CO Trash Microhistory (and Instruction!)

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CO Trash Microhistory (and Instruction!)

Postby Cheynem » Fri May 05, 2017 4:20 pm

Here's a microhistory of the de facto finals of last year's CO Trash, my lasting accomplishment in quizbowl. Unlike previous microhistories, I've tried to be somewhat instructive along the way, pointing out things we can learn from this match.

Prelude: My team of Tejas, Chris (Manners), and Kenji was undefeated, as was Mike Sorice's team of him, Colby, Matt (Lafer), and Chris (Vicich). I was actually somewhat surprised to be in this situation; we had experienced two teammates drop before the tournament. One key factor was that I was unaware how good Kenji was at trash (particularly, music). We won most matches pretty decisively and managed to evade the nefarious Naveed's team.

Tossup One was on the TV show "In Living Color." Colby got it very quickly before I knew what was going on. I remember being dismayed at this--I would wager in a lot of rooms I'd get this tossup and I was kind of angered that we may have lost our "Old TV" advantage in the round. Lesson of the Day: Don't get discouraged when you "don't get your category." I think in almost every big win I've had, I actually get outbuzzed on a category I like a lot.

(I'll only talk about bonuses if I can really remember them, and almost never on the other team's bonuses)

Tossup Two was on Dalton Trumbo, apparently only using clues from the film Trumbo. I've never seen the film but at one point (I think in power?) I recognized that the character they were talking about was doing things as the real life Trumbo, remembered there was a movie out about the guy, and buzzed. Lesson of the Day: You don't always 100% know what you're buzzing about. As we'll see later in the game, that's very clear.

Tossup Three was on Resident Evil 2. I don't remember anything about this--Mike Sorice apparently powered it. They got a bonus I would have liked on the Law and Order TV show franchise and only got 10 points.

Tossup Four was on the Houston Cougars basketball team. Colby negged it and we converted it. It actually is pretty easy to power and somewhat cliffs right out of power (I said, contemptuously sneering).

Tossup Five is a common link on the number 17 from music. Colby got it.

Tossup Six is a trash tossup on Dylan Thomas. I negged it early with Tennessee Williams; I thought it was talking about the film Boom! (This is a very good tossup by the way). Lesson of the Day: Stupid negs are going to happen, even in big games. In fact, I'd argue that in retrospect-stupid-negs happen more often in big games because you're primed to be more aggressive.

Tossup Seven was on cricket, Tejas powered it early on the Andre the Giant clue, which is apparently well known. Good job, Tejas.

Tossup Eight was on the TV show Justified, which was gotten by Matt Lafer. I don't know what that show is.

At this point, we more or less were going back and forth on tossups.

Tossup Nine was on the Fiesta Bowl between Boise State and Oklahoma. This tossup enraged me because I misheard the opening instruction and thought it said "Year required." I remember being a bit unsure (and one clue along the way faked me out), but I was pretty sure it was the Fiesta Bowl featuring Boise and Oklahoma but I couldn't quite remember the year. Finally, Sorice buzzed and said the right answer (getting the year correct anyway). Whoops. Lesson of the Day: Listen very carefully and trust your instincts. As you imagine, I was probably a bit gunshy having negged a few tossups ago.

Tossup Ten went dead; it was on Maynard Ferguson. Colby negged it.

At the half, it was 160 them, 85 us.

Tossup Eleven was on the 1994 Winter Olympics. I have to be honest; I don't really like Olympic questions and to me, there's not a lot of interesting things in this Olympics aside from the big story (look at the clues in power) to make a question on this a great idea. As mentioned above, I don't know years, so I tried to figure out what the giveaway would be before it inevitably cliffed and Tejas got it.

Tossup Twelve was on Brian Wilson. Matt Lafer got it.

Tossup Thirteen was on Bill Clinton's appearance on the Arsenio Hall Show. Matt Lafer got it. I remember being disgusted at this point; I think I thought I should have gotten or be more on the ball in a lot of these tossups. I wonder if Matt Bollinger knew the clue about his neighbor (Paul Begala).

Tossup Fourteen was on Vice City; Colby powered it. At this point, they were about a couple tossups away from slamming the door on us. 275-115 was the score.

Tossup Fifteen was on the film The Last Picture Show. Matt Lafer negged it with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (on the admittedly similar clue of the protagonists hiring a prostitute for Billy). A key point in the game occurred here, when I vulched the tossup still in power on the clue about Ben Johnson winning the Oscar for it. This would be huge, even though we didn't know it at the time. I can talk about power vulching at some other point more in length; it's usually mishandled by teams, who play too aggressively or too passively. My advice: Lesson of the Day: You might as well vulch [especially if there's powers, but in most cases] if your'e 100% sure. I have never seen The Last Picture Show, but I know my Oscar winners, and I was 100% sure at that point.

At this point, we got the greatest bonus of all time, an ass-hard question on Mindmaze/Encarta/The Learning Company. I had played a lot of Mindmaze, so I got it, and I half completely guessed and got The Learning Company (I get the Learning and Teaching Company confused).

