Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

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Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:17 am

I'm not the best person to make this thread because my college quizbowl career only briefly overlapped with CBI, but I'll kick it off and perhaps other veteran college quizbowl players can run with it.

In ancient times (like the 80's or something), there was a TV game show run by an organization called CBI, which I think stood for College Bowl, Incorporated. On this game show, college quizbowl teams competed against each other. I believe GE, the now-bankrupt conglomerate, sponsored this for many years. At some point, they lost their sponsorship and the TV show went off the air.

But CBI continued. They organized two tournaments each year, a regional championship in each of ~12 regions across the country, similar to SCT or ACF Regionals, and a national collegiate championship. The absurd thing about CBI was that though it was no longer televised, everything operated as if there was still a camera in the room, and as if there was still a TV audience that needed to be entertained.

The questions were...well they were questions from a 1970's game show. They were short, and they often had twists that I'm sure were entertaining for the TV audience. The most famous CBI question of all time was probably the one where the answerline was "banana" and the giveaway was "for ten points, name this curved yellow fruit". There were spelling questions and stealth spelling questions. You might buzz in on the lead-in and say "Saskatchewan", only to be negged because the giveaway was going to be "For ten points, spell Saskatchewan" and the answer they were looking for was "ess, ay, ess, ay, tee, cee..".

The best part was that bonus format and value was variable! Bonuses could be worth a total of 20, 25, or 30 points, at random. They might consist of multiple questions or a single question.

Every interaction with CBI was incredibly bureaucratic. There were strict rules about recognition. Moderators would sometimes ask you questions about yourself at the start of a game, as if you were on TV and they wanted to flesh out these characters for the audience at home. I believe there are all sorts of stories out there about the inept CBI bureaucracy but don't have any off the top of my head.

The questions came on individual index cards (again, game show) packed in manila envelopes.

When I started playing college quizbowl in 2004, CBI was a thing a lot of schools still did, but didn't take seriously. We sometimes played CBI questions in practice as like a gag (it seemed funny at the time) and I found it amusing. In fact, when I first registered for the HSQB forums, I was a a notorious CBI apologist, in large part because it seemed like this harmless, amusing thing that purists were trying to take away. Then I actually played my first CBI tournament, and my CBI apologist days came to an end.

Anyway, my personal hypothesis has always been that college quizbowl is as disorganized and informal as it is in large part because many of the oldest institutions and customs of college quizbowl were created as a reaction and alternative to CBI. I'm just slightly too young to be able to verify this hypothesis with experience, but to me it's always been a useful explanation for why for a long time there were no trophies at ACF events and why ACF is so...unstructured.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:57 am

Good idea, Bruce!

I started playing collegiately at Florida in the fall of 1987 (yeah, I know, right?). Back then UF's Student Activities organization would run an intramural tournament on old CBI questions, and the top scorers were invited to join the quiz bowl team (current players obviously were exempted, but to be on the team and travel you had to be picked through the intramural tournament). I had played one year of QB in high school (was thrown off the team for showing up at a match in a dashiki, wearing eyeliner, ah high school), and a former teammate asked me to join him, and fortunately I scored well enough to be invited.

As Bruce noted, the CBI questions came on yellow 5x7 pieces of paper (or did back then). And they loved stupid trick lead-ins in the style of (though this is hypothetical), "Paris is the capital of France, but for ten points, Paris shot what what Greek hero in his vulnerable heel?" I have heard that CBI got *slightly* less atrocious by the late 90s and on, but obviously not that much better.

And the spelling questions: man, I used to love those, as I felt good at sniffing them out. One I think I actually remember pretty close to verbatim went something like, "You can use charcoal briquettes to grill your steak. For ten points, spell 'briquette.'" Good times.

