Is this a BLITZ or not?

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Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:39 am

Is this a blitz or not? For years I have played under a certain assumption about what constitutes a successful blitz on a tossup. However, at a tournament earlier this year in Chattanooga, a situation arose that called into question what I have always believed to be the successful execution of a blitz. The moderator disagreed with my position. I protested, 100% confident that I was in the right, only to be shot down by the tournament director.

Note: This is not the tossup in question. I don’t have the set available, and I’m not sure it is cleared for discussion. Therefore, I created a simple tossup that meets the exact criteria – being a literature tossup that lists works while looking for an author.

Consider the following tossup (created solely to demonstrate the principle in question):

As a Christian apologist, his works include Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy. However, he is better known for creating a lion-deity named Aslan who rules over a fictional land. For ten points, identify this author of The Chronicles of Narnia.
Answer: C.S. Lewis

Now, if a player buzzed in on exactly the word “Aslan” and said “The Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis” is that a successful blitz? I’m withholding my opinions on the matter until I get a consensus from the forum. I will plead my case for or against the blitz once some replies have been made.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Dec 02, 2009 10:50 am

Yes, that player's answer should have been accepted.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by centralhs » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:00 am

I disagree with Hannah about this, for one simple reason (pertaining to this particular example, anyway): "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" have nothing to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. Since the player buzzed in after these two works were mentioned, his answer should have been ruled incorrect.

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Last edited by centralhs on Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:01 am

See, i think there's no doubt that that would be correct as long as there is no obvious pause before "Lewis" is given. That's just additional information not intended to distract or stall about that clue present at that point in the question. In fact i've had a couple players who do this in many questions, i.e. "okay so this is about The Cherry Orchard which is byyyy Chekhov." And that's got to be acceptable too.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:20 am

centralhs wrote:I disagree with Hannah about this, for one simple reason (pertaining to this particular example, anyway): "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" have nothing to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. Since the player buzzed in after these two works were mentioned, his answer should have been ruled incorrect.

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This was the exact reasoning used to deny my team the points - in a match that we lost, eliminating us from contention for the JV Championship. I was mildly irate.

I have heard dozens of "blitzes" like this accepted before. I know that I myself answered many a tossup in my day using this method. My thinking is that the player had a "verbal train of thought." A reflex buzz on "Aslan" made him realize that they were talking about "The Chronicles of Narnia" which led him to the answer - "Lewis".

The argument against us was that the question was specifically asking for a person ("his works...") and that (obviously) "The Chronicles of Narnia" did not write "Mere Christianity", etc.

However, I was under the impression that two related pieces of information constituted a blitz. The first piece of information "The Chronicles of Narnia" was correct in that it referred to the last mentioned clue. The second piece of information, "Lewis," clarified the initial response, rendering it accurate and correct.

I was told at Chattanooga - after my protest was overruled -that blitzes are only appropriate when a question is vague about whether it is asking for an author or a work. This question certainly wasn't vague in that regard. However, that means that blitzes should NEVER be allowed, assuming that questions are always written correctly. I don't think that blitzes are meant solely to be a fail-safe against poorly-written questions. They should be used strategically in order to help players arrive at correct answers and be awarded for the knowledge that they obviously possess.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:31 am

centralhs wrote:I disagree with Hannah about this, for one simple reason (pertaining to this particular example, anyway): "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" have nothing to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. Since the player buzzed in after these two works were mentioned, his answer should have been ruled incorrect.
This is the reasoning I anticipated when talking on the phone with Hannah about this. The question I ask is whether the player is demonstrating clear knowledge of the answer without gaining an unfair advantage. If he says "Chronicles of Narnia--Lewis" within the time limit, then he's not giving himself extra seconds to answer. (He could just as well say "Chronicles of Narnia" in his head, and you couldn't neg him for that.) And he's demonstrating clear knowledge of the clue in question; he's tracking it to the work it comes from.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:01 pm

centralhs wrote:I disagree with Hannah about this, for one simple reason (pertaining to this particular example, anyway): "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" have nothing to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. Since the player buzzed in after these two works were mentioned, his answer should have been ruled incorrect.

