Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Susan » Mon May 05, 2014 3:31 pm

I would love to keep this as Quizbowl Storytime for a long while and deal with the voting way down the road, if ever.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by theMoMA » Mon May 05, 2014 3:32 pm

Dr. Loki Skylizard, Thoracic Surgeon wrote:I almost hesitate to mention this but I'm actually able to run the originally intended contest now. I don't want to stymie these awesome stories, though! Maybe we could split threads?
There was some discussion in the IRC last night about the best way to proceed. I think that the voting might be fun (and would serve the dual purpose of taking forever and keeping this thread at the top of the forum for a long time!). Others thought it might be better to spotlight teams (i.e. "this we let's talk about 1989 Georgia Tech!"). I'm a little worried that people won't have anything to say about some of these teams.

So maybe a hybrid proposal could work: people vote the teams out once per week and discuss their relative merits in one thread, and once teams are voted out, people discuss them some more in a parallel "tribute thread" (where they're de facto highlighted for a week when they're the most recent team eliminated). This would have a nice side effect of lasting nearly a year, more than enough time for anyone with stories about old-timey quizbowl to come out of the woodwork.

I realize that this might be a load to administer, but I'm happy to pick up the slack if Fred or others get busy at various times (and I hope others would be too). And in reality, it would only require a couple posts every Sunday or whatever. What do people think?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Yor, the Hunter from the Future » Mon May 05, 2014 4:08 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
Yor, the Hunter from the Future wrote:dysprosium meant “green twin”
In the true spirit of quizbowl pedantry: it's actually praseodymium that means "green twin", which I know because the NAQT parody packet I wrote a few years ago included a two-line tossup on praseodymium.
Yep. Mea culpa.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Scipio » Tue May 06, 2014 1:55 am

The Maryland website's Lexicon (do teams still do those? Do teams still have websites?) referred to the phenomena of getting things like chemistry questions from knowledge of what the Greek and Latin meanings of their names were as "Colvin Science". I still look back on those days with a guilty fondness, although I was always far less successful at pulling off that sort of thing than Colvin was, because I inevitably got the packet when people didn't know the difference between Greek and Latin. I still have great bitterness for losing a game (and ultimately a tournament) on a question which began "With a name from the Latin for 'light bearer'...", at which I dutifully buzzed in with "Lucifer". Minus five; the next words were " ... this element", and the question of course goes on to describe phosphorus. Sigh.

I will say that those old biographical anecdotes about scientists, which led to more points than I care to admit in my early days (and which, lamentably for me, but probably justly for legitimate science players, have long since vanished) have stood me in great stead for my History of Modern Science and Tech class. My students very much enjoyed the bit about how Priestley used to live above a brewery which helped him "invent" carbonated water, how Lavoisier lost his head for being a "tax farmer", and they really liked the "standing on the shoulders of giants" as a swipe by Newton against Hooke (an enmity which led to the old saw about him publishing "Hooke's law" in code to keep Newton from stealing more of his stuff).
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by salamanca » Tue May 06, 2014 10:04 am

As promised here are some additional thoughts and anecdotes regarding Matt W.'s previous discussion on the strength of the second/third tier at early 2000s National Championships and some personal reflections on the cyclical nature of team strength, especially as it pertains to the current great teams.

To start, I think it is a truth universally acknowledged in QB that at nearly every ACF Nationals and, to a slightly lesser degree, ICT, there are, at most, 4 teams who have a realistic shot of winning the title. It is a very rare year where it is not the same 2 or 3 teams competing to be in both finals. If anything, it seems to me that the odds of having more teams in the mix has actually decreased over the years as ICT has slowly absorbed the editorial influence of first Subash, then Andrew and now Seth T.

You have to remember that back in my day ACF and ICT played as fairly different events due to the hit or miss academic distribution and the lingering MattBrucian/TomWatersesque influence of the latter. This situation lended itself more frequently to strange results and speaks directly to some of Matt's points about the surprising finishes that certain teams had.