In any case, as is established QB history, Jim Dendy and Albert Whited of Georgia Tech, along with Don Wyndham and Carol Guthrie (of Tennessee and Berry College), all hated CBI and led one of the early movements to establish good quiz bowl by creating the Southeast Invitational, which provided the seed that grew into their establishment of ACF as a counterforce ot CBI.*

*This is my vague memory, and some other old may correct me on the details and/or who else was involved--I'm sure Charlie Steinhice had a hand in the early days, too. I liked QB and traveling to tournaments in college, but I just went where the team leaders said we were going and had little idea about what was happening in the game overall.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by aescandell » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:28 am

Once at CBI nationals there was a tossup on Kiribati. If you don't know, the "ti" sound at the end of "Kiribati" is pronounced with an "s" type sound. Apparently, this is not a thing you would know if you chose to write a one sentence geography tossup by flipping open an atlas and letting your finger land in a random place because the correct pronunciation wasn't indicated in the questions text in any way. So in the match I was watching one team buzzed in and answered "Kiribati" pronounced correctly. Neg-5. Team two buzzed in and said "Kiri-bah-tee. . . pronounced Kiri-bas" and scored the random number of points CBI had decided to award for that particular question.

Protest denied.

At the end of the tournament they gave out an award to every team. This was not terribly unwieldy since there was only one per region plus a single randomly selected "wild card" (This is actually how CBI worked.) Texas received the inclusive and forward thinking "balanced" award for the odd distinction of including two girls. This worked out great for me since I, being too young and dumb to immediately realize why this was a problem, both received an education from my teammates and got to keep the prize. It was a USC sweatshirt.

In CBI's defense on that one, it's not like there were any other obvious awards they could give us as "third place" is not considered a real award by any thinking competitions or societies.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by tabstop » Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:19 am

I didn't know that the circuit existed as an undergrad, since Kansas HS is Kansas HS, and Central Missouri State did only CBI, more-or-less under the auspices of the honors college (although officially as part of the intramurals/ACUI). I didn't get to see the intramural questions ahead of time (since I was playing in the tournament, because you had to if you wanted to play for the school at the next level), but if we stored them afterwards for practice anything like they arrived, there weren't any "rounds", but just one big manila envelope of questions that was supposed to suffice for the whole tournament. (We certainly only ran one room and just went through the stacks, color-coded with yellow for bonuses.) In theory, our team to regionals was supposed to be the winning team plus "all-stars" from losing teams, but I don't think any of the winning teams ever actually recruited from other organizations, so sometimes our qualifying team was whichever Greek organization managed to win. (One year I had to get special dispensation to do regionals since I had a night class on the evening of the intramural tournament.)

We had a relatively enlightened region, since regionals was actually two pools round-robin (albeit then leading to a single elimination playoffs, top three from each pool). There were sixteen teams as I recall, but I think only five or six rooms, so there were still byes. There was still the game-show-clock rules where you had to beat the clock not only to buzz in for a tossup, but also to give answers to bonuses (NAQT had by then progressed so far as to let you play out a bonus after the clock sounded). We only had one case where we gave an answer without being recognized, but we were forgiven because the person running the clock forgot to recognize us (our answer was wrong anyway, so -5 nonetheless).

Coming from Kansas HS, the question length was not surprising, but the hoses were new.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Habitat_Against_Humanity » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:04 pm

Skepticism and Animal Feed wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:17 am
I'm not the best person to make this thread because my college quizbowl career only briefly overlapped with CBI, but I'll kick it off and perhaps other veteran college quizbowl players can run with it.

In ancient times (like the 80's or something), there was a TV game show run by an organization called CBI, which I think stood for College Bowl, Incorporated. On this game show, college quizbowl teams competed against each other. I believe GE, the now-bankrupt conglomerate, sponsored this for many years. At some point, they lost their sponsorship and the TV show went off the air.

But CBI continued. They organized two tournaments each year, a regional championship in each of ~12 regions across the country, similar to SCT or ACF Regionals, and a national collegiate championship. The absurd thing about CBI was that though it was no longer televised, everything operated as if there was still a camera in the room, and as if there was still a TV audience that needed to be entertained.

