QU-The field in Chicago

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Captain Sinico
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Post by Captain Sinico »

Boy, it kind of sounds like a large proportion of the questions were pretty bad in a number of ways this year. How about that?

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Post by Matt Weiner »

ImmaculateDeception wrote:Boy, it kind of sounds like a large proportion of the questions were pretty bad in a number of ways this year. How about that?
I think at least a couple of the teams that were halfheartedly defending Beall learned their lesson from actually playing it. Now if we can only figure out some way to communicate with the New York teams before Beall decides which one of them will be the 2007 champion...
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Post by Byko »

Matt Weiner wrote:I think at least a couple of the teams that were halfheartedly defending Beall learned their lesson from actually playing it. Now if we can only figure out some way to communicate with the New York teams before Beall decides which one of them will be the 2007 champion...
Well, if nothing else, I'll be going up there for at least 1 or 2 tournaments to staff/make contacts/distribute literature about other quiz bowl/etc., so that can at least be a start, I hope. But Matt, don't get your hopes up--the Westchester County area would be a VERY tough nut to crack as long as Les Roby (White Plains HS coach) is essentially running 5 tournaments a year and getting his questions from QU.
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Post by AKKOLADE »

Byko wrote:1. Isn't it kind of unfair to ask a question about a particular school, especially one that you pretty much know is going to be in your tournament and especially when it's not exactly big-news current events?

2. Is this really a quiz bowl question?

3. Is this really a question you as a company want to be proud of?

4. Is it not hypocritical that a man and company that tend more toward "extravagance" and "materialism" than quality are supportive of this?
1. Yes
2. No
3. No
4. Laffo
jrbarry wrote:It is utterly ridiculous...as is every trash tossup I ever heard anywhere else including at Brookwood!
Super laffo - oh wait, no, not correct.
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Post by Tegan »

I only attended four rounds, but if they were any indication of the rest of the tournament .... I was embarassed on behalf of the quizbowl community.

The lowlight of the day (and there were a few) was the following "question".

"Which four former presidents are not buried in the continental United States?"

Now I actually sat there for a moment contemplating ......"Hoover...NO NO, he's in Iowa...." then one team buzzed in very fast:

"George Herbert Walker Bush .......William Jefferson Clinton ..... Ford and Carter".


The host cackeled a bit and said "that's right!" The other team looked defeated, and I had to have jaw surgery the next day to get my mandible reattached. That's not even a question....that's a frickin' riddle! And that was no answer.....it was a punchline. I felt horrible for the other team, and completely mortified. Apparently, embarassing teams is a part of the NAC at various times. Even in Illinois ten years ago.....when we had horrible questions....we would have NEVER seen this question come up.

Now that I have actually witnessed the NAC, I completely see why there is an aversion to this "tournament". There were some decent questions, and the overall match structure is not wholly bad, but there were too many really poorly written and researched questions.

While I would not say that I saw any out-and-out signs of favortisim, it was clear that the hosts were saying things that were thoughtlessly one-sided, and could be interpreted as showing favoritism. I'm trying to stay neutral here, but that was the best thing I could describe it as. In a match between Latin and Hastings "B", they were respectively, instroduced as "a perennial playoff contender", and "only the fourth all-female team in the history of the tournament".....I couldn't help but think this would make me feel intimidated.

Later, after Latin had built a lead, the host reminded the audience that "If Latin wins, they will need to win their final two matches to qualify for the playoffs; and if they lose, it will be by the largest comeback in the history of the tournament." I really don't think he was showing favortisim, but I do think that he was being thoughtless in an attempt to fill the time with useless banter to keep the attention on him.

The worst, and this is where I really think PACE (especially), NAQT, and Panasonic are different: at the NAC, I was left with the impression that the tournament, and the tournament personnel were the most important aspects of the tournament, and that the players were secondary in importance. You NEVER get this impression at PACE, NAQT, or Panasonic .... quite the opposite. To me, one of the telling signs occured in a match where an Illinois team was playing a team from elsewhere: The "Elsewhere" fans tended to talk throughout hte match quite a bit louder than they should, sharing answers (one time, I thought loud enough to be heard up front), but in between periods when the Illinois fans started talking over the host's inane banter about tournament, the "elsehwere" fans had the gaul to "shhh" the Illinois fans. I'm not trying to state that "Illinois fans rule".....but I found it quite bizzaro.

Perhaps I happened to catch four really poor matches ...... but it left me with an overall negative impression of this tournament.
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Post by jrbarry »

I have not done a thourough search, but it seems Chip had 35 teams at San Antonio and 22, I think, in Chicago. That's 57. I wonder how many he had in DC? I saw he had 18 playoff teams in DC, so I assume he had at least 40 teams in DC. If he has dropped below 100 teams this year, I suspect he will make some marketing moves to draw more teams to the NAC for 2007.

Panasonic is in a slow spiral downward and the NAC may be also although I wouldn't count Chip out just yet. ASCN is history now, I believe. The nagtionals scene seems to be slowly changing now.
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Post by AKKOLADE »

I counted up a total of 102 teams for Chip this year.
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Post by chaska »

44 teams in DC.
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Post by conker »

Tegan wrote:
The lowlight of the day (and there were a few) was the following "question".

"Which four former presidents are not buried in the continental United States?"

Now I actually sat there for a moment contemplating ......"Hoover...NO NO, he's in Iowa...." then one team buzzed in very fast:

"George Herbert Walker Bush .......William Jefferson Clinton ..... Ford and Carter".


The host cackeled a bit and said "that's right!" The other team looked defeated, and I had to have jaw surgery the next day to get my mandible reattached. That's not even a question....that's a frickin' riddle! And that was no answer.....it was a punchline. I felt horrible for the other team, and completely mortified. Apparently, embarassing teams is a part of the NAC at various times. Even in Illinois ten years ago.....when we had horrible questions....we would have NEVER seen this question come up.
I don't see why that's such an awful question. In fact, one of the things I like about NAC is that it has more room to ask the oddball question because it is not constrained by pyramidality. (Although I love pyramidal tossups as much as the next guy, there are only so many answers that are possible.) Sure, that question was a riddle. It may not be a quiz bowl question, but it forces players to search outside the box for the answer and tests who can think creatively and quickly. Is quiz bowl supposed to be about convergent thinking, answering the nth tossup on Moby Dick? I like the refreshing change once in a while, and if it comes in the form of a riddle, so be it. That's not to say I haven't heard such creative questions in other tournaments, but I don't think a unique question should be lambasted as "bad quiz bowl." Now if you were to criticize that questions' lack of layering, that would be a different matter...

