Penn Bowl Discussion

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Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:55 pm

Well, I won't even start on how disappointed I am that people didn't get to play the tournament we set up for them. Nonetheless, I do want to hear what people thought of the questions they heard. Bring it on.

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Re: Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Jan 21, 2007 1:57 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:Well, I won't even start on how disappointed I am that people didn't get to play the tournament we set up for them. Nonetheless, I do want to hear what people thought of the questions they heard. Bring it on.
Please explain.

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Re: Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Jan 21, 2007 2:08 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Please explain.
The round robin was cut short by 3 rounds due to time constraints which I don't fully understand. We then skipped straight to the playoffs. I'll post more detailed comments later, but the short summary is that the questions were mostly great and the logistics mostly bad.

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Re: Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Jan 21, 2007 4:53 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:Please explain.
The round robin was cut short by 3 rounds due to time constraints which I don't fully understand. We then skipped straight to the playoffs. I'll post more detailed comments later, but the short summary is that the questions were mostly great and the logistics mostly bad.
Are you saying that you don't understand how it could have taken so long to get each round done, or are you arguing that you don't understand why the three other rounds weren't just played anyways? Because I can definetely agree that the tournament should have started earlier and moved faster (and had buzzers in every room), but I can't really see the argument for wanting to stay for another 3 rounds (which would have pushed the tournament to at least 9 pm).

Edit: I guess you may also be arguing you don't understand why Penn didn't reserve the rooms later, at least giving us the option to play later. But, again, I don't really see why a quizbowl tournament should end after 7.

Also, I agree that the questions were for the most part pretty good (especially the playoff packets). It seemed like the pakcet quality dropped off a bit in the later prelims (around Round 5 or so) with some packets having a lot of repeat answers or weird distributions. In one of the packets (whichever one had the Newfoundland tossup), I only counted 2 history questions. But, compared to what we've seen in some other recent tournaments (and especially the previous few years of Penn Bowl), these questions were very good.

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 5:29 pm

That packet had 3 history tossups (not 2) due to a question being lost in packet compilation by human error. Sorry about that.

I'm not sure if the observed trend about packet quality really means much, since the order that the packets were finished in is not the order they were read in at the tournament as far as I know, but perhaps what you actually experienced was the novelty of whatever new sort of question styles we came up with wearing off, or something.

Can someone post more expansive final standings? Who beat who? Could anyone confirm the existence of stats at the tournament?

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Post by ezubaric » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:24 pm

The was the first Penn Bowl for everyone on Princeton's teams, and I think that, logistical snafus aside, the tournament was pretty good (tournaments so close to home, even during finals, are a welcome change of pace). It was also nice to see teams we usually don't see.

I thought that the questions were generally pretty good. Some answers were both two difficult and uninteresting; for example in one round there were questions on "Bronzino," who is only known for one appendage from one piece of art, and "Niemöller," who is known for one line of one poem. (I exaggerate, but still, there are better artists or poets who could have been asked.)

The difficulty was a little higher than advertised, which isn't too big of a problem, but for the set was in general very good.

The biggest problem I had with the questions was the quality and quantity of science questions. Some rounds only had three science questions, and some questions ("Algorithms" and "cysteine" come to mind) were just an absolute joke. That being said, the answer selection for science was generally good (and much more in line with the advertised difficulty).

The actual tournament organization, however, left much to be desired. Even considering that play had to be curtailed, having teams in the top playoff bracket that haven't played each other just seems silly. It also seems very unfair to teams that were 4th in the bracket (i.e. Princeton B, which could have conceivably gotten into the top bracket if it had the chance to play the top teams).

EDIT: fixed run-on sentence
Last edited by ezubaric on Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Mr. Kwalter » Sun Jan 21, 2007 6:48 pm

I don't mean to be defensive; yes, I wrote this question, but I believe clarification is needed.

So, others can confirm/deny, but I as editor of this tournament had no idea that Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time was only famous because (apparently)

wiki: Terry Gilliam from British comedy group Monty Python famously used Cupid's right foot from Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time for crushing down the titles on Monty Python's Flying Circus.

