning when the room keys did not work, I feel most of the delays Saturday morning were caused by bottlenecks occurring at the elevators.

Also, what's the purpose of not even telling people about the hotel restaurant? I understand that not even half the people at the tournament would've been able to have breakfast there, but it ended up being rather empty when I ate there. And a tip for people participating in the bee: Room service is almost the same price as the hotel restaurant, and it means you actually get a real breakfast on Sunday morning.
Michael Borecki
Middlesex Middle '13,
Darien (co-captain) '17,
Bowdoin College (club president) '21
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by jonpin » Sun May 03, 2015 7:50 pm

Mucho Macho Man wrote:
jonpin wrote:Alternatively, one could also advantage the best players (giving them an actual incentive to excel during the prelim rounds), such as either giving the very best players a bye right to the semifinals or a (small) head-start in the quarterfinals. The only other large individual competition I know of in quizbowl, the Scobol Solo, has the player who performed best in the prelims sitting out the first part of the final and then coming in automatically in the lead. Someone from Illinois can explain in more detail, I'm sure.
The one issue I'd have with this is there is a lack of separation between the top competitors (top 4 in JV went 69, 68, 67, 66, and the top 5 in varsity had the same pattern but from 73 to 69), meaning one player could get a substantial edge from just one extra preliminary point, which can come down to chance.
That's a valid point.

I also was highly disappointed in the hotel. After having called in the days leading up, and confirming that they'd do their best to get our 4 rooms close together, we wound up with the 7th floor, 12th floor, 17th floor, and 15th floor on the other tower. I must say I'm baffled as to how a hotel can run out of blankets especially when a number of rooms are being converted out of use for guests into use for game rooms.
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by High Dependency Unit » Sun May 03, 2015 7:59 pm

jonpin wrote:I must say I'm baffled as to how a hotel can run out of blankets especially when a number of rooms are being converted out of use for guests into use for game rooms.
Admittedly, this was "extra" blankets (we asked for one for the rollaway because that only came with a sheet), but we've never encountered that problem before.
Michael Borecki
Middlesex Middle '13,
Darien (co-captain) '17,
Bowdoin College (club president) '21
NHBB Regional Coordinator
www.ctquizbowl.org

johntait1
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by johntait1 » Sun May 03, 2015 8:42 pm

Great Bustard wrote:First off, a big thank you to everyone who competed at, assisted with, and otherwise made our 2015 Varsity and Junior Varsity National Championships possible. This was one of the largest tournaments of any kind ever (the 123 simultaneous rooms playing on Saturday is certainly a record by a wide margin) and there are hundreds of people responsible for its success. In particular, a big thank you to Matt Jackson and Eric Mukherjee for a well-received set, to the dozens of writers who contributed to it, to Will Mantell on staff direction; Jon Pinyan, Andrew Feist, and Andrew Ibendahl on stats; Eric Huff and Nick Clusserath on buzzers and protests; and Bunnie Hadsall, Raynell Cooper, Connor Teevens, and Nolwenn Madden for their assistance with numerous aspects of the tournament over the four days it ran.

Overall, I was pleased with the way that most aspects of the tournament played out. If, as was noted above, the primary purpose of a National Championship is to crown a national champion, then I don’t think that anyone can argue with our champions in any of the competitions that ran. Oddly, for the 5th year in a row, the #1 Varsity seed won the tournament in the Varsity Bowl (and for the third year in a row, the team that had finished second in the Varsity title match the previous year came back and won!) This year, the #1 seed won in the JV Bowl, and the Varsity US History Bee and Varsity National History Bee as well. The final match between Saratoga and LASA was the tensest and most exciting match I have ever read, and I don’t think anyone who was there to watch it will forget it for a very long time.

Congratulations to all our champions and to all those who qualified for Nationals on your success! Bruce Arthur made a point upthread about how students know their history better than ever. More than any comment, I was pleased to read that, as that speaks to the reason I established NHBB in the first place. My favorite thing to tell people outside the community about quiz bowl / NHBB is that students and teams raise the bar every year. With all the declinist rhetoric one hears about the US education system, it is so heartening to see that trend contradicted in such a spectacular fashion at any quiz bowl tournament, and especially at Nationals. Clearly, tens of thousands of hours were spent learning about history and geography in the lead up to Nationals, and I hope and expect that students who competed will be able to put that knowledge to good use in the years to come.