Furthermore, I'm confused why the other team would be embarrassed. I don't see why missing that question is inherently more embarrassing than missing any other. And then you say that "embarassing teams is a part of the NAC." Are you suggesting that Chip put that question in there for the purpose of showing up the team that missed it? Yes, there are embarrassing moments in quiz bowl, but those are brought on by the players themselves, not the questions.
Now that I have actually witnessed the NAC, I completely see why there is an aversion to this "tournament". There were some decent questions, and the overall match structure is not wholly bad, but there were too many really poorly written and researched questions.
Yes, the questions are shoddy, and I can't say I'm a big fan of the format. The warmup and "stump the expert" rounds are tossups, pure and simple, so I don't really have any issue with those. In the bonus round, you have to get 3 out of the 4 bonus parts before you are assured of a net gain on the bonus (which to me seems poorly devised). Also, the 60-second rounds are unbalanced. The categories don't really clue you into what the questions will be like: some categories have one-word questions, while in others, you're practically listening to monologues. The latter are literally impossible to sweep.
While I would not say that I saw any out-and-out signs of favortisim, it was clear that the hosts were saying things that were thoughtlessly one-sided, and could be interpreted as showing favoritism. I'm trying to stay neutral here, but that was the best thing I could describe it as. In a match between Latin and Hastings "B", they were respectively, instroduced as "a perennial playoff contender", and "only the fourth all-female team in the history of the tournament".....I couldn't help but think this would make me feel intimidated.
I agree with you here. Some moderators at NAC can be over the top sometimes with their nonsense. I prefer the NAQT moderators--no filler, just the questions.
The worst, and this is where I really think PACE (especially), NAQT, and Panasonic are different: at the NAC, I was left with the impression that the tournament, and the tournament personnel were the most important aspects of the tournament, and that the players were secondary in importance. You NEVER get this impression at PACE, NAQT, or Panasonic .... quite the opposite. To me, one of the telling signs occured in a match where an Illinois team was playing a team from elsewhere: The "Elsewhere" fans tended to talk throughout hte match quite a bit louder than they should, sharing answers (one time, I thought loud enough to be heard up front), but in between periods when the Illinois fans started talking over the host's inane banter about tournament, the "elsehwere" fans had the gaul to "shhh" the Illinois fans. I'm not trying to state that "Illinois fans rule".....but I found it quite bizzaro.
Sorry, but I'm just not seeing the connection. Some spectators shushing each other does not really say much to me about the tournament's focus.
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Post by Chris Frankel »

conker wrote: Sorry, but I'm just not seeing the connection. Some spectators shushing each other does not really say much to me about the tournament's focus.
I think what he's saying is that Chip's refusal to discourage (or, more accurately, his encouragement of) what your average circuit tournament (let alone a national championship one) would consider rude behavior on the part of the audience reflects his tournament's tendency to make his delusions of grandeur in treating the game as a spectator a higher priority than the interests of the actual players.

I know that when I played NAC, one of the things I hated most was playing against teams who would bring loud entourages to clap and cheer after every question they got, talk audibly during matches, and in all, just distract from the games and make the whole experience frustrating. Not only was it irritating, it created a clear imbalance in that local teams (I remember New Orleans Jesuit being particularly bad about it back in the day) could have over a dozen parents and students drive in to make noise, whereas a team flying in from across the country would just have to grin and bear it. Of course, Mr. Egan's observations suggest that having equal rival contingents might actually make things worse and turn inter-crowd heckling into the main event at the expense of the actual competition.

I don't think anyone has an objection to letting people watch matches, and NAQT allows people to do so assuming reasonable standards of conduct are met, but reality suggests that quiz bowl doesn't really work as a spectator sport with Nika-esque Blue and Green factions raising an uproar in the crowd. Beall's insistence on ignoring conventions that were established for a reason and encouraging distracting audience behavior is basically a statement that his desire to turn the game into an erratic gameshow trumps his concern with providing the most enjoyable experience for the players or the most legitimate results for his national championship.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Post by NotBhan »

Tegan wrote: ...
While I would not say that I saw any out-and-out signs of favortisim, it was clear that the hosts were saying things that were thoughtlessly one-sided, and could be interpreted as showing favoritism. I'm trying to stay neutral here, but that was the best thing I could describe it as. In a match between Latin and Hastings "B", they were respectively, instroduced as "a perennial playoff contender", and "only the fourth all-female team in the history of the tournament".....I couldn't help but think this would make me feel intimidated.

Later, after Latin had built a lead, the host reminded the audience that "If Latin wins, they will need to win their final two matches to qualify for the playoffs; and if they lose, it will be by the largest comeback in the history of the tournament." I really don't think he was showing favortisim, but I do think that he was being thoughtless in an attempt to fill the time with useless banter to keep the attention on him.
...
Sounds like he's just trying to generate storylines -- it's the same kind of thing that acquaintances of mine have done as story editors on Big Brother and other assorted reality shows. If this whole NAC thing doesn't work out for Chip, maybe he should give Hell's Kitchen or The Bachelor 7 a call.

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Post by Captain Sinico »

conker wrote:I don't see why [that terrible "what former Presidents aren't buried in the US" question is] such an awful question.
Okay, where do I start? It doesn't test any sort of real knowledge. Damn near all of quizbowl players (and, in fact, some large segment of the population at large) are going to know which four former Presidents aren't dead and that non-dead people aren't buried. Those are things one learns in grade school (or earlier.) Therefore, this question rewards whoever happens to buzz first and very little else. By answering such questions, one doesn't demonstrate that one knows anything special or important, or even that one knows anything especially well or quickly. Likewise, the winner of a tournament comprised of such questions doesn't demonstrate anything worthwhile, either.
conker wrote:...there are only so many answers [to a pyramidal question] that are possible.
I disagree with that. One can write a pyramidal question on just about anything if one tries. The reason that the answers at NAC are so different from those at other tournaments isn't because NAC is free of the iron heel of sound question writing, or whatever. Rather, NAC just chooses to ask about things of little note like "a particular high school's senior prom" and "what zydeco music sounds like." Better tournaments aren't completely free from answers on subjects of dubious merit (with respect to the things one ought to be learning in school), but such answers have to be the exception rather than the rule in a good tournament.

conker wrote:Sure, that question was a riddle. It may not be a quiz bowl question...
Okay, let me stop you here. If you don't like quizbowl questions, why are you playing quizbowl? You can make-up silly riddles with your friends for free (and probably better ones that this); you don't have to pay some plagiarizing dope thousands of dollars to hear them.
conker wrote:...a unique question should be lambasted as "bad quiz bowl." Now if you were to criticize that questions' lack of layering, that would be a different matter...
The problem with this question is not that it's unique (it isn't unique anyway; there are any number of such questions written, in spite of peoples' efforts.) The problem is precisely that it lacks "layering" as you say; that, as a question, it rewards the team that buzzes in first and says "Duh duh duh duh" basically; that it has precisely one clue, an easy and trivial answer, and one that requires no real thought or study to reach (you have to connect exactly two facts that everyone knows, and not especially quickly.)
conker wrote:Furthermore, I'm confused why the... team [that was beaten to this question] would be embarrassed.
Assuming they're foolhardy enough to place any emotional stake in a tournament with such questions, they would be embarrassed because they just lost a question on something everyone knows; that a good fraction of the crowd knew at the exact same point as everyone else. I would be more embarrassed to get such a question than to lose it, but that's just me.
conker wrote:...the questions [at NAC] are shoddy...
conker wrote:[This question] may not be a quiz bowl question...
Dude, if you know the questions are bad, just acknowledge that they're bad like everyone else is saying and give up. Good high school quizbowl questions test knowledge about topics relevant to important things people learn in high school and do so in a way most likely to reward those who know the most and recall it the best; anything else is and will always be bad.
You and your school and whoever else are certainly free to like and play on these bad questions; I can't gainsay that decision, since its your money and time to spend. I don't understand why you'd like them and I wish you played on better ones, but I can't make you and I won't try. However, your liking something doesn't make it good. You can't, on the one hand, acknowledge that these questions are bad and, on the other, claim they're good because you liked them. Sorry, dude.

