NAQT timed

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Is timed play a viable solution to absurdly late-running tournaments?

Yes
21
68%
No
10
32%
 
Total votes: 31

jewtemplar
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NAQT timed

Post by jewtemplar » Wed Oct 13, 2004 10:07 pm

When running an naqt tournament, there are a number of reasons to use modified rules, with games of 20 tossups: many teams are unfamiliar with rules and strategies for timed play; moderators read better when speed is not an issue of prime importance; timers can be hard to come by; many say timed rounds make play more game show-like. However, I have found after two years that timing can have immense positive effects. The first of these is (surprise) that timed rounds stick to schedule easier. An NAQT game takes 18 minutes of play, plus halftime, time-outs, protest resolutions. Add to that the time teams need to get to their next room, and you get less than 30 minutes per round. Provided there are no substantial breaks (as for pairings) between rounds, a 14 round tournament starting at 9 am can finish before 5.
I've wondered about this myself.

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Post by solonqb » Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:23 pm

It helped our tournament run like clockwork. The only hangup is finding quality readers who enunciate clearly yet are fast. (My thanks to a certain Bridgeville, PA resident who shall remain anonymous)

As to the issue of teams not knowing strategy for timed games, if you notify them well enough in advance that the tournament is timed, it is the teams' responsibility, not the TDs. Running out the clock is nothing more than common sense.
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Post by DumbJaques » Thu Oct 14, 2004 12:09 am

I've seen the timer employed well, and I've seen it employed terribly. These experiences have led me to believe that, while the timer itself is an excellent solution to absurdly long tournaments, it can be VERY problematic when horribly mismanaged. Fortunately, TJ this year (and any other time I've been) had excellent readers, and we generally made it a good way through the round, and I recall finishing several packets over the course of the day. However, it is extremely frustrating, particularly in a close game, to not get to the last, or second or third to last, question that changes the outcome in your team's favor. It's also a bit annoying when a reader gets through four questions per half. Basically, if you can ensure reader quality, the timer is great. If not. . . consider offering dinner plans during tournaments with 10+ rounds.
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uberaschung
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Post by uberaschung » Thu Oct 14, 2004 8:31 am

Yeah, I agree. At the University of Maryland Tournament, during the 90 second team round, we had a reader who read very slowly and thus we only got to like six questions. However, since we went first on this round, the reader read much faster and thus the other team got to hear all of their questions. This game ended up with the WJB team losing by 20 points. I don't really care that we lost as so much as the differences between speed. Timed rounds can be good for long tournaments, but they sometimes can mess up and cause problems.

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Post by NotBhan » Thu Oct 14, 2004 9:25 am

I've moderated in both setups, and they seem to work about equally well in my experience. With NAQT questions, even a slow moderator (hopefully) shouldn't take _too_ long to get to 20 tossups, so there usually isn't an enormous lag between rooms with a 20-tossup untimed setup. With inexperienced moderators in the cast, I think that timers are more likely to cause a problem than are lags related to an untimed setup. In addition to the added pressure of having that clock ticking and the players becoming anxious, an inexperienced moderator is more likely to get distracted by a protest or other minor point and squander time off the clock by mistake, potentially making all your scheduling plans go higgledy-piggledy.

If there is a big difference between the slow and fast moderators in a timed setup, then it is imperative that teams are rotating among the rooms properly so that no one team (say) gets stuck with the slowest moderator four times. It sucks to play an NAQT match where you only hear 14 or 15 tossups, especially when you have to stay there for the next two rounds.

So with a cast of at least moderately experienced moderators, the timer is a good way to keep things running. I think it does lend a certain excitement to a match as well. With some first-time moderators in the cast, the clock may end up causing more problems than it's worth.

--Raj Dhuwalia, offering less insight than I'd hoped for

P.S. As for the last part about finishing a 14-round tournament in 8 hours ... it can be done, but it's always good to prepare for delays (protests, problems with the timer, problems with buzzer systems, etc.). I guess the point is that you can plan more reliably to have matches begin at half-hour intervals with the timer in use, and I'd agree with that.

