NHBB Discussion

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NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:44 pm

Allow me to preface this post by saying that I deeply appreciate all the hard work Dave Madden and co. have put in organizing this tournament. Going from zero to nationals in one year is quite impressive, and their enthusiasm and helpfulness in all aspects of the competition was one of the best parts of the day. The reason that the rest of this post will be so angry is that I like the History Bowl and I want it to succeed in future years. It's a great organization, but it can do far better than it did today. I hope others will pitch in with their own commentary so we can all help this great tournament grow.

Also, I would like to absolve HSAPQ from all of the following invective. The set was by far the best part of the day. There were some hoses, missing questions, and bad ideas, but nothing beyond the expected. Thank you, HSAPQ, for your competency. This was a fun set.

Now, the anger. I will start by saying that this tournament was the biggest cluster :capybara: I have ever had the displeasure to be involved in. This occurred, in my eyes, for a number of reasons.

1. Lack of staff. The first rule of tournament direction is "Don't run a tournament for which you don't have sufficient competent staff." This tournament did not have anything approaching sufficient competent staff. Just because someone was your buddy from Jeopardy! doesn't mean he's a good staffer. People who have to spend several minutes each game reviewing the rules as they go are not good staffers. Staffers who take 45 minutes to finish a game are not good staffers. Location supervisors who tell those 45-minuters that their pace is fine are not good supervisors. Staffers who don't know how to fill out scoresheets and then rudely respond to input from players are not good staffers. I saw all of these things and more today.

I appreciate that Dave wanted to run a big tournament, and I applaud him for his ambition. But you have to be reasonable! Don't schedule 100 teams if you only have staffers for 50. That's just the way it is.

2. Decentralized locations. In theory, this was one of the bigger appeals of the History Bowl. Chilling and playing quizbowl-ish at cool sites around DC is a great idea in theory. In practice, however, it was disastrous. Having all the teams spread out meant that the tournament director was not around to exert his will on people who were doing a bad job. Decentralization meant that some teams had to wait for almost an hour for the correct packets to be delivered after a mix-up. Multiple sites meant huge amounts of time lost on transportation on DC notoriously bad downtown roads and public transit system. Decentralization meant that teams couldn't see their friends or observe other teams. Decentralization meant that if you didn't have a smartphone, you couldn't know how the rest of the tournament was going.

I realize that Dave wanted to add some historic and touristy appeal for those coming to DC for a history-based competition. However, if this tournament had simply been held at a hotel, the hours and hours saved would have left plenty of time for sight-seeing. Instead, as I type this, the competition is STILL going on, with a projected end time of 11 PM.

3. Schedule. Only guaranteeing eight games to teams that have paid lots of money for registration and transportation is ridiculously absurd. Even more absurd is only telling teams about the cut of two games from the schedule after round 4. I received no emails or other communications about this schedule change. The way I found out was by milling around for half an hour waiting for round 5, when someone came up and said that I should have been halfway to lunch by then.

In addition, if a schedule will force your playoff to be single-elimination, use a different schedule.

4. Rooms. Some of the sites were not appropriate for quizbowl-like competition. If readers have to walk through interconnected game rooms, interrupting other teams as they go, in order to get to the control room, something is wrong.

The room situation at the Newseum provided a laughably inept conclusion. I believe that there were twenty-four teams in the playoffs. Somehow, someone decided that having only four rooms for twenty-four teams was a good idea. I realize that the Newseum is supercool, but that was :capybara:ing ridiculous. At 8:00 I found out that, due to the room situation, we would only be playing every other round, meaning that running the last four rounds would take approximately three hours. Just what I'm sure everyone wanted to hear.

If the Newseum can't provide the necessary rooms, DON'T HOST ANYTHING THERE. Again, this is a case of ambition and enthusiasm far overstepping reason.

5. Communication. As disasters unfolded, communication between the staff and the teams was remarkably poor. At one point, we showed up to a site twenty minutes early, only to be told that, despite what we were told by staff at the previous site, we were actually fifteen minutes late. That should not have happened. Staffers should know the schedule of the tournament they are running. At the Newseum, teams were not informed of the shifting of various blocks of games, resulting in more fruitless waiting around. Between the end of the second round-robin and the start of the playoffs, almost three hours elapsed, if I remember correctly.


So yeah, this tournament had a great opportunity to expose a lot of new teams to good quizbowl. Unfortunately, a lot of good intentions and bad ideas totally squandered that opportunity. I hope that NHBB does better next year, because they have the right idea, tons of resources, and a great staff, who, unfortunately, totally screwed things up in their first attempt at this. I believe in second chances and I will certainly be back for NHBB II, but I will be expecting far better.

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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:57 pm

Also, if you want to help inexperienced teams improve, charging $60 for the question set is not the way to do it. All good, modern tournaments except NAQT events, for whatever reason, publish their questions for free online at the conclusion of the event. I suggest the NHBB do the same. Helping quizbowl in general is more important than making an extra buck.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:24 pm

So I agree with Aidan (but to a much, much, lesser extent), especially on points 2, 3, and 5. A few things that I think should be done differently for next year.

-- As cool as some of the rooms were at Mount Vernon and how awesome it is to say you played quizbowl on the property of the first president, it's way too far and means some teams can't rely on Metro who would otherwise.

--Changing anything the night before a big tournament, unless you have to, is not a good idea. There were inconsistencies between the original rules and schedule and what ended up happening (2 fewer games, change in substitution rule, etc.)

I think that for what this was, a tournament with a tournament that surpassed expectations, spread out across a metropolitan are, in its first year, that it was fine. No one's ever really tried this before (at least not to my knowledge) and it was an interesting experience. I trust Dave Madden will learn from the mistakes, mishaps, and messups from this year and make next year's bowl run really smoothly
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:56 pm

Prof.Whoopie wrote:All good, modern tournaments except NAQT events, for whatever reason, publish their questions for free online at the conclusion of the event.
Discussion of this NAQT policy can be found in this thread.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:20 am

HSAPQ will be posting the set for free on our website at the conclusion of this competition year, as has always been our policy. It is also our policy that hosts can charge pretty much whatever the market will bear if they want to recoup their printing costs by selling paper sets.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jonpin » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:38 am

I agree with many points of what have been said above, and I'd like to add a few of my own.