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Post by AKKOLADE »

conker wrote: I don't see why that's such an awful question. It may not be a quiz bowl question...
conker wrote:Yes, the questions are shoddy, and I can't say I'm a big fan of the format.
conker wrote:In the bonus round, you have to get 3 out of the 4 bonus parts before you are assured of a net gain on the bonus
conker wrote:Also, the 60-second rounds are unbalanced.

conker wrote:The categories don't really clue you into what the questions will be like
conker wrote:Some moderators at NAC can be over the top sometimes with their nonsense.
So, you're saying it's a good tournament because it's a bad tournament? Did Chip send you to the Ministry of Love or something?
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Post by Chris Frankel »

Isn't the "correct" answer to president riddle still incomplete? I remembered the old "Grant's tomb" riddle when I was re-examining the question just now (the riddle is that nobody is buried in Grant's tomb because Grant and his wife were entombed above ground in the building) and came to the conclusion that because of that answer, as well as the possibility that other dead presidents may have been entombed above ground or cremated, a perfectly viable protest to this question could have been lobbied. Of course someone may call me pedantic in pointing this out, but when you construct questions like this, you open up that annoying possibility of subjective interpretation, which doesn't happen with a well-constructed pyramidal question on a specific answer, and which is why the latter is the standard for a quality question.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."
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Post by Tegan »

conker wrote:In fact, one of the things I like about NAC is that it has more room to ask the oddball question because it is not constrained by pyramidality.
I don't mind a question that requires a little bit more thinking vs. jsut being straightforward layering, but this is not, IMO, an exampe of such. I will even contend that this question is not even a buzzer beater in the traditional sense. Even a buzzer beater requires some knowledge that you;ve studied. This kind of question required the opposite of thinking ... it required setting your brain to "no thought" .... thinking actually slowed you down in this case.
Furthermore, I'm confused why the other team would be embarrassed.
I didn't interview them for my report, and it was jsut an impression based on their actions and facial expressions (one player's head went down on the table), but my guess would be that they felt bad because they started thinking about potential answers, may have enve arrived at an answer and started overanalyzing the situation because no legitimate (again, MO) quizbowl they have heard asks a question like that, only to find someone on the other team beat them to the punch, quite possibly because they heard that riddle asked more recently. Honestly, I started thinking what's next:
Geography: Which state is round on both ends, and high in the middle? This question, sadly, would have been almost in keeping with that line of questioning.
Yes, the questions are shoddy, and I can't say I'm a big fan of the format. The warmup and "stump the expert" rounds are tossups, pure and simple, so I don't really have any issue with those. In the bonus round, you have to get 3 out of the 4 bonus parts before you are assured of a net gain on the bonus (which to me seems poorly devised). Also, the 60-second rounds are unbalanced. The categories don't really clue you into what the questions will be like: some categories have one-word questions, while in others, you're practically listening to monologues. The latter are literally impossible to sweep.
I was not so averse to the overall fomat, but I agree about the 60 second rounds. Sure, some were inventive, but it is these types of questions that open the officials up to accusations of favoritism. If you want to run a 60 second round, and do some justive to it, use alphabet rounds where there is at least some variety to the questions (not all one one subject). This should, in theory, solve that aspect of the competition.
I agree with you here. Some moderators at NAC can be over the top sometimes with their nonsense. I prefer the NAQT moderators--no filler, just the questions.
At one point, there was a pop music listening question that no one got, and the host started making a joke about Whitney Houston, and then pretended he was smoking a crack pipe. That was way out of line (IMO) for a high school touranment. These guys would do themselves and the players a huge favor by only talking to introduce the teams, themselves at hte beginning of hte match, announceing scores, and reading the actual questions.

As for the fans "shhing" each other, I found it rude that one particular gruop of fans had no problems talking while the game was being played, but then wanted to make sure that everyone could hear the host make their annoucnement for the umteenth time. Between periods IS the time for coaches to talk to players (and players to talk to each other), not to mention time for the audience to talk things over among themselves .... get it out of the system before the game restarts. I'm not pinning this on the hosts ... I just found it bizzare that it was "OK" to potentially disturb the competitors, but goodness forbid the host be disturbed while saying nothing important about the match.


I'm not going to sit here and say "don't go". I also saw some teams having a good time. If you enjoy being in a game show atmosphere, you don't mind dubious questions, questionable officiating, etc then I would encourage any prospective teams out there to go. As a matter of fact, the schedule permits for plenty of down time to go on tours of the city .... so if the competition itself is only marginally important, I would also say this is your tournament. But after seeing what I saw, I would not take my team, and would not recommend this tournament to anyone who was interested in a real challenge.

This (and more) is what I saw with my own two eyes and heard with my own two ears. I have tried to be very open with my interpretations, and have avoided out-and-out accusations (except for that president question.....IMO, that was a poor riddle, and not worthy of being in anything purporting itself to be quizbowl). You all are smart enough to make up your own mind as to whether this is something you want to go to.
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Post by insaneindian »

about the 60 second rounds...

While we were watching one match, a lightning round had answers as follows...

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10


No joke. the funny part is the team got the first few right but didnt sweep it. :shock:
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Post by conker »

ImmaculateDeception wrote: Okay, where do I start? It doesn't test any sort of real knowledge. Damn near all of quizbowl players (and, in fact, some large segment of the population at large) are going to know which four former Presidents aren't dead and that non-dead people aren't buried. Those are things one learns in grade school (or earlier.) Therefore, this question rewards whoever happens to buzz first and very little else. By answering such questions, one doesn't demonstrate that one knows anything special or important, or even that one knows anything especially well or quickly. Likewise, the winner of a tournament comprised of such questions doesn't demonstrate anything worthwhile, either.
You're right. It doesn't test any knowledge. But it does test who can think more quickly in an unusual situation. The thing being tested here is not the knowledge of which presidents are alive, but the ability to connect facts.
Okay, let me stop you here. If you don't like quizbowl questions, why are you playing quizbowl? You can make-up silly riddles with your friends for free (and probably better ones that this); you don't have to pay some plagiarizing dope thousands of dollars to hear them.
I do not like this tournament, and I do not accept it as proper quiz bowl. I fought to attend NAQT--ask anyone on my team, I wasn't the most enthusiastic about NAC, but our school only allowed seniors to attend NAQT. I don't even like the presidents question because it is not pyramidal. However, I disagree with Tegan's reason for disliking it, which is that it's a riddle. I think other tournaments could be more interesting with the bizarre question thrown in once in a while.
problem is precisely that it lacks "layering" as you say; that, as a question, it rewards the team that buzzes in first and says "Duh duh duh duh" basically; that it has precisely one clue, an easy and trivial answer, and one that requires no real thought or study to reach (you have to connect exactly two facts that everyone knows, and not especially quickly.)
So are you suggesting that this question is no different than, say, "Who wrote Moby Dick?" That, in my book, would be a buzzer beater because everybody knows the answer; it's just a race to see who can buzz in first. However, the presidents question at least requires that one connect the facts that presidents who aren't buried in the continental U.S. are not buried at all.
Dude, if you know the questions are bad, just acknowledge that they're bad like everyone else is saying and give up. Good high school quizbowl questions test knowledge about topics relevant to important things people learn in high school and do so in a way most likely to reward those who know the most and recall it the best; anything else is and will always be bad.
You and your school and whoever else are certainly free to like and play on these bad questions; I can't gainsay that decision, since its your money and time to spend. I don't understand why you'd like them and I wish you played on better ones, but I can't make you and I won't try. However, your liking something doesn't make it good. You can't, on the one hand, acknowledge that these questions are bad and, on the other, claim they're good because you liked them. Sorry, dude.
I did not say that the questions are both good and bad. Again, I am not a huge fan of this format, and I disliked many of the questions, including that one. My argument was limited to a specific aspect of that one question. Just because it's a bad tournament does not mean that it cannot have one or two good questions once in a while.
Last edited by conker on Sat Jun 17, 2006 9:06 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by conker »

leftsaidfred wrote:
So, you're saying it's a good tournament because it's a bad tournament? Did Chip send you to the Ministry of Love or something?
Again, I think it's a bad tournament overall, but a bad tournament can have a few good questions. And in this case, I didn't even say the question was good--only that the particular aspect that Tegan was criticizing may not be so bad.
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Post by conker »

