College History Bowl discussion

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College History Bowl discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:11 pm

As mentioned in the other thread, discussion is open but should be restricted to designated threads so that those playing the online mirror can choose to avoid reading it.

Congratulations to UVa, Chicago, Penn, Harvard, Dartmouth, and the whole field for rising to the challenge of a set I was very proud of for encapsulating both quizbowl excitement and the elusive real history knowledge.

Thanks to Dave Madden and Bunnie Hadsall from NHBB for facilitating this, Dylan Minarik and a very cooperative Northwestern security officer for getting us into the rooms after the delay caused by them being locked, all the people who took their Sunday to staff especially Cody Voight, George Berry, Bernadette Spencer, Rob Carson, and Stephen Eltinge who went above and beyond and helped out with side tasks or rode to Evanston on someone's lap in addition to staffing game rooms, and Mike Bentley for writing over 400 questions and making sure this tournament was done no matter what else came up in my schedule. Also thanks to Sam Bailey and Jason Flowers for question contributions. As the editor, I am the person solely responsible for any problems that made it into the final set regardless of whose name is on a question as the writer.

Obviously, with ACF Nationals coming up under my TDing and NHBB HS approaching for Dave, dealing with tournaments being held a year from now is somewhat on the back burner, but as soon as feasible we will start discussions on the third iteration of this event as a companion to the 2015 ICT in Atlanta. There are better hosting options near the Atlanta hotels that will avoid the complications of the carpool.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:58 pm

I thought this was a very enjoyable tournament, especially once the ghastly logistics at the beginning were smoothed out.

While there were some clunkers here and there I cannot really remember, the set had a nice feel to it. I liked the fact that so many tossups per round were on things other than "this person" or "this country" type questions; it added to the excitingness of the set without (for the most part) turning it into "have you heard of this bowl?" I was especially fond of questions on things that were "exciting" while still being things you would encounter in a historical context, such as "the idea that black soldiers fought for the Confederacy" or "FDR's polio." The set nicely matched the type of things I teach in my U.S. history courses, so that was nice.

In terms of critiques, the unevenness of bonuses was probably the biggest quibble. This is of course always A Thing, but it seemed stark at times here. I'll try and explain more later.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Mar 31, 2014 2:24 pm

This was a very high-quality set where most of the "flavorful" answers really worked out well. Many thanks to Mike, Matt, and the other writers for producing such an enjoyable tournament.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:45 pm

Aside from some occasional and mildly offensive Weinerite propaganda, this was indeed an excellent tournament full of great, "experimental" tossups that were all well-written and fun to play. "The myth that slaves fought for the Confederacy" is a candidate for my favorite quizbowl tossup of all time, and heartiest congratulations to the OSU player (David, I believe) who got it against my team. If any history question-writers are looking for philosophical and substantive inspiration, look here.

Logistically, however, this tournament wasn't so great. In the future, someone needs to take primary responsibility for making sure the non-substantive components of the tournament happen. If that person is an NHB employee/principal and the tournament is run out of reserved campus classrooms, that person needs to know what rooms are to be used and to ensure that they are available on time. In this model, the student who officially registers the rooms is basically a front for a closely involved tournament director.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:50 pm

First, I'd like to begin with a few apologies

I would also like to apologize to the Cornell team, who I acted like a complete dick to because I was very frustrated, and especially to my teammates for being annoying, tired, frustrated, aggressive, and overconfident to/with throughout the day. I'd also like to apologize to anybody who noticed me flipping out and being frustrated. Both Kirk and I were severely sleep-deprived, since I stupidly managed to wake people up when I came back from staffing Lederberg and we were barely able to cobble together 10 hours of sleep between our entire team. I suppose on some level this is quintessential quizbowl experience on some level, but still.