First of all, I know that Dave Madden has put in a hell of a lot (I can still say hell in the HS section, right?) of time, money, and work into making this the best tournament he could run. But this was not the best tournament he could run. There were lots of procedural things that went wrong, and 85% of them can be traced back to having way too many teams here. I think that in all honesty, the JV bowl shouldn't have happened, especially for this first year, so that there would be a third or so less work involved in running the show.
Here are some specific problems caused by having so many teams:
* Many sites. This could've been sweet. I mean, I increased my "foreign countries I've technically been on the land of" count from 1 to 2 today. But I can't say that anything overly awesome was accomplished by playing the games in Uruguay. As a counter, more sites mean more site coordinators, and I think a fair number of site coordinators had no idea what the bwaaaaar they were supposed to be doing. For instance, I am certain that the Uruguayan site director didn't attend whatever morning meeting he was supposed to be at to pick up information packets for his site's moderators, because I didn't get the "Moderator Instructions" handout, nor my name tag, both of which were still at Crowne Plaza Hamilton (hereafter CPH). When we arrived, I saw a friend of mine and his team sitting at some buzzers. I asked whether there was a welcome meeting and was told no, just go to your room. I noted that I had no idea where the rooms were, nor which was "Room 1", "Room 2", etc.
** Further evidence that site directors were over their heads: My team was on the bubble for playoffs. That's always difficult to manage, but it's made worse when you're waiting for results that literally never came in. The statkeepers were reduced to asking teams "What happened in Round 5 when you played So-and-so B?" That's freaking insane. I still insist it would've made more sense to figure out the 8 JV teams that were slated to play a round of playoffs at CPH first, and while they were playing, finish the varsity standings.
* Complete astandardization of rules. Do we start the :60 before the lead-in, before the first prompt, or after the first prompt? Do we allow five seconds on bonuses and bouncebacks, or until the team feels like answering, whenever the heck that may be? Also, as noted, I never got the "Moderator Instructions" handout. So I was letting teams substitute between quarters, and awarding the rare 20 for a superpower until I mentioned "Tossups with powers and superpowers" during round 6, and my scorekeeper said there were no such thing. I said "huh?" and after the game he showed me that handout, which also noted--in contradiction to the scoresheet--that in-game substitutions were not allowed. Both of those rules changed between last night and this morning, and no notice was given. Speaking of rules that changed last night, the prelims were shortened to 8 games. I found out about this when I overheard a conversation between David and a staffer last night, where he said "everything's the same as the schedule, except only four rounds at each site." I confirmed the floating rumor, and confronted David and told him this was awooooga. He said they were paranoid of running behind schedule, which I guess was valid given the complete inability of some staffers to not suck. He also said teams would be told when they arrived in the morning (this is also awooooga), and in fact some teams in Uruguay weren't told until I mentioned it in passing circa Round 3.
* Some of the staffers sucked. I freely admit that volunteers are required to run a massive quiz bowl tournament. But some of these staffers had no experience with quiz bowl, from what I have been told and heard. There were plenty of great mods, but there were some who just weren't. This happens when you bite off more teams than a competent moderating staff can chew.
* Travel problems. There was a play-in game for the 16 seed between Ransom Everglades and Irvington-A, basically because Ransom was told the wrong time to be back from lunch. From my limited understanding, the best possible fix was used for an awful situation that shouldn't have occurred, and wouldn't have occurred if there were one person in charge of everything. When a moderator in my building in the afternoon read a wrong packet, it delayed a few teams for a good amount of time because Madden (or someone) had to literally drive over replacements. There should always be replacements available, especially when two rounds have just been bwaaaaaring cancelled out of existence. Also under the category of travel problems is the situation for tomorrow morning. We're supposed to arrive at the School Without Walls by 7:30-ish. SWW "is eminently accessible by metro", except for the problem that metro doesn't run until 7:00 and requires a transfer from anywhere that's CPH or further east. So we're taxiing it up. It's just bad, bad planning.

Now, my kids had a lot of fun, and were happy to make playoffs (though sad to get crushed by Bellarmine a second time), but there was a lot that could be better, and a lot that would have to be fixed before I'd want to spend the time and money to come back to this tournament.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by The Herb » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:50 am

Considering the inexperience of many of the readers, it would have been a good idea to have some replacement questions. In one of our games, a moderator said "correct" to an answer given after he had already called "time," thus disqualifying the question--which had no replacement. It ended up costing us the game.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Duncan Idaho » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:51 am

Prof.Whoopie wrote:... a number of reasons.

1. Lack of staff. The first rule of tournament direction is "Don't run a tournament for which you don't have sufficient competent staff." This tournament did not have anything approaching sufficient competent staff. Just because someone was your buddy from Jeopardy! doesn't mean he's a good staffer. People who have to spend several minutes each game reviewing the rules as they go are not good staffers. Staffers who take 45 minutes to finish a game are not good staffers. Location supervisors who tell those 45-minuters that their pace is fine are not good supervisors. Staffers who don't know how to fill out scoresheets and then rudely respond to input from players are not good staffers. I saw all of these things and more today.

I appreciate that Dave wanted to run a big tournament, and I applaud him for his ambition. But you have to be reasonable! Don't schedule 100 teams if you only have staffers for 50. That's just the way it is.
Speaking as a college quizbowl player in the DC area, I would have been very happy to help staff this tournament had it not been the weekend of ACF Nationals. In the future, scheduling this tournament after ICT and ACF Nationals (say, on the last weekend of April or the first weekend of May) would probably aid NHBB in gaining good staffers; that's part of the reason HSNCT and NSC run as well as they do.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jlchockey94 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:06 am

The problem with those weekends is the proximity to A.P. exams. I would propose one of those weekends in May after the A.P.'s (May 13-15 or 20-22 this year). At the same time, three nationals tournaments in three weeks might be a problem for some teams.

On the subject of the tournament: the questions seemed fine, but there were some repeats due to what I saw as an oddly small canon. I agree with Raynell and Aidan on the timing/moderating issues. But, I also like the tournament and its idea. I will certainly try to attend next year even if it is not as close to my home (i.e. not in D.C.).
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jonpin » Sun Apr 17, 2011 8:12 am

jlchockey94 wrote:The problem with those weekends is the proximity to A.P. exams. I would propose one of those weekends in May after the A.P.'s (May 13-15 or 20-22 this year). At the same time, three nationals tournaments in three weeks might be a problem for some teams.

On the subject of the tournament: the questions seemed fine, but there were some repeats due to what I saw as an oddly small canon. I agree with Raynell and Aidan on the timing/moderating issues. But, I also like the tournament and its idea. I will certainly try to attend next year even if it is not as close to my home (i.e. not in D.C.).
Four in four. NASAT is already the weekend after NSC which is the weekend after HSNCT.

On the subject of today, you know what would've been sweet? If the schedules had gotten here before 8am. Or were posted online?

Also second the need for extra questions. It's one thing to not have questions for the purpose of overtime. It's not good to have no questions available in reserve for a blurted answer, a failure to clear the buzzers, or any other number of things that could go wrong and mess up a question. Or in the case of the question just not existing (as in the case of the Teddy Roosevelt category's 8th part).
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jonpin » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:23 pm

Here's the playoff bracket, as reported to me by Ed Fifteens.

Varsity
#1 Maggie def #9 Culver; #4 St Joseph def #5 RM; #7 Adair def #2 U-Nashville; #6 Parkersburg def #3 Anselm
Maggie def St Joseph; Parkersburg def Adair
Maggie Walker wins Varsity Bowl.

JV
#1 Bellarmine def #8 Bergen; #5 Sayre def #4 Mon Donovan; #2 St Joseph def #7 Ransom; #6 Charter def #3 Mission SJ
Bellarmine def Sayre; Charter def St Joseph
Wilmington Charter wins Junior Varsity Bowl.

Bee prelims ended 15 minutes ago, and they should be down shortly to announce the playoff qualifiers.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by ChathamNJ » Sun Apr 17, 2011 12:36 pm

jonpin wrote:Ed Fifteens.
Good one.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by salmon of wisdom » Sun Apr 17, 2011 2:58 pm

Another minor, but potentially problematic issue my team encountered was notification of making the playoffs. After round 8 my team had a 7-1 record. We asked our last mod if he thought we had made they playoffs and he said that we had a good chance so we should head to the Newsuem. We were pretty far away from the Newsuem and luckily a team member's parent came and picked us up(it was raining really hard). We were never officially told we made the playoffs. We just went around the Newsuem looking at people's Iphones to see the scores and what place we were. We were never told we should look online to see if we made it. We were only 100% sure we made it when we found out who we were playing. While this wasn't a huge issue for us, a team who thought they wouldn't make it to the playoffs and decided to go home could have slowed down the entire night or missed a chance to play. In the future I think there should be a clear protocol on alerting the teams on playoff standings.
Besides that and a few other issues already mentioned this was an awesome tournament that I look forward to attending next year.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jlchockey94 » Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:41 pm

After playing in the Bee, I am still a fan of the NHBB, but many things about the Bee were significantly worse than they were at the Bowl. The saving grace of the Bowl was the relatively high level of question quality (thanks to HSAPQ). The Bee questions were horribly inconsistent.

