Illinois 06-07

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Post by Deviant Insider »

We're going to Solo

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Post by cornfused »

I gotta ask, Coach... is that an elephant molar?

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Post by Deviant Insider »

That's the idea. I think it is.

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Post by dtaylor4 »

styxman wrote:How many teams here are planning on going to the U of I solo tournament? I'm thinking about running an NAQT tournament on that Saturday, but I don't want to pull teams from U of I that are already planning on going there. I'm looking at 18 teams (some from my area that aren't on the boards) - if I get 18, I can probably guarantee 14 games for every team that goes. Is anyone interested?
Brad, thanks for the consideration, as I'd like to have more than 4-5 schools represented this year. As for a better weekend, why not the following week? Streator Rotary has gone downhill, and not that many strong teams, with the exception of Bloomington, went to it last year.

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Post by David Riley »

The following week is NOT a good idea if you want strong players....Fenwick varsity, Homewood-Flossmoor, and Sicence Bowl are all that week as well.

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Post by David Riley »

I mean Science Bowl....sorry bout [email protected]

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Fenwick is actually the week after the week of Science Bowl and H-F. January 27th is about the only Saturday that doesn't affect area teams, the other faction I'm trying to get to come. (Feb. 3rd is Rockford Boylan, Feb 10th is Big Northern Conference, then you start hitting Masonics, ICTM, etc.)

The 27th has (pseudo-traditionally) been a dead weekend for years in the area. I don't foresee many area teams going to U of I (John and Siva might go from Auburn, and if I'm running this as an area thing, Auburn's absence might ironically encourage a larger turnout), so I might plug along with this as it is as a tuneup tourney for pyramidal questions, something that half of the area hasn't played yet and sadly won't before IHSA (if IHSA goes pyramidal this year).

Donald, you're right about Streator going downhill recently, except for one small note - the questions were marginally better than most of the other tournaments in the area last year. While they weren't all pyramidal, they were at least longer, which is much of the issue in the area with pyramidality.

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Post by dtaylor4 »

Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. They were of decent length my junior year, but so off the wall that in the championship (Mac v Maine East), both teams were under 100 going into the last tossup, not to mention the blatant attempt to give Streator a cakewalk.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

DaGeneral wrote:Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. They were of decent length my junior year, but so off the wall that in the championship (Mac v Maine East), both teams were under 100 going into the last tossup, not to mention the blatant attempt to give Streator a cakewalk.
Hey, you can stop making unsupported accusations against various people in Illinois any time now.

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

DaGeneral wrote:Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. They were of decent length my junior year, but so off the wall that in the championship (Mac v Maine East), both teams were under 100 going into the last tossup, not to mention the blatant attempt to give Streator a cakewalk.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of Streator's tourney by any means. Their playoff system is shoddy (I played Bloomington in the first round last year - not surprisingly, they got first, we got fifth, and we could have wiped the floor with 2-4), and the questions aren't of top quality. The fact is, Sterling's kickoff only gave teams 4 morning rounds because of the misconception that pyramidal questions create much longer games. If the area starts getting rid one-liners, I say there's a better shot for pyramidality here - even if the questions that get us there aren't the best..

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

styxman wrote:
DaGeneral wrote:Longer doesn't necessarily mean better. They were of decent length my junior year, but so off the wall that in the championship (Mac v Maine East), both teams were under 100 going into the last tossup, not to mention the blatant attempt to give Streator a cakewalk.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of Streator's tourney by any means. Their playoff system is shoddy (I played Bloomington in the first round last year - not surprisingly, they got first, we got fifth, and we could have wiped the floor with 2-4), and the questions aren't of top quality. The fact is, Sterling's kickoff only gave teams 4 morning rounds because of the misconception that pyramidal questions create much longer games. If the area starts getting rid one-liners, I say there's a better shot for pyramidality here - even if the questions that get us there aren't the best..
After seeing Matt's post about unsubstantiated arguments, I want to "edit" my post to substantiate it.

Streator's afternoon format:

#1, Pool A
#2, Pool D

#1, Pool B
#2, Pool C


#1, Pool C
#2, Pool B

#1, Pool D
#2, Pool A

With no regard for scores, records, or the like. Pools B and C were stacked - #2 in both pools scored more than 50 ppg more than #1 in the other pools, even with the added competition. I can't say anything about Donald's experience, because I only went once - but there you go for mine.

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Post by dtaylor4 »

Matt, my accusations about the tournament are not unfounded. Brad's posts, from what I can tell, are accurate. I'll explain using the six-bracket format from when I went.

