The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

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The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby VitarisSurtr » Sun Jul 09, 2017 11:23 pm

I started playing a little bit on online websites, reading beginner packets, and I always felt like my high-school education was a little lacking.
I feel that might be validated now.

My school did not offer a quiz team, and some of the authors and creators of these works are strangers to me. Naturally curious about how little I knew, I started studying. However, I cannot imagine actually learning these classics in any sort of reasonable time.

If I am extremely interested in competing at a collegiate level, where do I start with no (formal) education in fine arts, literature, social sciences or history? I have a genuine interest in literature and opera, but many of these books take a (continuous) half day to read cover to cover, and that may not be enough to memorize everything. The operas I've looked at average in length 2.5-3 hours in languages I do not understand. I understand that perhaps in years I might represent a competent player, but I will have graduated by that point.

To summarize, if you have no knowledge outside of a bare-bones STEM education from high-school, where should you start as a new collegiate player? Even areas I'm comfortable with like physics, chemistry, and mathematics focus on more theoretical and experimental topics than I have ever heard of until the buzzer race. I apologize for the basic question, but the entire experience is overwhelming and some guidance would be appreciated.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:28 am

Expose yourself to as many questions as possible. Ideally, attend tournaments as often as you can and attend practices as often as you can. If that can't happen, read packets in your spare time. Have a notebook and write down any answers you have not heard of, then look them up online.

You can really learn a lot from just listening to questions. My freshman year of college I went from not being able to get a tossup at practice to being respectable (not good, but respectable) in like one semester just by going to practice twice a week and listening to questions and playing every tournament I could, including ones that were way too hard for me. If you study on top of that you'll be just fine in no time.

Are you playing as part of a team? If so, your teammates probably would appreciate you starting to study with the subjects that they are worst at. If not, start off with whatever is most interesting to you as that will be easiest to learn.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby CaseyB » Mon Jul 10, 2017 10:04 am

If you're not sure where to begin as far as which subjects to study, just start learning what is interesting to you. It will be more fun if you learn more about topics that you already like. Keep in mind too that no one in quiz bowl is expected to know about all the areas of the distribution. Rather, know your strengths and interest areas and get better in those subjects. I'm not the best person to talk about how to study, but I agree that, especially early on, hearing questions is the best way to learn. You start to pick up on answer lines and clues that come up frequently and more importantly, you start to get the feel of the game. I don't know where in Florida you are, but if you're close enough, Valencia College in Orlando is holding summer practices, and that would be a good way to start hearing packets during the summer. (Link to the thread about Valencia practices is here: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=20026.) Once the school year begins, if there's already a team at your school, go to tournaments. If there isn't already a team, find some interested friends and make a team. When you go to college, there are clubs at UF, FSU, UCF, and New College all with experienced players who can help you get better. And if you go somewhere else that doesn't have a club, then make one. (Of course, if you're comfortable with it, there's nothing stopping you from going to tournaments and playing by yourself. Though it's much more fun when playing on a team.)

One more thing I always tell new players is not to be intimidated by the game. It is hard, especially when you're new, but it gets better the more you play it and it's a fun game even though it's challenging. You've already pointed out one reason it can be intimidating: clues used in quiz bowl questions may be things that aren't often talked about in the classroom. But the more packets you hear, and with some extra time put in to learn these new clues, things start to become more familiar. It's a process and it takes time, but you'll find yourself, the more you play the game, going from "I've never heard of this" to "I know this clue but what's the answer" to finally buzzing in on that clue and getting the answer right. The other thing to keep in mind along these lines is that just as the content in quiz bowl may be different from in the classroom, so are the expectations. If you're given a quiz in class, the expectation might be that you should know all of what is being asked, and if you only get 50% (say, 10/20, to relate it to quiz bowl) then you've performed poorly on the quiz. But in quiz bowl, you certainly are not expected to know everything that comes up, and if you answer 4 out of the 20 questions in a round correctly, then you're doing very well. So that's something to keep in mind as well, especially as you learn the game.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby Jewish Pugilist » Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:51 pm

Hi Thomas,
Peter Torres from UCF qb speaking. Some of us Floridians in the college and high school circuit have been playing quizbowl on Skype. We have been reading some high school packets as of late to prepare for SUMO and you are more than welcomed to join if you want. Here is my email if you are interested (petertorres9@gmail.com)
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby ValenciaQBowl » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:13 pm

Hi, Thomas--

I'll echo Casey's invite to our summer practices at Valencia on the west side of Orlando. However, some other community college teams are also practicing over the summer but don't really have a presence on this message board. If you want to let me know where you are, I could maybe point you to a place where you could get in on in-person practices even if you're not going to attend that institution. And consider taking Peter up on his Skype invitation above. Good luck!
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby sonstige » Mon Jul 10, 2017 6:38 pm

VitarisSurtr wrote:To summarize, if you have no knowledge outside of a bare-bones STEM education from high-school, where should you start as a new collegiate player?


You're going to school in Florida, you say? Stick to STEM, and you'll score plenty of points against most teams here. The rest of quiz bowl subjects will follow over time, but having a foundation in STEM (even a "bare-bones" one) will carry you in the beginning.

Oh, to reiterate some of the previously-said stuff here --- I highly recommend going to Valencia's things (tournaments, practices, misc. packet readings) if you can; otherwise, Chris Borglum or others can point you to the nearest established program(s) wherever you're located in the state. Cheers!
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jul 11, 2017 10:26 am

sonstige wrote:
VitarisSurtr wrote:To summarize, if you have no knowledge outside of a bare-bones STEM education from high-school, where should you start as a new collegiate player?