The toss-ups seemed okay through round one ("Ancient World History"), but the quality deteriorated after that. Rounds two-six contained numerous questions that led to frequent buzzer races and massive frauding. Many of the questions contained transparent lead-ins, hoses, repeats (from earlier in the Bee), and cliffs. This made play difficult and frustrating. The questions also led to protests that the inexperienced moderators did not know how to handle. Some tried to unilaterally resolve the protests instead of reporting them, which only made things worse.

The time-period/region classification of each round also led to problems. Many of the questions in all six rounds seemed to be well outside of the expected time periods. The "Modern World History" (originally post-1946) contained material from the 1700's. I could give other, more specific examples, but I don't know whether the set has been cleared for open discussion. If possible, HSAPQ should write all of the questions to ensure higher quality. However, I still like the idea, but like others on this forum, I think that more time needs to be devoted to planning, moderator recruiting/training, question writing/proofing, and TD-team communication.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:09 am

After a long, relaxing trip back from DC and some more rest once getting home, I'd like to share a few thoughts about the NHBB.

First, I'd like to thank David Madden for starting and putting this entire concept together. After meeting you this weekend, I would argue against anyone who doubted your passion and dedication to creating the best history-based quiz bowl possible. And, just a personal thanks for placing me at Mount Vernon. I've only heard stories of the problems that were truly disappointing to hear happen (which I will get to in a bit), but I thought the whole staff at Mount Vernon worked very well and efficiently. The morning rounds got completed ahead of schedule, and despite being placed on a red flag, to wait for a school that had gotten lost, the entire staff raised their game to get the rounds completed by 4:15.

So, now to suggestions for all the problems which occurred, and I will try to address some of your points of concern Aidan. I can tell you there were times on Saturday where I was extremely frustrated as well, because I think we all saw the high potential for a tournament like the NHBB, however the massive...mess...on Saturday spoiled something that could have been truly great. I'd first preface though by saying, this was the 1st year of the NHBB, and so I'm giving some latitude (maybe lots) to the decisions which ultimately caused the biggest problems. Aidan has done an excellent and accurate job pointing these out, but I think if we start giving suggestions here, then Dave Madden (I am convinced he is willing to listen and take in all advice) can start working to correct the mistakes, and the NHBB can become great.

1. This one I'd say I heard the most. Dave, I truly do not know how you pulled all nighters this weekend and still held everything together without your heart exploding, and a massive kudos to you for that. However, with NHBB being in it's first year, you needed to delegate responsibilities and information, to your staff better. There were several staffers who came and had experience in tournament directing, you needed their help. This was a 98-team tournament, and there is no way I believe 1 person can, or should, be the sole knot of a tournament this large, and this spread out. This is what caused my biggest frustration as a staffer, I felt completely mis-informed for most of the weekend, since it seemed like you had all the information. What would happen then, since teams regularly came for questions, I was embarrassed that I did not have an answer for them, simply because I didn't know. I got tired of saying "see Dave" or "let me ask Dave." And if I had a question, the answer I most often heard was "ask Dave," "Dave's got everything." There is no reason you need to take on all that responsibility, especially with other staffers present who also had TD experience.

I think, Aidan, this addresses your point about the communication. Things quickly changed, at times if I knew something and informed a team, to only find out that changed an hour later, it definitely frustrated me, since it also poorly reflects me.

I will say all the moderators were instructed to inform teams at the start of Round 1 that Rounds 5 and 10 were cut. This was an executive decision made the night before, simply because there was a certain time the Newseum was available, and with the massive probability of anything going wrong, it was decided to cut 2 rounds. Whoever your moderator was for the 1st round, that was his/her fault, as I specifically recall Dave telling all of us to inform the teams of this change.

2. Leading into the problem with the playoffs at the Newseum. I will just correct, it is 20 teams that were to play at the Newseum, but the issue still stands, they only had 4 rooms available. They had several brackets with room assignments, and I think what you started out doing with having the top 4 games of the bracket played, then have the bottom 4 games played...etc would have worked out fine. However, in an effort to appease a few quite minor problems, you decided to basically scrap the room assignments printed on the brackets. Changing teams all around. Again this made you the sole person with all the information (leaving staff having know idea what teams were playing in what rooms). And also, I think just made everyone angry, as this meant more delays when it was already approaching 10pm.

And with regards to Mount Vernon, I do agree with Mr. Cooper (to quickly add, since this was the first time I have gone outside Ohio to staff a tournament. It was a pleasure to meet you and your team. You are all class acts). Mount Vernon was a good 40+ minutes away from the central area, this caused problems, especially for the team who wound up lost (which I have found out is very easy to do in DC if you are in the city for the first time). Also, 1 room was about a 5 minute walk from the 3 other rooms being used in Mount Vernon. I think Mount Vernon would be a great site to do the playoffs (as it proved in the Bee playoffs on Sunday), but it was too disconnected from the rest of the sites for the 8 Prelim rounds.

3. More people on stats. The two you had worked and pushed hard, but that's just it, you only had two. This was probably the primary cause of the massive log jam in the afternoon. 98-teams, two people doing all stats is not nearly enough.

4. I think the multiple sites was ambitious and truly a good idea. Now it's about how do you put this idea into practice? I mean if the Olympics people can figure it out, I'm sure the quiz bowl community can? :lol: The suggestion I received, was to treat each site as you would a small tournament. However you decide to bracket all the teams. Make sure the site can provide enough rooms for the teams who are playing at that site. If they can't don't use that site. And have a TD plus stats person for each site. This way each site is run like a small tournament. Instead of trying to take all the results from the 18 different sites and funnelling them back to the command center each round.

If this is not feasible, then as Aidan said, simply don't do it.

5. Mandatory Moderator training. Preferably a day/few days before the tournament. If you have a bunch of new staff, you need to train them. And I don't mean "training" as in a run down of the points and format right before they are sent out to their respective site. Again use your experienced staff more efficiently. If you have experienced moderators, use them to break the new moderators into groups, and give them a training session. Moderating is more than being able to read words off a page or trying to be the most entertaining person in the room. They need to be able to handle disputes, know how the actual scoring works...and well just know the rules.

Those are just some things I've thought about, or suggestions from others I have talked to, in ways to improve the NHBB for next year. Again thanks, Dave Madden, and pretty much a general shout out to all the fellow red shirts (even if I did express concern in avoiding William Shatner).
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:59 pm

Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:I will say all the moderators were instructed to inform teams at the start of Round 1 that Rounds 5 and 10 were cut. This was an executive decision made the night before, simply because there was a certain time the Newseum was available, and with the massive probability of anything going wrong, it was decided to cut 2 rounds. Whoever your moderator was for the 1st round, that was his/her fault, as I specifically recall Dave telling all of us to inform the teams of this change.

5. Mandatory Moderator training. Preferably a day/few days before the tournament. If you have a bunch of new staff, you need to train them. And I don't mean "training" as in a run down of the points and format right before they are sent out to their respective site. Again use your experienced staff more efficiently. If you have experienced moderators, use them to break the new moderators into groups, and give them a training session. Moderating is more than being able to read words off a page or trying to be the most entertaining person in the room. They need to be able to handle disputes, know how the actual scoring works...and well just know the rules.
These both seem to be implying that there was a short "here's how you do your job" session with Madden on Saturday morning? Is that so? Because this is my perspective on staffing:

March 30: I emailed Dave to offer my services moderating at the same building my team would play at, he said "we should be OK", but thanked me for the offer.
April 13: Having heard nothing more until then, I get the "Thank you to all staff for this weekend's tournament" email. That email said to come to the CPH "whenever you like on Friday evening, so we can do a brief training session" and which also noted "We can still use all the help we can get on Saturday!"

