TRASHionals 11 Discussion

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TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Sun Apr 06, 2008 5:29 pm

Please use this thread to discuss anything about TRASHionals 11 (the tournament, questions, etc.). Myself and several other TRASH members will be dropping by to participate in the discussion.

If you have any comments that you would like to privately submit to TRASH, you can e-mail them to me (john [dot] kilby [at] gmail [dot] com) and I will pass them on to the group.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:27 pm

I don't want to taint the discussion too much before hearing what others have to say, but I'll mention a few things to get this thread started.

First, I apologize for the hour or so delay we had in getting the tournament started on Saturday morning. We had a team who had accepted their invitation not show up, not enough CD players for every room (luckily, one of our staff was able to use his admin superpowers to get us access to the computer podiums in most of the rooms), and not enough copies of packets for round one due to the local FedEx Kinko's having an interesting definition of the number 13. I'd like to think that once we got going, things moved along fairly smoothly.

As far as the questions themselves: from glancing at the results and gaging from informal discussions I heard, I would say there are a couple of central things for us to work on for future TRASH events.

There are too many toss-up questions being written on minor things, whether it be a TV show that very few (even those who were alive when it was on) can remember (like Soony Spoon) or a singer who isn't really that notable today (like Teresa Brewer). Sometimes it is hard to gauge this... I know that a number of us were surprised to see that the recent ABA champion Vermont Frost Heaves was answered in six rooms... that is still way too low, but I would have expected a bagel there.

Variable bonus difficulty was also an issue. I don't personally think there were tons of extremely easy 30's... well, one is too many and there were definitely way more than one, but I don't think they were as much of a problem as the ones where teams hardly ever score more than 10 points. Questions like the left-wing bloggers bonus come to mind. From what a few of us from TRASH looked at regarding which bonuses were lamed, we need to make more of an effort to put the easiest 10 points as the first part of a bonus. There were a lot of teams that lamed bonuses because they didn't know the first clue. The first bonus of the tournament that was on Danica Patrick is a good example... godaddy.com is the third and easiest answer part, yet so many teams lamed it likely because it was racing and they figured they would not get any points on it.

There were a lot of close games and results that you may or may not consider "upsets." At first, I was worried that the bonus difficulty might be screwing with teams and letting weaker teams squeak by with wins. As the day went on and I saw more teams play, I started to take the point-of-view that the field this year was extremely competitive and all it took was the right answers coming up in the right packet for a team to pull off the win. I'd be curious to hear if there are any teams that felt like they got screwed out of wins because they got harder bonuses than the other team.

Also, the stats and player reactions to some of the early rounds (4 - 6, I believe) indicated that we did a poor job in placing certain questions in certain rounds. Those rounds were harder than a lot of others, so we'll try and do a better job of keeping the harder toss-up answers spread out.

I didn't hear too many complaints about the toss-ups not being pyramidal or being too long or verbose, so I'm assuming everyone thought we improved in that regard.

I'll also mention a couple of things about the video game questions, which I edited. First, I should have either accepted or prompted on Orange Box for the "Still Alive" audio toss-up... that was a late addition to the set. My apologies if anyone got screwed out of ten points for that. Also, while I didn't write The Secret of Evermore toss-up, I didn't realize just how obscure it was. I've never played it, but I certainly remembered seeing it on the shelves (with the kid and his dog on the cover) and reading about it in magazines as a kid. I assumed most RPG buffs would know it, but I overestimated this.

I'm also curious if anyone thought the video game bonuses were too hard for a national-level tournament. It seemed like many of them were tough to 30, but most were getting 10-20 on them. I'm hoping that some of my 30-point level answers weren't dipping into "that's ridiculous" territory.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by MichaelKearney » Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:58 pm

Let's get the easy stuff out of the way first. John, Anthony, and every other member of TRASH ran a really excellent tournament. It's tough to run two brackets in two separate buildings, but I don't think I was ever waiting more than a few minutes to start any given round. Readers were universally great, if a little fast...but you can't run 11 rounds in a day without a little speed.

First, the tossups. As a 24-year old Trash player, I think that TRASH still skews a wee bit older on movies and TV. Certainly nothing to my team's detriment, but it seemed that there were fewer questions from the 90's/early 00s. I think that TRASH did a great job balancing this out with typically younger topics, like comics/gaming. For every question about "The Court Jester" and Dr. Johnny Fever, there was one about Zero Punctuation or Constantine. If read all the way to the end, I don't think a well balanced team of players of different ages would have a problem answering 16 of 20 tossups. Which is about what you'd expect at a master's tournament. All tossups don't have to go at the end, and I tend to hate giveaway clues that mention this actor whose name rhymes with Vlad Pitt.

The bonuses tended to be pretty difficult in some rounds, and really easy in others. I noticed a lot of 30s one round, and then the next would have us struggling for 10. But that's what you'd expect at a National level event with top teams. As far as the hard part coming first, I understand that this is an accepted way to ask bonuses. I don't like it personally, but sometimes you need to shake up the typical "we can get the first part, but" mentality that teams have.

As far as specific topics, the video game bonuses were REALLY hard to 30. "Jill of the Jungle" is intentionally obscure, but no one really played it. "Curien Mansion" is a name that really doesn't get mentioned in House of the Dead, since the dialogue's not the main focus of a light-gun shooter. Naming an area in FF7 that isn't Gold Saucer, Shinra Mansion, etc....leans on the ridiculous, since the game came out 13 years ago. The "Puzzle" tossup, which asked you to name a genre of videogame shouldn't have been asked, period. The equivalent tossup would be to ask a movie tossup whose answer was "Sci-fi", or a music question about "Jazz".

I liked this tournament more than any TRASH event I've ever played at. I thought that it was really hard...which is exactly what I'm looking for. And personally, if you can ask me a videogame/comic tossup that I have to wait till the end of the question to answer, you've done your job for a master's event
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Apr 06, 2008 10:09 pm

Wow, those examples of 3rd parts to videogame bonuses described in the above post go above and beyond "that's ridiculous". Jill of the Jungle? Really? Curien Mansion? I've probably beaten Typing of the Dead like 15 times but pretty much the only plot related thing I remember from the game is that there is some guy named "G".

I mean I obviously haven't seen the rest of the 3rd parts to videogame bonuses, but if they are in line with those parts, I would characterize them as way too difficult.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Sun Apr 06, 2008 11:51 pm

MichaelKearney wrote:The "Puzzle" tossup, which asked you to name a genre of videogame shouldn't have been asked, period.
I wrote this one a while back and wasn't sure if I should junk it or roll the dice and put it in a set. The main reason I used it was for variety's sake... it was definitely different from the other toss-ups. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it (the first clue makes "puzzle" the only possible answer), but it is just a question of whether people want to hear questions like this... if not, I'll stick with just titles/characters/items, etc.
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I mean I obviously haven't seen the rest of the 3rd parts to videogame bonuses, but if they are in line with those parts, I would characterize them as way too difficult.
Since inquiring minds want to know... these are all paraphrased and out-of-context, but here are what I setup as the "hard" parts of each bonus:

- Name Sinistar from audio clip of his dialog (although I gathered that some thought naming Berzerk was more of a hard part).
- Name Papyrus from racing sim developer, including NASCAR racing.
- Name the Klobb from Goldeneye based on fictional grey automatic bearing the name of a Rare developer.
- Name Destructoid based off of their cashwhore header parodying GameSpot/Gerstmann-gate.
- Name Voyeur from "FMV game that was a flagship CD-i title starring Robert Culp" and from a plot description.
- Name Gongaga from Zack Fair's birthplace and some stuff about when you encounter it in FFVII.
- Name Troy Aikman from athlete whose namesake 16-bit football game featured custom plays and teams that played as well as you payed them.
- Name Tobal No. 1 from fighting game on title planet featured quest-style mode and bumper clue regarding no domestic sequel.
- Name Wolf from Star Fox character last unlocked from playing Brawl matches in SSMB.
- Name Chris Sawyer from developer of RollerCoaster Tycoon.
- Name "muddled" from a FFIII/IV visual of the status effect.
- Name Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble from mentioning VFX powers exclusive to that game.
- Name Mundus from Devil May Cry (1) boss.
- Name In The Hunt from submarine side-scrolling shmup.
- Name Jill from Epic MegaGames trilogy featuring Amazonian woman.
- Name Curien mansion from namesake doctor and being a court in Sega Superstars Tennis.

