Vulching (Continued)

This forum is for discussing tournament formats, question styles, strategy, and such.
Post Reply
Posts: 67
Joined: Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:25 pm
Location: Santa Monica, CA

Vulching (Continued)

Post by joshxu »

*I was going to post this in the previous vulching thread, but it's been locked now. This post should be read as a continuation of that earlier thread.

Vulching and giving an incorrect answer has understandably been a problem for my team's novices. I used to tell them the traditional, "After a neg, there's no reason why you shouldn't wait until the end to buzz even if you think you know it because there's always a chance that your initial instinct is wrong". This, however, was ineffective for the following reasons, many of which were mentioned in the previous thread: 1) often a Player X who knew the answer and was waiting for the end was beaten to the buzz by a teammate who only had a[n incorrect] guess and assumed that Player X didn't know the answer because (s)he didn't buzz right away; and 2) no matter how often you tell someone to wait until the end, inevitably there will always be that one (or more) player looking to inflate his/her PPG who will buzz [with an incorrect answer] when someone else knows the correct answer.

Because this clearly wasn't working, I changed the rule. I briefly considered employing something like "raise your buzzer to claim a tossup" or "if you know it, buzz at the 'FTP'", but those rules have problems of their own (e.g. players in the front don't always remember look to the players in the back, a point hog can still buzz before the giveaway). As an aside, I've always disliked automatically deferring to the person "responsible" for a subject because this would only work if each team has subjects clearly delineated among all of its players, something that's rarely ever true in the average novice team. The rule I've been telling my novices is now this: buzz whenever you are 100% sure (not 90%, not 95% if you can measure that) of the answer, regardless of where in the question this is—DON'T wait for the end. My rationale for this is that if you are truly 100% sure, then it doesn't make a difference whether you buzz on the first line, at the power mark, or at the end, you'll get it right no matter what happens. Buzzing immediately once you know it greatly decreases the chances that a rogue player who doesn't know it buzzes in by decreasing the number of opportunities for one to do so, and can eliminate any potential confusion at the giveaway if players who only have a guess buzz mistakenly believing that nobody knew it. Of course, the problem with this rule is how to know whether you are 100% sure of an answer, as many players "think" they are 100% sure when they really aren't. The rule I use here is that you are 100% sure if you are confident that, if ruled wrong, you will be able to lodge a successful protest. This means always erring on the side of caution—do not buzz if you're thinking "I know [clue X] applies to [A], but I'm not sure if it also applies to [other entities in the same general class as A]".

In regard to vulching to seek a power, unless you are 100% sure I don't think this is a good idea. If you get it right, you only get an additional 5 points, but if you're wrong you potentially cost your team 40 points—a risk that to me is not worth taking (except I guess in the final few tossups when a game could reasonably come down to 5 points). And of course, an exception to everything I posted is formats that employ a clock when the time remaining means that you need to move as quickly as possible. I was even in a scenario at HSNCT once where it may have been beneficial for us to vulch a random guess—we were down 40 with less than ten seconds remaining after a neg and the tossup was on one of our weakest subjects, and it may have been more likely for us to convert the next tossup in the packet even with the other team able to buzz than it was for us to convert that tossup at the end uncontested (we didn't do this, and it cost us the game). Clocks surely do force you to change your strategies!
Josh Xu

Santa Monica High School (Class of 2021)
Quiz Bowl Captain
"Club President"
2019–2020 SoCal Quiz Bowl Coach of the Year (self-proclaimed, but uncontested)
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 2020 9:37 pm

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by sho16 »

Yes, I agree with the fact that vulching is almost always bad. Vulching has cost us games (and maybe even a national championship), and power vulching is sometimes acceptable, however it is probably in my opinion better not to do it. I think all of our team members really hate if someone vulches and will probably "yell" at the person who vulches. This has severely deterred members of my team and players from my middle school from vulching.