Friday: [7pm] When I arrived at the CPH with my team, among other things I asked where the training session was. I was told there was no session, that new moderators would learn how it worked through the scrimmages. [8pm] Since there are no paper schedules to pick up, I ask "so the schedule is the same as what we got via email; the Goethe edit?" "Yes, it's the same." I bounce between some rooms running scrimmages, and discover that I should be trying to teach some of the moderators how to run a game. And that there's only one scrimmage packet, so my team is ineligible to play after having sat in the audience during the previous scrimmage. [9pm] While still sticking around waiting for the coaches' bee, I overheard Dave tell a staffer "Right, exactly like it says, except only four rounds at each site." Hearing so little of the conversation, I'm unsure whether this refers to the bowl or the bee. [10pm] Finally able to get a minute with Dave, I ask if the rumor of only eight rounds on Saturday is true, and he confirms it is. We have a brief conversation where I voice my displeasure at this change happening at so late a time.

Saturday morning [8:30am] My team and I arrive at the Uruguayan embassy for our first matches. The lady from the building tells us there are rooms on the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors. We go up to floor 2. One team is sitting at a row of buzzers, and there are 50 or so empty chairs set up facing a possible stage. I ask if this is where the introductory meeting is. I am told there is no introductory meeting. I ask which room is "Room 1" and so forth, and the team there says they're pretty sure they're in Room 1, with Room 2 on the third floor, and the other two on the fourth floor. [9:00am] Finding the person who seems to be in charge of the site, I am told that I'm in Room 3. I protest that I should be in Room 4 as originally scheduled, because my team plays in Room 3 twice. He basically says whatever (a fifteen-second conversation with the moderator in Room 3 resolved this with us trading rooms), gives me a schedule, four folders with packets and scoresheets and sends me on my way. I ask for an extra copy of the schedule for my team, and he says "I think we have enough to give your team one", so I'm not sure other teams had an updated schedule printout. I realize later I've been told nothing about where to bring the scoresheets. [10:30am] After round 3, I casually note to the two teams who have just finished playing, "By the way, you guys know that after next round, it's lunchtime, right?" It is news to both of them. [11:15am] After round 4, I give my scoresheets and packets to the site head in Room 1, who is just finishing the second quarter of his round 4 game.

Saturday afternoon [1:45pm] Now at the Goethe Center for the afternoon rounds, we are delayed by the fact that we must wait for David Madden to drive by and literally deliver the packets to us. In the interim, my team and I are amused by an anti-coal protest. [3:00pm] Reading round 6, I get to the fourth quarter of my game, and say "Fourth quarter, tossups with powers and superpowers!" The coach of one of the teams, scorekeeping for me, says "We were told there were just powers." After the game, he produces a handout labeled "Moderator Instructions" which also informs me that substitution is not permitted. [3:15pm] In discussion with the teams pre-Round 7, one coach tells me that they were repeatedly told from the time of the state bowl that alternates weren't allowed at nationals at all (!), so they only brought four students with them. [5:00pm] After having finished 6-2, my team and I hurry back through the rain to CPH for the JV quarterfinals, slated to be played "at 5:00". While lingering around there, I see a table with water bottles, Moderator Instruction handouts, and name tags. I put my name tag on.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by sir negsalot » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:28 pm

Were the bee results posted online?
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Mon Apr 18, 2011 7:24 pm

jonpin wrote: These both seem to be implying that there was a short "here's how you do your job" session with Madden on Saturday morning? Is that so? Because this is my perspective on staffing:
Thanks for giving your perspective, since this clears up a lot of the confusion that happened at the Uruguay Embassy.

Yes, that took place 7:15 am in the CPH lobby. That was basically as you described a short "here's your job" meeting. Schedules were given to the site captains to hand to all their moderators. Moderators were given the guidelines sheet and Dave gave a run down of the duties to the site captains and the moderators.

With reporting scores, the site captains were told to text the results, once all games from each round was completed to one of the statisticians. I don't know how all the site captains decided to handle this. Since my Room 4, was a bit of a walk from the rest of the rooms at Mount Vernon, my site captain gave me all 4 envelopes and told me to just text him the results when I got done with each. I assume since the 3 other rooms were close, he just collected the scoresheets from the other mods, and then texted all results to the proper stats person.

I don't know how the scrimmages were handled, since I went to help get the Make-up and Open bees done (the Coaches' Bee was fused into the Open Bee since it was getting late. If I remember correctly, this was around 10 pm). I do remember after the Open Bee, two staffers expressing concerns about the number of first time moderators, based upon how the scrimmages were going, but there was no actual training session. Perhaps the scrimmages were meant to fill that role, but it looks like they didn't work.

Whatever the case there were too many changes made on short notice and not communicated to the staff well enough. I didn't find out that there would be no super-powers in Quarter 4, until the 7:15 meeting Saturday (that decision was still up in the air, when I decided to go to bed around midnight). And from hearing about other places, using the phrase "5 point bonus" for the powers, was confusing to a lot of the moderators, who thought then that the bonus questions in the 2nd Quarter were only worth 5 points.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 18, 2011 9:26 pm

Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:
jonpin wrote: These both seem to be implying that there was a short "here's how you do your job" session with Madden on Saturday morning? Is that so? Because this is my perspective on staffing:
Thanks for giving your perspective, since this clears up a lot of the confusion that happened at the Uruguay Embassy.

Yes, that took place 7:15 am in the CPH lobby. That was basically as you described a short "here's your job" meeting. Schedules were given to the site captains to hand to all their moderators. Moderators were given the guidelines sheet and Dave gave a run down of the duties to the site captains and the moderators.
How did you find out about this meeting? I never heard any mention of it, though it would've been basically impossible for me to attend anyway.
Whatever the case there were too many changes made on short notice and not communicated to the staff well enough. I didn't find out that there would be no super-powers in Quarter 4, until the 7:15 meeting Saturday (that decision was still up in the air, when I decided to go to bed around midnight). And from hearing about other places, using the phrase "5 point bonus" for the powers, was confusing to a lot of the moderators, who thought then that the bonus questions in the 2nd Quarter were only worth 5 points.
OK, that makes some sense. I heard reports of that and was wondering how that had happened. Then again, I should know that no matter how simple a scoresheet is, it can and will be messed up by generally smart people.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by lasercats » Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:06 am

jonpin wrote:
Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:
jonpin wrote: These both seem to be implying that there was a short "here's how you do your job" session with Madden on Saturday morning? Is that so? Because this is my perspective on staffing:
Thanks for giving your perspective, since this clears up a lot of the confusion that happened at the Uruguay Embassy.

Yes, that took place 7:15 am in the CPH lobby. That was basically as you described a short "here's your job" meeting. Schedules were given to the site captains to hand to all their moderators. Moderators were given the guidelines sheet and Dave gave a run down of the duties to the site captains and the moderators.
How did you find out about this meeting? I never heard any mention of it, though it would've been basically impossible for me to attend anyway.
Whatever the case there were too many changes made on short notice and not communicated to the staff well enough. I didn't find out that there would be no super-powers in Quarter 4, until the 7:15 meeting Saturday (that decision was still up in the air, when I decided to go to bed around midnight). And from hearing about other places, using the phrase "5 point bonus" for the powers, was confusing to a lot of the moderators, who thought then that the bonus questions in the 2nd Quarter were only worth 5 points.
OK, that makes some sense. I heard reports of that and was wondering how that had happened. Then again, I should know that no matter how simple a scoresheet is, it can and will be messed up by generally smart people.

The 7:15 meeting was supposed to be for site leaders, who were instructed to pass along the information, along with the printed moderator guidelines. It's my understanding that not all of the site leaders made it to the meeting, or came late after the announces about changes.

As far as the scrimmages for moderator training, they did help the moderators learn the format, that is, the moderators who happened to be there when it was decided use the scrimmages as training. It definitely needs to be mandatory next year. As a person who who tries to be as prepared as possible, I was shocked that so many of the volunteer moderators made no effort to read the readily available rules before showing up. Of course, that doesn't excuse the lack of on-site training.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:01 am

Post removed at poster's request. --the mgmt
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:18 am

So...uh.
PACE sets a field cap, so it's not really comparable to your situation, and ACF Nationals is feeding from the infinitely smaller college circuit, so that answers that. Honestly, it sounds like a lot of your problems could have been solved by setting a field cap.

