autobid thread split

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autobid thread split

Post by setht » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:37 pm

Uh, split from the splitting-teams-at-SCT thread. --Mgmt.
merv1618 wrote:How does that logic apply to autobids then? I say this because my team is extremely affected by them this year.
What does this refer to?

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Re: Splitting teams at SCT

Post by Cheynem » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:38 pm

I think the hosting autobid really needs to be reformed. Sites with weak fields were getting "double bids" with the host and the automatic qualifier.
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Let's talk about SCT host autobids

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:40 pm

From the SCT team split thread:
Matt Weiner wrote:What we did see was Buffalo, Central Florida, Delaware, McMaster, Texas A&M, Truman State, and Washington get autobids from hosting. Washington turned theirs down and Delaware had some shot of qualifying anyway, so we'll call that four host bids that definitely displaced qualifying teams. WUSTL was 49th in D-value and would not have come close to qualifying had they not won a depleted miniature Sectional, and Cornell seems to have benefited from the generously small correction given to teams who play DII opponents on DII questions. Let's assume Cornell would have squeaked in anyway (I'm also very sure that Rice would have qualified in an actual DI tournament) and say we have a definite minimum of five DI bids that were given to teams that could not have qualified under a system where everyone had an equal burden to qualify by 1) actually playing the tournament 2) against actual DI opponents 3) on actual DI questions 4) without claiming an auto-bid for putting up 2 powers per game and 14 points per bonus while beating Truman State and Harding nine times.

The autobid situation is way more pressing than the B team situation by any measure and is also way more plausible to deal with. I don't know why the focus has fallen on the less important, less practical-to-fix aspect of qualification.
What would a hypothetical no-autobid future look like? Worth noting that it is already very hard to find hosts and staff for SCT; the autobid is one of the primary incentives encouraging teams to host SCT. A future without autobids would probably involve abandoning the qualifier-linkage between SCT and ICT (such that ICT would look something like "open registration, 40-team field cap in each division.") Do people think that would be a good idea to investigate for some future season of NAQT collegiate play?
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Re: Let's talk about SCT host autobids

Post by Cheynem » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:43 pm

How would you decide on which teams get in?
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Re: Let's talk about SCT host autobids

Post by theMoMA » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:48 pm

In terms of weaker sites getting double autobids, perhaps site-winning teams that fall below the lowest qualifying D value should not get autobids (or maybe teams that fall below a certain D-value threshold, such as 90% of the lowest qualifying D value, if the former would be too geographically harsh).
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 3:50 pm

It would probably be open registration (ie, any team that wishes to attend may register). Consider:
Sites with weak fields were getting "double bids" with the host and the automatic qualifier.
Which of those teams do you propose expelling from the ICT field? Surely not the team that actually won its SCT (downside being: teams have to consider whether or not to drive long distances to play marginally stronger fields in nearby regions). But also surely not the team that hosted; there will be cases in which the host team *is* the strongest team in the region, and telling them they can't play ICT because they volunteered to host SCT is a sure way to decrease the already-zero-in-many-regions number of SCT host bids.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by marnold » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:00 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:(downside being: teams have to consider whether or not to drive long distances to play marginally stronger fields in nearby regions)
How do teams have to consider this? Are you saying that bad teams would get a waiver to go to a better field but a decent team wouldn't get one to go to an easier field so they can actually get a bid?
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:03 pm

We already have rules about minimum field size for automatic bids and UG bids, I don't see how rules about minimum field quality would change anything. Yes, a team like WUSTL would have to either somehow manage to win a better SCT or not qualify; that is the point.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:08 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:We already have rules about minimum field size for automatic bids and UG bids, I don't see how rules about minimum field quality would change anything. Yes, a team like WUSTL would have to either somehow manage to win a better SCT or not qualify; that is the point.
Because it is at best difficult to assess field quality before the SCT happens.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:12 pm

marnold wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:(downside being: teams have to consider whether or not to drive long distances to play marginally stronger fields in nearby regions)
How do teams have to consider this? Are you saying that bad teams would get a waiver to go to a better field but a decent team wouldn't get one to go to an easier field so they can actually get a bid?
Teams would consider not just the current "which SCT site is closest/most convenient for our team to attend?" but also the additional "which SCT site will offer a field strong enough to actually qualify teams to ICT?" Note that: 1) SCT fields often change significantly in both size and quality very near the registration deadline (and sometimes even after it, for example due to inclement weather) and 2) there are collective-action issues involved in what teams register for what SCTs when. (Such as one of the two strongest teams in a particular region choosing to travel to a more distant SCT so as to potentially deprive their local rival of a championship autobid.)
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:13 pm

Why not a rule along the lines of "to earn an autobid, a team must finish in X place or better in terms of D-value."
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:14 pm

But, NAQT itself presumably believes that the D-value corrects for all of these issues. Shouldn't a team's D-value be identical no matter where it plays--isn't that the ONLY purpose of the D-value, to try to assess a team's "true" quality given that teams play in fields of different strengths?
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by The Bold Ideas of Bernie Sanders (I-VT) » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:14 pm

setht wrote:Uh, split from the splitting-teams-at-SCT thread. --Mgmt.
merv1618 wrote:How does that logic apply to autobids then? I say this because my team is extremely affected by them this year.
What does this refer to?