In fact, I had never heard that useless bit of trivia. I thought that painting was asked for non-trash reasons. Like its being canonical. That wasn't even a tossup on that painting; it was on Bronzino, who is also known for his portraits of Cosimo di Medici and association with Jacopo Pontormo, with whom he worked closely. That being said, that tossup was definitely in the category of "things that come up in college but not in high school but yet are not really that that hard so let's put them in this between fall and regionals tournament." This tournament was meant to be between fall and regionals. If more people think that Bronzino is too hard for that, please post, because if I'm wrong I'm wrong and things' difficulty levels should be known for future editors.

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Post by Rothlover » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:01 pm

Bronzino will be covered in 90% of intro to art classes, with Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time being the example used (I believe its in Jansen?) Niemoller is someone I wouldn't want to see tossuped, as I think I noted when he was a subject at VETO. Niemoller did some legit stuff, but that all seems to be overshadowed by a few lines he wrote that, for that matter, are often mistranslated or misappropriated. A tu on him, unless it were at a higher level, focusing on his religious isht, offends my sense of quizbowl aesthetics. But seriously, man, you gotta know Bronzino, and I know shit all about Monty Python...

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Re: Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:09 pm

ikillkenny wrote:Are you saying that you don't understand how it could have taken so long to get each round done, or are you arguing that you don't understand why the three other rounds weren't just played anyways?
I posted in haste without fully explaining myself. What I don't understand is why Penn didn't reserve rooms until later. The impression I got from the TD was that we absolutely had to be done by 6:30 or 7 because the rooms were only reserved until then.
Because I can definetely agree that the tournament should have started earlier and moved faster (and had buzzers in every room), but I can't really see the argument for wanting to stay for another 3 rounds (which would have pushed the tournament to at least 9 pm).
Ok, there are a whole bunch of issues here that need to be addressed. First, I understand tournament delays. Teams are late showing up, buzzers take some time to set up, and so on. But this tournament started pretty much the same as other tournaments do, only half an hour off schedule. That's pretty much par for the course. But it is in no way acceptable for rounds to take 45 minutes to run, especially when the editors have made every effort to keep question length reasonable. There were some rooms that went relatively fast, but about half the rooms were painfully slow; at one point, we stood around for 15 minutes waiting for the next room. I also don't understand why bye teams were not asked to moderate or keep score. Since there were two brackets, that would be 8 extra staff per round who could have helped with the slower rooms.
Edit: I guess you may also be arguing you don't understand why Penn didn't reserve the rooms later, at least giving us the option to play later. But, again, I don't really see why a quizbowl tournament should end after 7.
Not to attack you, but I don't see why a quizbowl tournament should not deliver on the announcement of its own schedule. If you promise people 13 rounds of play, it only seems fair to me that they actually get it. After all, I didn't drive 4+ hours to hang out on the Penn campus, nice as it may be; I came to play, and my playing opportunities were restricted by logistical mishaps that really should never have happened. What really should have happened was that all the rounds would have gotten played in the allotted time, something which I know for a fact is possible.

Then there was the buzzer issue. I don't know how anyone could knowingly bring broken buzzers to a tournament. I'm not talking about a buzzer that mysteriously stopped working; the buzzer in question had had the power adapter ripped from the electrical cord, so it was quite obviously busted. When asked whether it could be repaired, I told the moderator in that room that I could probably hack it together with a knife and some tape. No knife and tape were offered to me at any point to fix the buzzer, which would have been one option, the other being sending someone down to the Radio Shack or equivalent place to get a new adapter. As a result, one room didn't have any buzzers and we were forced to play slap-bowl.

And then, and this is the thing that really gets by goat, there were the prizes. Again, I understand when sometimes tournaments don't have prizes. Sometimes you are editing questions until the last minute and don't have time to pick them up, and that's ok. Of course, the Penn club wasn't doing any editing, so a quick run to a local bookstore shouldn't have been beyond the means of the club. Instead, we were offered as prizes various books on criminal justice, which upon closer inspection turned out to be discards from the biomedical library. I'm sorry, but this is just plain insulting to the players unfortunate enough to win one of these stupid things. What am I supposed to do with books on juvenile delinquency and criminal psychology? These are crappy prizes, which, combined with the poor logistics, indicate to me that the foremost concern of the people actually running the tournament was to give as little thought to it as possible and just get it over with in hopes that people would just shut up and leave.