Pool 1: Streator + relatively weak teams
Pool 2: More relatively weak teams
Pool 3/4: Stronger teams than in Pools 1/2, but not upper-tier
Pools 5/6: The upper-tier teams go here, along with a mix of decent teams

Pooled round robin, and eight teams make the playoffs, the pool winners and two wild cards.

Game 1: Winner Pool 1 v Winner Pool 2
Game 2: Winner Pool 3 v Winner Pool 4
Game 3: Winner Pool 5 v Winner Pool 6
Game 4: Wild Card 1 v Wild Card 2

Game 5: Winner Game 1 v Winner Game 2
Game 6: Winner Game 3 v Winner Game 4
Game 7: Loser Game 1 v Loser Game 2
Game 8: Loser Game 3 v Loser Game 4

Game 9 (Championship): Winner Game 5 v Winner Game 6
Game 10 (Consolation): Loser Game 5 v Loser Game 6
Game 11 (5th/6th): Winner Game 7 v Winner Game 8
Game 12 (7th/8th): Loser game 7 v Loser Game 8

Streator isn't gonna play a strong team until the finals, assuming they don't get upset and the TD can correctly gauge the strength of the teams coming.

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Post by Tegan »

While somewhat limited, and by no means "absolute", I have noticed that if you attend a tournament in the Illinois area outside of the Chicago area, you stand a greater chance of seeing something like this. The reasoning I have heard is that they specifically seek to avoid the same team winning over and over again, and this system permits weaker teams a greater chance of getting through abd deeper into the playoffs. I know a couple of TDs who were specifically questioned on this issue, and the stck response has been: if they actially seeded the playoffs, and favored the strong teams, the weaker teams would neer come back.

OK, that's a reason .... not one I personally subscribe to, but ......

One such tournament which my team attended once was the same tournament where we filed a protest, and were very kindly asked (after being granted such protest) that I shouldn't do it again because it is "upsetting" to everyone there.

While dG may be a bit abrasive, I would tend to say he has a point on some of this .....

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Post by David Riley »

A couple of comments on the discussion thus far:


1) Matt Weiner is right; bad mouthing (as opposed to criticizing) a tournament doesn't do us any favors.

2) There would be fewer conflicts if people would check with the Grand Mystic Keeper of the Illinois Calendar (that's me!) before scheduling tournaments that are meant to attract teams from a large part of the state. Although having said that, we are getting to the point (at least in IHSA Regions 1 - 5) where we are having competing tournaments in the same region on the same day.

3) I'm not a big fan of the Streator Rotary tournament myself, but: they are one of the longest-running tournaments in the history of Scholastic Bowl, and like it or not, they have their own rules, etc. just as any other tournament does. If you don't like the way they do things, then don't attend! Find another tournament that is more to your liking.

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Post by David Riley »

Addendum to my last message:

I think we need to realize that our entire state is not ready for pyramidal questions, even though the new IHSA rules may force their hand a bit.

My point is, if you're going to shove anything down people's throats, give them the option of refusng: if you're using pyramidal/short answer/whatever questions, say so; if you're putting all of the north suburban teams in one bracket such that the east central Class A schools have a better chance at the playoffs, say so up front.

The "tournament info" sheets that we began to use this year are a start, but we need 100% participation for these to be effective. The competitive teams are always going to have different goals than the "just for fun" teams.

I've gotten off on a tangent here...but comments along the lines of "they no longer have good teams" is no guarantee that your feeling is universal, nor is it necessarily accurate.

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Post by Tegan »

The issues of running questions with pyramidal questions, is going to be come a reality here soon enough.

When I hear TD saying that they won't sue pyramid style questions because "no one will come", I'm not sure I believe that.

I would be more likely to believe that "they won't come if there is a choice to go to another tournament", but in parts of the state where there is greatest resistance to pyramid style questions, there are fewer tournaments, and virtually none on overlapping dates. The alternative is not taking your team to a tournament. The only reason I would see a coach doing that is if the questions are so bloody difficult that you see scores of 10-0 (which did occur on the Octangulars, I'm not proud to say). Good pyramidal questions don't result in final scores dropping, they result in being more assured that the better team wins. This in fact may be an issue in downstate Illinois, but I tend to think that coaches are just used to coaching their kids in short simple questions. Virtually all of the coaches who want more industrial arts, or who have their hearts wrapped around one liners are not long term coaches in this competition, and they will leave over time. If pyramid style questions become the new reality, as they will, these teams will adapt or drop. Most, I think, I will adapt. Some will drop. This is not all bad.

