Clock theory

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Clock theory

Post by Important Bird Area » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:24 pm

This was an aside in the thread about tone, but it raised an important question that's not about tone, so I thought it would be good to start a new thread.
jonpin wrote:there is annual discussion wherein people tell NAQT to toss the clock, it goes beyond "CBI used it, so it's bad", there is (almost) always a point of the argument that goes "The clock makes it less likely that a better team will win the game because...".
Is that, in fact, the argument against the clock?

If it could be demonstrated that timed rounds lead to significantly less fair game outcomes, NAQT would need to think about abolishing the clock at its national championships (something we have not seriously considered for logistical reasons).

(Some related stats: 77.3% of 2012 HSNCT games heard at least 20 tossups; 94.9% heard at least 18 tossups; and 98.8% heard at least 17 tossups. So we are talking about a comparatively very small number of tossups here; and the relevant unfairness would be even smaller, given that many, perhaps most, of these games had large enough differences in the score that the extra tossups could not have changed the outcome.)

It should be noted that I strongly support removing the clock from SCT play, for the unrelated reasons that 1) the clock makes it much more difficult to staff the tournament and 2) less-experienced moderators result in "teams play less quizbowl for their money" rather than "teams go to dinner an hour later." I don't think an untimed SCT would have substantially different results, either in overall record or in ICT qualification.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:29 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote: It should be noted that I strongly support removing the clock from SCT play, for the unrelated reasons that 1) the clock makes it much more difficult to staff the tournament and 2) less-experienced moderators result in "teams play less quizbowl for their money"
My first SCT was at UW Green Bay, where there were matches that got through only 14 and 15 tossups. There was at least one moderator I would consider to have been slightly illiterate, as well as not understanding the rules whatsoever and sometimes reading the answerline after team 1 negged. Eliminating the SCT clock would be a fantastic idea, even if it would only solve the first of the problems.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Susan » Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:34 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote: (Some related stats: 77.3% of 2012 HSNCT games heard at least 20 tossups; 94.9% heard at least 18 tossups; and 98.8% heard at least 17 tossups. So we are talking about a comparatively very small number of tossups here; and the relevant unfairness would be even smaller, given that many, perhaps most, of these games had large enough differences in the score that the extra tossups could not have changed the outcome.)
Do you have similar stats for, say, last year's SCTs? I suspect that those could be a fairly compelling argument for taking SCT off the clock.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill » Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:57 pm

Susan wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote: (Some related stats: 77.3% of 2012 HSNCT games heard at least 20 tossups; 94.9% heard at least 18 tossups; and 98.8% heard at least 17 tossups. So we are talking about a comparatively very small number of tossups here; and the relevant unfairness would be even smaller, given that many, perhaps most, of these games had large enough differences in the score that the extra tossups could not have changed the outcome.)
Do you have similar stats for, say, last year's SCTs? I suspect that those could be a fairly compelling argument for taking SCT off the clock.
At the Princeton site, the average was about 19.5 questions heard per game. One reader could not read more than 18 tossups. She was not removed from reading even though there was a moderator in the same room that could read 24 tossups in one game (and luckily did so in a close match between my team and RPI B). Of course, that's just one reader, so it's not nearly as bad as, say, that Indiana SCT I heard about.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Tue Jul 17, 2012 3:06 pm

For each SCT listed here I attempted to find the team that experienced the worst in terms of TUH.
From the SCT I attended: http://www.naqt.com/stats/team-performa ... m_id=29936
Arizona '12: http://www.naqt.com/stats/team-performa ... m_id=39554
And the worst, Arizona '11: http://www.naqt.com/stats/team-performa ... m_id=29749
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Re: Clock theory

Post by cvdwightw » Fri Aug 10, 2012 10:32 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:(Some related stats: 77.3% of 2012 HSNCT games heard at least 20 tossups; 94.9% heard at least 18 tossups; and 98.8% heard at least 17 tossups. So we are talking about a comparatively very small number of tossups here; and the relevant unfairness would be even smaller, given that many, perhaps most, of these games had large enough differences in the score that the extra tossups could not have changed the outcome.)
Really late stats for this topic:

I looked at 1001 of the 1200 HSNCT Prelim Games (2 games had more than 24 tossups heard and thus used more than 1 packet; 3 games had fewer than 16 tossups heard and were not involved in the analysis; 194 had exactly 20 tossups heard and were irrelevant to the analysis).

