History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

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History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Nov 28, 2009 8:48 am

In the first of many responses to requests for lists, here are my top 10 tournaments of the past 10 years. This is a ranking of packet set quality, not the experience of playing a particular event.

#10) ACF Regionals 2006 - A really solid exemplar of ACF style from the last days of the "ACF-playing vs. non-ACF playing teams" divide. Provided some great games for some VCU players at their first collegiate tournament ever but was still pretty accessible. Lots of work went into this set from Matt Lafer, Chris Romero, and Mike Sorice, and it showed.

#9) The July Crisis 2008 - After a pretty crappy 2007 history tournament, I didn't know what to expect from Bruce the following year, but he clearly upped his game in the intervening months and wrote a really great set that fruitfully explored all sorts of new areas (loved the well-done tossup on "indigo") and foreshadowed the great RMPfests to come; consider this ranking a shared spot with those two tournaments.

#8) Minnesota Undergraduate Tournament 2008 - The solo debut of the core Minnesota editing team to rave reviews, save for that unfortunate meta question. This was one of the more interesting events to see people play on and fulfilled the purpose of the "undergraduate" tournament, which is neither a novice nor a regular event, quite well. The people responsible for this tournament went on to produce the very fun 2008 and 2009 Minnesota Opens, though I'm reluctant to list too many super-hard tournaments here.

#7) Michigan MLK 2006 - Ryan Westbrook's coming-out party as an editor, and the first MLK to emerge from the timed-tournament ghetto. A super-solid general-audience tournament.

#6) Chicago Open 2005 - Subash's swan song as a writer, and probably the most polished hard event I've ever participated on. Lots of good games at this tournament from top to bottom, lots of fun questions. Unlike some subsequent COs, this tournament always seemed to have a consistent sense of what it was trying to do.

#5) ACF Fall 2007 - We still use a packet from this to show how quizbowl works at the VCU activities fair. An excellent rebound from the 2006 ACF Fall that I worked on, which kind of lost its way with question length. I think this was also the first widely played tournament that Jonathan Magin edited, after providing solid efforts on the Terrapin and lit singles tournaments earlier in the same year.

#4) ACF Nationals 2007 - I think this tournament was the most consistent and appropriate-difficulty Nationals of the modern era, and I really enjoyed playing some tight games on it. It was also the last ACF tournament edited by the second generation of ACF editors before handing the baton off, and they went out on a high note.

#3) Teitler Myth Tournament 2005 - The birth of the modern single-subject tournament, and Seth Teitler's statement that he can indeed fill 13 rounds of myth with answerable tossups. I can imagine how much work went into that. I think a lot of what Jonathan and Bruce have achieved with successive side tournaments can be traced to the example set here.

#2 ) ACF Fall 2008 - Looking back, I'm still as amazed at what this tournament achieved as I was at the time. The note-perfect difficulty modulation over 136 teams, including many first-time players, that the nationwide stats for this event showed is baffling and leads me to conclude that Andrew Hart has some sort of esoteric superpower that lets him sense how a bonus will be converted. This tournament was also the birth of the "supervisory editor" model that is about to sweep quizbowl.

#1) ACF Regionals 2001 - That's right, a tournament from 2001, two full years before where I usually put the birth of good quizbowl, is the best of all time. What Subash accomplished with this event was the singlehanded redefinition of ACF Regionals from "that tournament with the hard questions and all the birthday and Nobel Prize clues" to a tournament that set the standard for the most up-to-date expression of good quizbowl practices. This tournament would be playable even today; set in the context of other events being produced in the 2000-2001 academic year, it was the equivalent of Michelangelo popping up among cavemen. Developments such as the creation of ACF Fall later in the same calendar year and the erosion of the "ACF IS IMPOSSIBLE" meme, and the incalculable effects that this opening-up has had on the present state of the game, are all directly traceable to Subash's visionary editing of Regionals 2001.

