popculture wrote:NAQT clearly strives to create a single effect in each of its matches, that I can't completely describe other than its being marked by, what I would call, frenzied desperation. This effect is created by its questions, rules, and treatment.
I may be inferring more than you intended with this statement, but I wanted to explicitly state that NAQT strives to create much more than a "single effect" with its matches and questions.
It's true that we want quiz bowl to be, in general, a fast-paced and exciting game.
It's also true, however, that we want to create a game that measures academic and cultural knowledge, as well as a game that is fun to play, rewards practice, and encourages teamwork. These goals, taken together, inform our writing of questions and choice of rules.
The questions are confusing; NAQT clearly goes out of its way to make it so.
I would take issue with the exact choice of words here. To the best of my knowledge, no NAQT writer sits down to write a question with the goal of bewildering or confusing players at the buzzer. It is certainly true that many questions do not make it immediately clear that the subject matter is history or that we are looking for a battle or a novel, but we don't see that as any more "confusing" than the basic idea of starting with hard clues that players are not likely to recognize. We don't feel that an important quality of quiz bowl questions is that they can be easily classified into a major category based on their first two lines. By the end, of course, the topic and subject area should be pretty obvious.
You are free to view this as writing "confusing" questions, but I think that adjective is rather strong for the situation as it exists.
By not labelling the questions, players (if they're like me) are often asking themselves "Is this history or literature?" [pause] "Or art?" [dramatically raise one eyebrow while looking at camera, place hand on chin].
Is this actually true? I'm certainly willing to believe that it's true for you, and some other players as well, but I'm not sure it's true for a majority of quiz bowl players.
NAQT doesn't see the classification of questions as history/literature/art as a significant aspect of *answering an individual question* (though, of course, adhering to packet-wide and tournament-wide distributions are very important). Is the classification of questions while hearing them actually a prominent element in most players' thought processes?
I suspect we'd say that if knowing, in advance, that an upcoming question was "history" or "literature" made it much easier to answer, then there may have been something wrong with the question given how little information a labeling of "history" or "literature" should provide compared with the actual clues of the question.
The early clues in each question often contain much larger, more difficult words, leaving those without large vocabularies clueless, even if they have the knowledge.
Statistically, I don't think this is the case. NAQT certainly doesn't have guidelines that suggest the use of sesquipedalian lead-ins. It's quite possible that lead-ins are more apt to feature proper nouns that are unfamiliar, but I think that's part and parcel of the goal of writing difficult lead-ins that are worth power points.
Bouncebacks make the game more fair (I'm sorry, but it's true); the reason NAQT does not have bouncebacks (by my reckoning) has nothing to do with not wanting to reward the team that was too stupid to get the tossup. It is entirely because bouncebacks take away from the breakneck pace they are aiming for.
I am in a position to speak with authority on why NAQT does or does not do different things, and in this case, you are not correct.
NAQT has no problem with some teams using bounceback bonuses and has no moral or aesthetic objection to them. We do not use them for several reasons:
1. They shift the relative values of answering tossups and bonuses and the relative importance of tossup-related skills and bonus-related skills. In our opinion, the balance currently in NAQT packets is a more-or-less optimal compromise. People can, and will, obviously disagree on this point.
2. They lengthen the game, reducing the number of questions heard in a game or the number of games heard in a full day of quiz bowl.
3. We want to have uniformity between our high school, community college, and college tournaments.
Our non-use of bounceback bonuses has nothing to do with the desire to create desperate frenzies at our tournaments. If we were interested in doing that we would mandate the use of clocks, dump bonuses entirely, shorten our questions to the merest stubs, and prohibit people from playing our questions under non-conforming rules.
We see no problem with people preferring bounceback bonuses, but I don't think a blanket statement that "they are fairer" can be made.
-- R. Robert Hentzel
President and Chief Technical Officer,
National Academic Quiz Tournaments, LLC