-Seth
There have been UG teams which received an autobid to ICT which, speaking factually, had worse stats than us, though due to our site we did not receive a bid and it is unclear if we will eventually qualify for ICT or not.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:17 pm

Fred wrote:Why not a rule along the lines of "to earn an autobid, a team must finish in X place or better in terms of D-value."
This deals with the tournament champions, but not the host schools.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:19 pm

Would programs who qualified teams via autobid (Minnesota, Buffalo, Central Florida, Truman State, Texas A&M, Delaware, McMaster, Ohio State) have hosted SCT without that opportunity? Are there other teams in those regions who would have hosted otherwise? I'm not asking this rhetorically, but would actually like to hear from the teams involved to see if the reality of the situation is equal to the perception.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by marnold » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:23 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote: Teams would consider not just the current "which SCT site is closest/most convenient for our team to attend?" but also the additional "which SCT site will offer a field strong enough to actually qualify teams to ICT?"
But teams can't consider this unless you give them the option to. The rules on playing at the closest/home region is way more strict than you give it credit for. And I don't understand why NAQT would start approving these requests when, presumably, if we had requested to go out to Buffalo so we could bid we would have been denied.

And if anything, the kind of thinking here is super risky - we ended up at a harder SCT, but it meant we ended up in the bottom bracket (after playing 4 teams in the top 10 of D-value!) and it hurt our SOS playing a double round robin against the bottom of the field.
bt_green_warbler wrote:
Matt Weiner wrote:We already have rules about minimum field size for automatic bids and UG bids, I don't see how rules about minimum field quality would change anything. Yes, a team like WUSTL would have to either somehow manage to win a better SCT or not qualify; that is the point.
Because it is at best difficult to assess field quality before the SCT happens.
Huh? No it's not! I'll go ahead and bet with a high degree of confidence that the two (!) different Region 2 SCTs will both suck again next year (and yet still throw off 4+ bids).
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by mhayes » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:27 pm

There have been UG teams which received an autobid to ICT which, speaking factually, had worse stats than us, though due to our site we did not receive a bid and it is unclear if we will eventually qualify for ICT or not.
Not to beat a dead horse, but the D-value conversion is also problematic. I think most would agree that RPI isn't stronger than your team (though I certainly mean no disrespect to them).
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:28 pm

marnold wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote: Teams would consider not just the current "which SCT site is closest/most convenient for our team to attend?" but also the additional "which SCT site will offer a field strong enough to actually qualify teams to ICT?"
But teams can't consider this unless you give them the option to. The rules on playing at the closest/home region is way more strict than you give it credit for. And I don't understand why NAQT would start approving these requests when, presumably, if we had requested to go out to Buffalo so we could bid we would have been denied.

And if anything, the kind of thinking here is super risky - we ended up at a harder SCT, but it meant we ended up in the bottom bracket (after playing 4 teams in the top 10 of D-value!) and it hurt our SOS playing a double round robin against the bottom of the field.
Hypothetically, we would look much more leniently on travel requests if it were actually impossible to qualify for ICT from particular regions.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:29 pm

mhayes wrote:the D-value conversion is also problematic.
NAQT has identified the issues related to D-value conversion and will be adjusting the D-value formula prior to the 2014 SCT. Expect details in July.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by marnold » Wed Mar 06, 2013 4:40 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
marnold wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote: Teams would consider not just the current "which SCT site is closest/most convenient for our team to attend?" but also the additional "which SCT site will offer a field strong enough to actually qualify teams to ICT?"
But teams can't consider this unless you give them the option to. The rules on playing at the closest/home region is way more strict than you give it credit for. And I don't understand why NAQT would start approving these requests when, presumably, if we had requested to go out to Buffalo so we could bid we would have been denied.

And if anything, the kind of thinking here is super risky - we ended up at a harder SCT, but it meant we ended up in the bottom bracket (after playing 4 teams in the top 10 of D-value!) and it hurt our SOS playing a double round robin against the bottom of the field.
Hypothetically, we would look much more leniently on travel requests if it were actually impossible to qualify for ICT from particular regions.
So the entire goal is just to make sure that teams from weak regions that are by hypothesis weak themselves (since they couldn't put up sufficient stats in that weak region to pass some lower bound of objective team quality) can still find some way into the field? If NAQT's explicit aim is to find ways to shoehorn weak teams from weak regions into the D1 field at the expense of better teams, I'm pretty sure this entire conversation is sorta pointless.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by 1992 in spaceflight » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:21 pm

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Would programs who qualified teams via autobid (Minnesota, Buffalo, Central Florida, Truman State, Texas A&M, Delaware, McMaster, Ohio State) have hosted SCT without that opportunity? Are there other teams in those regions who would have hosted otherwise? I'm not asking this rhetorically, but would actually like to hear from the teams involved to see if the reality of the situation is equal to the perception.
We probably would not have hosted SCT without being able to qualify a team with an autobid. We're certainly fortunate in our region that WUSTL can host SCT as well (if they want to in the future, anyway).