Also
Maybe you should "know" instead of "believe" before posting.
I believe in second chances too - so now you have one to apologize for the profanity, factual inaccuracies, unfair assumptions, and blatant mischaracterizations of your original post. Otherwise, don't bother coming back next year.
Jesus Christ could quizbowl people in charge of major national operations be any less professional these days? NAQT is absolutely murdering their competition in that department.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:25 am

Seriously, AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jbarnes112358 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:29 am

Given the totality of circumstances and the uncertainties inherent in launching such an innovative endeavor, I thought David did an excellent job in pulling it off. I have been impressed by his tireless efforts and professionalism throughout the entire process. This was a highly ambitious undertaking, not just the national event, but all the 32 regional events leading up to it. Logistical problems are bound to occur, and I expected them. I am willing to overlook the issues discussed above in light of circumstances. I am confident that issues will be resolved in subsequent iterations of the event. I do hope that David makes this an annual event. Considering the trouble and expense he went to, we will be lucky if he does. Hopefully, the History Channel or other sponsors will pick this up. That should help with the finances.

David, do you expect to be posting playoff results and final wrap-up soon?
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Edward Powers » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:56 pm

I think Coach Barnes has captured the appropriate spirit and tone and I hope others involved will eventually appreciate this. I understand many of Aidan's frustrations, and, had he jettisoned some of the invective and the angry tone at times, his comments might have been received by David in the constructive light that Aidan actually intended them to be received. And many of Aidan's criticisms were spot on. Still, consider the scope of what David did and place all of the complaints in this light and I think Coach Barnes is correct---32 state and regional tournaments plus two nationals---a Bee & a Bowl---all ultimately achieved in one year, in a country that surely needs to regain a passionate love of history? Further, we all know that mistakes can be made in one venue, much less in 20 or more. Given this, and given that the Bee & the Bowl were brought to an ultimate conclusion, perhaps we can step back and notice what was accomplished and not just what errors were made.

I echo Coach Barnes' hope that this wonderful event be repeated on an annual basis, and I know from reading Aidan's comments that he hopes for this as well. In return, David should be applauded for all that he achieived, while also being encouraged to listen to his student audience. My bet is, or at least my hope is, that David's final comment to Aidan about not coming next year if he does not apologize is something David now regrets. But given all the passion David put into this event and all the events leading up to it, his comment is perhaps understandable, while remaining regrettable.

Hopefully we all will come to the judgment that Coach Barnes has and see that the problems that occurred can be overcome. I for one hope that they are and that this fine event becomes the annual event it deserves to be.
Last edited by Edward Powers on Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:32 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by mpellegrini » Wed Apr 20, 2011 12:59 pm

This tournament has a lot of potential, but it also had some organizational problems that should be addressed. Even setting aside the issue of a lack of experienced quiz bowlers to run the tournament (which as Dave pointed out, could not be helped) there are a lot of easy-but-nonobvious things that can be done to make this tournament run better.

First, here's a first-hand account of the tournament as I saw it:

I came down to moderate along with another experienced UD quiz bowler, Matt Groth. We were extremely late additions to the staff (we decided to go on Thursday night and worked out the logistics with Dave by phone Friday morning).

When we got there Friday night, we had literally no idea what was going on. We checked in, and got our assignments. They put me in the Spy museum and Matt in the Goethe Institute. The Spy Museum is on the maps they gave us, but the Gothe Institute is not. We asked the staffers where those are, and were told "Google it." Unfortunately, I did not bring a laptop and Matt did not have his handy. So we asked someone from the hotel staff. (Big mistake! More on this later). We asked what the format was, and were told to go downstairs to watch some scrimage matches taking place. We did that, and quickly deduced that it was an It's Academic format. But we were misinformed on certain specifics (such as superpowers, which we were told existed, then later found out didn't).

We were told to get to the museums between 7:30 and 8:00 AM the next day. When I got to the spy museum at 7:30, I found out it doesn't open until 8. So I spent that time just waiting in the street. Another team got there at 8:00 and told me the tournament got pushed back until 8:45. (It would have been nice to know this before I got up so early and skipped breakfast.) Once I actually got to my room, everything was set up and in good order. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Roger Craig (another very experienced UD quiz bowl alum), and Brad Rutter were moderating in my bracket. We got started and things ran very smoothly. We finished *extremely* early (11:30-ish), and took a 2 1/2 hour lunch. We would have finished even earlier if Brad's room wasn't across the street in the museum of Crime and Punishment. (Necessitating 10 minutes of downtime between matches for teams to walk between them)

Meanwhile Matt was lost in the middle of the Northeastern DC suburbs because the person he asked misspoke and told him Northeast instead of Northwest. So one of the few experienced readers spent the first round in the middle of nowhere.

After lunch, I was re-assigned to the Uruguayan Embassy, which was running far behind schedule. I don't want to get into specifics, but suffice it to say the person running this site should not have been moderating, let alone directing.

Sunday was better organizationally. Matt and I were put in JV. Aside from certain rooms running much too slowly, we were handicapped by the fact that there was no check-in. So there was literally no way to know if you could start the next round until you were sure all the other rooms were finished reading the last round. In order to prevent rooms from starting too early, Dave stopped handing out the next round's packets until he had confirmed the last round had finished. (Good idea, but this leads to downtime if any rooms are slow).

Question-wise, I don't know who wrote the question sets we used, but Sunday's questions were a noticable improvement over Saturday's set. (Saturday's set had a huge number of repeats, and lots of transparent questions).


So here's my 2 cents on how to make this tournament run better in the future:
1) If this tournament is going to be run with multiple sites, make sure that each location is being run by someone with quiz bowl experience; preferably someone who has actually directed tournaments.
2) Give everyone (moderators and staff) marked maps OR or a list of addresses for all tournament locations.
3) Do not have one bracket in span multiple buildings (as in the case of the Spy Museum/Museum of Crime and Punishment)
4) Make sure the moderators (a) know how to read off a page, (b) know the rules, (c) know how to handle disputes.
5) Include extra questions in every packet, in case there's a tie (which happened in my room) or the moderator screws up (which is I did precisely once during the weekend, and it just happened to be in the room which ended in a tie)
6) Whoever wrote the question set we used on Sunday should write *all* the questions.
7) You should seriously consider jettisoning the It's Academic format and go with the standard tossup/bonus format used in NAQT and ACF. It's Academic is harder to moderate, harder to scorekeep, harder to adjudicate problems (because the order of the third round is dictated by who is losing), and more prone to moderator errors.
8) For the bee, the system we used (whereby packets were not distributed until all rooms had finished the previous round) works well *if* the rooms are running at reasonable speed. The only other way I can think of to fix this is to do a check-in, get a list of who is not presents, and give that list and schedules to all the moderators.

So, just to sum of my feelings about this tournament - I think it actually ran surprisingly well given the number of organizational problems there were. Dave put in a lot of work, and pulled it off under adverse circumstances, for which he deserves a lot of credit.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by jlchockey94 » Wed Apr 20, 2011 5:43 pm

I agree that a move to mACF would be better than the current 4-quarter format that proved too confusing for many of the moderators who had little experience with any type of quizbowl. However, I completely disagree on the subject of the questions' quality. As I stated in an earlier post, the questions in the Bee were sub-par and got significantly worse as the day continued. The Bowl questions were generally good, but had some repeats. Many of the Bee questions seemed to be transparent and include hoses. Unless the JV questions were markedly different from those of Varsity and also better than the Bowl questions, I would advocate letting HSAPQ (who I think wrote the Bowl questions) write the whole NHBB set and possibly the regional HBB sets as well.