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If he had said "The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis," would you have taken it? I make such blitzes to try to jog my memory. Given where the buzz occurred, then the blitz should be taken without question.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Ringil » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:10 pm

Sorry if I'm hijacking the thread, but I have a relevant question about blitzing. I've always wondered whether or not blizting is possible in any non-literature/arts situations. For example if a history question said "This man fought at Pavia" would it be alright to say as your answer both Francis I and Charles V? This is of course assuming that the previous clues were specific to one of those 2 kings.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:23 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
centralhs wrote:I disagree with Hannah about this, for one simple reason (pertaining to this particular example, anyway): "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" have nothing to do with the Chronicles of Narnia. Since the player buzzed in after these two works were mentioned, his answer should have been ruled incorrect.
This is the reasoning I anticipated when talking on the phone with Hannah about this. The question I ask is whether the player is demonstrating clear knowledge of the answer without gaining an unfair advantage. If he says "Chronicles of Narnia--Lewis" within the time limit, then he's not giving himself extra seconds to answer. (He could just as well say "Chronicles of Narnia" in his head, and you couldn't neg him for that.) And he's demonstrating clear knowledge of the clue in question; he's tracking it to the work it comes from.
Exactly. As Donald said, verbalizing the title of a work whose plot is being described is a way to push yourself toward the answer, and work/creator of a work is indisputably a legal way to do this.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:26 pm

Ringil wrote:Sorry if I'm hijacking the thread, but I have a relevant question about blitzing. I've always wondered whether or not blizting is possible in any non-literature/arts situations. For example if a history question said "This man fought at Pavia" would it be alright to say as your answer both Francis I and Charles V? This is of course assuming that the previous clues were specific to one of those 2 kings.
No. The if the clues were specific to only ONE of the two, then only that ONE would be acceptable. However, if all of the clues somehow could point to BOTH of them, then you'd have a legitimate argument. However, that would have to be a terribly-written question and would probably draw a very unhealthy amount of debate over the acceptability of your answer.

That's the current problem with blitzing - the criteria is a little bit vague. I think it needs to be clarified with specific examples cited (like mine above).
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:27 pm

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
Exactly. As Donald said, verbalizing the title of a work whose plot is being described is a way to push yourself toward the answer, and work/creator of a work is indisputably a legal way to do this.
Well, this is what happened. I thought it was "indisputable" but the other team disputed the hell out of it. And won.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Dec 02, 2009 12:31 pm

NAQT Correctness Guidelines wrote:the practice (also known as "blitzing") of giving multiple, related pieces of information in the
answer to a single question under the assumption that if any of them is the answer sought, then the response will be
considered correct.
So yes, that is obviously a response to a question that fits the definition of a blitz. However, the rules I'm quoting go on to say that not all tournaments have to have blitz rules, or complete ones (NAQT rules only accept creator-creation blitzes, which your example still fits). However, if the tournament you attended was accepting blitzes, then them denying your protest would have been unfair. So no, assuming we all agree with the definition above, I don't think the definition is really vague, it just is enforced at varying rates.

I do think that all tournaments should allow complete blitzing - there's more here than just the ability to answer a vague question. I frequently blitz questions by saying things like "The guy that wrote Kiss of the Spider Woman, it's Puig" because I often blank on an author's name until I visualize the title, which I think is what the other college players are describing. On top of that, I don't see any reason for NAQT to only accept some blitzes, and would like for them to present a rationale for why only creator-creation blitzes are allowed.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:21 pm

If you're going to write rules about acceptable blitzes, you have to be careful. For example, the example above involving Francis I and Charles V should not be an acceptable blitz since it involves giving two different answers, one of which sounds like an attempt to answer the question which is wrong. (I'm assuming it was a decent question--if it was a terrible question, then this would be a protestable situation, and the protest would be relevant to the question being bad rather than blitzing rules.)

Are there other examples of blitzes that should be accepted? For example, if a question asked for the Sun King, and somebody answered, "France, Louis XIV," should that be correct? Are there other types of blitzes that make sense?
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by jonah » Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:29 pm

I think I remember an example from some rules document that went something like this: If a question begins "On July 21, 1861..." and someone buzzes there, s/he can say "General McDowell of the Union lost to General Beauregard of the Confederacy at the First Battle of Bull Run, also known as First Manassas, in the Civil War", an eight-part (McDowell, Beauregard, Union, Confederacy, Confederacy/Beauregard won, First Bull Run, alternate name of battle, Civil War) blitz, and get points, assuming the answer was one of those. I probably embellished the example, but the principle holds.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by centralhs » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:27 pm

I came across the following in the ACF rules:

For examples,“Robert Jordan, For Whom the Bell Tolls” is correct if the answer being sought is Robert
Jordan or For Whom the Bell Tolls but not if the answer is “Ernest Hemingway.” “Frederic
Henry, For Whom the Bell Tolls” is never acceptable regardless of what the answer being
sought is, since Frederic Henry is not in For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Other people may disagree with me, but I don't see how ACF's "nonacceptable" example would be much different than the C.S. Lewis example given earlier. Using the argument that others seemed to give earlier, you could say that "saying Frederic Henry made me think of Hemingway who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls." I think the two examples are similar because Frederic Henry is not in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" just like "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" are not part of "The Chronicles of Narnia."