To wit, in 2004, Florida, which was led by the quick buzzing duo of Kevin Comer and Raj Duwhalia, beat us in playoffs on the last question when, during the worst stretch of QB in my life-- full disclosure, I was terrible at that tournament-- I went 0-0-3 against them. Needless to say, negging three academic questions left us in a bad position against a team that thrived on chestnuts and less challenging academic content. Again, this was a team we beat decisively the year before at ICT and I suspect we would have dominated on ACF, but on NAQT questions with that wonky distribution things can happen. To their credit, Florida took advantage and that is why they finished second that year.

In a previous post, I explained how another outlier team,2003 MD, finished ahead of us at ICT when Subash destroyed the field, with Berkeley and Michigan firmly ensconced in the second tier despite what the final standings say. Additionally, I want to clarify Matt's claims regarding the Yale team that finished 5th that year which actually led by ACF player Robert Beard, who would have been legit even now and finished well ahead of Mike Wehrman to lead that Yale team in scoring and in total powers.

And while it is true that at the 2005 ICT, Rochester somehow finished third, this ignores the fact that Fred Bush was a lit PHD student who knew real things and had legitimate success earlier that year, even winning MLK against Chicago at a fairly academic tournament edited by Adam K. and Leo W. Additionally, the other teams that finished in the top 6 in 2005 included a Sorice/Sudheer led Illinois and a Jerry led Berkeley which would mean that while Rochester's finish was somewhat unexpected they bested teams with legit players on them.

All of the above is not meant to disparage Matt's overall point that the near instantaneous access to a trove of questions, as well as advances in question writing and studying techniques, has raised the level of play at national tournaments for teams that finish 15-20, but I think he does exaggerate a bit to make his point. I think it is more notable, actually, that to this day the same sizable gap between the top 5, much less the top 2, at ICT and ACF and the rest of the field continues to exist. To piggy back off of a more general point that Andrew and Guy have made earlier, I think this gap is a direct result of competitive drive and will, qualities that all great players and teams have possessed since the late 90s. In other words, while it is true that now everyone has access to all of the past ACF questions on Edmund Spenser, the truly dedicated will, a) learn all of the extant clues, and b) learn additional clues, whether via writing questions or additional research, to buzz before any of those recycled clues are dropped.

As for how certain historic teams would match up with today's champions, I have an observation that I've made in private to some folks but not on the boards. If we take a step back and look at how the current crop of excellent teams (I would count Minnesota of 2010/11, Yale of 2011 till now, and VA of the past two years, among those teams) have really set themselves apart from their contemporaries it really comes down to dominating humanities in a way that has not been seen since the early to mid 2000 UM teams, Andrew and Subash's Chicago teams, and to a lesser extent, the Hoppes led Berkeley teams, McKenzie led Kentucky teams, and Kenney led VA teams of the early to mid 2000s.

To a certain extent this makes sense, after all the period from 2006 to 2009 was mostly dominated by teams led by true science #1s, i.e., Sorice, Teitler, Vinokurov, Wynne, then Mukherjee, all players who surely knew a lot of humanities but didn't own it in the same way that Andrew Y. owned philosophy and lit, or Adam K. owned classics and British history (and when I say own, I mean own without regard to the potential scale up in difficulty that questions have taken, see e.g., Andrew at 2010 Nats).

Teams like Minnesota, with Rob, Andrew, and Brendan, or Yale, with John, Matt, and Kevin K., or VA, with Matt, Evan, and Tommy, stepped into that void and became competitive at national championships very quickly, through an admirable combination of skill and hard work, by making themselves into players/teams that could buzz earlier on a certain subset of questions than the aforementioned previous generation of great science first players. Obviously, I am hyperbolizing a bit, but I think this "trend" is worth pointing out especially in this thread, which started out as a discussion asking folks to prognosticate how historical teams would fare in hypothetical matchups.