My intent when setting up these bonuses were to write an easy part for those who are at least familiar with gaming, a medium part that your average-to-hardcore gamer will know, and a hard part that will challenge the best in the country in the subject. Other than maybe TrashMasters or writing theme packets, there really isn't a place where extremely challenging parts (canon expansion-type stuff, if you will) can be included in video games bonuses. If these are too difficult/obscure/worthless, then I'll be happy to scale back the difficulty on bonuses to Regionals-level for TRASHionals to make them more easily 30'd by those with an above-average knowledge of gaming.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:07 am

Unless I'm missing something, three of those 16 (Viewtiful Joe, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and I suppose the developer of the Railroad Tycoon series) are from the past five years.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:19 am

Kilby wrote:
MichaelKearney wrote:The "Puzzle" tossup, which asked you to name a genre of videogame shouldn't have been asked, period.
I wrote this one a while back and wasn't sure if I should junk it or roll the dice and put it in a set. The main reason I used it was for variety's sake... it was definitely different from the other toss-ups. There wasn't anything technically wrong with it (the first clue makes "puzzle" the only possible answer), but it is just a question of whether people want to hear questions like this... if not, I'll stick with just titles/characters/items, etc.
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I mean I obviously haven't seen the rest of the 3rd parts to videogame bonuses, but if they are in line with those parts, I would characterize them as way too difficult.
Since inquiring minds want to know... these are all paraphrased and out-of-context, but here are what I setup as the "hard" parts of each bonus:

- Name Sinistar from audio clip of his dialog (although I gathered that some thought naming Berzerk was more of a hard part).
- Name Papyrus from racing sim developer, including NASCAR racing.
- Name the Klobb from Goldeneye based on fictional grey automatic bearing the name of a Rare developer.
- Name Destructoid based off of their cashwhore header parodying GameSpot/Gerstmann-gate.
- Name Voyeur from "FMV game that was a flagship CD-i title starring Robert Culp" and from a plot description.
- Name Gongaga from Zack Fair's birthplace and some stuff about when you encounter it in FFVII.
- Name Troy Aikman from athlete whose namesake 16-bit football game featured custom plays and teams that played as well as you payed them.
- Name Tobal No. 1 from fighting game on title planet featured quest-style mode and bumper clue regarding no domestic sequel.
- Name Wolf from Star Fox character last unlocked from playing Brawl matches in SSMB.
- Name Chris Sawyer from developer of RollerCoaster Tycoon.
- Name "muddled" from a FFIII/IV visual of the status effect.
- Name Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble from mentioning VFX powers exclusive to that game.
- Name Mundus from Devil May Cry (1) boss.
- Name In The Hunt from submarine side-scrolling shmup.
- Name Jill from Epic MegaGames trilogy featuring Amazonian woman.
- Name Curien mansion from namesake doctor and being a court in Sega Superstars Tennis.

My intent when setting up these bonuses were to write an easy part for those who are at least familiar with gaming, a medium part that your average-to-hardcore gamer will know, and a hard part that will challenge the best in the country in the subject. Other than maybe TrashMasters or writing theme packets, there really isn't a place where extremely challenging parts (canon expansion-type stuff, if you will) can be included in video games bonuses. If these are too difficult/obscure/worthless, then I'll be happy to scale back the difficulty on bonuses to Regionals-level for TRASHionals to make them more easily 30'd by those with an above-average knowledge of gaming.
Yeah, from these I would probably get: Klobb, Wolf, and Chris Sawyer and would be angry because I didn't remember the name of "In the Hunt", a pretty enjoyable aracade game I beat. Overall I would characterize these as too difficult. There is a lot of in depth knowledge being asked of games that not all that many people played (or haven't played for 10 or more years because they never saw sequels or rereleases).
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:41 am

fishsaidfred wrote:Unless I'm missing something, three of those 16 (Viewtiful Joe, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and I suppose the developer of the Railroad Tycoon series) are from the past five years.
Well, I'd also add Destructoid to the list. I'll also add that two of the questions from the rounds that weren't played were modern as well (that's my bad, but I only knew well ahead of time that one of those packets had a very high percentage chance of not getting played).

I remembered hearing some criticism at Regionals of focusing too-much on games that came out in the last year or so. Since I had a few more rounds to work with than at Regionals, I tended to use the extra questions to point toward more SNES to PS2 era material.

EDIT: Also note that these are just the hard parts. While it is true the hard parts shouldn't be hard because they are old, bonuses like the Voyeur one did mention GTA: SA (it was a bonus about games featuring sexual content).
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Overall I would characterize these as too difficult. There is a lot of in depth knowledge being asked of games that not all that many people played (or haven't played for 10 or more years because they never saw sequels or rereleases).
Duly noted.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:46 am

Kilby wrote:- Name Gongaga from Zack Fair's birthplace and some stuff about when you encounter it in FFVII.
- Name Tobal No. 1 from fighting game on title planet featured quest-style mode and bumper clue regarding no domestic sequel.
- Name "muddled" from a FFIII/IV visual of the status effect.
Awesome. Probably too hard, but awesome.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 07, 2008 7:40 am

Kilby wrote:
fishsaidfred wrote:Unless I'm missing something, three of those 16 (Viewtiful Joe, Super Smash Brothers Brawl, and I suppose the developer of the Railroad Tycoon series) are from the past five years.
Well, I'd also add Destructoid to the list. I'll also add that two of the questions from the rounds that weren't played were modern as well (that's my bad, but I only knew well ahead of time that one of those packets had a very high percentage chance of not getting played).

I remembered hearing some criticism at Regionals of focusing too-much on games that came out in the last year or so. Since I had a few more rounds to work with than at Regionals, I tended to use the extra questions to point toward more SNES to PS2 era material.

EDIT: Also note that these are just the hard parts. While it is true the hard parts shouldn't be hard because they are old, bonuses like the Voyeur one did mention GTA: SA (it was a bonus about games featuring sexual content).
I'm trying not to base too much off just 1/3 of the bonuses because of how bonuses can go, just like the GTA:SA one. Still, personally, I would probably aim for a rough 3:2 ratio in favor of newer games, as there is still a lot you can do with recent video games - there's a definite need to go over older video games, of course.

Also, I apologize if it seems like I'm ivory towering with these comments - I was actually unable to attend both Regionals & Nationals because I was committed to helping local high school tournaments. Maybe next year...

Apropos of nothing in this post - is an electronic copy of the set available for purchase?
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Jeremy White » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:04 am

I had some issues with the playoff format this year, but before I detail my thoughts I just want to say first that TRASHionals was a great tournament and this year’s format, despite any of my carping about it below, produced a very worthy champion this year. What follows is just food for thought for the future.

This year, TRASHionals took three teams from the two brackets into the playoffs, but carried over the entire bracket records, not just games against playoff teams. This time, the finals were essentially a best-of-three with the first “game” decided by who had the better overall record. The previous head-to-head meeting of the two finals teams was ignored. Here are some of the oddities produced by this format this year:
- One team was selected for the playoffs yet was already mathematically eliminated from the title
- The top three teams were 4-1, 4-1 and 3-1-1 against playoff teams, but the 4-1 and 3-1-1 teams played in the finals.
- The 4-1 team not taken to the finals was 3-0 against teams from the other bracket.
- The second place team had a 2-1 record against the first place team.

For the past few years, TRASHionals had taken the top 2 or 3 teams from each bracket into the playoffs and then played a round robin among the playoff teams but carried over the previously played games among teams of the same bracket. Bracket records then “disappeared” apart from the games that were played within the brackets between eventual playoff teams. Also, the finals would be a one game affair unless one team had a better playoff record and a head-to-head win over the other finals team, in which case that team would have to be beaten twice in the finals.

The previous system made solid logical sense to me; the new system did not. Bracket play ranks the teams in each bracket. Thus, the main reason to do playoffs also involving non-first-place teams is to test the hypothesis that non-first-place teams in one or more brackets might be better than the winners of other brackets. Theoretically, the brackets could be unbalanced and by carrying over records against non-playoff teams, you would be penalizing the teams in the harder bracket. I see absolutely no evidence whatsoever that this theoretical situation happened this year and TRASH always seems to do a great job balancing the brackets, but given the fluid nature of the field and team rosters at these things (heck, we added a fourth while the tournament was in progress), it could easily happen no matter how great TRASH is at constructing the brackets.

The other potential problem with carrying over records is the possibility of the brackets not having the same number of teams in them. TRASH had actually announced plans to carry over full records when one of the brackets had one more team in it than the other bracket. One team did not show up eliminating that issue this year, but if all the teams showed up, I do not understand how carrying over records could have possibly been fair.

To fully disclose all potential conflicts of interest, I was on the team mentioned above that beat the three teams in the other bracket yet did not go to the finals. However, it is the theoretical issues mentioned above, not this year’s results, that are motivating my comments. In another year, this year’s format could easily benefit a team I was on, but I would still have the same reservations.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:31 am

In response to Jeremy's comments: first off, I apologize for not running the standard format... I intended on doing that, but I was told by my staff members that this was not what I communicated during the opening meeting. I had about five or six things going on at that point, including trying to regroup the brackets to account for the missing team. When I said that games would count, I meant games against teams in your bracket... but since that was not what I announced, it would have been bad form for me to switch to a different system mid-tournament.

That being said, the usual formula would have still produced some oddities:

1) In the standard system, the O'Reilly's would not have been penalized for losing to a non-top bracket team, something that none of the other teams in the top bracket except the NYU folks did.