Despite my obvious frustration and appallingly bad play throughout the day, I think this was the best set of history questions I've ever seen, for several reasons:

Answer Line Selection: This tournament had a number of really good answerlines, and did an amazing job of expanding the canon. I don't think any of the answers really pushed it too far, and the idea of a bell curve of tossup answer difficulty seemed to be incorporated superbly. Questions ranged from "Kynoskephalai" and "Manuel Godoy" to "Germany" and "Voltaire."
Tossup Difficulty: This tournament was, in my opinion, the ideal difficulty for a tournament meant to test who the best history team in the country is. It was definitely more difficult than the 2012 incarnation, and I think this was a very good decision due to what I perceive as the massive improvement of history players since then.
Incorporation of Historiography: With the exception of the terrible question on Hitler having one testicle, this tournament's historiography was very good at avoiding problems of title memorization and the like.
"Impure" History: The questions that weren't pure history, but rather on topics in social science, arts, and literature with history-focused clues, were very good overall and seemed to achieve a pretty good mix between reliance on history knowledge and understanding of other subjects.
Colonial American History: I didn't notice much colonial American history in this set, which I think is a good thing; later topics in American history are more important to the fabric of our nation.
World History Balance: World history questions were well-balanced across various areas of the world, with most places getting a fair treatment.
Real Knowledge: I don't even know how to even define this term, but I feel that if any tournament tested that kind of knowledge in history, this one did, and it's inspired me to make honest efforts to get a lot more "real" history knowledge, rather than trying to develop associations and basic understandings. I think this was the biggest factor in my teammates' excellent performance throughout the day.

As with any set, there were a few issues.

Expanded American Content: While the expansion managed to accomodate a lot of really cool and important topics ("war bonds" was one of my favorite answers of the tournament), it also seemed to me like a few answers ended up being fairly trivial.'
Skew Towards 19th and 20th centuries: Between the extra American content and the natural greater skew of art and literature topics towards modernity compared to history, this tournament seemed like it focused too much on modern history. European/Near East classical history was given a strong representation at about 2/2, but topics between the classical world and the Revolutionary War seem like they got the shaft.

A suggestion:

Keep the normal ACF/mACF distribution: At higher levels of difficulty, I think "going deeper" in American history can be balanced by "going wider" in European and American history. This does seem to be what was done, but I think the balance of questions should be shifted more towards a normal mACF distribution, with roughly 25% of questions on the USA, 50% on Europe, and 25% on the rest of the world. I think this distribution should include all content, i.e. that art from Europe and America should go in those distributions, rather than in separate categories, in keeping with the idea of literary and art history as normal parts of history.

This was an amazing tournament, and I greatly look forward to playing it again next year - hopefully not disheveled and poorly rested. I had a great time playing against all the teams at this tournament, and look forward to playing a lot of you again next year at this event, should it be continued. I thank Jason and Sam and especially Mike and Matt for the enormous amount of effort they put into this set, which was the finest I've ever been able to play, and I'm truly sorry I wasn't able to enjoy it to the fullest.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Mar 31, 2014 4:58 pm

The hour late start due to the catastrophe of locked rooms / TWO teams not showing up in the morning (WHO DOES THIS?) aside, I thought the tournament's logistics went very well. The last room for non-finals situations was done by approximately 5:30pm [and I had scoresheets starting at 5:15], which is very close to what was stated.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:04 pm

Renesmee LaHotdog Voight wrote:The hour late start due to the catastrophe of locked rooms / TWO teams not showing up in the morning (WHO DOES THIS?) aside, I thought the tournament's logistics went very well. The last room for non-finals situations was done by approximately 5:30pm [and I had scoresheets starting at 5:15], which is very close to what was promised.
I agree; I'm sorry if my post implied anything was wrong with the conduct of the actual tournament, which you, Matt, and George handled very well, as always, once it was in your power to do so. My point was that the effective management seemed to be divided between you three, Bunnie, and Dan Donohue/Dylan Minarik insofar as an NU student had to be present to ensure Northwestern's rooms could be used. If it was Dan who had reserved the rooms, he should have made sure they would be available, but since this is an NHBB event the model of "show up and collect money" isn't enough when the tournament's existence depends on room availability.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:21 pm

I liked this tournament to some extent, and the questions were fun. But I don't think I or my teammates are planning to play it again if it remains the day after ICT.

