IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

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IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

This weekend, I moderated a tournament on IS 78A, and that combined with my previous moderating an A-set and my time in high school playing NAQT sets has gotten me to start thinking about something. It seems to me that NAQT frequently parades around with a notion that they produce these sets with the intention of being timed games of 24/24. However, in all my days playing, I only attended one regular season event (at Harding U) that used a timer, and it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of high school tournaments run on games of 20 tossups and bonuses (off the top of my head I can only think of TJ Fall and some Southern California stuff). I think NAQT should seriously reconsider the way they produce these sets, because so few of their customers are actually using them the way they intended. I think it would be in NAQT's best interest to drop any pretense of producing these rounds for timed matches, and instead produce packets of 20/20 with a couple replacements thrown in for their non-HSNCT high school sets. This would be a much more realistic way to approach production, would allow a much easier way to create a balanced distribution within the first 20/20 (because that seemed to me to be a problem in these sets - sometimes large chunks of major categories go unheard because they are hidden after tossup 20), and as a slight bonus, would allow us to cut some of the worst of the questions in these sets because fewer questions are needed. Are there any other people who agree with me?
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:This weekend, I moderated a tournament on IS 78A, and that combined with my previous moderating an A-set and my time in high school playing NAQT sets has gotten me to start thinking about something. It seems to me that NAQT frequently parades around with a notion that they produce these sets with the intention of being timed games of 24/24. However, in all my days playing, I only attended one regular season event (at Harding U) that used a timer, and it seems to me that the overwhelming majority of high school tournaments run on games of 20 tossups and bonuses (off the top of my head I can only think of TJ Fall and some Southern California stuff). I think NAQT should seriously reconsider the way they produce these sets, because so few of their customers are actually using them the way they intended. I think it would be in NAQT's best interest to drop any pretense of producing these rounds for timed matches, and instead produce packets of 20/20 with a couple replacements thrown in for their non-HSNCT high school sets. This would be a much more realistic way to approach production, would allow a much easier way to create a balanced distribution within the first 20/20 (because that seemed to me to be a problem in these sets - sometimes large chunks of major categories go unheard because they are hidden after tossup 20), and as a slight bonus, would allow us to cut some of the worst of the questions in these sets because fewer questions are needed. Are there any other people who agree with me?
That's an excellent idea. Didn't they drop from 26/26 down to 24/24 very recently? It seems they might be willing to do this drop as well, with enough support.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Important Bird Area »

Switching to untimed 20/20 matches would reduce the writing burden by 0/3 per packet. (The extra four tossups would still be required; three to break ties and one in case of moderator error.)
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

What did you do in the case of ties when all 24/24 (or 26/26) were read?

EDIT: to clarify, either you provided a stockpile of tiebreaker questions (which I don't believe was the case) or had tiebreakers read, if necessary, out of the tournament's last packet (if it weren't scheduled to be used). If the former, then that writing burden is eliminated; if the latter, you're providing a better product because each packet has guaranteed tiebreakers instead of having to rely on a packet full of tiebreakers or other shenanigans.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Important Bird Area »

everyday847 wrote:What did you do in the case of ties when all 24/24 (or 26/26) were read?
In that case the tournament director supplies additional questions from a backup packet. Case F.6.2.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Important Bird Area »

everyday847 wrote:if the latter, you're providing a better product because each packet has guaranteed tiebreakers instead of having to rely on a packet full of tiebreakers or other shenanigans.
Why is that necessarily a better product? Even in untimed matches, a backup packet always has to exist, in case of large-scale moderator error (such as reading a round out of sequence).
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
everyday847 wrote:What did you do in the case of ties when all 24/24 (or 26/26) were read?
In that case the tournament director supplies additional questions from a backup packet. Case F.6.2.
Right. Now the writing burden is 0/3 less AND TDs can have one more real game because they don't have to have a backup packet specifically for breaking ties in addition to (ideally) having a tiebreaker round ready.
bt_green_warbler wrote:Why is that necessarily a better product? Even in untimed matches, a backup packet always has to exist, in case of large-scale moderator error (such as reading a round out of sequence).
I mean, the moderator error backup packet has to exist in addition to the backup packet for tiebreakers. Either way, you decrease necessary backup packets by one.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by cvdwightw »

A Series sets have only 12 packets. Are we saying that tournaments on A series sets can only have 10 rounds because we need two backup packets? This seems odd.