Tegan wrote:
I don't mind a question that requires a little bit more thinking vs. jsut being straightforward layering, but this is not, IMO, an exampe of such. I will even contend that this question is not even a buzzer beater in the traditional sense. Even a buzzer beater requires some knowledge that you;ve studied. This kind of question required the opposite of thinking ... it required setting your brain to "no thought" .... thinking actually slowed you down in this case.
You're right...it forces you to think simple. I don't really see what's wrong with that, as we often miss the answers to very simple problems by thinking too deeply. This happens all the time. In NAQT, for example, one question asked, "He replaced Gray Davis in his current position." Just as everybody knows which four presidents aren't dead, everyone knows who succeeded Gray Davis. But neither team buzzed in. Why? Because it was in the middle of the question, and it just seemed too simple to be the answer. But that wasn't the question's fault--that was our problem for not being able to shift our minds into obvious mode.
I didn't interview them for my report, and it was jsut an impression based on their actions and facial expressions (one player's head went down on the table), but my guess would be that they felt bad because they started thinking about potential answers, may have enve arrived at an answer and started overanalyzing the situation because no legitimate (again, MO) quizbowl they have heard asks a question like that, only to find someone on the other team beat them to the punch, quite possibly because they heard that riddle asked more recently. Honestly, I started thinking what's next:
Geography: Which state is round on both ends, and high in the middle? This question, sadly, would have been almost in keeping with that line of questioning.
Well, I think it's natural to feel a bit down because you missed a question that was so obvious, but in a quiz team competition, you can't let that get to you. If the next question did happen to be "Ohio," I would probably cringe, but once in a while, the riddles are fine.
As for the fans "shhing" each other, I found it rude that one particular gruop of fans had no problems talking while the game was being played, but then wanted to make sure that everyone could hear the host make their annoucnement for the umteenth time. Between periods IS the time for coaches to talk to players (and players to talk to each other), not to mention time for the audience to talk things over among themselves .... get it out of the system before the game restarts. I'm not pinning this on the hosts ... I just found it bizzare that it was "OK" to potentially disturb the competitors, but goodness forbid the host be disturbed while saying nothing important about the match.
I see what you're saying. I'm not sure why the spectators would behave like that, as I certainly didn't feel compelled to listen to the moderators between matches.
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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

conker wrote:
Tegan wrote:
I don't mind a question that requires a little bit more thinking vs. jsut being straightforward layering, but this is not, IMO, an exampe of such. I will even contend that this question is not even a buzzer beater in the traditional sense. Even a buzzer beater requires some knowledge that you;ve studied. This kind of question required the opposite of thinking ... it required setting your brain to "no thought" .... thinking actually slowed you down in this case.
You're right...it forces you to think simple. I don't really see what's wrong with that, as we often miss the answers to very simple problems by thinking too deeply. This happens all the time. In NAQT, for example, one question asked, "He replaced Gray Davis in his current position." Just as everybody knows which four presidents aren't dead, everyone knows who succeeded Gray Davis. But neither team buzzed in. Why? Because it was in the middle of the question, and it just seemed too simple to be the answer. But that wasn't the question's fault--that was our problem for not being able to shift our minds into obvious mode.
Isn't quizbowl supposed to be about learning? About expanding one's knowledge base, grasping new ideas, and then answering questions about what you've learned?

Failing that, maybe it's about growing, making the jump from high school to adulthood by knowing more about the world, doing what college does by attempting to expose us to the cultural world.

Either way, has anyone here actually felt GOOD about shutting their brains off? Has any good come from stopping to use our intellect and think like a middle schooler? When was the last time a calculus student said, "You know, I'm just not getting the product rule. I wish it could be easier, like normal multiplication. ... Wait....what if it IS like normal multiplication? I'll just multiply them together like I've always done, that should work!"

And if you truly know who Gray Davis is and you know what position he held, there's obviously only one choice to the answer and anyone worth his weight in buzzer wire should be slamming down on the button. It was the question's fault for having a post-FTP clue in the middle (though hopefully not before the power mark). It's just as much your fault for not being aggressive enough to buzz in there.

You should never have to "switch your mind into obvious mode". Nothing that claims to be academic should ever make you wonder about whether you should be thinking or not.
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Post by Tegan »

conker wrote:Just because it's a bad tournament does not mean that it cannot have one or two good questions once in a while.
On this point, I agree. There were positive aspects of this tournament (though you and I may not agree with them, and that's OK). No national tournament (except for PACE) has a sense of history like this one does ..... and that establishment of a "tradition" helps make the tournament a draw (such as keeping records, and publishing record books, etc. It helps people of today connect to the past, and that can be a positive thing for many coaches and players. It is something which Panasonic and NAQT shuold consider. Some people (I'm not one of them) consider the "game show" atmosphere positive.

I am not trying to universally condemn this tournament ..... rather I am trying to point out, especially for those who hadn't been there, some observations, and some possible interpretations (and certainly mine aren't universal, nor are they necessarily even correct.

I've heard a lot of bashing of this tournament over time, and felt the only way to get a perspective was to see ti for myself.

BTW....I scored for Shanghai for one match in the first couple of rounds at NAQT......they were a very good team, IMO ..... if you are going to go next year, you will have a lot to look forward to.
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Post by NotBhan »

styxman wrote: And if you truly know who Gray Davis is and you know what position he held, there's obviously only one choice to the answer and anyone worth his weight in buzzer wire should be slamming down on the button. It was the question's fault for having a post-FTP clue in the middle (though hopefully not before the power mark). It's just as much your fault for not being aggressive enough to buzz in there.
It's probably not relevant to this discussion (I'm too lazy to read it all), but I can see why someone would hold off on buzzing on that clue out of concern that one might be forgetting an interim governor. There was no interim governor in this case, but I'd have been tentative about buzzing as well. Of course, if there were previous clues hinting that the person in question is Austrian or is an actor, then anyone worth his or her weight in buzzer wire should indeed hit the button. (175 pounds of buzzer wire might be kind of pricey, though.)

Sorry for the interruption -- back to your regularly-scheduled attacks.

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Post by conker »

styxman wrote: Isn't quizbowl supposed to be about learning? About expanding one's knowledge base, grasping new ideas, and then answering questions about what you've learned?

Failing that, maybe it's about growing, making the jump from high school to adulthood by knowing more about the world, doing what college does by attempting to expose us to the cultural world.
Yes, and I agree with all that. I'm not saying that quiz bowl should be dumbed down to the point of meaningless riddles. Quiz players should be constantly striving to learn more, to deepen their knowledge. However, as our minds become increasingly complex, we often miss the simple solution to problems. That's why it is every bit as important to toss in the simple problem disguised as a complex one every once in a while. If you continue to play the straightforward quiz that you've always played, that will stifle creativity. You will think the way you always thought because that's all you ever needed to be successful. Now, I'm not saying that other quiz team organizations don't throw curveballs; NAQT is very good at it. But many quiz players seem particularly resistant to anything different than "their way of doing it."
Either way, has anyone here actually felt GOOD about shutting their brains off? Has any good come from stopping to use our intellect and think like a middle schooler? When was the last time a calculus student said, "You know, I'm just not getting the product rule. I wish it could be easier, like normal multiplication. ... Wait....what if it IS like normal multiplication? I'll just multiply them together like I've always done, that should work!"
The calculus analogy doesn't work. Multiplying differential expressions together is not a simpler solution; it's flat-out wrong. But let's say a student comes up with an algebraic solution to a calculus problem. Shouldn't we encourage that insight? We're not saying, "Let's replace calculus with algebra altogether," but rather, "Let's throw a 4-point algebra problem on this 100-point calculus test to see if the student is actually thinking rather than regurgitating a routine." Knowing when not to overthink is also thinking. It is certainly not shutting your mind off.

