TDing Resources

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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Hobbie Klivian
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TDing Resources

Post by Hobbie Klivian »

I was originally going to post this in the Harvard SMT thread but figured it would better serve its purpose here.
UlyssesInvictus in another thread wrote: One thing I wish had been brought up is that more and more is increasingly being asked of tournament hosts over the years. I remember my days in high school when people would basically cobble together a tournament and call it a day if it didn't run more than an hour late. And every year, there seems to be an issue that, as TD, feels out of your control, but you just know people will blame you for anyways. A lot of the time, it is your fault, so you take it as a learning experience; but other times, people just seem happy to excoriate you for things that they, quite literally, weren't there for, and it can be extremely demoralizing to know that you're basically being tried in a court of public opinion for one particular day after you just spent the previous week skipping sleep so you could implement preventative measures for all those rare, unfortunate circumstances, only to have something no reasonable person could expect happen anyway.
I still vividly remember TDing Penn Bowl 2016 for the first time as a sophomore; I've told this to many other Penn quiz bowlers, but that weekend marked the worst experience I ever had at Penn. The stress of trying to get everything right combined with the subsequent fallout following the tournament caused me to nearly quit the activity that I loved so much, and getting lambasted in the forums afterward wasn't too fun either. Despite my efforts to cover all the bases before tournament, all the errors I made that day were still simple things that any beginner TD could have told you: marking which buzzer went to which room, shuffling readers for rounds, using SQBS proficiently enough so that rebracketing wouldn't take an hour, etc. Perhaps the better, more experienced TDs will scoff at this, but TDing a full college tournament without any hiccups or errors is an herculean task that requires an extreme attention to detail before, during, and after the tournament. To this day I am amazed at people who can run a perfect tournament with ease. I also agree that running tournaments nowadays is increasingly complicated thanks to issues that weren't relevant in the past such as increase in number of high schoolers playing college quiz bowl or the rise of electronic scorekeeping systems. Besides the somewhat troubling issue of uneven prelim brackets and the subsequent interaction with one of my teammates, none of the issues were egregious, and I would like to thank Harvard and Jonathan for hosting what was mostly a good tournament.

That being said, the more I attend tournaments the more I notice that TD mistakes stem from same sources of error over and over again. While the community has more or less settled on a well-defined set of expectations applicable to all tournaments, a new TD less plugged into the forums/discord/whatever may not necessarily be aware of all of those things, especially if he or she is at an institution that does not regularly host events. The fact that the most popular form of response to a bad tournament is going on the forum and complaining about these well-tread mistakes in what is essentially a giant public echo chamber certainly isn't encouraging to new TDs either. While one could argue that all these forum replies could serve as a warning and lessons for the future generation, no TD is going to review a bunch of old tournament announcement and discussion threads for possible mistakes and prevention measures.

I think a community compiled guidebook or a checklist for TDs could be tremendously helpful; I don't now if something like this exists (looks like Fred tried to make one in 2013, but it fizzled out? also this: https://www.qbwiki.com/wiki/How_to_run_ ... tournament), but it might be a good investment of qb community's time to compile such a document as an "official" guide that could be referred to. I am honestly shocked that there are so many centralized resources for question writing, but nothing like this exists for running a tournament. Obviously it will be impossible to reach a consensus on all the issues, but a checklist of ranging from small ("ask for a team roster during registration so that you can seed teams properly for prelims") to large ("how to use SQBS" and "guarantee same number of games for all teams if possible") could be useful for both novice and experienced TDs. If a quiz bowl planning community being discussed in the other thread ever forms, it could send out such file to all TDs of college tournaments so that all the tournaments for the year will be standardized to a certain extent. A public google drive folder containing templates for emails + tournament checklists + example scoresheets + logistics info could go far, especially for new clubs starting out that are interested in hosting tournaments. If there is interest in starting something like this, I would be happy to pitch in what little resources and wisdom I have gained in running tournaments and look forward to learning from others.
Paul Lee

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Penn '19

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UlyssesInvictus
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Re: TDing Resources

Post by UlyssesInvictus »

As penance, and to build on this idea of learning from mistakes, I'd very much like to contribute to any effort to centralize TD information. Obviously, any proper centralization of information would require a lot of (basically) one person:
- collecting that data, and organizing it
- somewhat editorializing
- making that data easy to access, and publicly so
- being responsible for the continued existence of that data

Not to mention all the actual contributions to such data from various people. However, it does seem like something that should ultimately be done sooner rather than later.

Paul linked the QBWiki, which has the advantage of being a open-source solution, so that the process could be democratized. I personally feel, though, like the wiki model is outdated, especially considering how few people newcomers seem to be aware of these days.

Like Paul, I'd primarily vote for a Google Drive, where people could simply submit their club-internal schedule or logistics templates, which would be a simple way to collect data without too much extra effort required to actually organize it.

