More variety in tournaments?

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No Rules Westbrook
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More variety in tournaments?

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:49 pm

Jerry's reading of my angle in the IO discussion post got me thinking about a feeling I've had lately.

I think there's something a little too cookie-cutter and mechanical about the usual good tournament these days. A hypothetical tourney that today might be universally lauded as the model of good qb - I'm afraid is also a tournament that looks like redux and regurgitation of every other good tournament in the last four years. There's a part of me that feels it's all become a little trite and boring.

Now, there's no doubt that we need regular season events that are conservative, "nuts and bolts", "close to the vest" kinds of events ,that operate as visual didactic models of what is generally regarded as best practice in the qb world - you know, a nice perfectly-distributed ACF Regionals that chucks out the dogmatic 2011 version of what good qb is supposed to walk and talk like. Takes no chances, writes on all the topics we've generally agreed should be written on, stays on the straight and narrow, has its sole focus on the empirical task of fairly distinguishing between the knowledge of all teams in the field, etc.

But, what of the charm of 2004? Have we lost some of the uniqueness and creative spark that defined the landmark events of yore? I think that I like what nontraditional events like Sack of Antwerp are trying to do - even if I'm not sure they're trying to do it in the right way. This isn't a difficulty argument - hard or easy, too many tourneys seem to feel like just what you'd expect, just when you'd expect it. There's no more elan vital in that fourth tossup on "Can the Subaltern Speak?" or The Great Transformation or that return trip to the Seven Valleys, than there is in that blase tossup on John Milton based on lines other poets have written about him, or that cranked-out Shropshire Lad tossup which trolleys its way down lines from "Is My Team Plowing?"

I don't know, clearly this post is ruminating and open ended. You tell me; is there something stagnating in this age of qb? Is there innovation left to be done, or are we at the end of qb history?
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Sir Thopas
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by Sir Thopas » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:52 pm

Why can't we write on good new things that people know instead of bad new things that people don't know?
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:55 pm

Empirically, I'm not sure that quizbowl is getting less creative. Minnesota Open (except for this most recent year) was a hotbed of wacky or creative answers. Harvard International had its fair share. The "Experimental Tournament" craze of 2007-2008 produced some of the most creative tossups in living memory. Sun n Fun is another obvious example. Even ACF Regionals this year got cute a few times.
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:57 pm

I think that tournaments should have a different feel and style to them. However, Ryan is dangerously close to conflating "do whatever you want" with "variety." To wit, just look at 2010: you can't look at 2010 ACF Nats, Chicago Open, Minnesota Open, VCU Open, and a number of other tournaments and say, "Wow, these are all close to the vest, yawn, wake me when it's over events."

I like what some folks attempt to do in producing quality, difficulty appropriate, and interesting sets that are neither tossups on "Can the Subaltern Speak?" or the 1000th tossup on "John Milton." Contrary to what Ryan says, I found a number of such sets this year and last year. I agree that it's a good thing to keep moving and trying fresh things, and I'm even open to slightly different distributions at times. But with all due respect to the people involved in creating them, I don't think Sack of Antwerp or Illinois Open were the best way of going about it.
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by Auroni » Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:58 pm

I am against anything that results in less accessible, less convert-able questions. Instead of asking "what can we ask next?" we should be asking "in what new ways can we ask well known topics?"
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:03 pm

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:I am against anything that results in less accessible, less convert-able questions. Instead of asking "what can we ask next?" we should be asking "in what new ways can we ask well known topics?"
This seems a bit too doctrinaire. We don't need ACF Regionals to be the latest and greatest in canon expansion, but I wouldn't mind a tournament here and there that explores interesting ground that hasn't been covered. I don't think we need more than one such tournament in the regular season, though, and there's always Chicago Open.
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Re: More variety in tournaments?

Post by Auroni » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:17 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:I am against anything that results in less accessible, less convert-able questions. Instead of asking "what can we ask next?" we should be asking "in what new ways can we ask well known topics?"
This seems a bit too doctrinaire. We don't need ACF Regionals to be the latest and greatest in canon expansion, but I wouldn't mind a tournament here and there that explores interesting ground that hasn't been covered. I don't think we need more than one such tournament in the regular season, though, and there's always Chicago Open.
Well, the majority of tournaments on the calendar are events where writers are repeatedly told to err easier and are repeatedly nitpicked for the difficulty of their individual questions. I think that using "how can I cover previously unexplored interesting ground?" as a guiding principle is antagonistic to that fairly reasonable expectation. For your harder opens, absolutely ask interesting and edifying questions in uncommon topics so long as people can 10 or 20 them in some cases.
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