Also, in the interest of full disclosure, a part of the NAQT Correctness guidelines quoted above was left off. The full quote reads as: "These guidelines do not address the practice (also known as "blitzing") of giving multiple, related pieces of information in the answer to a single question under the assumption that if any of them is the answer sought, then the response will be considered correct. NAQT allows a limited form of this practice (in its creator-creation rule); tournaments that are not being played under NAQT's official rules should clarify the extent to which that practice is allowed.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:42 pm

All I was quoting was the part defining what a blitz is, because the definition of blitzing seems to be what much of the debate involves.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by cvdwightw » Wed Dec 02, 2009 2:58 pm

The way that many questions are now written, a good player is not reflex buzzing on the title of a work, or a concrete clue-answer association. A good player is having to make a second-level association (this clue is talking about X, but X is not the answer because the question is looking for Answer Y that is associated with X in a particular way). So in this case, the clue off which the player buzzed is clearly describing a certain work (Work X) which is written by a certain author (Person Y). Obviously we cannot give a player points for failing to make that second-level association. The bone of contention, as I understand it, is "Should we penalize a player who needs to make the first-level association aloud in order to pick up the second-level association?". In my opinion, the criterion for this should be "Does the player make a correct first-level association (clue-X) and the correct second-level association (X-answer)?". If all associations are right and make sense, we should accept the buzz; if any association is incorrect, we should not. Specifically, this evaluates a blitz on a clue-by-clue basis.

In response to Coach Hirsch, the reason that the ACF Rules disallow "Frederic Henry, For Whom The Bell Tolls" is that the second-level association (associating Henry with the work) is wrong. It's entirely possible that the player arrives at the "correct" answer through two incorrect associations (associating a clue about Robert Jordan with Frederic Henry instead, then associating Frederic Henry with the wrong work, which happens to be the work Robert Jordan is in); in this case, we must disallow the blitz because the associations given in the answer are wrong, even if the ultimate end product of the blitz is correct. An analogous situation to our example would be if a player buzzed in with "The Lord of the Rings - Lewis" off the Aslan clue; the player has made two incorrect associations (Aslan-LOTR and LOTR-Lewis) that have somehow led him to the right answer, and we should not accept the blitz. Buzzing in with "Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis" should be disallowed off the clue about Mere Christianity (because the two works have nothing to do with each other, so the first-level association makes no sense), but it should be allowed several words later by a player buzzing off a clue about Aslan (because Aslan-Narnia and Narnia-Lewis constitute a valid train of associations from a specific clue to the correct answer). I can see where this quickly becomes confusing.

Now, of course, an even bigger problem with applying this criterion is that most moderators (especially random parents/teachers drafted to fill out the moderating staff at high school tournaments) don't have the judgment to tell whether a particular blitz part is relevant to the clue being buzzed on (especially if it's not a reflex buzz but comes several seconds after the useful clue). For instance, a "The Screwtape Letters - Lewis" blitz after Aslan should be ruled incorrect because the Aslan clue has absolutely nothing to do with The Screwtape Letters; however, it is entirely possible that an uninformed moderator may simply assume that the player has made the correct association. It's slightly less plausible in this example (but probably equally or more plausible in many others) that the moderator does not know that Aslan is a character in the Chronicles of Narnia and thus will not accept the blitz due to lack of knowledge. Obviously, we can't list acceptable blitzes ("accept Blitz A between WORD 1 and WORD 2; accept Blitz B between WORD 3 and WORD 4") or we'd have an answer line as long as the question itself. We also can't blindly trust a moderator's judgment, even at tournaments like HSNCT where we assume every moderator has a good concept of quizbowl. Realistically, I'm not sure where the happy medium is.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by dtaylor4 » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:05 pm

centralhs wrote:I came across the following in the ACF rules:

For examples,“Robert Jordan, For Whom the Bell Tolls” is correct if the answer being sought is Robert
Jordan or For Whom the Bell Tolls but not if the answer is “Ernest Hemingway.” “Frederic
Henry, For Whom the Bell Tolls” is never acceptable regardless of what the answer being
sought is, since Frederic Henry is not in For Whom the Bell Tolls."

