2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

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2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:15 am

Okay, as every participant at the 2011 NSC is aware, there were some logistical issues. I have decided to set up this thread to avoid clogging down every other thread about the NSC and separate the logistics from the discussion of the actual questions. Please post your thoughts, feelings, complaints about logistics here.

Note, I am not speaking for PACE.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:39 am

I counted this morning that I have attended forty-three national championship tournaments at the high school or college levels in various capacities.

This was, bar none, the worst-run one of the bunch, and I include in that statement every Chip Beall and College Bowl event I ever went to as well as this year's bizarre ACF Nationals.

Unsurprisingly, PACE is at risk of completely ceasing to exist as an organization after one year of leadership by Trygve Meade and Andy Watkins, whose ethical shortcomings are matched only by their utter logistical incompetence. PACE's only advantage over the better-funded, better-planned organizations in the rest of quizbowl was, until eleven months ago, its unquestioned commitment to good quizbowl principles and spotless ethical record. Those things are now long-gone after a year of leadership by two of the dirtiest people in quizbowl. PACE has absolutely nothing to fall back on until it completely rids itself of the cabal and starts over.

I have been nominated to rejoin PACE. I plan to accept the invitation if the usual suspects do not succeed in blocking it. I plan to run for TD and I plan to work with other people on the board who share my vision for saving this organization and tournament, which involves, among many other long-overdue reforms, a thorough purge of the PACE membership roster. Nothing needs to be done in secret or outside of the documented procedures; that's the Trygve way and it's not the right way. So here it is.

As for this tournament specifically, the TDs were in way over their heads, and while they did consult with many people including myself on certain aspects of the event, the fact that PACE continues to appoint people who have had nothing to do with running 60-team tournaments to get their feet wet with something as complex and important as the NSC reflects one thing and one thing only, which is the remarkable job that PACE does in driving away its good TDs. I should have directed this tournament, but I was busy fighting for my quizbowl life over the past year as the president of PACE and his cronies tried to hound me out of the game, so that was obviously impossible. Andrew and Gautam, unlike Trygve and his loyalists, are certainly well-intentioned people who have done a lot of things well in the past and were very earnest about listening to criticism before and during this year's event. But they simply didn't know what they needed to do to prepare because they had never been involved in running this tournament or anything comparable before, and seemingly no one in PACE thought about things like the time effect of running 30 game rooms in 5 not-all-that-close-together buildings.

If PACE continues down its current path, it can run, at most, one more NSC like this before the tournament ceases to exist. Maybe zero. I'm still invested in PACE and in high school quizbowl, probably more than anyone else, so I dearly do not want to see that happen. I have a plan to save the tournament and I have talked to a dozen people who are on board with it. Whether the people who think PACE is a joke whose credibility they can exploit to build their law school applications succeed in blocking us remains to be seen.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by canaanbananarama » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:04 am

I did not attend this tournament. If you ever attend my funeral, it will probably be around two or three weeks later than it should have been. I thank the expensiveness of flight costs for that and not being in a situation in which I probably would have had temper issues, as this tournament seems like it would have driven me mad.

From an outside view: this is the most difficult tournament I've ever armchair watched and heard details to parse that I've had some experience with. I've tried to rationalize what happened in historical perspective. This tournament seemed to be the equivalent of two hundred years of German/Holy Roman Empire history in the 17th/18th century. You had two tournament directors, basically seemingly equivalent to a Holy Roman Emperor, probably more so to one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire. The facade of an actual central tournament existed in a name: 2011 PACE NSC. However, while Prince Andrew of the Harts of Brandenburg and Duke Gautam II of the Kandlikars of Bayern-Straubing may have had titles like HRE, there seemed to be about twenty-eight other people making critical decisions at this tournament: Elector of the Palatinate Rheinfalz Trygve of the Meades, Count Donald of the Taylors of Wurttemberg. Like Germany for two hundred centuries, these fiefdoms changed religions sporadically and inexplicably, and it was often hard to tell which four other German principalities/electorates they were on friendly terms with. Oh, the Elector of the Palatinate and the Duke of Munster are going to decide this protest. Now, the Elector of the Palatinate is allied with Saxony. Prince Matthew of the Weiners of Oldenburg needs money, and the HRE has told him to go to the Count of Wurttemberg, but the Count of Wurttemberg absconded off to Mecklenburg and Prince Matthew must figure out which principality the money's in. Where's the Holy Roman Emperor? Dealing with his possessions in the Spanish Netherlands? How the heck the tournament ended up like this, I don't know, but I think there's probably enough course material and primary and secondary sources that you could fill a semester taking "What Actually Happened at PACE Nationals." Except I don't think there's a current person who can actually write a comprehensive study of this.

Maybe some day this will be taught at Teitler College. I don't even know if a semester could really make me understand what happened.

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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Auroni » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:19 am

This tournament blew. Here are some reasons why:

- Saturday morning, myself and a bunch of staffers were instructed to carry loads of heavy stuff to the tournament building. Nobody knew where the building was. They walked randomly until they stumbled upon it. Myself, Fred, Ben, and Connie got left behind. Nobody had the common courtesy to stop for us.

- The control rooms did not match up to where the actual game rooms were.

- I literally waited for three or four hours for rebracketing. After only 5 rounds of stats. Including the tiebreakers and wild cards.

- One team (Hunter) retroactively got their protest revisited while another team (Bellarmine)'s plea to re-resolve their protest was ignored. I suspect this was done to allow Hunter to catch their flight, but it's deeply disappointing, messed up the order of the very top 8 bracket severely, and was devastatingly disappointing to all involved.
Last edited by Auroni on Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Auroni » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:15 am

I thought of a few other things.

- I was never giving any information that would facilitate me finding my way around, yet there were somehow four different buildings that I was expected to regularly go between. My thanks go to Dan Donohue for telling me where the building where I read my games was, and to the students at Northwestern who I had to ask for directions a million times.

- I asked several other staffers/PACE members/both what was going on throughout the day, the vast majority of them besides the TDs were as clueless as I was.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:39 am

For those not in the know, botched protests have led to the results of the final being in dispute (LASA should probably have had to play Hunter in a tiebreaker to go into the finals, according to IRC chatter). Thanks a bunch, PACE!
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Blahhunter » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:04 am

We had asked for our protest to be revisited because we did not hear back about any reasoning for the decision whatsoever, which we felt was exceedingly stupid. In addition, we never received official word as to whether the protest had been resolved or not, and in which direction the protest was resolved. Because of that we subsequently went to the control room to ask for the reasoning and decision, which led to the revisiting of a decision that we were not very aware of.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:19 am

The staffing organization was abysmal, as has been noted; probably the worst part was Saturday before the tournament began. Staffers were told to meet in the Jacobs for checkin at 8-8:15 at the same location where teams checked in; many staffers were unable to get there by 8:15, after which they were told to wait in the auditorium. Staffing folders were passed out if you got there on time, and denied until the staff meeting if you were late; it appears that whoever had the folders was busy fixing other things from 8:15-9:30, and it left the late staff severely out of the loop. In addition, the staff meeting was not started until the team meeting started; there's no need for that, and it led to the staffers being late getting to their control rooms, which led to late packet acquisition, which pushed Tossup 1 past 10:30 AM.

Proposed solution: follow NAQT's lead and have a person/crew dedicated solely to working with the staff, SEPARATED from the rest of checkin. In a smaller tournament, there's no need for this, but it's a necessity in a large scale tournament like NSC or HSNCT.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:05 am

From a staffer's perspective:

1. Arranging rides to the tournament site seemed too ad hoc. Each staffer should have been assigned a car/driver/etc. to the university before the tournament. Information about who needed to show up where and when should not have been e-mailed in the evening.

