Who should play novice tournaments?

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Mr. Kwalter
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Who should play novice tournaments?

Post by Mr. Kwalter »

I realize that this is a somewhat polarizing issue, but I think it should be further discussed. In the EFT thread, there were a number of comments about whether certain players should play tournaments like EFT and ACF Fall. I want to make it clear that this statement is meant only to look ahead to this year's ACF Fall. I am not here to criticize anyone's past actions.

Highly experienced players should not play ACF Fall. I'm talking about people like Jerry, Sorice, Seth T and Seth K, etc. I am not accusing those people of this behavior, just trying to establish the class of player I'm talking about. One of the truly fundamental flaws of ACF Fall in past years has been its dedication to providing questions appropriate for the great players of the circuit AND new players. It led to overlong questions with few middle clues created at least somewhat out of hesitance to make things too gettable for those experienced players. They should not play ACF Fall, though they are eligible. We endeavor to come up with new and exciting leadins etc, but the questions will not be reinventing the wheel. Sure, some new players are gonna lose games, and the better team is going to win. That's how it should be. But there's no reason for a really top team or player to come into Fall and just bulldoze the competition. Like I said, if those players want to play Fall nobody will stop them. But they should exercise some restraint and rein in their need for validation in the interest of fostering an atmosphere of competition without sheer futility, especially at what many consider to be the premiere novice event of the fall semester.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Losing to Jerry et al. by 400 points is an unalterable reality of the quizbowl world, just like tossups and bonuses. It's something that most players will have to face over the course of their career. It's inescapable, and you simply have to get used to it. Giving people unrealistic hopes and expectations about college quizbowl is just as bad as scaring them off in a more blatant fashion -- because when those hopes get crushed (say, at ACF Regionals a few months later), they'll just deflate and leave then instead.

If enough novice teams show up, the new players will be able to crush somebody (or at least have a competitive game) and they'll have fun there and realize that there always will be other bottom or middle feeders to exercise your Will to Power against. But introducing people to college quizbowl without letting them know first-hand that really good players are out there (and will have to be dealt with) is a bit like training soldiers for WW2 and not letting them know about the top-of-the-line German tanks.
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Post by Sima Guang Hater »

The question becomes, then, how do you put a cap on skill level for any given tournament? Granted, the examples Eric cites are the more obvious ones, but what about people in the gray area of skill level like Bruce or Jason Keller (not to draw a parallel between those two whatsoever), who could (and have) demolish a lot of freshman/sophomore teams, teams that events like Fall are intended for?
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Post by grapesmoker »

I'm going to ACF as a reader, so no one will have to worry about losing to me by any margin. But I disagree with Bruce that there should be some sort of trial-by-fire for new players. It's hard to be out on the circuit for more than a couple months and not know that there are some really good players there, but I don't think most teams will really get that much out of playing against them, and those players probably aren't getting anything out of playing against weaker teams. Nevertheless, I don't think we should begrudge anyone the opportunity to play a tournament; sometimes, people don't have that many options, or it's going to be one of the few tournaments that person is going to go to.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that even though experienced players probably shouldn't play in tournaments geared mostly towards newer ones, there can be good reasons for someone to do so and in the end, it's probably not a huge deal.
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Post by cvdwightw »

Another kind of team that would benefit from such a tournament is a team getting new experienced players/players back. Specifically those players include transfers, new grad students, and people coming (back) from study abroad. Since most of these tournaments are early in the year, this kind of tournament provides the first opportunity for teams that are going to depend heavily on production they didn't have last year to learn how to play together. It's a lot different playing against someone than playing with that person as a teammate, and having a novice-difficulty set allows players to pick up on their teammates' strengths and obvious weaknesses so they can work on that before the Regionals/Nationals seasons.

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Post by vandyhawk »

I think that if you want to restrict certain types of people from an event, you need to do it explicitly in the announcement. With that said, I don't think events like EFT or ACF Fall should restrict who can attend. I remember back in the day (for me, like '01 to '03-ish), ACF Fall was billed as being accessible to newer players but still fun for experienced players, and as has been posted, most top players participated. I wasn't very good back then, but ACF Fall was always my favorite event of the year because it had well-written questions on stuff I had heard of, even though we lost some games by quite a bit to the likes of UK, Emory, etc. To me, having long-winded questions on difficult subjects is a much bigger turn-off to a novice than getting stomped by older, better people on accessible subjects. Whether or not certain people play these events should be up to them. If a team has multiple strong players, I personally support dividing them up to try to even out the playing field while still letting everyone play. Depending on the region, there may not be many more chances to play in the fall. Now, I don't consider myself in the same class as Jerry, Seth, or Sorice, but I do plan to play ACF Fall this year for a variety of reasons. It's one of only two real chances I'll get to play in the fall, and since this is my last year, I want to take advantage. Paul and I won't be playing on the same team, though, so it's not like we'll be clubbing baby seals. Anyway, I'm not saying that I think the very best players definitely should play these events, just that they should have the option and shouldn't be chastised for doing so as long as the tournament announcement doesn't exclude them.

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Post by ezubaric »

Another very practical issue to consider is that excluding experienced players also has the effect of excluding people with cars, thus decreasing the number of novice teams that will be able to come to the tournament. While it's possible dinosaurs (of whatever skill level) will come anyway and help reading, it's a very hard sell to get someone to drive N hours, kill a weekend, and not get to play.
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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Matt, how about you and Paul going to Illinois Open?


Anyway, like everyone else, I think it's both unfeasible and unwise to put up restrictions for tourneys like acf fall and EFT...I think relying on the restraint of players to make judgment calls on whether it's fair to play such tourneys can and has worked pretty well all things considered.

However, I do agree with Bruce in one respect. I think it's not so terrible if an inexperienced team has to play a Keller or a Sorice or whoever once in a while. Jerry's right that there are probably few young players truly under the illusion that there are not good players out there - but I think it's important for them to see those good players playing what's considered to be good quizbowl...see where they're buzzing on questions, see how they react to certain clues, etc. I think seeing these sorts of things are a good way for new players to learn to appreciate the "practice" of playing good qb, in a personal sense, beyond just being fixated on winning or answering questions or competing and those types of motivations.

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Post by Kyle »

I'd add to what Ryan wrote that it should be fun, rather than intimidating, for a young player to watch a game between two really good teams. I've lost to Jerry plenty of times, but I had never seen a competitive game where both teams were of high caliber until the Chicago vs. Illinois two-game showdown at the ICT last year. Maybe that's just a function of living in the Northeast, but it seems like there are very few opportunities to get excited about (and inspired by) any sort of epic showdown between giants. Maybe more tournaments should make a point of letting the losing teams watch the final round?

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Post by vandyhawk »

Ryan Westbrook wrote:Matt, how about you and Paul going to Illinois Open?
I've thought about it, but we'll be hosting a tournament or traveling 3 weeks in a row and 4 of 5 beforehand, so we probably won't be up for the scenic drive to Champagne. Also, and perhaps most importantly, I believe my wife would kill me for ditching her that often.

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