Other people may disagree with me, but I don't see how ACF's "nonacceptable" example would be much different than the C.S. Lewis example given earlier. Using the argument that others seemed to give earlier, you could say that "saying Frederic Henry made me think of Hemingway who wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls." I think the two examples are similar because Frederic Henry is not in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" just like "Mere Christianity" and "Surprised by Joy" are not part of "The Chronicles of Narnia."
The problem is that Aslan is part of the Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan should not have to be explicitly tied to the Chronicles for the blitz to be acceptable.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:40 pm

For the purposes of the OP, what (if any) stipulations were put down by the tournament? Was it NAQT format?
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:50 pm

I didn't see any "official" rules... Though, I think that they exist. I was just really surprised by the outcome of the protest. I know that "blitzes" are allowed. Though, apparently the definition of what constitutes a blitz is different than what I thought.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:10 pm

I'm not sure about official rules, but I'd think if it's obvious you're player knew the correct answer then I would go ahead and award the points. Mainly because the most dreaded words I've ever heard from officials are "Well, your technically right, but the paper says..."

C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, and your player responded with two pieces of correct information. As long as he wasn't intentionally stalling to give himself more time to think (like listing all of Lewis' works, his evolution of religious views, his shoe size, mother's maiden name, etc.) then not awarding points because he gave extra (albeit correct) information is the incorrect decision.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:14 pm

soaringeagle22 wrote:I'm not sure about official rules, but I'd think if it's obvious you're player knew the correct answer then I would go ahead and award the points. Mainly because the most dreaded words I've ever heard from officials are "Well, your technically right, but the paper says..."

C.S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, and your player responded with two pieces of correct information. As long as he wasn't intentionally stalling to give himself more time to think (like listing all of Lewis' works, his evolution of religious views, his shoe size, mother's maiden name, etc.) then not awarding points because he gave extra (albeit correct) information is the incorrect decision.
In the case of creation-creator, I would certainly agree with this. Unless it is specifically outlined otherwise in the rules, I would allow it.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by centralhs » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:36 pm

Most of the tournaments that we attend don't allow blitzing at all. And, even at tournaments that do allow blitzing, I have rarely ever seen any players do it. So, I am curious... is the type of blitzing referred to in this thread a common practice at tournaments in other parts of the country? (Please note that I am talking about high school tournaments here, not college.)

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:45 pm

In many areas of the country, especially those with lots of bad quizbowl, coaches instruct their students to blitz extremely frequently so as to prevent their team from losing points on a hose, or to cover all their bases in case a player mishears what pronoun is wanted. I know this certainly was something my coach taught me to do in high school, and playing in Missouri, I saw many other teams do this.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Deviant Insider » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:01 pm

At least in Illinois, the reason we started allowing blitzing was to deal with bad questions. If the first word in a question was Raskolnikov (to take an actual example that came up in the IHSA Series), then you buzzed in with Crime And Punishment by Dostoyevsky. I believe the original rule explicitly stated that blitzing was only allowed when the question, as read to that point, was ambiguous. I imagine that other state associations have evolved in a similar manner.

In the last few years, blitzing for another purpose has been allowed. Students are now allowed to blitz because thinking out loud sometimes helps and because sometimes when you wake up at 4 in the morning and are on your 100th tossup you forget what the question was asking for, so you buzz in on the word Aslan and give the two most reasonable answers. This is allowed in the name of rewarding knowledge, which is a good reason to do things in quizbowl. My guess is that if you looked around, you would find some rules written to allow what Brindlee did, some written to not allow it, and some that aren't really clear. As a general principle, I would say that it should be allowed and that rules should reflect this.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Huang » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:11 pm

centralhs wrote:So, I am curious... is the type of blitzing referred to in this thread a common practice at tournaments in other parts of the country?
Having been to tournaments in the South, I've found blitzing to be more common in other parts of the country. I think it's less common in the South cause a significant number of coaches don't fully understand blitzing.