Finally, nota bene to the person who came out into the hallway to yell at teams for trying to look into the stats room to see the rankings: your stat room is not a secret lair full of confidential information that no one is allowed to see. Why, I've even taken care of tournament business in the meeting room where everyone can see what I'm doing and the world didn't end. If people are getting antsy for you to tell us the results, it's because we like to spend our time playing rather than hanging out in hallways. Save us the sermon about "respecting your privacy" and the attempted disqualification of someone who was simply leaning on the door to your all-important chamber of secrets.
I thought that the questions were generally pretty good. Some answers were both two difficult and uninteresting for example in one round there were questions on "Bronzino," who is only known for one appendage from one piece of art, and "Niemöller," who is known for one line of one poem. (I exaggerate, but still, there are better artists or poets who could have been asked.)
Bronzino, as Eric already pointed out, is totally canonical and known for many other things. I don't see any reason not to ask about Niemoller if he's actually a significant theologian (which I guess he is).
The difficulty was a little higher than advertised, which isn't too big of a problem, but for the set was in general very good.
I would say that this set was probably as easy as it reasonably could have been. I'm not sure what the advertised level was (around ACF Fall, IIRC), but I think this set was certainly not harder than any other tournaments geared to that level.
The biggest problem I had with the questions was the quality and quantity of science questions. Some rounds only had three science questions, and some questions ("Algorithms" and "cysteine" come to mind) were just an absolute joke. That being said, the answer selection for science was generally good (and much more in line with the advertised difficulty).
Agreed. The algorithms question was just plain dumb. Much of the physics was also poorly written or just ill-conceived (the Eddington question comes to mind).

I think in the other categories, though, this set really delivered the promised quality. The literature and history questions were outstanding, and I especially enjoyed tossups on ghost-riding the whip and passing. Thanks to Matt and Eric for the great job they did on this set.

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Post by yoda4554 » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:12 pm

I don't remember what the results of Niemoller-discussion on the Vancouver thread last summer were, but I think Bronzino would be reasonable at something like ACF Regionals--I think some basic painting survey courses that have Mannerist-tilted instructors go over his portraits and some other pieces of his (though I think most do not). IMHO, it's harder than what I think this tournament was going for.

Questions were good overall--in particular there were some very challening questions on well-known answers (from my areas, e.g. Blanche DuBois, My Last Duchess, Tartuffe). There were also some pretty original answers that I appreciated, particularly in the editor packets, such as "Albrecht Durer self-portraits." While there were inevitably some blah-blah-blah-giveaway questions (e.g., eunuchs) and some that dropped obvious clues way to early (I know shit about physics, but even I could have buzzed on "Higgs" two sentences before the end once it was clear the answer was a large, undiscovered boson), those were exceptions.

There were a bunch of weird things about the packets, though, most notably all of the little notes the editors apparently made to themselves and never removed. A handful of questions per packet had random "!!!" and "???" and "check for repeat"s strewn about them--the latter of which apparently wasn't done in all cases: two "photoelectric effect" tossups, a Wallace Stevens bonus repeated (the second one contributing to the worst packet of the prelims, which may have contributed to the above impression of the prelim packets getting worse), two Confessions tossups (granted, one in a packet that wasn't played), etc. There was something like one Canada question per packet, particularly on geography (not that these were bad questions; the tossup to which the answer was "Canada" was quite good).

Why does it take so long to run tournaments? The average round took, I believe, well over 40 minutes, and it's not like these were particularly long questions, something else I appreciated--this is the least mentally deadened I've felt at an mACF tournament in a long while. Since teams had byes, Penn should have suggested that we score on off-rounds, since I don't think any rooms had full-time scorers. And didn't Penn Bowl used to pull a lot of experienced moderators from the surrounding area--where are they?