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Tegan wrote:Virtually all of the coaches who want more industrial arts, or who have their hearts wrapped around one liners are not long term coaches in this competition, and they will leave over time.
I hate to say that I disagree. The mentality of "I've done one-liners for 1 year, I'm not changing now" isn't that prevalent, but the mentality of "I've done one-liners for 2 decades, it's what I'm used to, and the idea of change doesn't agree with me" is large, even in this area. On the other hand, newer coaches can be shown/taught/told that pyramidality is the future - they don't have the preconceived notions that pyramidality is bad for whatever reason, so they'll go with pyramidality because it's what they know - which is, of course, what I see as a big reason why pyramidality hasn't caught on with some coaches.

One-liner coaches may be a 'one-year-and-gone' breed in Chicago, but we've got them running established tournaments everywhere else, in Southern, Central, and Northern Illinois.

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Post by Tegan »

styxman wrote:but the mentality of "I've done one-liners for 2 decades, it's what I'm used to, and the idea of change doesn't agree with me" is large, even in this area. On the other hand, newer coaches can be shown/taught/told that pyramidality is the future - they don't have the preconceived notions that pyramidality is bad for whatever reason, so they'll go with pyramidality because it's what they know - which is, of course, what I see as a big reason why pyramidality hasn't caught on with some coaches.
I definitely see that as a point ... but even those coaches will not be there forever. The ones who have been in for 2-3 decades are approaching retirement in some cases. Typically, this means a new coach, who as you said, can be educated, takes over, or the tournament stops, and a new one invariably takes its place.

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Post by Siverus Snape »

styxman wrote:John and Siva might go from Auburn
The Wheaton North F/S tourney is that day, and I'm pretty sure my coach wants me to go to that. I don't know about John, however.

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Post by Tegan »

Just for the record .......

Invitations just got sent out today for the two Maine South offerings this year:

1. Maine South Frosh-Soph Classic: January 13
---This tournament follows the modified Cleary Format of three periods: 12 short fast toss-ups (no bonuses); written team alphabet bonus (10 questions: [email protected] on Sci, SS, Lit, Arts, and Misc); and finally 10 TU in pyramid format with accompanying bonuses. Scores are typically high, rounds are fast, and the better teams typically win.

2. Maine South Varsity/Frosh-Soph Octagon: January 20
(8 teams enter, one team leaves!) Depending on interest, we may slightly expand the octagon this year, but a reminder: you may attend the Maine South Octagon OR the Fenwick Bloodbath ... they are mirrors.

The Octagon/Bloodbath questions are pyramidal. They also reflect the added emphasis starting this year on the arts, AND follow (as they always have) the new definition of "music" being pre-1950/avant garde type music. Rock/metal (death, hair, et.al.)/punk/R&B/rap/pop, etc are relagated to pop culture (which will be at a bare minimum of less than one question per round on average. There will be no questions on Country/Western on general principle. There will be no questions on NASCAR, again, on general principle (and to make up for the 325 questions on those topics in last year's state series; because if I ever find out who wrote those they had better have friends .... A LOT OF THEM!). Historically, I have been told they rank among the tougher questions in the state of Illinois.

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Post by David Riley »

don't forget colors of flame tests. . .

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Post by Tegan »

David Riley wrote:don't forget colors of flame tests. . .
That should go without saying! Pasta shapes, flame tests, and mascots/nicknames ...... not going to be topics in these questions.

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Post by brasso »

anyone going to the Richards Invitational?

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Post by Siverus Snape »

Auburn's going to Richards.

On a side note, randomly guessing the flame test color of lithium helped me get second place in the Science competition at ACE Camp.

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Post by johnboy81918 »

Red, right?

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Post by Jax »

What !!! the pasta shapes are gone, oh no. lol I think I got rotini for the IHSA series.

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Post by Tegan »

johnboy81918 wrote:Red, right?
I've always thought it to be an off-fuschia crimson color myself.

My team once guessed red, and was refused the answer because the printed response was "crimson". A year later at the same tournament, after I had told the question writer that he needs to not copy so much from old science texts, did it again: my team said "orange", and the printed answer was "orange-red". Since then, I have banned flae test questions from any round that I write. True, a well written question that allowed variation would be fine, but I am just very cold hearted toward those dratted flame test questions.

Some wounds run deep. :cry:

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Post by harpersferry »

I'm not attending U of I.

Mr. Egan, I expect the usual quota of Sue Grafton bonuses or I'll be sorely disappointed. Every good quizbowler should know that E is for evidence...

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Post by Tegan »

pasedpawn wrote:I'm not attending U of I.

Mr. Egan, I expect the usual quota of Sue Grafton bonuses or I'll be sorely disappointed. Every good quizbowler should know that E is for evidence...
I think I wrote one Sue Grafton bonus two years ago ...... but not again. Wheaton North usually was good for a Sue Grafton bonus or two.