To put it another way, I have no doubt that Matt Bollinger is an amazing player, but he never had to face Adam or Jeff in their prime on history at multiple national tournaments, or Andrew Y. in his prime on lit/ philosophy. This makes a huge difference since we all know that dominance on certain key categories can swing individual games and national titles.
I think the Yale/VA rivalry of the past two to three years is instructive on this point. Although, Matt, Evan, and Tommy buzz with impunity against nearly any team on humanities, which obviously makes them very hard to beat, the Yale team, esp. at ACF, could take questions from them on these subjects thereby neutralizing their greatest strength. Similarly, as I understand it, Ike and Aaron were able to break the humanities stranglehold that Yale and VA had thereby setting up their ACF Nationals triumph last year.

These, then, are the sorts of matchup questions I would think about when rating historical teams against one another.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue May 06, 2014 4:44 pm

I have some more thoughts inspired by Zeke's latest contribution, but for now I just want to ask: Where are the poetic tributes to the ACF membership that Zeke and I wrote c. 2005? I was especially fond of my "You, Chris Romero" and Zeke's Thomas Hardy-inspired tribute to Matt Lafer; I would hate to think they have been lost to posterity.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Susan » Tue May 06, 2014 4:53 pm

They can be viewed here.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Tue May 06, 2014 4:56 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I have some more thoughts inspired by Zeke's latest contribution, but for now I just want to ask: Where are the poetic tributes to the ACF membership that Zeke and I wrote c. 2005? I was especially fond of my "You, Chris Romero" and Zeke's Thomas Hardy-inspired tribute to Matt Lafer; I would hate to think they have been lost to posterity.
Still thankfully accessible through archive.org. I'll post them here:
Eric Kwartler wrote:Jerusalem

And did those hands in ancient time
Buzz upon Welty's "Curtain of Green?"
And was the holy Lamb of God
Inspiring the thirtying of bonuses unseen?

And did the Candace Benefiel
Shine forth upon your Southwest Regional?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among fair Kwartler's ACF Fall?

Bring me my question set of burning gold!
Bring me my clues of desire!
Bring me my spear! O Gungnir unfold!
Bring me the packet of Nick Meyer?

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my buzzer sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In Texas' scenic quizbowl land.
Matt Weiner

Matt Weiner, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed CBI;
He wept that Mike Decker was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Matt Weiner loved the days of old
When John Sheahan was bright and Jeff Johnson was prancing;
The vision of Matt Colvin
Would set him dancing.

Matt Weiner sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Jim Dendy and Georgia Tech,
And great ACFers.

Matt Weiner mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Subash, now on the town,
And Ezequiel, a vagrant.

Matt Weiner loved Don Windham's teams,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have buzzed incessantly
Could he have been on one.

Matt Weiner cursed the commonplace
And eyed a 20 point bonus with loathing;
He missed the academic grace
Of consistent bon(i).

Matt Weiner scorned the NAQT title he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Matt Weiner thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Matt Weiner, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Matt Weiner coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on buzzing.
Jerry Vinokurov wrote: THE ACF PLAYERS.
FOUR AT THE MANU GINOBILI.

I real cool. I
Left Berkeley. I

Read Russian. I
Be crushin'. I

Write astro. I
Neg slow. I

Cheese moon. I
Buzz soon.
Abou Ben Teitler

Seth Teitler (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
Jim Dendy writing in a book of gold:--
Exceeding titles had made Seth Teitler bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—Jim Dendy raised his head,
And with a look that was Hentzel's epitaph,
Answered, "The names of those who love ACF."
"And is mine one?" said Teitler. "Nay, not so,"
Replied Jim Dendy. Teitler spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, "I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men."

Jim Dendy wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of ACF had blest,
And lo! Seth Teitler's name led all the rest.
Mike Sorice Speaks of Formats

I've known formats:
I've known formats ancient as the world and older than the flow
Of Doc Meredith's Blood in Doc Meredith's veins.

