Aggression and Negs across formats

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Aggression and Negs across formats

Post by jonpin » Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:40 pm

In recent weeks, I've had discussions within my team on a few matters related to aggression and wrong answers. In various formats, there is a wide variety to the "penalty" associated with a wrong answer (be it a neg or otherwise), and I figured I'd share my input on the matter and see what others have to contribute.
My team is currently in the position of being a reasonably good team that typically runs through the morning rounds, usually makes the top tier, and then tends to get smashed by national and regional powers. Of late, they've had some close matches with strong teams, keeping it close or leading for a half a game before fading down the stretch. They've mentioned that they tend to play aggressive in these matches, and that seems to me to be the key to pulling off an upset. The bonus and penalty associated with aggression varies significantly among the formats in play at the three pyramidal national championships, as follows, under the assumption that you're playing a team stronger than you which will almost surely convert a tossup against empty chairs (i.e. after you neg). For the sake of estimation, we'll say you're a 15 PPB team and your opponents 20 PPB

NAQT format: If you do nothing, they get the tossup or power (10/15) and get a bonus (~20), total of 30-35 points. If you neg (-5), they pick up the tossup at the end (10) and get a bonus (~20), net gain of 35 points. If you successfully steal the tossup (15) you get the bonus (15), a gain for you of 30 points. Amazingly, if the team was going to power the tossup anyway, but instead picks it up at the end post-neg, you've not actually lost anything at all!
PACE format: If you do nothing, they get the tossup or power (10/20) and get a bonus (~20), total of 30-40 points. If you neg (no penalty), they pick up the tossup at the end (10) and get a bonus (~20), net gain of 30 points. If you successfully steal the tossup (20) you get the bonus (15, but we'll say they get 10 on bounceback), a gain for you of 25 points. Again, in all likelihood, your aggression benefits you by delaying the opposing team's buzz; if you're any threat to beat them, they can't afford to throw away an almost sure 10+20 for the sake of an attempted vulture-power. The fact that there isn't a neg penalty rewards aggression, though it's offset by the existence of bounceback bonuses (which reduces the inherent benefit to getting a tossup)
NHBB format: Obviously this varies by quarter. In the first quarter, all we have are 10-point tossups. There's nothing here but the psychological factors (below) and the knowledge that if you sit on a question, you'll get beaten to the buzz. In the second quarter, the strategy doesn't actually change, but the importance is amplified by the existence of the follow-up questions, which have the effect of making the total value of a tossup go from 10 to 15-20 for strong teams. In the fourth quarter, with no bonuses, but powers and SUPERPOWERS, and still no negs, aggression is crazy-rewarded, but the last few questions of any close game must be played with an understanding of the game state, especially for the trailing team. If you're down 40 with two tossups to go, even if your opponent negs, you need to strongly consider vulturing, so you don't need to pull a 30 on the last question; likewise if you're up 20 with two tossups to go and your opponent negs, it's certainly tempting to try to get 20 and close out the match.

There's also a psychological factor in any format: If you can jump in with 1 or 2 quick answers, I'm not saying you're going to shock your opponents or make them forget things they know, but you might make them feel they need to buzz in before they are sure, which increases the chance that they neg and then you're able to pick up that question.

The net result of all that I'm saying is: When playing a stronger team, negging (when you've got a reasonable answer; I hesitate to use the word "guess" because ideally you'd like a stronger suspicion than that) is OKAY. The 5-point penalty in NAQT makes it the least conducive to this behavior, but even then it's probably made up for in your opponents scoring 5 fewer points by waiting for the end of the tossup (thus, ACF format is even less conducive than NAQT, since it effectively turns a 10-point tossup into a 15-point tossup).
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Re: Aggression and Negs across formats

Post by Sniper, No Sniping! » Mon Mar 31, 2014 1:22 pm

If you don't have a science specialist but you're a generalist who can pull some science near the end, then against a stronger team it may be worth going for the power anyways even if you may neg. It's about controlling the board, ideally the team that gets 11 tossups will win. Against a superior team, if you are 50% to <75% sure on an answer, just go for it. Against an equally strong team, just play regularly and if you're getting down in the count, they're powering on you, then just start to play more aggressive (or you could call a timeout and kill the momentum).

I always like thinking of this in basketball terms: an aggressive power attempt is like going for an (aggressive) steal at halfcourt (or a poorly executed half-court trap), if you get it then that's pretty advantageous, but if you miss then its an easy drive to the hoop/open look from deep. In some cases, the reward definitely outweighs the risk.
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Re: Aggression and Negs across formats

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:02 pm

I feel like one would also have to consider the other team negging, though I suspect most of the time it doesn't play a major role.
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Re: Aggression and Negs across formats

Post by Guile Island » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:53 pm

Another important factor you have to consider is this: how much do you trust your teammates' knowledge of the topic? I know this seems obvious, but it's an incredibly crucial factor in determining the ideal level of aggression.
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Re: Aggression and Negs across formats

Post by Angry Babies in Love » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:25 pm

There's really no way to look at this in a way that can be both a) quantified and b) generalized. As Dylan said, it's dependent on the teammates and your own confidence. While you may be able to figure it out with your team based on their strengths, their grasp of the canon and ability to make good guesses, and the quality and strengths of each opponent, you can't really make a metric for this that is specific and applicable to everyone. That being said, it is really interesting that the cost/benefit is so widely different based on format.
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