The questions were...well they were questions from a 1970's game show. They were short, and they often had twists that I'm sure were entertaining for the TV audience. The most famous CBI question of all time was probably the one where the answerline was "banana" and the giveaway was "for ten points, name this curved yellow fruit". There were spelling questions and stealth spelling questions. You might buzz in on the lead-in and say "Saskatchewan", only to be negged because the giveaway was going to be "For ten points, spell Saskatchewan" and the answer they were looking for was "ess, ay, ess, ay, tee, cee..".

The best part was that bonus format and value was variable! Bonuses could be worth a total of 20, 25, or 30 points, at random. They might consist of multiple questions or a single question.

Every interaction with CBI was incredibly bureaucratic. There were strict rules about recognition. Moderators would sometimes ask you questions about yourself at the start of a game, as if you were on TV and they wanted to flesh out these characters for the audience at home. I believe there are all sorts of stories out there about the inept CBI bureaucracy but don't have any off the top of my head.

The questions came on individual index cards (again, game show) packed in manila envelopes.

When I started playing college quizbowl in 2004, CBI was a thing a lot of schools still did, but didn't take seriously. We sometimes played CBI questions in practice as like a gag (it seemed funny at the time) and I found it amusing. In fact, when I first registered for the HSQB forums, I was a a notorious CBI apologist, in large part because it seemed like this harmless, amusing thing that purists were trying to take away. Then I actually played my first CBI tournament, and my CBI apologist days came to an end.

Anyway, my personal hypothesis has always been that college quizbowl is as disorganized and informal as it is in large part because many of the oldest institutions and customs of college quizbowl were created as a reaction and alternative to CBI. I'm just slightly too young to be able to verify this hypothesis with experience, but to me it's always been a useful explanation for why for a long time there were no trophies at ACF events and why ACF is so...unstructured.
In the interest of "telling stories," here's a few things I remember from the one CBI tournament I went to in early 2006 (with Bruce).

1. Getting points for answering "Mrs. Adams" for the wife of an as-yet-undetermined-by-the-tossup president with that last name.

2. You, Bruce giving Jared Sagoff a stack of quarters as an incentive not to neg, which you then removed quarters from in disgust every time he negged. Also, somewhere at home buried in college papers is Jared's signature affirming his agreement not to neg on a given round with a footnote indicating that he negged on the first question. I miss Jared's buzz style.

3. Us getting a plaque for 2nd(?), which upon being congratulated for winning by a fellow dormmate (I think it was Deena Heller?), you nearly tossed in a pond

Edited "tossup" to "tossed" to actually make sense.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by theMoMA » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm

One of the underappreciated features of College Bowl was that the format did not presume that any given school had something so basic as a "quizbowl team," and thus, even the regional tournament had an intraschool qualification process. It was supposed to go like this: the student union would host an "intramural tournament," which teams from around campus could enter. My understanding is that the process of who would actually comprise the regionals team was left in some part to the school itself, so that the best player from the Phi Beta Kappa team might be paired with the best player from the Anime Club team, and so on, to create a truly awesome competitive force.

A commonly expressed sentiment about this state of affairs was that it would allow such illustrious institutions as the honors college and various fraternities to enter teams, although in practice, that seemed to be a nod to an older way of organizing a campus that did not reflect the largely corporatized universities that existed even as of the mid-2000s. The cast of characters orbiting the University of Minnesota team when Rob and I (and various of our high school teammates) arrived on campus in fall 2006 would mostly be, I think, recognizable college types today. The notable exception was a graduate student named Tim who seemed to be a traveler from a simpler time when the closest analogue to the internet was the yellow pages next to a rotary phone on a wood-paneled table that you could use to look up and then call the library reference desk. Tim looked like John Belushi's character in Animal House and wore silk shirts in a manner exposing his impressive chest hair. He had a distinctive, booming voice and a perpetual five o'clock shadow. One of the first tournaments I played was TRASH Regionals with him in November 2006. I remember him vigorously, and correctly, answering a question with "Cobb salad." Our team name, or perhaps it was Rob's, was "Coetzee.cx"; it was my joke either way, ok?