Also, are the questions from the Varsity and JV Bees going to be posted anywhere? I believe that HSAPQ said that they would post the Bowl questions at the end of the season. In addition, I would like to once again thank David Madden for his months of hard work and express my confidence in future iterations of the NHBB.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Wed Apr 20, 2011 10:30 pm

mpellegrini wrote: We were told to get to the museums between 7:30 and 8:00 AM the next day. When I got to the spy museum at 7:30, I found out it doesn't open until 8. So I spent that time just waiting in the street. Another team got there at 8:00 and told me the tournament got pushed back until 8:45. (It would have been nice to know this before I got up so early and skipped breakfast.)
The delay Saturday morning was because question packets were still being put into envelopes. As soon as the questions came down to the lobby, the Mount Vernon group left, and we got there sometime around 8:30. To give some perspective for the reason the morning time was pushed back.
Question-wise, I don't know who wrote the question sets we used, but Sunday's questions were a noticable improvement over Saturday's set. (Saturday's set had a huge number of repeats, and lots of transparent questions).
NAQT wrote the themed Bee rounds. I'm not sure if they wrote all the questions used for the Bee though. I would have preferred mixing the distribution, like in the State Bees, but the questions were good.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by WSchneider » Thu Apr 21, 2011 10:37 am

Question-wise, I don't know who wrote the question sets we used, but Sunday's questions were a noticable improvement over Saturday's set. (Saturday's set had a huge number of repeats, and lots of transparent questions).
I have to completely disagree with you on that one... I moderated for all the prelims in the bowl and the bee, so I got to see a good number of questions, but as to the quality of the questions I found Saturdays HSAPQ-written set to be pretty solid in terms of question format. Sundays questions were actually border-line awful... Of 30 questions I think I had like, 20 buzzer races, and virtually everything else wasn't gettable. I also heard a rumor that much of the Bee set was written over the course of the previous week. That may or may not be true, but would certainly explain the lesser quality, even if experienced writers WERE writing them.

As to the repeating situation... In each round of the bowl there are 8r1, 8r2(not counting bonuses, because they are related), 16r3, and 8r4 questions. Over the course of 8 rounds that totals 320+ questions (not even touching on the playoffs, which used probably an equal number of packets). That's a LOT of questions in what is, really, a rather narrow canon. In my opinion, having moderated for some middle-of-the-road teams, some JV, and from observing the best-of-the-best in the finals, the questions were consistently pyramidal, and despite the content over-lap, each question was at the very least unique...

The bee's questions were far fewer, and were organized by theme, making it very very easy to avoid overlap. I just think that for the future, the bee questions should be purchased from HSAPQ as well, just to preserve consistency.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:52 am

A major issue I had with Bee questions were incomplete answer lines (i.e. no prompts, alternate answers, etc.) And it's true, some of the questions were really difficult in the bee portion. I don't think they were as good as the bowl questions, however, I feel like on the whole they were still well-written and fun to play on.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by b.o.b. » Fri Apr 22, 2011 8:29 pm

Does anyone know what the results were for the bee?

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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:00 am

Hi all,
Okay, first off I'd like to begin by thanking everyone who made the inaugural year of the NHBB possible. That includes everyone from all the students and coaches who participated at the state tournaments as well as Nationals, the literally hundreds of people who helped make last weekend's Nationals a reality, the dedicated NHBB staff - in particular the permanent staff of Greg Bossick, Nick Clusserath, Will Mantell, Brian Smiley, Josh Ma, and Chris Bo, and everyone who offered suggestions and constructive criticism along the way. This has been a wild ride, an incredible ten months, and of course, this is only just the beginning of two competitions that will no doubt continue to grow in size and more importantly, in quality for years to come. I am truly appreciative of everyone's help, and continue to request any and all feedback that can help us in the future. Those who know me know my commitment to the success of this, and also my willingness and desire to improve on all fronts - Exhibit A there can be the improvement in the quality of our question sets over the course of the year.
Next, I'd like to clear up a number of points related to our Nationals from last weekend. These are not excuses for what went wrong, but I do think there are aspects of things that people may not be entirely aware of that shed light on both the difficulties, as well as show my commitment to improving for next year and beyond. First, I will be the first to admit that the staffing situation needed to be handled much better. I take full responsibility here - even where staff members didn't show up at meetings they had been told to, I should have been clearer about this. Like so much, this is a relatively easy fix for next year, particularly as I am optimistic that we can work out a date that does not conflict with ICT or ACF Nationals, so that many more staffers would be available. I'm sure that loads of people who were otherwise busy with those two tournaments would love the chance to come to DC, moderate at a site of cultural or historic importance, and help us run a tighter ship. Next year, one of the permanent NHBB staff members (i.e. someone other than me) will be entirely in charge of staffing arrangements, including a far more streamlined rooming setup.
As for the number of teams, I don't think anyone, myself included, would have predicted anywhere near the 98 teams that we had last weekend. Part of the problem here was that I felt it would be unfair to allow teams not to come, or to reset the qualifying criteria to be higher, as the year went on. In other words, I felt obligated to accept all comers, even though after we hit the 60 team mark and kept going, and going, and going, each new team was more a source of anxiety than excitement. Aidan was incorrect in saying that I wanted to run a big tournament - I would have much preferred a tournament that had, say 40-60 teams, than a 98 team field, particularly since given the low fees, I wasn't really making any extra $ at all with each additional registration.
But, just like the staffing question, there are all sorts of easy and implementable fixes for next year, including:
-We're definitely going to a 3 day model, with one block of 5 games on Friday, and one on Saturday for all teams. Friday night will be Bee prelims at the hotel. Saturday night will be the first 8 of 12 double elimination varsity playoff rounds (we'll take the top 36 teams - though teams 29-36 will need to survive a play in game), along with most or all of the JV playoffs. For Saturday's blocks, teams will be rebracketed into an upper and lower half of the draw. By only having one block of 5 games per day, this will allow for some sightseeing, though with the Bee on Friday and playoffs on Saturday, there will be enough competition for those looking for it.
-With blocks spread out over two days, teams won't have to dash from one site to the next. This will allow us to still utilize the remote site model. We'll have designated troubleshooting teams in both the Mall and Dupont Circle areas (to minimize dashing back and forth), spare buzzers at all sites, and a smoother way of distributing questions and reporting scores through an expanded use of the "site captain" system. The remote site model also helps keep costs down, as all of our sites provided the venue space free of charge - with the exception of the games that out of necessity were done at the Crowne Plaza. Meanwhile, we will be moving to a larger space next year that can accommodate far more teams, have a bigger lobby, a space where all teams can congregate for an intro meeting, and handle at least 32 competition rooms for the Bee Prelims on Friday night, and Bowl playoffs on Saturday night.
-We will not run any tournaments less than 5 weeks out of Nationals, more likely 6. This will give us plenty of time to sort out the schedule of matches well in advance, have all the staff in place that we need, acquire any additional venue space, and all in all have a far more streamlined operation.
-The qualifying criteria for Nationals will likely be somewhat stricter, perhaps something along the lines of needing to be either in the top 1/4 of the draw at states, have a 4-1 record, or have a 3-2 record and reach the semifinals. We can always open it up to teams in the next echelon come, say February, if it seems as if we'll be able to accommodate.
-We hopefully won't have a government shutdown or the threat of one to deal with. This threw yet another hurdle at things, as one of our sites bailed in the week leading up to the tournament. Also on the subject of baling, a number of experienced staffers who had said they'd be coming to help did not in fact show. This is at one level basically inevitable, but again, it doesn't make things easier.
Now onto the questions:
HSAPQ handled the entirety of the Bowl. Bee questions were a mix of leftover HSAPQ questions that we didn't need for the Bowl, house writes, and questions contributed by Gaius Stern and Jean Cui. Hence the mish-mosh quality of the Bee. On the whole, I think people were very happy with the Bowl questions, though it would have been much easier on everyone if HSAPQ had included pronunciation guides and had run the set through a more consistent edit - a number of moderators expressed some frustration with dangling modifiers, 60 second rounds with 7 questions, and other grammatical errors. For the Bee questions next year, I am interested in working with HSAPQ so they can handle all of that (as I'm sure they'd be interested in doing so), with the understanding that we would need a rough draft of all bee and bowl packets submitted at least a month in advance so that we can work together to smooth everything out. That way we can also work in more expanded features such as visual bonuses, more site specific questions, etc.
From my own perspective, I liked the fact that nearly all questions had answer lines that were appropriate, and that the percentage of questions that went unanswered did not seem too high at all. However, from the bit of the competition that I was able to see, especially in the prelims, it did appear that for many teams, the harder parts of the questions, especially in the 2nd and 4th quarters were so hard as to be counterproductive. I completely understand HSAPQ's emphasis on pyramidality along with the need for the better teams to be challenged. However, I think that slightly shorter questions with slightly easier material in the first half of the tossups can differentiate really just as well while being more enjoyable for the bottom 50% of teams, which at this tournament in particular, thanks to our efforts to bring in many new teams, were weaker on the whole than say at HSNCT or especially NSC.
Finally, on the subject of bringing in new teams, Aidan had said this was a squandered opportunity. I disagree wholeheartedly here. While I know that many teams, both experienced and neophytes alike, were frustrated with some of the issues that arose (btw, the issue that affected Aidan's team only affected 12 of the 98 teams - all of the other sites ran much more smoothly, many basically flawlessly), I have not received one negative email in the wake of the tournament. Part of my frustration that led to my original post which I had the administrators remove upon further reflection was this discrepancy between the positive emails I was receiving (and also seeing in other places, such as on Facebook posts), and the comments on the boards, which until Dr. Barnes and Coach Powers chimed in seemed to dwell primarily on the negative.
The bottom line is that I think the vast majority of teams still had a good time, acknowledged the fact that this was a learning experience for us, gave us the benefit of the doubt, and appreciated our efforts. Next year, of course, the bar will be set much higher- as it should be. But rest assured- there is nothing more important in my life than working out all the issues, kinks, and problems with all aspects of the National History Bee and Bowl. I will be at Midwest Championships at Culver, Omar Q Beckins at White Plains, HSNCT, NSC, NAC Chicago (forgive me on this last one, but it was only through outreach at NAC last year that about half a dozen NHBB tournaments came into being, and this is a way to bring teams into the world of good quizbowl who would not have a chance to interact with us at HSNCT or NSC), KAAC camp, all three ACE camps, the Chicago Open, the Jersey Shore Open that I'll be organizing in early August, and Fall DAR, so chances are that between now and the end of August, if you're reading this post, you'll be able to give me your thoughts in person to improve the NHBB for next year, though emails and board posts are of course welcome too. This is your tournament, and my responsibility to make it as good as it can be. Given that we went from nowhere to 32 regionals and two national finals in our first year, you can see my capacity for making this happen. With a vastly expanded staff pool, far more responsibilities delegated at all levels, expanded corporate sponsorship, and a better sense of how everything needs to come together, you can be on the lookout for 50+ NHBB tournaments next year that will be better attended, with better questions, run by more and better-trained staff, more scholarships on offer, and on and on.
Thanks to all of you for this great beginning and I look forward to working with all of you to make the NHBB that much better for next year- and for the next fifty years.
Cheers,
David
PS. I apologize as well for the delay in getting stats up. For those interested here is a list of Bee and Bowl winners and runners up:

