Good Teams Playing A Sets

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Lo, Marathon Ham!
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Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Lo, Marathon Ham! » Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:56 pm

A few weeks back I got the chance to attend Texas Quiz Bowl Camp where one of my questions was under what circumstances a good team nationally should consider playing an A set. After a discussion, I've come to a belief that there is no reason why a team capable of going 7-3 or better at HSNCT should be playing an A set. Apparently some other teams (ourselves before recently) feel that A sets are a good way to play with split teams or qualify multiple teams for nationals. I think that any team of that level should avoid such tournaments even if they have these goals as these "novice-level" tournaments are a great way for new and upcoming teams to gain confidence while not being crushed by more established programs. If a team wants to play split at higher difficulty I see no problems with that.

I feel that a lot of good can be achieved by tournament directors. If they place restrictions that stop players of certain caliber nationally (perhaps around 25 ppg or 1 power a game at nationals) or teams of certain caliber (finished 7-3 at HSNCT or top bracket PACE) from entering their A set tournaments, then teams of lower levels, for whom these sets are intended, will be able to benefit without having to get destroyed by a team that far outranks them.

Is there any viable reason for which an extremely talented team would play an A set? What are other thoughts about this in the community?
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:06 pm

There's might be some teams for which an A-set tournament is the only qualifying tournament nearby.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:12 pm

MOQBA's Winter Invitationals banned teams that made the top bracket at the NAQT Qualifier or the Top 4 at MSHSAA State, so there's precedent from banning teams from these tournaments. In Missouri, good teams played A set tournaments to help prepare for districts.

I also feel that part of it can be decided by players deciding to play what is appropriate for them, though.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Santa Claus » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:14 pm

I think the scenario you just described is a novice tournament.

Granted, most novice tournaments will run IS-A sets, but I see no inherent reason the sets themselves deserve any special treatment: all the benefits you just described already exist in the form of special tournaments aimed at new and inexperienced players. If a region already has a healthy number of novice tournaments, I see no reason why an IS-A set run without restrictions can't be used as an opportunity for teams to split up or qualify for HSNCT.

However, I do want to add that an experienced team probably shouldn't use IS-A sets as an opportunity to qualify without good reason, as HSNCT has a very lenient wild-card system that I feel like a lot of teams don't take advantage of.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:18 pm

Lo, Marathon Ham! wrote:I feel that a lot of good can be achieved by tournament directors. If they place restrictions that stop players of certain caliber nationally or teams of certain caliber from entering their A set tournaments
Note that tournaments with such restrictions will not normally be considered as qualifiers for NAQT's national championships.
HSNCT qualification rules wrote:NAQT also reserves the right to declare individual tournaments as “non-qualifiers” if they have eligibility policies designed to exclude teams or players on the basis of ability.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Lawrence Simon » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:26 pm

While playing on A-sets does allow good teams to split and qualify numerous teams for Nationals, I think in terms of self-regulation a big aspect that should be taken into account for teams that can be ranking 7-3 at HSNCT is their own amusement and sense of reward becoming diminished. What I mean is that on a difficult set for high school players like ACF Fall or even HSNCT that scoring well on these sets provides a greater sense of accomplishment than for the same players playing on an A-set. So while it is obviously easier for good players to qualify for Nationals on an A-set I doubt that many of them will be playing numerous tournaments on such sets just because it wouldn't be nearly as fun or rewarding.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Theodore » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:29 pm

Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:There's might be some teams for which an A-set tournament is the only qualifying tournament nearby.
As a player on a high school team that was good enough to the point that we really shouldn't have been playing an IS-A set tournament, this is usually the reason. For example, it was in mid-November and was my team's first chance at qualifying for HSNCT (the only previous high school tournament that school year in Canada was a novice tournament); we weren't going to pass that opportunity merely based on a gentleman's agreement.
This is more common is smaller, less-established circuits where there are fewer tournaments and thus fewer opportunities to qualify for HSNCT or even play high school Quizbowl tournaments.