Take another example. Roy Oswalt throws 95 mph fastballs. Those are devastating and far harder to hit than his 67 mph curves. In fact, his curveballs sail right into the strike zone, and any major leaguer would hit it out of the park if they knew it was coming. Now, you are suggesting that Oswalt should stick with that 95 mph fastball because even when batters know it's coming, it's usually unhittable. But I'm saying that if he throws a curve once in a while, he can be even more devastating. And that has made him a very successful pitcher the last few years.
And if you truly know who Gray Davis is and you know what position he held, there's obviously only one choice to the answer and anyone worth his weight in buzzer wire should be slamming down on the button. It was the question's fault for having a post-FTP clue in the middle (though hopefully not before the power mark). It's just as much your fault for not being aggressive enough to buzz in there.
You are saying exactly what I am saying. We overthought the question, "It can't be this obvious; maybe Gray Davis had some other position." But I don't blame the question at all for having such a clue so early. It was entirely our fault for not being aggressive enough--for not going with the simple answer. And the teams in the room weren't slouch teams either--the two teams in the room both went 7-3 and deep into the playoffs.
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Post by conker »

Tegan wrote:
On this point, I agree. There were positive aspects of this tournament (though you and I may not agree with them, and that's OK). No national tournament (except for PACE) has a sense of history like this one does ..... and that establishment of a "tradition" helps make the tournament a draw (such as keeping records, and publishing record books, etc. It helps people of today connect to the past, and that can be a positive thing for many coaches and players. It is something which Panasonic and NAQT shuold consider. Some people (I'm not one of them) consider the "game show" atmosphere positive.

I am not trying to universally condemn this tournament ..... rather I am trying to point out, especially for those who hadn't been there, some observations, and some possible interpretations (and certainly mine aren't universal, nor are they necessarily even correct.

I've heard a lot of bashing of this tournament over time, and felt the only way to get a perspective was to see ti for myself.
Tegan, please don't get me wrong. I have tremendous respect for what you are doing. Unlike the Chip Beall bashing that has been bandied about, you provided a rational and detailed basis for your opinion. I don't think anyone would accuse you of being one-sided or unfair. You realize that the tournament has its merits and its weaknesses, and although we disagree on which exactly are the merits and the weaknesses, we can at least agree that they exist. Thank you for doing what you are doing. I hope that more rational discussion of Chip Beall will actually convince teams going to NAC not to go (if they read this forum at all). But right now, the baseless bashing of some members is, I think, more counterproductive than useful.
BTW....I scored for Shanghai for one match in the first couple of rounds at NAQT......they were a very good team, IMO ..... if you are going to go next year, you will have a lot to look forward to.
I won't be here next year, and there will be an entirely new squad. We may not even be able to come to NAQT...I fought tooth and nail just so the school would let us come (they would only let us go to NAC). Nobody may be willing to do that next year, unfortunately.
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Post by conker »

NotBhan wrote:
It's probably not relevant to this discussion (I'm too lazy to read it all), but I can see why someone would hold off on buzzing on that clue out of concern that one might be forgetting an interim governor. There was no interim governor in this case, but I'd have been tentative about buzzing as well. Of course, if there were previous clues hinting that the person in question is Austrian or is an actor, then anyone worth his or her weight in buzzer wire should indeed hit the button. (175 pounds of buzzer wire might be kind of pricey, though.)
Nope, no references to Austrian or actor...just what he has done as governor, none of which were familiar.
Sorry for the interruption -- back to your regularly-scheduled attacks.
Ouch, I would like to think we are engaging in a meaningful discussion. :lol:
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Post by swwFCqb »

Tegan wrote
At one point, there was a pop music listening question that no one got, and the host started making a joke about Whitney Houston, and then pretended he was smoking a crack pipe. That was way out of line (IMO) for a high school touranment. These guys would do themselves and the players a huge favor by only talking to introduce the teams, themselves at hte beginning of hte match, announceing scores, and reading the actual questions.
I totally agree with you. After I had finished my first match, my father, who was watching his first match of live quizbowl ever, came up to me and asked, "Do readers regularly crack jokes like that during the matches?" I had to explain to him that in all other formats they do not, and that Chip's way of running things is "different" from how everyone else runs things.

I, myself, found it very annoying when Chip and the other readers tried to make jokes and give storylines during the match. I wouldn't even have minded the jokes if they were funny, which I thought maybe 1 or 2 were. Overall, though, the jokes were very dull, and the continuous storylines, which Chip used to try to create excitement, in my mind, took away all of the excitement of the match, if there was even any to begin with.
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Post by Howard »

conker wrote:
styxman wrote: Isn't quizbowl supposed to be about learning? About expanding one's knowledge base, grasping new ideas, and then answering questions about what you've learned?
Yes, and I agree with all that. I'm not saying that quiz bowl should be dumbed down to the point of meaningless riddles. Quiz players should be constantly striving to learn more, to deepen their knowledge. However, as our minds become increasingly complex, we often miss the simple solution to problems. That's why it is every bit as important to toss in the simple problem disguised as a complex one every once in a while. If you continue to play the straightforward quiz that you've always played, that will stifle creativity. You will think the way you always thought because that's all you ever needed to be successful. Now, I'm not saying that other quiz team organizations don't throw curveballs; NAQT is very good at it. But many quiz players seem particularly resistant to anything different than "their way of doing it."
I've been trying to make this point for quite some time and have felt like I've been met with strong opposition. The fact that it's a riddle isn't what makes this question horrible. In fact, I think that's the good part of the question. It forces players to actually figure something out. It's a brain exercise, so to speak. About four or six years ago, someone told me I should enter my team in NAC because we had a good shot of winning. And, if the questions are like this, I think I understand. I had a team of quick thinkers.

I believe questions like this actually help players develop their minds to be better at other questions. Why? Because it develops critical reasoning skills. The faster a player can figure out what's going on in the question, the faster the player with knowledge can ring in and answer. I don't particularly like the presidential riddle question either, but I can see its value.
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Post by Tegan »

conker wrote: Tegan, please don't get me wrong.
If I'm hearing correctly, you are trying to make some good, balanced arguments.....We may not agree on everything, and that's OK .....
I hope that more rational discussion of Chip Beall will actually convince teams going to NAC not to go (if they read this forum at all). But right now, the baseless bashing of some members is, I think, more counterproductive than useful.
On this point, there is zero disagreement. I respect a lot of the people who have a more emotional bent on the whole NAC .... in some cases these people played in it as high school students and look back on it as a waste. Others have been more in the trenches and on the front line of trying to make changes for the better than I have in whole regions of the country (I've been focused on one state). I do understand the reason why they are so upset, but I agree, bashing is not going to make any productive changes in the short or long run. Unbiased observation, and unbiased interpretation will be more useful, IMO.
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Post by davinci »