But ...... ya never know.

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Post by johnboy81918 »

Tegan wrote:
johnboy81918 wrote:Red, right?
I've always thought it to be an off-fuschia crimson color myself.

My team once guessed red, and was refused the answer because the printed response was "crimson". A year later at the same tournament, after I had told the question writer that he needs to not copy so much from old science texts, did it again: my team said "orange", and the printed answer was "orange-red". Since then, I have banned flae test questions from any round that I write. True, a well written question that allowed variation would be fine, but I am just very cold hearted toward those dratted flame test questions.

Some wounds run deep. :cry:
I've had that happen before to me as well :(

At the regional science bowl two years ago, it asked about the standard state of chlorine. I said "greenish gas", which was not accepted. The given answer was "yellow-green gas"

I know exactly how you feel :(

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Post by MJG »

Sterling is headed to Richards this week.

And I believe there is a Rockford Boylan meet on the week of the Streator Rotary or one of the weeks being discussed, which is where we will be. As for the Rotary meet, the only negative I can recall is a moderator sticking to paper infallibility when our coach (a Biology teacher) tried to correct a bonus on parts of the intestine (and to top it off, the correction would have LOST us points).

As for our Invitational shortening to 4 rounds: I'm pretty new to discussions of quiz bowl theory, as in the "pyramidal/simple" debate here. It never occured to me that pyramidal questions making matches longer was a "misconception". All I can say is that the Kickoff lasted long enough as it is. Siva or anyone else, would you have wanted to play another round? This might not have any relation to the question at hand (whether pyramidal ?s make matches longer), but I thought the timing went pretty well at our meet.

Now, it is true, as I saw at the Northwestern NAQT, that pyramidal questions don't have to take longer if you rush through everything at a bajillion words per minute. But A) We here in Podunk couldn't find moderators like that, and B) The "just for fun" teams, and even the decent teams (read: 2 out of 3 teams at our Kickoff site) would have a fit.

Our team didn't play much pyramidal last year, and I have to say NAQT, which was our first meet of the year, was a bit of a shock for me, especially with the powers/negs thrown in. I see the value of pyramidal questions in truly testing knowledge, because we all know about the times when vastly superior teams can get outbuzzed on short, dumb questions like "Who wrote Beloved?". But the sad part is, there were rooms at our meet last year in which that question went unanswered.

I'd like to hear more about the arguments against and in favor of pyramidal questioning. I sense that with competitive suburban teams, pyramidal questions are a clear choice. But I'm not so sure about less competitive meets.

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

MJG wrote:As for our Invitational shortening to 4 rounds: I'm pretty new to discussions of quiz bowl theory, as in the "pyramidal/simple" debate here.
I want to apologize from the start - this post is going to come off sounding condescending and rash, and there isn't a dang thing I can do about it. I can't talk about pyramidality versus one-liner without getting riled up a little bit. On that note, here's my best shot at explaining the argument to someone who hasn't heard it yet.
MJG wrote:It never occured to me that pyramidal questions making matches longer was a "misconception".
It's a misconception when you consider the math. Here we go (ironically, these calculations are for all tossups except computational, for obvious reasons):

A one-line tossup takes an estimated 2 seconds to read. If it is answered instantly (i.e. buzzer race), the total time for the tossup is 2 seconds. If it is not answered instantly, the 10 second time for the tossup to "go dead" is, 99% of the time, entirely used - the nature of one-liners ensures this. If you don't get it instantly from the one clue given in the tossup, 10 seconds aren't going to help you any more than 3 seconds would. So, for one-liners, you have some tossup taking 2 seconds and some taking 12.

A pyramidal tossup takes anywhere from 5 seconds (2-3 lines long) to 10 seconds (4-6 lines long) to read. Strong teams will interrupt nearly every tossup with an answer at some point, whether it's after 1 second or near the end. There are very, very few tossups that have 10 seconds of dead time - the nature of pyramidality ensures this. If 10 players don't know it from the giveaway clue, there is most likely little chance that a one-liner tossup with the same answer would have been answered by the same teams.

In pyramidal questions, you have three possible outcomes for a tossup - interrupt correct (say, 5 seconds elapse), end of question correct (10 seconds elapse), no correct (20 seconds elapse). In one-liner questions, there are two possible outcomes - the 2 second correct and the 12 second incorrect. The length of the tossup seems to support the claim that longer questions creates longer matches.