People may think that the bad formats of yore are remote from us today, and to some extent they are, but I played TRASH, College Bowl, "This Tournament Goes to 11," multiple NAQT IS sets, and a tournament edited by Charlie Steinhice before I played anything resembling a modern circuit tournament. Some of those references probably don't even land with current players. (TTGT11 was a tournament of mostly trashy themed packets, with a tossup-only singles event thrown in, written by various holdovers from 1990s Midwestern quizbowl; Charlie Steinhice was a towering figure for decades at UT-Chattanooga, and it must be said that, by the Bush years, he was known more for his geniality than his editing prowess.)

I also played two College Bowl tournaments. I say two, and not three, because at the University of Minnesota, like most schools that had decent quizbowl teams and still played College Bowl, the club had completely captured the intramural tournament. It was "held," without public notice, on a Monday or Wednesday night later in the fall semester, in the part of the year in Minnesota after it gets dark in the early evening but before it snows. Someone, I think brought in because he wasn't eligible to play, read the questions, and the first five players to get to a certain threshold were on the team. There were separate tossups on "bacon," "lettuce," and "tomatoes." I negged a question on Lord of the Flies with "The Lord of the Flies" and became enraged. I did make the team, however, and we won regionals, building team solidarity through a now-inscrutable joke about Barbara E. Kirby's Red and Black: The Debtor/Creditor Relationship. And we won nationals, which was held at an antiseptic hotel in downtown Los Angeles; the two things I remember most about that weekend were that the skyway-level Subway restaurant did not have Rob's preferred "Seafood Sensation" sandwich, and that I answered a question in the final based on my knowledge of the DVD cover of The Day After Tomorrow.

It was attending these tournaments, and not good ones, where I learned what it was like to be on a team, play packets in the car, and give my weekends over to quizbowl. And yes, those sets were not good, and they were frustrating, and they repeatedly rewarded my decision to read Dan Brown's Digital Fortress. They were, in an anthropological sense, survivals of a past that had become obsolete, formats that were already dead but didn't yet know it. The best thing you can say about College Bowl (which was otherwise a bad format and a corrupt institution) is that, by clinging to outmoded conventions such as the faculty adviser and intramural tournament, it gestured not only toward an earlier time in quizbowl when the clues were harder to come by and writing was a real labor, but to an earlier time in university life when it was perhaps the case that not everything was about debt and STEM and business and administration. When I think of College Bowl and other obsolete formats, it reminds me that there was a world, similar but just different enough from this one, in which the modern game we know and love could be conceived, nurtured, and raised.

I remember walking through the linoleum-lined and slightly dingy corridors of Gregory Hall at UIUC and exiting into the sunny afternoon on a mild day in spring 2007 after my first real tournament, holding the copy of Kahlil Gibran's The Prophet I'd just won. Something about all of it, the melting snow, the used books, the shabby public university hall, the questions, held immense appeal. I chased that feeling to the Chicago Open, my second-ever real tournament, and so I will always have fond sentiments about campus in the springtime or Hyde Park in the humid summer. I get the same feeling when I find myself in one of those off-campus restaurants or bookstores filled with grimy sixties arcana that haven't yet been replaced by the unhuman glass facade of a CVS, or when I stumble across some former graduate student's .edu/~lastname011 website coded in 1990s HTML. Quizbowl is one of the last small windows onto a past that was otherwise discontinued in favor of whatever a university was by 2006 becoming and has mostly by now become.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:33 pm

CBI also must have notified the university of results, because at one point after UChicago's embarrassing 2nd place finish at CBI regionals in 2005, I was meeting with a university administrator on an unrelated matter, and upon learning that I was on the quizbowl team she congratulated me for our 2nd place finish at regionals.