Turning back to the event itself, though, there are certainly aspects of the tournament that can be improved upon for next year. I felt that the changes we put in place from last year (e.g. more games at the hotel, not using Mount Vernon, having the Geography Quiz Bowl prelims on Friday afternoon, moving away from single elim to the extent we were comfortable with doing so) were all major improvements, and certainly there will be things that we will look to change for next year.

In this post, I’d like to give start off an overview of what I thought worked well and what I think could use improving. Some of my thoughts will answer questions people had and address comments upthread; where needed, I’ll make subsequent posts addressing comments that I don’t touch on here. I’m going to go in chronological order here; this first post will just touch on the lead up and Thursday; I’ll make subsequent posts in the coming days on how Friday, Saturday, and Sunday went.

1. Preparations

One fix for next year, is that I will certainly look to be in the DC area for at least 2 weeks in the lead up to Nationals. This year, I only returned on Monday night from over 2 months overseas running IHBB events. Granted, 90% of the work I did in April was US Nationals related (for almost everything that doesn’t involve physically running tournaments, I can work from anywhere with a good internet connection). However, this added to the overall stress of the week for me, and our Nationals team didn’t meet together until Tuesday. Next year, I’d like to move that up to the preceding Saturday, and that should allow us to do more double checking of various aspects of the preparation and cut down on the amount of work that needs to get done in a compressed amount of time.

2. Hotel Issue #1 – Booking rooms at the Crystal Gateway Marriott

The aspect of Nationals that I was most unhappy with was preparations from the hotel. This was the fourth year of us holding the tournament at the Crystal Gateway Marriott, and the number of issues relating to the hotel arrangements was considerably larger than in past years. The first big issue was that the hotel (in contrast with past years) ran out of double double rooms, and started putting people in king rooms less than a week before Nationals. Apparently, when teams had called and said that they wanted double double rooms, the reservations staff basically said something in many cases like “I’ve noted your preference” without guaranteeing it. But the language they used clearly led teams to believe that double double rooms had in fact been booked. This is a deceptive business practice that comes from Marriott using a call center to book rooms instead of handling that at the hotel. I’ve told the hotel of my disgust about this, and have insisted that for future years, teams be guaranteed (or, conversely, clearly told the hotel is out of such rooms) their room preferences, rather than having the hotel decide this the week before willy nilly.

3. Hotel Issue # 2 – Residence Inn vs. Crystal Gateway Marriott

More problems ensued with Marriott’s booking practices when I called and made reservations for 27 suites at a nearby Residence Inn for overflow matches (due to a need for more rooms, having been told in past years that we already were using all available rooms at the Crystal Gateway, and wanting to avoid sending teams to DC en masse). The initial phone call was made as soon as I knew we would need overflow rooms. I very clearly explained exactly what we needed, that the Residence Inn (also a Marriott brand) could contact the Crystal Gateway and confirm for themselves the setup that we needed, and the sales associate then said that everything would be great. We then signed a contract with the Residence Inn, and after I returned to DC, I went down and met with the Residence Inn people at their hotel on Tuesday of Nationals week, at which point, they all insisted that things would be fine.

On Thursday morning, though, right after I had sent out the email with where to report the night before, I learned that for whatever reason, the Residence Inn had gotten cold feet, and had transferred the rooms to the Crystal Gateway. This was news to me since a) we had already signed a contract with the Residence Inn, which had known for weeks what the set up would be like b) was coming after I had spent hours planning for how we would make the Residence Inn set up work and was resulting in mixed messages to teams and c) I didn’t know how the Crystal Gateway would make this work.