Here's where the claim becomes myth (yeah, Mythbusters is on in the other room). Pyramidal tossups are generally more accessible than one-liners because of the additional clues - each clue gives more of a chance that someone will pick up on it and interrupt for 10 points. For example, at Kickoff, I moderated 4 matches, and of the 80 tossups I read, I'm willing to bet a grand total of 2 or 3 non-computational questions went dead. These games weren't played between pyramidal powerhouses - the teams I moderated were all, with the exception of Sterling, very inexperienced. Byron graduated its entire team from last year, save one player, a soph-now junior, who only played varsity last year as a sub in blowouts. East's team has existed for two years. Stillman Valley B was a B team. My matches lasted an average of 35 minutes, and I felt I read at a relaxed pace.

To sum all that up, people unfamiliar with pyramidal see the 4 lines of text and think "longer tossups create longer games," when in reality, it often leads to games of similar length when less tossups go dead.
MJG wrote:All I can say is that the Kickoff lasted long enough as it is. Siva or anyone else, would you have wanted to play another round? This might not have any relation to the question at hand (whether pyramidal ?s make matches longer), but I thought the timing went pretty well at our meet.
Matt, timing of individual matches did go well, but rounds 2 and 3 were drastically delayed by Sterling's matches. Your opponent in round 2 - I don't remember the school name - arrived to the tournament late, and caused their opponents to run late, which had a ripple effect on the tournament. My 3rd match started when it was scheduled to end, as a result. I'm not saying it was you, of course, but when the morning runs from 9 until nearly 1, lunch pushes the start of the playoffs until 2 and no one gets out until 5. I'm not saying there was anything that could have been done at Kickoff- and under the circumstances, a fifth morning game would have been devastating to all involved - but pyramidal matches do not average an hour. Like I said, my matches ran 35-40 minutes. In general, 4 hours is enough to do 5 matches in any format (save Panasonic).

Another match may have seemed like overkill, but under normal circumstances, it wouldn't have involved extra time at the tournament, merely less down time between matches.
MJG wrote:Now, it is true, as I saw at the Northwestern NAQT, that pyramidal questions don't have to take longer if you rush through everything at a bajillion words per minute. But A) We here in Podunk couldn't find moderators like that, and B) The "just for fun" teams, and even the decent teams (read: 2 out of 3 teams at our Kickoff site) would have a fit.
Firstly, you sell Sterling short. Sterling is by no means Podunk - moderators at Kickoff included Tim Tedrick (considered to be a top-rate moderator by nearly everyone I've met, including myself), Les Fay (certified and familiar with pyramidality), and myself. None of us are Sorice-speed moderators, who can get through an NAQT packet in well under 18 minutes, and (thankfully) with the schedule provided, none of us have to be. My reading style is on the slow side because if I talk fast, all my words sound like gibberish, and again, I had 35 minute rounds because 95% of tossups were answered. You don't need to have NAQT grade roadrunners to do well paced pyramidal questions, just moderators who are familiar with the idea of pyramidality. This was Sterling's first pyramidal tournament - by this time next year, Sterling will pump through 5 morning rounds just like their varsity tournament because it won't be foreign to the moderators.
MJG wrote:I sense that with competitive suburban teams, pyramidal questions are a clear choice. But I'm not so sure about less competitive meets.
This is a common argument, and it pains me to see it. If less competitive teams do not play pyramidal for any voluntary reason (too hard, too long, basically anything other than "too far away" in the case of most central/southern teams regarding New Trier V, NW NAQT, etc.), they will not improve and they will remain less competitive. When the less competitive teams get slaughtered in the first round of Regionals, they are prone to complain with potentially devastating effects. There is a restriction on Illinois teams going to National events and participating in post-IHSA tourneys because in the past, less competitive teams noticed that they were constantly getting creamed by teams that went to such tournaments and complained to the IHSA that it was unfair.

The key tenet of pyramidality is that it is the best way to determine the correct winner of a match. One line buzzer races do not always produce the strongest team as a winner - at Sterling's Varsity tournament last year, I was able to singlehandedly beat Auburn because the questions were all one-line buzzer races and I was faster than John, Siva, and Colleen 10 times out of 20 questions. I don't think anyone could say that I was smarter than Auburn last year - on pyramidal questions, they slaughtered us (New Trier varsity, we didn't score until near TU 15...conference NAQT questions, lost by 200), but on buzzer races, it was much different (victory over Tyler-less Auburn, loss on question 20 over Colleen-less Auburn at Kaneland). Even without game results, it's amazingly obvious that they were a much, much better team. The only way to describe my victory over Auburn is "incorrect." That's not to say that upsets can't happen, but that victory wasn't because I was smarter - it's because I was faster by mere milliseconds on several occasions.