In general, I believe it is the responsibility of the host to decide whether they want to restrict a field or not. It's not like hosts don't have control over this -- a host is free to decide that an IS-A mirror is only for novice teams, but novice tournaments are usually not HSNCT or PACE qualifiers.

You can't always expect people to abide by unwritten/unofficial rules, especially when there is little cost/little at risk/nothing to lose. This is a common, often-discussed debate in multiple aspects at multiple levels of Quizbowl (e.g. at the collegiate level: forming "superteams" at open tournaments, experienced players playing ACF Fall or similar difficulty tournaments, etc.)
Santa Claus wrote: However, I do want to add that an experienced team probably shouldn't use IS-A sets as an opportunity to qualify without good reason, as HSNCT has a very lenient wild-card system that I feel like a lot of teams don't take advantage of.
That's a good point, but peace of mind earlier in the year is always better, especially when organizing transportation to and paperwork for HSNCT with your school administration is a time-consuming, lengthly hassle.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:50 pm

This should be decided by the Tournament Director.

There are two valid reasons I can think of for using an A Set. One reason is that you are in a strong circuit but want to run a tournament for weaker teams and/or novice players in that circuit. In such cases, the TD should make it clear who is and who is not welcome at their tournament, or possibly which teams should be split up. It is then up to unwelcome teams and/or players to stay away (or to staff if they want to).

The other reason is that you are in a weak circuit with few good teams. I don't think there is anything wrong with a good team from that circuit playing in such a tournament. Such a team probably doesn't have lots of other good tournaments they can easily go to during the rest of the year. If a weak team goes to such a tournament and gets whipped in two of the ten matches they play because a couple of good teams show up, it's OK. It would be inappropriate for an elite team to travel a very far distance to play in such a tournament, but if you're invited and it is one of the closest tournaments to your school during the season, then go play and don't feel guilty about it.

It's not like a 7-3 HSNCT team is completely wasting its time on an A Set--there will be a good number of first clues that the team won't get and some clues mentioned in bonuses that the team won't know. Of course, it's not an ideal situation, but that doesn't mean that it should be absolutely prohibited.

The part of this thread I object to is playing tournaments to qualify for nationals--play tournaments to play those tournaments. If you belong at nationals, you'll qualify for nationals through the standard way or wildcard.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by RexSueciae » Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:27 pm

Some programs might use their A-team members to corset largely novice teams in order to introduce large numbers of new players to quizbowl with one or more experienced players alongside them to give direction. Individual tournament directors are free to do as they wish, but I don't see any need for unified community policy on restricting players from events based on past performance (with the sole exception of events specifically designated for novice fields).
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:24 am

Lo, Marathon Ham! wrote:A few weeks back I got the chance to attend Texas Quiz Bowl Camp where one of my questions was under what circumstances a good team nationally should consider playing an A set. After a discussion, I've come to a belief that there is no reason why a team capable of going 7-3 or better at HSNCT should be playing an A set. Apparently some other teams (ourselves before recently) feel that A sets are a good way to play with split teams or qualify multiple teams for nationals. I think that any team of that level should avoid such tournaments even if they have these goals as these "novice-level" tournaments are a great way for new and upcoming teams to gain confidence while not being crushed by more established programs. If a team wants to play split at higher difficulty I see no problems with that.

I feel that a lot of good can be achieved by tournament directors. If they place restrictions that stop players of certain caliber nationally (perhaps around 25 ppg or 1 power a game at nationals) or teams of certain caliber (finished 7-3 at HSNCT or top bracket PACE) from entering their A set tournaments, then teams of lower levels, for whom these sets are intended, will be able to benefit without having to get destroyed by a team that far outranks them.

