A proposed Singles format

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A proposed Singles format

Post by btressler »

I just wanted to put this out there because I don't run events anymore and may not get a chance to implement it.

Backstory: I enjoyed playing Loyola Academy's CAHLFS at the 2012 HSNCT. (Winning it and getting tossups right in the final probably influence my memory.) When they didn't hold the event again the following year, I thought about picking up the torch. But then I stopped going to national events.

The inspiration here is NSDA, which those of a certain age might remember as "forensics". Even with recent improvement, I'll bet more Pennsylvania schools have speech teams than quizbowl.

This format is usable for 8+ players. Everything here should be adjusted based on your resources: rooms, time, packets available, et cetera.

The prelims involve people being put into groups. The schedule isn't really random because the idea is that you should get to compete against as many different people as possible with as few repeat opponents as possible. Here's an example of a schedule with 3 prelim rounds and 6-7 people per room. I did write a Java program capable to generating schedules like this.

My first choice would be to have 4 or 5 people per room.

In speech, competitors desire the "1", meaning the judge gave them first. I might turn that around and award 5 "ranks" for first, 4 "ranks" for second, and so forth. (Current Fortnite solo events call these "hype" points.) Like other singles events, I would use a cutoff score. For example, I would use 25-tossup rounds, and the first person in the room to 75 points or so would get first and then put his or her buzzer down. No ties -- if two people have the same score after tossup 25 they hear another question.

After the prelims, you sum up the ranks and make a cut. I personally like a playoff that includes around the top 30-40% of a field. For example, if I had 20 participants I might announce that barring ties, the top 8 would go to a semi-final.

There are lots of opinions of how to deal with ties here. My order of preference would be (a) more questions, even if it's just a 10-tossup mini-round, (b) using the tossup points, (c) using "12345" scoring where the person with more first places is preferred. For example "135" beats "225" and "333", which are occasionally rendered as 10101, 02001, and 00300. So 10101 > 02001 > 00300. I suppose that could also be turned around to reward the person who is most consistent (i.e. "333" is preferred). Just announce the tiebreaker you want to use and stick to what you said.

In the above case of an 8-person semifinal, they would be two rooms of 4 with the top two in each room going to the final. You "snake it" -- don't put the highest ranked people all in the same semi. Bigger fields could do quarter finals with 16 (or even four rooms of five for 20, like I said everything here is tweakable). I've even heard of a semifinal with three rooms of six and the 1's and 2's go to a final room of six.

There's no reason the bottom 60% couldn't have their own playoff or consolation rounds.

Even more variations:

I could also see this done progressively. Like saying everyone with at least 9 ranks would qualify to round 5, everyone with at least 12 ranks could do round 6, and keep going until six or less people were left. At that point you could declare the final is for all the marbles. Or, if you want to make the tournament cumulative, then overweight the final by giving 10 ranks to the person winning it, 8 to second, and so on. Yes, that could mean the person who wins the final room doesn't win the tournament.

Another idea is to use what my district did for the national qualifier. The top half of a room is a "win" (we called them "ups"). The bottom half is a "loss". At my district tournament you went out upon your second "down". At my district a "3" in a room of five was considered an "up", but in the ancient past that wasn't so, and 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th were always downs. This method has the disadvantage is that every round needs a schedule drawn up on the fly and the disadvantage that people get eliminated very early. (Offer them consolation. If someone did this I could probably write some code to produce the next round's schedule, but after each round you would have to wait until the last room was done and the results put into the data file.)

Free to a good home:

The tournament I hoped to put together was going to be called the Tressler Visual Media Event (TVME). I would say difficulty was similar to TRASH regionals of yesteryear. I have 100+ tossups spanning film and television. Some of their shelf lives have expired, and all of it will need some editing. But if someone can make good use of the material I'm willing to share.
Bill Tressler,
Dickinson ('97) Carnegie Mellon ('99) Delaware ('06)
Seen moderating at various SE Pennsylvania events.
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