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Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 7:24 pm

By the way, the set (including the packets you didn't get to hear) is of course free to any participating team at either Penn or Georgia Tech; I'll be gathering a complete list of addresses from the TDs later, but for now, e-mail me at weinerm @ vcu dot edu and I'll get you the set.

For teams who did not participate in either tournament or write freelance packets, the set is available for $20, and you should email me at the above address to discuss acquiring it. Set contains 15 packets plus tiebreakers, edited to reasonable question length. I can also stand behind Dave Letzler's guarantee that you will find at least one Canada-related question in every packet. What's not to like?

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Post by ezubaric » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:36 pm

Kit Cloudkicker wrote:I don't mean to be defensive; yes, I wrote this question, but I believe clarification is needed.

So, others can confirm/deny, but I as editor of this tournament had no idea that Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time was only famous because (apparently)

wiki: Terry Gilliam from British comedy group Monty Python famously used Cupid's right foot from Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time for crushing down the titles on Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Wow. Perhaps my experience is not typical. I apologize. I had assumed the question writing process went something like:
You know what's cool? Monty Python! Hmm, but I already wrote a trash question. Who painted that foot? Ah, some dude named Bronzino.
So, I guess the final moral of the story is that I'm a nerd and need to study more art. Perhaps others can chime in?
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Post by MLafer » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:43 pm

How is it possible that you've been on the circuit for, I believe, 6+ years and not yet seen a question on Bronzino? I've seen at least 5, none of which mentioned this Monty Python clue.

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Re: Penn Bowl Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Jan 21, 2007 8:55 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I would say that this set was probably as easy as it reasonably could have been. I'm not sure what the advertised level was (around ACF Fall, IIRC), but I think this set was certainly not harder than any other tournaments geared to that level.
In the announcement, I used the suggestion that writers submit questions (or tossups, anyway) "along the lines of the Early Fall Tournament, ACF Fall, and similar events." The questions were then edited to form my conception of what "regular difficulty" is--what I think all tournaments that don't go out of their way to be easy or hard should be.

The stats say that the average game had 396 points scored, and the average bonus had 15.6 points converted. I think those numbers are about right and I'll probably keep using this difficulty in future normal invitationals I work on.

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Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Sun Jan 21, 2007 9:38 pm

My big problem with the questions was the severe problem with science and math. There were indeed some very good science/math, but for the most part the writing was left a lot to be desired. For example, the first photoelectric effect tossup started something to effect of "Energy does not increase with intensity, blah blah cutoff frequency,blah blah," which are two of three most basic features of the photoelectric effect. Also, in the same packet (which even the moderator found to be ridiculous at times), was the eigenvalue question involving as the second clue, "they are found by setting the determinant of a matrix minus a multiple of the identity matrix equal to zero...." If a player has ever found an eigenvalue in their life, they'd immediately get this after about 10 words. I realize that whoever wrote these questions wasn't a physics or math major, so my griping is most likely unfounded.
The first packet to be read, however, did not have a single question, tossup or bonus, having to do with any sort of science until somewhere around question twelve. I really hope that no match had to be settled due to lousy distribution within the packet.
All complaining aside (and there was quite a lot worth complaining about), this was the best finish I've ever had at the college level. Being the youngest player on a team with three other very strong players was quite something. This tournament also contained the most exciting and nerve-wracking round I've played in years, involving my team (Chicago B) making a 100+ point comeback against Chicago A to have the match be decided on a single bonus (we were prompted for a middle initial on "Richard Lee" and subsequently losing by 10 points). That round alone made the experience worthwhile.

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Post by ezubaric » Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:19 pm

MLafer wrote:How is it possible that you've been on the circuit for, I believe, 6+ years and not yet seen a question on Bronzino? I've seen at least 5, none of which mentioned this Monty Python clue.
I do really suck at renaissance art, but I do remember questions on Bronzino (last year's ACF Regionals, IIRC, had a tossup on "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time," for instance, that did mention a MP clue). Anyhow, I had always associated Bronzino only with MP and didn't place him in the pantheon of askable artists.