conker wrote:Yes, and I agree with all that. I'm not saying that quiz bowl should be dumbed down to the point of meaningless riddles. Quiz players should be constantly striving to learn more, to deepen their knowledge. However, as our minds become increasingly complex, we often miss the simple solution to problems. That's why it is every bit as important to toss in the simple problem disguised as a complex one every once in a while. If you continue to play the straightforward quiz that you've always played, that will stifle creativity. You will think the way you always thought because that's all you ever needed to be successful. Now, I'm not saying that other quiz team organizations don't throw curveballs; NAQT is very good at it. But many quiz players seem particularly resistant to anything different than "their way of doing it."
All of your euphemistic spumings do not cover the fact that those types of questions are just buzzer races. Trying to make the point that the questions build critical reasoning skills is just crap. You cannot agree with the principle that knowing more is the objective of quizbowl and then say that throwing a hose/buzzer-race question is good for you. The way to learn how to function in the real-world and critical thinking should be developed in the real world, honestly, if you can show me someone famous (besides Ken Jennings, and btw his success was based on "their"/our way of thinking) who dedicated his/her successes in life to skills learned in quizbowl than I will eat a set of NAC questions. I seriously doubt that creating the repertoire of expecting complexities is really going to affect people in our lives. If I come across a bomb that has a MC question disarming device and the clue is "Who is the biggest plagiarizing douschebag in quizbowl?", I'm not going to overthink the question and not pick Chip Beall. No one (at least I hope) goes about their lives with the "quizbowl mentality" of second-guessing obvious things.
Howard wrote:I've been trying to make this point for quite some time and have felt like I've been met with strong opposition. The fact that it's a riddle isn't what makes this question horrible. In fact, I think that's the good part of the question. It forces players to actually figure something out. It's a brain exercise, so to speak. About four or six years ago, someone told me I should enter my team in NAC because we had a good shot of winning. And, if the questions are like this, I think I understand. I had a team of quick thinkers.

I believe questions like this actually help players develop their minds to be better at other questions. Why? Because it develops critical reasoning skills. The faster a player can figure out what's going on in the question, the faster the player with knowledge can ring in and answer. I don't particularly like the presidential riddle question either, but I can see its value.
Points in bold:

--That's because you are wrong.

--I guess it is that easy to develop creativity. I guess that's why every person is capable of writing a good book or directing a solid movie. No. Listening to bad questions will not make a player better at "other questions." And I have statistical proof on that matter. At HSNCT, our third scoring player (also tied for first on our team for negs) played pretty awfuly the whole tournament. He basically powered a few geography questions (he was a perenial geo bee conteder) and got bouncebacks that our captain and I let him have. At your "reasoning skills" questions he is at his best, he knows when to buzz in and he solves riddles well, thus he is the captain at our local It's Academic/Beltway League formats. On the other hand, all it encouraged him to do was know the giveaway clues, and he wasn't even that good at those either. So despite him being "creative" and having "good thinking" skills, he sucked at HSNCT and even cost us a few games (as in, we would have won if he put his buzzer down and went to sleep) I don't see how throwing out bad questions can translate to success on good questions.

--Your team's "quick thinking" skills was worth more than their actual knowledge. End of story.


--It doesn't matter how fast you can make connections, if you don't know the material, than you won't get the question. For example, our third scorer, on the question at HSNCT in the play-offs on a "telescope," we ended up losing that match by like 60 points, he asks our captain and me why we didn't go in on that question earlier because the clues must have been so obvious. We reply, well if the clues were so obvious, why didn't you go in. He said back, because I didn't know the clues.
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Post by NoahMinkCHS »

Big thanks to Tegan for his comments on the NAC. I was looking for some empirical proof that Chip has, in fact, not changed a bit; it sounds like that is the case.

Dennis -- If you want questions that test critical thinking AND actual knowledge, that's exactly what NAQT does. I know your school's situation, and that really sucks, but that has no bearing on the relative badness of NAC. Riddle questions that test (at most) only trivial knowledge do not belong in real quiz bowl, which is what NAC claims to be.

(Then again, I think Panasonic claims that too. How so many people think Panasonic has any more to do with quiz bowl than Jeopardy or pub trivia, I'll never know...)
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Post by conker »

NoahMinkCHS wrote:
Dennis -- If you want questions that test critical thinking AND actual knowledge, that's exactly what NAQT does. I know your school's situation, and that really sucks, but that has no bearing on the relative badness of NAC. Riddle questions that test (at most) only trivial knowledge do not belong in real quiz bowl, which is what NAC claims to be.
Well, we did go to NAQT, and as I acknowledged earlier, NAQT balances the thinking and the knowledge aspects well. We may not go next year, but I'll be in college by that time. :grin:
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Post by swwFCqb »

NoahMinkCHS wrote:
(Then again, I think Panasonic claims that too. How so many people think Panasonic has any more to do with quiz bowl than Jeopardy or pub trivia, I'll never know...)
I don't know what's so bad with Panasonic. The format is pretty crappy, which results in buzzer races a lot of the time, but I think the question content is solid. There's no trash, only academic questions, and there aren't any "riddle" or "blender" questions. Overall, I think the tournament is decent; it's not NAQT, but it's still fairly decent. It's better than Chip's format anyhow...of course what isn't. :grin:
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Post by etchdulac »

All of the good programs in Texas have been chased off by Chip's antics. Several have cited incidents of bias in not returning. Though, one good program actually had the funding to play both NAQT and NAC.

Basically, if you look across the threads on this message board, the consensus is clear: If you go to NAC, you're playing minor-league quiz bowl, if it can even be called the same thing as NAQT.
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Post by AKKOLADE »

I would have sworn this was the Questions Unlimited national championship thread, not the Texas Quiz Bowl drama thread.

Oh wait. It is.
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Post by Rothlover »

Does the Questions Unlimited discussion thread logically include a discussion of what country the company owner's spouse may have come from, and at what cost? Being frugal, I have to ask, was there a bulk discount?

Also, the idea of some hybrid NAQT v. NAC match with a board deciding rules and content was so absurd I simply had to reply as such. There is a reason oil and water don't mix, or in this case, oil and feces?
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Post by AKKOLADE »

Rothlover wrote:Does the Questions Unlimited discussion thread logically include a discussion of what country the company owner's spouse may have come from, and at what cost?
It is more related.

Okay, I'm splitting that one too. You people.
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Post by Howard »

davinci in response to conker wrote:All of your euphemistic spumings do not cover the fact that those types of questions are just buzzer races. Trying to make the point that the questions build critical reasoning skills is just crap.
Uh, no. It's not. If they were nothing more than buzzer races, you wouldn't have the same small groups of schools at the top of the It's Academic tournament nearly every year. Your point suggests the the same schools continually get the players with the best reflexes. In fact, the reason these schools do the best year after year is that their coaches have teach their players methods for figuring out the questions quickly. However evil you might think that is, it's still a quick thinking skill.
davinci wrote:You cannot agree with the principle that knowing more is the objective of quizbowl and then say that throwing a hose/buzzer-race question is good for you. The way to learn how to function in the real-world and critical thinking should be developed in the real world....
It should be no secret that quiz bowl has almost no correlation to the real world. These are the skills my players hone in quizbowl that do have correlation to the real world: courtesy, honesty, patience, personal achievement, respect, sportsmanship, and teamwork. Remarkably, little of this has anything to do with actually winning a game.
davinci wrote:I guess it is that easy to develop creativity. I guess that's why every person is capable of writing a good book or directing a solid movie. No.
I don't recall saying anything about creativity.
davinci wrote:Listening to bad questions will not make a player better at "other questions." And I have statistical proof on that matter. At HSNCT, our third scoring player (also tied for first on our team for negs) played pretty awfuly the whole tournament. He basically powered a few geography questions (he was a perenial geo bee conteder) and got bouncebacks that our captain and I let him have. At your "reasoning skills" questions he is at his best, he knows when to buzz in and he solves riddles well, thus he is the captain at our local It's Academic/Beltway League formats. On the other hand, all it encouraged him to do was know the giveaway clues, and he wasn't even that good at those either. So despite him being "creative" and having "good thinking" skills, he sucked at HSNCT and even cost us a few games (as in, we would have won if he put his buzzer down and went to sleep) I don't see how throwing out bad questions can translate to success on good questions.
Your one player is hardly statistical proof. Furthermore, I said that questions which require thinking can "help" players with the traditional pyramidal questions. There's no arguing that being good at It's Academic questions will make you good at NAQT questions. That's not the case. But, if a player has the knowledge to play reasonably on NAQT questions, then being good at It's Academic's thinking part of the game will help the team ring in faster. Yes, that's right. I'm saying the buzzer is a valid part of the game. And I'm saying that the brain creates buzzer speed, not reflexes.
davinci wrote:Your team's "quick thinking" skills was worth more than their actual knowledge. End of story.
Depending on format and questions, that's true. From what I've seen here about NAC, I don't doubt that would be true there.
davinci wrote:It doesn't matter how fast you can make connections, if you don't know the material, than you won't get the question. For example, our third scorer, on the question at HSNCT in the play-offs on a "telescope," we ended up losing that match by like 60 points, he asks our captain and me why we didn't go in on that question earlier because the clues must have been so obvious. We reply, well if the clues were so obvious, why didn't you go in. He said back, because I didn't know the clues.
Agreed. Not knowing the answer rarely translates into points. I teach my players that no team member should question in a hostile manner why another team member rang or failed to ring. Nor should team member A chastise player B for aggressively taking a shot at a question because player B got the question wrong and player A knew the answer. If player A knew the answer, it was player A's responsibility to be aggressive enough to ring in first. That's all part of the sportsmanship and teamwork lessons. If someone is ringing wildly when there are three to five possible correct answers, then it's the responsibility of the coach and team captain to coach that player on a more beneficial technique.