2. Agreed with Brad that as with last year, staffers should have been taken somewhere independent of the team meeting location for a full staff meeting/briefing. The staff meeting occurred in a hallway where Gautam was forced to be quiet due to testing going on in other rooms. It was rushed and not optimal.

3. Each staffer should have been given a detailed map of the campus.

4. This is a vastly minor quibble compared to other things, but the bracket names, especially the superplayoff brackets, should not have been so "cute." Using Indian place names (I think) as the names of the superplayoff brackets was a poor idea--they were cumbersome to say, hard to remember because they did not correspond intuitively to things like "bracket one, two, three, etc.", and led to the unenviable problem of having even control room directors screwing up which bracket was which at times. I think merely having "First Bracket, Second Bracket, etc." might be the way to go for these very large tournaments.

More later.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Edward Elric » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:21 am

Just a couple of issues I came across:

1. On saturday, as people already mentioned previously, we ended up walking around campus looking for the building for a good 2 or so miles when in reality it was about a quarter of a mile from where we parked. Somebody there should have had some idea where the auditorium was. I also did not realize that some people had been left behind because nobody said anything or indicated that something had been dropped.

2. When I got to the tournament, I walked over to the table where the folders were and looked for my folder and when i didnt find that I asked why my name wasn't on the folder. I was told then, for the first time, that I was in a control room. I had no communication previously on what I was supposed to do, and I had incorrectly assumed that I was reading (as I had requested to do before the tournament began). Without knowing what I was doing, I left my laptop back at the hotel.

3. The communication was abysmal throughout the entire tournament. I had no idea to begin with what was going on because I was told to bring over a laptop to a control room and sit there until the staffers meeting was over. When everybody had finished and gotten there we started passing out the packets and got the tournament running but had a HUGE DELAY regarding a scorekeeper adding error and the need to play off tiebreakers. We were therefore delayed for a large period of time while the moderator had to run back and forth between buildings getting teams together to play the tiebreakers. This whole process took around 45 mins and by the time it was done we were easily a full round behind other brackets. Both control rooms that I reported to had the Control Room leaders pulling their hair out over the delays and lack of contact from the TDs which is totally unnecessary

Solutions: I think that there should be one specific person dictating what is going on to all the control rooms instead of the TDs running around while trying to doing that. The TDs should tell the person whats going on and have that relayed to all the control rooms. With 10 brackets running, communication is essential. I also think that the rules may need some tweaking as playing off half packets for everytime there was a tie was both unnecessary and time consuming. I really hope that next year the necessary changes will be made because aside from one team leaving Sunday and forfeiting all their matches, the general consensus was that teams enjoyed playing these questions and the delays weren't as bad as they could have been (I heard this from multiple teams in the bottom bracket). I mean obviously, the delays were rediculous, but if teams are still willing to deal with this, I think that PACE may have hope for the future regarding getting teams to come to NSC.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:33 am

Cheynem wrote:From a staffer's perspective:

1. Arranging rides to the tournament site seemed too ad hoc. Each staffer should have been assigned a car/driver/etc. to the university before the tournament. Information about who needed to show up where and when should not have been e-mailed in the evening.
There was no spreadsheet of driving assignments, staffing assignments sent out beforehand like last year, then? Ugh.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Edward Elric » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:35 am

Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast wrote:
Cheynem wrote:From a staffer's perspective:

1. Arranging rides to the tournament site seemed too ad hoc. Each staffer should have been assigned a car/driver/etc. to the university before the tournament. Information about who needed to show up where and when should not have been e-mailed in the evening.
There was no spreadsheet of driving assignments, staffing assignments sent out beforehand like last year, then? Ugh.
Yeah, I was able to drive people in my car and told them before hand in an email but they never got back to me about who I was taking. I ended up driving people after I went down to the lobby and people were looking for a ride.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Auroni » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:44 am

I got my facts wrong about the protest resolution, so I will withdraw that point.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by AlphaQuizBowler » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:05 pm

Can someone at PACE explain what happened in the result of the Auburn/TJ A playoff game, too? From what I heard, TJ A originally won the game by 20 points after killing the last tossup when Auburn negged. Later, TJ realized that the moderator had accepted "Thoth" for "Ptah" and called PACE, who decided, instead of playing any questions to resolve the issue, to just give Auburn the win. This doesn't seem exactly fair, given that if Auburn answered the Ptah question and TJ didn't kill the last tossup, the game still could've gone either way.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:06 pm

AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Can someone at PACE explain what happened in the result of the Auburn/TJ A playoff game, too? From what I heard, TJ A originally won the game by 20 points after killing the last tossup when Auburn negged. Later, TJ realized that the moderator had accepted "Thoth" for "Ptah" and called PACE, who decided, instead of playing any questions to resolve the issue, to just give Auburn the win. This doesn't seem exactly fair, given that if Auburn answered the Ptah question and TJ didn't kill the last tossup, the game still could've gone either way.
There was another protested bonus part that was resolved against Thomas Jefferson to make the result unflippable in any makeup question situations. Also, I want to commend Thomas Jefferson and Diana for recognizing the moderator error and contacting me about it. It was extremely honest and forthright for them to do so, and I appreciate their actions for exemplifying the spirit of fair competition.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:11 pm

I happened to witness the DCC/TJ/Alpharetta/Dunbar four car pileup at the end of the day. My understanding was that all teams but DCC wanted to resolve the ties for ranking through statistical tiebreakers. The decision was made that because DCC was the only team that wished to play, they would automatically be placed above the other three teams, who would then be ranked statistically, which the other three teams as you may expect did not care for, thus resulting in tiebreaker games being played (which DCC won anyway). My questions are:

1. Was the decision from above related to our control room accurately (i.e., would DCC have been ranked above all other teams if they agreed to that scenario)?
2. Was this based on PACE rules?
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:24 pm

Cheynem wrote:I happened to witness the DCC/TJ/Alpharetta/Dunbar four car pileup at the end of the day. My understanding was that all teams but DCC wanted to resolve the ties for ranking through statistical tiebreakers. The decision was made that because DCC was the only team that wished to play, they would automatically be placed above the other three teams, who would then be ranked statistically, which the other three teams as you may expect did not care for, thus resulting in tiebreaker games being played (which DCC won anyway). My questions are:

1. Was the decision from above related to our control room accurately (i.e., would DCC have been ranked above all other teams if they agreed to that scenario)?
2. Was this based on PACE rules?
PACE believes that all teams should have the opportunity to play off their ties. If one team wants to play and multiple other teams do not, the other teams forfeit (at least with regards to the team that wants to play).
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by ScoBo » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:30 pm

Most everything I personally experienced this weekend basically comes down to this: communication was practically nonexistent.

Here were the major issues I encountered this weekend:

- I was one of the control room operators. I did not know I was a control room operator until I received an email around 2 PM on Friday (while I was about halfway through my 9+ hour trip to the tournament). This email wasn't even from the tournament directors saying something like "hey, you're going to be a control room operator"; it was requesting my assistance with the unofficial Match Tracker. I wasn't surprised at all that I was working in a control room since I assisted in a control room last year, but not letting me know ahead of time was a terrible idea. I was forced to do stats on my tiny netbook on Ubuntu running SQBS with Wine, which is functional but can be obnoxious to use (in addition to the tiny keyboard, the game entry form barely fits on the screen but only after hiding the panels at the top and bottom of the screen). It managed to work out fine, but if I had known ahead of time that I was going to be a control room operator, accommodations might have been made so that I could have used a laptop better suited for this purpose.

- Because I was a core staffer I was told to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 6:45 AM by an email sent around 8 PM - about 11 hours notice. I got this email on my phone right away but for those who don't get email on their phone they might not have seen this email until much later, if at all the night before.