Despite all that, I wasn’t overly upset, since, if it could work at the Crystal Gateway, that would avoid 50 minutes of walking for those who had to play at the Residence Inn. So on Thursday morning, the Crystal Gateway showed me how the set up could work in some additional suites. In some of these, no furniture removal was needed at all; in some, the mattress had to be moved into the bathroom (which is odd-looking, but not a major problem). Anyway, for what it’s worth, this was a very pleasant surprise, since it will allow us to hold more games at the Crystal Gateway in subsequent years than we had ever thought possible, and this bodes well for the future sustainable growth of Nationals. Of course, I am still upset over the roughly 10 hours I spent figuring out the logistics for the Residence Inn and the fact that inaccurate information went out to teams in the Wednesday night email.

4. Hotel Issue #3 – The Crystal Gateway Marriott Gives us the Wrong Rooms (Twice)


I then sent out an email as soon as I had figured out the new control rooms / meeting spots for the Saturday Bowl groups which now were at the Crystal Gateway rather than the Residence Inn. All seemed fine… until the hotel told me on Friday afternoon that of the 27 rooms we had been given for games on Saturday, about 14 needed to be switched since the hotel had forgotten to check to see if those rooms were free of guests on both Friday and Saturday nights (they had only checked one).

So then on Friday afternoon / evening, after putting my foot down as much as possible and saying that in particular, the rooms that had been designated as control rooms could not be switched since it was too late to send another email out on room switches, I had to kill another 3-4 hours trying to fix the hotel’s mistake. In some cases, the rooms did get switched that I insisted on; in the other cases, they did not but there was an available room right next to the originally designated control room, so teams could report as scheduled, and it would sort itself out on Saturday morning. This was a major headache to get the revised info out to staff, stats, and ensure that everything would be fine, but I went to bed on Friday (around 3am) thinking things were ok.

Until the next stage of the hotel’s screw up became visible when I awoke at 6 on Saturday morning. In the process of giving me a new set of rooms (when I insisted that the control rooms needed to stay), my contact at the hotel gave me a different list than she gave to the event staff that needed to set up the rooms. That resulted in many rooms not having been set up at all (and in at least two rooms, that were not affected by the switch, the set up hadn’t been done either!). Beyond that, the hotel was woefully understaffed both with event staff to set up rooms, and front desk staff to fix key issues. This led to me, Raynell, and other NHBB staff running around like crazy for several hours bringing chairs up from the ballroom to rooms, pleading for new keys to be made, and trying to troubleshoot as quickly as possible.

Now, from past years, we have learned that the schedule needs some cushion time to allow for Murphy’s law. We also had one room set up in the ballroom salons as an emergency room in advance to prepare (this is what Daniel Yan referenced in his post). Because of planning for these things, there were delays in getting started, for which we apologize, but Round 5 ended early enough even in the most problematic pools for the afternoon games to begin on time. We know that the 2.5-3 hour gap in the middle of the day can be frustrating for teams who would like to play more (though I think 10 games, which every team got this year, is a fair amount), but please keep in mind that with 123 rooms playing at once, it’s far better for us to have downtime built in to the schedule, so we can stick with the schedule as officially drawn up for the afternoon if issues arise in the morning, as opposed to getting way behind and messing up everyone’s plans. One final note: the emergency room we had set up ended up getting used for a room where the hotel had completely screwed up and gave us keys to a room which a random guest was staying in, with their valuables and clothing visible to all who walked in expecting to play! At least they weren’t getting out of the shower when the teams walked in…

I have already met with the hotel and voiced my displeasure on these matters; both they and I have made notes to ensure that these issues will not present themselves in future years. I think we troubleshot things here as best as we could; for those teams who found themselves locked out / in rooms that weren’t set up / inconvenienced with bookings / told to go to different rooms than were actually used, we apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience and understanding.

5. Lorenz Cup on Thursday


On Thursday evening, for early arriving teams, we held an event called the Lorenz Cup (see http://www.historybowl.com if you want the backstory here on the name) which was an A Set mirror for teams who didn’t get a chance to play it at Regionals. We ended up with 8 teams for this who seemed to have a good time playing it. All told, this probably didn’t take more than about 3 hours of my time the entire month leading up to Nationals, and probably no more than 20 minutes on Thursday evening (mostly during the opening meeting). I’m kind of ambivalent about whether we do this again next year; on the one hand, it was hardly a time sink for me; on the other, we only got 8 teams in for it. The event itself seemed to run fine, with the exception of two teams from one school that returned back 30 minutes late from dinner for the playoff matches. Since those were 2 of the 4 playoff teams, though, we weren’t going to disqualify them.