My soul has grown deep like the formats.

I bathed in the packets of IHSA when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the NAQT and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the CBI and the straw men that defended it.
I heard the singing of the ACF when Dom Ricci* went
Down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn
All golden in the sunset.

I've known formats:
Ancient, dusky, formats.
My soul has grown deep like the formats.

* : Sorice's teammate during the 2005 ICT, held in New Orleans
You, Chris Romero

And here playing at the Chicago Open
And here on ACF's obscure height
To feel the expanding of the canon
The always rising of the spite:

To disdain tossups on curving fruit
At CBI tournaments poor and slow
Whose crappiness is in dispute
Only with those you scorn to know

And strange at NAQT the clues
Are very much like last year's strange
Sameness that Hentzel rarely rues
The lead-ins somehow never change

And now at Penn Bowl none await
Tossups on Milne and Chocolate Wars
And through the twilight now the late
Samer his own tossups adores

And Wesselmania goes under and the lore
Of Tennessee Masters the gilded buzz
And Philly Experiments vanish and no more
The tournaments that died because

They lacked pyramidality:

And here face downward in the sun
To feel how swift how secretly
The shadow of ACF comes on . . .
Matt Lafer wrote:Hap

If but some vengeful moderator would call to me
From down the packet, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy
That thy team's loss results from too much sitting!"

Then would I buzz, and clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of spite inherited;
Half-eased, too, that a player more powerful than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.

But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unlearn the facts I swear I'd known? –
Crass CBI obstructs the sun and rain,
And the Stanford Archive for gladness casts a moan…
These purblind Doomsters get me real blown
Sending me bumbling and stumbling on a pilgrimage of pain.
Subash Maddipoti wrote:He Works in Beauty (all through the night)

He works in beauty, all through the night
Of endless packets, and constant sighs;
And all that's best of clues so bright
Meet in his questions and his cries
That he declaims, to R.'s delight,
But which Ismail to gaudy Bruce denies.
One clue the more, one clue the less
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er his face;
Where tired thoughts turn to cups of sweet espress
And the merits of a Rolex in the display case.

And on his cheek, o'er that brow
He registers the truth of fraudulence
The power marks that win, the answers that blow,
Obscuring days before, "You must condense,"
Before, the sets bereft o' Galusha Grow,
The noble editor struggling with NAQT pretense.
paul litvak i love you

paul litvak i love you
because you would rather black the boots of
alfred kroeber than enquire whose soul dangles from his
watch-chain which would be embarrassing for both

parties and because you
unflinchingly applaud all
tossups containing the words quine maslow and
farnham when answered at acf nationals

paul litvak i love you because
when you're hard up you pawn your
intelligence to buy a tossup and when
you're flush pride keeps

you from negging and
because you are continually committing
nuisances but more
especially on your own subjects

paul litvak i love you because you
are perpetually putting the secret of
acf in your pants and forgetting
it's there and sitting down

on it
and because you are
forever answering tossups in the lap
of death paul litvak

i hate you
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wesley Matthews

I
Among twenty snowy tossups,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of Wesley Mathews.

II
I was of three minds,
Like a tournament set
In which there are three Wesley Mathewses.

III
Wesley Mathews whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV
A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and Wesley Mathews
Are one.

V
I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
Wesley Mathews buzzing
Or just after.

VI
Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of Wesley Mathews
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII
O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how Wesley Mathews
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII
I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That Wesley Mathews is involved
In what I know.

IX
When Wesley Mathews flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X
At the sight of Wesley Mathews
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI
He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For Wesley Mathews.

XII
The river is moving.
Wesley Mathews must be negging.