- When we got to campus Saturday I was part of the carrying heavy things parade around campus to the main auditorium; I wish my GPS had been turned on to capture a track log of this farce. It seemed like we sat around a while not knowing what we were supposed to be doing until we were recruited to move the heavy stuff to ANOTHER BUILDING where tournament central was to be. I know at this point I was already extremely frustrated and knew this wasn't going to end well, but I had no idea how much worse it was going to get.

- Soon after that after picking up my staffer folder I was instructed to go to my control room where I waited forever not knowing what was going on or what I was supposed to be doing. I was fortunate that I get email on my phone or I wouldn't have known anything, since I otherwise wouldn't have had the necessary information to get my computer online.

- While I was sitting there doing basically nothing, the opening meeting occurred, which included the presentation of the Cooper Awards. That's right - when the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance was presented the Young Ambassador Award, the president of that organization was sitting in a control room by himself completely clueless as to what was going on. Now, the Cooper Awards were not really the tournament directors' responsibility and I could have brought this detail to their attention, but someone involved with organizing the opening meeting should have realized this (especially considering the recipient of the Academic Ambassador Award was also a control room operator). Again, had I known I was going to be a control room operator in advance I would have been able to get clarification on this detail well in advance and a plan could have been in place to make sure that my duties (of sitting around doing nothing) in the control room were covered by someone else.

- I was instructed to print instructions about when to return from lunch but I didn't have a printer (and never did over the course of the entire tournament).

- I never had any idea why lunch was taking so long and I had teams asking me where they were supposed to be, to which I had no answer. Teams in my brackets eventually got their calls/texts and showed up in their game rooms but we were still not given the green light to start round 6, and I had no idea why. I knew from the liveblog that tiebreakers were going on but didn't know when they would be completed. I remember hearing 3:45 at one point, but of course that didn't happen. I heard basically nothing from the tournament directors until I got an email at 4:25 (about 3 1/2 hours after lunch started for us) saying that rounds were to start at 4:30.

- Once again an email was sent at 11 PM that night instructing us to be ready to go at 7:15 or 7:30. This is unbelievably short notice and expecting everyone to check their email for instructions especially at such late notice is ridiculous. (Maybe others were informed of this before they left on Saturday but I don't remember being told this beforehand)

- Sunday morning I waited a while in my control room not knowing when we were going to start. We finally got the green light to start and then there was some confusion in one of the game rooms because 3 teams thought they were supposed to be there. Turns out that they were misinformed of their seeds as a result of one team forfeiting their Sunday matches and the subsequent adjustment of the brackets. Of course, I was sent the wrong assignments as well and I was informed of the correct seeds shortly thereafter. This caused at least one round 11 game to be thrown out because it wasn't supposed to happen, and we had to make up three missed round 11 games after round 14.

Basically, as someone in a critical role of managing multiple brackets I was rarely adequately informed of anything throughout the course of the entire tournament, which is simply unacceptable and unworkable.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Papa's in the House » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:34 pm

Logistically speaking, this tournament was the worst I've attended (beating out ACF Fall 2008 at Truman State). I have broken up my comments into three categories: things I directly experienced, things I heard (which may or may not be true), and what can be done for future tournaments.

Suggestions for Future Tournaments
-Send out staffing assignments before the start of the tournament. This way everyone knows exactly what they are doing. Appoint a staffing assignment tsar if need be.

-Send out information about rides to and from the hotel and Northwestern before the tournament. This way everyone knows who is driving them and they can get that person's contact information. Appoint a hotel shuttle tsar if need be.

-The TD should have the contact information (including phone number) of all staffers and that information should be distributed to certain key individuals (notably, all control room operators, all TDs and ATDs, and certain PACE officers).

-The TD should be in constant contact with control room operators and inform control room personnel what they are supposed to be doing throughout the day.

-Control room operators should be sent superplayoff brackets before the first round of superplayoffs is supposed to begin just in case teams were given incorrect information.

If I think of anything else, I'll add it to this post or write a new one.

EDIT: Since all of the complaints I had were mentioned by others, I deleted them and only left my suggestions for how to avoid these logistical issues in the future.
Last edited by Papa's in the House on Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:09 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by abnormal abdomen » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:45 pm

theMoMA wrote:
AlphaQuizBowler wrote:Can someone at PACE explain what happened in the result of the Auburn/TJ A playoff game, too? From what I heard, TJ A originally won the game by 20 points after killing the last tossup when Auburn negged. Later, TJ realized that the moderator had accepted "Thoth" for "Ptah" and called PACE, who decided, instead of playing any questions to resolve the issue, to just give Auburn the win. This doesn't seem exactly fair, given that if Auburn answered the Ptah question and TJ didn't kill the last tossup, the game still could've gone either way.
There was another protested bonus part that was resolved against Thomas Jefferson to make the result unflippable in any makeup question situations. Also, I want to commend Thomas Jefferson and Diana for recognizing the moderator error and contacting me about it. It was extremely honest and forthright for them to do so, and I appreciate their actions for exemplifying the spirit of fair competition.
Yeah, this. I haven't worked out all the scenarios and such, but I've been under the (potentially false, apparently?) assumption that it could have gone either way. In the end, regardless of all of this, we were basically blown away as a team by Diana/TJ's honesty and sportsmanship in the matter. We really, really appreciate the act.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Aaron Goldfein » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:38 pm

The match room/control room placement was inane as well. On my first day, my game room was on the third floor of a building while my control room was on the first floor, even though there was another control room on the second floor. It's my understanding that the control room on the first floor covered the games on the third floor while the control room on the second floor covered the games on the first floor.

On the second day, my game room was on the first floor and the control room was on the third floor, both in University. This wasn't so bad compared to the people who shared my control room but had their game rooms on the second floor of Kresge, requiring them to go one floor down, across the plaza to University, up two and a half flights of stairs, go all the way to the end of the hallway, and then back again between every round. Of course, a staffer couldn't leave to make this trip until have the previous round ended and the next round couldn't start until after he returned.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:54 pm

The thing that probably bothered me most was that huge lunch delay. As Charles Martin noted, teams in my bracket [the bottom bracket] waited in their rooms for at least an hour. For much of that hour, they were also without moderators, so I ended up running up and down the building giving teams updates and urging them to be patient, and also did a fair deal of apologizing.
On Sunday, I was part of the crew that returned buzzers to teams. When teams were able to receive their buzzers, I would thank them for coming and especially for being so patient during the delays.

I bring these up because I had many opportunities to speak to coaches because of both of these. Many coaches I spoke to were angry about how the tournament went. I heard at least a few declarations of "We will not be coming back next year." Other coaches did not indicate that they would stop coming altogether, but did say that they were unhappy with how almost everything was handled this weekend.
PACE needs to figure out how to prevent the logistical errors that occurred this weekend in the future, or they will have serious trouble drawing a full field.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:19 pm