2) From what I understand (and I'd have to look at the stats to confirm), LOLcat lost to NYU by 5 points. Let's say they pulled that win off... they would have made the top bracket over NYU. Then LOLcat, with having beaten the O'Reilly's, enters the top bracket with a 1-1 record. That means a team that went 6-4 overall enters the top bracket with a better shot of making the finals than O'Reilly (8-2 overall, 0-2 in top bracket) and Tia & TRASHmen (8-2 overall, 0-2 in top bracket).

And yes, that really sucked that it ended up the Keenan's actually won 2 out of 3 games played against the Dirkas. That was part of the Dirkas having a better overall record (their only loss of the tournament was the Keenan game). To give the Keenan's the advantage would be to say to the Dirkas, "congrats on having the best record in the tournament... now you need to win two games in a row against a team with a weaker record than you to claim the title."

I'm sorry if you or anyone else felt like they got the shaft due to the playoff format. We'll re-evaluate our past playoff structures (both this year and previous years) to determine what changes need to be made next year.
fishsaidfred wrote:Apropos of nothing in this post - is an electronic copy of the set available for purchase?
Traditionally, we have sold the question set. We are currently discussing if we are going to change this policy. I wouldn't want people to pay for the set and then have us turn around and start giving it away. I hope to be able to either release the set or make it available for purchase later this week.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:41 am

Regarding the head-to-head advantage: the argument against using this as a tiebreaker is that it emphasizes the importance of certain games over others - essentially making them count as two games - when they should share the same importance.
Kilby wrote:Traditionally, we have sold the question set. We are currently discussing if we are going to change this policy. I wouldn't want people to pay for the set and then have us turn around and start giving it away. I hope to be able to either release the set or make it available for purchase later this week.
Cool - I will be looking forward to this announcement!
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Coelacanth » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:42 am

Jeremy, your points about the playoff format are almost entirely right on.

The playoff format that's been used for the past n years has taken the top two teams from each of the 3 prelim brackets into the finals group, with only the head-to-head records carrying over. That resulted in a four-round finals series with each team starting either 1-0 or 0-1.

This year, with only two prelim brackets, the top 3 from each bracket qualified. I don't think anyone would have complained if we had just carried over the head-to-heads again, but overcoming an 0-2 start with only 3 games to play is asking a lot.

I think that the O'Reillys are legitimately frustrated in that they finished second in their prelim bracket, won all three playoff games, and yet did not qualify for the finals. This contrasts with my own team, who finished third in the prelims and would have qualified for the finals had we gone 3-0 in the playoffs. Of course we went 0-3 so that point was moot.

Anyway, the impression I got was that the whole thing was just not well thought through by TRASH ahead of time. When the question was asked at the opening meeting, they kind of just looked at each other, shrugged, and gave an off-the-cuff answer without considering all the implications. I think this is a good learning opportunity for the future.

I'll have some comments on the questions in a future post, I'm sure.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by mrmaguda » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:58 am

I just want to compliment TRASH on a very well-run tournament. This was my 4th straight and the moderators were by far the best of any of the trashionals I've been to. I had no complaints about any of them. This was also my first year attending the welcoming party and I had a great time.

Although this was my worst individual performance at any trashionals, I think it is more due to my lack of paying attention to stuff than any problems with the set.

I did not play in last week's RC Cola tournament but the people I was playing with did and they stated that there was quite a bit of overlap between the two tournaments. And I'm pretty sure I heard that exact same Alpha Dog tossup at either regionals or last year's trashionals.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:19 am

Coelacanth wrote:The playoff format that's been used for the past n years has taken the top two teams from each of the 3 prelim brackets into the finals group, with only the head-to-head records carrying over. That resulted in a four-round finals series with each team starting either 1-0 or 0-1.

This year, with only two prelim brackets, the top 3 from each bracket qualified. I don't think anyone would have complained if we had just carried over the head-to-heads again, but overcoming an 0-2 start with only 3 games to play is asking a lot.
In the last few weeks, we initially tried to find a few more teams so that we could have teams enter the top bracket with the standard one game in the top bracket played. Instead, we ended up losing a few teams. This made it very difficult to evaluate and finalize a system that would be fair, especially when teams drop out during the week before the tournament. It's difficult to constantly readjust brackets while trying to do the final editing passes on the questions.
Coelacanth wrote:Anyway, the impression I got was that the whole thing was just not well thought through by TRASH ahead of time. When the question was asked at the opening meeting, they kind of just looked at each other, shrugged, and gave an off-the-cuff answer without considering all the implications. I think this is a good learning opportunity for the future.
I'll agree that this was not the most organized TRASHionals... there were a lot of problems finding a host, my co-TD had to give up her duties because of personal issues, and we barely had enough staff (but they were fortunately a very talented staff). This was only my second time serving as a tournament TD (the first was TRASH Regionals last fall), so I apologize for any n00bie mistakes I made... I hope to learn from them and hope that, in spite of them, everyone had a good time (it does seem that way from the comments thus far).
mrmaguda wrote:I did not play in last week's RC Cola tournament but the people I was playing with did and they stated that there was quite a bit of overlap between the two tournaments. And I'm pretty sure I heard that exact same Alpha Dog tossup at either regionals or last year's trashionals.
The only thing I wrote that was a repeat of last weekend was the Devil May Cry... and I wrote that before then (I got the toss-up very early at RC because Mundus was in the opening clue).

If I remember correctly, I'm the only TRASH member who attended RC and I did not add anything to the set that was mentioned there. That would indicate to me that any overlap between RC and TRASHionals was purely coincidental.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by answerguy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:33 am

While it's not terribly difficult to get a field of 22-24 teams down to a handful of worthy contenders...there can only be two finalists and only one winner, and when you have a situation where there are three teams that are hard to distinguish, any way of doing it is going to leave someone out in the proverbial cold, and probably someone unhappy.

After Round 14, there were three potential finalists who all had a 1-1 record against each other. Across the rest of their games:
* One of those teams went undefeated.
* One of those teams had a draw against another playoff team, but no other losses.
* One of those teams had an extra loss to a non-contender.

There are two major issues here. Both of them involve things that were in fact thought through in advance, though one aspect of one of the issues I will confess was not thought through as much.

1. John's already explained why in this situation I think using overall record is preferrable to those where most of a team's games are just thrown out.
a. In a system where most games are tossed out, random losses become either incredibly meaningful (i.e. 1/6 of your effective record) or completely meaningless based entirely on who makes it into which group after the round-robin.
In addition to asking if it's fair for a team that comes into the playoffs at 6-4 to have a clearer path to the final than two teams (one in their bracket, and one not) that come in 8-2 (which did not happen but very easily could have)... is it fair to the three contending teams that didn't take losses (the two eventual finalists, plus Brian's team, as it happens) to non-contenders on Saturday to let the other three contending teams off the hook for their losses?
b. In practical terms, with fewer games counting, the chances of a circle of death increase, which, in a situation where we lack the rounds to play things off properly, could lead to de-facto single elimination.

Obviously teams in opposite brackets don't play the same schedule, which is probably the reason why total record is often not used in these sorts of situations, since pre-set brackets can sometimes be very uneven at these tournaments. The chances of that grow ever greater, and things grow potentially more uneven, the more divisions there are, to the point where it would be easier to justify throwing out games.

If a consensus develops is that these games should continue to be tossed out entirely or, alternatively, are only used for tiebreaking purposes, then that will likely be what we do next year.

2. It had not occurred to me nor anyone else (AFAIK) the implications re: what would happen re: a weighted final (a commonly used finals method) if the advantage held by one team was 0.5 games rather than 1 game or more. It was announced that the team with the better record gets the advantage and we couldn't exactly go back on that, though we're going to revisit that this time and possibly stipulate that a half-game advantage between the two finalists is going to be treated the same as a tie whereby the team that wins one game then has a better record and therefore is declared the winner. There was definitely something unsatisfying about the implications of a situation like this, even speaking as someone who's not a big fan of leaning heavily on head-to-head tiebreaking and would have been opposed to any system that granted a team with an inferior record a weighted advantage in the final.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by answerguy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:42 am

mrmaguda wrote:I just want to compliment TRASH on a very well-run tournament. This was my 4th straight and the moderators were by far the best of any of the trashionals I've been to. I had no complaints about any of them. This was also my first year attending the welcoming party and I had a great time.

Although this was my worst individual performance at any trashionals, I think it is more due to my lack of paying attention to stuff than any problems with the set.

I did not play in last week's RC Cola tournament but the people I was playing with did and they stated that there was quite a bit of overlap between the two tournaments. And I'm pretty sure I heard that exact same Alpha Dog tossup at either regionals or last year's trashionals.
For whatever it is worth, as the main author of the aforementioned Alpha Dog tossup who wrote for the regionals set and who played at last year's TRASHionals, I don't remember there being any tossup about Alpha Dog.

As far as RC Cola last week, at most two of us were in attendance there and the vast majority of what was heard this weekend was written well before RC Cola happened.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by MichaelKearney » Mon Apr 07, 2008 12:54 pm

As the main writer/editor of RC Cola, and one of the eventual winners of TRASHionals, I would've loved to have more overlap between the questions, since that would've meant I could get more of them. Having written over half of the tossups/bonuses in RC, I didn't see any overlap that went beyond "Hay, Devil May Cry 4 just came out, I will write a question about it!