One-liners reward speed. Pyramidality rewards intelligence. Scholastic Bowl is supposed to be about intelligence, not just in the top 10% of teams, but as a whole. To sum it up, one-liners are not true Scholastic Bowl, and teams that shun pyramidality entirely cannot be taken seriously. For the time being, when many January/February tourneys are still one-liners, I consider it acceptable to go to one-liners when no pyramidal alternative exists. In a few years, when there's a pyramid on every Saturday and one-liners are only held and attended by "just-for-fun" teams, it will not be acceptable for serious teams to play one-liners, and Illinois will be respected on the national circuit as a state on par with the powerhouse states.

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Post by David Riley »

While I agree virtually 99% with styxman (I rarely agree $100 with anyone), for the sake of argument, I would like to add my 2 cents worth to the other side of the coin (no pun intended).

1) Does Scholastic Bowl reward speed or knowledge? I agree that it shold reward knowledge, but I'd be willing to wager most of the teams south of a certain interstate would vehemently disagree with that.

2) Re whether or not one of the clues in the pyramidal questions will be answered before the last; well, you have a much better opinion of the Illinois public school system than I do.

3) As someone pointed out earlier, if you used pyramidal questions in certain parts of the state alluded to in #1, you wouldn't have a tournament. Perception is 90% of reality (or words to that effect).

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Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

David Riley wrote:While I agree virtually 99% with styxman (I rarely agree $100 with anyone), for the sake of argument, I would like to add my 2 cents worth to the other side of the coin (no pun intended).

1) Does Scholastic Bowl reward speed or knowledge? I agree that it shold reward knowledge, but I'd be willing to wager most of the teams south of a certain interstate would vehemently disagree with that.

2) Re whether or not one of the clues in the pyramidal questions will be answered before the last; well, you have a much better opinion of the Illinois public school system than I do.

3) As someone pointed out earlier, if you used pyramidal questions in certain parts of the state alluded to in #1, you wouldn't have a tournament. Perception is 90% of reality (or words to that effect).
Over the course of time, I think we can influence Southern Illinois to play pyramid style. Maybe not this year, or next year, but soon. If the statewide tournaments (Kickoff, hopefully State Series, potentially Masonics if a miracle occurs) are able to broadcast pyramidality, it's a foot in the door. If NAQT and Aegis are able to provide questions cheaply, there's another opportunity. You're absolutely right in parts 1 and 3, but I (an unabashed optimist) think we have the ability to change that over time.

Re #2: I have no faith in the normal state of Illinois public schools when it applies to quizbowl. Unless you have an affluent student base (i.e. New Trier and other suburban schools...Bloomington and Carbondale being located near universities, etc.), or a strong gifted program (i.e. Auburn), public schools basically have no real hope of competing on the merits and experiences of school. It's on the players' interest and drive outside of school and practice to get better by independent study.

Oh, and there's always pop culture questions to ensure early buzzes. :)

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Post by dtaylor4 »

styxman wrote: Over the course of time, I think we can influence Southern Illinois to play pyramid style. Maybe not this year, or next year, but soon. If the statewide tournaments (Kickoff, hopefully State Series, potentially Masonics if a miracle occurs) are able to broadcast pyramidality, it's a foot in the door. If NAQT and Aegis are able to provide questions cheaply, there's another opportunity. You're absolutely right in parts 1 and 3, but I (an unabashed optimist) think we have the ability to change that over time.

Re #2: I have no faith in the normal state of Illinois public schools when it applies to quizbowl. Unless you have an affluent student base (i.e. New Trier and other suburban schools...Bloomington and Carbondale being located near universities, etc.), or a strong gifted program (i.e. Auburn), public schools basically have no real hope of competing on the merits and experiences of school. It's on the players' interest and drive outside of school and practice to get better by independent study.

Oh, and there's always pop culture questions to ensure early buzzes. :)
OK, so you have the question sources, but now you have to find teams willing to host. Bloomington hosts three that I know of (kickoff, Big 12, and a Turnabout.) For most schools, the main issue with running tournaments is not being able to secure the staff. With enough tournaments, teams down here will be weaned onto pyramidal questions.

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Post by mlaird »

I think that it would be a HUGE sway if we ever get the Masonic Series on board with pyramidals. The money is what makes a lot of smaller schools compete in that, and they aren't going to turn down the opportunity because of the questions.