XIII
It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
Wesley Mathews sat
In the cedar-limbs.
Jeff Hoppes, the Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby to the ACF Cabal wrote:On first looking into Audubon's Birds (of America)

Much have I watched the finches, colored gold,
And many goodly jayhawks and orioles seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Containing Great American Cocks twofold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That Birds of America took as its demesne:
Yet did I never encounter avians so serene
Till I heard Audubon speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a Blue-throated Green Warbler soars into his ken;
Or like stout Farris, who with his nested hair
Had buzzed so early at a Tournament—at Penn
Look'd at his teammates as he negged Voltaire—
Insistent, with a voice loud as a wren.
#303

Jason Paik selects his own Format -
Then – shuts the Door -
To its divine Pyramidality -
Present no more -

Unmoved - he notes R. Hentzel - pausing
To dole out powers -
Unmoved – though Hillemann be awarding
Undergrad titles -

I've known him - from an ample field -
Choose A Team -
Then - close the Valves of his attention -
Like Stone -
EDIT: SUSAAAAAN
Rob Carson
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Member, ACF
Member, PACE
Writer and Editor, NAQT

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue May 06, 2014 5:25 pm

Thank you both for insuring that these will be more readily accessible to future generations. Also the Lafer one really requires its annotation:
According to Cleanth Brooks' "The Surly Wolverine" this may be the most hopeful of the various poems about famed quizbowl player Matt Lafer. He argues that this lyric concerns itself with the undaunted courage of a man ready to face Burger King and his destiny.
Andrew

Ex-Virginia, Ex-Chicago, Ex-Stanford

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by powerplant » Wed May 07, 2014 4:13 pm

Okay, so I met with Jeff today and I present to you the things that I learned over the course of our conversation (apologies if my writing isn't super-great, I wanted to get this post written and online before I forgot anything and so my style may have suffered a bit):

The beginning of non-CBI quizbowl (to Jeff's knowledge) was in the seventies in Atlanta. An Atlanta TV station believed that it could make some money by producing a special “comeback” of GE's College Bowl and getting Georgia Tech and UGA to compete in studio for a live audience. The questions for this contest were written by the city of Atlanta's public library. Of the game itself, Jeff says they “kicked [Georgia's] ass” and were inspired to start up a regional college bowl league that lasted either three or four years. Near the end of this regional league's run, there was apparently a really good blind player who inspired Jeff's retirement from playing.

As for the standard 20 questions per round, Jeff says that it wound up happening the first time that Georgia Tech hosted the tournament. He agreed to have Georgia Tech host the tournament, and two weeks before the event started planning it. The buzzers were made by the physics department, which wound up involving a complete redesign of the systems when the student union couldn't order enough parts for the original schematic. For questions, he sent letters to all of the department chairs at the school asking them to contribute because other than that, he “didn't know what the fuck to do.” He had originally intended for the packets to be 30 questions long but with a week to go, he had received nine questions. He began scrambling to put packets together. In addition to common question writing sources like encyclopedias, he was using the Jeopardy! trivia books as an inspiration for questions. He went through a phase where he would write theme rounds, such as “who” where all the questions would ask who did something, or be about the World Health Organization, or the band The Who. The night before the tournament, he was preparing to go to bed and finish the tournament in the morning, but as he showered he realized that if he simply cut the number of questions per packet to 20, he would have enough for all 10 rounds, and that's what he did. Players actually enjoyed the shorter packets, because it let the game and tournament move at a faster pace and it just became adopted as the standard as it was less work for the writers and 30 question games were sort of draining.

Other interesting tidbits that he mentioned during our conversation:

-There was early debate on whether players should be allowed to buzz in before the question had been totally read, but it was decided that buzzing during the question allowed the people who knew more to get points before people who didn't. So before the pyramidal vs. speed check debate there was argument about how much of a role the buzzer should play in determining winners.

-There was a professional quizbowl league that existed for one year in the southeast. Someone was able to cajole sponsors into giving money for this league that obviously made no money as a spectator sport and thus folded after its first season (or maybe even during the season, Jeff didn't know much about it except that it existed briefly).

-Georgia Tech had a coach. Jeff couldn't remember his name, but I wonder if he had a hand in the persistence of the Georgia Tech team into the 1980s and the southeast circuit continuing to have events.

