A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

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A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by the return of AHAN » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:14 am

So, after today's much-discussed major tournament at Fremd High School, I got to thinking about the IHSA distribution with regards to math and why it seemed as though this tournament had so much math. As I previously posted in that thread, 32 out of 80 toss-up/bonus pairs heard by Barrington HS contained computation. This seems inordinately high to me. My own players mentioned it, too. Maybe they were just a bit thrown after not playing an IHSA distribution in so long. But I believe it has to do with the IHSA rule that says the toss-up and bonus questions must be paired and that the categories for each pair will be different.

Think about it. If teams are struggling to convert computation toss-ups, then every time one of those goes dead, a NON-MATH BONUS dies with it. The only time a math bonus goes dead is when a non-math toss-up goes dead. As Jeff Hoppes pointed out here, the single, most-likely category to go dead in an NAQT match is math computation. If we look at a match of 20/20 where math is 20% of the distro, and we assume the extreme NAQT case, that all 4 computation TU go dead, then this would mean that the other major categories would, on average, lose one bonus question per round. So, ironically, dead computation toss-ups skew such matches to have MORE computation in them than other subjects.

I think the prevailing school of thought is that computationally strong programs enjoy the IHSA format and don't want it changed out of fear of losing their edge. But I submit that the current IHSA format for such teams is, in fact, fair in their view since they aren't likely to miss out on any other bonus areas over the long haul when they convert TU evenly.

As a middle school coach in my 13th year, I've never heard anyone complain about a MS match having too much math. I think this is due to the fact that IESA matches have a list of randomly ordered bonus questions where the next bonus on the list is always read. This may result in an occasional bonus that matches the toss-up, but no one has ever complained about it influencing a match. So, is there a reason why the IHSA couldn't do this?

All comments and critiques are welcome.
Jeff Price, Barrington Station Middle School Coach (2013 MSNCT Champions, 2013 & 2017 Illinois Class AA State Champions)
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:23 am

Woody Paige wrote:So, is there a reason why the IHSA couldn't do this?
Tradition. The fact it's really hard to change what IHSA does. Most teams don't even realize how that isn't good, and even less care. You know, Illinois.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by jonah » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:26 am

Yeah, that and the fact that there are basically two kinds of people involved in Illinois quizbowl/Scholastic Bowl: those who want to change IHSA stuff, and those who don't. Obviously the latter category's response to this is what Nolan said. But for those who want the IHSA to change, this issue is an incredibly low priority compared to others (distribution, bonus format, expanding pyramidality, etc.). That amounts to both groups basically not caring about it, so nothing changes.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:31 am

You know that in a properly conducted NAQT, ACF, and now PACE style round, the bonuses are not specifically paired up in any way because when you read them you are supposed to read the bonuses in the numerical order they are printed, no matter what tossups go dea, right? Thus, this thread is only relevant to discussion of formats which specifically link bonuses (and which, to my understanding, are now 100% bad quizbowl formats that nobody would want to emulate anyway.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by the return of AHAN » Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:36 am

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:You know that in a properly conducted NAQT, ACF, and now PACE style round, the bonuses are not specifically paired up in any way because when you read them you are supposed to read the bonuses in the numerical order they are printed, no matter what tossups go dea, right? Thus, this thread is only relevant to discussion of formats which specifically link bonuses (and which, to my understanding, are now 100% bad quizbowl formats that nobody would want to emulate anyway.
Wait, so the IESA is ahead of the IHSA on this? Astounding! :grin:
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Dresden_The_BIG_JERK » Mon Jan 25, 2010 1:06 pm

Not to mention the IHSA really likes those sweet 30 page packets with associated toss-ups/bonuses on the same page. How could you break them up????? :roll:
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by KevinL » Mon Jan 25, 2010 5:13 pm

Not that I have that much preference between associated bonuses and non-associated bonuses, but what makes associated bonuses bad quizbowl? I don't really see what's so wrong about rewarding a team with knowledge in a subject, say literature, with a lit bonus. I apologize if I am asking about something that's been discussed to death, but I'd like to know why this practice is frowned upon.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:00 pm

Well, if we have linked bonuses, getting a tossup will assure you a bonus that probably benefits you more than it would benefit the other team. This reduces the value of bonuses, so the game is won more by tossups and less by bonus conversion than it is now. Linked bonuses also depth of knowledge enough to reduce the value of breadth of knowledge, which should be important in quizbowl as well.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jan 25, 2010 6:04 pm