I know that a race car driver once gave his third place plaque to Rom Masrour (he was clearly hoping to finish higher than third in that race), but alas I could not do that with my CBI 2nd place plaque because Rom Masrour has been to CBI Nationals and I have not.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Golran » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:41 pm

Somehow, despite never attending a single CBI tournament, I have in my possession a College Bowl hat and two 2nd place medals. I think they came from a box of old paper questions from the UCLA club. If anyone wants them, they're yours.

I did try to play a College Bowl intramurals when I was dual enrolled in high school and Stony Brook. I say try because despite registering as a free agent with the union and being told to show up day of, there was no event and nobody in the student union had any idea what I was talking about. I didn't bother following up, even though as bad as those questions were I really had fun playing them.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by tabstop » Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:53 pm

theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
The notable exception was a graduate student named Tim who seemed to be a traveler from a simpler time when the closest analogue to the internet was the yellow pages next to a rotary phone on a wood-paneled table that you could use to look up and then call the library reference desk. Tim looked like John Belushi's character in Animal House and wore silk shirts in a manner exposing his impressive chest hair. He had a distinctive, booming voice and a perpetual five o'clock shadow. One of the first tournaments I played was TRASH Regionals with him in November 2006. I remember him vigorously, and correctly, answering a question with "Cobb salad." Our team name, or perhaps it was Rob's, was "Coetzee.cx"; it was my joke either way, ok?
I forgot the grad student rule! We were allowed one on the roster; I don't remember where we picked ours up since I believe our honors college was undergrad-only, but we did have one -- maybe it was the dean's own graduate student? (I think they were both in the history department.)
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:09 pm

Andrew's post is very good but I'm afraid it gets several Pinocchios, which I will present in Andrew's absolute favorite forum-post style.
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
Our team name, or perhaps it was Rob's, was "Coetzee.cx"; it was my joke either way, ok?
It was both my team's name and, I'm willing to swear on a stack of copies of Barbara E. Kirby's Red and Black: The Debtor/Creditor Relationship, my joke.
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
Charlie Steinhice was a towering figure for decades at UT-Knoxville
How soon we forget: Charlie Steinhice was of course at UT-Chattanooga, and along with the Chattanooga Bakery was one of Chattanooga's two leading exporters of things named "Moon Pie".
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
Someone, I think brought in because he wasn't eligible to play
This was former Iowa player, possible at-the-time Minnesota grad student, and current employee of something called the "Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence" Aaron Twait, who was sort of the team's un(?)official CBI advisor for a couple years, those years being limited by CBI ending after 2008.
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
the two things I remember most about that weekend were that the skyway-level Subway restaurant did not have Rob's preferred "Seafood Sensation" sandwich, and that I answered a question in the final based on my knowledge of the DVD cover of The Day After Tomorrow.
This isn't an obnoxious fact-check, but other than the horror of finding out that some Subways did not offer the monstrosity I had regularly ordered since I was six and continue to order to this day, my most prominent memories were (1) getting bused out to some hideous Downtown Disney-esque open-air mall filled with touristy chain restaurants where we ate dinner with the Baylor team at Buca di Beppo before crushing them the next day and (2) the extreme awkwardness of the Freeze Frame Awards, in which each team (or a member of each team?) was given a jokey "award" for something interesting? amusing? arbitrary? that happened to or involving them during the weekend, the nadir of which was when a woman playing for Florida was given the "Don't You Wish Your Alternate Was Hot Like Me" award (yikes).
Habitat_Against_Humanity wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:04 pm
1. Getting points for answering "Mrs. Adams" for the wife of an as-yet-undetermined-by-the-tossup president with that last name.
At one of the team-selection practices, I heard a clue along the lines of "She was the shortest-serving First Lady ever" and buzzed, correctly, with "Mrs. Harrison". CBI, baby!!!!
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by theMoMA » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:24 pm

I have corrected the record to list Charlie Steinhice's proper affiliation, although I maintain that was my joke and will make no such correction in the "Coetzee.cx" matter.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by theMoMA » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:53 pm