Honorable mentions: Chicago Open 2006, ACF Regionals 2008 (which I think was the best tournament I've ever worked on, though I will leave the judging of my output to others), NAQT SCT 2007, ACF Nationals 2002 (also ahead of its time in a lot of ways), the January 2009 edition of Terrapin, ACF Fall 2009, ACF Fall 2004
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Nov 28, 2009 9:29 am

Matt Weiner wrote: #3) Teitler Myth Tournament 2005 - The birth of the modern single-subject tournament, and Seth Teitler's statement that he can indeed fill 13 rounds of myth with answerable tossups. I can imagine how much work went into that. I think a lot of what Jonathan and Bruce have achieved with successive side tournaments can be traced to the example set here.
This tournament really changed my quizbowl life forever. I credit it with starting the "tossups on easy answers" craze that I've been a partisan of ever since. And I've consciously looked for inspiration to it during my subsequent career as a purveyor of subject tournaments.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by theMoMA » Sat Nov 28, 2009 12:02 pm

Great list, and I hope to see a lot more. I'm working on a list of the best hard tournaments I've played in, which I'll add to the thread after some more discussion of Matt's post.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Gautam » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:17 pm

The 2009 SCT deserves an honorable mention, at least. It was a pretty damn well written tournament, with only one or two difficulty outliers (the tossup on Miklos Horthy comes to mind.) I also thought it was among the best copy-edited tournaments, and had few issues playing it while running a fever.

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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Sat Nov 28, 2009 2:34 pm

gkandlikar wrote:The 2009 SCT deserves an honorable mention, at least. It was a pretty damn well written tournament, with only one or two difficulty outliers (the tossup on Miklos Horthy comes to mind.) I also thought it was among the best copy-edited tournaments, and had few issues playing it while running a fever.

Gautam
I will say that the DII version of this was probably the best NAQT tournament I have ever played
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by 49-Mile Scenic Drive » Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:42 pm

Frater Taciturnus wrote:
gkandlikar wrote:The 2009 SCT deserves an honorable mention, at least. It was a pretty damn well written tournament, with only one or two difficulty outliers (the tossup on Miklos Horthy comes to mind.) I also thought it was among the best copy-edited tournaments, and had few issues playing it while running a fever.

Gautam
I will say that the DII version of this was probably the best NAQT tournament I have ever played
Aside from our match where something was the answer twice (gamma I think?) I feel the same
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by JackGlerum » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:27 am

Glad to see last year's iteration of TIT on the honorable mention -- it struck regular difficulty gold, if I recall correctly.

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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Broad-tailed Grassbird » Sun Nov 29, 2009 11:10 am

Mark wrote:
Frater Taciturnus wrote:
gkandlikar wrote:The 2009 SCT deserves an honorable mention, at least. It was a pretty damn well written tournament, with only one or two difficulty outliers (the tossup on Miklos Horthy comes to mind.) I also thought it was among the best copy-edited tournaments, and had few issues playing it while running a fever.

Gautam
I will say that the DII version of this was probably the best NAQT tournament I have ever played
Aside from our match where something was the answer twice (gamma I think?) I feel the same
Two Gamma tossups in the same match was the strangest thing ever.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:37 pm

Not even the strangest thing at the tournament. Gamma is at least a playsible SCT level answer, unlike Horthy. I'm not sure there was ever a Horthy tossup before.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Gautam » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:50 pm

Matt Weiner wrote: Honorable mentions: [...] ACF Regionals 2008 (which I think was the best tournament I've ever worked on, though I will leave the judging of my output to others)
Regs 2008 has definitely been the best regular difficulty tournament I've played in my collegiate career (2007 Fall onwards.)
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Nov 29, 2009 1:59 pm

That Horthy tossup was converted at an entirely decent rate, too: 3/8/4 in 17 rooms, which is something like the 20th percentile of SCT conversion numbers. (Just within the history, tossups like "Leander Jameson," "Bartolome de Las Casas," and "Francisco Madero" were answered at much lower rates.)

Anyway, let's get this back on topic (I'd be happy to deal with "top 10 NAQT packet-editing problems of the decade" in a new thread).

My selection of favorite tournaments is kind of idiosyncratic, I think primarily because on anything beyond ACF Fall I'm a specialist player. So this comes down to "did this tournament contain 8-10 European history answer selections that I, personally, consider awesome?" as much as anything else. (And note that there are a lot of high-quality tournaments in the past 3-4 years that I haven't played, so this also skews a bit old.)