P.P.S. I think the poll question is a little vague, though by now I've forgotten what it said.

P.P.P.S. The point about finding people who can enunciate well while reading quickly is a good one. There are many experienced moderators who slur when they read quickly -- I do a little of it myself when I try to achieve Borglumic or Hentzelian speed. (I'm still baffled as to how R read 16 tossups in the first half of our ICT final match this year with perfect clarity.)

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Post by Admiral » Mon Oct 18, 2004 2:17 am

The only thing I really don't like about the timed tournaments is the "running the ball into the line" strategy that teams which are ahead will do.....intentionally negging to prevent a comeback. I think they should allow a moderator to allow the other team to answer if, in the opinion of the moderator, no serious attempt is being made to answer.

As everyone is saying, if there were good, well spoken, fast moderators, this wouldn't be a problem. The State Tournament in Illinois has some questionable moderators (slow, trouble with pronunciation), but it looks like they are slowly being phased out for better ones....it has gotten better (IMO).

I have seen timed tournaments, but if you have a bad moderator, it really hurts even more (who wants to play a 12 question match?)


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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:14 am

Hmm... yeah, good call on the IHSA state thing; they have gotten steadily better over the last few years (and my observation is that they've made a concerted effort to do so, for which I applaud them.) However, I see less than nothing wrong with the defensive neg. I mean, your football analogy is really ironic in that nobody should (would?) criticize a football team trying to run out the clock. As long as the moderator handles a defensive neg like any other (same prompt time, etc.) I see it as a good strategy. I've lost to it twice and never won by it, by the way.

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Post by Admiral » Mon Oct 18, 2004 7:07 pm

I agree with you that within the NAQT rules, there is nothing wrong....it is good startegy.......to me, it just seems a bit underhanded......I know that this might seem hypocritical concerning that we tell kids to kill reboundable bonuses when they don't have a clue....there's just something about taking the buzzer out of someone's hand. At least in football, there could still be a fumble.
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Post by jrbarry » Mon Oct 18, 2004 10:37 pm

I prefer just about anything to timed matches.

1. Timed matches encourage speed reading with is horrible, imo.

2. Timed matches discourage bounce-back bonuses which is preferable to anything positive that might come from timed matches.

A Tournament Director who knows what he/she is doing can make even a huge tournament run in a timely fashion. Unless it is an act of God, when tournaments drag, it is the director(s) fault, imho.

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Post by jewtemplar » Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:23 pm

I'm really not sure how much of the quizbowl circuit fits into this category, but I know a lot of DC area tournaments are of the 20 ten-point 5 neg tossups with nonreboundable 30 point bonuses persuasion, or modified ACF as some call it. This format, even though it cuts down on time by not using bouncebacks, can often lead to considerable delays. This is always partially due to the tournament director, but this is also due to matches between relatively poor teams, where the entire tossup needs to be read before being answered, then prompting a sluggish bonus. In similar formats like 20 tossup NAQT, this can lead to games themselves (not including passing time, breaks, etc) pushing the 30 minute mark, which spells doom for any large tournament. Obviously good organization can remedy anything, but for some schools and some fields there is a limit to the efficiency you can get with such long rounds. Timing is a way to encourage agressive play, which keeps rounds interesting and teams warm, but it also gives a slight edge to a td who may not have years in the business (or may not have gotten good after years in the business).

I must say I disagree about speed reading, though. Obviously it can be easily butchered, but there is nothing inherently wrong with high speed, only with low clarity. There is another benefit to timed play for the upper echelon teams, since a good match with a good reader can finish an NAQT IS round without too much trouble.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:26 pm

If you actually time it, the difference between a packet of six-line tossups and a packet of two-line tossups is something like two minutes of reading at normal speed. It's really the tendency to have extraneous conversations in untimed play that makes rounds run long.