EDIT: With regards to autobids, there's also the fact that the strongest players on the host team are likely the best staffers as well (true in our case). So we had 3 out of our best 5 players staffing the tournament.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:01 am

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Would programs who qualified teams via autobid (Minnesota, Buffalo, Central Florida, Truman State, Texas A&M, Delaware, McMaster, Ohio State) have hosted SCT without that opportunity?
Nope.
Are there other teams in those regions who would have hosted otherwise? I'm not asking this rhetorically, but would actually like to hear from the teams involved to see if the reality of the situation is equal to the perception.
From this point forward it seems like the setup in our region will be "Which of MSU, Michigan or OSU wants to host?" I know Michigan did not want to this year, and I think NAQT had to goad them into it last year, and MSU would be a pretty far drive for a lot of other teams in our region.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Tale of Mac Datho's Pachycephalosaur » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:02 am

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Would programs who qualified teams via autobid (Minnesota, Buffalo, Central Florida, Truman State, Texas A&M, Delaware, McMaster, Ohio State) have hosted SCT without that opportunity?
Buffalo's answer happens to be a resounding "yes." Sure, the ICT bid is a perk, and one that may not have been available to us had we not hosted (it would have depended on whether our lit guy could have made the drive to Canada with us). But I decided to bid this year to try and kick-start other programs in the region.

I understand how this is frustrating, since Buffalo is not exactly a premier team, in the available space of DI teams. In future years, I would host at Buffalo no matter the autobid situation. FWIW, I also would hold that Buffalo A, at full strength, is probably of comparable quality to RPI A. So in the case of this particular year, if we had hordes of magical outside staffers come in and run our tournament for us, allowing us to devote our best players to actually playing, we may indeed have qualified in DI anyways... But that's just hand-waving--and possibly resulting from the aforementioned "generous" correction factor for DI teams on DII questions.

I digress: However, from the perspective of a team like Minnesota, who is basically expected to qualify a team every year, it would be rather irksome to be denied the opportunity to go to ICT, just because they had their good players staffing and not playing.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Wendish Crusade » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:06 am

Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Would programs who qualified teams via autobid (Minnesota, Buffalo, Central Florida, Truman State, Texas A&M, Delaware, McMaster, Ohio State) have hosted SCT without that opportunity?
I'm not Bradley, but I don't believe Central Florida would have bid to host without an autobid in place. In hindsight, with the field we actually had we could potentially have fielded a DI team and a DII team, still staffed the tournament appropriately, and qualified both teams, but we couldn't know that when bidding—I think the assumption was we might see more of region 6 than just the Florida schools plus Mercer.
Sulawesi Myzomela wrote:Are there other teams in those regions who would have hosted otherwise?
As far as I know, ours was the only region 6 bid even with the autobid present. I don't know the region well enough to know who might have been goaded into hosting were no bids submitted; my suspicion is that, as many schools would have found an SCT to attend anyway (judging by the fact that they attended the region 5 SCT in Knoxville), goading would also have been unsuccessful.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by evilmonkey » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:36 am

Without autobids, Texas A&M would have wished to play a full A-team in an attempt to qualify for ICT. As we are now down to three members with at least one year of collegiate quizbowl experience, this would have prevented us from effectively running a tournament. I'm pretty sure Rice would be in a similar situation. The next closest SCT was Truman State, 13 hours away. So - we probably would have deferred on hosting up until the point when it became clear that our options were to host or go without, and then bid on hosting late, and tried to get the freshmen to run the tournament, and ended up with a fairly shoddy event.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:21 am

I'm sure I sound like a broken record on this matter, but... the reason NAQT, fundamentally, has to limit the number of teams at ICT (whereby this problem arises at all) is because they can't get enough staff to run the tournament. And the reason they can't get enough staff is because the clock requires a moderator and a scorekeeper in each room.

NAQT could solve this entire problem by doing nothing except eliminating the clock, having 24-question rounds, and letting most teams into the field. Bam, you have twice the number of staffers available all of a sudden and you avoid these autobid issues. Not to mention that you also solve the SCT bid problem. The solution is as obvious as the nose on one's face.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:09 pm

If we did switch to an untimed ICT, we would probably set the number of tossups lower (either 20 or 22). 24 is well above the average tossups heard at the existing ICT, and we're skeptical of imposing additional delays on what is already a very long day of quizbowl. (The current schedule ends at 6:30; an expanded field would make that 7:30, which is workable. 7:30 plus an unknown quantity of additional time for moderators to work through untimed games could cause problems.)
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by setht » Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:44 pm

I just compared the DI invitation list and the recent poll. Until recently, Columbia hadn't earned an invitation; they are ranked 17th. Now that they've been invited, I believe the next highest-ranked team without an invite is Alberta (ranked 20th), which didn't play SCT. After that comes Stanford (ranked 24th); looking at SCT results, I'm guessing Stanford's rank is based in part on their outstanding young players, who did earn a bid in DII. Finally, we have Dartmouth (ranked 25), who missed out in a stacked Northeast field.

To summarize: out of the top 24 teams (as determined by infallible poll), one didn't play SCT, and one had some of its strongest players compete in DII. The other 22 earned bids (some of which were declined). Team number 25 probably won't squeak in.

I understand that the Platonic ideal of a 32-team national tournament involves the top 32 teams, but to my mind this year's field doesn't look problematic. I'm not saying "The system works, let's never change it ever"--in fact, I'd be glad to see an expansion to 36 (if that works) or 40 (if there's sufficient interest) teams in the future. I'd also kind of like to take another look at situations like the one with Northwestern's UG team this year to see if some change in policy might make sense going forward.