That should in no way take away from the excellent work Matt, Mike, etc. did on this set; and the work the tournament staff who were actually present did in running the event.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Guile Island » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:25 pm

Just for the record:

I was told nothing about having to have any role in dealing with tournament logistics before the locked door fiasco happened, and I was under the assumption that Dan would be present at the tournament, but I should probably have made an better effort to figure out everything going on at a tournament being hosted at my school, and I'm sorry about that. From what I've heard, we have never had problems with this in the past, but this is mostly due to Kevin Malis having a key to Kresge where we usually host tournaments. This leads me to conclude that either Dan used some alternative process of room reservation I'm unaware of or that the administration just straight up forgot to unlock the rooms, since the very understanding campus officer seemed to indicate that this problem would not have happened had we reserved the rooms in the correct manner. All signs from the club seem to indicate that I will be the club President next year, and I'll make sure that this doesn't happen again.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:37 pm

I didn't mind the Hitler testicle thing even though I negged it; it was interesting and notable.

Some of the answerlines seemed a bit stringent. I know there was a 1940's Detroit riot, but 9 times out of 10 "Detroit riot" is all you need for the 1967 Detroit riot. Since I don't think quizbowl is necessarily about nuancing the difference between letters sent by Jack the Ripper, requiring "From Hell" for that tossup annoyed me a bit (even though that's a famous bit of phraseology).
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by The Kirk Store Called » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:38 pm

I liked the tournament and the questions a lot, but I'm sure many other people have posted the reasons why I do and I have nothing new to say, so I'll leave it at that.

I haven't seen people discuss individual questions here (so I'm not sure this is where to discuss it, but I didn't see a usergroup), so I'll post my handful of comments in a weird font color (if this isn't the place, please move it to the correct place).

There was a bonus on the (UK) Labour Party in the finals that mentioned at the end "David Lloyd George came from this party". But he was a Liberal.

The tossup on Minamoto calls him the first "barbarian-quelling great general", which I think is a reference to the title seii taishōgun. However, the first person to hold such a position was Sakanoue no Tamuramaro. Minamoto no Yoritomo was the first person to hold the term seii taishōgun when it meant being the head of a bakufu-style government.

The tossup on Nara period started off with "the emishi were conquered during this period" or something. Technically true since "emishi" is a blanket term for peoples of the northeast, but not super helpful. Kind of like if someone said "the native americans were defeated during this presidency" Most emishi-defeating and the settlement of the northeast also took place during the Heian period.

Didn't get to hear the whole bonus, but "this campaign" was an odd way to refer to the Mongol conquest of China. Don't have the question, but I thought the tossup included both clues on the conquest of Jin (1234) and Song (1279), so I was wondering which one they wanted. Maybe "campaigns" would be a better word to use? Seems confusing to refer to a process that lasts over 50 years as a campaign, like the equivalent to referring to the Norman conquest of Southern Italy as a campaign.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Sun Devil Student » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:43 pm

This tournament's difficulty really did feel a lot more uneven than others I've been to - it seemed like I was getting a fair number of 20's and almost no 0's in the morning and then the complete opposite in the afternoon, and the proportion of tossup answerlines I'd never heard of (as opposed to just not thinking of it in time) was a lot higher in the afternoon, though if this reflects rushed editing near the end that's pretty understandable. If every single one of those tossups really did have over 90% conversion across the field, then I won't protest the uneven tossup difficulty. I also appreciated the effort to make creative answerlines, even though many of them would have worked a lot better if they'd had a "warning: description acceptable" like Cane Ridge Revival did (and, conversely, a "warning: named thing required" would have helped on some others). Others can comment on more specific issues, but in general, it was a pleasure to play, and an honor to meet so many members of our community whom I only previously knew from online stats. This will probably be the last time I blow off three Monday morning exams for a quizbowl tournament, but for this one, I'm glad I did.