Is there any viable reason for which an extremely talented team would play an A set? What are other thoughts about this in the community?
Mohan, for teams in New England, A sets are the only tournaments in our region until like november, and its always fun to play tournaments and hear tossups. That being said, novice teams will only get "destroyed" by higher teams at most twice each tournament, if they are unlucky enough to get two dominant teams in their prelim schedule. The afternoon rebracketing ensures that they will not be discouraged from the level of the competition, and if anything, they should be encouraged to study by the teams that beat them in the morning rounds.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by heterodyne » Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:24 am

I don't fully understand why a good team would play an A-set, since they stop being fun pretty quickly. If a-sets are all you have in the early fall, it seems like hosting a housewrite or something would be better than playing a tournament that is clearly below your level.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:14 am

I guess hosting a housewrite could be an option, but for us anyways we are already hosting two tournaments this year, one for our housewrite in the winter and probably an IS set im the spring. There will be plenty of strong teams, I'm sure, attending the MIT fall tournament to keep the games interesting.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Maury Island incident » Thu Aug 13, 2015 11:48 am

Halved Xenon Stinging wrote:I guess hosting a housewrite could be an option, but for us anyways we are already hosting two tournaments this year, one for our housewrite in the winter and probably an IS set im the spring. There will be plenty of strong teams, I'm sure, attending the MIT fall tournament to keep the games interesting.
The other problem with hosting a housewrite would be that Devin or I would have to direct such a tournament, meaning we couldn't play it with the full A team, which really defeats the purpose of holding a housewrite.

I think it's beneficial for new teams to have novice tournaments where they're not torn apart by the full might of Lexington or AMSA A. More developed circuits hold novice tournaments for exactly this reason. Thus, a quandary arises: to play A sets or not to play a sets. As Devin said, playing tournaments is fun. When A sets are the only thing being hosted in your region before November, then you have a problem. The best teams must identify themselves as such, and refrain from pounding lesser competition at a meaningless A set tourney. If A sets are your only high school option in your region, and you think you are a top team which, in my opinion is a rare situation that has applied only to New England and Canada in recent years, than your team should find other options. We, to give an example, do not plan on sending our full A team to any A sets this year, either splitting teams, not attending, or reading at the tournament. Before HFT rolls around in November, we will instead play things in New York/New Jersey and collegiate tournaments. And that, in my opinion, is probably the way it should be.

On a related, though slightly off-topic note, does anyone know if there are plans for a college tournament in the early-October slot that was last occupied by PADAWAN?
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:46 pm

Lo, Marathon Ham! wrote:
I feel that a lot of good can be achieved by tournament directors. If they place restrictions that stop players of certain caliber nationally (perhaps around 25 ppg or 1 power a game at nationals) or teams of certain caliber (finished 7-3 at HSNCT or top bracket PACE) from entering their A set tournaments, then teams of lower levels, for whom these sets are intended, will be able to benefit without having to get destroyed by a team that far outranks them.
I don't think it's a good idea to ban players from tournaments, but as Colin said, it's important to recognize the strength of your team and to split as necessary. Lexington will only be playing at MIT fall as a 3 team split, and sending our B/C teams to other A-set tournaments.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Thu Aug 13, 2015 9:51 pm

While there certainly is something to be gained if you're a top player playing an A-set, that doesn't automatically justify it. You have to think about the rest of the field, too. Even if a tournament isn't expressly billed as a novice tournament, the fact that it's run on an A-set will attract a group of players who may otherwise not have come - new schools, people who don't feel they're as good, etc. Given that it's quiz bowl's best interest to keep those people around, it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions, ridicule teams that fail to convert "easy" things (I don't care how nice you personally are, this is a thing that happens), and generally limit the other teams from learning things and having a good time.

If you can, exercise some self-restraint as far as A-sets go. I know it's not always the easiest thing in the world to know whether you're "too good to play" them - I'm currently trying to figure out whether I should play VCU Novice right now, and I understand that sometimes people will underestimate their abilities and end up crushing the field - it happens. However, I want to strongly discourage a culture that says "We can gain something out of it, and quiz bowl is fun, lets do it!" without any regard for the tournament experiences of the less experienced teams around them. It's great that you love quiz bowl - maybe try and set up a weekend practice for your team in lieu of going to the tournament and play harder sets instead.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:42 am

Halved Xenon Stinging wrote:On a related, though slightly off-topic note, does anyone know if there are plans for a college tournament in the early-October slot that was last occupied by PADAWAN?
The answer is no, not right now, though I hope this changes. Unfortunately, if you want a collegiate regular set that's not Penn Bowl to play on, your only current option for the fall is Missouri Open (which I'm working on - woohoo!).