It's a little more of a pain to write and it discourages well-rounded teams to an extent, since it amplifies the categories you know. I wouldn't call the style used in the NSC until last year bad quizbowl, though--where the lit tossup just triggers a lit bonus and that's all the connection there is. The few related TU/B tournaments that I had to play in other than the NSC format (and the first few NSCs as well) used a different style that I think has huge flaws, where the actual topic of the tossup continues in the bonus. This would often lead to trying to write a tossup on Ionesco without mentioning The Bald Soprano, Rhinoceros, or absurdism, since those were your bonus answers. It's no surprise that these were some of the most difficult tournaments.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:09 pm

KevinL wrote:Not that I have that much preference between associated bonuses and non-associated bonuses, but what makes associated bonuses bad quizbowl? I don't really see what's so wrong about rewarding a team with knowledge in a subject, say literature, with a lit bonus. I apologize if I am asking about something that's been discussed to death, but I'd like to know why this practice is frowned upon.
As someone who wrote a very sizeable chunk of a tournament that used related TU/B, I have found that it is very hard to do well. You can't mention a bunch of clues in the tossup, since you're using them in the bonus, and vice versa. Plus, since the team that got the tossup is more likely than not going to be better at that bonus than if it were of a random category, one has to ramp up the bonus difficulty, which opens a whole new can of worms.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Ben Dillon » Mon Jan 25, 2010 8:18 pm

Another note: Modern quiz bowl is moving away from computation tossups because it's nigh near impossible to write them pyramidally. Tying together the tossups with the bonuses would eliminate computation bonuses as well, but many still consider them kosher because bonuses don't have to be pyramidal.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Dayo Dankole » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:22 am

I don't understand what the issue with math is here. The same is true if you replace math with anything: whenever an ANYTHING tossup dies, the proportion of ANYTHING bonuses goes up. With that understanding, a team which is weak in ANYTHING will be punished two-fold (once by dead toss-up and once by non-dead bonus). This just means that good teams should not be weak in ANYTHING.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:08 am

Dayo Dankole wrote:I don't understand what the issue with math is here. The same is true if you replace math with anything: whenever an ANYTHING tossup dies, the proportion of ANYTHING bonuses goes up. With that understanding, a team which is weak in ANYTHING will be punished two-fold (once by dead toss-up and once by non-dead bonus). This just means that good teams should not be weak in ANYTHING.
I think they're talking about arithmetic tossups, not math tossups.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by at your pleasure » Fri Mar 12, 2010 2:58 pm

Dayo Dankole wrote:I don't understand what the issue with math is here. The same is true if you replace math with anything: whenever an ANYTHING tossup dies, the proportion of ANYTHING bonuses goes up. With that understanding, a team which is weak in ANYTHING will be punished two-fold (once by dead toss-up and once by non-dead bonus). This just means that good teams should not be weak in ANYTHING.
I think you misunderstand something. The point is that arithmetic questions:
A) Go dead significantly more often than any other category of questions, even those categories that one learns less about in school. This is empirically observable from NAQT's conversion statistics.
B) May go dead even in rooms where one or both teams are familar with the math involved (because they made an aritmetic error or misheard a number, or for any number of other reasons).
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by Captain Sinico » Sat Mar 13, 2010 7:18 pm

Dayo Dankole wrote:I don't understand what the issue with math is here.
Among the issues are: that it's non-academic, bad quizbowl, and goes dead disproportionately often (even in IHSA!)

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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by CometCoach72 » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:15 pm

Most question providers that I've run into during my brief coaching career do not necessarily "pair" bonus and toss-up, even in IHSA format. Our conference uses a provider that places the toss-up questions on pages separate from the bonus questions. IHSA's tournament and the 2009 Illinois Masonic Academic Bowl are the only tournaments I can say for certain had toss-up and bonus tied to the same page; that is, if you get toss-up 1, then you get bonus 1. If you don't get toss-up 2, then bonus 2 does not get asked and moderators head for the next page. In the case of each of those mentioned tournaments, the categories were not linked between the same numbered toss-up and bonus.

If I had to guess as to why these tournaments use(d) the paired question format, I would suggest that this is done to reduce the number of times a moderator would have to go between toss-up and bonus packets, and thus reduce the chances of questions being exposed. I really don't see this as s problem; most schools have the good grace to place the moderator in a location so there's less chance of a chance of players, bench players, or coaches gaining any kind of advantage.
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Re: A theory on toss-up/bonus pairing

Post by jonah » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:21 pm

My guess is that to promote broadness (or for some other reason with the same goal), they wanted to ensure that tossups and bonus came from different categories, and the only reasonable way to ensure that is to pair tossups and bonuses. I have no idea if this is correct, but it's another possibility.
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