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Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 2:32 pm
by flylikeaneagle
Centennial High School in Ellicott City, MD will be hosting its fifth annual tournament on Sunday December 12, 2009. It will consist of five preliminary rounds with 20 bounceback tossups and non-bounceback bonuses. The top sixteen teams will move on to a single-elimination play-off bracket. You may sign up teams from now until December 1, 2009. For the first team, the registration cost is $55. Each successive team will be $45. For each buzzer set, there will be a $5 discount (one buzzer set per team). Registration will be from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. During this time, we will provide a complimentary breakfast. Lunch will be between the preliminary rounds and the play off rounds. We will have pizza (cheese and pepperoni) for sale during lunch

If you have further questions, feel free to email us at chsitsac@gmail.com

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 7:14 pm
by sir negsalot
16 teams really? Single Elimination? Perhaps there should be less playoff teams and is this housewritten or NAQT or HSAPQ?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 9:18 pm
by flylikeaneagle
Yes, we will be having 16 teams in a single elimination play-off bracket. For the past few years, even using different or longer formats, the tournament has usually ended before 4 pm even for the final four teams. The questions are house-written as usual.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:46 pm
by at your pleasure
If you don't have to have everyone out of the building by 4:30, it might be worthwile to try a rebracketing(say, top 8 go into two 4-team pools and next 8 go into another pair of pools). The sort of teams that are likely to make the playoffs are also likely to be willing to stay a bit longer. One other question-since you will be using tossup-bonus format, will the question be pyrimdial?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 09, 2009 11:29 pm
by wexs883198215
flylikeaneagle wrote:For the past few years, even using different or longer formats, the tournament has usually ended before 4 pm even for the final four teams.
Being that well organized is pretty cool, and since that is the case, couldn't you consider "longer" formats that guarantee more games for those teams who might or might not make the playoffs or get that far but still want to play more than five games?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 2:07 am
by DumbJaques
Yes, we will be having 16 teams in a single elimination play-off bracket. For the past few years, even using different or longer formats, the tournament has usually ended before 4 pm even for the final four teams. The questions are house-written as usual.
Actually, I think you're misunderstanding things here. People are dissatisfied not with the size of your playoff field, but with the single-elimination structure of it. Most tournaments in the region don't use this anymore, so perhaps you could consider changing that? If you don't believe you'll have enough packets, you can always use HSAPQ or something.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:57 am
by Nuclear Densometer Test
Your tournament is on 12/13 Sunday?

And, if you guys opt to use house-written questions, could we have a sample of last year's set?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Thu Oct 15, 2009 10:18 pm
by flylikeaneagle
To address the requests/concerns:
For teams which choose to play longer or would like to compete with the other rounds, we do offer moderators and rooms where they may compete if they find another team with which to compete. Even if teams do not proceed to the play-offs, they can always stay and play other teams without any effect on rankings. While other tournaments in the area include, even encourage, teams to continue through the whole day, we felt that post-preliminary games without a chance at winning discouraged teams and felt that it is better left for teams to decide how long they will play.
We do have last year's questions available for purchase, I can send a sample set should you wish to read the questions.
A footnote:
We will be having the charity coaches' round this year, and the proceeds will continue to go to the local Special Olympics organization, with prizes for each competitor on the winning team (these prizes are usually very old, and by that I mean millions of years old :smile: )
For teams which wish to purchase pizza during the tournament, we request that you give a general idea of how many pizzas you would like to purchase or pre-order the pizzas. If the team is writing a check, we ask that you write two separate checks, one for the tournament fees and one for pizza orders to clarify bookkeeping at our school (Proceeds from the pizza sale also benefit the local Special Olympics organization)

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 10:44 am
by Angry Babies in Love
DumbJaques wrote:
Yes, we will be having 16 teams in a single elimination play-off bracket. For the past few years, even using different or longer formats, the tournament has usually ended before 4 pm even for the final four teams. The questions are house-written as usual.
Actually, I think you're misunderstanding things here. People are dissatisfied not with the size of your playoff field, but with the single-elimination structure of it. Most tournaments in the region don't use this anymore, so perhaps you could consider changing that? If you don't believe you'll have enough packets, you can always use HSAPQ or something.
I don't believe this concern was addressed.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 12:14 pm
by sec\caulfiej
There are a number of factors that recommend the single elimination format for smaller local tournaments.