There have been lots of recent suggestions aimed at improving the strength of the field, and it's great to see people's interest in and creativity regarding this topic, but I think the current system is actually pretty reasonable, and it would be imprudent to do something that would shake things up quite a bit when there seems to be a simple solution: expand the field size a bit.

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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 2:50 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:If we did switch to an untimed ICT, we would probably set the number of tossups lower (either 20 or 22). 24 is well above the average tossups heard at the existing ICT, and we're skeptical of imposing additional delays on what is already a very long day of quizbowl. (The current schedule ends at 6:30; an expanded field would make that 7:30, which is workable. 7:30 plus an unknown quantity of additional time for moderators to work through untimed games could cause problems.)
Fine, let's say 22, although I honestly don't think 24 is crazy, but you know, let's roll with that. A national tournament going until 7:30 over the course of one day is not a disaster. That is how things actually run all the time. Lots of tournaments go to 7:30 (or later!) and people somehow survive and attend tournaments. I'm not saying every tournament has to be an endurance march, but for serious, this is the big time, we're all big kids, and everyone can take it.

Your major bottleneck is staff, and the reason for that is that your format literally requires a doubling of the number of staffers. Even considering that some of the scorekeepers are not great readers, it still seems to me that they should be able to get through 22 NAQT tossup/bonus cycles in 30 minutes. You can address the bottleneck issue, or you can add epicycles to a qualification system that is committed to the following: (1) autobids for hosts, (2) autobids for Sectionals winners, despite the fact that some of them play laughably small Sectionals on DII questions, (3) 32 teams in the ICT. Unsurprisingly, this tripod is not terribly stable and ends up keeping out lots of teams that want to play, for no reason other than that you don't have the staff to make a better system work.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by marnold » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:07 pm

Seth, I don't really disagree: as I noted in the other thread, it's not the end of the world if there's an ICT with no Dartmouth, Northwestern or Columbia. But it seems undeniable that (1) the teams left out are much stronger than teams left out in previous years (e.g., the first D-value out is 279 this year, 265 if we use Northwestern, the #25 SCT team v. Carleton's 207 last year when they were #32), (2) there seem to be more host- and autobids being accepted in D1 (if you have the exact numbers that would be useful), particularly by teams that wouldn't otherwise qualify. And given that it looks like 39 (at least) teams qualified in D2 - more than last year - it seems like (2) will be worse in future years.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Auroni » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:12 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:If we did switch to an untimed ICT, we would probably set the number of tossups lower (either 20 or 22). 24 is well above the average tossups heard at the existing ICT, and we're skeptical of imposing additional delays on what is already a very long day of quizbowl. (The current schedule ends at 6:30; an expanded field would make that 7:30, which is workable. 7:30 plus an unknown quantity of additional time for moderators to work through untimed games could cause problems.)
Fine, let's say 22, although I honestly don't think 24 is crazy, but you know, let's roll with that. A national tournament going until 7:30 over the course of one day is not a disaster. That is how things actually run all the time. Lots of tournaments go to 7:30 (or later!) and people somehow survive and attend tournaments. I'm not saying every tournament has to be an endurance march, but for serious, this is the big time, we're all big kids, and everyone can take it.
I'm inclined to agree. I thought the reasoning behind switching from holding the tournament on Friday and Saturday to a single day of quizbowl involved everyone just wanting to get the quizbowling done and over with on that one day. I'm pretty sure every team in the field (especially playoff teams) can handle an extra hour or two.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by setht » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:40 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Fine, let's say 22, although I honestly don't think 24 is crazy, but you know, let's roll with that. A national tournament going until 7:30 over the course of one day is not a disaster. That is how things actually run all the time. Lots of tournaments go to 7:30 (or later!) and people somehow survive and attend tournaments. I'm not saying every tournament has to be an endurance march, but for serious, this is the big time, we're all big kids, and everyone can take it.

Your major bottleneck is staff, and the reason for that is that your format literally requires a doubling of the number of staffers. Even considering that some of the scorekeepers are not great readers, it still seems to me that they should be able to get through 22 NAQT tossup/bonus cycles in 30 minutes. You can address the bottleneck issue, or you can add epicycles to a qualification system that is committed to the following: (1) autobids for hosts, (2) autobids for Sectionals winners, despite the fact that some of them play laughably small Sectionals on DII questions, (3) 32 teams in the ICT. Unsurprisingly, this tripod is not terribly stable and ends up keeping out lots of teams that want to play, for no reason other than that you don't have the staff to make a better system work.
I'm a bit confused here. I think staff is a bottleneck at many Sectionals, but I'm not at all sure it's a bottleneck at ICT--my impression is that the bottleneck on field size at ICT is primarily a combination of "what number of teams allows for a reasonable schedule" and "how many teams can we reasonably get." Am I wrong about that? Assuming I'm not wrong about that, I'd rather see a timed tournament that runs a bit later because the field size has increased than an untimed 32-team tournament.

Also, I don't think Jerry's characterization of the qualification system is accurate: I don't think NAQT is committed to keeping the ICT DI field size fixed at 32, for instance. I also don't think the system is committed to autobids for winners of "laughably small Sections" that play on DII questions: there is no autobid for the top DI team unless there are at least 4 DI teams at the site, and once there are 4+ DI teams the site runs split divisions, with DI teams playing on DI questions, right?