Sinistar - Not really hard, since it was one of the first games to use a computerized voice.
Papyrus - Asking a question about a developer is always fair game.
Klobb from Goldeneye - Every single person who owned an N64 had this game, and there's only one suck-tastic automatic in it.
Destructoid - one of the top 3 gaming websites out there, so it becomes a guess between Kotaku/1up
Voyeur - most people couldn't possibly name a single CD-i game, so this is a wee bit hard
Gongaga from FFVII - I hate this question, because I should have gotten it. As I've mentioned before, questions about specific locations in games become way harder when no one's played the game in a decade.
Troy Aikman - If you try to name 16-bit football videogames STARRING an athlete, you have Joe Montana and Troy Aikman. Pick one.
Tobal No. 1 - The only reason anyone played this game was because it had a playable demo of FFVII, which is the memorable part
Wolf from Star Fox - You asked about a character from Star Fox who's in SSMB:Brawl. Considering Fox and Falco are already there, Wolf becomes the only guess. (Because Slippy can go to hell)
Chris Sawyer developer of RollerCoaster Tycoon - These are some of the best-selling games ever, and he's pretty famous.
"muddled" from a FFIII/IV visual - Meh. I just didn't get hit by muddled all that much in that game.
Viewtiful Joe: Double Trouble - Recent release=fair game.
Mundus from Devil May Cry - This is hard. I would've asked about Trish.
In The Hunt - I can't name a single other submarine based shooter....so, I should've gotten this.
Jill from Epic MegaGames trilogy - No. A thousand times no. Bloodrayne/Hana Vachel/Jill Valentine/Tyris Flare/Arista Dragoon, there are a TON of tough ladies in gaming, and a Commander Keen rip-off from the early 90's is just bleh
Curien mansion - I can't really think of a good third part to a House of the Dead question, so it's better than nothing
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by pray for elves » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:51 pm

Okay, now that I've slept and I am once again coherent, I'll post some of my thoughts.

Note: of questions I didn't hear, for the most part if a bonus was placed after #16 or 17 in a packet I wasn't likely to hear it. So, if there are numerous counterexamples to my points in those unheard questions, then perhaps the solution is to not place all of those bonuses so late in packets.

It didn't help that I had a bye during round 2, but as a result of the bye the first two audio tossups I heard were both "Name the 1980s song and artist". It's not a problem to have two audio tossups both on 1980s music, but having them in the first two games I played certainly didn't help to remove the impression I have of the target audience of TRASH. For music, the 60s and 70s seemed to be underrepresented, as usual. It doesn't help that again, as a result of the bye, I missed the only 60s audio question, a bonus on 1960s instrumentals, but I don't think I heard any questions on British invasion bands, or any pioneering 1960s rock. There was one bonus part on the Led Zeppelin live release How the West Was Won, and a "Lynyrd Skynyrd songs from lyrics" bonus, plus a tossup on Comfortably Numb, but other than that the classic rock seemed to be rather slim.

Video games definitely had coverage mostly from the very new and the old, with games from five to ten years ago being mostly left out (the Goldeneye bonus is the only one that comes to mind from that time frame). I don't know what the rest of the FFVII bonus was like, as it was lamed by the other team, but the first part was about the PSP prequel that just came out. Also, the one genre of old video games that I could get most questions on, text adventures, was completely ignored.

For sports, hockey seemed to be deemphasized; I know a lot of people dislike hockey, and even though I like the questions, I know many people don't. It seemed obvious that there was a conscious effort this year to reduce the number of hockey questions, because I heard fewer hockey questions than soccer, and many, many more auto racing questions than hockey and soccer combined. I'm no fan of auto racing, and I loathe the questions, but because I have that bias I'll just say there were too many racing questions for my taste and leave it at that. One question that stuck out to me as out of difficulty was a soccer bonus with answers Maradona/Hand of God/England, which was far too easy for a tournament that featured tossups on Derby County and the Copa Libertadores. Also, on the Derby County question (but something that can also apply to any sports question), the first four lines of the question seemed to be club history, without giving any names of players. Thankfully the person who beat me to the buzz was my own teammate on the clue that they won the promotion playoff last year, but without any names of people involved (historically or currently) with a sports team it's very hard to be sure of your answer. Overall, though, sports were pretty good.

At this point, I'd just like to say that I think my criticisms above about video games and music, and the previously posted comment that TRASH skews older on movies and TV (which I agree with), all are symptomatic of what I think the main issue to be resolved in TRASH is: it seems to me like there's a core of people who are still active who started playing and/or writing TRASH at the very beginning of the organization's existence, and this group of people for the most part grew up in the 1980s. As a result, many questions are written by this audience for this audience. An effort is seemingly made to balance it out with a few tossups on topics that supposedly skew younger, but the key categories except perhaps for sports still wind up being skewed towards the people who grew up in the 1980s, and as a result the same people come back year after year to finish at the top of the standings, without many new, younger people staying around.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 1:52 pm

MichaelKearney wrote:Troy Aikman - If you try to name 16-bit football videogames STARRING an athlete, you have Joe Montana and Troy Aikman. Pick one.
Well there's this, but I'd imagine even fewer people played that one than Troy Aikman's game...

BTW, I love how the All Game Guide recommends the Japanese NES game based on the film Labyrinth for those who like Emmitt Smith Football...
MichaelKearney wrote:Tobal No. 1 - The only reason anyone played this game was because it had a playable demo of FFVII, which is the memorable part
I thought about adding that clue, but I thought it might be too easy for the "hard" part.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:15 pm

DeisEvan wrote:Video games definitely had coverage mostly from the very new and the old, with games from five to ten years ago being mostly left out (the Goldeneye bonus is the only one that comes to mind from that time frame). I don't know what the rest of the FFVII bonus was like, as it was lamed by the other team, but the first part was about the PSP prequel that just came out.
I think you are correct here. After Regionals, I made an effort to bring a few more N64/PSX/PS2/Xbox/GameCube era stuff into the questions. The stuff from that era that came up would include:

- Dungeon Siege (mentioned in the Bullfrog bonus part)
- Goldeneye bonus
- Rez toss-up (PS2/DC)
- Several mentions of PSX/DC games in the puzzle toss-up
- Deus Ex and RollerCoaster Tycoon used as clues in the PC game developers (people)
- PlayStation fighting games bonus
- Project Gotham Racing series (included clues about PGR 1 & 2 and Metropolis Street Racer)
- Reference to Tekken loading game in Galaga bonus part
- Ikaruga (GameCube/DC) bonus part
- House of the Dead bonus in the finals

That's a little on the light side... I'm thinking I may need to re-tinker with my distribution, sacrificing 1 or 2 from both the newest games and 1 or 2 from older games to get a little more coverage of that era.
DeisEvan wrote:Also, the one genre of old video games that I could get most questions on, text adventures, was completely ignored.
I'm not sure if this is something that should come up every tournament (most people probably couldn't name things about text adventures beyond Zork or Infocom), but there are plenty of games and things worth asking about in that genre... especially at a national or masters-level tournament.
DeisEvan wrote:At this point, I'd just like to say that I think my criticisms above about video games and music, and the previously posted comment that TRASH skews older on movies and TV (which I agree with), all are symptomatic of what I think the main issue to be resolved in TRASH is: it seems to me like there's a core of people who are still active who started playing and/or writing TRASH at the very beginning of the organization's existence, and this group of people for the most part grew up in the 1980s. As a result, many questions are written by this audience for this audience. An effort is seemingly made to balance it out with a few tossups on topics that supposedly skew younger, but the key categories except perhaps for sports still wind up being skewed towards the people who grew up in the 1980s, and as a result the same people come back year after year to finish at the top of the standings, without many new, younger people staying around.
Bingo. I think Casey, Yogesh, and I are the youngest people in TRASH. The overwhelming majority are older. I think I've posted it on this board before, but the easiest way for TRASH to fix this is to hire more people who are 25 and under to write more questions for the collegiate audience. The problem? We haven't had people under-25 apply to be in TRASH. While we aren't actively looking to add someone to the roster (we are at a decent size right now), I know we would definitely consider anyone with decent question-writing skills who is young and interested in joining. If you are, drop me an e-mail and we'll chat.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by MichaelKearney » Mon Apr 07, 2008 2:50 pm

As far as old games, there was that audio bonus, a part of a tossup on Bubbles that related to the Williams game, and...nothing that I can remember. As one of the only other people in the tournament who could nail text-adventure questions, how do you frame them? There are no visuals to remember, the characters are non-existent(since they're played first-person), and the only series that continued into the modern age was Zork. I don't think you can really blame the editors for ignoring them. Unless you REALLY want a tossup on
A Mind Forever Voyaging that will go dead in all but one room.
this group of people for the most part grew up in the 1980s. As a result, many questions are written by this audience for this audience. An effort is seemingly made to balance it out with a few tossups on topics that supposedly skew younger, but the key categories except perhaps for sports still wind up being skewed towards the people who grew up in the 1980s, and as a result the same people come back year after year to finish at the top of the standings, without many new, younger people staying around.
As a 24-year old who was fifth overall in individual scoring, um...huh? The reason the same people are at the top of the standings year after year is because they're experienced. They've played the game for a while, and are really good. Younger teams aren't prevented from winning, they just don't have the experience. Guys like Craig Barker and Jeremy White aren't good because TRASH is secretly writing questions on stuff that they mentioned last week on their blog, they're good because they write, read, and socialize with pop culture. You can't expect to be good without practice, and scrimmaging on a trash packet three weeks ago isn't going to cut it. "There are so many video game questions/there are so many sports questions" is the same ridiculous argument...if you were playing at ACF Nationals, you wouldn't forget to have an English Major on your team, so why should it be different to have a technogeek ringer on your TRASHionals team? Watch an hour of G4/ESPN once in a while, come to more tournaments, write more packets.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by answerguy » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:03 pm

DeisEvan wrote:Okay, now that I've slept and I am once again coherent, I'll post some of my thoughts.