In no particular order: the Manu Ginobili Open, Auspicious Incident, ACF Nationals 2005, Gaddis 2008. If I follow Matt's example to include subject tournaments, extra credit to Geography Monstrosity (well, it was my own experimental vanity tournament).
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by MiltonPlayer47 » Mon Nov 30, 2009 12:55 pm

My favorite tournament was the 2008 Terrapin/MLK. It was pretty well-received, if I remember right.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Mon Nov 30, 2009 1:51 pm

My three favorite tournaments since returning were ACF Fall 2008, Minnesota Open 2008, and the January 09 Terrapin, all of which seem to have been generally praised.

I'm hesitant to try and list good tournaments from my undergraduate days (2001-2005), because a) my memory is foggy, b) I'm certain to conflate "question quality" with "overall experience", and c) above all, standards were lower back then (though I could certainly pick out a few egregiously bad tournaments). That being said, ACF Fall tended to be our team's favorite tournament of the year, with Terrapin and Chris Frankel's various efforts at Princeton (both Buzzerfest and Kickboxer) close behind.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Nov 30, 2009 3:01 pm

I really liked Deep Bench from 2007. I thought the questions were good and the format allowed for different kinds of contributions to a team's overall success than usual.

In regards to trash tournaments, I thought the CO Trash tournament from this year was the best of the lot of Yaphe edited trash tournaments. I also enjoyed the BU Trash Junior Bird tournament from a few years ago.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Gautam » Mon Nov 30, 2009 6:25 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:In regards to trash tournaments
Could we please leave that for a different thread?
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Nov 30, 2009 7:17 pm

For me, tournaments are like video games. It only takes about a half hour and you know the type of quality and polish you're getting, irrespective of difficulty and personal stylistic considerations.

When I think of high quality tournaments I've seen assembled (putting aside anything I've worked on) I think of: 2006 ACF Regs, 2008 Minny Open, Magin's debut literature tournament, JS Mill, 2008 ACF Fall, 2005 and 2006 ACF Nats, Manu Ginobili, Teitler's Mythology event, Jan 09 Terrapin.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:34 pm

One tournament from the 2000s that I enjoyed was the Kentucky Wildcat tournament in 2001. It struck me then as a good, moderate difficulty tournament with lots of interesting questions that successfully achieved the coveted "challenging-yet-accessible" label. It's been several years, and a lot of the questions and bonus forms haven't stood the test of time too well. Still, there's a lot of good stuff going on in that tournament. It's fitting that the writer of the Wildcat 2001, Kelly McKenzie, went on to invent ACF Fall. Not bad for a professional Scrabble player.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by nobthehobbit » Fri Dec 11, 2009 3:48 pm

It's hardly one of the ten best, but VETO 2009 sticks out in my mind as one of the most improved over previous editions (notwithstanding playing all three unedited packets at the Vancouver site).
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Mike Bentley » Fri Dec 11, 2009 6:30 pm

nobthehobbit wrote:It's hardly one of the ten best, but VETO 2009 sticks out in my mind as one of the most improved over previous editions (notwithstanding playing all three unedited packets at the Vancouver site).
I have a hunch what tournament is going to be "worst dropoff" for 2010.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Captain Sinico » Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:18 pm

I also very much liked the first two Wildcats and felt they were ahead of their times. I think there was a third one that I don't think I played in.

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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:16 pm

If we're talking older tourneys that did some positive things, the old St. Louis Opens of Raj Bhan come to mind. I have a strange affection for the Wahoo Wars too, given how old they are.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by Cheynem » Thu Dec 17, 2009 2:47 pm

Oh man, the Wahoo Wars of the Minds! For some reason, when I was in high school, I loved studying off these things, and thus I learned some weird crap off of them that, of course, never came up in high school.
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Re: History project: Top 10 Tournaments of the Decade

Post by stevebahnaman » Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:50 am

I was in the midst of my QB bildungsroman at Wildcat 2001 or 2002, and when I look back on that set it was legitimately incredible and totally ahead of its time. So yknow, bump.
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