When I played NAQT in high school, timed tournaments were more common. I think that as the timed tournament died out at the college level, there wasn't really a need for a bunch of timers. There aren't a whole lot of places that have enough timers (collectively, over several schools) to run a timed tournament.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

bt_green_warbler wrote:Switching to untimed 20/20 matches would reduce the writing burden by 0/3 per packet. (The extra four tossups would still be required; three to break ties and one in case of moderator error.)
Aren't there lots of tournaments that have fewer "extra" tossups needed? I know in my experience, most ties are broken by just reading a tossup until one team either negs or gets it right, which in the vast majority of cases is 1, and having the 2nd tossup should almost always be enough to break a tie if tossup 1 goes dead as long as they are both on reasonable topics. Also, it seems to me this "3 tossup tiebreaker" policy directly conflicts with NAQT's use of a timer - what if, on a 24 tossup timed game, 23 tossups are used and when the clock goes dead there's a tie? There are no 3 extra tossups to use then, and to actually play that out you would have to burn a packet by using 2 other tossups. In any case, I don't think this changes my belief that NAQT should start producing these sets with the intention of having them be 20/20 games, and instead of distributing over an entire packet (for instance, if I recall correctly on the set I read this weekend there was a game with 2 history tossups int he first 20 and then some history tossups in the last 4, and in another instance there were 2 math computations in the last 4 and zero in the first 20 [not that I'm complaining about that, but it shows a distribution that isn't specified for the first 20]). If you absolutely must have the 4 extra tossups, why not distribute the packets by the first 20, then have a clearly demarcated end of the packet labeled "Tiebreakers/Replacements" and just throw in a few extras around different categories. Even this would be a better way to approach the reality of the current high school market for NAQT than what's in place right now.
Charlie Dees, North Kansas City HS '08
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Important Bird Area »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:(for instance, if I recall correctly on the set I read this weekend there was a game with 2 history tossups int he first 20 and then some history tossups in the last 4, and in another instance there were 2 math computations in the last 4 and zero in the first 20 [not that I'm complaining about that, but it shows a distribution that isn't specified for the first 20]).
Charlie, would you mind sending me the relevant round numbers so I can check on this?

jthoppes [at] berkeley [dot] edu
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Important Bird Area »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:on the set I read this weekend there was a game with 2 history tossups in the first 20
Thanks to Charlie for passing along the details.

This round came down to one miscategorized tossup that should have been general knowledge instead of history. I'd like to apologize if any games this fall have been affected by this: but it can be chalked up to a moment of misattention from this subject editor, not anything systematically wrong with the way NAQT randomizes packets.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Why are few tournaments timed? We've only been to two (TJ Fall and RM last May) and i LOVED them... it's so efficient and fast-paced and for me personally way more fun to read as well. Other than a lack of timers, i don't know why more tournaments aren't timed rounds.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Mike Bentley »

Caesar Rodney HS wrote:Why are few tournaments timed? We've only been to two (TJ Fall and RM last May) and i LOVED them... it's so efficient and fast-paced and for me personally way more fun to read as well. Other than a lack of timers, i don't know why more tournaments aren't timed rounds.
Not many teams have a surplus of timers that they're able to use. Additionally, putting moderators on the clock can result in rounds where only, say, 16 tossups get read if you have some not very speedy moderators. The tournaments go faster, but the rounds get less questions in than they ought to have.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by at your pleasure »

Why are few tournaments timed? We've only been to two (TJ Fall and RM last May) and i LOVED them... it's so efficient and fast-paced and for me personally way more fun to read as well. Other than a lack of timers, i don't know why more tournaments aren't timed rounds.
Well, timed tournaments may not actually run all that faster. Round speed is not always the determining factor in how efficent a tournament is-after all, we've all been to timed tournaments that run late and untimed tournaments that finished on time or early.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by theMoMA »

I know that in high school, I was incredibly frustrated by poor moderators who would read unintelligibly to get through lots of tossups in timed rounds. I suspect that this experience (which is certainly not unique to me) colors the opinions of many current TDs and is affecting the demise of timed tournaments just as much as the lack of clocks. It's incredibly difficult to find a group of acceptable moderators for a timed tournament; the only tournament that I know of that does this with regularity is NAQT's league here in Minnesota, which does quite a good job with timed rounds.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by yoda4554 »

Anti-Climacus wrote:
Why are few tournaments timed? We've only been to two (TJ Fall and RM last May) and i LOVED them... it's so efficient and fast-paced and for me personally way more fun to read as well. Other than a lack of timers, i don't know why more tournaments aren't timed rounds.
Well, timed tournaments may not actually run all that faster. Round speed is not always the determining factor in how efficent a tournament is-after all, we've all been to timed tournaments that run late and untimed tournaments that finished on time or early.
I have found that, in the typical twelve-ish round college tournament, timed tournaments tend to finish, on average, about two-four hours faster than untimed. Every SCT I have attended in recent years has gotten out well before 5:00, and just every mACF has ended well after 6:00, frequently after 7:00, and several times after 8:00. That latter fact has probably been the single largest detracting factor for my experience of playing mACF tournaments. That is, timed v. untimed is not a "well, sometimes timed are faster and sometimes they're not" as far as I have seen: total rounds being even, timed is tremendously faster.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Of course they're faster! We played 12 rounds at TJ this fall, and that's the most games we've ever played in a single day. Why? Because each round took 20 minutes. I also feel like we got our money's worth more at this tournament than many any other we've been to with a similar price tag.