1. They preclude the possibility of a tie at the end of a round. Four team round-robin playoffs create the possibility of a tie at the end of the round robin, which necessitates additional playoff before the next round can begin.

2. The single elimination format allows the hosting program to concentrate its resources on the most important games. Often, volunteers can be martialled for the early preliminary rounds, but have to leave before the end of the tournament.

3. Sometimes, after preliminaries, teams that have no chance of advancing would prefer to go home and spend the rest of the day doing schoolwork. Obviously, this factor does not apply in national tournaments where teams have travelled long distances, have made flight and hotel arrangements, and would prefer to spend the time playing.

4. A 16-team single elimination format creates an algorithm by which the champion of the tournament is the only playoff team that has won four consecutive games against increasingly difficult competition.

5. I concede

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 5:33 pm
by sec\caulfiej
Pardon my distraction.

"Martialled" should have read "marshalled."

I concede. . . that the single-elimination format is not perfect for every tournament.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:10 am
by at your pleasure
Actually, if you put teams 1 and 3 against each other, then 2 and 4 in the next bracket(so the winner of that plays team 1), then the first two games are the most challenging and your claim that single-elimination is an ever-increasing challenge does not hold.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 3:39 pm
by flylikeaneagle
We will be signing up teams from now until 11:59 November 30. We would appreciate if you signed up for the tournament as soon as possible to ensure that you will be guaranteed a spot! Thank you so much!
A reminder:
First team: $55
Every consecutive team: $45
Buzzer systems: -$5
Pizza will be available for sale at $12.
Please provide a separate check for the pizza and the tournament. Thank you very much!

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 4:40 pm
by Nine-Tenths Ideas
I think coach should of emailed you with a sign-up. Could we have a field update, please?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:21 pm
by flylikeaneagle
Aldo Montoya wrote:I think coach should of emailed you with a sign-up. Could we have a field update, please?
I have not received an email of registration to the chsitsac@gmail.com address. If he has e-mailed our coach about the tournament, I will let you know ASAP. A field update will be released sometime soon.
Thanks and we'll see you there, hopefully!

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2009 6:36 pm
by wexs883198215
Wait, so are the questions pyramidal? What length of toss-ups should we expect? Also, is there some sort of distribution, or is this the typical speed distribution of like 50% American History?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Nov 30, 2009 5:44 pm
by flylikeaneagle
This is NOT A SPEED TOURNAMENT. This is based off of the NAQT style, where each question is pyramidal, approximately 3-4 compound sentences long. The distribution is about 25% Literature, 25% mixed history (8% American, 8% European, and 9% world), 25% science, and 25% of the following: RMP, Social Sciences (including geography), computational and theoretical math, and popular culture.

To Issac Hirsch:
We did receive a check from Blake HS. We have you signed up for one team, one buzzer. Glad that you could make it! Please remember to register ASAP. We still have several openings left, should teams wish to participate!

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:47 pm
by Angry Babies in Love
Aldo Montoya wrote: Could we have a field update, please?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:51 am
by flylikeaneagle
The much awaited field update:
Hammond
Howard
River Hill
Marriotts Ridge
Mt. Hebron
James M Bennett
Blake
Whitman
Gonzaga
baltimore Poly
Bullis
Arundel
Quince Orchard
Glenelg Country School
Archbishop Spalding
St. Anselms
Eleanor Roosevelt
Reservoir
Langley
Calvert Hall
Annapolis

Total: 29 teams (Some schools have 2+ teams)

If you would like to register, please do so ASAP.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sat Dec 05, 2009 11:01 pm
by The King's Flight to the Scots
I've talked to our coach, and we're not going to this. Sorry, but our exams start Monday, and this + GSAC would be too much.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 06, 2009 10:46 pm
by flylikeaneagle
Journey to the Planets wrote:I've talked to our coach, and we're not going to this. Sorry, but our exams start Monday, and this + GSAC would be too much.
If you could have your coach email us, that would be preferable. I'm so sorry you couldn't make it!