Note: of questions I didn't hear, for the most part if a bonus was placed after #16 or 17 in a packet I wasn't likely to hear it. So, if there are numerous counterexamples to my points in those unheard questions, then perhaps the solution is to not place all of those bonuses so late in packets.

It didn't help that I had a bye during round 2, but as a result of the bye the first two audio tossups I heard were both "Name the 1980s song and artist". It's not a problem to have two audio tossups both on 1980s music, but having them in the first two games I played certainly didn't help to remove the impression I have of the target audience of TRASH. For music, the 60s and 70s seemed to be underrepresented, as usual. It doesn't help that again, as a result of the bye, I missed the only 60s audio question, a bonus on 1960s instrumentals, but I don't think I heard any questions on British invasion bands, or any pioneering 1960s rock. There was one bonus part on the Led Zeppelin live release How the West Was Won, and a "Lynyrd Skynyrd songs from lyrics" bonus, plus a tossup on Comfortably Numb, but other than that the classic rock seemed to be rather slim.
As music editor, this is exactly the sort of feedback I am looking for.

To answer your specific query, there were a few other classic rock-era questions not mentioned above. Of tossups, there was one about "Aqualung" by Jethro Tull, one about Joni Mitchell's "River," one about "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, the albums _Highway to Hell_ (AC/DC) and _Moondance_ (Van Morrison) in addition to biography questions about Joe Walsh and Freddie Mercury and an audio TU about Billy Joel's album _Piano Man_. There was a bonus on R&B/rockabilly tunes covered by the Beatles, two bonuses about Motown artists, one bonus about horn sections in bands (contained some 80s clues, but sort of straddled the line between 70s and 80s. ) The audio TU of Genesis' "Turn It On Again" and TU about "Games Without Frontiers" are technically about songs from 1980, but both songs are closer to being "classic rock" than either is to, say, Dead or Alive or even something like Husker Du. Some of these bonuses may have been placed late in packets; I honestly don't recall in some cases.

That having been said...if there is more interest in this era then by all means I want to hear about it. I am relatively new to TRASH staff but you're correct to note that I grew up smack dab in the 1980s. Thus, I may well prone to harboring an inflated notion of the relative importance and askability of '80s (and early '90s) material. I think our instinct in music collectively has been to try to be more inclusive of more recent music but have mostly cut down on things that were released before most players were born, since we're very mindful of wanting to expand to a base of younger and less experienced players. It may be the case that to that end we have cut back on classic rock-era material a bit too much and need instead to take a scalpel to some '80s and '90s questions next time around.

The other thing I heard about was what is referred to as "indie" rock. I wrote/accepted a number of these questions but fewer than some players would have liked and indeed fewer than part of me wanted to. The set had more bonuses in the category than TUs since I harbored a concern that TUs about acts without obvious giveaway hit songs like The New Pornographers and The Hold Steady would go mostly dead. That they were answered more often than not suggests that this concern was somewhat misplaced. Lesson learned.

And though I can't speak for everyone in TRASH, I believe that we make out best efforts to respond to criticism of what gets asked about. For instance, after a couple of complaints regarding the lack of more recent hip-hop in the regionals set, I went through the set, found that such material was indeed a little lacking among the rounds most teams would have heard (we wrote 16 rounds, but hardly anyone heard Rounds 12 or later) and then made an effort to include more of it this time around.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:14 pm

answerguy wrote:The other thing I heard about was what is referred to as "indie" rock. I wrote/accepted a number of these questions but fewer than some players would have liked and indeed fewer than part of me wanted to. The set had more bonuses in the category than TUs since I harbored a concern that TUs about acts without obvious giveaway hit songs like The New Pornographers and The Hold Steady would go mostly dead. That they were answered more often than not suggests that this concern was somewhat misplaced. Lesson learned.
Indie rock is a great example of why it is hard to estimate difficulty due to age. There was a bonus whose answers were Will 2K / M.I.A. / Cypress Hill. To most, the first and last parts are the easiest, with M.I.A. being the non-mainstream choice that fewer people know. In my room, a young team got this bonus and got 10 (almost 20 due to being close on one of the answers). The answer they got? M.I.A. The answer they almost got? Will 2K (they gave the album name). The answer they didn't get? Cypress Hill (with Insane in the Brain as a clue). I'm sure that's not the difficulty that was intended with this bonus, but to young undergrad teams, M.I.A. might actually be considered the easy 10 (or at least the medium-level clue).
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by pray for elves » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:40 pm

MichaelKearney wrote:text adventures can't be asked about
They absolutely can be worked in as third parts of bonuses, or a general bonus on them; you could have a bonus on things related to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with a hard part on something from the text adventure like the collection of four different kinds of fluff, or a bonus on Infocom/InvisiClues/some Infocom game, or a bonus on text adventures in general that goes something like Zork/Colossal Cave Adventure/Stationfall or whatever games you like. A tossup on a text adventure other than Zork (or perhaps HHGG with later clues involving the radio series, book, and other forms) would be ill-advised and likely would go dead in most rooms, and I won't claim otherwise, but Zork is so answerable that a recent trash tournament written for current high school students, EPIC, featured a tossup on it.
MichaelKearney wrote:they're good because they write, read, and socialize with pop culture. You can't expect to be good without practice, and scrimmaging on a trash packet three weeks ago isn't going to cut it.
MichaelKearney wrote:Watch an hour of G4/ESPN once in a while, come to more tournaments, write more packets.
Who the fuck are you to tell me that I don't do these things? How do you know how much ESPN or G4 I watch? (The answer, in fact, is decidedly more than I should.) Do you think I don't read packets? I've read packets from every trash tournament I can get my hands on, which is a hell of a lot. I've played every tournament that's come along in the last four years to the Northeast (4 years worth of Ann B. Davis mirrors, FOGHAT mirrors, TRASH regionals, the BU trash junior bird, DUCK bowl mirrors, mirrors of RC Cola and Big Lots, Boston College's abortive tournament, and everything else), and I've written a fair number of questions. You have no idea what I have or haven't done, and saying what boils down to "WATCH MORE TV AND GO TO MORE TOURNAMENTS, NOOB" is absolutely ridiculous.
MichaelKearney wrote:"There are so many video game questions/there are so many sports questions" is the same ridiculous argument...
Are you saying this is my argument? If you are, you should smack yourself and reread my post, because that isn't what I said at all. In fact, I said the sports questions were good, and that the video game questions were a little light on a certain time period. At no point did I say there were too many of either of those types of questions, and at no point did I say there were too many questions on anything except auto racing, and I even stated openly that that's a matter of personal taste.

If you're not trying to say this is my argument, please expound on what argument of mine this is related to.
MichaelKearney wrote:if you were playing at ACF Nationals, you wouldn't forget to have an English Major on your team, so why should it be different to have a technogeek ringer on your TRASHionals team?
Perhaps, since a cursory search of results shows you as not having played any academic tournaments, you've never played ACF nationals, but the last two national champions have not featured anyone studying English. (The last English student to win an ACF national title was Zeke Berdichevsky, of the 2005 Michigan team, who was a Ph.D. candidate in English.) Also, who's to say I'm not the technogeek on my TRASHionals team? The comparison is also not particularly valid, as everyone has read some literature at some time and thus can get questions on books they've read in an academic setting, while in trash people don't necessarily spend lots of time on the internet or playing video games. Also, I'm not sure why you even brought this up, as it doesn't seem particularly relevant to what I posted.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Mr. Kwalter » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:41 pm

I want to start out by saying that I greatly admire the TRASH staff for their constructive responses to criticisms levied by the players at the event. Anything else I say here really doesn't apply to your posts thusfar.