So here's my take on some of the problems that plagued this tournament. Obviously there's a lot more that happened, but these are the ones the come to mind and caused most of the problems, it seemed. Of course, there could very well be some misinformation, but it's not like that hasn't happened before.
  • Many people did not know where they were staffing, even after the moderator meeting. I was not aware that I was in a control room until the night before, where I got an e-mail telling me to meet at 6:45 AM. And, in fact, I was never on any of the staffer sheets -- on Saturday I worked the control room with Matt Weiner, which ended up well (but it seemed odd that we needed three people in there), but on Sunday I was basically told to hand out in HQ with Andrew and Gautam, where I spent a good deal of the day twiddling my thumbs. Is there anything wrong with sending out the staffing assignments a couple days ahead of time? It's not exactly a state secret, and that way people have time to point out mistakes and there won't be nearly as much confusion on Saturday morning.
  • Teams had to wait about 50 minutes after the scheduled start time of the team meeting for State College to arrive. From what I was told, the reason for this was so that their coach could be recognised by PACE. It's a noble gesture, but it delayed the tournament by almost an hour right from the get-go.It's not like State College isn't familiar with how PACE works. They would not be clueless if they missed or were late to the team meeting, and there's no reason why they couldn't wait until the awards ceremony for the Gittings presentation.
  • After the first round, the final score was announced as one team winning, but after the teams left, it turned out there was a tie. The moderator made the five-plus minute walk to the control room, went back to the game rooms, got both teams back together (after lots of complaining), read them an overtime, and then had to walk back to the control room after all was said and done. This was responsible for three of the brackets being 45 minutes behind the rest of the tournament, and was a major cause of the 3-hour lunch. Instead of delaying a third of the tournament just for one overtime match, have the moderators inform the teams involved at the start of round 2 that there was a scoring error, and that they will have to play a three-question overtime after round 5. That way, everyone else can go to lunch at their normal time, and the adverse effect of the miscalculation is minimised.
  • There were a lot of disorganisation with the tiebreakers and wild-card matches over lunch. Once these matches were organised, it took about 15 minutes to get the teams together to start the matches in the first place. It's not like these games were unexpected. As soon as round 5 ended and the moderators had returned the scoresheets to the control rooms, the control rooms should know fully well what ties there are and what teams are third in their bracket. The TDs can then contact the teams involved, and give them instructions to meet outside room blah at blah o'clock, at which point the teams can be informed of their seeds and what game rooms they should be directed to.
  • In one of the rounds, a moderator accidentally gave away a bonus answer without asking for a bounceback. A replacement bonus was read, and the team with the missed bounceback opportunity got 10 on the bonus, which in his interpretation of the rules was enough to give them the bounceback points and force overtime. However, after a protest was lodged, the rulebook was brought out, and it turned out that the rule made no literal sense. Can we please make sure the rules are clear, and explain these procedures during the moderator meeting? It's not like this stuff has never happened before!
  • Teams were informed of whether or not they were involved in a tiebreaker at about 11 o'clock at night. This resulted in several close calls, as quite a few coaches and players were asleep at the time. If the control rooms kept track of teams' records are as soon as each round's scoresheets have been turned in, then they can relay this information to HQ, and teams can be contacted by dinnertime at the latest.
  • The whole GTP protest, and its resolution and reversal. By the time teams knew that a result had been changed, Stevenson and Bellarmine had already played for fourth place in a match that had to be invalidated. From what I heard, the protest commitee was not aware of the full text of the question, and only when they had read it did they reverse the decision. Had this happened when the protest was initially lodged, this wouldn't have been nearly as much of an issue.
Considering that only about half the teams that went to last year's NSC decided to go again, and the fiasco that was this past weekend, PACE definitely needs to get their act together or else a lot of people will stop considering NSC as a legitimate national tournament.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:58 pm

It is inaccurate to blame State College for delaying the tournament. When you tell 60 teams to show up by 8:45, the 60th one just might show up a little before 9:15, and you can still start Round 6 before 4:30. Lots of tournaments deal with teams not showing at all or teams showing up after Round 1 is supposed to start, which is a real problem, unlike this one. In this case, it happened to be a team that didn't need to hear an explanation of how the tournament works, which actually none of the teams needed to hear since it was in the team folders, so that explanation did not need to be delayed or happen at all, and the Ben Cooper Awards could have happened without State College's presence.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Gautam » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:02 pm

All,

I would like to reiterate the point Andrew made in the other post that the logistics issues that plagued the tournament were not caused by PACE as organization or by any members in PACE other than us central administrators, myself and Andrew. We made some wiggle room for some delays, but the contingency planning was clearly inadequate to deal with what occurred over the weekend.

I ask that people who were not involved in the running and administration of the tournament not be publicly maligned for faults they have not committed.

Thank you,
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:19 pm

A Barehanded Telethon Mirth Gun wrote:
  • In one of the rounds, a moderator accidentally gave away a bonus answer without asking for a bounceback. A replacement bonus was read, and the team with the missed bounceback opportunity got 10 on the bonus, which in his interpretation of the rules was enough to give them the bounceback points and force overtime. However, after a protest was lodged, the rulebook was brought out, and it turned out that the rule made no literal sense. Can we please make sure the rules are clear, and explain these procedures during the moderator meeting? It's not like this stuff has never happened before!
A large amount of the staff meeting, as I remember it, was actually about this very thing. As I interpreted what Gautam said, the messup of a bounceback triggers the reading of a new bonus, on which the team to whom the bonus is initially read has a guarantee of all the points they'd previously gotten on the first bonus, no matter how well they do. (i.e. If a team gets 20 and the moderator screws up the third part, but they 0 the replacement bonus, they still receive the previous 20 nonetheless. I'm unsure as to how it affects steals on the new bonus.) This rule needs to be codified or rewritten. (Suggested change: As a first-time bounceback moderator, I admittedly messed up three or four times; on at least two of these occasions, players told me not to worry about replacing the bonus unless it affected the game's outcome. Would it make sense to replace bounceback messups at the end of the game if it matters? Or are they too common to be handled that way?)
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:23 pm

Westwon wrote:It is inaccurate to blame State College for delaying the tournament. When you tell 60 teams to show up by 8:45, the 60th one just might show up a little before 9:15, and you can still start Round 6 before 4:30. Lots of tournaments deal with teams not showing at all or teams showing up after Round 1 is supposed to start, which is a real problem, unlike this one. In this case, it happened to be a team that didn't need to hear an explanation of how the tournament works, which actually none of the teams needed to hear since it was in the team folders, so that explanation did not need to be delayed or happen at all, and the Ben Cooper Awards could have happened without State College's presence.
By my watch, the team meeting started at 9:35, a full 50 minutes after it was supposed to start. I'm not blaming State College for the delay -- after all, teams to get lost. However, there was no need to wait that long for a team that pretty much already knows what is going to be said in the team meeting anyway.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Broad-tailed Grassbird » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:31 pm

Let's just say hypothetically it was some no-name like, "Brighton", would they have waited for those meetings? No. Seems stupid to hold up the whole tournament because State College couldn't make it on time.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by sabine01 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:54 pm

Matt J wrote:A large amount of the staff meeting, as I remember it, was actually about this very thing. As I interpreted what Gautam said, the messup of a bounceback triggers the reading of a new bonus, on which the team to whom the bonus is initially read has a guarantee of all the points they'd previously gotten on the first bonus, no matter how well they do. (i.e. If a team gets 20 and the moderator screws up the third part, but they 0 the replacement bonus, they still receive the previous 20 nonetheless. I'm unsure as to how it affects steals on the new bonus.) This rule needs to be codified or rewritten. (Suggested change: As a first-time bounceback moderator, I admittedly messed up three or four times; on at least two of these occasions, players told me not to worry about replacing the bonus unless it affected the game's outcome. Would it make sense to replace bounceback messups at the end of the game if it matters? Or are they too common to be handled that way?)
Have staffed most NSC's until now. I'm under the impression that it shouldn't be replaced (bonus part) unless the points mattered.

According to Section G of the PACE Rules: Bonuses
5.". If some parts of a bonus are not played properly for any reason, e.g. if an audience
member shouts the answer to a live bonus part, the issue should be noted by the
moderator and the match played through."
The replacing the bonus for the other team only applies if it needs to be replaced. As in: the points mattered.

Unless something has changed in the past 2 years or so...