If you don't like the rounds being so fast, well then make each half 12 minutes, or even 15... that's STILL faster than a lot of rounds we play in the course of the year. If we already know that we're not using NAQT sets as they "should" be, then who cares if you add a few minutes to each half to make up for less experienced and slower moderators?

Besides, everybody here talks about practicing for formats that matter... don't do :chip: questions, don't do lightning rounds, don't even practice on NAQT A sets... okay, so, if we're preparing for the HSNCT, then shouldn't we have more tournaments that are timed? I remember TJ advertising their competition as "one of the only opportunities to played timed NAQT rounds before the HSNCT" and that was in October!
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I have found that, in the typical twelve-ish round college tournament, timed tournaments tend to finish, on average, about two-four hours faster than untimed. Every SCT I have attended in recent years has gotten out well before 5:00, and just every mACF has ended well after 6:00, frequently after 7:00, and several times after 8:00. That latter fact has probably been the single largest detracting factor for my experience of playing mACF tournaments. That is, timed v. untimed is not a "well, sometimes timed are faster and sometimes they're not" as far as I have seen: total rounds being even, timed is tremendously faster.
But you're comparing two different formats. ACF style college tournaments have longer questions than what you'll find in most high school fare. What we're talking about here is having timed vs. untimed NAQT rounds, with questions that are on average probably 4-5 lines long and which one should be able to get through in about 20 minutes per game without a timer. Thus, I don't think what Doug is saying is actually off base here at all.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by yoda4554 »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
I have found that, in the typical twelve-ish round college tournament, timed tournaments tend to finish, on average, about two-four hours faster than untimed. Every SCT I have attended in recent years has gotten out well before 5:00, and just every mACF has ended well after 6:00, frequently after 7:00, and several times after 8:00. That latter fact has probably been the single largest detracting factor for my experience of playing mACF tournaments. That is, timed v. untimed is not a "well, sometimes timed are faster and sometimes they're not" as far as I have seen: total rounds being even, timed is tremendously faster.
But you're comparing two different formats. ACF style college tournaments have longer questions than what you'll find in most high school fare. What we're talking about here is having timed vs. untimed NAQT rounds, with questions that are on average probably 4-5 lines long and which one should be able to get through in about 20 minutes per game without a timer. Thus, I don't think what Doug is saying is actually off base here at all.
Let's assume the average mACF question is 30% longer than an NAQT one (for instance, SCT questions last year were around 4.5 lines, and the Penn Bowl questions that year were a little under 6). At the most recent timed NAQT tournaments I attended, my rooms (reading and playing) probably averaged 24-25 tossups per round, or 20-25% more questions, which makes up most of the per-question length difference. SCT got out at 4:30, Penn Bowl at 8:30. I don't think that that small difference in overall length of the total questions makes a tournament last 50% longer, and will generalize to say that while question length does in fact make a tournament run longer, what happens between and around questions makes more of a difference. Being on the clock makes people react more quickly, talk less between questions, focus more, and generally be less sluggish. If you have a good moderator, this can be done during an untimed round as well as a timed round, but most do not do this.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

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yoda4554 wrote:Being on the clock makes people react more quickly, talk less between questions, focus more, and generally be less sluggish. If you have a good moderator, this can be done during an untimed round as well as a timed round, but most do not do this.
This is certainly a valid point. Moderators reading untimed matches have an oft-ignored duty to control the match and keep the match moving.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

The problem is that a ton of moderators don't do that. I remember when I was being timed on an A-set at the Harding tournament, one moderator would hold conversation after probably a third of the questions until after she'd wasted a cople minutes I called a time out and told her to shut up. And she was a good moderator as far as speed went, imagine if you put most moderators in that position - we'd be having 13 tossup disasters every game!
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by theMoMA »

Perhaps my statement should be amended to say that ALL moderators have that duty. For the most part, college moderators do a good job of buckling down under the clock, even if they're more loosey-goosey in untimed matches. That's one reason that SCT goes short and other college tournaments can and often do go long. I would point out that our site of ACF Fall was done around that time even though it had more rounds than a typical SCT; it's certainly possible to get it done if all of the moderators understand expectations.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by cvdwightw »

theMoMA wrote:For the most part, college moderators do a good job of buckling down under the clock, even if they're more loosey-goosey in untimed matches.
ATTN: Keith Stephens and that 2006 ICT moderator that argued with Charles for 30 seconds over the acceptability of "Arctic Monkeys" as a tossup answer: you are not in this "most part."