Ultimately, though, I think the most important thing is one simple checklist that a total newbie TD can parse at a glance, with all the addenda and appendices tacked on where they can be digested slowly as needed. I remember when I looked at that TDing wiki article for the first time, I was terrified of all the tasks I'd have to do, and I basically didn't read it out of a paranoid fear that having read it would take away any excuse for TDing poorly of not knowing what to do in the first place. I know many people would suggest just reaching out to an experienced TD for help, and I want to reiterate that this is a very good idea; but as many other people have also mentioned in neighboring threads, this can feel very daunting for first-time TDs with little personal connection to the community.

I'll happily contribute the various files/templates I've made over the years, but I don't feel confident in my ability to act as a steward for any such information, though thanks to QuizDB I do have a place where I can host files, so if we ever need a more professional hosting solution than GDrive, I can offer that.

I'm also sure that such an effort has been attempted before, so I'd also to love to hear any advice people have about why attempts to centralize TD knowledge might not have worked before, or why they might not have taken off. (In addition to Pauls' request for TDing advice in general, of course.)
Raynor Kuang
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Re: TDing Resources

Post by Ethnic history of the Vilnius region »

This is a list my wife Bryn came up with. We check it every tournament we host, and it usually works. Some of these things are more important than others.

Tournament Direction Checklist

Pre-tournament:

Obtain contact info for teams
As teams commit to attending, ensure that buzzers and staff commitments support the field size
Have room reservations printed out
Have the number of the campus police to open the building and rooms in case they're locked
Print scoresheets (including lots of extras)
Print schedules
Print receipts
Print rules sheets
Print a restaurant guide with a map
Bring schedules and back up situation schedules
Email the teams with time, location, and parking situation on Thursday before. Remind teams to bring buzzers and staffers if they have so committed
Bring a printer (somewhat optional) and laptops
Bring all needed supplies, including pens, tape, paper, etc.
Get trophy and book prizes
Download SQBS if not already on your computer. Play around with it if you're new to the program
Bring flash drives
Get affirmation from expected staffers
Get the questions (printed or electronic, depending on how you're running things)

Morning of the tournament:

Get donuts, juice, plates, and cups (optional)
Set up the chairs in the rooms
Hang up a poster directing teams to tournament site and control room

During the tournament:

Briefly go over rules with staffers and teams. Tell staff the importance of keeping things moving and controlling their rooms
Give out restaurant guide
Get payments
Record Payments
Give out receipts
Set up buzzers and record their locations
Assign readers to rooms
Keep track of readers speed; ensure that the best and fastest readers are reading
Give out prizes
Return buzzers

After the tournament:

Clean up rooms and return chairs to their original locations
Deposit money
Pay mirror fees
Post stats
Eric D.
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AGoodMan
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Re: TDing Resources

Post by AGoodMan »

Hobbie Klivian wrote:I was originally going to post this in the Harvard SMT thread but figured it would better serve its purpose here.
UlyssesInvictus in another thread wrote: One thing I wish had been brought up is that more and more is increasingly being asked of tournament hosts over the years. I remember my days in high school when people would basically cobble together a tournament and call it a day if it didn't run more than an hour late. And every year, there seems to be an issue that, as TD, feels out of your control, but you just know people will blame you for anyways. A lot of the time, it is your fault, so you take it as a learning experience; but other times, people just seem happy to excoriate you for things that they, quite literally, weren't there for, and it can be extremely demoralizing to know that you're basically being tried in a court of public opinion for one particular day after you just spent the previous week skipping sleep so you could implement preventative measures for all those rare, unfortunate circumstances, only to have something no reasonable person could expect happen anyway.
I still vividly remember TDing Penn Bowl 2016 for the first time as a sophomore; I've told this to many other Penn quiz bowlers, but that weekend marked the worst experience I ever had at Penn. The stress of trying to get everything right combined with the subsequent fallout following the tournament caused me to nearly quit the activity that I loved so much, and getting lambasted in the forums afterward wasn't too fun either. Despite my efforts to cover all the bases before tournament, all the errors I made that day were still simple things that any beginner TD could have told you: marking which buzzer went to which room, shuffling readers for rounds, using SQBS proficiently enough so that rebracketing wouldn't take an hour, etc. Perhaps the better, more experienced TDs will scoff at this, but TDing a full college tournament without any hiccups or errors is an herculean task that requires an extreme attention to detail before, during, and after the tournament. To this day I am amazed at people who can run a perfect tournament with ease. I also agree that running tournaments nowadays is increasingly complicated thanks to issues that weren't relevant in the past such as increase in number of high schoolers playing college quiz bowl or the rise of electronic scorekeeping systems. Besides the somewhat troubling issue of uneven prelim brackets and the subsequent interaction with one of my teammates, none of the issues were egregious, and I would like to thank Harvard and Jonathan for hosting what was mostly a good tournament.
It gives me a small measure of comfort to know that I was not the only struggling sophomore TD (again, not excusing my mistakes, but you see my point). 2 out of my 3 tournament directing experiences have left me pretty stressed out, and I have learned lessons from each, but my rate of growth and competence probably would have been faster had I accessed a centralized database for tournament directing. Of course I should have been more proactive about seeking help and reading existing TD guides, but my understanding is that they are located in many different places (like the SoCal quiz bowl web site, which would not have been my first place to look).
Jon Suh
Wheaton Warrenville South High School '16
Harvard '20 (Co-President)
PACE

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