That being said, Mr. Kearney, I think your post reflects an attitude that has been a problem in TRASH for a long time (though posts in this thread certainly reflect an effort to fix it). You cannot dismiss people's criticisms of the canon (whether it be TRASH or academic) by saying, "It's not my fault you don't know it." While yes, studying for quizbowl is necessary to win, making younger players study a lot harder to learn things that the older players knew before they came to the game isn't really fair. It is not appropriate to say, "The canon is what it is and it shouldn't be changed because you have criticisms" to an experienced TRASH player whose comments have been acknowledged by others to be meaningful and constructive. I have staffed and/or played several TRASH tournaments, and I agree that the canon in TRASH should be a little less skewed. To say that the great TRASH teams win only because the questions are about things that are more in line with what they grew up with than they are with what some of the younger players know would be an insult to their skill, but there's no question that in the past there has been a barrier to entry for some of the younger players. So please, instead of dismissing people's comments by saying, "I'm 24, I did well, thus clearly there is no bias against people under 25" and making analogies to academic quizbowl that don't make sense, in the future try to be more constructive.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Rothlover » Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:57 pm

John, I want to thank you for starting the thread and being receptive to critiques. Your effort to make the set public is also very much appreciated and such open dialogue, if taken to heart, can only further the qualitative gains in TRASH q's, especially if the organizational members, on the whole emulate your attitude. A bunch of us would be more than willing to offer question by question critique in the chatroom should you or Fred or anyone want to come by and take that.

Kearny, you really know nothing about what Evan knows or doesn't know. Over the past few years, he has built himself up into a strong trash generalist with some of the best depth in specialties of trash people out there. He is precisely the example you'd want of a young person who is good at trash with the ability to contribute to any top tiered team on a reasonably distributed set. To dismiss his remarks out of hand and make bizarre academic parallels is either misguided or just fucked up.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by MichaelKearney » Mon Apr 07, 2008 4:46 pm

Yep. You're right. My comments did seem a bit flippant. Apologies to you, Evan. Your earlier post seemed a wee bit picky, and I fell upon the old standard argument I use when people mention that their favorite topic didn't come up enough. As someone who has played as much trash as you have, you must certainly understand my urge to defend this year's tournament. I've been pushing for more balance for a while, and when we finally get it (1/1 video games and what seemed like .5/.5 comics is a REALLY big evolution), we begin talking about the lack of games created by two publishers from 1980-1986, and British Invasion bands from the 60's. I think TRASH's target audience is the mean age of its players, in an attempt to be as fair as possible. It just so happens that the top of the bell curve is right smack dab in 1986 or so. I think that the younger questions were set to be slightly more difficult to avoid "Who's Hot Now" types of tossups, but the 1980's bonuses were eminently gettable, even for younger players(Cypress Hill, NWA, Cyndi Lauper)

The main concept behind trash tournaments is sheer enjoyment of the ridiculousness of pop culture. Having a tossup wherein you play Wii Tennis is a perfect example of that. There will always be tournaments in which there's not as much XXXXX as you'd want, but TRASH did a bang-up job of including a huge array of new topics into an already overstuffed canon. I'm sure that the one or two players who really love Broadway music questions were pleased, also. They also shoved in a ton of incredibly silly tossups that somehow managed to be pyramidal. (nose-picking, Hamlet in Klingon, the Shocker)

To repeat, my earlier statements weren't specifically directed at Evan, and I don't need or want to call anyone out. But I really do not believe that TRASH is somehow skewing their questions so that the "same people come back year after year", and to say so is a disservice to the Keenans and O'Reillys, who can (and have) frequently whomped me on questions set right in my childhood. Pretending that there's a bias against younger teams is just silly, considering how well the NYU A team did(I'm sure I'll be corrected, but they can't possibly be older than 25)
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:14 pm

Kilby wrote: 2) From what I understand (and I'd have to look at the stats to confirm), LOLcat lost to NYU by 5 points. Let's say they pulled that win off... they would have made the top bracket over NYU. Then LOLcat, with having beaten the O'Reilly's, enters the top bracket with a 1-1 record. That means a team that went 6-4 overall enters the top bracket with a better shot of making the finals than O'Reilly (8-2 overall, 0-2 in top bracket) and Tia & TRASHmen (8-2 overall, 0-2 in top bracket).
This is correct - we lost to NYU by 5. While we would have enjoyed the extra win over NYU, I think our team is in agreement that our performance wasn't top-bracket worthy. I'm glad this didn't happen and didn't make the situation that much screwier.

That being said, I know we all enjoyed the tournament and the question set. I'm going to withhold specific criticisms until I can get a look at the set again, but I think variable bonus difficulty sticks out the most. The best example I can recall was a bonus we got on people who tested on the third hour of Today - all people whom none of us had heard of, which was followed by a very easy 5-10-20-30 on historically inaccurate movies for the other team. (I think this specific example has been mentioned before.)

Regardless though, thanks to the TRASH folks for both running a good tournament, and for also being very open and willing to listen to comments made regarding the tournament and the question set. I don't think any of this hasn't already been said, but it's worth repeating. Thanks also to UTC for being gracious hosts - we enjoyed our time in Chattanooga immensely.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Dan Greenstein » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:20 pm

I would like to thank the TRASH staff for running a very good tournament and drawing me to Chattanooga, which I have finally visited after about 50 UTC tournaments post the start of my collegiate quizbowl career in 2000. I also thank them for being very inviting of constructive criticism, so in addition to the accolades, I will provide some that will hopefully help TRASHionals 12 be better.

I will start with the tournament format. As someone else mentioned, the decree that full preliminary records would carry over into the playoffs for deciding the finalists seemed like a rushed answer, and it ended up being a major problem. My team's big win over the O'Reillys ended up costing them control over their finals destiny. I will grant that deciding the finalists based on record against all teams in the top flight would have produced a not much less undesirable situation, with the Keenans being left out of the final based on a tie. Those two along with the Dirks were clearly the three best teams at the tournament. There needs to be a procedure for dealing with such a three way deadlock or near-deadlock at the top.

Another problem was the non-resolution of ties in games. As Tim mentioned, this is not something TRASH considered previously. Now that ties have caused a logistical problem, it is time for TRASH to either come up with a procedure for dealing with ties in records, resolve all tied games, or return to some kind of points system for determining standings. When I saw that the three top teams were separated by half a game, the first thought on how to determine the champion was to have the second and third teams in the standings play, with the winner playing the top team for the championship. That may have been the fairest idea given that I later found out only two packets were available for finals.

That segues into another criticism, that only 16 packets were produced for this two-day tournament. Sixteen packets is fine for a one-day tournament, but turned out to be too close for comfort for this national championship tournament. Having extra packets would have potentially allowed a better finals procedure that would have brought a more satisfying conclusion.

The tournament format was for the most part good as it was. but more games on Sunday would have been nice. That the field was small did constrain TRASH in this regard, but I still would have liked to play at least one more game Sunday morning. There was one team for whom it was not worth showing up Sunday to play only three games.

One of the benefits of having games in adjacent rooms in Holt became a disadvantage when audio questions could be heard through the walls. It was not anything that could have changed the outcome of a game, but it was annoying. It was disappointing having to travel between different floors in Grote. A happy medium between these two situations is needed for next year.

I was pleased with the inclusion of audio tossups and bonuses, but I was disappointed that there were very few visual bonuses, only one that I can remember.

On to the questions. The video games seemed to be skewed toward those produced in the last ten years, with a smaller number of representatives from the decade of 1988 to 1998. Hockey was underrepresented, auto racing was overrepresented, and I remember only two college sports questions that were not basketball or football. One of them was the tossup about the Cambridge-Oxford boat race, which was one of those questions where you know what it is but think you need an exact title, but find out the name of the universities is enough. I answered with Oxbridge and was denied, even though it is a very common name for the rivalry between the universities.

There was also that tossup about that shuffleboard-like game played on an octagonal surface, which was an example of multiple questions that were not answered in any rooms. It seemed that the difficulty of the set was higher than last year and the randomization of the questions did not work as it should have, resulting in a few very difficult rounds, rounds that were significantly skewed toward youth or geezer teams, and bonus difficulty all over the place.

I will end on a positive note. The awards ceremonies of TRASHionals are typically very enjoyable affairs, the best in the business. Therefore, I was very pleased when the awards ceremony ex placement trophies was conducted prior to the final series. My team was in favor of leaving after our last game after a tournament of highs and lows, so we were happy for the memories of the awards without having to sit through what turned out to be two finals games.

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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by creed_of_hubris » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:51 pm

That segues into another criticism, that only 16 packets were produced for this two-day tournament. Sixteen packets is fine for a one-day tournament, but turned out to be too close for comfort for this national championship tournament. Having extra packets would have potentially allowed a better finals procedure that would have brought a more satisfying conclusion.
We had extra packets; that was not the issue.