-When I explained the cheating scandals, he was really surprised by them. He felt that you play quizbowl because “you think you're smarter than everyone else” and that cheating was an admission that you in fact were not as smart as everyone else. He also thought the cheaters might have “just wanted to be hackers.”

-The practices he described were closer to what were described upthread about how Julie Gittings organized things, where practice was based around trying to figure out what was important enough to come up and finding out about those things. He didn't “memorize lists of capitals” but wanted to “really learn things”

-The original Georgia Tech team consisted of three physics majors and a math major

-When the Alex Trebek reboot of Jeopardy! was being worked on, Jeff was polled as part of the audience testing and told the poll that he believed the show had “no chance” of success without Art Fleming.

EDIT 1: Fixed a dumb mistake where a sentence didn't make sense.
EDIT 2: Added a description of edit 1.
Joseph Wells

Garfield Heights High School '08
Centre College 2008-2010
Tri-C 2010-2011
Ohio State 2011-

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by AuguryMarch » Thu May 15, 2014 3:53 pm

Another topic that has not been discussed yet is Penn Bowl--several people asked me to post about my Penn Bowl memories, so here it is.

(edited this, as Ezequiel pointed out I mixed up years)

I never played high school quizbowl, so for me, not only was Penn Bowl the largest college tournament I've played in, it for a long time was the largest tournament I'd ever seen. Moreover, for many years until the advent of NAQT, Penn Bowl was considered to be almost on par with a national championship. At Michigan, certain old-timers talked about the 1996 Penn Bowl Michigan win like it was the 89 ncaa championship. The tournament also famously featured a single-elimination playoff some of whose victims I will describe below. I'm sure Andrew can regale you with tales of the storied mid-90s Penn Bowls, but I can only speak for the several I witnessed starting in the year 2000. By that point it had already gained a certain notoriety among the better players for being bullshit, to the point where Andrew no longer attended Penn Bowl.

The 2000 Penn Bowl was my first brush with injustice, secondhand. My team was crap and we didn't make the playoffs, and that year there were 3 juggernaut teams headed into the playoffs, all undefeated. One was a Subash-led Illinois team (this is months before his breakout ICT). Another was an Ezequiel-led team with Dave Goodman, Noel Erinjeri, and Mike Davidson (the year before Adam K. joined the team), The third was a very strong Maryland team led by Julie Singer and Dave Hamilton. Everyone was excited about the tantalizing semi-final matchups. However, it was not meant to be. The first playoff packet, you see, was written for a high school tournament by E Thomas Chuck, noted quizbowl luminary. Nonetheless the Penn team opted to use it, unedited, as the first playoff packet. I was watching Michigan play Case Western led by Anthony DeJesus (a quizbowl player with some notoriety at the time--I'll leave him to others to describe). The packet had an...interesting distribution. I remember I had my notebook out to diligently transcribe key clues and after a few tossups I was forced to put my pen down. The only lit tossup was A A. Milne. The game ended with Michigan slightly ahead, however Anthony had lodged a key protest on a tossup on manioc where he had said, if I recall correctly, cassava. Of course he was ruled correct which tied the game, leading to a tiebreaker. The final tiebreaking tossup was on ringworm, which Dave Goodman negged on with psoriasis. An ignominious moment. We exited the room and learned that not only had Michigan A lost, so did Maryland and Illinois. Like rock stars they were, that Illinois team went into some classroom and threw some chairs. Subash emerged to talk to us, smiling weakly. We watched the semifinals because our B team with Craig Barker, trashmaster, won their match and was playing Swarthmore's team with Ed Cohn and Peter Austin. They won that game, I believe and Michigan left the tournament without watching the finals. This was the origin of the oft-repeated phrase, "we got carried out on the chuckwagon."
After this Ezequiel was so irritated that he vowed never to go to Penn Bowl again, a vow that lasted one year.