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Re: autobid thread split

Post by setht » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:55 pm

marnold wrote:Seth, I don't really disagree: as I noted in the other thread, it's not the end of the world if there's an ICT with no Dartmouth, Northwestern or Columbia. But it seems undeniable that (1) the teams left out are much stronger than teams left out in previous years (e.g., the first D-value out is 279 this year, 265 if we use Northwestern, the #25 SCT team v. Carleton's 207 last year when they were #32), (2) there seem to be more host- and autobids being accepted in D1 (if you have the exact numbers that would be useful), particularly by teams that wouldn't otherwise qualify. And given that it looks like 39 (at least) teams qualified in D2 - more than last year - it seems like (2) will be worse in future years.
I don't have numbers on host- and autobids in DI in previous years, and would also be interested in seeing them (but not in collecting them myself). I'll be somewhat surprised if the number of host bids in DI shows a steady upward trend as opposed to jumping around randomly, but who knows?

Anyway, I continue to think that the cleanest and best solution is to increase field size. I'm going to go start a thread on how a 36-team schedule might work.

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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 3:59 pm

setht wrote:I'm a bit confused here. I think staff is a bottleneck at many Sectionals, but I'm not at all sure it's a bottleneck at ICT--my impression is that the bottleneck on field size at ICT is primarily a combination of "what number of teams allows for a reasonable schedule" and "how many teams can we reasonably get." Am I wrong about that? Assuming I'm not wrong about that, I'd rather see a timed tournament that runs a bit later because the field size has increased than an untimed 32-team tournament.
This makes little sense to me. For about as long as I've been playing quizbowl and going to ICT, I recall there being more demand for spots at ICT than NAQT has chosen to allow. Why would this happen? Surely there is no great barrier to devising a plausible schedule for 36, or 40, or 44 teams; I believe mathematics has advanced this far, at least, and the fact that tournaments (e.g. PACE, HSNCT) routinely run with larger fields supports this notion. The number of teams has been fixed at 32 for a long time now, but demand has always been substantially higher.
Also, I don't think Jerry's characterization of the qualification system is accurate: I don't think NAQT is committed to keeping the ICT DI field size fixed at 32, for instance. I also don't think the system is committed to autobids for winners of "laughably small Sections" that play on DII questions: there is no autobid for the top DI team unless there are at least 4 DI teams at the site, and once there are 4+ DI teams the site runs split divisions, with DI teams playing on DI questions, right?
It seems to me that people are complaining about this precise thing, are they not? That autobids from weak hosts and weak SCT winners have pushed out other, better teams? Perhaps saying that NAQT is "committed" to this system is too strong, but it's definitely the case that this has been the system for years now; it's just now that the shortcomings are being exacerbated, but I think it's hardly something no one could have seen coming.

The reason I think staff numbers are the biggest issue is because they're always the biggest issue in quizbowl. Fundamentally, you need a reader in every room, so that's always going to be your bottleneck. Scheduling is not a bottleneck; the absolute worst case scenario is a few playoff games on Sunday, and even that is not too bad. So what's the showstopper? What are the factors that keep NAQT from simply opening up ICT to any teams that want to play? I mean, the answer definitionally must be something that scales extremely unfavorably with the size of the field, and the only real thing that I can think of that meets this criterion is the number of staff.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by jonah » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:05 pm

setht wrote:there is no autobid for the top DI team unless there are at least 4 DI teams at the site, and once there are 4+ DI teams the site runs split divisions, with DI teams playing on DI questions, right?
Well, unless there are fewer than 4 DII teams.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Cody » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:05 pm

Cornell and Rice--both D1 teams--qualified for ICT by playing on D2 questions, which I thought was an automatic bid. Perhaps it was by D-value, though.

Also, the only way qualifying for any tournament actually works is if some teams who want to go cannot go (due to not qualifying). If this was not the case, then there would be no point in having to qualify for a tournament in the first place.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by setht » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:14 pm

SirT wrote:Cornell and Rice--both D1 teams--qualified for ICT by playing on D2 questions, which I thought was an automatic bid. Perhaps it was by D-value, though.
My reading of the qualification guidelines leads me to believe that they qualified by D-value, not autobids as the top DI teams at their sites.

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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:15 pm

SirT wrote:Cornell and Rice--both D1 teams--qualified for ICT by playing on D2 questions, which I thought was an automatic bid. Perhaps it was by D-value, though.

Also, the only way qualifying for any tournament actually works is if some teams who want to go cannot go (due to not qualifying). If this was not the case, then there would be no point in having to qualify for a tournament in the first place.
Well, this calls into question why you'd even need a qualification system. I mean, would people just not play SCT because it's not a qualifier anymore? Probably not, considering that many teams which realistically know they won't qualify still play it. People like to play quizbowl; let them do so.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Mar 07, 2013 4:43 pm

marnold wrote:there seem to be more host- and autobids being accepted in D1 (if you have the exact numbers that would be useful)
I'll look into these numbers.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Sam » Thu Mar 07, 2013 6:57 pm

setht wrote: To summarize: out of the top 24 teams (as determined by infallible poll), one didn't play SCT, and one had some of its strongest players compete in DII. The other 22 earned bids (some of which were declined). Team number 25 probably won't squeak in.
How consistent is the number of teams that decline bids?
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Important Bird Area » Thu Mar 07, 2013 7:14 pm

setht wrote:
SirT wrote:Cornell and Rice--both D1 teams--qualified for ICT by playing on D2 questions, which I thought was an automatic bid. Perhaps it was by D-value, though.
My reading of the qualification guidelines leads me to believe that they qualified by D-value, not autobids as the top DI teams at their sites.