This talk of the 2007 College Bowl nationals reminds me of another amazing occurrence at that event. Quizbowl sometimes brings you into the presence of greatness. I was there for the murderer's row that was the 2010 ACF Nationals playoffs, and I was at least in the building with 2005 Thomas Jefferson. But I've been present for no achievement so singular as that accomplished by Stephen Nichols at the 2007 CBI NCT, who ended the day with zero tossup points scored despite buzzing 85 times. A final line of 21 tens, 42 negs, and 22 zeroes (incorrect buzzes at the end of the tossup, which CBI tracked) cannot be equaled and remains the greatest achievement in the history of Seton Hall quizbowl.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by jonpin » Fri Mar 22, 2019 12:58 am

I, too, was once a person with the opinion "Yeah, CBI sucks as a quiz bowl competition, but eh what the hell."
tabstop wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 11:19 am
There was still the game-show-clock rules where you had to beat the clock not only to buzz in for a tossup, but also to give answers to bonuses (NAQT had by then progressed so far as to let you play out a bonus after the clock sounded). We only had one case where we gave an answer without being recognized, but we were forgiven because the person running the clock forgot to recognize us (our answer was wrong anyway, so -5 nonetheless).
Hey, that rule is responsible for perhaps my finest moment as a quiz bowl player, when, with time running out, a bonus began by rambling "According to Newton's laws of motion, there are four possible orbits that an object can take around another object" and, desperate to answer before time expired, I began to shout "ELLIPTIC! PARABOLIC! HYPERBOLIC! CIRCLE!", got a response of "all three for 30!" and kept my team alive for another round (the question continued by saying "One of them, the circle, appears not to exist in nature. Name the other three."). I still have the third-place trophy, which our team dubbed "the Aggro Crag" due to its resemblance to the trophies awarded on Nickelodeon GUTS. Other "fond" memories and relics of that tournament include an ESPNU pin, because the relatively new network came to see the tournament being held in Hartford and was allegedly in talks about bringing it back to TV; getting a tossup because I recognized that "eleven plus two" is an anagram for "twelve plus one"; and a member of an opposing team declaring to me in loud voice after player introductions, "I'M FRIENDS WITH YOU ON LIVEJOURNAL!"
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Scipio » Fri Mar 22, 2019 2:01 am

By the way: Charlie was also at UT-Knoxville; in fact, his team won the first ACF Nationals, if I recsll correctly.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by sonstige » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:08 am

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:09 pm
the nadir of which was when a woman playing for Florida was given the "Don't You Wish Your Alternate Was Hot Like Me" award (yikes).
That illustrious prize went to our team's very own Sarah Whitfield, who --- being as awesome as she is --- I'm sure was in good humor about it (even if, you know, CBI should have come up with something a tad less creepy)

Some minor personal highlights of that tournament included:

- Eating at that very same Buca di Beppo Rob mentioned, where our UF team met up with former UF great Raj Dhuwalia (who had just recently moved to LA to begin his quiz show winning empire, or to teach, or something)

- Answering "St. Johns River" against Ohio State based off the lead-in which read something like "The one in Florida doesn't have an apostrophe..." (fun fact: I grew up in Central Florida very near the St. Johns River --- but alas, I answered that there because CBI was fantastic at recycling clues and UF had a monster archive of old CBI questions --- and CBI just loved the factoid that the St. Johns River doesn't have an apostrophe)

- Negging on some clue about a significant number of letters being addressed to this place with the "North Pole", because obviously. Only CBI got me. The answer, I think, was the "World Trade Center".

- And not that tournament, but the regional qualifier for it I remember had just the all-time most amazing lead-in to a toss-up that I've ever answered. It went something like "This book, the most famous in Islam..." (because yes, you can start questions on the Quran like that if you're CBI)

For what CBI was, I found that UF took it way too seriously; indeed, we had separate practices where we read through hundreds and hundreds of those little yellow question sheets.

Would you get hosed a decent amount of the time when the question took an unexpected turn? Absolutely. Was the absence of pyramidality maddening? Of course. And was the reuse of clues enough to make you sick? You betcha. But if you could stomach all of that, CBI had its charm. You just had to go into it knowing that this wasn't good quiz bowl.