We can argue ad infinitum about what skills quiz bowl should test. I think one of the It's Academic producers said it best when, in referring to their show, she said "It's a test of what it's a test of." This statement can be applied to any quiz tournament anywhere. We each have the ability to choose whether to participate in a particular test, but we shouldn't proclaim ourselves worthy of telling others in which tests they should partake.
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Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Howard wrote:Agreed. Not knowing the answer rarely translates into points. I teach my players that no team member should question in a hostile manner why another team member rang or failed to ring. Nor should team member A chastise player B for aggressively taking a shot at a question because player B got the question wrong and player A knew the answer. If player A knew the answer, it was player A's responsibility to be aggressive enough to ring in first. That's all part of the sportsmanship and teamwork lessons. If someone is ringing wildly when there are three to five possible correct answers, then it's the responsibility of the coach and team captain to coach that player on a more beneficial technique.
I disagree. Player B might be being entirely overaggressive, and in that situation it's fine for Player A to chastise him for being a lunatic. (I remember being in a match when someone on the other team buzzed in on a date of death.) In that case, whether Player A knows it or not, it's appropriate. After all, Player B has to learn that that's not good strategy, and the best way to teach him that is for his fellow players to be displeased.

When A knows it, or thinks he knows it, and B steals it and negs, then it's not A's responsibility to have already rung in. For example, I could be pretty sure that they're talking about Donatello's David (as opposed to Michaelangelo's), but I'd really like to hear a single date, and my buzzer is raised (the signal with our team to let me have it unless you're 100% sure). Player B decides to buzz in with The Kiss. It's not my fault that he's a nut.

There are never three to five possible correct answers, save in the middle of the first sentence. Sometimes there are that many in a player's mind because he has insufficient knowledge. That player should not be buzzing then, and he should be told that through whatever mechanism is readily available.

(Plus, two things. First, the captain is really just another player, albeit with a bit of a leadership role. Saying that he's the only player allowed to criticize and coach simply limits your team's resources. Second, waiting until after the match, or a time-out, or whatever for the coach to become involved is effectively let a player continue playing with a bad strategy, and the only thing worse than a player negging foolishly once in a critical match is when he does it twice.)

We lost a tiebreaker half-match with DCC A for fourth place by twenty points. We negged on The Death of General Wolfe. I was player A, I had my buzzer raised... I'm still sick to my stomach.

Howard wrote:We can argue ad infinitum about what skills quiz bowl should test. I think one of the It's Academic producers said it best when, in referring to their show, she said "It's a test of what it's a test of." This statement can be applied to any quiz tournament anywhere. We each have the ability to choose whether to participate in a particular test, but we shouldn't proclaim ourselves worthy of telling others in which tests they should partake.
That quote reminds me of an old (or possibly not old, but definitely annoying) song: "You say it best / when you say nothing at all."

Saying that a gameshow tests what it tests is worse than a truism, because at least a truism says something, even if it's uninspiring. That's just a tautology. Our school does a gameshow that uses the It's Academic format, Hometown High-Q. We've been the season champions three out of the past four years, and finalists the year we missed, because little by little, we've figured out what it tests.

(Actually, until this year I was befuddled as to their US History distribution until I began studying for the AP US, as we have no AP US course, and realized that the questions are more or less namedropping from 1760-1810.)

But even gameshows like that, though they have short questions, are kind of pyramidal. They may not be as precisely layered, and some of them may be more similar to the New Trier questions you can find on Stanford, but they're not "Name the four living former presidents" wrapped up in a bunch of verbal garbage.

I mean really: what skills do these following questions test? (Taken from Chippy's website, and he'd naturally want to have the public seeing some of his best material...)
Chippy wrote:2. In crop rotation, why are legumes such as soybeans and alfalfa planted in the third and last stage?

Ans. They are nitrogen-fixing plants.

4. Complete these lines taken from Martin Luther King's tombstone. Free at last/ Free at last/ Thank God Almighty . . .

Ans. I'm free at last.

6. From the French, translate one of the Seven Sayings of Christ upon the Cross: Aujourd'hui-meme, tu seras avec moi dans le Paradis

Ans. "Today, you will be with me in Paradise."

8. "He gives his harness bells a shake / To ask if there is some mistake. / The only other sound's the sweep / Of easy wind and downy flake." Who wrote these lines?

Ans. Robert Frost
Most of these stand for themselves (agriculture question isn't bad, but requires a bizarre answer; one requires no actual knowledge, but an ear for rhetoric; another requires you to translate French). But the last is just a ridiculous hose that could be so easily avoided. What if you know the poem? Nope! The question was about the author.

I could go on. I won't. Do you really think it requires argument ad infinitum to see that these are not skills most people want to test? There's absolutely nothing good about these questions. We're not telling people what they should do; I let my masochist acquaintances continue mutilating themselves every day. It's their thing; who am I to judge?

What we can do is show them is just how much better they can have it.
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Post by conker »

I don't have time to address all the points (although I agree with most of them), but I would like to respond to one comment:
But the last is just a ridiculous hose that could be so easily avoided. What if you know the poem? Nope! The question was about the author.
Any good quiz team player should know to say both the title and the author if they're not sure what the question is asking for. So in that case, you would answer Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". And this is not an idiosyncrasy designed for dealing with Chip's questions. It's in the NAQT rules as well for a reason. Many pyramidal tossups begin by quoting lines from a poem. It's not the question's job to tell you precisely what's being asked. You have to provide all the information, and if you don't, it's your loss.