Varsity Bowl
Maggie Walker Governor's School, Richmond, VA - Champion
Parkersburg High School, Parkersburg, WV - Runner-Up
Semifinalists were Adair County, KY and St. Joseph's of Metuchen, NJ

JV Bowl
Charter School of Wilmington, Wilmington, DE - Champion
Bellarmine College Prep, San Jose, CA - Runner-Up
Semifinalists were Sayre School of Lexington, KY (note: this was a one-student team - Mason Hill) and St. Joseph's of Metuchen, Metuchen, NJ

Varsity Bee
Mark Arildsen, University School of Nashville, Nashville, TN - Champion
Nick Brumfield, Parkersburg High School - Runner-Up
Other participants in the four-student final were J.R. Roach of Maggie Walker and Alex Frey of St. Joseph's

JV Bee
Sameer Rai, 9th grade, Bellarmine College Prep - Champion
Mickey Gioia, 10th grade, Shepton High School, Plano, TX - Runner-Up
David Madden
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by thejeopardyfan » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:28 am

The 7:15 meeting was supposed to be for site leaders, who were instructed to pass along the information, along with the printed moderator guidelines. It's my understanding that not all of the site leaders made it to the meeting, or came late after the announces about changes.

As far as the scrimmages for moderator training, they did help the moderators learn the format, that is, the moderators who happened to be there when it was decided use the scrimmages as training. It definitely needs to be mandatory next year. As a person who who tries to be as prepared as possible, I was shocked that so many of the volunteer moderators made no effort to read the readily available rules before showing up. Of course, that doesn't excuse the lack of on-site training.
As a moderator with no quiz bowl experience, I would've loved printed guidelines, and they were exactly what I needed. They must have been a well-kept secret. I resent the statement that moderators "made no effort to read the readily available rules" as well as the implication that the newcomers don't want to be prepared. That is insulting.
The scrimmages can be mandatory, but the staffers did not teach rules or how to keep score.

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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:50 am

thejeopardyfan wrote:They must have been a well-kept secret.
Well-kept on "historybowl.com," where I--having never been to the site before--clicked on "official rules" on the left and then was taken to a page that lets you download the rules (admittedly doesn't pick up for things a moderator needs to know until point III) and a two-page guide on how to be a moderator. Total effort: ninety sleepless seconds.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by lasercats » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:54 am

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
thejeopardyfan wrote:They must have been a well-kept secret.
Well-kept on "historybowl.com," where I--having never been to the site before--clicked on "official rules" on the left and then was taken to a page that lets you download the rules (admittedly doesn't pick up for things a moderator needs to know until point III) and a two-page guide on how to be a moderator. Total effort: ninety sleepless seconds.

This. The rules have been online for months, and I don't think it's a stretch to require volunteers to read them before showing up. David also emailed moderator guidelines days before the competition. My comments were not directed at you Jeanie, and I apologize that you feel insulted. Despite your unfamiliarity with the format, you read very well and did not cause any hold ups in our location.
Furthermore, if I am invited back to staff next year, I am willing to take responsibility for training moderators.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:23 pm

nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote:By only having one block of 5 games per day, this will allow for some sightseeing, though with the Bee on Friday and playoffs on Saturday, there will be enough competition for those looking for it.
This seems like a non-solution solution. You're still only guaranteeing teams ten games, then running an elimination bracket. You're increasing time that teams must commit while not offering them any more games. Do it all in a day, and then teams can have as much time as they want to sightsee on Friday and Sunday.
nationalhistorybeeandbowl wrote: That way we can also work in more expanded features such as visual bonuses, more site specific questions, etc.
Do we really want questions to be even more convoluted? I don't know what the silent emailing majority thinks about this, but four-quarters is bad enough. Do we have to turn this into the NHBB: VETO edition? I think it's plenty clear that we have to make things as easy as possible for staff. Moving to a 20/20 format would help in that effort immensely. More wacky formatting would not.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Will_NHBB » Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:34 pm

Aidan,

Thanks for your input. However, I think the two concerns you bring up won't be much of a problem.

First off, doing two blocks of 5 over Friday and Saturday allows us to run more cleanly and efficiently. Also, if most of the this year's teams got in early Friday afternoon anyway, running Friday and Saturday blocks really doesn't increase anyone's time commitment. Also, keep in mind that DC is part of the draw of the tournament -- dedicated as it may be to Quiz Bowl, no team wants to travel from 300+ miles to our nation's capital without doing any sightseeing.