We’ll probably take a bit of a wait and see approach to the Lorenz Cup for next year. It’s hardly a major drain on our resources, but if only a small number of teams are interested in competing this way, it begs the question of whether it’s worth it for us to hold the event.

More to follow whenever I next get some free time, either later tonight or tomorrow.
The hotel part is spot on. The hotel pretty much had no idea what they were doing. We reserved our double-double like 2 months in advance and they gave us a king and rollaway. My coach reserved a king bed and got a double-double instead. He also reserved a double-double for my teammates but my teammates ended up with a king bed and rollaway instead. Fortunately my teammates and coach just switched, but I still had the king bed thing, and I was left wondering how a hotel could be so incompetent.
Also we were one of the teams that walked into the random guest bedroom. We spent like 20 minutes watching the moderator try key after key that would not work, and when we finally got in the we realized the fiasco.
I'd also agree with the idea that the competition has really gotten a lot better. Our freshman team was better than my team freshman year, but they went 1-4 in the afternoon upper rounds while my freshman year team made the playoffs.
Daniel Yan-2014 JV History Bee Champion
Captain of 2014 History Bowl JV Runner Up Farragut
"Sinner in the hands of an angry God"

acrosby1861
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by acrosby1861 » Mon May 04, 2015 6:57 pm

johntait1 wrote: I'd also agree with the idea that the competition has really gotten a lot better. Our freshman team was better than my team freshman year, but they went 1-4 in the afternoon upper rounds while my freshman year team made the playoffs.
Yeah, the significantly better competition was noticeable for me, too, and I'm usually terrible at noticing things. I really like how better the teams were this year compared to last year, which shows how much more seriously History Bowl is being taken (I also like this part, too). I find that the high level of competition I see at History Bowl is one reason why doing History Bowl is very enjoyable for me.
Mucho Macho Man wrote: Also, what's the purpose of not even telling people about the hotel restaurant? I understand that not even half the people at the tournament would've been able to have breakfast there, but it ended up being rather empty when I ate there. And a tip for people participating in the bee: Room service is almost the same price as the hotel restaurant, and it means you actually get a real breakfast on Sunday morning.
My main complaint about the hotel would be the lack of food options in the shopping center area (the Crystal City shops, I think). But telling people about the hotel restaurant would definitely help clear up the lines at the bagel place in the lobby and Dunkin Donuts.
Nighthawk wrote:Firstly, to address all the bee stuff.

I was one of the dozen or so who played bee with fewer than a half-dozen people on the buzzers. In the consolation final (played on the 6th prelim set), three of us played. It was definately much different than playing with more people in the room. There's less guessing answers, though somehow someone still neged on a question, and a but it is still there.
Also, during the bee, there were some people talking in the hallway about how one room had nine people and a nearby room had five. I think there should be a better system of making sure that there aren't situations like that (too many in 1 room, too few in another). I'm not entirely sure on how to go about doing that, but I remember last year, my moderators had a list of everyone who's supposed to be in a particular room at a particular time, and some of them called roll based off of what they had.
Arianne Crosby
Los Alamitos High School | 2013 — 2017
UC San Diego | 2017 — 2021

High Dependency Unit
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Re: 2015 NHBB/USGO Discussion Thread

Post by High Dependency Unit » Mon May 04, 2015 7:36 pm

I actually ended up in a room of 5 people during the bee, although it could've been 6. At the very least, a couple people who were supposed to play me at some point never showed up, and another was double-registered and played under the other name. At the very least, the latter situation was very avoidable.
Michael Borecki
Middlesex Middle '13,
Darien (co-captain) '17,
Bowdoin College (club president) '21
NHBB Regional Coordinator
www.ctquizbowl.org

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