Buzzer Races

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bradleykirksey
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Buzzer Races

Post by bradleykirksey »

I'm pretty sure at ICT that half of our games were decided by a buzzer race at some point, and that I did not win one of them through the course of the tournament. How do some people so conistantly get their lights to turn on when they know things?
Bradley Kirksey
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Cheynem
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by Cheynem »

One thing that I think helps a player win a couple of buzzer races more than average is doing something like "priming an answer in your mind." In this case, always have like a "If I buzzed now, what would I say?" type answer ready to go. Obviously in some categories this is impossible, but even in like unfamiliar categories it might not hurt. Then you're waiting for that one particular word or clue to pull the trigger on. That sounds simplistic, but there's something key in having the mindset of "I'm ready to buzz" to "I may buzz if I hear something I know and decide what it is."
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Skepticism and Animal Feed
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Cheynem wrote:One thing that I think helps a player win a couple of buzzer races more than average is doing something like "priming an answer in your mind." In this case, always have like a "If I buzzed now, what would I say?" type answer ready to go. Obviously in some categories this is impossible, but even in like unfamiliar categories it might not hurt. Then you're waiting for that one particular word or clue to pull the trigger on. That sounds simplistic, but there's something key in having the mindset of "I'm ready to buzz" to "I may buzz if I hear something I know and decide what it is."
This. Often times, I will suspect that a certain thing is the answer, and I will wait until I hear a word that confirms it. The moment I hear that word - or even its first syllable - I buzz and usually win the race.

On the contrary, when I hear something that to me is a giveaway, but for an answer other than the one I was thinking, I almost never win that buzzer race. It seems my mind takes a split-second to adjust, and that delay is fatal.
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Bartleby
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by Bartleby »

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:
Cheynem wrote:One thing that I think helps a player win a couple of buzzer races more than average is doing something like "priming an answer in your mind." In this case, always have like a "If I buzzed now, what would I say?" type answer ready to go. Obviously in some categories this is impossible, but even in like unfamiliar categories it might not hurt. Then you're waiting for that one particular word or clue to pull the trigger on. That sounds simplistic, but there's something key in having the mindset of "I'm ready to buzz" to "I may buzz if I hear something I know and decide what it is."
This. Often times, I will suspect that a certain thing is the answer, and I will wait until I hear a word that confirms it. The moment I hear that word - or even its first syllable - I buzz and usually win the race.

On the contrary, when I hear something that to me is a giveaway, but for an answer other than the one I was thinking, I almost never win that buzzer race. It seems my mind takes a split-second to adjust, and that delay is fatal.
I'm no Mike Cheyne or Bruce Arthur, but this would be my advice as. Start trying to contextualize clues as you hear them; what is the question looking for? Do you have a country you can figure out before it's said? etc etc. I also find, as does Bruce, that when I get an idea in my head, and all of a sudden, something gets dropped that eliminates that idea, it does take me an often-fatal second to react.
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Fond du lac operon
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by Fond du lac operon »

Cheynem wrote:One thing that I think helps a player win a couple of buzzer races more than average is doing something like "priming an answer in your mind." In this case, always have like a "If I buzzed now, what would I say?" type answer ready to go. Obviously in some categories this is impossible, but even in like unfamiliar categories it might not hurt. Then you're waiting for that one particular word or clue to pull the trigger on. That sounds simplistic, but there's something key in having the mindset of "I'm ready to buzz" to "I may buzz if I hear something I know and decide what it is."
Yuuuup. I think of how I play quizbowl as constantly having a probability distribution on the space of answers in my head, which I update continuously as the question is being read. You want to always be, like, one clue away from buzzing (if it strongly enough supports the answer you suspect.)

And sometimes it does take a second to shift gears, but you'll win a lot more buzzer races this way than if you don't weakly commit yourself to an answer ahead of time.

The other thing -- and this may sound obvious, but I actually lost a buzzer race at ICT because of it -- is to get your finger on the buzzer before a TU starts, because sometimes you'll know the first clue, and sometimes your opponent will as well, and losing a first-clue buzzer race stings.
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bradleykirksey
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by bradleykirksey »

Thanks. All of this advice kinda looks common sense, but the only part of that I'd been doing was keeping my finger on the button. I'll start trying to do all of that.
Bradley Kirksey
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Skepticism and Animal Feed
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Re: Buzzer Races

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Also you're going to get faster with buzzers as you use them more. I think this is very much like riding a bike too - Harvard practiced without buzzers almost the entire time that I was there, and I didn't notice an appreciable decline in my buzzer speed.
Bruce
Harvard '10 / UChicago '07 / Roycemore School '04
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My guide to using Wikipedia as a question source

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