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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:28 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I'm sure I sound like a broken record on this matter, but... the reason NAQT, fundamentally, has to limit the number of teams at ICT (whereby this problem arises at all) is because they can't get enough staff to run the tournament. And the reason they can't get enough staff is because the clock requires a moderator and a scorekeeper in each room.

NAQT could solve this entire problem by doing nothing except eliminating the clock, having 24-question rounds, and letting most teams into the field. Bam, you have twice the number of staffers available all of a sudden and you avoid these autobid issues. Not to mention that you also solve the SCT bid problem. The solution is as obvious as the nose on one's face.
So, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. For a number of years, the quizbowl community has been conducting an ongoing experiment to gauge "the number of teams that are interested in playing untimed rounds on nationals-caliber questions, regardless of how long such tournaments take." We call the experiment "ACF nationals," and the empirical evidence pretty convincingly shows that the number of teams fitting that description is, at most, in the high 20s. (To my knowledge, none of the past five ACF nationals have had more than 28 teams; nor we were attracting 32+ teams prior to that.)

As such--and speaking, obviously, as a huge fan of ACF nationals!--I fail to see how "switching to ACF-style untimed rounds" would solve any "problems" with ICT field size.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Mar 07, 2013 8:58 pm

Well, other presumable ICT attractants include shorter questions, a different distribution, and the fact that packet submission is not required; eliminating the clock still leaves two substantially different tournaments. Also, I think Jerry laid out his hypothesis pretty clearly--eliminating nothing but the clock from ICT instantly frees up many staffers, since most competent readers, absent the pressure of the clock, can easily keep score by themselves.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Mar 07, 2013 9:00 pm

ACF Nationals would have lots of more interested in teams if it was the only game in town. Teams who attend ICT don't always have the money to attend ACF as well.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by evilmonkey » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:31 am

grapesmoker wrote:
SirT wrote:Cornell and Rice--both D1 teams--qualified for ICT by playing on D2 questions, which I thought was an automatic bid. Perhaps it was by D-value, though.

Also, the only way qualifying for any tournament actually works is if some teams who want to go cannot go (due to not qualifying). If this was not the case, then there would be no point in having to qualify for a tournament in the first place.
Well, this calls into question why you'd even need a qualification system. I mean, would people just not play SCT because it's not a qualifier anymore? Probably not, considering that many teams which realistically know they won't qualify still play it. People like to play quizbowl; let them do so.
I believe (without supporting evidence) that it is much easier to get teams that are not circuit regulars excited for a tournament when you mention "qualification for Nationals"; and, for those same teams, when judging the two national competitions, are surely going to put more stock in the one that you actually have to qualify for.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:30 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:So, this doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. For a number of years, the quizbowl community has been conducting an ongoing experiment to gauge "the number of teams that are interested in playing untimed rounds on nationals-caliber questions, regardless of how long such tournaments take." We call the experiment "ACF nationals," and the empirical evidence pretty convincingly shows that the number of teams fitting that description is, at most, in the high 20s. (To my knowledge, none of the past five ACF nationals have had more than 28 teams; nor we were attracting 32+ teams prior to that.)

As such--and speaking, obviously, as a huge fan of ACF nationals!--I fail to see how "switching to ACF-style untimed rounds" would solve any "problems" with ICT field size.
Andrew, I think that's an extremely unfair characterization of my argument. I'm not saying that ICT needs to become ACF Nationals. If you eliminate the clock, you don't have to give up anything that really makes ICT what it is, i.e. the style of questions and the distribution. You could run the exact same tournament, sans clock, with 22 question rounds, and no one would miss it. I challenge anyone to find me a sizable set of teams that would seriously say they wouldn't come to ICT if the clock were no longer a factor. And anyway, if we're going to talk empirics here, I have a sample set too: it's called literally every non-NAQT collegiate tournament since MLK stopped using the clock back in the Paleolithic era. And yet somehow people go to tournaments and play them and no one ever posts, "Gosh, I really wish WIT/VCU Closed/Penn Bowl would bring the clock back."

The reason fewer teams play ACF Nationals is complicated, as I'm sure you well know; it has a lot to do with institutional memory and history of why these two tournaments are the way they are. Let's not pretend that either of these tournaments exist in a vacuum. As for how untimed rounds would solve the field size problem, I have already outlined this: timed rounds literally require twice the number of staff. That's just basic math. Seth says that the number of staff does not actually impose a limitation on ICT field size; I'm skeptical of this claim because, as I've said before, the number of staff (and rooms, let's not forget rooms), is always the fundamental bottleneck on field size.