Anyhow, a blitz of "Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis" is certainly legitimate. I'm kinda confused as to how anyone could disagree with that because the alternative would be to require a player to blitz "Mere Christianity, Surprised by Joy, Chronicles of Narnia - Lewis." And that's a rather nonsensical rule.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by centralhs » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:27 pm

As a coach in the South, I have to admit that I honestly don't see a particular purpose for blitzing -- other than as a form of "stall" tactic. It seemed clear to me from the first couple of words of the C.S. Lewis question that the answer would be looking for an author, not a work. I have tried to train my students to listen really hard to those first 3-4 words of a question to get clues as to where the question is heading in this regard.

If all that's really important is that the player "clearly has the knowledge" then why don't we allow players just to say "I'm stalling here, I'll think of the answer in a minute...." in lieu of blitzing out related clues in hopes of hitting upon the answer? Actually, why do we do we even have rules about beginning your answer within a particular amount of time if it is acceptable to use time up by blitzing "related" facts before giving the answer the question was actually looking for?

I may be alone in this line of thinking but I believe that any "trying to think of an answer" or "visualizing" of that answer that a player does should occur within his own head and not out loud.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:31 pm

Blitzing rules vary all over. A lot of highly regarded formats accept it. KAAC (Kentucky format) only allows for extra information so long as a student isn't "fishing for an answer" which is interpreted by most people as not really allowing students to blitz. Also, there's a rule only needing to provide one answer for a question that asks for just one answer, and giving multiple answers is incorrect. I take that to mean that blitzing is unacceptable (and I therefore never attempted it in Governor's Cup play).

We recently had a somewhat similar situation the other day, although it's not exactly the same: In our league tournament (on awful quick recall questions) we had a kid ruled incorrect because a question asked for the site of a battle, and he responded with "Battle of ________." He was ruled incorrect because "the question just asks for the site, and you named the battle." Since he named the correct place, I filled out an inquiry and recieved the same response from the TD as well. Luckily, we won that match easily. If we had lost, I would have probably went all Lou Piniella on the tournament officials.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Huang » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:44 pm

centralhs wrote:As a coach in the South, I have to admit that I honestly don't see a particular purpose for blitzing -- other than as a form of "stall" tactic. It seemed clear to me from the first couple of words of the C.S. Lewis question that the answer would be looking for an author, not a work. I have tried to train my students to listen really hard to those first 3-4 words of a question to get clues as to where the question is heading in this regard.
I don't agree because quizbowl shouldn't be about gamesmanship (such as protesting that a player didn't blitz "correctly" so that a player gets punished for his/her knowledge). It should be about rewarding people for knowing things so the most knowledgeable team will win.
centralhs wrote: If all that's really important is that the player "clearly has the knowledge" then why don't we allow players just to say "I'm stalling here, I'll think of the answer in a minute...." in lieu of blitzing out related clues in hopes of hitting upon the answer?
I'm pretty sure you understand how absurd a minute of blitzing would be.
centralhs wrote: Actually, why do we do we even have rules about beginning your answer within a particular amount of time if it is acceptable to use time up by blitzing "related" facts before giving the answer the question was actually looking for?
There's nothing detrimental about a player having a few extra seconds to recall something they clearly know (or else they wouldn't be blitzing related clues)


This line of logic seems to be pretty prevalent throughout the South. I know I've been screwed over at tournaments in the South by technicalities such as answering before being "recognized." Being screwed for blitzing just seems to be an extension of the South's obsession over technicalities.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:47 pm

I don't know about that, Sandy. "Blitzing" in its pure form seems to only be useful on bad questions. I've been involved in something like 3000 games as a player or moderator, and I can count on one hand the number of "blitzes" I've seen anyone attempt. Whether we need this rule or not is a discussion that can be totally subsumed in issues of question quality.