So I guess I'm wrong, Bronzino is as well known as any other Renaissance painter that isn't also a ninja turtle, and hopefully we can now talk about something completely different.
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Post by solonqb » Sun Jan 21, 2007 10:26 pm

As the science editor, you can direct all such complaints to me. I thought I had cut one of the offending photoelectric effect questions, and it is now apparent that I didn't do a good enough job checking for repeats.

This was my first time editing, but I recognize that that is still no excuse; instead I ask that you be as detailed and specific in your criticism as possible, so my judgement of acceptable questions can come more in line with the circuit's.
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Post by Baron Jacobi » Sun Jan 21, 2007 11:27 pm

Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote: All complaining aside (and there was quite a lot worth complaining about), this was the best finish I've ever had at the college level. Being the youngest player on a team with three other very strong players was quite something. This tournament also contained the most exciting and nerve-wracking round I've played in years, involving my team (Chicago B) making a 100+ point comeback against Chicago A to have the match be decided on a single bonus (we were prompted for a middle initial on "Richard Lee" and subsequently losing by 10 points). That round alone made the experience worthwhile.
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Post by Ray » Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:21 pm

There were egregious logistical problems (bye teams were actually point-blank denied when they offered to help read), and there were lots of repeats, but I don't think we should let that overshadow the fact that this set was one of the best-written and best-edited sets in recent memory, on par with Ryan Westbrook's first MLK and Kelly MacKenzie's ACF Fall tournaments. The difficulty level was spot-on for regular-season invitationals and all but a few of the questions themselves were appropriately pyramidal.

The editing team deserves a tremendous amount of praise for their efforts on this set.

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Post by setht » Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:23 pm

I'll start off by saying that I enjoyed Penn Bowl, and I hope it happens again next year with a similar set-up. There were some problems with how the tournament ran, and there were some problems with the questions; I'll start with the tournament-running side, since that had the biggest issues.

There weren't enough working buzzer systems--I'm not clear on whether they had slap bowl in 1 or 2 (or more?) rooms, and they had one buzzer system with 7 buzzers, of which only 3 or 4 were completely functional. I don't know whether they knew in advance that they were short on buzzer systems; if they did know, they should have sent out a distress call for more buzzers. My guess is that they didn't check in advance that they'd have more than enough buzzer systems, but I'm willing to chalk that up to inexperience with running tournaments.

They didn't have enough decent readers. To their credit, they apparently replaced the slowest reader after about 3 rounds, but the rounds were still taking too long for the schedule they wanted to run, given that their reservation only ran until 6:30 or so. Some of the readers had rather thick accents, others were just not used to reading and scorekeeping. Again, these are things that will (hopefully) improve with practice.

I'm not sure what else there is to complain about. I wasn't there for the staffer hissy fit and I have no idea what prompted it; hopefully some more experience with running/staffing tournaments will get everyone to realize that dealing with things calmly is pretty much always better than screaming (although she did scream at Jared Sagoff, so I'm willing to forgive a lot). The prizes were pretty horrible, except for the "Basic Drug Calculations" book I won, which I've been enjoying ever since I got it. If you hear any ACF Regionals questions beginning, "Doctor ordered an aminophylline suppository gr XV," you'll know the source. I suggest you all start studying your suppositories.

I thought the question set was quite good. I think my team's packet was written at a noticeably higher level of difficulty than the rest of the tournament, and I'm sorry about that, because I think the level that Matt, Eric and Noah shot for was much more suitable for the majority of the field. There were some repeats or editors' notes that could have used another read-through. The science wasn't as strong as the other material, but (much like the tournament-running issues) I'm willing to chalk that up to the relative inexperience of Noah.

In short, the editing side of things was generally fine, and the tournament-running side of things needed some work. I'd like to think that both of the major problems (buzzer systems, reader speed) are things that will get better as the Penn team gains experience in running tournaments. Has this set of people ever run a tournament?

If Penn Bowl does happen next year with a similar set-up, I'd definitely go again--it seems like a pretty good date and venue for getting lots of teams together, and the board of good editors made for (I think) a good set that all the participating teams could enjoy.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Jan 22, 2007 12:32 pm

Ray wrote:There were egregious logistical problems (bye teams were actually point-blank denied when they offered to help read)
Is this really true? I read during my bye round, as did two of my teammates, and there didn't seem to be any objections.