It's odd that of those four questions you should pick on that one. I actually found that one to be the only decent question in there. The first one asks for an explanation (which invites subjective interpretation); the second is horribly obvious and guessable; and the third requires that someone on the team actually: a) take French, and b) understand the moderators' butchering of foreign languages. (During the tournament, I heard a moderator pronounce the French rien as RHINE, like the river). Language questions do not have a place in quiz bowl--a team that has members taking Russian, German, Japanese, Italian does not know any less because they didn't get a Spanish or French question right.
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Post by e_steinhauser »

conker wrote:Any good quiz team player should know to say both the title and the author if they're not sure what the question is asking for.
You are correct in that a player who doesn't know whether the question is asking for the creator or the creation should use the old blitz rule. However, good question writers will phrase their questions such that it is obvious from the beginning which one is being asked about.
conker wrote: So in that case, you would answer Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". And this is not an idiosyncrasy designed for dealing with Chip's questions. It's in the NAQT rules as well for a reason.
The blitz rule evolved from a time of bad question writing, but it has stuck around mainly to cover for inattentive players and poor moderation. It should never be used as an excuse for poor phraseology, and I think you'll find that NAQT (and I'll assume PACE) questions are unambiguous as to the question subject.

conker wrote:Many pyramidal tossups begin by quoting lines from a poem. It's not the question's job to tell you precisely what's being asked. You have to provide all the information, and if you don't, it's your loss.
A question that just begins by quoting lines is a bad question. Good question writers/editors will insert "It begins ..." or "He wrote ..." before the quotes. Contrary to your statement, it is indeed the job of the question writer to tell you what is being asked about. Anything else is a straight hose.
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Post by Howard »

everyday847 wrote:I disagree [with howard]. Player B might be being entirely overaggressive, and in that situation it's fine for Player A to chastise him for being a lunatic. (I remember being in a match when someone on the other team buzzed in on a date of death.) In that case, whether Player A knows it or not, it's appropriate. After all, Player B has to learn that that's not good strategy, and the best way to teach him that is for his fellow players to be displeased.

When A knows it, or thinks he knows it, and B steals it and negs, then it's not A's responsibility to have already rung in. For example, I could be pretty sure that they're talking about Donatello's David (as opposed to Michaelangelo's), but I'd really like to hear a single date, and my buzzer is raised (the signal with our team to let me have it unless you're 100% sure). Player B decides to buzz in with The Kiss. It's not my fault that he's a nut.
Although I disagree, I respect your point of view. The real objective is better quiz bowl and your method is one way of achieving it.

In my experience, the students begin arguing with and even resenting one another if the criticism is allowed to be free. I don't think I'd balk at conversations among my players, but I'd really rather them concentrate on the next question and deal with the issue later. Once upon a time I was very competitive and wanted to win every game (never to the point of making absurd protests, but I hope you get the idea), but now I view the whole thing as more of a learning experience. I discuss strategies and changes with my teams after the game, at halftime, or during a time out. There are only a few games a year we play where winning is so important I'd think it necessary for all the players to actively try to correct each other during the game.

I want them to have their strategies set prior to the game so that when a player makes an error, that player recognizes the error and then moves quickly to the next question while maintaining the proper focus on strategy. I believe being able to correct your own errors and maintaining overall focus is an incredibly important part of this game. Over time, we've won several games because we were able to get the other team off balance. I can think of a handful of examples where we beat teams that I thought were better than us simply because they lost sight of their overall strategic technique after being beaten on the buzzer a few times in a close game.
everyday847 wrote:Saying that a gameshow tests what it tests is worse than a truism, because at least a truism says something, even if it's uninspiring. That's just a tautology. Our school does a gameshow that uses the It's Academic format, Hometown High-Q. We've been the season champions three out of the past four years, and finalists the year we missed, because little by little, we've figured out what it tests.
The thing I found intriguing about this was the free implication by those behind the program that it isn't a test of knowledge, aptitude, or any real-world skill. And, obviously, the better you've figured out what's being tested, the better you can be at those things.
everyday847 wrote:But even gameshows like that, though they have short questions, are kind of pyramidal. They may not be as precisely layered, and some of them may be more similar to the New Trier questions you can find on Stanford, but they're not "Name the four living former presidents" wrapped up in a bunch of verbal garbage.
This is one of the things I like most about It's Academic. While I think calling them pyramidal is a stretch, I think they're very good questions considering they're used on a successful game show. No one would tune it to watch real pyramidal questions in a 20 tossup-bonus format or even in a timed tossup-bonus format.
everyday847 wrote:Do you really think it requires argument ad infinitum to see that these are not skills most people want to test...
What we can do is show them is just how much better they can have it.
While I don't find the QU questions you posed particularly appealing (although the Robert Frost question seems okay), it's not my place to tell others they shouldn't play on the questions. And this is where I completely agree with you. We can show them how much better they can have it.
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Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Howard wrote: Although I disagree, I respect your point of view. The real objective is better quiz bowl and your method is one way of achieving it.

In my experience, the students begin arguing with and even resenting one another if the criticism is allowed to be free. I don't think I'd balk at conversations among my players, but I'd really rather them concentrate on the next question and deal with the issue later.
Yeah, you're probably right. I'm probably at an advantage because I was the second-best player on my team as a freshman, and by the time NAQT nationals came around my sophomore year I was, though narrowly, the best player. So I never really had to endure any criticism. And since this year our team was one student from each grade level, we never had a terrible situation with three seniors and that one lone freshman who always screws up... in fact, our freshman was ridiculously strong for his age and experience.

So maybe our system is fairly school and camraderie specific.
This is one of the things I like most about It's Academic. While I think calling them pyramidal is a stretch, I think they're very good questions considering they're used on a successful game show. No one would tune it to watch real pyramidal questions in a 20 tossup-bonus format or even in a timed tossup-bonus format.
Yeah, when it's a gameshow, it's appropriate to have shorter questions. But I recall that the average question had 2-3 clues in it, even though it'd barely be two lines long if written out. Chip's questions fail in that regard--they sometimes have only one real clue, and you only know what's being asked at the very end.

I also remember one math question from a stump the experts round involving multiplying $5.00 by 990 by 2500 and dividing by two, or something equivalent (I'm too distracted, and interested in ACF packets I found, to look it up). Not only did it only mention the desired calculation at the very end of the question, after mentioning all the numbers, the calculation is ridiculous.
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Post by thepowerofche »

My hat is off to Mr. Dr. Sr. Chip Beall, Ph.D. He may be the best troll on this set of forums and he isn't even a member.
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On the question of history...

Post by First Chairman »

Tegan wrote:No national tournament (except for PACE) has a sense of history like this one does ..... and that establishment of a "tradition" helps make the tournament a draw (such as keeping records, and publishing record books, etc. It helps people of today connect to the past, and that can be a positive thing for many coaches and players. It is something which Panasonic and NAQT shuold consider. Some people (I'm not one of them) consider the "game show" atmosphere positive.
As I begin to catch up on all my internet stuff, I'm very honored by Tom's statement above and his digest of the NAC in Chicago. PACE does keep an extensive record book because I think a link to tradition and the past is important. We can easily talk about "great players" at the NSC and point to actual performance numbers. Scoring 100 ppg at the NSC is a significant effort since it means a single person is racking up over 10% of all possible points. We also have actual match data that show the effects of these reboundable bonuses (though we don't have exclusive value of bonuses at 30 points) to show how much they keep the game close or not.

Over the years, many people have asked why the NSC is structured the way it is instead of straight-up tossup/bonus. One is the variability of the game means that the last 10 questions are as meaningful as the first 18 since 500 points are available each "half." (As Byko jokes to my phrase, now we start the "third half.") Thus, dominating the first 18 questions does not necessarily mean a team wins the game since comebacks can come more furiously. You can also know when a team goes "dormie" and clinches the game.

To my credit, I have told people to go to any national out there, including Chip. I want to know what people think about his event and how I have to change the PACE NSC to attract new teams. Of course, I refuse to compromise certain principles (and neither will the rest of the PACE group if I tried), but I'd rather the customer figure out what makes the NSC better than the NAC or HSNCT and tell us how to improve it.
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Re: On the question of history...

Post by Byko »

E.T. Chuck wrote:(As Byko jokes to my phrase, now we start the "third half.")
There's a reason I sometimes say, "That's the end of the first/second period. We'll bring out the Zambonis and have a score check."
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