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Post by MJG »

Well put Brad and everyone. I understand the knowledge versus speed argument. I think the best example I can remember is our upset of Auburn at Masonic State last year. We got something like 13 tossups but were still tied at the end of 20 questions because they were wiping up our bonuses. We all (quite rightly) expected to get clobbered, and on speed questions that can be a very big advantage, as we adopted an "outbuzz at all costs" motto. For example, Literature was a huge bust category for us last year, so when the question began "name the Dumas book that the following quote comes from" I buzzed within like two words of quote and guessed one of them, which happened to be correct. It was an easy decision to make, because A) I was pretty sure no one on my team had ever read a book by Dumas. And B) Colleen was on the other team. The victory was not totally unearned, to an extent we got lucky, as they were questions that fit well with our knowledge (a car question for the kid in shop, geography and social studies that I knew). But the bottom line is that of course Auburn knew VASTLY more than us and lost mainly because I got trigger happy and a little lucky on several levels. This would have obviously never happened on pyramidal questions.

I guess the time argument make sense. I'm glad for agitating you so you could explain it all to me! It would be a fun study to do for a statistics class or something (if only Sterling had one, or Calc BC for that matter).

I'd also like to second Brad on the matter of public schools. I think it's nothing short of a miracle that our school will pay the gas/bus money to get us to all the Chicagoland meets we attend, and the small amount our coaches get (especially compared to athletics and other activities) is nothing short of a crime. When a school is failing to meet state educational goals and has maybe a fourth of the AP classes a more affluent school has, etc, how can we expect them to get together a competitive schol bowl team? There is also the fact that academics just isn't valued here like at schools with good teams. But yet, at the worst schools, the sad irony is that while the school might have a hard time getting a team together, it is exactly in this type of school that schol bowl could help the better students improve their education. I consider schol bowl to have "made" me as a student. Being able to get together and compete with people much, much brighter than me, with similar interests, has been an utterly invaluable experience for me, and a genuinely challenging one that I feel I cannot get at Sterling High School with the exception of only a small handful of my peers. At times when I get mad about the academic problems at our school, it's really only schol bowl that keeps me sane.

On a sidenote, if Sterling could somehow disband the Speech team, we would have much stronger and more consistent teams.

But seriously, thanks for taking the time to "educate" me.

And my apologies if my team screwed up our Kickoff. Usually we are a little late to start rounds at our home meets because Ms. Christiansen is running around doing something, and I generally consider starting the meet by half an hour after the planned start a success. I am generally pretty naive about the happenings of other rooms/teams in the morning rounds at a home meet, so sorry if I seemed to have prematurely blamed any timing differences on the questions.

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Post by mlaird »

Hey. I helped write those questions, and I'll be the first to admit (since no one actually has yet) that they do in fact probably take longer. They shortened the morning to 16 questions at WN's Kickoff (which created a problem with us having to re-order the questions), and it still went longer than expected. The real issue with pyramidal questions is the number and variety of clues that moderators have to read. This is not an issue for experienced mods, or people familliar with the questions (I'm pretty sure that in every round, Nick, Carlo and I were the first three moderators done), but it is an issue for inexperienced moderators and coaches. If each moderator spends an extra 3-5 seconds stumbling over how to pronounce 'Yoknapatawpha', it makes for a much longer day.

The other issue is that pyramidal questions are often made to be accessible to everyone. The case with Aegis and NAQT (at least 'A' level) is that most questions can be answered by the end. And I'm not so sure that Brad's 10 second reading of a tossup is so realistic. I think that depending on the mod, it can definitely take more than double that. If all the teams are getting those at the end (therefore the whole of the questions has been read), then much more time has elapsed. Since inexperienced coaches (often acting as moderators) are usually paired with inexperienced coaches, this can lead to LONG rounds.

This is my only beef with pyramidal questions. We should just run timed matches. They're more fun anyways.

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Post by STPickrell »

mlaird wrote:I think that it would be a HUGE sway if we ever get the Masonic Series on board with pyramidals. The money is what makes a lot of smaller schools compete in that, and they aren't going to turn down the opportunity because of the questions.
If IHSA state has turned pyramidal, I suspect this may drag Masonic Series into pyramidal.

The way I see it is this --

Short questions will end up being nothing but a test of reflex speed between two strong teams. As Scholastic Bowl is a test of recall speed, it does the competition no good to have most or all questions essentially being ties in a match between two strong teams.

The most obvious answer, increasing the difficulty level, can lead to 60-30 matches among teams outside the elite. The bad mojo this generates is obvious (I mean, who wants to feel dumb while playing Scholastic Bowl?) This also ends up essentially lowering the number of questions in the match to 5-6, making the number of questions in the match too small to be of any use in testing recall speed.

Therefore, pyramidal questions, the answers to which can be obtained by nearly any team at least 40-50% of the time, are the best way to provide for a test of recall speed that is useful to both teams.