As for the original issue of this thread, yes, this would be allowable under the ACF rules. Whether it's allowable for the particular tournament we're discussing obviously depends on what the rules of that tournament are.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Huang » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:51 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I don't know about that, Sandy. "Blitzing" in its pure form seems to only be useful on bad questions. I've been involved in something like 3000 games as a player or moderator, and I can count on one hand the number of "blitzes" I've seen anyone attempt. Whether we need this rule or not is a discussion that can be totally subsumed in issues of question quality.
Maybe I'm a bit biased. I know a majority of my points at HFT came from blitzing a clue that had already been mentioned ("oh <clue>, that's what <answer> did?)
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:54 pm

I'm distinguishing the type of "blitzing" that some of the more extreme examples in this thread refer to from simple "thinking out loud," which is easily dealt with under the rule that you must start whatever your actual answer is within the stated time limit.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:59 pm

centralhs wrote:As a coach in the South, I have to admit that I honestly don't see a particular purpose for blitzing -- other than as a form of "stall" tactic. It seemed clear to me from the first couple of words of the C.S. Lewis question that the answer would be looking for an author, not a work. I have tried to train my students to listen really hard to those first 3-4 words of a question to get clues as to where the question is heading in this regard.
My problem with that reasoning is that it's not a "stall" tactic in any capacity unless the correct answer is spoken after the allotted post-buzz answer time. In my mind, the player who's buzzed has the floor for that moment and what he does (save googling the answer, yelling things to disrupt other game rooms, harming members of the opposing team) is pretty much his business. If he taps out "Chronicles of Narnia" in Morse code on the desk with his teeth, then that's his business (as long as he gets the answer out in time). The only difference is that while most moderators wouldn't immediately know that that's what he's doing, they would know if it he spoke it allowed. Whatever the player directs to the moderator ought to be considered the answer.

I suppose "blitzing" is, true, mostly useful on bad questions and somewhat different from what we're discussing; if I hear "lean and hungry look" and say "Cassius, JC, Shakespeare," then that can either be a "trying to think" type of situation (as above, and as many posters are considering) or a "what am I supposed to say?" situation.

(And this last paragraph is obviated by what Matt said. Yeah, that.)
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Dec 02, 2009 6:21 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:I'm distinguishing the type of "blitzing" that some of the more extreme examples in this thread refer to from simple "thinking out loud," which is easily dealt with under the rule that you must start whatever your actual answer is within the stated time limit.
That's pretty much what i was trying to say too. Who cares what you say (within reason) as long as you say it before that 5th second?
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:48 am

I think it's necessary to give the players the benefit of the doubt, which has to make this answer right. For example, no argument I'm seeing here would declare an answer of "You're talking about The Chronicles of Narnia which is by C.S. Lewis" (after The Chronicles of Narnia clues) or "This is that dude who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis" (at any point.) Very well, so granting the benefit of the doubt says we ought to understand the superfluous words. In any event, this is a rather fine point.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:04 am

centralhs wrote:As a coach in the South, I have to admit that I honestly don't see a particular purpose for blitzing -- other than as a form of "stall" tactic. It seemed clear to me from the first couple of words of the C.S. Lewis question that the answer would be looking for an author, not a work.
It's easy to lose what a question is asking for or have some questions not really ask for anything. Allowing blitzes is a way to decrease the probability that someone who really knows what's going on in the question gets rewarded even when those things happen.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Thu Dec 03, 2009 9:30 am

Huang wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:I don't know about that, Sandy. "Blitzing" in its pure form seems to only be useful on bad questions. I've been involved in something like 3000 games as a player or moderator, and I can count on one hand the number of "blitzes" I've seen anyone attempt. Whether we need this rule or not is a discussion that can be totally subsumed in issues of question quality.
Maybe I'm a bit biased. I know a majority of my points at HFT came from blitzing a clue that had already been mentioned ("oh <clue>, that's what <answer> did?)
Am I the only one who thought this sounded like stalling? My understanding of blitzing is that it occurs when somebody is unsure what is being asked for, they say the possible things that the answer could be. This is not at all what you are claiming to have done. You know the clue that was mentioned could not be the answer to the question, so why are saying it? This seems like a cheap ploy to gain additional time rather than a blitz.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:00 am

BG MSL Champs wrote: This seems like a cheap ploy to gain additional time rather than a blitz.
Except it's impossible to gain any extra time with it, under ACF rule G.10:
However, the player must give the first word of the actual content of the answer before the time limit expires, and cannot use filler words to try to gain extra time.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by quizbowllee » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:27 am

Out of curiosity, is the Fall Novice set clear to discuss? I'd like to be able to cite the exact tossup in question. Of course, I don't have the set, so I'd need someone to post the question for me. If it is open for discussion, I can point someone who has the set in the right direction.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by the return of AHAN » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:33 am

soaringeagle22 wrote: we had a kid ruled incorrect because a question asked for the site of a battle, and he responded with "Battle of ________." He was ruled incorrect because "the question just asks for the site, and you named the battle."
This is one of the most terrible rulings I've ever heard of. If it happened at HOME, that'd be the last you'd see of that moderator.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Matt Weiner » Thu Dec 03, 2009 10:36 am