To add something constructive to this thread, I will make a general layout of pros and cons of timed tournaments:
PROS:
-usually gets out relatively quickly
-potential to read more questions
-adds an additional element of clock strategy
-arguably more exciting for any possibly extant audience
-arguably more fun for the players

CONS:
-with current time limits, questions must be shorter
-potential to read fewer questions with slow and/or talkative moderators
-difficult to find enough timers
-"audience participation" discouraged
-arguably less fun for the players

I think this would be an interesting situation: timed games; if 20 questions are not finished, then the moderator must finish up to the 20th tossup/bonus cycle off the clock.
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by btressler »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Not many teams have a surplus of timers that they're able to use. Additionally, putting moderators on the clock can result in rounds where only, say, 16 tossups get read if you have some not very speedy moderators. The tournaments go faster, but the rounds get less questions in than they ought to have.
To the members of the jury I present exhibit A: from TJIAT 2008 provided the posted stats are correct:

Round 1 Charter B v. Churchill A 14 tossups
Round 1 Charter D v. Chruchill B 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter B v. Fairfax 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 6 Charter B v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 6 Charter D v. Calverton 12 tossups
Round 7 Charter C v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 8 Charter C v. Georgetown Day B 13 tossups
Round 9 Charter F v. Clover Hill A 14 tossups
Round 10 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 11 Charter F v. Caesar Rodney 15 tossups
Round 12 Charter D v. Centennial 13 tossups
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by BuzzerZen »

Bad Boy Bill wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Not many teams have a surplus of timers that they're able to use. Additionally, putting moderators on the clock can result in rounds where only, say, 16 tossups get read if you have some not very speedy moderators. The tournaments go faster, but the rounds get less questions in than they ought to have.
To the members of the jury I present exhibit A: from TJIAT 2008 provided the posted stats are correct:

Round 1 Charter B v. Churchill A 14 tossups
Round 1 Charter D v. Chruchill B 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter B v. Fairfax 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 6 Charter B v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 6 Charter D v. Calverton 12 tossups
Round 7 Charter C v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 8 Charter C v. Georgetown Day B 13 tossups
Round 9 Charter F v. Clover Hill A 14 tossups
Round 10 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 11 Charter F v. Caesar Rodney 15 tossups
Round 12 Charter D v. Centennial 13 tossups
Jeez, who do you scrubs have reading for you these days?
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Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Whiter Hydra »

BuzzerZen wrote:
Bad Boy Bill wrote:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Not many teams have a surplus of timers that they're able to use. Additionally, putting moderators on the clock can result in rounds where only, say, 16 tossups get read if you have some not very speedy moderators. The tournaments go faster, but the rounds get less questions in than they ought to have.
To the members of the jury I present exhibit A: from TJIAT 2008 provided the posted stats are correct:

Round 1 Charter B v. Churchill A 14 tossups
Round 1 Charter D v. Chruchill B 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter B v. Fairfax 15 tossups
Round 2 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 6 Charter B v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 6 Charter D v. Calverton 12 tossups
Round 7 Charter C v. Centennial 15 tossups
Round 8 Charter C v. Georgetown Day B 13 tossups
Round 9 Charter F v. Clover Hill A 14 tossups
Round 10 Charter D v. Robinson 13 tossups
Round 11 Charter F v. Caesar Rodney 15 tossups
Round 12 Charter D v. Centennial 13 tossups
Jeez, who do you scrubs have reading for you these days?
Normally we have a better showing of TJ alum.
Harry White
TJHSST '09, Virginia Tech '13
VP of Technology, PACE
Owner of Tournament Database Search and Quizbowl Schedule Generator
Will run stats for food
closesesame
Wakka
Posts: 189
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:49 pm

Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by closesesame »

I think I know who was reading in that room...
Naren Tallapragada
TJHSST '09
MIT '13
User avatar
Skepticism and Animal Feed
Auron
Posts: 3205
Joined: Sat Oct 30, 2004 11:47 pm
Location: Arlington, VA

Re: IS Sets, A Sets, and Timers

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Teams don't host tournaments out of the goodness of their heart, they host them to make money. Timers cost money. Why should I, as a tournament host, buy timers and lose money when I have the option of not doing so and still getting virtually the same field? I don't think even the pro-timer forces in this thread would boycott a tournament for that reason alone.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
ACF Member emeritus
My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source
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