You're going to school in Florida, you say? Stick to STEM, and you'll score plenty of points against most teams here. The rest of quiz bowl subjects will follow over time, but having a foundation in STEM (even a "bare-bones" one) will carry you in the beginning.


This is true. Many (not all, but many) of the best quizbowl players in history were scientists who learned other non-science topics later. Science is the most valuable skill in quizbowl and it's not really close.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby VitarisSurtr » Wed Jul 12, 2017 10:15 am

I am genuinely embarrassed to get this much response and come back so late. Life can certainly find ways to distract us.
sonstige wrote:
VitarisSurtr wrote:To summarize, if you have no knowledge outside of a bare-bones STEM education from high-school, where should you start as a new collegiate player?


You're going to school in Florida, you say? Stick to STEM, and you'll score plenty of points against most teams here. The rest of quiz bowl subjects will follow over time, but having a foundation in STEM (even a "bare-bones" one) will carry you in the beginning.


I appreciate the advice, but I didn't have that feeling, to be honest. There was a ton of theoretical math and physics clues that went way over my head, but they were also very early power clues. I suppose a starting player shouldn't just get those right away.

Jewish Pugilist wrote:Hi Thomas,
Peter Torres from UCF qb speaking. Some of us Floridians in the college and high school circuit have been playing quizbowl on Skype. We have been reading some high school packets as of late to prepare for SUMO and you are more than welcomed to join if you want. Here is my email if you are interested (petertorres9@gmail.com)


I wouldn't be lying if I said that I hesitate to jump in with UCF players, seems a bit out of my league. Considering I intend to transfer over there in the next year or so, I'll probably have to take you up on that!

In response to all of the Valencia invitations, it's only an hour or so for me and I really would love to take you up on that! I just wouldn't be able to make it there due to transportation issues.

I think my response was just due to the immense amount of things I didn't know just dropped on my head. I've kind of relaxed since then, cracked open a good book and just looked forward to participating in any capacity this year!
Thomas R.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby sonstige » Wed Jul 12, 2017 2:40 pm

VitarisSurtr wrote:I appreciate the advice, but I didn't have that feeling, to be honest. There was a ton of theoretical math and physics clues that went way over my head, but they were also very early power clues. I suppose a starting player shouldn't just get those right away.


OK, so first: a starting player has every right to power a toss-up as much as a 10-year veteran does if they know the clue. Now, there's a whole long, rambling discourse I could give on clue (mis)placement, difficulty appropriateness, and so forth --- but essentially, that a novice player can power something is fine (if the player really knows their stuff), or it isn't (if the question is badly written --- but this isn't the player's fault).

Now, I could go into a long-winded retelling of my own quiz bowl experience, but I'll save you this. Yet I implore you to trust that I know what I'm talking about here: Knowing science, like actually knowing it --- not just word-associating from flashcards for quiz bowl purposes or whatever --- will be a huge advantage over the years. You will almost always be guaranteed a few questions per game this way.

So, in my opinion, stick to STEM at first, get your points (hint: for many players, at least those in the Florida circuit, science is definitely not a strength) --- then build on this by eventually branching out to other areas of interest over time. But spreading yourself thin in the beginning by trying to learn ALL OF THE THINGS is a really bad approach. Sorry.

(And if you're thinking "But what I learned in school doesn't exactly align with quiz bowl!" --- well, that's how it works, for better or worse...meaning, if your STEM education isn't exactly jiving with quiz bowl, then you may need to do some self-education to fill in the gaps. Note that this is true for many subjects, not just STEM.)

VitarisSurtr wrote:I wouldn't be lying if I said that I hesitate to jump in with UCF players, seems a bit out of my league. Considering I intend to transfer over there in the next year or so, I'll probably have to take you up on that!


High schooler Tracy Mirkin didn't feel this way, and neither should you. UCF is not Chicago or Michigan or Stanford. You'll be fine.

VitarisSurtr wrote:In response to all of the Valencia invitations, it's only an hour or so for me and I really would love to take you up on that! I just wouldn't be able to make it there due to transportation issues.


Not sure where you live, but it's very possible that 1) There's a CC near you that has a quiz bowl team, whose practices you could attend during the summer, and 2) That someone nearby could bring you to Valencia for things (say, for example, the August 19th weekend of stuff).

And by "someone nearby" I mean a former or current quiz bowl person in your part of the state that was already planning to make the drive to Orlando anyway.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby rasa » Wed Jul 12, 2017 5:53 pm

Hey Thomas,

I just started playing quizbowl last year as a HS senior, so I'm either your age or very near it. I can attest to the Florida quizbowl scene being very welcoming and friendly in my experience. Even as a high school player, I attended a couple collegiate tournaments and had a great time. Sometimes we won, sometimes we lost, but I never felt like anyone in the community looked down on us in any sense for playing like "noobs" (in the sense that we had some knowledge gaps on fairly canonical things.)

Quizbowl was intimidating at first, but I've had a great time in my very short career so far and I hope you will too.
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby Jewish Pugilist » Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:18 pm

Well Thomas, we are playing tonight later on, PM if you feel like jumping in. Not only does Tracy play, but occasionally Zach (who posted above) and Min Kim.About half of the group is high schoolers (soon to be college students). Also, for sure let us know when you plan to transfer over; we would love to have you!
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Re: The overwhelming lack of knowledge for the initiate

Postby SpanishSpy » Fri Jul 14, 2017 11:23 am

What is your specialty? You can become a STEM specialist if that's what interests you, or a literature specialist if so.

Becoming a generalist at the college level when one is not before, at least my opinion, is lunacy. You do not have the time in your life to learn the ENTIRE canon and still have a productive and rewarding life. Select one or two areas and focus on those and you will make a fine player.
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