One of the most important things I tell moderators before starting round 1 of any tournament I TD is "it's not your job to look for reasons to rule an answer wrong." This is something fake tournaments generally don't understand; the whole game-show attitude comes with lots of moderators thinking it's all about them and doing things like the above.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Thu Dec 03, 2009 11:09 am

I mean, again, it's simple: the five-second rule trumps everything. If the team member answers the question within five seconds, unless they are purposefully saying something stupid or malicious before that answer (i.e. "ha we're so awesome at this the other team sucks the answer is the Diels-Adler reaction omg"), then the answer should be counted as correct. "Stalling" should not exist in modern "good quizbowl" if we adhere to the rules of calling "time" while answers are given.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Papa's in the House » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:29 pm

centralhs wrote:As a coach in the South, I have to admit that I honestly don't see a particular purpose for blitzing -- other than as a form of "stall" tactic. It seemed clear to me from the first couple of words of the C.S. Lewis question that the answer would be looking for an author, not a work. I have tried to train my students to listen really hard to those first 3-4 words of a question to get clues as to where the question is heading in this regard.

If all that's really important is that the player "clearly has the knowledge" then why don't we allow players just to say "I'm stalling here, I'll think of the answer in a minute...." in lieu of blitzing out related clues in hopes of hitting upon the answer? Actually, why do we do we even have rules about beginning your answer within a particular amount of time if it is acceptable to use time up by blitzing "related" facts before giving the answer the question was actually looking for?

I may be alone in this line of thinking but I believe that any "trying to think of an answer" or "visualizing" of that answer that a player does should occur within his own head and not out loud.

Cathy Hirsch
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I'm going to echo a couple of points that others have noted and add a couple more. Blitzing should not be considered a stall tactic until a player moves beyond the time allotted for them to answer the question (though thi shouldn't matter as the moderator should have called time once the limit was reached). Furthermore, blitzing is quite useful to either: a) jog your memory when you're on round 10 of a day that began at 3am and 3 hours of sleep, or b) to give out all particular correct pieces of information when you forget what the question is asking for (usually because of the same reason as part a). I'd also like to state that just because you may train your players to listen to the first few words of the question does not mean that every high school coach does the same thing. If a player has not been trained in such a way, but clearly knows more about the subject being asked than your students do, they should not be penalized for it because of a technicality. I hate when a team goes on to win because of a technicality, as these frequently worked against my team when we were playing against a school that clearly had no idea what the answer was, but ended up gettin te tossup because someone did not wait for their name to be called. To have a team win a tournament, let alone a round, based on such rules is ridiculous.

As to visualizing an answer out loud, that is just the way some people remember things. One should not penalize a person for the way they learn and remember things. It's like adjusting the way you teach based on whether your class contains more visual vs. auditory learners. I'll note that many a time I would immediately buzz on a comp math tossup in high school and solved it out loud, while still giving my answer in the time limit. Penalizing a player for such actions is ridiculous.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by dtaylor4 » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:50 pm

quizbowllee wrote:Out of curiosity, is the Fall Novice set clear to discuss? I'd like to be able to cite the exact tossup in question. Of course, I don't have the set, so I'd need someone to post the question for me. If it is open for discussion, I can point someone who has the set in the right direction.

Thanks.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Kanga-Rat Murder Society » Thu Dec 03, 2009 12:59 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
BG MSL Champs wrote: This seems like a cheap ploy to gain additional time rather than a blitz.
Except it's impossible to gain any extra time with it, under ACF rule G.10:
However, the player must give the first word of the actual content of the answer before the time limit expires, and cannot use filler words to try to gain extra time.
I understand that under the rules, one should not get more time, but many moderators would be afraid to call time when a player is talking. In fact, I would be surprised if 25% of moderators would interrupt a player if he was saying "Clue X is in" when the time limit expired.