Thanks very much to Mike, Matt, Sam, and Jason for writing all these questions, and to all the staffers/organizers (and Dylan) who made this experience possible. Very special thanks to Mike and his roommates for letting me stay overnight and ride with him to Northwestern (an improvised decision after Lederberg ran much later than I thought it would), and to Cody Voight, George Berry, and Stephen Eltinge for squeezing me into their backseat to complete the improvisation.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Mar 31, 2014 5:47 pm

Renesmee LaHotdog Voight wrote:The hour late start due to the catastrophe of locked rooms / TWO teams not showing up in the morning (WHO DOES THIS?) aside, I thought the tournament's logistics went very well. The last room for non-finals situations was done by approximately 5:30pm [and I had scoresheets starting at 5:15], which is very close to what was stated.
My understanding is that the current proposals for next year(which may have been a good idea this year, or at least the first proposal given obvious logistical difficulties with the second) are to hold the games in the same hotel as ICT(solves all room problems and keeps everything in one place) or hold them at GA tech, which is within walking distance of the ICT hotel and would cut down on some of the transport annoyances.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:09 pm

Just a few quick thoughts here. First, thanks to everyone who signed up and played this, and thanks especially to Matt, Mike, Sam, Cody, George, Bunnie, and everyone who staffed. I'm glad the set got good reviews, and that we had a good turnout. In terms of the two teams not showing up, NHBB was not given any prior indication that they would not be there. The teams in question are still liable for entry fees, and if it takes additional time for me to track that down, that will be added to a late fee. It is ridiculous that when decisions on hiring staff, paying buzzer discounts, and in this case, getting rental cars, are made, that then teams can expect to just not show up and assume they won't have to pay. I gave teams every opportunity in the week prior to change their logistics/registrations, and was very clear throughout on the matter.
As for the rooms, we had been given assurances that they would be open; this was Northwestern's end of the bargain for getting free admission. I'm not going to charge them here, of course, but still, this is very disappointing to hear. When we did this two years ago at Northwestern, things worked much the same way, but we didn't have these issues. Obviously, doing it at the ICT hotel would be far preferable; we will see about that next year, but if we're talking major hotel costs, then this tournament may not be financially viable. Also, while I understand the need for offsite transportation, this is a logistical headache from our end, and I would much prefer if (considering an off-site model in the future), it's possible to do it solely by cabs / carpools / public transit / Uber / teams getting their own rental cars. If people pool their money, the cost difference is $10 or less per head, and that's not really the sort of numbers that justify sending people out of their way to get vans/rentals as Mike and Bunnie did (thank you both). But with ICT moving to Atlanta, we'll look into how it would work best there, so I guess trying to fix things vis a vis Northwestern is a moot point for now. If any NAQT people would be able to work together on securing hotel rooms for games, that would make things much easier.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Great Bustard » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:12 pm

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:I liked this tournament to some extent, and the questions were fun. But I don't think I or my teammates are planning to play it again if it remains the day after ICT.

That should in no way take away from the excellent work Matt, Mike, etc. did on this set; and the work the tournament staff who were actually present did in running the event.
I don't see any other time when getting the critical mass of teams together would be viable other than the day after ICT. ACF is a two-day event, so that's not an option. I doubt 20+ teams would travel from across the country for a history-event alone.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:00 pm

Cheynem wrote:I didn't mind the Hitler testicle thing even though I negged it; it was interesting and notable.