The year after that Michigan fielded a balanced team with Adam and Dave Thorsley, Mike Davidson and Noel and won. Our B team made a respectable playoff run. Noel decided spontaneously that we should eat a celebratory dinner at Don Shula's steakhouse, which was welcomed by everyone except the university, which refused to reimburse what turned out to be a generous gesture on his part.

The year after (2002) that qbwiki says Princeton beat Virginia. I think I was there on a team that lost to one of those teams. I have no idea. Ezequiel justed noted to me that this year I was on a team with him and Dave Thorsley and Matt Lafer where we lost in the playoffs on an aeon flux tossup.

Then 2003 it appears Michigan won again, this time with Ezequiel, Adam and Mike and David Thorsley. I remember that I was on a B team that was the only team to beat them on the way to us losing in the quarter or semi-finals.

2004 was my single shot to win. I was playing with Ezequiel and Leo Wolpert and Matt Lafer. We cruised through all our matches. Matt always kept very diligent notes. In one round, a tossup began on some myth-sounding clues and all of a sudden Ezequiel buzzed in and confidently said "these are some big fucking eagles". Lafer quickly crossed it out in his notebook and wrote -5. However it turned out Ezequiel was right (it was from lord of the rings)! Going into the final we were 16-0, Yale, the other team was something like 14-3 and Yale kept insisting that we play a one game final. We definitely did not want to play the final, as by that time it was extremely late (9pm) and we had a long drive ahead. However, we finally agreed to play it out, and of course, lost the game narrowly, with key negs on a 50-cent song among other things. Though we were promised prizes for reaching the finals (gift cards for books galore), we never saw those prizes, and left, embittered. Matt Weiner shared our indignation. In the ensuing discussion on the internet Samer asserted that "no one put a gun to our heads" regarding our decision to stay and play the stupid final. Little did I know then that there was precedent for teams leaving a Samer-run tournament before the finals and being declared winner, so perhaps he really was expecting us to be less gracious and just split.

I'm sure I missed some key details in here, but these are my most vivid memories. I hope other people will chime in with their classic Penn Bowl moments--I for one, would love to hear the definitive story of "dueling Samers".
Last edited by AuguryMarch on Fri May 16, 2014 10:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
Paul Litvak -- Michigan '02, Carnegie Mellon University '10

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu May 15, 2014 4:09 pm

Inspired by Paul, here are my Penn Bowl memories.

I played it my first two years at Virginia, but remember almost nothing about those tournaments. The '95 version, I believe, marked the emergence of Jeff Johnson onto the quizbowl stage. It also may have been the swan song for Ramesh from Maryland, though I'm not positive about that.

Anyway, I do have dim memories of the '99 Penn Bowl, which was my last. My Chicago team prevailed in a single-elim playoff (Penn Bowl was always a champion of ... unwise playoff formats) to win the tournament. The "dueling Samers" to which Paul refers came from the gameroom in which Samer was reading while Ahmed kept score on the board; then, at halftime, they switched roles. (Or vice versa, perhaps--who can tell?) But my favorite game-play related memory of the tournament came from another game (our semifinal against Maryland, I believe), which was moderated by the over-exuberant E. Thomas Chuck. On a normal day, his excitable mode of reading involved him throwing every page to the ground in a frenzy after finishing it; in keeping with the importance of this particular match, however, he upped his game and began literally spinning around after every tossup was answered, as if the forcefulness of the answer given had thrown him off balance. About five questions into the game, I was compelled to take our team's timeout to ask him if he would please stop spinning after every tossup; I do not recall whether my request had any effect.