I calculated the following:

For games with less than 20 TUH: Whether there was a small enough difference in the score that a team getting the maximum score per tossup (45 points) on each remaining tossup up to tossup 20 would have affected the outcome of the game.
For games with more than 20 TUH: Whether there was a small enough difference in the score that randomly removing n tossups from the packet, where n is the number in excess of 20, could have affected the outcome of the game if those n tossups were all scored with a line of 45 points per tossup by the winning team.


In theory, I would think, these two events are equivalent: either adding 45n points to the losing team, or subtracting 45n points from the winning team. For some number n, then, the probability of the first event happening for a 20-n TUH game should equal the probability of the second event happening for a 20+n TUH game.

I looked specifically at odds ratios for each n. Basically, odds ratios are how likely an event is given some categorical description. For instance, an odds ratio of 5 means that the event is 5 times more likely to occur for someone in Category A as opposed to Category B.

Here, the event is that movement to an untimed, 20-tossup game had the possibility of changing who the winner of the game was by adding or subtracting 45 points per tossup. Overall, about 40% of the games fit this description.

For n = 1, the odds ratio was 1.00. In other words, expanding the game by 1 tossup was about as likely to "possibly affect the outcome of the game" as shrinking the game by 1 tossup.

For n = 2, odds ratio = 1.86; for n = 3, odds ratio = 1.90. This means that a 17- or 18-tossup game was a little less than twice as likely to have the outcome possibly affected by moving to an untimed, 20-tossup game than a 22- or 23-tossup game.

For n = 4, odds ratio = 4.05. This means that a 16-tossup game was 4 times as likely to have its outcome possibly affected by moving to an untimed, 20-tossup game than a 24-tossup game was.

Obviously, some comebacks are more likely than others, but I don't know if there is a good or simple way to quantify that. All we can say is that 17- and 18-tossup games are about twice as likely to have a nonzero probability of a different winner with a move to a 20-tossup game than 22- or 23-tossup games, and that 16-tossup games are about 4 times as likely as 24-tossup games to have a nonzero probability of a different winner. I don't know if that's an argument to eliminate the clock, but it pretty well shows that eliminating the clock will likely have a disproportionate effect on low-TUH games compared to "equivalently different from 20 tossups" high-TUH games.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Sun Devil Student » Sat Aug 11, 2012 8:58 pm

Here's a random idea to add to the discussion:

What if we had a rule like, "Each game ends when time runs out *or* after 18 tossups, whichever comes later"?

That way, each game is also guaranteed to contain at least 18 (or whatever minimum number is acceptable) tossups even if the moderator is slow, while fast moderators who get through more than the required number of tossups don't have to stop the fun for both teams when the clock is still running. (Until they finish the packet, at least.)

At a place like HSNCT (for example) such a rule would slow down the 5.1% of matches which had 17 or fewer tossups, but would also make those matches less likely to produce "fluke" results (e.g. the worse team winning). The last few preliminary rounds would then have to go after dinner.

Or we can make it even more complex by imposing an arbitrary absolute time limit of, for example, 25 minutes (e.g. games normally end after 18 minutes if and only if at least 18 tossups were read; if tossup 18 hasn't started when the clock runs out, then the game continues in order to give the moderator more time to reach tossup 18, *but* if at 25 minutes the moderator *still* hasn't reached tossup 18 then we give up and end the game just to avoid holding up the entire tournament).

Might any of this suit NAQT's purposes (or anyone else running timed tournaments)?
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:01 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:Here's a random idea to add to the discussion:

What if we had a rule like, "Each game ends when time runs out *or* after 18 tossups, whichever comes later"?