To the best of my knowledge, we've never broken out ties in the standings (for a spot in an upper bracket, for a spot in the finals) using a packet before; we've always used head-to-head or statistical tiebreakers. It is something we will discuss going forward.
Hockey was underrepresented, auto racing was overrepresented,
Auto racing is a lot more popular in this country than hockey. MMA is more popular than hockey at this point. You're not the first one with this complaint, so we'll look at how much auto racing there was, but I don't view "more auto racing than hockey questions" as a flaw in the set, just as I wouldn't view "more country music than indie rock questions" as a flaw.
It seemed that the difficulty of the set was higher than last year and the randomization of the questions did not work as it should have, resulting in a few very difficult rounds, rounds that were significantly skewed toward youth or geezer teams, and bonus difficulty all over the place


Beyond the category level, the placement of questions into the rounds really is random. I assure you that any resulting perceived difficulty or age-bias of the rounds is a statistical artifact. It's possible that non-randomness is actually better; we'll talk it over.

We will continue to work on standardizing bonus difficulty.

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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by creed_of_hubris » Mon Apr 07, 2008 8:55 pm

Dan Greenstein wrote:
One of the benefits of having games in adjacent rooms in Holt became a disadvantage when audio questions could be heard through the walls.
We were aware of this issue, but we were unable to come to a good solution -- one of the players was hard of hearing, so the audio questions in his room needed to be quite loud for him to have a shot at them. There was sometimes bleedthrough from that room. In the other rooms, as far as I know, this was not a problem.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by pray for elves » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:15 pm

Perhaps I should clarify, as Fred seems to have missed what I was trying to say: I wasn't trying to complain that there wasn't enough hockey. I was actually just trying to make the observation that hockey seemed greatly reduced from past TRASH sets for the benefit of people who weren't there, since too much hockey has been a point of criticism in the past. I'm well aware of the status of hockey in this country, and repeatedly bringing up the stats on TV audience doesn't improve anything about my understanding. However, it seemed like there was 1/0 or 0/1 auto racing every round, and I am wondering if this was a concerted effort to bump up the standing of auto racing to a spot almost on par with basketball/baseball/football.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by creed_of_hubris » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:52 pm

DeisEvan wrote:Perhaps I should clarify, as Fred seems to have missed what I was trying to say: I wasn't trying to complain that there wasn't enough hockey. I was actually just trying to make the observation that hockey seemed greatly reduced from past TRASH sets for the benefit of people who weren't there, since too much hockey has been a point of criticism in the past.
OK. When someone says that something is "underrepresented", I assume they think there should be more of it....

Your sense of the frequency of auto racing questions may be off; I count 8 in the set, so 1 every other round; still more than the 6 hockey questions, but not at the level of baseball/football/basketball.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by pray for elves » Mon Apr 07, 2008 9:58 pm

creed_of_hubris wrote:
DeisEvan wrote:Perhaps I should clarify, as Fred seems to have missed what I was trying to say: I wasn't trying to complain that there wasn't enough hockey. I was actually just trying to make the observation that hockey seemed greatly reduced from past TRASH sets for the benefit of people who weren't there, since too much hockey has been a point of criticism in the past.
OK. When someone says that something is "underrepresented", I assume they think there should be more of it....

Your sense of the frequency of auto racing questions may be off; I count 8 in the set, so 1 every other round; still more than the 6 hockey questions, but not at the level of baseball/football/basketball.
Check again: the word I used for hockey was "deemphasized". The only thing I described as "underrepresented" was 1960s and 1970s music. Also, it may be a product of hockey bonuses being placed late in the round, or occurring during my bye round, but I only heard one hockey tossup and one hockey bonus all tournament, plus one bonus part on the Calgary Flames as part of an audio "name the team from lame 1980s song they recorded" bonus.

If there were only 8 auto racing questions in the set, it may be that they were all relatively early in rounds, so I heard all of them.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by creed_of_hubris » Mon Apr 07, 2008 10:03 pm

DeisEvan wrote:
creed_of_hubris wrote:
DeisEvan wrote:Perhaps I should clarify, as Fred seems to have missed what I was trying to say: I wasn't trying to complain that there wasn't enough hockey. I was actually just trying to make the observation that hockey seemed greatly reduced from past TRASH sets for the benefit of people who weren't there, since too much hockey has been a point of criticism in the past.
OK. When someone says that something is "underrepresented", I assume they think there should be more of it....

Your sense of the frequency of auto racing questions may be off; I count 8 in the set, so 1 every other round; still more than the 6 hockey questions, but not at the level of baseball/football/basketball.
Check again: the word I used for hockey was "deemphasized".
True.

However, the message I originally responded to (and quoted) was from Dan Greenstein, who did say that hockey was underrepresented.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Mon Apr 07, 2008 11:05 pm

Dan Greenstein wrote:One of the benefits of having games in adjacent rooms in Holt became a disadvantage when audio questions could be heard through the walls. It was not anything that could have changed the outcome of a game, but it was annoying. It was disappointing having to travel between different floors in Grote. A happy medium between these two situations is needed for next year.
For those who were at TRASHionals the last time we had it at UTC: you may remember playing in a much nicer building with plenty of adjacent rooms where noise didn't bleed over. From what I understand, UTC lost the ability to use that building because of some combination of the janitors getting mad at one of the players at a high school tournament leaving gum in the elevator or the building being reclassified as having too many computer labs to reserve rooms for general student events... never was clear on that.

We had two rooms on the first floor of Holt as well as one on the second floor reserved... I actually didn't hear about this as I was in Grote all day. We could have moved rooms, but I guess that would have been confusing and slow things down slightly. As far as Grote is concerned, we used every room that could be reserved in that building.
Dan Greenstein wrote:That segues into another criticism, that only 16 packets were produced for this two-day tournament. Sixteen packets is fine for a one-day tournament, but turned out to be too close for comfort for this national championship tournament.

The tournament format was for the most part good as it was. but more games on Sunday would have been nice. That the field was small did constrain TRASH in this regard, but I still would have liked to play at least one more game Sunday morning. There was one team for whom it was not worth showing up Sunday to play only three games.
One of the things we discussed afterwards is that, since most Regionals never used the 16 packets we wrote for them, that we might cut back our production on Regionals and increase our production for TRASHionals.

As far as only three games on Sunday: we could have dismissed earlier on Saturday after 10 or even 9 rounds, but we really wanted to finish the first round-robin in the first day so we could have plenty of time to do seedings. This got teams out the door much, much sooner on Sunday, but the trade-off was only playing three games on Sunday.
Dan Greenstein wrote:The video games seemed to be skewed toward those produced in the last ten years, with a smaller number of representatives from the decade of 1988 to 1998.
That's pretty close in line with my distribution. I tend to restrain myself from writing lots of NES/Genesis/SNES-era questions because it seems like the demand is to go more recent than that... but I'd more than happy to indulge and write a few more questions about this era. In general, I tend to get a lot of mixed signals from what people want more or less of, but the general consensus I've seen is that people want a bit more in the era that begins with the PSX (around 1994) and ends with the Xbox/Gamecube/PS2 era (roughly 2-3 years ago).
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by answerguy » Tue Apr 08, 2008 10:24 am

Dan Greenstein wrote:I would like to thank the TRASH staff for running a very good tournament and drawing me to Chattanooga, which I have finally visited after about 50 UTC tournaments post the start of my collegiate quizbowl career in 2000. I also thank them for being very inviting of constructive criticism, so in addition to the accolades, I will provide some that will hopefully help TRASHionals 12 be better.

I will start with the tournament format. As someone else mentioned, the decree that full preliminary records would carry over into the playoffs for deciding the finalists seemed like a rushed answer, and it ended up being a major problem. My team's big win over the O'Reillys ended up costing them control over their finals destiny. I will grant that deciding the finalists based on record against all teams in the top flight would have produced a not much less undesirable situation, with the Keenans being left out of the final based on a tie. Those two along with the Dirks were clearly the three best teams at the tournament. There needs to be a procedure for dealing with such a three way deadlock or near-deadlock at the top.

Another problem was the non-resolution of ties in games. As Tim mentioned, this is not something TRASH considered previously. Now that ties have caused a logistical problem, it is time for TRASH to either come up with a procedure for dealing with ties in records, resolve all tied games, or return to some kind of points system for determining standings. When I saw that the three top teams were separated by half a game, the first thought on how to determine the champion was to have the second and third teams in the standings play, with the winner playing the top team for the championship. That may have been the fairest idea given that I later found out only two packets were available for finals.

That segues into another criticism, that only 16 packets were produced for this two-day tournament. Sixteen packets is fine for a one-day tournament, but turned out to be too close for comfort for this national championship tournament. Having extra packets would have potentially allowed a better finals procedure that would have brought a more satisfying conclusion.
1. As someone already said, there were extra rounds available. (One was an emergency backup, the other was effectively designed to be a playoff round.) The issue was that having an extra playoff game would have been arbitrarily changing rules midstream based on the standings, which is a no-no pretty much everywhere. If we were to do this over again, there would have been a rule providing for a playoff round in this exact situation, and if it were to ever arise again, I have to believe that what you suggest here is will be what is done.