I would also like to say that I am surprised with what I am reading in this thread. I was always under the impression that everything in a blitz needed to be apply to all the clues. In this case, The Chronicles of Narnia clearly do not fit this criterion. I guess I just wish that the fact that this is not the rule had been better publicized. I can think of a few times in my career, normally just before lunch, where I zoned out on early clues but recognized a clue and did not know if they were asking for a battle or a war, the President or his Secretary of State, etc. This is the first time where I found out that I could say "The Battle of Chancellorsville, Civil War" and be ruled correct even if the first lines were referring to Fort Henry when trying to describe the Civil War. So thanks for starting this thread. It may get me a few more points.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by centralhs » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:07 pm

I am actually arguing the same thing that everyone else is... that the focus should be on knowledge, not on gamesmanship. My true main objection to blitzing is that people seem to use IT for gamesmanship. Yes, with blitzing, the time rule should still apply. However, in my experience, readers/timers only pay attention to how much time it takes for you to say your first word, not how long it takes you to give the entire answer. Therefore, someone who blitzes buys extra time to think of the answer. Several people pretty much acknowledged in this thread that they intentionally used blitzes to "stall" when they couldn't think of the answer (although they didn't expressly call it stalling.)

We can disagree about the merits of blitzing in general, but I think that we can all agree that a "creator-creation" blitz should be acceptable with a poorly written question that doesn't tell you which it is looking for. One of my players once got an answer "wrong" because he buzzed in on a question that literally started with "In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo" and he said "Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" when the answer they were looking for was T.S. Eliot. When a question starts this way, you shouldn't be put in the position of having to make a 50/50 guess of what they are looking for. Fortunately, in more than 10 years of going to quiz bowl tournaments, I have only heard a handful of questions that were that poor. And, yeah, that "Battle of ____" ruling that Nick Conder said actually happened was awesomely stupid. I wouldn't even consider that blitzing, just giving the correct answer.

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Last edited by centralhs on Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Captain Sinico » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:34 pm

centralhs wrote:However, in my experience, readers/timers only pay attention to how much time it takes for you to say your first word, not how long it takes you to give the entire answer.
It sounds like your problem is with readers not enforcing the rules, rather than with the enforcement of any blitzing rules. I agree with you that this is something many readers do poorly, but I don't see any rule change to mitigate that that doesn't introduce what I consider worse consequences. The proper response in my view is to train readers better and insist that they enforce the rules fairly.

Also, to respond to Nicholas' post: a reasonable reader would conclude the player meant by his answer something along the lines of "That clue was about The Chronicles of Narnia, which is by C.S. Lewis" or even "This is that dude who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis." Indeed, it's hard to see how he could have meant anything else if he understood the previous parts of the question. I don't see, therefore, how we can say the blitz is even strictly wrong. I think the standard I've outlined there, i.e. that a blitz should be accepted if it contains the right answer and is reasonably correct given the clues, is the only fair one by which to judge a blitzed answer. Don't you agree?

Incidentally, I should note that I like to form my own blitzes in explicit forms like the sentences above to avoid such interpretation ambiguity. That is to say: I think blitzes are best made in the form of sentences that the player believes to be factually correct. For example, in this player's shoes, I'd make a statement like "Aslan is from The Chronicles of Narnia, which is by C.S. Lewis" after I hear "Aslan" rather than a disjointed phrase that admits any number of interpretations. As a further continued example, we can't buzz off "This monarch fought at Pavia" with "Francis I and Charles V" and expect to be right, but we can (and should) buzz with "Francis I of France was defeated by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Pavia" and expect to be right whichever of the two it is. I think if everyone took up this practice, we'd have a better game.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Cheynem » Thu Dec 03, 2009 1:57 pm

Coach Hirsch's point about readers needing to enforce timing rules is a good one. I've found that as a reader, I have to consciously realize that the beginning of a blitz does not actually interrupt the five seconds of time one gets (this is also true for bonuses). While quizbowl should reward knowledge over gamesmanship, the timing rules are part of the game and need to be consistently respected.
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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Ringil » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:33 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:As a further continued example, we can't buzz off "This monarch fought at Pavia" with "Francis I and Charles V" and expect to be right, but we can (and should) buzz with "Francis I of France was defeated by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at Pavia" and expect to be right whichever of the two it is. I think if everyone took up this practice, we'd have a better game.

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Re: Is this a BLITZ or not?

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Thu Dec 03, 2009 2:40 pm

So we've learned two big things, really, from this thread.

1. Moderators should follow the rules.

2. Only pyramidal questions with clear, unique, identifying leadins (i.e. no crappy lists that NAQT might still do in their tossups, and no describing a work without saying "in this work" right away) should be used.

In other words... good quizbowl is good, bad quizbowl is bad.
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