Tossup Sixteen was on the band Madness (I finally know who they are after seeing the rest of the tossup). Colby got it, and I felt like that was it, that we had kicked out before but now we had firmly run into Sweet Chin Music. They 30'ed the bonus, just for the hell of it, and after that were up 310-160.

The final four tossups are etched in my mind. Tossup Seventeen was on SHIELD (from Marvel Comics and according to Carsten, only from the comics, although looking at the question, that's not true). I have no idea what's going in the tossup; I guess I know what the Godzilla clue is. I think I realized it was a comic book group and after considering some pretty dumb guesses (I was close to buzzing with Suicide Squad, I think), I finally reflex buzzed on the "Gaffer, Sidney Levine." In most tournaments and in most big games, there are buzzes you really can't explain--I don't really know who the Gaffer is, in most games I don't think I would have buzzed, but I did there. We also screwed up the bonus by not remembering Maturin (from the Aubrey and Maturin books) in time.

Tossup Eighteen was on Ron Howard, using only Arrested Development Season Four clues. Looking back, it's incredibly gettable, referencing a lot of very memorable clues. In the heat of the game, though, my mind was blank. I figured out it was Arrested Development early on, but I kept thinking it was Tobias (in fairness, some of the clues are referencing him). I finally buzzed on Rebel Alley. Lesson of the Day: Avoid frustration buzzes. A lot of times, I see a player hear a question on a category they really like (AD is one of my favorite shows), get immediately piqued if they don't instantly know what's going on, and buzz with a partial, frustration-filled guess. Don't do that. Wait. You will, in many cases, still get the tossup because you still know the material more than others. I'll give a shoutout on the bonus to the great Chris Manners, who remembered what the film Mud is. Huge moment.

Tossup Nineteen is a (rather hard!) tossup on Mike Piazza. Luckily, I, being a one-time Mets fan (before I realized that sucked), knew the first clue and powered it. The only lesson here is that in every great win or comeback, there's going to be dumb luck. There's no strategy in playing these questions; you're just going to run into one every once in a while. I guess the only piece of advice is make sure you don't miss. At this point, I think we realized we still had a potential chance.

After all this, it was 270 us, 310 them. A 10 on the next tossup and a 30 on the bonus would tie.

Tossup Twenty was on the actual real-life event "Cannonball Run." I had no idea this was a real-life event. I had no idea what was going on in the tossup. At one point, the question notes that Dean Martin's last movies were about depictions of this event; I may have waited for another clue, but I remember thinking "you know, one of Dean's last films was Cannonball Run, that's a race...is that actually a real thing? I dunno, but I better buzz now, I guess." And I did. And it was power. Lesson of the Day, Redux: Your buzzes won't always make perfect sense to you. A piece of the tossup made sense, it was unlikely to make any more sense before the other team would buzz, and we needed a tossup. I think the art of these buzzes, not that I'm a master, is what really moves a player from "good" to "great." Anyone can buzz if they're totally sure (like on tossup 19) or if they have a lot of info (tossup 18),,,but the great player, your crafty veteran, he or she can buzz on these types of clues as well.

On the bonus, Tejas remembered the hard part (a John Oliver show joke) and we won, 315-310. I won a copy of The Silence of Lambs on Blu-Ray and a Lego toy that I gave to a friend's kids (the toy, not the Blu-Ray).

One last thing to note is that unlike some comebacks, the losing team didn't play poorly. I'm sure they would argue they were too slow on a few tossups, but that's different than playing poorly, They didn't make a lot of silly negs or fumble away a lot of bonus points. Sometimes these things happen. Don't feel too bad for Mike Sorice, as he beat my team at ACRONYM a few months later anyway.
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Re: CO Trash Microhistory (and Instruction!)

Postby Captain Sinico » Mon May 15, 2017 6:06 pm

This is a good blow-by-blow that I personally appreciate very much, for one of the great comebacks in the game (and yet another that I was on the wrong side of!) Though played on trash, as a pure game moment, this was superior.

I'd also like to add: this game should have been put away for us very easily by me getting TU 17. Within 2 clues, I'd deduced the tossup was on a tech-using team of non-superheroes in the Marvel universe plus a little more; the set of answers fitting those criteria in my knowledge contains only S.H.I.E.L.D. I should always buzz in that situation: though I'm maybe the third comics player on that team, I should be good enough that I'm very likely to be right and we win, and I get a rebate on the downside since, if I'm wrong, the answer's likely hard and the other team may very possibly miss it. I consciously decided not to buzz from only that, though, which proved fatal.

Therefore, I advise: don't adjust your strategy very much on tossups though you've got the lead. If you're buzzing at 75%, don't shift to waiting to be totally sure, even if you're up 170 with 180 to play for. Obviously, that doesn't hold if only your negs can bring the other team back, but that wasn't the case here and I knew it.

Incidentally, something similar should have been true for TU 20, or maybe even moreso given my level of knowledge of real-life cannonball runs - you may guess why I know about this particular junk - but somehow all the clues about the answer being some kind of cross-country car driving thing zoomed right past me and the tossup got to movie (TV?) clues that I don't know. I can't account for why, but the best I can do is advise: always keep your head on the clues and your hand on the buzzer, even when your shitty decision 3 TUs ago single-handedly gifted your opponent a position to catch you.
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