That way, each game is also guaranteed to contain at least 18 (or whatever minimum number is acceptable) tossups even if the moderator is slow, while fast moderators who get through more than the required number of tossups don't have to stop the fun for both teams when the clock is still running. (Until they finish the packet, at least.)

At a place like HSNCT (for example) such a rule would slow down the 5.1% of matches which had 17 or fewer tossups, but would also make those matches less likely to produce "fluke" results (e.g. the worse team winning). The last few preliminary rounds would then have to go after dinner.
I would support this change, and advocate that the minimum number be 20. This change would allow for a lot of the perceived benefits of the clock to remain and would also do a huge amount to improve the experience of that minority of teams who get shafted by overshort rounds.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Important Bird Area » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:11 pm

Sun Devil Student wrote:Might any of this suit NAQT's purposes (or anyone else running timed tournaments)?
If we wanted to implement a tossups-heard floor, we would almost certainly just standardize games to 20/20 and abolish the clock entirely.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Dominator » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:38 pm

As a coach, since HSNCT is the only tournament we play all year that runs on time, I would really not like to see the clock go away entirely. The other proposals upthread, like allowing matches to go long, decrease the pressure for moderators to go fast, which is kinda why the clock is there in the first place.

Another possible solution might be to allow or encourage some coaches who are also good moderators to read the tournament. I don't know how possible it is to do so while still ensuring unbiased moderators. In the Illinois IHSA tournament, though, coaches have been given permission to read games in which their team is not competing, so I always end up moderating a round or two.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Important Bird Area » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:40 pm

Dominator wrote:Another possible solution might be to allow or encourage some coaches who are also good moderators to read the tournament. I don't know how possible it is to do so while still ensuring unbiased moderators.
This is why we do not normally have coaches read at HSNCT (because the card system means that it is impossible to assign someone "a room that will never contain Team A").
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Susan » Sat Aug 11, 2012 9:43 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Dominator wrote:Another possible solution might be to allow or encourage some coaches who are also good moderators to read the tournament. I don't know how possible it is to do so while still ensuring unbiased moderators.
This is why we do not normally have coaches read at HSNCT (because the card system means that it is impossible to assign someone "a room that will never contain Team A").
Would making sure that coaches were always in switch-off rooms, requiring the non-coach to read if the coach's team happened to come through the room, and trusting people to heed that requirement be a palatable solution?
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Re: Clock theory

Post by jonah » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:59 am

Dominator wrote:Another possible solution might be to allow or encourage some coaches who are also good moderators to read the tournament.
Are there many coaches who are interested in doing this, though? I would hazard a guess that the answer is no. It's hard to get coaches to do that even at regular-season tournaments; I imagine that coaches want to be with their teams even more at nationals.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by dtaylor4 » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:12 am

jonah wrote:It's hard to get coaches to do that even at regular-season tournaments; I imagine that coaches want to be with their teams even more at nationals.
Let alone the potential issues with coaches having no other "official" chaperones. If something happened to a player, and his/her coach was nowhere to be found, that coach may not teach ever again.

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Re: Clock theory

Post by Dominator » Sun Aug 12, 2012 8:07 am

Yeah, maybe it's a terrible suggestion, but unfortunately there is a deep pool of reading talent there completely untapped. Anyway, I'll try to address some points.
bt_green_warbler wrote:This is why we do not normally have coaches read at HSNCT (because the card system means that it is impossible to assign someone "a room that will never contain Team A").
This is not entirely true. Or at least the presence of Team A in a given room for a given round is not entirely unpredictable. You can determine when, if ever, a team will be in a room, and by switching in a different reader for those few rounds would be better than having a subpar reader in that room for all 15 rounds instead.
jonah wrote:Are there many coaches who are interested in doing this, though? I would hazard a guess that the answer is no. It's hard to get coaches to do that even at regular-season tournaments; I imagine that coaches want to be with their teams even more at nationals.
There may not be many, but I don't think you need "many". It's a small majority of games we're talking about that don't hear enough questions. Therefore, only a small number of new good moderators could make all the difference. If NAQT gave an incentive, I'd be surprised if someone didn't bite.
dtaylor4 wrote:Let alone the potential issues with coaches having no other "official" chaperones. If something happened to a player, and his/her coach was nowhere to be found, that coach may not teach ever again.
You should not assume you know what the teams' situations are. There were tons of parents at HSNCT this year who could have served as their school's chaperone while a coach was away.