On the other hand, power vulching can come with some benefits. First of all, in my opinion, it is best to only power vulch when the game is close with not a lot of questions/time left. On a PACE format, with super powers, a power vulch gives a double investment, so it probably works the risk. On the contrary, on NAQT, it is probably not worth power vulching unless you are EXTREMELY sure that you are correct since you are risking upwards of 40 points.

In conclusion, vulching is 99% of the time bad.
Shohom Chakraborty
MLHS 2023

Posts: 156
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2018 10:07 pm

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by whatamidoinghere »

I think vulching should be discouraged in lower levels (novice teams, for example, should not vulch), but in higher level competition such as PACE or competitive local and state tournaments, I think vulching as in buzzing at "For 10 points" or earlier should be encouraged since it seems at times that buzzing later means you lose some of the alertness you have to be at in order to get a question early. Often times (in my experience) after the opponent negs the team will take a mental break, which may not prepare them for the next cycle. Buzzing at "For 10 points" means that you or your team needs to pay attention to clues before FTP, meaning that they're more primed for the next cycle.

TL; DR: "Vulch" at higher level competitions to stay alert
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Nov 06, 2018 6:22 pm

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by TeacherJonB »

What is "vulching"? That's totally new to me.
Jon Berry
HS team sponsor
UT-Dallas '03
UNT '05, '11
User avatar
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 2213
Joined: Wed Feb 04, 2004 6:45 pm
Location: BCA NJ / WUSTL MO / Hackensack NJ

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by jonpin »

TeacherJonB wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 1:32 pm What is "vulching"? That's totally new to me.
A tossup the other team has already negged has sometimes been called a "sitting duck" tossup or any of a number of other slang terms meant to imply it's sitting their, ripe for the taking. To swoop in greedily and grab the tossup and points for yourself is called "vulturing" or "vulching" for short.

Common wisdom is that to vulture a tossup is frowned upon in most situations, as it serves the individual need (I get the points rather than one of my teammates maybe getting it instead), with essentially no benefit for the team (save in certain clock situations, or cases where the extra points from a power could be decisive) but a huge risk to the team (squandering the near-guaranteed 10 points + a bonus if you just wait out the tossup to the very end).
Jon Pinyan
Coach, Bergen County Academies (NJ); former player for BCA (2000-03) and WUSTL (2003-07)
HSQB forum mod, PACE member
Stat director for: NSC '13-'15, '17; ACF '14, '17, '19; NHBB '13-'15; NASAT '11

"A [...] wizard who controls the weather" - Jerry Vinokurov
User avatar
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri May 10, 2019 1:16 pm
Location: Southern California

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by natekang »

Honestly... I think it's fine to sometimes vulch-- but only under the following circumstances:

1) The other team negged early and you think that you still can buzz early enough where your buzz would still be in power;

2) You are absolutely 100% sure you know the answer. (Duh lol)

These circumstances seem like they would be somewhat rare anyways.

Basically, tenvulching is pointless for pretty obvious reasons: I mean, once the powermark has passed, just wait to the end of the TU and you still get the exact same number of points, without the risk of negging and losing points. The only reason one would ever try to vulch is if they could potentially get 15 points (or 20 for PACE I guess).
Nathaniel Kang

St. Margaret's Episcopal School
Class of 2022
Club President, 2018-present
socal LUL
Posts: 46
Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 11:30 am
Location: Wilmington, DE

Re: Vulching (Continued)

Post by matthewspatrick »

natekang wrote: Tue Jul 14, 2020 5:47 pm Honestly... I think it's fine to sometimes vulch-- but only under the following circumstances:

1) The other team negged early and you think that you still can buzz early enough where your buzz would still be in power;

2) You are absolutely 100% sure you know the answer. (Duh lol)
Other possible scenarios:

3) You are at an NAQT *CT using timed rounds, you're losing, and you're perilously close to running out of time

4) You are super-confident you know the answer, and you perceive a significant risk that a teammate will try a wrong answer

There may well be others...
Patrick Matthews
University of Pennsylvania 1989-94
NAQT Member Emeritus and co-founder
Post Reply