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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:17 pm

On the books:

When I ran ACF Regionals last year, I made a similar mistake and got a lot of crappy books from the discard box of a local used bookstore, many of which were academic journals from the 1970's.

My thinking was this: ACF-type players really have a "I don't care" aura to them. They don't care about trophies or awards ceremonies, they don't care bout "All-Star Games", they don't care about all the frills, bells, and whistles that CBI and NAQT tend to add to their tournaments. It seems that all they care about is showing up and playing on good questions. As such, it's easy to imagine that they would likewise also not care about prizes at tournaments, and from there it's easy to say "Hey, since these people don't care, I don't have to spend my teams money getting quality books."

Of course, I was wrong. People do care about the books they get as prizes, and if I ever run another tournament (which I will almost certainly never do) I'll make sure not to make that mistake. But I can easily understand why a novice TD can make that mistake, so I would urge against the crucifixtion of the Penn Bowl TD's for that particular problem.

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Post by grapesmoker » Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:26 pm

Bruce wrote:Of course, I was wrong. People do care about the books they get as prizes, and if I ever run another tournament (which I will almost certainly never do) I'll make sure not to make that mistake. But I can easily understand why a novice TD can make that mistake, so I would urge against the crucifixtion of the Penn Bowl TD's for that particular problem.
Aww, come on Bruce, you know you'll de TDing ACF Fall 2007 at Harvard.

Seriously though, it's not that it's this one thing that's annoying, it's the whole experience taken in sum. If there had been a well-organized tournament and the TD had just gotten shitty prizes, I would have just gone "meh." However, the whole approach made me feel like the staff was just trying to shuttle us through the "schedule" as fast as possible and didn't care all that much about the tournament quality. This may be false, but that was my impression.

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Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Mon Jan 22, 2007 2:30 pm

Bruce wrote:On the books:

When I ran ACF Regionals last year, I made a similar mistake and got a lot of crappy books from the discard box of a local used bookstore, many of which were academic journals from the 1970's.

My thinking was this: ACF-type players really have a "I don't care" aura to them. They don't care about trophies or awards ceremonies, they don't care bout "All-Star Games", they don't care about all the frills, bells, and whistles that CBI and NAQT tend to add to their tournaments. It seems that all they care about is showing up and playing on good questions. As such, it's easy to imagine that they would likewise also not care about prizes at tournaments, and from there it's easy to say "Hey, since these people don't care, I don't have to spend my teams money getting quality books."

Of course, I was wrong. People do care about the books they get as prizes, and if I ever run another tournament (which I will almost certainly never do) I'll make sure not to make that mistake. But I can easily understand why a novice TD can make that mistake, so I would urge against the crucifixtion of the Penn Bowl TD's for that particular problem.
I appreciate Bruce's sense of the suave devil-may-care attitude properly associated with the modern ACF player, which he captures so succinctly. And I think it's true that most of us don't care about prizes, in the sense that if a tournament doesn't have them, we just shrug and go home. But if you're going to bother giving prizes at all, you really ought to give something that you can at least imagine somebody wanting to own. I am always happy to receive decent used books, and I usually distribute such books as prizes. But what am I supposed to do with a beat-up obscure medical text? Either don't give out prizes, or get prizes that you might conceivably want to own yourself.

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Post by Ray » Mon Jan 22, 2007 8:22 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Ray wrote:There were egregious logistical problems (bye teams were actually point-blank denied when they offered to help read)
Is this really true? I read during my bye round, as did two of my teammates, and there didn't seem to be any objections.
Seth Teitler's offer to read our packet for Chicago B was met with a terse "no, I will do the reading."