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:09 pm
by wexs883198215
By the way, will there be powers or individual stats?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 2:12 pm
by flylikeaneagle
wexs883198215 wrote:By the way, will there be powers or individual stats?
No we will not have powers or individual stats.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:55 pm
by Kouign Amann
So, I know better than to expect to see any stats or the set from this, but could we get some results?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:59 pm
by wexs883198215
WJ beats Blake 295-145 in the final.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:08 pm
by at your pleasure
How were the questions?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:09 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way, but... why would anybody choose to come to this? I mean, maybe i'd go if it were free, or like $10 a team... but, why?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:11 pm
by Nine-Tenths Ideas
Either ER or Langley took third. I'll make a more detailed post about the questions at some point tomorrow.
EDIT: Well, to answer Mr. C, these questions were, for the most part, pyramidal. There were some problems, though, which I will address later.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:15 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
Aldo Montoya wrote:Either ER or Langley took third. I'll make a more detailed post about the questions at some point tomorrow.
EDIT: Well, to answer Mr. C, these questions were, for the most part, pyramidal. There were some problems, though, which I will address later.
Okay, well, then, i'll partially take back when i said then. I hope the questions were good, i just heard that they haven't been before. But i'll withhold judgment til i see them.

Not taking any stats though... is a problem, for me. It's not difficult and it's something that a lot of teams look forward to going through after the tournament is done.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 9:55 pm
by lagazzaladra
Why would you even post that on the forums? I'm sure a lot of hard work and planning was put into making this tournament successful, and believe it or not, it can be fun to play rounds that aren't all 20/20 6-8 line tossups. I haven't actually looked at the set or played this, but I'm just saying...

EDIT: so looking at the original announcement, I guess it is 20/20...but I think the first part of my post still stands.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:25 pm
by sir negsalot
Come on, speed play is also fun in a lot of ways. All types of quizbowl have merit. One may give more thumb exercise however.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:38 pm
by The King's Flight to the Scots
sir negsalot wrote:Come on, speed play is also fun in a lot of ways. All types of quizbowl have merit. One may give more thumb exercise however.
YOUR ARE WRONG.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:46 pm
by Howard
Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way, but... why would anybody choose to come to this? I mean, maybe i'd go if it were free, or like $10 a team... but, why?
If I were in charge of your team, I probably wouldn't go to this, especially with Charter's tournament the day before. For my team, on the other hand, this was a good tournament. It was close-- so close that I met my team at the tournament location. It also appealed to a large number of teams which are not traditional powers (or even presences) on the circuit. And the questions were of a level that helped me identify weaknesses as well as illustrate a few things we knew well.

It's important to recognize that tournaments like this are now increasingly important in filling a void in the quizbowl circuit. For the past 5 or more years, the best teams in the nation have been so far ahead of the vast majority of teams that it's nearly impossible to hold a tournament of significant value to both groups.

To use my current team as an example, I have a very limited number of active participants. Attending a tournament where the vast majority of teams compete at a level significantly above ours does little to assist me in building the team. First, there will be few matches where we'll hear enough of the question to actually be learning the clues that should be the top of the list of things we should be learning (mostly giveaways right now). Second, new players that attend are reasonably likely to be intimidated enough that they will decide not to continue no matter how much explaining occurs on my part.

The largest benefit I see in supporting this tournament is this:
flylikeaneagle wrote:Hammond
Howard
River Hill
Marriotts Ridge
Mt. Hebron
James M Bennett
Blake
Whitman
Gonzaga
baltimore Poly
Bullis
Arundel
Quince Orchard
Glenelg Country School
Archbishop Spalding
St. Anselms
Eleanor Roosevelt
Reservoir
Langley
Calvert Hall
Annapolis
[my bolding]

The schools in bold, to the best of my recollection have attended very few tournaments over the last few years. This is contrary to the trend I've observed at most long-running Baltimore-DC area tournaments where attendance has overall declined significantly over the last 10 or so years. I'll give as an example tournaments at the University of Maryland which consistently filled a field of 64 teams and turned away teams because constraints kept them from taking more. A quick check of recent tournaments there should show that attendance numbers are now typically below half that number.

Lastly, I'll say that it's my opinion that this tournament has in the past received a significant amount of unjust criticism. Every year I see the organizers of this tournament act on the criticism they've received from the previous year's participants. While this has caused a difficulty with being able to gauge from year to year what specifically to expect from the tournament, the fact remains that they are indeed doing their best to give the majority of the teams what they've requested. Last year or the year before, I witnessed more than one post that, after the conclusion of the tournament, criticized it for being exactly what was advertised in the announcement. So yes, if it's not what you're looking for, don't attend. By the same token, it shouldn't be presumed that failure to be suitable for one team (or numerous teams) doesn't mean it's not suitable for another team (or other numerous teams).