Some of the answerlines seemed a bit stringent. I know there was a 1940's Detroit riot, but 9 times out of 10 "Detroit riot" is all you need for the 1967 Detroit riot. Since I don't think quizbowl is necessarily about nuancing the difference between letters sent by Jack the Ripper, requiring "From Hell" for that tossup annoyed me a bit (even though that's a famous bit of phraseology).
Someone's never read Alan Moore's "From Hell." I agree about the Detroit Riot thing, though.

I only really took issue with the question on "Pyrrhic Victories," which was just oddly phrased and didn't prompt me when I buzzed with "battles between Pyrrhus and Rome."
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:03 pm

Standard-winged Nightjar wrote:
Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:I liked this tournament to some extent, and the questions were fun. But I don't think I or my teammates are planning to play it again if it remains the day after ICT.

That should in no way take away from the excellent work Matt, Mike, etc. did on this set; and the work the tournament staff who were actually present did in running the event.
I don't see any other time when getting the critical mass of teams together would be viable other than the day after ICT. ACF is a two-day event, so that's not an option. I doubt 20+ teams would travel from across the country for a history-event alone.
I understand this, and if people are willing to play this, then you should keep having it whenever is best. An online mirror later on might be a cool option for teams who can't and/or don't want to play it the day after ICT.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:15 pm

I don't learn history from popular culture, SIR.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Mon Mar 31, 2014 7:20 pm

Renesmee LaHotdog Voight wrote:The hour late start due to the catastrophe of locked rooms / TWO teams not showing up in the morning (WHO DOES THIS?) aside, I thought the tournament's logistics went very well. The last room for non-finals situations was done by approximately 5:30pm [and I had scoresheets starting at 5:15], which is very close to what was stated.
I suppose I'll issue a public apology for this on behalf of myself and my team. I'll save everyone the bulk of the details but will give a sketch of what happened. The last two or so days have been a complete organizational clusterfuck for our team unlike anything I've ever seen in my decade in collegiate quizbowl. The very short version is that communication between team members was absolutely atrocious. I have issued a lengthy apology to Matt regarding this situation. I hope you all can see that I would never condone something like this happening under any circumstances.

Long story short: during Lederberg I informed my teammates that I didn't know if I would be able to wake up in the morning to attend NHBB, so I suggested they go through with the trip as planned. I planned to wake up after a long power nap to wake the teammates up to attend NHBB. Obviously this did not happen as we never showed up to the tournament. I failed to set an alarm and by the time I woke up at 11:00 the tournament was well underway. Upon waking up I still had no idea that the teammates hadn't followed my instructions to show up at the tournament. Needless to say when I saw them I had a few (well maybe more than that) choice words. In the wake of my anger I forgot to inform the NHBB folks of this incident. My demeanor really didn't change for most of the yesterday and today until I took a nap. Anything I would have written to anyone up until now may have been unnecessarily inappropriate due to how irritated I was, so I elected to wait until I was calm again to issue a public and private apology. I realize that there is no place for this kind of thing in quizbowl and I apologize profusely.

Never in my decade of participation in college quizbowl has any issue as serious as this one happened. I apologize on behalf of myself and everyone in the club for this really stupid thing that happened. Having directed tournaments for nearly a decade, I realize how serious this sort of issue is as I have suffered my fair share of similar issues.
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Re: College History Bowl discussion

Post by bradleykirksey » Wed Apr 02, 2014 3:17 am

I'm not sure what happened with UCF showing up as I didn't go to Chicago. But I'd also like to apologize.

The reason, if anyone cares, is that one solo freshman decided to go by himself, stayed the extra day in Chicago, realized he had no clue where he was going or what time it was or how to get there, and never thought that he could pay for Wifi at the hotel or call someone who knew what was going on.

I didn't know till this morning that the UCF team bailed on the tournament, but we're obviously embarrassed about it. I'd really like to apologize to anyone who waited on a UCF team in Chicago. NHBB is a great organization that's been a lot of fun to work with, and our club at an organizational level would never deliberately do something like that.
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