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Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Oct 18, 2004 11:36 pm

jrbarry wrote:Unless it is an act of God, when tournaments drag, it is the director(s) fault, imho.
No. Without exception, every single timing problem I've ever had at a tournament (and every one whose cause I've ever been privy to at a tournament whose guts I've seen into enough) has been entirely or very nearly entirely the fault of a team or teams (e.g. caused by teams not showing up on time, taking too long at lunch, not coming to rooms in a timely fashion, demanding too much time at halftime, etc.) It is thus grossly incorrect to say that a tournament’s ending late is always the fault of the tournament director.
As for the question of whether or not timed matches can solve the issue of tournaments running late, as one might be able to infer from my previous comments, I don't think it can. This is exactly because these problem often arise from teams causing delays. Timing matches normalizes for bad moderator reading speed only and, therefore, bad moderators (so long as they're not so bad as to require stopping the match,) which really shouldn't be that much an issue in the first place. I, for one, expect and demand that all moderators be competent at any tournament I may go to (and I find it reasonable for anyone attending my tournaments to demand the same.) However, team lateness or sluggishness or incorrect enforcement of timing rules on the part of moderators, for whatever reason, can still cause a timed tournament to run late, even in the event that the tournament director does his or her job flawlessly.
Since, in general, any tournament is constrained to run at the rate of its slowest room, the only solution must be to demand correct and rigorous enforcement of your timing rules, whatever they may be, on the part of all moderators (and, therefore, to use only competent moderators.) Any time you cannot do this, your timing will be unstable.

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Post by Admiral » Tue Oct 19, 2004 7:29 pm

My experience with TD's has been that when they are first starting out, they can contribute to delays in starting.

Most of the problems that hold up tournaments:

1. Slow moderators (this is the #1 problem).....it gets on my nerves..it gets on a lot of players' nerves....you just want to run up, grab the packet, and shove the joker out of the way.

2. Questions are too easy (if you have average teams getting 19 out-of-20 toss-ups, and then taking forever to get the bonuses, that is a problem)

3. Questions are too difficult (the teams take the whole time limit staring at each other....it cuts down on bonuses, but the matches seem to drag).

4. Coaches who keep interjecting for rules interpretations, or turn every missed question into a teachable moment.

Illinois has a "unique" format compared to most other states, and as such, TD's may have more pull in throwing off the proceedings. The only thing that used to get me really bothered about TD's are when they have everyone assemble to hear the morning results, and you have to wait for every slow match to end, and for the results to be calcualted, and the there is a big announcement. The teams that barely didn't make it are upset because they have been waiting all this time, and the teams that did make it realize they could have been at lunch 20 minutes ago. I think the better procedure is to let the teams go to lunch, and let them see posted results afterwards....it keeps things moving.
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Post by Byko » Fri Oct 22, 2004 12:04 am

Admiral is definitely right about announcing prelim results and playoff qualifications--it DEFINITELY slows things down, ESPECIALLY for inexperienced tournament directors. Even for someone as stats-minded as I am, I like to make sure everything is just right and there are no mistakes before announcing. As a result, finalizing everything during lunch has, for me, avoided any such problems, especially for larger tournaments. With small tournaments, you can usually get away with it.

I definitely prefer untimed tournaments as a reader for the very reason Mr. Barry said--timed tournaments encourage speed reading (heck, they virtually demand it at nationals), which means that teams will often pick up on less that is said AND the reading quality will automatically drop. When I have to rush to get through a round, I know I definitely do worse in terms of my performance, plus I may come across as "nasty, brutish, and short" in my temperament in handling certain issues in the game. Bottom line: it takes away from everyone's fun.

In general, when tournaments drag, the director is more "at fault" if only because the director is in a position to do something to help fix the situation. If there's a bad reader, often that person can be replaced, but only the director really has the power to do that.

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