Edited for clarity.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:57 pm

gkandlikar wrote:All,

I would like to reiterate the point Andrew made in the other post that the logistics issues that plagued the tournament were not caused by PACE as organization or by any members in PACE other than us central administrators, myself and Andrew. We made some wiggle room for some delays, but the contingency planning was clearly inadequate to deal with what occurred over the weekend.

I ask that people who were not involved in the running and administration of the tournament not be publicly maligned for faults they have not committed.

Thank you,
Gautam Kandlikar
We certainly have a bizarre situation here, in which the actual TDs are apologizing and trying to avoid passing the buck, whereas other people in PACE are insisting, crazily enough, that everything went fine and that the tournament only ran twelve minutes late (and still others are dispatching notorious imbeciles such as Charles Martin to blame the harried and under-supported control room operators for the massive underpreparation of the TDs, the shortcomings of PACE, and the inability of students at highly ranked universities to do arithmetic).

It's admirable that the TDs want to take responsibility. And certainly the large bulk of disasters at the 2011 NSC were due to the TDs treating this like a 12-team college tournament and doing almost none of the things that an event of this scope requires. They will not be let off the hook by any means, and clearly they have no business coming near the NSC logistics again.

However, what will really keep teams from returning to this tournament in the future is the crazy lack of seriousness demonstrated by things like Andy Watkins insisting that the three hour lunch break was no big deal. When there is no hope that these problems will be solved in the future because the PACE leadership has been stating for the last 24 hours that there were no problems, in contravention of their own tournament directors, teams will give up on the tournament. Andrew and Gautam will not be the TDs next year. What remains to be seen is whether PACE will still be an organization that appoints two people with no experience to run the tournament and then argues with people who point out how the tournament failed as a result.

It is also worth noting that a good number of the timing issues were due to staff blowing off very clear instructions to do certain things. I did not see this phenomenon during Saturday or Sunday of HSNCT. The fact that PACE doesn't take itself seriously and its leaders neither deserve nor receive any respect from their collegiate peers is surely relevant to the question of why so many staffers don't respect the tournament enough to do their part in making it run efficiently.

My own lengthy catalog of TD failings at this event that must be learned from is forthcoming.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by TheKingInYellow » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:24 pm

So I first want to congratulate everyone who attended PACE on a great tournament, particularly the kids from Hunter and all the other seniors who I've been playing with for three or four years now. You're all the best and I had a great time competing against you. I'd also like to thank my team-mates Monica, Christoph, and David--you guys are some of the best quiz bowl players ever and I don't think people give you nearly enough credit for how good you all are, it's been an honor to play with you--and Ms.Gittings, unquestionably the best coach quiz bowl has ever known.

The questions, for the most part, were excellent. The delays were inconvenient, but didn't ultimately have a very large effect on my tournament experience as a whole. The more important problem was definitely protest resolution, and I think other people have talked about that.

The all-star match bothered me a little--I've always thought the trash matches were more exciting and generally entertaining, and watching good quiz bowl players struggle with non-academic questions is always hilarious; the all-star matches of the past two years have felt more like a sort of "in-group" joke session to me, and I think they sort of detract from the NSC's professionalism a lot more than the trash matches did, paradoxical as it may sound. My biggest problem with NSC, and this isn't a huge deal, just something I think could be worked on, is how much less legitimate it feels than HSNCT. Just as an example, the awards ceremony and end of the tournament seemed incredibly informal (even compared to last year). This sort of thing isn't directly "good quiz bowl" related, but I think it would increase the NSC's prestige and make the tournament more appealing to most of the players.

All-in-all, I thought the tournament was fun. There were certainly some problems that should be fixed, but I certainly wouldn't condemn it as brutally or personally as some other people have done.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:34 pm

TheKingInYellow wrote:There were certainly some problems that should be fixed, but I certainly wouldn't condemn it as brutally or personally as some other people have done.
I think this is the right way to think about it. I read/scorekept on Saturday so I had to sit through the delay as well. It was certainly not ideal and something that shouldn't happen at national tournaments, but I didn't see it as a critical error that would deter teams from returning to NSC. This is because I think, provided a fair format (which I won't discuss other than admitting my lack of confidence in the particular format used this year; I nevertheless refrain from condemning it), the NSC questions do a better job of naming a national champion than HSNCT does. I think it's a bit of an overstep to suggest that poor tournament direction could kill a national tournament, especially when fundamentally, i.e. in terms of questions, which are the most critical component in making a good tournament, it's perfectly adequate if not better.

The errors made this year can easily be corrected and I hope teams do not lose confidence in this tournament, because they shouldn't.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Sir Thopas » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:35 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:other people in PACE are insisting, crazily enough, that everything went fine and that the tournament only ran twelve minutes late
Dude, nobody said this.
However, what will really keep teams from returning to this tournament in the future is the crazy lack of seriousness demonstrated by things like Andy Watkins insisting that the three hour lunch break was no big deal.
Nor this. Andy's and my posts were very explicitly about the amount of time the format added to the egregious delay. Maybe you should read his post again—he explicitly says that we need to determine what really contributed to the delay so as to avoid it in the future. As a member of PACE, I can assure you that there will be a thorough inquest into what went wrong at this tournament. Possibly faulty assumptions such as "the format sunk the tournament" can only be counterproductive; while this was objectively a factor, as many of us have admitted, to blame a large part of the delay on the format will teach us nothing for the future.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by felgon123 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:34 pm

Just a few brief remarks:

Firstly, I’d like to congratulate State College on yet another great performance. While I have neither the knowledge nor the desire to point fingers at anyone, I would like to say that I think it is a shame that this team, indisputably one of the best in high school quizbowl history, was not given the chance to win either of the last two NSC’s without the tournament being stained with controversy. Over the past few years, I’ve had a great time playing the most exciting quizbowl games of my career against this team, Maggie Walker’s most beloved rivals.

Confining myself to discussing what my limited perspective allows me to comment on, I agree with Graham that the handling of protest resolution was (for me, at least) the most upsetting aspect of the tournament. Had we been subjected to the horrific treatment which Bellarmine received at the hands of those running this tournament, this post would be much longer and much more scathing. Again, I do not know the exact details of what happened, but I do know that at the worst, grave injustice was done, and at the best, monstrous incompetence was displayed.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by evilmonkey » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:36 pm

I will reiterate that this tournament had terrible logistics. I see no reason to enumerate my entire list of logistical problems that were associated with this tournament, as I believe almost every point on my list has been mentioned above. I will, however, make a couple of points that I think have not been mentioned.

As part of the group that lugged heavy items across campus, I remember the "Oh [expletive]" moment that I had when we walked into Parkes Saturday morning, since the only other tournament I had attended in that building, Northwestern's mirror of Penn Bowl 2010, had been the worst tournament experience I had ever had, in large part due to that building's distance from other buildings. I mentioned this to the other people who were also at that tournament, and I was met with responses that indicated a similar level of concern. When making room reservations at an unfamiliar location, multiple persons not from that school who have attended tournaments at the location should be asked whether there have been any logistical nightmares at that location, and if so what caused them. I specifically call for outsiders for two reasons: 1) I'm presuming that someone is acting as a contact at the school - in this case, I believe the on-site contact was Dan Donahue, who was not at Northwestern for Penn Bowl 2010. 2) The TD of bad tournaments run at that school in the past may not always be made aware of all of the problems that afflicted the tournament.

I disagree with Matt's assertion that the fact that neither Gautam nor Andrew had run a large tournament is a result of PACE driving away TD's experienced with 60 team tournaments. To my knowledge, that list of TD's is anyone who has run NSC, HSNCT, ICT, Vanderbilt ABC, or :chip: (what? I didn't specify GOOD 60 team tournaments). There really isn't a good way to get your feet wet. Therefore, I posit that the criticism of inexperience with large tournaments is largely unfounded. Its also a function of eliminating a constant. What would HSNCT be without the continued leadership of Hentzel? How would NAC survive its own idiocy without :chip: knowing the best way to make bad quizbowl seem legitimate to ignorant schools and thus swindle them out of their money?