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 10:54 pm
by Howard
Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:Not taking any stats though... is a problem, for me. It's not difficult and it's something that a lot of teams look forward to going through after the tournament is done.
Allowing conferring on all questions has always (as long as I can remember) been a rule at this tournament. This makes individual statkeeping impossible. As I recall, most actual complaints to/requests of the tournament staff over the years have involved question length, answer selection, and game format. I don't recall the conferring ever being near the top of the discussed problems list. Of course, someone from Centennial can probably address the history of change in this tournament better than I.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:10 pm
by Nine-Tenths Ideas
I wanted this post to wait until tomorrow, but I guess I'll make it now.
First of all, allow me to say congratulations to WJ on winning. They were quite good. Congrats also to whomever came in third and fourth, be it Langley or Eleanor Roosevelt.
Secondly, let me say that the logistics of this tournament were handled very well. While single elimination brackets are quickly becoming things of the past, this one was handled about as well as any could be, and all the readers we had ranged from competent to good.

However, the meat of this post goes to the questions. Mr. Gilbert makes a very good point; this tournament has taken a lot of criticism over the past few years, and they have made much effort in adjusting to the criticism. But there is still a long way to go before this begins catching up with the standards of pyramidal quizbowl. There appears to be a fundamental misunderstanding of the "Quizbowl canon," as it is often referred to, or in layman's terms, what is and isn't acceptable to ask about.

One thing that bothered me about Mr. Gilbert's post was the assertion that this tournament benefitted less-experienced teams while still satisfying upper-level squads. Instead, I find that the tournament this year has settled into a sort of uncomfortable middle ground where neither sorts of teams are entirely happy with the end result. I would say an NAQT A set would probably be more appropriate for the teams bolded in Mr. Gilbert's post; the difficulty wildly fluctuated. There were several completely unanswerable tossups in the prelims on economics and science, a bonus on Mughal emperors that would not surprise me if it were 0'ed in every room, and several other things that were just too difficult, especially for the teams placed in bold. Again, I think there seems to be a fundamental miscalculation somewhere on what is and isn't good to write questions on.

I think this problem stems from one of two things: either an over-reliance on writing on the curriculum, or a desire to please followed by overcompensating on difficulty. While the first five prelim packets were merely odd but overall OK, despite some errors, I can't really understand why the playoffs were written the way they were. My teammate aptly described them as "gleefully impossible," and much ado was made about how hard they were. They were indeed hard- many bonuses were 0'ed and, in a 20/20 game in the semifinals, the final score was something like 190- -5. When two of the four best teams can't combine to break 200, the tournament is probably too difficult. Many bonus parts would probably make ACF Nats writers raise their eyebrows.

But I think this comes from a fundamental desire to please, and Centennial shouldn't be faulted for it. Instead of just coming here and making a "this tournament sucked" post like a few people last year did, I want to be constructive. Next year, I will be in college, and, obviously, no longer eligible to play here. I would like to offer to help edit and help in the production of this tournament. I would hope I am not alone in this- I would kindly implore others in my graduating class to also offer assistance. I think with a few quizbowl-experienced editors, a lot of minor problems, like an over abundance of biographical clues, can be remedied, and a tournament that can be acceptable to both groups of teams can be achieved.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:25 pm
by wexs883198215
sir negsalot wrote:Come on, speed play is also fun in a lot of ways. All types of quizbowl have merit. One may give more thumb exercise however.
Er, just because you're good at speed doesn't mean speed is good.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:31 pm
by lagazzaladra
So what I don't get is why, whenever someone writes their own tournament, most people say something along the lines of "this tournament was too hard, was inconsistent, etc. You should consider using NAQT or HSAPQ next year," and the same people later say that more people should write their own tournaments when HSAPQ or NAQT produces bad sets. I don't think I've seen many sets that have been really praised by a significant number of players, so if the average tournament is kinda poor, why do people keep on complaining about things like difficulty, inconsistency, repeats, etc when in reality, the same issues would probably be present if they had used another set. To clarify, I don't have problems trying to offer constructive criticism on sets, but to follow that up with "you should mirror this tournament or buy this company's set" seems really useless and obnoxious to me.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:35 pm
by Nine-Tenths Ideas
lagazzaladra wrote:So what I don't get is why, whenever someone writes their own tournament, most people say something along the lines of "this tournament was too hard, was inconsistent, etc. You should consider using NAQT or HSAPQ next year," and the same people later say that more people should write their own tournaments when HSAPQ or NAQT produces bad sets. I don't think I've seen many sets that have been really praised by a significant number of players, so if the average tournament is kinda poor, why do people keep on complaining about things like difficulty, inconsistency, repeats, etc when in reality, the same issues would probably be present if they had used another set. To clarify, I don't have problems trying to offer constructive criticism on sets, but to follow that up with "you should mirror this tournament or buy this company's set" seems really useless and obnoxious to me.
When did I say that they should do that? Actually, when did anyone? I offered to help them write and edit this tournament next year, which seems the exact opposite of what you're saying.
Also, perhaps you should withhold judgment on judgment of set quality, considering that you haven't seen this set at all.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:38 pm
by Angry Babies in Love
wexs883198215 wrote:
sir negsalot wrote:Come on, speed play is also fun in a lot of ways. All types of quizbowl have merit. One may give more thumb exercise however.
Er, just because you're good at speed doesn't mean speed is good.
I agree that speed is fun, and I personally prefer to play it(mainly b/c I'm better at it). But it's really not good when compared to pyramidal, which is a better test of knowledge by design.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:43 pm
by lagazzaladra
Yeah, you're right. I misread your sentence about the A sets being more appropriate for newer teams the first time I read it and somehow thought you wrote that they should have used an A-set. I apologize for that.