For folks missing it --- Honda Campus All-Star Challenge and University Challenge have videos online that more or less approximate the CBI experience.

Cheers.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:19 am

sonstige wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:08 am
- And not that tournament, but the regional qualifier for it I remember had just the all-time most amazing lead-in to a toss-up that I've ever answered. It went something like "This book, the most famous in Islam..." (because yes, you can start questions on the Quran like that if you're CBI)
I believe it was "This book, the most famous written in Arabic...", which while not quite as egregious is still pretty bad!
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Ike » Wed Mar 27, 2019 2:00 pm

I played in exactly one CBI tournament, and if I recall correctly, the tournament staff did not let teams leave the rooms to go to the restrooms until all games of one round were done for reasons due to question security. While the questions themselves were awful, the treatment of the players the staff gave stands out to me equally.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Coelacanth » Wed Apr 03, 2019 10:14 pm

Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:09 pm
Andrew's post is very good but I'm afraid it gets several Pinocchios, which I will present in Andrew's absolute favorite forum-post style.
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
Our team name, or perhaps it was Rob's, was "Coetzee.cx"; it was my joke either way, ok?
It was both my team's name and, I'm willing to swear on a stack of copies of Barbara E. Kirby's Red and Black: The Debtor/Creditor Relationship, my joke.
I was the TD of said TRASH Regionals. I didn't understand that team name then, and I'm not sure I do now.
Auks Ran Ova wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:09 pm
theMoMA wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:58 pm
Someone, I think brought in because he wasn't eligible to play
This was former Iowa player, possible at-the-time Minnesota grad student, and current employee of something called the "Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence" Aaron Twait, who was sort of the team's un(?)official CBI advisor for a couple years, those years being limited by CBI ending after 2008.
Fun fact: I am related to Aaron Twait by marriage. His wife and mine are cousins.

Apologies for not being able to untangle the quoting successfully. [Fixed! --mgmt]
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by tiwonge » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:32 pm

sonstige wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 1:08 am
CBI was fantastic at recycling clues and UF had a monster archive of old CBI questions
This was controversial back in the 80s. My alma mater (before I arrived--I'm not quite that old), NC State, won a CBI championship sometime in the 80s, partly because they practiced on old questions, and a lot of the ones they practiced on were used in the national tournament.

I think, as a result, CBI required that schools could only have old questions for like a year or something and then they had to get rid of them.

I am in violation of that directive, as I still have practice questions from the most recent CBI tournament. If anybody wants to hear them, I guess I could read them on Discord some time. Does anybody else also have some old CBI questions?
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by matthewspatrick » Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:42 am

tiwonge wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:32 pm
I think, as a result, CBI required that schools could only have old questions for like a year or something and then they had to get rid of them.
IIRC the rule wasn't quite that strict, but yes, officially you were required to destroy any packets you had once they were N years old, with N being a somewhat small number.

As far as I could tell, no schools who participated in CBI and also had an active circuit presence actually did this. Indeed, the consensus appeared to be that it was a custom more honored in the breach than the observance.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by tiwonge » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:09 pm

At any rate, if question recycling wasn't done after that NCSU championship in the 80s, they liberally borrowed from old questions. I only attended one CBI tournament, but I remember hearing a question there (about Euler's Theorem, relating faces, edges and vertices of a polyhedron) that was nearly identical to one we heard in practice, and being upset that I buzzed in a few words later than I did in practice. I must have been tired by then.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Coelacanth » Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:31 pm

matthewspatrick wrote:
Mon Apr 15, 2019 9:42 am
tiwonge wrote:
Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:32 pm
I think, as a result, CBI required that schools could only have old questions for like a year or something and then they had to get rid of them.
IIRC the rule wasn't quite that strict, but yes, officially you were required to destroy any packets you had once they were N years old, with N being a somewhat small number.