I would also say that people selected to be control room staff ought to be people who understand what being in a control room staff entails. In my opinion, George did an excellent job in the control room. He read the emails of Gautam and Andrew thoroughly to understand what was happening. When we were unsure of what was supposed to happen, he actively sought to find out. When coaches came by, he concisely explained the situation, personally reassuring the coaches that PACE was still thinking about them. When we realized that our rooms had teams, George quickly made sure that all of our staffers understand the situation, and sent them out to disseminate that information. As the head of a control room, you control the perspective that coaches and their teams have of the situation. Throughout the day, he had me double-checking scoresheets and keeping tallies of standings so that we would know well in advance what ties would need to be broken. While it is tempting to my mischievous side to poke the dragon that is Matt Weiner by insinuating that he was responsible for his bracket falling behind, anyone with half a brain understands that that is not the case. When a bracket has to spend 10 minutes more than the rest getting packets between round, it is going to fall behind quickly, even when there isn't a grand screw-up like Saturday. It is a testimony to Matt's expertise that even with all of the challenges his bracket faced that he didn't fall any further behind.

I would also like to comment on Charlie Dees favorite subject - the late, late, late Saturday night texts. I've heard some rumors that one of the control room computers went dead with the SQBS file wasn't saved, and so Donald and others had to frantically input stats starting after the PACE meeting ended at 10 to put together that bracket's standings so they could know what ties needed to be broken, and how to schedule those ties. Moreover, they had to contend with the TJ - Auburn situation, which completely changed what they had thought. Moreover, the idea to simplify communications through texting backfired due to the large number of teams, which meant that many different texts needed to be sent out. Things could have been done differently to ameliorate these problems, but I don't know if its reasonable to expect the TJ -Auburn situation to actually be on a contingency list. It also may be wise to hold the PACE meeting on Sunday in the future, so any issues can be taken care of right away without forfeiting your place in the meeting (although, when I left Northwestern, the meeting had started, and Andrew and Gautam were hard at work in a separate room, so it may be the case that they did indeed give up their ability to discuss the future of PACE in order to try to fix what was wrong).

Again - these were only the thoughts that I had that hadn't been mentioned.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Tanay » Tue Jun 07, 2011 4:05 am

I'll start this by congratulating all the fantastic teams we played at this tournament. We don't get many chances to compete at this level, so we always look forward to these few weekends at the end of the year when we get to give it a shot against the best in the nation. For that reason, we were happy to sit through the delays and other logistical setbacks that occurred over the course of this weekend, especially because we were very confident in the abilities of all who were designated to help run this tournament.

As far as our team was concerned, this tournament was nothing short of painfully frustrating. The Hunter issue has already been documented in some detail, and nobody on our team begrudges Hunter for protesting a decision they clearly felt was an incorrect one. However, while some teams were given two separate chances to address tournament officials about an issue they had with a game-related decision, our coach was explicitly denied access to tournament officials that could address his question about the ruling in our game against State College. He was told that it would not be possible for him to address anyone with any say within the protest committee. Not only is this aggravating because (if you reverse the Hunter decision in accord with the apparent consensus throughout the community) our loss against State College kept us out of a tie for first place and out of championship contention, but it seemed to characterize the way many things went about this weekend. Our 4th place game against Stevenson was mooted well after it had been played, LASA lost its ability to contend for the title, Hunter and State College saw their achievements stained by controversy, and teams in other brackets not only lost faith in this tournament, but in some cases, good quizbowl. I guess that in some larger context, LASA's removal from championship contention and PACE's inadequacy in addressing our own are issues of relatively small import to a majority of teams, and that's entirely fair. However, for every LASA, State College, Hunter, and other mainstay in the field, there are dozens of teams whose experiences this weekend will have an inestimably deleterious effect on their circuits, and on PACE's own mission of promoting good quizbowl.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Edward Powers » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:01 am

Beautifully stated Tanay. But my guess is that I speak for virtually all of the teams in the field when I say we do care about how great teams like LASA, Bellarmine, Stevenson, State College and Hunter end up being treated and perceived. There is no way that Hunter or State College should feel any diminution of their achievement in arriving at the Championship match, for they were dependent upon the good judgment of officials whose integrity they had no reason to question. Just so, it is extremely disappointing to know that LASA and Bellarmine quite possibly deserved a better fate and now cannot undo what has transpired. I say this out of admiration for programs like yours and LASA's---we know how hard you had to have worked to play with the excellence you consistently play with, and to see your chances at a National Championship simply dissolve right in front of your eyes through no fault of your own had to be very disheartening. So my bet is all who attended this great annual event and celebration of good quizbowl, from team 1 to team 60, clearly sympathizes with the frustrations you must feel. But there is a wonderful silver lining in all this, and some may not see it quite yet, but your post suggests that you already do, and it is this: Youngsters like you are displaying the grace, civility, sportsmanship and generosity of spirit that all too many adults on these forums have recently and egregiously failed to display. Further, despite what must be tremendous disappointment for all the players like yourself swept up in these lost chances for a National Championship, your obvious greater love of the game itself shines through, for your most recent post reveals that you have already transcended your painful lost opportunity and have risen above it by showing greater concern for all those programs that might have been harmed by all of the mistakes made in this weekend's tournament. In this regard, therefore, you have earned that which is more precious than any championship trophy, for you have no doubt earned the enduring respect and admiration of all who love great quizbowl and all of the noble qualities we adults hope and trust it instills in you as you engage in it. And yours is not the only example of this; apparently there was a similar magnanimous gesture by a TJ player in the Auburn-TJA match---Diana, perhaps???----who placed the integrity of the game and good sportsmanship above her immediate desires for victory, and already one of the Auburn players, whose name escapes me at the moment, has testified to his admiration for this magnanimous and spontaneous act of generosity in a highly competitive situation. But there are many more such examples as well, but I'll mention only one more and wrap this up. It occurred last week at the HSNCT---as soon as it was clear that State College had clinched its victory over LASA, the LASA players spontaneously began to applaud for State College. LASA's loss had to be heartbreaking to these players at that moment, but instead they rose above their natural sense of disappointment and revealed their true Championship calibre as human beings.

So, I will stop here and simply close by saying this: I hope and trust that the adults on this forum who should know better, and who are engaging in a destructive bloodbath with each other that can only harm quizbowl, possibly for years, can learn from youngsters like you and Diana from TJ A and the LASA kids and stop their nonsense and place the interests of the quizbowl community above their personal desires and narrower agendas. Instead, they should look to youngsters like you to discover what quizbowl is ultimately really about, for it is about more than winning, since we all know that only one team can "win" in that shrill sense. No, you youngsters know it is about much, much more, things like friendship, fair play, mutual respect and an intelligence and wisdom that goes beyond getting toss-ups or bonuses right. You are getting life right, for you have allowed the better angels of your natures to guide you. So, you and all the youngsters like you are already CHAMPIONS in my book, astonishingly gracious champions, and you are a credit to your families, your schools, your larger communities and, to the quizbowl community that you love. You have earned a respect and admiration here that goes beyond a mere national championship, for you have revealed that you possess a champions spirit, which I believe will last you a lifetime and provide many wonderful moments in your future. It is my hope that in the next few days and weeks it is your magnanimous and championship spirit and example which takes hold on these boards, so that a generous spirit of healing takes place and protects the game we all love.
Last edited by Edward Powers on Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Kechara » Tue Jun 07, 2011 8:21 am

Thank you, Ed.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by theMoMA » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:50 am

NoWayItsTanay wrote:I'll start this by congratulating all the fantastic teams we played at this tournament. We don't get many chances to compete at this level, so we always look forward to these few weekends at the end of the year when we get to give it a shot against the best in the nation. For that reason, we were happy to sit through the delays and other logistical setbacks that occurred over the course of this weekend, especially because we were very confident in the abilities of all who were designated to help run this tournament.