Also, I don't recall comment on their set itself, but I'm kind of out of it after two consecutive all-nighters so I could be wrong on that also.

Regardless, sorry again for my prior post.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:55 pm
by at your pleasure
Aldo Montoya wrote: Many bonus parts would probably make ACF Nats writers raise their eyebrows.
This I have got to see.
Aldo Montoya wrote: I think this problem stems from one of two things: either an over-reliance on writing on the curriculum, or a desire to please followed by overcompensating on difficulty.
But I think this comes from a fundamental desire to please, and Centennial shouldn't be faulted for it. Instead of just coming here and making a "this tournament sucked" post like a few people last year did, I want to be constructive. Next year, I will be in college, and, obviously, no longer eligible to play here. I would like to offer to help edit and help in the production of this tournament. I would hope I am not alone in this- I would kindly implore others in my graduating class to also offer assistance. I think with a few quizbowl-experienced editors, a lot of minor problems, like an over abundance of biographical clues, can be remedied, and a tournament that can be acceptable to both groups of teams can be achieved.
I will join this offer.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Sun Dec 13, 2009 11:57 pm
by wexs883198215
How are toss-ups on perfect competition, Das Kapital, Phillips Curve, comparative advantage, and oligopoly ungettable? People would not be making a huge fuss about them if they came up at a different tournament. The toss-up choices were fine, except for a handful (I guess not a small handful) of questions that were really out there. If people want to say the toss-up choices were too hard for the field, I guess that could be argued. I wouldn't go around saying "Centennial is trying to write ACF NATIONALS!" I would also be hesitant to condemn the set just based on low scores, because like people said, many top teams (well all top teams) were not here, just some almost semi-upper levelish teams like WJ.

However, there were definitely issues with the set by today's standards of acceptable quizbowl.

I think there was a bit of confusion with the term pyramidal. Pyramidal doesn't mean terribly long and hard questions that no people can get early, or impossible bonuses.

The issue I had with the toss-ups were the really really vague lead-ins, and some totally awful hoses (3 lines on Roanoke and suddenly asking for the word CROATOAN on the giveaway?). There were quite a few times that I heard a literature question that did not even name a character and spoke in vague generalities for most of the question. Use of clues about this book winning X award in X year are not really that helpful and usually reward list knowledge that almost no one has.

The bonuses are really what need improvement though. The team winning the tournament should probably not be getting 15ppb, which is what we got. Bonus parts were sometimes just brutal, and we were getting easy/easy/easy to hard/hard/hard. I wish I could see the set again to mention specifics, but I remember being totally dumbfounded a lot of times while 0ing my way through bonuses, guessing answers like Pikachu.