I'm laying out the following chain of reasoning: NAQT would like to address the autobid problem. Expanding the field, perhaps to an indefinite size, addresses this problem trivially; if the field can be arbitrarily large, then tautologically an autobid could never keep another team out of the field. Therefore, the question that remains to be answered is what, if anything, prevents NAQT from having an expanded ICT field? I can think of two things: staff and rooms. If you have other candidates for this answer, then by all means share. Rooms, presumably, could be arranged far enough in advance, just like they are already, and as long as the cost of an additional room is not larger than the entry fee garnered by allowing two more teams into the tournament, that shouldn't be a problem. So what remains is staff. If Seth is correct and staff is not a bottleneck, then I really have to ask why this problem hasn't been solved by field expansion already. What exactly are we debating here, then? If staff is a bottleneck, however (and I've been to enough ICTs to have reason to suspect that this is the case), then eliminating the clock would literally double the number of available staffers.

So far, I've taken it for granted that NAQT is not opposed to field expansion on any sort of fundamental principles, because there's a thread in this very forum contemplating it, and that the barrier is simply logistical. I can't really see any principled objections to an open field, but if someone speaking for NAQT would like to voice those objections, then let's hear them. But you know, it would be nice to get actual answers to these questions, instead of having them blown off or mischaracterized as "Crazy Internet Jerry wants ICT to become ACF Nationals."
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:50 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Andrew, I think that's an extremely unfair characterization of my argument. I'm not saying that ICT needs to become ACF Nationals. If you eliminate the clock, you don't have to give up anything that really makes ICT what it is, i.e. the style of questions and the distribution. You could run the exact same tournament, sans clock, with 22 question rounds, and no one would miss it. I challenge anyone to find me a sizable set of teams that would seriously say they wouldn't come to ICT if the clock were no longer a factor. And anyway, if we're going to talk empirics here, I have a sample set too: it's called literally every non-NAQT collegiate tournament since MLK stopped using the clock back in the Paleolithic era. And yet somehow people go to tournaments and play them and no one ever posts, "Gosh, I really wish WIT/VCU Closed/Penn Bowl would bring the clock back."
I get that you don't appreciate my characterization of your argument, but I actually don't think it's all that unfair. You're arbitrarily picking out a few of the features that define NAQT tournaments--i.e., "the style of questions and the distribution"--and declaring that those are what "really make" NAQT what it is. In fact, though, the "style of questions" for ICT at this point is basically the same as for ACF--the tossups are all pyramidal, the bonuses are all (intended to be) in easy/medium/hard format--so, on this view, the only difference between NAQT and ACF is the distribution (which, I'm guessing, is at least 80% the same between ICT and ACF nationals). So, given your definition of what makes NAQT what it "really" is, you really are proposing that "ICT be just like ACF nationals, only with a slightly different distribution."

By contrast, I would argue that the timed game is, in fact, an "essential" feature of NAQT, i.e., one of the things that "really make" it what it is. It obviously changes the way individual games are played, making them substantially different from ACF games; it also changes the way the whole tournament is run, and in particular, more or less guarantees that the tournament will end roughly when it is scheduled to end. Of course, you're free to argue that the timed game is what makes NAQT worse than ACF. Even here, however, I'm guessing that you would only argue that it is worse at the level of the individual game (either from the perspective of the player, or from the perspective of "the increased resources this requires") and that you would concede that it's better at the level of the entire tournament (because it does prevent tournaments from running way past their scheduled conclusion).

In any event, I'm dubious of the basic premises of your argument, which seems to run like this: (1) "staff shortages compel NAQT to keep ICT at 32 teams"; (2) "a 32-team ICT is not a fair ICT"; (3) "the staff shortage problem could readily be solved by eliminating the clock from ICT"; (4) "ergo, the clock must be eliminated from the ICT for it to be a fair tournament." First, as to (1), NAQT runs other national tournaments--HSNCT comes to mind--that have way more than 32 teams. Somehow, we manage to staff those adequately. Second, as to (2), I am unconvinced that a 32-team ICT is "unfair," for reasons discussed by Seth (I think) elsewhere.

Historically, my sense is that ICT used to be a significantly larger tournament, and that the D1 field dwindled to its current 32-team form over time. For instance, looking back to the first ICT I won--admittedly, way back in 1999--there appear to have been 48 teams in the D1 field. A couple of years later, there were 36. More recently, it seems to have stabilized at 32. I can't speak to why or how NAQT settled on the current number, but I suspect that it is a product of some combination of "our sense of how many teams we can actually expect to show up, given our past experience" and "institutional inertia."
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Matt Weiner » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:57 pm