As far as our team was concerned, this tournament was nothing short of painfully frustrating. The Hunter issue has already been documented in some detail, and nobody on our team begrudges Hunter for protesting a decision they clearly felt was an incorrect one. However, while some teams were given two separate chances to address tournament officials about an issue they had with a game-related decision, our coach was explicitly denied access to tournament officials that could address his question about the ruling in our game against State College. He was told that it would not be possible for him to address anyone with any say within the protest committee. Not only is this aggravating because (if you reverse the Hunter decision in accord with the apparent consensus throughout the community) our loss against State College kept us out of a tie for first place and out of championship contention, but it seemed to characterize the way many things went about this weekend. Our 4th place game against Stevenson was mooted well after it had been played, LASA lost its ability to contend for the title, Hunter and State College saw their achievements stained by controversy, and teams in other brackets not only lost faith in this tournament, but in some cases, good quizbowl. I guess that in some larger context, LASA's removal from championship contention and PACE's inadequacy in addressing our own are issues of relatively small import to a majority of teams, and that's entirely fair. However, for every LASA, State College, Hunter, and other mainstay in the field, there are dozens of teams whose experiences this weekend will have an inestimably deleterious effect on their circuits, and on PACE's own mission of promoting good quizbowl.
Tanay, I want to reiterate what I told your coach on the phone on Sunday. We did reconsider your protest against State College and determined that the initial ruling was correct. One of the control rooms informed us that you had challenged our application of the relevant protest rule. Not only did we subsequently discuss the protest again, but we talked with Matt Weiner to make sure that we were interpreting and applying the rule as intended. We stand by the protest resolution.

I would also like to thank your team for being exceptionally civil during what was undoubtedly an incredibly frustrating experience. I regret that in making the protest decisions that we felt were necessary we had to put you through such a difficult situation, and I can't apologize enough.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Edward Powers » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:31 am

My privilege, Jessie.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:16 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:
TheKingInYellow wrote:There were certainly some problems that should be fixed, but I certainly wouldn't condemn it as brutally or personally as some other people have done.
I think this is the right way to think about it. I read/scorekept on Saturday so I had to sit through the delay as well. It was certainly not ideal and something that shouldn't happen at national tournaments, but I didn't see it as a critical error that would deter teams from returning to NSC. This is because I think, provided a fair format (which I won't discuss other than admitting my lack of confidence in the particular format used this year; I nevertheless refrain from condemning it), the NSC questions do a better job of naming a national champion than HSNCT does. I think it's a bit of an overstep to suggest that poor tournament direction could kill a national tournament, especially when fundamentally, i.e. in terms of questions, which are the most critical component in making a good tournament, it's perfectly adequate if not better.

The errors made this year can easily be corrected and I hope teams do not lose confidence in this tournament, because they shouldn't.
In an ideal quizbowl world, you are right, the questions and format should override concerns of logistics in attracting teams. However, I think you both are showing some misunderstandings of how the quizbowl world really works in these posts. The reality is that there are probably only 10 or so teams who are truly committed ideologically enough to the kind of quizbowl the NSC offers that they would always choose to go to it, instead of abandoning it for the very legitimate, far superior logistical product that NAQT runs. For teams who are new to PACE, for teams who are newer to good quizbowl, and for a lot of coaches even in more established programs, the reality is having these delays is a MASSIVE impediment to getting those teams back. You may not think it would be enough to drive them away, but teams from all over the spectrum of talent were already doing things like calling the tournament "asinine" (Northmont's coach, noted playoff level team) and threatening to never come back to PACE during the delays on Saturday. If only half of the teams talking about it don't show back up, then we already are at a point where the logistics is driving many teams away. That's why people need to be so strenuously criticizing how this event ran logistically, because it needs to be made abundantly clear that the NSC will not be able to run another event like this without folding. It may not have been a problem to you, because you are used to inefficient college tournaments, but it will drive off the non-contending teams, and will leave the NSC in a financially inviable position and will leave you with about 10 teams every year, certainly not enough to crown a legitimate champion. Add in the fact that they also risked alienating many of the top teams who might otherwise always come to the NSC because of the protest resolutions, and you have a recipe for NAQT taking over a monopoly on high school nationals. I don't think you guys are thinking enough about the decisions teams who aren't contending will make about how to spend their money, and just how huge an impact that will have on PACE's ability to continue existing. Logistics is in fact a huge deal.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Geringer » Wed Jun 08, 2011 8:50 pm

Among many other things that I have noticed but have already pointed out already, there were four issues that I noticed that, if fixed, could ease burdens for next year's crew.

1. Staff, especially staff running games and control rooms, shouldn't have access to the liveblog. I know it would make it less fun to staff a lower bracket, but for the fairness of protests it would be best if a concerted effort was made. It's unavoidable for someone to jump on a liveblog and talk about a protest between San Dimas and Ridgemont and knowing this could affect the resolution of protests.

2. Staff setting up buzzers should probably test the buzzers. In the first phase of Saturday, I had to replace a total of six systems between the six rooms I was in charge of maintaining. This delayed games and consequently entire brackets, and considering that PACE is funding travel, actually doing a thorough job seems par for the course. It would also be beneficial to ask coaches to test their stuff before they dump us with some broken relic from Science Bowl or something.

3. Control rooms seemed to be oddly misplaced in respect to where their corresponding rooms were. I know this probably isn't a big deal, but it certainly made organizing tiebreakers more difficult when teams were spread across the building on a different floor. I have been told there was a last-minute snafu with losing room reservations in Kresge, but having the tournament central in a completely non-central location also seems moderately ill-advised.

4. Finally, assigning the top three brackets to Fred's control room and only two to the next one down also slowed things down. It is not because the lower brackets are less important, but rather because the top bracket's results are very time-sensitive (public match in an auditorium) and can affect the travel plans for all teams rather than a specific eight. Having to figure out results and input stats for a third, albeit simpler bracket did not ease the crises of a four-way tie in bracket two and the aforementioned quizpocalypse in the top flight.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Jun 08, 2011 9:58 pm