Still, really, the tournament wasn't all bad. Things were notably really academic for the most part, and there weren't really any stupid common-link toss-ups that NAQT likes so much or "hehe haha" trash questions. Comp math was limited to three questions, which is not that many for tournaments that actually have any comp math.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:30 am
by at your pleasure
So, one thing this thread has me thinking about is the "circuit/pyramidal quizbowl is impossible" mentality that seems to be present in high school. This attitude has the following causes.
1. How much better teams and players can get in a fairly short amount of time, which is the major contributor to the widening gap between good and not-so-good teams. The obvious solution to this is to further spread information about all the resources available to students who want to get better at quizbowl, but that's not a cure-all for reasons that will be discussed below.
2. The canon redshift. This has been discussed a lot, and there is enough interest in reining it in that I won't discuss it but it does need to be mentioned as a factor.
3. The inherent gap between TV tournaments and circuit tournaments. This is probably the biggest problem in the DC area. Almost by definition, TV tournaments are not linked very well to good quizbowl. The canon needs to be small and only consist of very basic material to appeal to viewers(indeed, probably the biggest reason that people from schools that concentrate on TV become interested in good quizbowl is out of boredom with the ease of the TV canon) and questions must be short to hold viewer's attention spans. Furthermore, the need to limit the number of tapings for economic reasons and to create excitement demand single-elimination tournaments. There are still steps that could be taken by TV tournaments to make them a bit closer to modern standards of quizbowl. Although it would not be up to modern standards, using one of NAQT's TV sets(or even an A-set if the producers are feeling adventurous) would be a considerable improvement. Furthermore, it would get the better It's Academic-only teams to go to HSNCT (even coaches/players who don't much care about question quality may like the nice end-of-the-year trip). NAQT's official qualification guidelines specifically allow for teams to qualify from TV tournaments on NAQT questions. This will, however, require considerable agitation from interested quizbowl people and even then it will probably be necessary to get school administrators on our side.
4. The way good quizbowl links performance very closely to team quality. TV tournaments can be random enough that teams can do well without being terribly good(or are mostly good at taking advantage of repeats). Good questions make it obvious who is good and who is not so good, which is as they should be.It is probable teams who were able to succeed without much effort on TV questions will find good questions more difficult. These are the teams that are most in need of information on how to get good. Paradoxically, this may mean that the most valuable outreach can be done at good tournaments-to teams that are just venturing into good quizbowl.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 7:09 am
by Matt Weiner
Doink the Clown wrote:Although it would not be up to modern standards, using one of NAQT's TV sets(or even an A-set if the producers are feeling adventurous) would be a considerable improvement.
Perhaps Jeff can speak to this, but I believe that the NAQT TV sets and NAQT A sets are largely the same thing.

At some point, I think there is little that you can do when teams just like bad questions. The Centennial tournament is not in It's Academic format; it's in 20/20 format. It's not more accessible than other tournaments; all reports say it's noticeably harder. The only difference at all between the Centennial tournament and other tournaments that might appeal to IA teams, save the tossup conferring, is that the Centennial tournament is poorly written. When John Gilbert comes on here and says that criticizing Centennial is unjust and he thinks it's a valuable event, that can mean only one of two things, which is that he likes bad questions, or that conferring on tossups is the most important thing in the world, much more important than the questions themselves. He probably speaks for a lot of TV-oriented teams when he says that, too. Once a team makes the leap to being anti-quizbowl, there's nothing you can do to cater to them that isn't hugely destructive in the big picture. You just have to accept that you can't reach everybody, especially teams with coaches who don't understand that it's not 1985 anymore, or otherwise think that getting people onto a local television show, rather than coaching a quizbowl team, is their job.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 9:13 am
by journterp
As a reader at this tournament for the past four years and a member of the Centennial It's Ac squad for the three years prior to that, I've got to say that, though this tournament wasn't perfect, it's definitely improving. The biggest problem the prelim questions suffered from, especially the CROATOAN question, was a lack of a clear pronoun early in the question. I don't have the packets, but the CROATOAN question (from my recollection) essentially went through the history of the colony, including dropping Virginia Dare, where Gonzaga buzzed in my room, and then went "FTP, what was the word..." While I think that question was the most egregious example of that practice, it certainly wasn't the only one - questions on Ezra Pound and Langston Hughes pop out in my mind as ones that had nonexclusive lead-ins - on the pound clue, and this might have been Gonzaga again, the leadin had to do with a creative-type studying in Paris in the 1920s with Hemingway/Duchamp et al, leading (I believe) Gonzaga to buzz in with Mondrian.