That was the year we played a strong South Carolina team in the final, which was quite close--I think we won it when I got a final tossup on Eisteddfods, though I could be misremembering. As Paul suggests, I vowed off Penn Bowl thereafter, and would laugh heartily whenever he and Zeke would regale me with their anecdotes of subsequent Penn Bowl woes.
Andrew

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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Muriel Axon » Thu May 15, 2014 4:34 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:On a normal day, his excitable mode of reading involved him throwing every page to the ground in a frenzy after finishing it; in keeping with the importance of this particular match, however, he upped his game and began literally spinning around after every tossup was answered, as if the forcefulness of the answer given had thrown him off balance. About five questions into the game, I was compelled to take our team's timeout to ask him if he would please stop spinning after every tossup; I do not recall whether my request had any effect.
I need to know: Was he in a revolving chair, or did he actually get up and start spinning?
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu May 15, 2014 4:35 pm

The old Penn Bowls were a delight. Of course the questions were terrible, the staff (Penn never had anything near a large enough team to support 32 simultaneous game rooms) was hit and miss at best, and the tournament inevitably came to a screeching halt at least once as teams found themselves locked out of the building or someone read the wrong packet. The first year I played, we waited 35 minutes while Samer combed through the UTC Sword Bowl trying to put together a full packet's worth of vaguely playable non-repeats after someone spoiled one of the PB rounds. This led to me enjoying the following tossup:
According to Marx, this is both the “jealous God of Israel” and “the alienated essence of man’s labor and life.” Webster defines it partly as a standard authorized by the government and used in the same way. Precluded by the barter system, FTP name this medium of exchange for goods and services.
It was a complete festival of everything amusingly wrong with early 2000s quizbowl -- of COURSE the team with no competent editors and 2 competent readers that has to pay rental fees on rooms and is located in an area where parking costs $35 a day is the host of the largest tournament in quizbowl. Could it be any other way? But, the good parts were that it really is more exciting to play teams you just never saw anywhere else -- the Yeshivas, the Bryn Mawr Cs, the Boston teams that even to this day rarely venture south of New York. And the experience of a 60-70 team opening meeting and tournament is definitely cool. One thing that Penn really was forward-looking on was number of games -- I played at least 16 matches at every PB I attended. If there is a way to bring back the in-season mega-invitational with some better questions and logistics, it should be done.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu May 15, 2014 4:55 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:If there is a way to bring back the in-season mega-invitational with some better questions and logistics, it should be done.

Hopefully we've gotten to a point that we expect every quizbowl set to be of a not abysmal quality, and I don't see why it wouldn't be logistically possible to run such a tournament either. There is almost certainly some location with the staff and room availability to host a 60 team tournament; I know there are high school tournaments that large every year, although not all of those are run well.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Cheynem » Thu May 15, 2014 5:15 pm

For some reason, when I was in high school, Tom Chuck was reading at a Michigan tournament I was at. I remember him basically issuing a primal scream before the game began and then basically kept physically contorting his body when reading the questions.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu May 15, 2014 10:34 pm

Muriel Axon wrote:
I need to know: Was he in a revolving chair, or did he actually get up and start spinning?
Let the annals of Penn Bowl reflect that he was standing at a podium.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Jun 22, 2014 5:16 pm

For what it's worth, I'm not going to do this after the annoyances of the NBA game.
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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by Victor » Tue Sep 09, 2014 3:15 pm

Setting the record straight on a few points about "Three Boys and a Goy":

We won some tournaments and were consistently in the top three throughout the 1990s.

We never played a tournament at Washington University.

In our last tournaments we might be described as middle-aged, but when we started only one of us was old enough to be President.

I have never worn, owned, borrowed, etc. any T-shirt with the word "SLAM!" I don't know what this is about.


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Re: Quiz Bowl Survivor: 50 Buzz, 49 Neg

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Sep 09, 2014 7:21 pm

Victor wrote:I have never worn, owned, borrowed, etc. any T-shirt with the word "SLAM!" I don't know what this is about.
Did you own a NBA Jam t-shirt? I ask because NBA Jam is pretty excellent.
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International Quiz Bowl Tournaments, co-owner
University of Kentucky CoP, 2017
hsqbrank manager, NAQT writer (former subject editor), former hsqb Administrator/Chief Administrator, 2012 NASAT TD

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