2. The existence of the ties was not the real problem. Indeed, across the entirety of the event, having them proved more beneficial than detrimental when it came to having ties in the standings after 11 rounds. (There were - despite a large and very closely bunched middle in one of the brackets in particular - no circles of death, and if I remember correctly no head-to-head tiebreaker anywhere in the field moved a team from one tier up/ down into another tier.)

We are going to do things at least a little differently next year for sure. If people really want ties broken during games, we'll look into that.
Dan Greenstein wrote:The tournament format was for the most part good as it was. but more games on Sunday would have been nice. That the field was small did constrain TRASH in this regard, but I still would have liked to play at least one more game Sunday morning. There was one team for whom it was not worth showing up Sunday to play only three games.
We had designed things for 28 teams and in the end only 22 teams actually showed up. The main priority was getting done as soon as possible on Sunday knowing that we had three rounds of playoffs, a possible round to break ties, one or two finals rounds, and a short awards presentation. And unlike most Saturday-only tournaments, that 2:00 deadline is an iron-clad commitment given how many players and staff have flights to catch and have to go to school/work the next day.

Switching a Saturday round into Sunday would have been problematic since there would have been an additional break in the action Sunday morning while we figured out playoff placement and seedings. As it was, we figured things out as the round robin drew to a close at the end of Saturday and no one had to sit and wait around for us to make the calculations if they didn't want to.

As for 16 rounds in a one-day tournament, well, that is what we furnished the hosts for regionals, and, unless I am mistaken, not a single one of the nine regionals sites ran longer than 11 rounds. (As it was, this year there were people clamoring to get done faster so that they could watch basketball.) An untimed trash tournament where there are more logisitics issues than usual due to the high number of multimedia questions, where there were fewer officials than anticipated due to travel difficulties, and where there are no dining options within easy walking distance (requiring a 75-minute lunch break that got stretched even more) more or less limited us to the 11 rounds on Saturday.

We're certainly open to the idea of instead of our usual 16 in the fall and 18 in the spring to produce 14 in the fall and 19 (or, if we had sufficient personnel to do so, even 20) in the spring.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:06 pm

answerguy wrote:(There were - despite a large and very closely bunched middle in one of the brackets in particular - no circles of death, and if I remember correctly no head-to-head tiebreaker anywhere in the field moved a team from one tier up/ down into another tier.)
I *think* there was one instance where two teams in one of the brackets was tied for the last spot in the next-to-last of the four brackets. I'm pretty sure that the only other kind of tie that had to be broken using head-to-head was seeding within each new bracket (i.e. who is #5 or #6 in the bracket with the #4, #5, #6 teams). The only thing that determined is when and where teams played in rounds 12 - 14, not who they played.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Coelacanth » Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:26 pm

Kilby wrote:I *think* there was one instance ...
Now might be a good time to get those stats and standings online.

I should add that our team very much appreciated the 11 rounds Saturday/3 rounds Sunday split. Being able to leave shortly after 1 on Sunday made our drive back to the Atlanta airport a lot more pleasant (and safe!) than it otherwise might have been.

I just wish we'd gotten done earlier than 7pm on Saturday. Even subtracting out the 75 minute lunch break, that's 8.5 hours of game time (between the announced start time of 9:15 and the approximate finish at 7) to play 11 rounds. That's over 45 minutes a round, which is pretty shockingly slow for 20/20 rounds.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by answerguy » Tue Apr 08, 2008 12:50 pm

Coelacanth wrote: I just wish we'd gotten done earlier than 7pm on Saturday. Even subtracting out the 75 minute lunch break, that's 8.5 hours of game time (between the announced start time of 9:15 and the approximate finish at 7) to play 11 rounds. That's over 45 minutes a round, which is pretty shockingly slow for 20/20 rounds.
Unfortunately, we had a combination of thinks that happened that led to the slow pace of the tournament. But the main factors were:
* A late start (I don't think play began until well after 9:15, sadly) due to logistical set up issues;
* An unanticipated shortage of game officials due to travel-related difficulties;
* Needing to use multiple buildings;
* Schedule-related confusions in one building to the last-minute field changes;

We haven't heard complaints about slow moderators or question length (many of us made more an effort to shorten our questions after many people thought that questions in the regionals set ran too long) so logistical issues probably were mostly responsible for the delays.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Bigfoot isn't the pr » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:05 am

While I fear that my comments may be lost to the ocean of debate and replying to posts there are a few things I would like to say about TRASHionals

A) It was well run, I had no problem with the moderators, and (besides a few minor, minor errors) stats were kept sufficiently.
B) I am sorry my cd player wasn't working when I got there. In retrospect I should've tested it. I am just glad my team member was willing to volunteer his laptop.
C) Chattanooga was better than I initially thought it was going to be. The hotel we stayed in was by far the nicest I have stayed in for any academic/trash event (with the possible exception of NAQT Nats).
D) While the video game distribution may have had some rather difficult parts, I didn't mind it too much.
E) I was overjoyed that there were two Star Wars tossups (Tarkin and Chewbacca). While it may be a bit of an error in the distribution (considering their proximity in packets), I found them to be a significant improvement from last year's Sabacc tossup.
F) Maybe it was just me, but I found the TRASH lit this year to be much more attainable than in the prior years. So kodos to them.
G) I was a bit disappointed in the lack of theme rounds, but my team didn't bring one either so I can't really complain too much.

All in all, despite my teams whooping (we expected it, we're getting better, I swear!) I enjoyed the tournament.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:41 am

Kilby wrote:One of the things we discussed afterwards is that, since most Regionals never used the 16 packets we wrote for them, that we might cut back our production on Regionals and increase our production for TRASHionals.
FYI: NAQT gives out a 16-round set for Sectionals, and we did an 18-round ACF Regionals set this past year. It's good to allow people to go up to 13 or 14 regularly scheduled rounds and still have 2 packets left over for finals and 2 for playing off ties and replacing mistakenly read rounds (which seemingly happens at like half of all tournaments).
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:52 am

Matt Weiner wrote: It's good to allow people to go up to 13 or 14 regularly scheduled rounds and still have 2 packets left over for finals and 2 for playing off ties and replacing mistakenly read rounds (which seemingly happens at like half of all tournaments).
We actually almost had this happen on Saturday. Our moderator got to the room, looked at the packet, and said "I'm not sure this is the right round". She went back down to the HQ room and returned with the correct packet.

I think a good rule of thumb is to figure the number of packets you need for your full format including playoffs, add one for tiebreakers or staffing errors, and then add one more. I know as a TD I would sleep a lot better before the tournament worrying about what to do with one extra packet rather than what to do if I am one packet short.
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Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by ArloLyle » Thu Apr 10, 2008 10:07 am

I'm getting into this a little late, but anyway...

As most everyone has said this was a very good tournament. Kilby and everyone else did a great job.

I quickly want to go back to the topic about RC Cola overlap. I thought most of this was pretty innocent, though there was a bonus about the Rockets' recent winning streak where the first two parts were nearly word for word the same as a bonus at RC Cola. The third part though was completely different.

On the whole I thought this was probably the most balanced trash tournament I've been to. There were a few rounds the opposing team got a string tossups my team had no clue on, but we usually did the same in the second half. We had a lot of close games and I don't think there was a single one where I would say that the packet took us out of the game.

The scifi/comics/video games questions seemed to stand out quite a bit, but this may have just been because our team member who knows that stuff wasn't able to make the trip. Michael Kearney mentioned using these questions to balance the movie and TV questions skewing older. This may just be observation on his part or it may have been an intention, but I don't think it really works. I think I would venture to say that most everyone who goes to a trash tournament watches TV and movies, while not everyone and not every younger player even is in to scifi/comics/video games. More to the point the skew toward older players which has plagued trash tournaments in the past wasn't really there in my opinion. I had some problems with the music questions, but I think that was more a problem of skewing toward music I don't listen to, which is probably better for the tournament as a whole.

Again I just want to say this was a great tournament and I had great time. I hope to be at Trashionals again next year.

Kilby
Lulu
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 12:13 pm
Location: Chattanooga, TN Area

Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by Kilby » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:10 pm

Coelacanth wrote:Now might be a good time to get those stats and standings online.
Sorry, I lost the stats disk.

...

Sorry Charlie, I couldn't resist. Anyways, the stats for the first eleven rounds are below. I'll get the rest of them up later... I have some illness in my family, so it may be a week or two before I can finish entering the scoresheets from the last three rounds and finding gloriously wrong answers and the like.

http://www.terminallytrivial.com/quizbo ... dings.html
John Kilby
UTC (2001 - 2005)
TRASH Staff (2006 - 2009)

sid fernwilter
Kimahri
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 9:57 pm

Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by sid fernwilter » Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:28 pm

Does anyone have a copy of the Q's and A's used either digital or paper?

Please let me know.
Thanks.

mmgessner@hotmail.com

geoneb
Lulu
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Location: Rochester, NY
Contact:

Re: TRASHionals 11 Discussion

Post by geoneb » Wed May 07, 2008 8:06 pm

Were there TRASHinals t-shirts this year, and if so where may I acquire one?
Ben Seitelman
University of Rochester

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