Aside from that critique, I can say that the question set has markedly improved over the last four years. Up until last year, the team was still writing the tournament in the It's Ac TV show format, which led to all kinds of zany things (like a marine biology category round last year that didn't go over too well.) As a couple of people have already mentioned, the team is working hard to respond to critiques and make the tournament better. There was a noticeable emphasis this year to make questions more pyramidal and to standardize the distribution from round to round. The logistics of the tournament were also typically superb, despite confusion over one team heading to the wrong room early in the tournament and a couple of confirmed teams not showing up. Each room had at least one and often two scorekeepers, plus staff who acted as runners for the question set and the war room, meaning most protests and problems were handled promptly. I left after the first playoff round at about 2:30, and would have gotten out earlier had there not been a 45-minute coach's round - not a criticism of that round, just stating why things ran later.

With regard to the answer selection, it's very closely tied to the school's curriculum, specifically it's humanities curriculum. The humanities class at Centennial is a joint English/Social Studies course where the literature reflects the history being taught, with a smattering of art and music thrown in as well. One of my It's Ac teammates/classmates from 2004-2005 came back to read this year, and we both remarked on how each round contained at least 5-6 questions that seemed to be pulled from our humanities class. In some cases, this resulted in good questions, as the question writers were obviously comfortable with the material and knowledgeable to construct decently strong questions from it. In other cases (Mughal emperors not named Babur/Akbar, Mahfouz, etc.), it went way over the field. I think it's a result of the team not being too in tune with these message boards/sources of "good quizbowl" lately - someone on the team could say better than I could, but I believe attendance at tournaments like TJ and others closer to DC has dropped off in recent years, as I know during the 2004-2005 season we went to roughly two tournaments a month and brought 3-4 teams to each one. That lack of tournament experience (I believe) is the cause of the at times odd distribution and bonus format, which at times echoed tournaments of the earlier part of the decade ("Given the name of their dog, name the president," etc.)

That said, I do think the majority of the teams playing in the event had fun. I know John Gilbert posted on this already, but I think it's important to note that for Howard County teams and teams from the Baltimore area, this is often one of the few tournaments attended each year. It typically has a field of very inexperienced players (which is where easier questions would be better), but at least from what I saw yesterday, teams from Hammond B right up through Gonzaga seemed to have a decent time, and from talking to a couple of coaches of teams who don't go to a lot of tourneys, they seemed to think it might spark their teams to consider attending more tournaments after winter break.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 10:25 am
by Mechanical Beasts
You're certainly right, Mr. Gilbert, that this tournament seems to draw in teams that don't play much else. That's quite true. But given what reports about the question set we've heard, there's no inherent reason why this tournament appeals to weaker/more marginal teams more than a novice set would. I don't think anyone's advocating somehow stopping Centennial from ever running a tournament again. So those teams will be served next year, too; the question, rather, is by what type of questions. This tournament itself has improved over the years, as Jeff reports; moreover, they have the recourse of purchasing good questions if they don't think they can produce something of high quality for a housewrite. What's the trouble here?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 12:26 pm
by Cheynem
Just a weird question:

Are there stipulations as to how NAQT A-sets or HSAPQ sets are to be used? For example, could a tournament use a HSAPQ set but allow collaboration? Or are there certain basic rules which must be obeyed to use the sets?

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:18 pm
by Important Bird Area
Matt Weiner wrote:Perhaps Jeff can speak to this, but I believe that the NAQT TV sets and NAQT A sets are largely the same thing.
Confirm. Each of our TV sets has a large number of questions in common with one of the A-series sets.
Cheynem wrote:Are there stipulations as to how NAQT A-sets ... are to be used? Or are there certain basic rules which must be obeyed to use the sets?
Hosts have considerable freedom to modify our rules. The only guideline we have is that hosts inform both us and the teams involved of the changes being made. (Eg, "the tournament uses NAQT rules modified to permit bouncebacks" or "this tournament is using question set IS #XX, but local league rules apply.") Of course it's possible to construct a rules structure so strange that we would not allow the tournament to qualify teams for HSNCT (but I can't remember a recent case of this happening).

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 2:52 pm
by wexs883198215
I think part of the reason that people go to the Centennial tournament is because they have been doing so in the past, when it was still a speed tournament. Speed teams aren't necessarily going to just stop going to a tournament because it changed to pyramidals. On the other hand, teams that play speed are probably less likely to start attending a new tournament that runs on pyramidals.

Re: Centennial It's Academic Tournament (12/13)

Posted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:53 pm
by flylikeaneagle
Thanks to everyone who came to the tournament! :grin: I'd like to congratulate:
First Place: Walter Johnson
Second Place: Blake
Third Place: Langley
Fourth Place: Eleanor Roosevelt