- While I was sitting there doing basically nothing, the opening meeting occurred, which included the presentation of the Cooper Awards. That's right - when the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance was presented the Young Ambassador Award, the president of that organization was sitting in a control room by himself completely clueless as to what was going on. Now, the Cooper Awards were not really the tournament directors' responsibility and I could have brought this detail to their attention, but someone involved with organizing the opening meeting should have realized this (especially considering the recipient of the Academic Ambassador Award was also a control room operator). Again, had I known I was going to be a control room operator in advance I would have been able to get clarification on this detail well in advance and a plan could have been in place to make sure that my duties (of sitting around doing nothing) in the control room were covered by someone else.
I think it's right for us from MOQBA to demand an apology for this. Given that the opening meeting was held up for ages to spend 5 seconds recognizing a coach who was not actually being given an award (not that I have a problem with Julie Gittings being recognized, she's really cool and actually the recognition Trygve did give her was sort of laughably underwhelming given that she is indisputably the greatest coach of all time), it's pretty incredible that PACE couldn't bother to make sure the president of the organization they actually were giving the award to, who was at the tournament, would be there to accept the award. Jeff Hill does a phenomenal amount of work to make sure MOQBA is a success, and he deserved more than any of the rest of us to finally get a chance to be recognized by the community at large.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Galstaff, Sorceror of Light » Wed Jun 08, 2011 10:23 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Freesy Does It wrote:
- While I was sitting there doing basically nothing, the opening meeting occurred, which included the presentation of the Cooper Awards. That's right - when the Missouri Quizbowl Alliance was presented the Young Ambassador Award, the president of that organization was sitting in a control room by himself completely clueless as to what was going on. Now, the Cooper Awards were not really the tournament directors' responsibility and I could have brought this detail to their attention, but someone involved with organizing the opening meeting should have realized this (especially considering the recipient of the Academic Ambassador Award was also a control room operator). Again, had I known I was going to be a control room operator in advance I would have been able to get clarification on this detail well in advance and a plan could have been in place to make sure that my duties (of sitting around doing nothing) in the control room were covered by someone else.
I think it's right for us from MOQBA to demand an apology for this. Given that the opening meeting was held up for ages to spend 5 seconds recognizing a coach who was not actually being given an award (not that I have a problem with Julie Gittings being recognized, she's really cool and actually the recognition Trygve did give her was sort of laughably underwhelming given that she is indisputably the greatest coach of all time), it's pretty incredible that PACE couldn't bother to make sure the president of the organization they actually were giving the award to, who was at the tournament, would be there to accept the award. Jeff Hill does a phenomenal amount of work to make sure MOQBA is a success, and he deserved more than any of the rest of us to finally get a chance to be recognized by the community at large.
Oh hey, I guess this wasn't responded to in this thread. I've already apologized to Jeff in person and in the PACE forum for this extremely unfortunate oversight. When Andrew contacted you about the awards and then got back to me about the members of MOQBA you'd said would be present, I mistakenly assumed that you had passed on the relevant information about when the award was being presented to those people. I was honestly as surprised as you were that Jeff wasn't there, and I apologize for not following up with you to make sure the information had been passed along. I really admire the work all of you have done and I hope you can forgive me for this honest mistake. Jeff not knowing he was a control room operator until very close to the event obviously also contributed to this situation, though I believe someone has already responded to the host of problems arising from such a lack of information and that situation will not occur next year.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Coach K » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:49 pm

This was my 5th year coaching and my team's second year entering the NSC. We decided to attend NSC last year because we viewed it as the best of the best competing against one another. As a team that WANTS to be one of those very top echelon teams, I knew we needed to see those teams first hand to truly understand the task ahead of us. I was incredibly happy when we finished 41st last year. My team played well, the students enjoyed themselves, we saw where we needed to improve, and overall it was a very positive experience for us.

Unfortunately, there were some people around our team that focused on "41st out of 64 teams" and felt like that indicated that we had done very poorly. We had to fight all year this year to get permission to attend again. Even though we qualified three times in three different states, it was a huge ordeal to get the trip approved. I explained to the people making the decision how prestigious the tournament was, how only the very best teams were even invited, how phenomenal the competition was, what a great experience it had been for the team, and so on until we were finally given approval and allowed to return.

And then this year's tournament happened.

From the opening meeting, this year's NSC felt hastily thrown together. I certainly understand that tournaments will have delays or something unanticipated will happen (our fall tournament this year had the power go out right as the first round was starting), but a lot of the delays and problems last weekend felt very preventable. Every time things seemed to be getting back under control, there would be another delay or another mistake and things would spiral back downward. Unlike the previous year, this year's NSC rapidly turned into a very negative, very troublesome experience for me and my team. Unlike the previous year, I couldn't help but feel like maybe this time we had wasted our time and money attending.

Along with all of this, I coach in Kentucky where quiz bowl hasn't caught on as much as in a lot of other states. We NEED tournaments like HSNCT and NSC to be examples for us to show other coaches. We need them to take themselves seriously and to provide the best experience possible for the teams in attendance. We need them to be great so that we can help show other teams that there’s a better way to do things. NSC this year did not do those things.

To be clear, I’m not saying I expect HSNCT or NSC to be some magical panacea for solving all of quiz bowl’s ills. I am saying I expect them to be the best run tournaments my team attends so that I can go back to my school and to other schools and tell them about what an awesome experience my team had. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for from a national championship tournament.

The last thing I’d like to add is a question for PACE: What is being done so that next year’s NSC does not suffer from the pitfalls that this one suffered from?

I know you all are deep in discussions about that very issue, so I don’t expect this to be answered immediately. But as someone who had to fight really hard for his team to be able to attend this year, I want to make sure that if we are able to qualify again next year that I’m not spending a ton of time arguing and defending something that isn’t going to improve itself. I want us to be able to attend and compete at NSC for years to come, but not if this year’s tournament is going to become our typical experience.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Jun 09, 2011 1:59 pm

I think that is a wonderful post, coach K, and I sincerely hope PACE takes it to heart.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by scquizbowl » Thu Jun 09, 2011 2:08 pm

Well, there have been many tournaments that I have been to that have had long delays, but a national tournament to have a 50 minute delay before the team meeting starts is inexcusable. I've been to much bigger tournaments that have delays (Brookwood sometimes), but better logistics than what I have read here.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Nine-Tenths Ideas » Thu Jun 09, 2011 3:36 pm

Truly, 50 minute delays are inexcusable, but plagiarized one line questions are okay.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by BHSQuizcats » Thu Jun 09, 2011 9:13 pm

I want to echo everything that Coach K from Danville said. We at Bainbridge are in our 4th year of competition, and we attended our first (and quite possibly last) NSC this year. We absolutely LOVE the PACE questions, the teams were super great, the moderators were alright (though some read way too fast for untimed rounds in our opinion), but that's where the "good stuff" stops. Everything else (pretty much what has been beaten to death on this board) was very unpleasant for us - so unpleasant, in fact, that we decided not to return on the second day. We didn't care if we finished dead last after the negative experience we had on Saturday. I felt that it was more important for my kids to have a positive experience in the city than to return to way-too-hot rooms, ridiculous delays, and general confusion. Next year, we're going to focus all of our attention on raising funds for NAQT's HSNCT instead of attending both national tournaments. While we prefer PACE's questions and distribution, NAQT is miles ahead in every other area, it seems (and not far behind in the question department!).

Maybe PACE can get their act together, and maybe we'll give it another shot in the future, but as for now, we feel like we have better things to spend our money on.
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Re: 2011 NSC: Tournament Logistic Discussion (not the set)

Post by Dominator » Sun Jun 12, 2011 7:48 pm

I want to echo the sentiments of the Danville and Bainbridge coaches. There is no need to continue to prove this tournament was awful. The fact that the set being our favorite of the year and yet the tournament was on the whole so terrible speaks very loudly.

This was IMSA's first NSC. We were looking forward to this all year. I had to beg administration for funding and permission to attend during our graduation weekend. Let me be exceedingly clear: I have no desire whatsoever to attend this tournament again. I would never attend a Saturday invitational again were it this poorly run, and they don't even charge NSC prices. I would have much preferred saving IMSA's money and spending that weekend with my family rather than waiting in an uncomfortable hallway to get half-packeted out of the top 24 before round 6. NSC has lost our business.

But what is absolutely infuriating is that NSC does not even appear to be trying to get that business back. Responding to questions saying that a secret cabal is handling things secretly sounds too much like what led to these problems in the first place. Such behavior will convince coaches on the fence that they should not do business with PACE.

Personally, I find the arrogance of an organization that thought it was ready to expand to 72 teams, then could not even reach the previous level of 64 teams, and then showed they were completely incapable of handling the reduced number, and even then find themselves unwilling to address the myriad problems in a manner anywhere approaching appropriateness utterly appalling.
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