I'm not saying that coaches would be jumping at this opportunity, especially in the irresponsible manner Donald suggests, but I think it is a more workable solution than others seem to. For example, saying "NAQT will discount your registration $X if your coach reads Y rounds on Saturday while not leaving your team unattended" might just get some interest.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by jonpin » Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:32 am

Dominator wrote:Yeah, maybe it's a terrible suggestion, but unfortunately there is a deep pool of reading talent there completely untapped. Anyway, I'll try to address some points.
bt_green_warbler wrote:This is why we do not normally have coaches read at HSNCT (because the card system means that it is impossible to assign someone "a room that will never contain Team A").
This is not entirely true. Or at least the presence of Team A in a given room for a given round is not entirely unpredictable. You can determine when, if ever, a team will be in a room, and by switching in a different reader for those few rounds would be better than having a subpar reader in that room for all 15 rounds instead.
jonah wrote:Are there many coaches who are interested in doing this, though? I would hazard a guess that the answer is no. It's hard to get coaches to do that even at regular-season tournaments; I imagine that coaches want to be with their teams even more at nationals.
There may not be many, but I don't think you need "many". It's a small majority of games we're talking about that don't hear enough questions. Therefore, only a small number of new good moderators could make all the difference. If NAQT gave an incentive, I'd be surprised if someone didn't bite.
dtaylor4 wrote:Let alone the potential issues with coaches having no other "official" chaperones. If something happened to a player, and his/her coach was nowhere to be found, that coach may not teach ever again.
You should not assume you know what the teams' situations are. There were tons of parents at HSNCT this year who could have served as their school's chaperone while a coach was away.

I'm not saying that coaches would be jumping at this opportunity, especially in the irresponsible manner Donald suggests, but I think it is a more workable solution than others seem to. For example, saying "NAQT will discount your registration $X if your coach reads Y rounds on Saturday while not leaving your team unattended" might just get some interest.
FWIW, the last I recall the invitation to provide a staffer required that there still be an adult chaperone with your team. Also, I feel it likely that the "some interest" is going to include at least as many overconfident coaches who are not actually as good at moderating under time pressure as they think they are.

I've attended HSNCT twice since I became an adult, in 2010 and 2011. In 2010, I was not an official coach of my school's team, attended at the grace of NAQT, and was in the tab room. In 2011, I was the official coach, but we brought a second teacher (and two teams). I was assigned to moderate, trading off in a room with my good friend Steve Frappier, coach of Ransom Everglades. The obvious instruction was that if either of our teams should be in that room, the other would moderate that game. "What if our teams are playing each other?" one of us asked Joel. "If that happens, it'll make my day, but just... trade off at the half, then I guess." In round 7, sure enough, my B team walked in, and in conversation with the other team, it was discovered that if they had lost their last game (rather than won), Bergen-B would've been playing Ransom-A.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by a bird » Wed Aug 15, 2012 10:21 pm

Many of the tournaments I've attended in Northern New England have been timed. These tournaments; however, don't use a single timer in a each room. They're centrally timed, that is the TD uses a timer and blows a whistle to signal the end of a game. The tournaments I've attended have only used one whistle to signal the end of a match; each match begins once both teams are in the room.

This system, as implemented in the tournaments I've played, has several major problems.

Passing time, and name recording, as well as buzzer checks, can cut down on game time. Any small talk or questions about rules and format take time away from the game. If a team goes to the wrong room, or there is any such confusion, a large portion of a game is lost.

Even if both teams and the moderator are ready on time, any breaks will delay the game. Substitutions, as well as buzzer issues, and protests cut toss-ups from games.

Another problem arises from the last one: a team could use a protest or a buzzer system complaint to delay a game, thus shortening it and making an opponent's comeback impossible. I think this occurrence is rather unlikely, though somewhat worrisome.

