Stamina during Nationals

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Pascal Plays Poker
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Stamina during Nationals

Post by Pascal Plays Poker »

This may have been posted before, but this thought kind of floated in my mind while playing Fall Open yesterday. How did/do you guys get through 18 rounds of 14+ rounds of ACF Nationals/ICT without becoming extremely exhausted and losing focus in important games? Even after playing ~8 or 9 rounds of Fall Open, I was basically almost dead, so I was wondering if anyone had any stamina tips to offer.
Hari Parameswaran
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Curious Homunculus
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by Curious Homunculus »

Basically, my theory on this is that your brain has a certain amount of mental "focus potential" in it and each clue you listen to decreases said focus potential by some amount. So I basically try to limit the number of unnecessary clues I'm wasting "focus potential" on. There seem to be two places to do that: the really hard clues and the really easy clues.

The hard clues: In the one college nats-level tournament I've played, I took my hand off the buzzer and basically stopped listening to the first quarter to half of each tossup. On HS difficulty (and even easier college stuff to some extent), I try to have some idea in my head of what the question is asking about and feel comfortable going in on a fraud every one in a while, so I need to listen to every clue. When the set is so hard that I have no idea what's going on the beginning of the tossup, I'm not really even doing that passive kind of listening I do when I'm tired and trying to focus. I will pay attention if I hear a name I recognize or a sentence that rings a bell without me having to think about it.

I also stopped throwing out a guess on hard parts of bonuses. I didn't find it worth it to, for example, take the time to try and lingfraud a word in the hard part of a bonus when there was no way I would be right and it would take energy to figure out what country the language sounded like it was from.

The easy clues: teammates are really helpful here. Without teammates, in a hypothetical bonus that begins "this Mary Shelley novel" and then goes on for a line and a half talking about Frankenstein, I need to hold Frankenstein in my head until the moderator finishes talking and then say the answer. When I have teammates around, I can either tell them to say Frankenstein or just trust they will get it and zone out for the time it takes the moderator to read the bonus. This also applies to picking up negs--if you know one of your teammates will get it, use that time to take a little mental break.

Besides those two, quizbowl-specific, mostly generalist-specific things, you can raise that "focus potential" by taking care of your body. For example, eating a good breakfast and lunch is really important, but I find snacking (or at least drinking) in the afternoons to be important too. For example, one of my teammates has about a 30 PPG bump if he has Sour Patch Kids in the afternoon. Sleep is also important, but nobody (except for me) needs me to tell them that. Also, apparently exercising helps you concentrate better and a small walk between games can be helpful (I find that I get in a zone during tournaments where I play better, so too much time in between games is bad for me, but I can take a little walk and stay in that zone).
Matthew Siff
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vinteuil
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by vinteuil »

The jury's still out on how much your brain is "like a muscle" (c.f. the replicability problems of Roy Baumeister's "ego depletion' idea), but it sure does use energy. Echoing Matt: I find that a huge portion of quizbowl mental fatigue can be mitigated by judicious application of snacks (and water!).
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marianna
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by marianna »

vinteuil wrote:
Mon Nov 25, 2019 3:28 am
The jury's still out on how much your brain is "like a muscle" (c.f. the replicability problems of Roy Baumeister's "ego depletion' idea), but it sure does use energy. Echoing Matt: I find that a huge portion of quizbowl mental fatigue can be mitigated by judicious application of snacks (and water!).
Jumping in with my psychology hat to say that quizbowl involves a lot of different mental capacities, including attention, memory recall, and self-control. Ego depletion is a controversial model of self-control as limited in capacity that can be depleted over time.

In contrast, it's pretty uncontroversial that sustaining directed attention over time is fatiguing. Matthew listed a number of excellent recommendations, including short breaks (we're usually alternating between distraction and attention in sustaining attention anyway, eg taking little micro-breaks where we zone out on non-relevant questions) and short walks (particularly outside in natural environments - see attention restoration theory, and Marc Berman's work at UChicago).
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The Stately Rhododendron
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by The Stately Rhododendron »

Go for runs (or the gym) during the lunch break! There's a small park in Rosemont that's got a nice little path.
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thebluehawk1
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by thebluehawk1 »

I have no credentials to comment on this with any authority. But something that might be relevant is this espn article about stamina during chess tournaments. Basically its the stuff I personally know but don't act on: eat healthy and exercise regularly. I found that when I don't have to focus on categories of questions I ended up much less tired at and after tournaments.

https://www.espn.com/espn/story/_/id/27 ... ying-chess
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matthewspatrick
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by matthewspatrick »

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 10:58 pm
Go for runs (or the gym) during the lunch break! There's a small park in Rosemont that's got a nice little path.
Do some squats. That way you don't get all sweaty, and don't even have to leave the building.

Take a walk. If you're able, try taking the stairs a few flights.
Patrick Matthews
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hokie168
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Re: Stamina during Nationals

Post by hokie168 »

Pascal Plays Poker wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:42 pm
This may have been posted before, but this thought kind of floated in my mind while playing Fall Open yesterday. How did/do you guys get through 18 rounds of 14+ rounds of ACF Nationals/ICT without becoming extremely exhausted and losing focus in important games? Even after playing ~8 or 9 rounds of Fall Open, I was basically almost dead, so I was wondering if anyone had any stamina tips to offer.
There's really no secret shortcut to building stamina. It's more useful to just keep a healthier lifestyle, which would help with your schoolwork as well. My advice would be:
1. Get sufficient sleep, preferably 8 hours nightly, for several days before the tournament.
2. Eat a reasonably healthy diet.
3. Get sufficient exercise. 45-60 minutes 3 times a week is probably enough to avoid being horribly out of shape.

After that, adjustments can help but are pretty marginal. The one thing that I did for ICT and Nats was to have a large dinner the night before, then have a small breakfast and a very light lunch on days with games. Having a little food means you won't be distracted by hunger, but you also won't end up being a beached whale in the afternoon because you ate an entire pizza for lunch. That said, ICT, Nats, and CO are tiring for pretty much everybody even if they're in shape. Concentrating for that long is hard.
Dennis Loo
Former coach at TJ and IMSA
Former player at UVA and Virginia Tech

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