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How not to run a tournament

Post by jsagoff » Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:40 am

This was by far the worst run tournament I have ever attended, and I played Penn Bowl 2004, which had successfully dissuaded us from entering teams in the previous two years. Though some may claim that this post may be motivated primarily by a run-in with a TD who apparently thought that she was running a convention of the college of cardinals rather than a quizbowl tournament and instructed me to "show some respect" for her inexplicably interminable and secretive seeding procedure, I will briefly below list the other problems that contributed to this logistical nightmare:

1. Under no circumstances should any team have to play on a broken or non-existent buzzer. Come on, people! You're running a tournament that you expect people to pay you hundreds of dollars for. The very LEAST that can be expected of you is that you make absolutely sure the requisite equipment is provided. Now, maybe this is partially the fault of teams that reneged on their offers of buzzers, but this is why you ask for more teams to bring buzzers than are absolutely necessary. At least two rooms, and possibly more, hosted games of slap- or buzz-bowl.

2. It is the responsibility of the tournament host to provide competent, intelligible moderators. These moderators should also yield to requests by members of packet-writing teams to read their own packets. I don't want to sound xenophobic or obnoxious, but at least three moderators had thick accents that made it difficult to interpret what they were saying. Several moderators also had very little to no experience whatsoever, and it definitely showed. If a team has submitted a packet that is being used for the tournament, chances are that the members of that team have some experience both reading and playing quizbowl matches, and would have proved far more competent readers than many of the moderators that Penn provided. One of Jerry's Brown teammates, for instance, proved to be the best moderator we had all day. Not only is deferring to the bye teams the socially correct thing to do, it also makes for a smoother tournament.

3. Completing three rounds in the first three hours of a tournament is unacceptable. I don't know what happened to contribute to the fact that we only had three games before breaking for lunch at 11:45, but I'm assuming it's some combination of points 1 and 2 and just the general incompetence of the Penn staff. I do think that all teams should be entitled to a partial refund of their entry fee because the entirely avoidable and yet ENDLESS delays during the morning contributed to the foreshortening of the initial round robin.

I'm glad that ACF and mACF tournaments are untimed, but the combination of untimed rounds and poor moderation only can engender the sorry state of affairs we saw last Saturday. I think everyone who attended is entitled at the very least to an apology from the Penn staff.
Last edited by jsagoff on Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by jsagoff » Tue Jan 23, 2007 2:40 am

Basically, I guess I just parroted everything Jerry said.

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Re: How not to run a tournament

Post by setht » Tue Jan 23, 2007 3:03 am

jsagoff wrote:1. Under no circumstances should any team have to play on a broken or non-existent buzzer. Come on, people! You're running a tournament that you expect people to pay you hundreds of dollars for. The very LEAST that can be expected of you is that you make absolutely sure the requisite equipment is provided. Now, maybe this is partially the fault of teams that reneged on their offers of buzzers, but this is why you ask for more teams to bring buzzers than are absolutely necessary. At least two rooms, and possibly more, hosted games of slap- or buzz-bowl.
This doesn't make any part of what happened at Penn Bowl better, but you may remember that we ourselves had one room of slap-bowl at EFT. Perhaps Penn Bowl also had about 3 buzzer systems fail to show up with little or no warning.

-Seth

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Post by jsagoff » Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:19 pm

We had no excuse either.

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Re: How not to run a tournament

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Tue Jan 23, 2007 1:45 pm

jsagoff wrote:
3. Completing three rounds in the first three hours of a tournament is unacceptable. I don't know what happened to contribute to the fact that we only had three games before breaking for lunch at 11:45, but I'm assuming it's some combination of points 1 and 2 and just the general incompetence of the Penn staff. I do think that all teams should be entitled to a partial refund of their entry fee because the entirely avoidable and yet ENDLESS delays during the morning contributed to the foreshortening of the initial round robin.
I don't agree with everything which has been said by my esteemed teammate Mr. Sagoff, but I think he has a point here. I happened to see the flier handed out to teams at Penn Bowl, and it clearly stated that teams would be guaranteed a certain number of games (13, I believe). It appears that due to circumstances which were the responsibility of the host school (not getting proper room reservations, etc.) this guarantee was not met. I don't think it would be too much to wonder if Penn shouldn't refund a certain percentage of the entry fees, given that they failed to hold up their end of the bargain here.

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