I'm in agreement with the people who say good teams shouldn't play A-sets, obviously. You'd be much better off studying or learning some harder material, and novice teams would certainly be better off if you did that, too.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:31 am

This post has bad data. Please ignore it; the correct information is here. Sorry!

[quote="Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage"]it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions[/quote]I agree, but I don't think this is a matter of much concern. The highest value of powers/TUH over the course of a whole tournament on an NAQT high school set that we're sure of* was Northmont A (Sam Blizzard solo) at 2015 QUINOA, which powered 51.5% of the TUH. No one else has done over 50%, and there are no more than* three in the 40%s.

*There are some Georgia tournaments whose statistics imply higher values, but I'm pretty sure something wacky is going on, e.g. all correct buzzes before FTP earned power. If I'm correct that the Georgia tournaments in question don't have valid data for the purpose of answering this question, there's nothing in the 40s, and the second-highest (after that Blizzard blizzard) is Arcadia A (Kevin Wang solo) at 2015 Scripps Ranch, with 39%.
Last edited by jonah on Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by scottkim » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:10 am

jonah wrote:*There are some Georgia tournaments whose statistics imply higher values, but I'm pretty sure something wacky is going on, e.g. all correct buzzes before FTP earned power. If I'm correct that the Georgia tournaments in question don't have valid data for the purpose of answering this question, there's nothing in the 40s, and the second-highest (after that Blizzard blizzard) is Arcadia A (Kevin Wang solo) at 2015 Scripps Ranch, with 39%.
The Walton Tournament is the only varsity event in Georgia that has used an A set in recent years. All other A-set tournaments are JV and/or Novice events. We don't do anything "wacky" with the powermarks or give 5 extra points just before FTP.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:23 am

jonah wrote:
Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage wrote:it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions
I agree, but I don't think this is a matter of much concern. The highest value of powers/TUH over the course of a whole tournament on an NAQT high school set that we're sure of* was Northmont A (Sam Blizzard solo) at 2015 QUINOA, which powered 51.5% of the TUH. No one else has done over 50%, and there are no more than* three in the 40%s.

*There are some Georgia tournaments whose statistics imply higher values, but I'm pretty sure something wacky is going on, e.g. all correct buzzes before FTP earned power. If I'm correct that the Georgia tournaments in question don't have valid data for the purpose of answering this question, there's nothing in the 40s, and the second-highest (after that Blizzard blizzard) is Arcadia A (Kevin Wang solo) at 2015 Scripps Ranch, with 39%.
https://www.naqt.com/stats/tournament-t ... nt_id=5911

AMSA A actually powered 48.6% of the questions on IS 137A
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Fri Aug 14, 2015 11:26 am

jonah wrote:
Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage wrote:it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions
I agree, but I don't think this is a matter of much concern. The highest value of powers/TUH over the course of a whole tournament on an NAQT high school set that we're sure of* was Northmont A (Sam Blizzard solo) at 2015 QUINOA, which powered 51.5% of the TUH. No one else has done over 50%, and there are no more than* three in the 40%s.

*There are some Georgia tournaments whose statistics imply higher values, but I'm pretty sure something wacky is going on, e.g. all correct buzzes before FTP earned power. If I'm correct that the Georgia tournaments in question don't have valid data for the purpose of answering this question, there's nothing in the 40s, and the second-highest (after that Blizzard blizzard) is Arcadia A (Kevin Wang solo) at 2015 Scripps Ranch, with 39%.
Those stats seem to indicate teams with 82 and 79 powers over 200TUH, both higher than Kevin's 78.