Second, A/V questions and site-specific questions don't change format at all. We ran many sites with site-specific questions this year; HSAPQ wrote them for us and they were simply inserted as 1st, 2nd, and 4th quarter tossups. No one lost any time doing it; nobody was confused. Likewise, we ran with A/V questions at one of our sites -- they'll simply be inserted into the game. As for the four-quarter format, it's not everybody's favorite and we acknowledge that, but we're sticking with it.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:35 pm

Will_NHBB wrote:. As for the four-quarter format, it's not everybody's favorite and we acknowledge that, but we're sticking with it.
May I ask why?
As for the problem of sightseeing time, as I'm sure others have said, it should not be hard to guarantee more games while still providing lots of sightseeing time by making some of the adjustments outlined in the thread already (smaller tournament, more experienced staff and having someone who can run each building independently, having each team play all its games in one building, etc).
Douglas Graebner, Walt Whitman HS 10, Uchicago 14
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:40 pm

Will_NHBB wrote:A/V questions and site-specific questions don't change format at all.
No, but they do make games more convoluted. The former requires that the moderators have computers with them and be able to avoid confusing one A/V clue with another. The latter makes packet distribution more prone to error. Both also add more potential of determining a game based on BS than the mere existence of a lightning round already does.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:05 pm

Will_NHBB wrote: First off, doing two blocks of 5 over Friday and Saturday allows us to run more cleanly and efficiently.
Unless we have different definitions of efficiency, no it doesn't. I believe it is commonly agreed that efficiency is something like "doing the most in the least amount of time." If you keep the amount of stuff done constant but increase the time used, you decrease efficiency, not increase it. Maybe a scientist could back me up on this one. If you ran the tournament in one day, you leave all of Friday and Sunday free, rather than interrupting them with two-hour chunks of competition. If you have games Friday night, you essential kill Friday night for teams. If you condense everything, you'll give teams more time for the sightseeing you insist is so precious. Speaking of which, 7 of the top 16 teams this year were from the DC+ region. I sure hope your new Friday plans don't unnecessarily force any of these nearby teams to miss class time for an event in their immediate region.
Will_NHBB wrote: As for the four-quarter format, it's not everybody's favorite and we acknowledge that, but we're sticking with it.
As an administrator of an organization whose job is to determine a national champion at something, you're comfortable saying that you prefer a demonstrably less fair format to an easily implementable one that is more fair? That's ridiculous.
Aidan Mehigan
St. Anselm's Abbey School '12
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:21 pm

Why is the four-quarter format less fair?

Also, I don't understand why you don't run the bee on a separate day, or otherwise figure out how to make the bowl be one continuous event and have the bee perhaps precede and then follow the main bowl event. This would give bowl players who aren't in the bee more freedom to sightsee and perhaps not have to convolute travel plans. Friday night rounds for the main event in particular is a really bad idea, because lots of people can't leave for D.C. until after school gets out that afternoon, and it's entirely possible they can't catch flights that will arrive before 9 PM or so, so moving part of the bee portion of the tournament up to Friday night event, then finishing the bee on Sunday, would probably be a more decent idea.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:38 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:Why is the four-quarter format less fair?
The Hang-opedia comes in handy sometimes.

Point three here isn't really relevant, because I don't think NHBB is trying to bone anybody, but boy, did some people get boned last weekend.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sat Apr 23, 2011 7:43 pm

Yeah, 60-second rounds suck, but if they replaced that with something else like VHSL directed rounds I would have no problems with this being 4-quarters.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Barbjudy » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:00 pm

Since the National History Bowl was new --and since it was a tremendously large undertaking, I have nothing but praise for David and the staff who assisted him. Sure, there are things that can be improved --but don't forget that this wasn't run for us adults. It was run for the students. And, what a tremendous opportunity it was for those of my students who like history. They learn not just from studying, but from competitions.

Thanks very much to all who worked hard to allow them to have this chance.

I am looking forward to next year whether it is 8 rounds or 10 rounds and whether it is in one building or ten.


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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by sir negsalot » Sat Apr 23, 2011 8:38 pm

As long as the questions remain pyramidal and quality, it's all good. The 60-second round is meh, but at least it allows weak teams to not be shut out. If the questions were 20/20 with high difficulty, a large number of teams would be shut out and not want to return to the tournament again. After all, the championship is much more prestigious with a greater number of participants, both at the state and national levels. As long as the fairness is maintained, the 4 quarters is fine to appeal to more teams.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by JamesIV » Sat Apr 23, 2011 9:05 pm

sir negsalot wrote: As long as the fairness is maintained, the 4 quarters is fine to appeal to more teams.
As a disclaimer, I wasn't able to participate in the NHBB.

My question would be, how does one maintain fairness in a format where different teams hear different questions? I've played formats with four-quarter rounds; as comparable as the writers try to make them, some sets are always easier or harder.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! » Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:27 pm

My only gripe with the NHBB lightning round is the 20 point bonus a team gets for sweeping the 8 questions. It's the same reason I don't like OAC's 5 point bonus for answering all 20 correct in the Alphabet Round.

But from what I've heard at the State and National Bees is most seem to like the format and the differences between the 4 quarters. It's hard to balance the lightning round categories, but the format is still fair in my opinion. At the state bowls the pyramidal 4th quarter toss-ups were worth 20. I mean the 4th quarter makes it very difficult for the best teams to get hosed by the trailing team picking the easier 3rd quarter category.
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by pleasewalkforward » Sat Apr 23, 2011 11:06 pm

Adm Akbar says It's a Tarp! wrote:At the state bowls the pyramidal 4th quarter toss-ups were worth 20. I mean the 4th quarter makes it very difficult for the best teams to get hosed by the trailing team picking the easier 3rd quarter category.
But it also allows a team to win a game despite having answered fewer questions overall than their opponents, if, for instance, they have a fourth quarter rally. One wrong (i.e. timed rounds with different questions for each team) can't and shouldn't negate another (i.e. questions worth a varying number of points).
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Apr 24, 2011 12:51 am

pleasewalkforward wrote:But it also allows a team to win a game despite having answered fewer questions overall than their opponents, if, for instance, they have a fourth quarter rally. One wrong (i.e. timed rounds with different questions for each team) can't and shouldn't negate another (i.e. questions worth a varying number of points).
So, how do you feel when a team wins a game by the margin of their powers and not because they actually answered more questions correctly?
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Re: NHBB Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sun Apr 24, 2011 1:30 am

Barbjudy wrote:Sure, there are things that can be improved --but don't forget that this wasn't run for us adults. It was run for the students. And, what a tremendous opportunity it was for those of my students who like history.
Ma'am, this thread is full of history-loving students who are pointing out just what went wrong so that everyone can have more fun next year. That's the point of this whole conversation.
sir negsalot wrote:As long as the questions remain pyramidal and quality, it's all good. The 60-second round is meh, but at least it allows weak teams to not be shut out. If the questions were 20/20 with high difficulty, a large number of teams would be shut out and not want to return to the tournament again. After all, the championship is much more prestigious with a greater number of participants, both at the state and national levels. As long as the fairness is maintained, the 4 quarters is fine to appeal to more teams.
This post is full of wrongness for a variety of reasons. The point of a national tournament is to determine a national champion. The point is not to stroke the egos of non-national champions. If teams are shut out because the questions are fairer, so be it. No one is advocating high difficulty - we're advocating fairness. I thought the difficulty was just about right, actually. Also, your comment about prestige's relation to field size is preposterous. Victories become prestigious against high-quality fields, not high-quantity ones. For reasons that I hope are obvious to you, winning a tournament whose field was SC, LASA, and Gov would be much more impressive than a high school team winning MSNCT, or something similar, even though the former has only here teams.
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