This is the first year in a while where the first teams out of the DI field really felt like high-quality teams that could challenge for a top 15 finish or so. Even though the number of quizbowl teams as a whole has been shrinking, the number of "serious" teams seems to be going up; DI is no longer nine competent programs and whoever else can manage to tie their shoes on the way to SCT, so people care more about the qualification cutoff since this is happening at the same time as an expansion of the number of SCTs and concurrent host/autobids from 10 and 12 in the last two pre-ACUI years to 14 this year. Expanding the DI field (with or without a change to the timing rules) wouldn't have been necessary or sensible in the past, but it's on the table now precisely because this is the first year in seemingly forever where qualification has really mattered. In a sense, this is a problem NAQT should be glad to have (people will play better teams at Sectionals! people are interested in paying lots of money to travel to and register for high-level quizbowl!) but obviously it's also one that calls for some sort of solution.
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:24 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I get that you don't appreciate my characterization of your argument, but I actually don't think it's all that unfair. You're arbitrarily picking out a few of the features that define NAQT tournaments--i.e., "the style of questions and the distribution"--and declaring that those are what "really make" NAQT what it is. In fact, though, the "style of questions" for ICT at this point is basically the same as for ACF--the tossups are all pyramidal, the bonuses are all (intended to be) in easy/medium/hard format--so, on this view, the only difference between NAQT and ACF is the distribution (which, I'm guessing, is at least 80% the same between ICT and ACF nationals). So, given your definition of what makes NAQT what it "really" is, you really are proposing that "ICT be just like ACF nationals, only with a slightly different distribution."
You know exactly what I mean by the style and the distribution; yes, ICT is pyramidal quizbowl, which we all agree is better than not, thank God. It is still the case that ICT is a stylistically different tournament than ACF Nationals, and would continue to be so without the clock.
By contrast, I would argue that the timed game is, in fact, an "essential" feature of NAQT, i.e., one of the things that "really make" it what it is. It obviously changes the way individual games are played, making them substantially different from ACF games;
Well, if I'm arbitrarily picking features of NAQT tournaments, then so are you. Why is the clock "essential" and not, say, the shorter questions and the different distribution? Those change the way the game is played too!
it also changes the way the whole tournament is run, and in particular, more or less guarantees that the tournament will end roughly when it is scheduled to end.
This isn't a fundamental difference between tournaments. Every tournament that is not SCT is run... exactly the same way as an SCT is run. All good tournaments are basically run identically; it's the disasters that are unique (lol acf nationals 2011 amirite). I think it's pretty hard to sustain "will end about an hour earlier with the clock than without" as a fundamental distinction between the options here.
Of course, you're free to argue that the timed game is what makes NAQT worse than ACF. Even here, however, I'm guessing that you would only argue that it is worse at the level of the individual game (either from the perspective of the player, or from the perspective of "the increased resources this requires") and that you would concede that it's better at the level of the entire tournament (because it does prevent tournaments from running way past their scheduled conclusion).
I could make that argument, but it's beside the point. I will only say that I certainly would not concede that "it's better at the level of the entire tournament" because I reject the dichotomy you propose above. Tournaments running later is not as good as tournaments not running later, ceteris paribus, but since I don't think all other things are equal, it seems hardly relevant. People don't die of starvation or collapse fainting because a tournament ends at 7:30 rather than 6:30.
In any event, I'm dubious of the basic premises of your argument, which seems to run like this: (1) "staff shortages compel NAQT to keep ICT at 32 teams";
Well, do they? I still have not gotten an answer to this question.
(2) "a 32-team ICT is not a fair ICT";
This is absurd. Please point out to me the place where I have alleged anything that could be interpreted as "a 32-team ICT is not a fair ICT," or alternately, please don't attribute to me things I haven't said. Any arbitrary number of teams makes for a relatively fair ICT; the issue is not the number itself, it's whether the field cap is keeping out teams that legitimately ought to be in the tournament. It's a thread about autobids, not "is 32 the unfairest number."
(3) "the staff shortage problem could readily be solved by eliminating the clock from ICT";
Do you agree or deny this? This should be answerable in objective terms without regard to anything I may or may not (see above) think.
(4) "ergo, the clock must be eliminated from the ICT for it to be a fair tournament."
So you've attributed a conclusion to me I never put forth based on an argument I never made.
First, as to (1), NAQT runs other national tournaments--HSNCT comes to mind--that have way more than 32 teams. Somehow, we manage to staff those adequately.
If it's that simple, then the empirical arguments against my point should suffice. After all, if it is the case that there are no logistical barriers to increasing field size as a solution to the autobid issue, then why not just increase the field size? This whole thread could have ended with Jeff going, "Oh, our bad, we didn't think this problem would be that serious. We'll just up the field size next year to solve it." That's it, that's the simplest solution to all of this. It's not being implemented because...?
Second, as to (2), I am unconvinced that a 32-team ICT is "unfair," for reasons discussed by Seth (I think) elsewhere.
See everything I said above. This isn't about the fairness of a 32-team ICT, and I never said it was.
Historically, my sense is that ICT used to be a significantly larger tournament, and that the D1 field dwindled to its current 32-team form over time. For instance, looking back to the first ICT I won--admittedly, way back in 1999--there appear to have been 48 teams in the D1 field. A couple of years later, there were 36. More recently, it seems to have stabilized at 32. I can't speak to why or how NAQT settled on the current number, but I suspect that it is a product of some combination of "our sense of how many teams we can actually expect to show up, given our past experience" and "institutional inertia."
Ok, but present experience shows that more teams want to play ICT than are allowed to. This problem can be fixed by increasing the size of the field. What's the barrier to doing that? If there isn't one, why is there even a debate?
Jerry Vinokurov
ex-LJHS, ex-Berkeley, ex-Brown, sorta-ex-CMU
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Muriel Axon
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Re: autobid thread split

Post by Muriel Axon » Fri Mar 08, 2013 3:40 pm

If we want to (1) eliminate the clock, (2) put only one moderator in each room, and (3) expand the ICT field, would that really push the tournament end back only an hour?
Shan Kothari

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