NAQT could have a system of letting teams in small circuits qualify for HSNCT from A sets without actually playing them. Given the Colonel By situation, having demolished ACF Fall a few weeks before their A set and their Morlan rank among other stuff, does't need to further demolish some first time quizbolwers before qualifying for HSNCT. They did play a regular NAQT set but that was in March and paperwork for nats takes at least three months.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:01 pm

The Last 21 Stanley Cup Winners wrote:
jonah wrote:
Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage wrote:it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions
I agree, but I don't think this is a matter of much concern. The highest value of powers/TUH over the course of a whole tournament on an NAQT high school set that we're sure of* was Northmont A (Sam Blizzard solo) at 2015 QUINOA, which powered 51.5% of the TUH. No one else has done over 50%, and there are no more than* three in the 40%s.

*There are some Georgia tournaments whose statistics imply higher values, but I'm pretty sure something wacky is going on, e.g. all correct buzzes before FTP earned power. If I'm correct that the Georgia tournaments in question don't have valid data for the purpose of answering this question, there's nothing in the 40s, and the second-highest (after that Blizzard blizzard) is Arcadia A (Kevin Wang solo) at 2015 Scripps Ranch, with 39%.
Those stats seem to indicate teams with 82 and 79 powers over 200TUH, both higher than Kevin's 78.

NAQT could have a system of letting teams in small circuits qualify for HSNCT from A sets without actually playing them. Given the Colonel By situation, having demolished ACF Fall a few weeks before their A set and their Morlan rank among other stuff, does't need to further demolish some first time quizbolwers before qualifying for HSNCT. They did play a regular NAQT set but that was in March and paperwork for nats takes at least three months.
Isn't that what wildcard bids are for?
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:21 pm

Public safety diving wrote:
The Last 21 Stanley Cup Winners wrote:paperwork for nats takes at least three months.
Isn't that what wildcard bids are for?
NAQT wildcards start in February, which is borderline too late for schools in the main Ottawa board. And if you're in Toronto or Hamilton, I've heard that the paperwork can take up to half a year, so waiting for a wildcard would effectively disqualify them from HSNCT, forcing teams to play A-sets.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by jonah » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:11 pm

Sorry, my previous post had some screwed up data. I think I have the right information now; you should ignore that post (I'll edit it saying so momentarily) and pretend it was this:
Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage wrote:it's not a great idea to inundate the field with really great players who play on teams that power 70% of the questions
I agree, but it hasn't happened yet, and has only been approached very rarely. The highest value of powers/TUH over the course of a whole tournament on an NAQT high school set was 65.9% by Ladue A at the Spring 2013 Rock Bridge tournament; second place is 60.9% by DCC A at the Utica Academy tournament this past spring. In fact, the top five were all Invitational Series-level questions! (Four IS sets, one SSNCT.)

The top performance by that metric on an Introductory Invitational Series set was 56.1% by Chattahoochee A at the 2014 Walton tournament. There are only ten performances, all time, above 50% powers/TUH on Introductory Invitational Series sets.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by heterodyne » Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:19 pm

The reason we don't have a Ladue 2013 statline where they powered 80% of the questions is because, by and large, good teams don't play A sets. There's also the fact that Charlie was pretty clearly being hyperbolic, and 70% power rate is not some magical benchmark of too easy for the team.
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Re: Good Teams Playing A Sets

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Sat Aug 15, 2015 5:46 pm

Forgive me for being unclear - I meant 70% TU answered were powers, not TU heard. Under the theoretical situation I think we should avoid (good teams playing A-sets), I think it's pretty weird to use powers / TU heard as a metric given that the good teams will presumably be playing against other good teams.

But yeah, 70% was just a random number - I'm still not sure how accurate it is. The point is that A-sets are very rarely instructive in the sense that a harder set would be, and I think that holds regardless of what stats you use.
Charlie Mann
La Jolla High School '15
UCLA '19

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