Another potential drawback, in addition to taking a bit longer, is that they require a few matches for players to get used to the length. However, I would counter that by saying that any team which cannot be bothered to practice for the 5-6 matches needed to adjust to 2-3 sentence pyramidal questions deserves to win as much as any school whose basketball team practices once a week (and I've heard a few stories of that happening among less successful rural schools in Virginia.)

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Post by Tegan »

StPickrell wrote:If IHSA state has turned pyramidal, I suspect this may drag Masonic Series into pyramidal.
I hope this is the case ... I really do.

But .....

While the better teams in Illinois tend to get into Masonics and do well, there is a serious cap on the number of elite teams that advance. In addition, the Masonic Regionals usually fall on some flux of chess-speech-science olympiad-drama-SAT dates that lock out some elite players.

I attended Fenwick's Regional last year. Fenwick was clearly the best team there ..... no ifs, ands, or buts. BUT, they were missing four starters to various other commitments. Hinsdale Central won the Regional, got slaughtered downstate, and did not even win a Regional in the IHSA series as I recall. Sometimes, its just a matter of who has the fewest startrters out, or who has the deepest bench.

Some don't even participate because of the geographic draws that prevent a lot of the best teams from advancing. Also, the $$$ draws out a lot of teams that could care less about question quality, and just want to advance to get the monay. If those teams start complaining, the Masons may back off of the pyrmid questions ... .especially if this becomes "a last bastion for non-pyramid questions".

Though, I hope that the Masons draw with $$ prizes could be an even greater influence on accepting pyramid style questions.

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Post by Jax »

Will the Richards Tournament be canceled due to weather?

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Post by Belgarion89 »

Jax wrote:Will the Richards Tournament be canceled due to weather?
For that matter, will any tournies at all be going on now?
We didn't start the fire.....

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Post by brasso »

Well the storm should be gone by mid-day today...hopefully the snow plows can then do their thing.

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Post by MJG »

I guess drifting would be the only concern for tomorrow. And the fact that I will probably have to get up even earlier. :cry:

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Post by Tegan »

You are all snow whimps! This is nothing!!

The snow has stopped, the roads will be clear in the Shycahgo area, and the tournament will be on. The only reaason I could see it being cancelled is if the heat/power goes out at Richards.

I was shocked at the schools that closed! I've seen doubles this snow and seen the schools stay open. Yeesh!

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Post by dtaylor4 »

Tegan wrote:You are all snow whimps! This is nothing!!

The snow has stopped, the roads will be clear in the Shycahgo area, and the tournament will be on. The only reaason I could see it being cancelled is if the heat/power goes out at Richards.

I was shocked at the schools that closed! I've seen doubles this snow and seen the schools stay open. Yeesh!
You say this, but my senior year, we were already shacked up in a hotel for the night, and we even drove to Fremd to find out that the tournament was cancelled.

Of course, we felt bad for the Quincy team, whose bus showed up not too long after us.

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Post by Belgarion89 »

Tegan wrote:You are all snow whimps! This is nothing!!

The snow has stopped, the roads will be clear in the Shycahgo area, and the tournament will be on. The only reaason I could see it being cancelled is if the heat/power goes out at Richards.

I was shocked at the schools that closed! I've seen doubles this snow and seen the schools stay open. Yeesh!
I agree. However, it seems the majority of schools in the area didn't, and unfortunatly they have the power. A shame, really.
We didn't start the fire.....

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Post by Jax »

Richards/Oak Lawn Results

1. Park Ridge Maine East
2. Park Ridge Maine South
3. Fenwick
4. Libertyville
Other teams in the playoffs: Homewood Flossmore, Auburn, Latin, Stevenson

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Post by harpersferry »

I have only two comments for Richards:

Category-Simpsons, one question per round, the most reliable distribution of the day.

Billy Pilgrim is not a lead in for Slaughterhouse five.

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Post by MJG »

On Richards:

1) I've come up with a new theory after that meet temporarily dubbed the "Simpsons's question" effect. A writer knows the topic so well that he or she writes ridiculously hard questions that even someone quite familiar with the topic has a hard time answering. In this case we had multiple regular watchers of the show, and I believed we missed every single Simpsons question. This is probably the 3rd meet I've been at that had Simpsons questions that fit the description. Although I'd be interested to hear from devoted fans how hard they thought the Richards questions actually were.

2) It was agonizing for the top math player on my team to sit through "Chicago street math", etc. Did anyone ever see anyone get that one (at least I only remember one) correct? And random correct guessing doesn't count.

3) Interesting format. Even during round five, it was fun to reflexively pick up the buzzer after answering a bonus or pick up the pencil after a tossup.

4) I heart Senator bonuses.

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