Teams don't know how much time is left on the clock. This isn't my biggest concern, but it's still worth noting. As a side note, the Vermont Scholars' Bowl uses individual timers, but the players can't see. I'd be interested to hear some opinions on this policy as well.

Some particularly bad examples of teams with low TUH at centrally timed tournaments in Vermont are here, here, here, and here
Centrally timed rounds are of course not the only factor in the low TUH of those games, but I think they played a major roll. Moderators at those events often didn't read quickly, but I think, that particular problem wasn't solely responsible.

I'm interested to hear thoughts about this policy. Is it commonly used? (Perhaps in :chip:bowl) Are there other issues I haven't considered? Are the problems I mentioned worth living with to ensure smooth tournament operation?
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:41 am

I have never heard of central timing before, and it's against NAQT rules to do that and to not have the players be able to see the clock, both of which I think should be standard if you use timing rules. I don't think the slight increase in schedule efficiency is really worth that effort, since all you have to do is tell moderators very basic things like "when the teams sit down, do a fast buzzer/name check, don't waste time chit chatting, and start timing the game as quickly as you can," meaning you are more than certainly going to have each room finish in under 25 minutes, and then teams have 5+ minutes to get to their next game. One game per half hour is surely the schedule they're already using, and this accomplishes exactly that goal.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:49 am

Horned Screamer wrote:I have never heard of central timing before, and it's against NAQT rules to do that and to not have the players be able to see the clock
This does not violate NAQT policy:
NAQT state championship host policy wrote:State activities organizations that would like to use NAQT's state championship questions for their own championships are also eligible to do so, even if those events are not run according to NAQT's gameplay rules...
That being said, I agree that central timing is suboptimal for several of the reasons Graham mentions.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:52 am

I'm not trying to say there's some rule that you have to use NAQT's explicit timing rules if you buy an NAQT set, but if you are using NAQT's rules to base your timing off of, this gameplay method of blowing a whistle to end all games at once is not in accord.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Aug 16, 2012 12:21 pm

GrahamReid wrote:Many of the tournaments I've attended in Northern New England have been timed. These tournaments; however, don't use a single timer in a each room. They're centrally timed, that is the TD uses a timer and blows a whistle to signal the end of a game. The tournaments I've attended have only used one whistle to signal the end of a match; each match begins once both teams are in the room.

This system, as implemented in the tournaments I've played, has several major problems.
Wow, I haven't heard of that before. It really doesn't seem like a good idea at all.
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Re: Clock theory

Post by Scaled Flowerpiercer » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:44 pm

GrahamReid wrote: I'm interested to hear thoughts about this policy. Is it commonly used? (Perhaps in :chip:bowl) Are there other issues I haven't considered? Are the problems I mentioned worth living with to ensure smooth tournament operation?
Just to answer this question, to my knowledge, no Chip events (including NAC) are now timed (except of course the "60 second round," which has a timer counting down 60 seconds...), though they used to be when it was televised (when it was time for a commercial break, the quarter ended).

And as others have said this seems like a bizarre policy, though there has been something similar at the Half Hollow Hills West invitational on Long Island that my team has gone to, though it seemed like...almost the opposite, and kind of unnecessary. There, there were central announcements (through the school's own announcement system into the rooms) which said when teams could start the round, and when they could move to the next round...though these announcements seemed incredibly slow (many times we would chat with the team we had just played for almost 10 minutes waiting for the call to leave) and were often disregarded (if both teams are in your room and everything is ready, most moderators will just start reading). It is worth mentioning that this tournament has reasons to want to be centrally organized with ~100 teams, but to my knowledge this system has only slowed things down.
Samuel Donow
Irvington High School '12
Williams College '16

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Re: Clock theory

Post by Lightly Seared on the Reality Grill » Thu Aug 16, 2012 3:28 pm

I wouldn't say it's that similar- the announcements don't control how long the games themselves are. However, when you make the tournament run as slow as your slowest game and you can't get 50 experienced readers...
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University of Victoria '18
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