5th of March Incident

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Dead Parrot
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5th of March Incident

Post by Dead Parrot » Tue Mar 05, 2019 3:00 am

Given that today is the fourth anniversary of the 5th of March Incident, I figured that now would be a good time for a thread about it in this forum. As someone who was entirely uninvolved with what happened, it would be great to get an insider's point-of-view of one of the greatest acts of heroism in quizbowl history.

(Background info: original thread, QBWiki article)
David Song
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Cheynem
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by Cheynem » Tue Mar 05, 2019 10:47 am

This was one of, if not the, most mind-blowing incidents in recent quizbowl history. Since I think everything and everyone turned out "well," I hope we can have some sober reflection of the various problems that allowed this incident to happen (Matt Jackson has talked about this a lot in some of the "resetting" forum posts). We can't expect sets to be unrealistically produced in the manner in which they were supposed to be produced.

I'll illustrate how amazing the emergency job was. On March 5th of that year, I was flying from Minneapolis to Grand Rapids. I'm usually an e-mail junkie, but for whatever reason (I think I was grading stuff at the airport and on the plane, and then when I got home I immediately went out to dinner and saw family), I didn't check my e-mail or get online from about late morning to evening. Needless to say, I had a surprise when I checked my e-mail and the forums. But the emergency had already been resolved by that point. Eric says I referred to the incident as the Miracle of the House of Mukherjee (the second being him shaving), and who I am to disagree with myself?
Mike Cheyne
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Mar 06, 2019 12:36 am

As I remember it, I got an FB messenger from Dave Madden around 2PM (it was a Thursday) while I was doing labwork (either running a gel or collecting colonies). Originally I thought that I'd kick in a few questions and call it a day, then realized that he was in way worse shape than I realized. The ask was something like 9 bowl packets and 4 bee packets, which is a ton.

Stuff that stood out:
1. I remember asking Dave for a distribution first thing. There was no distribution, just percentages. Percentages! Thankfully, Max Schindler was around to engineer a distribution from the numbers.
2. I got a lot of emails from people just offering questions (Coach Doll from Mannheim Township sent me an entire file of questions her students had written for practice for years, Zeke Berdichevsky wrote a few questions). It was kind of inspiring how many people were willing to help (but I suspect a lot of that was the promise of money).
3. Originally I thought we had until Saturday morning to write the set, given that's how sets are written in college. But NHBB needed the set Friday evening at 6PM because it needed to be down-converted to form a middle school set. I have no idea what kind of black magic lets you convert a set in less than a day, but...yeah it happened.
4. Matt Weiner believed that NHBB would collapse with him pulling out, and didn't anticipate this happening. Some say we shouldn't have intervened. At the time it seemed like the right thing to do, since otherwise people wouldn't have been able to play a set - or worse, they'd have played a god-awful set.
5. By far my favorite anecdote was having to change the IRC password to the writers room, because Ike Jose spoiled it. Since I was learning Irish mythology for nationals at the time, I made it "caladbolg", the sword Fergus Mac Roich used to cut off three hilltops.

The entire thing happened while Dave Madden was about to hop on a flight to Asia to run 2 different tournaments, so he was largely AFK through the whole thing; by the time he landed (I think in Seoul) it was done.

After the initial blitz was over, Matt Jackson did most of the work to coordinate the NHBB nationals sets (I helped but really he stepped up and took charge). A particularly clever thing he did was write a long introductory document for every writer. Buried somewhere in the middle of it, it told you to reply to the email with your favorite Vice President in order to get access to the doc (one person said Frank Underwood). This was a pretty great way of ensuring that people actually read the document.
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by Ike » Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:35 am

5. By far my favorite anecdote was having to change the IRC password to the writers room, because Ike Jose spoiled it. Since I was learning Irish mythology for nationals at the time, I made it "caladbolg", the sword Fergus Mac Roich used to cut off three hilltops.
IIRC the password was CloudxAeris :aaa: How could I not spoil that
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by Cheynem » Wed Mar 06, 2019 10:48 am

Regarding the "vice president" thing, Bruce Arthur refused to do this, consciously or unconsciously I do not know. I remember Matt Jackson repeatedly telling him to read the e-mail all the way.
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 06, 2019 11:39 am

Looking back in my emails, this must have been a bad weather day in Lexington. One thing that's often overlooked in all of this was the emergency establishment of a new NSC Tournament Director.

There was also the whole question of if Matt was okay, which I think extended for a couple of days past the fifth.
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Re: 5th of March Incident

Post by jonpin » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:00 am

ACF Nationals also needed to come up with a new TD, with even less lead time before the tournament.

Once the academic year was winding down and everyone was able to take a deep breath from three months of chaotic catch-up, item #1 on the agenda for the QB community was making sure that so many separate events weren't to all be placed in one person's hands going forward.
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