As far as I could tell, no schools who participated in CBI and also had an active circuit presence actually did this. Indeed, the consensus appeared to be that it was a custom more honored in the breach than the observance.
This is correct. I believe N was 3. The stated reason was that the current events questions would become outdated or obsolete, but the real reason (as we learned in 1988) was that they wanted to be able to recycle questions. The regional and national tournaments in that year included questions that were taken, word for word, from questions used in 1982 or thereabouts.

It honestly had not occurred to them that (a) nobody actually followed their rules about destroying old packets because of the dearth of other suitable practice material, and (b) there were players active in 1988 who had played those questions the first time around. I think that by the time nationals rolled around they had cleaned up many of the issues after all the complaints they received after regionals. I don't think NC State's title was tainted by this.

But let's talk about that nationals format. 16 teams, exactly one from each of the 15 ACUI regions plus one "randomly" selected wild card. Double elimination, which meant that four teams flew halfway across the country for the privilege of playing exactly two games. Four game rooms in use, which meant a lot of byes. Game starts were synchronized, meaning that hallways had to be clear, doors shut, and an all-clear sent by walkie-talkie before any game could start. Five (FIVE!) game officials for each match: moderator, judge, scorekeeper, "reset/timer/announcer" (this person cleared the buzzer, set the clock, and verbally recognized players when they rang in), and "room captain". This last was normally a CBI employee and was the person with the walkie-talkie. They were the ones who told you when you could leave at the end of the game.

Oh, and that verbal recognition rule. No matter how many lights are lit up on the buzzer in front of you, if you begin your answer before the RTA has called out your name and school, you are wrong. Neg 5.

Paring the field from 16 to 4 took all of Saturday. The remaining teams (one at 4-0 and 3 at 3-1) finished up Sunday morning.

I love that quizbowl has evolved from this to the point where we are arguing about the importance of seeding preliminary brackets and the fairness of carrying over games into the playoffs.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by matthewspatrick » Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:14 am

Coelacanth wrote:
Tue Apr 16, 2019 2:31 pm
It honestly had not occurred to them that (a) nobody actually followed their rules about destroying old packets because of the dearth of other suitable practice material, and (b) there were players active in 1988 who had played those questions the first time around. I think that by the time nationals rolled around they had cleaned up many of the issues after all the complaints they received after regionals. I don't think NC State's title was tainted by this.
I think part of the reason it hadn't occurred to CBI that quiz bowl groups would simply...keep the packets is that CBI was only vaguely aware that there was such a thing as "quiz bowl clubs" that were a permanent thing with stable membership. It was more convenient for CBI to pretend that the extent of "quiz bowl" was an intramural tournament run by a student union honcho, with the winning team of that intramural then going to regionals (and perhaps nationals after that).
Coelacanth wrote:But let's talk about that nationals format. 16 teams, exactly one from each of the 15 ACUI regions plus one "randomly" selected wild card. Double elimination, which meant that four teams flew halfway across the country for the privilege of playing exactly two games. Four game rooms in use, which meant a lot of byes. Game starts were synchronized, meaning that hallways had to be clear, doors shut, and an all-clear sent by walkie-talkie before any game could start. Five (FIVE!) game officials for each match: moderator, judge, scorekeeper, "reset/timer/announcer" (this person cleared the buzzer, set the clock, and verbally recognized players when they rang in), and "room captain". This last was normally a CBI employee and was the person with the walkie-talkie. They were the ones who told you when you could leave at the end of the game.
The one CBI NCT I played in (1993) and the two I staffed (1995-96) used a full round robin for the sixteen teams, and a best-of-three final for the top two teams. So at some point, they figured out that the format sucked, and they implemented a format that was much more reasonable.
Coelacanth wrote:Oh, and that verbal recognition rule. No matter how many lights are lit up on the buzzer in front of you, if you begin your answer before the RTA has called out your name and school, you are wrong. Neg 5.
I always thought that the recognition rule was a hold-over from the TV days. Announcing the team and player makes a lot of sense on TV.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Coelacanth » Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:39 am

matthewspatrick wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:14 am

The one CBI NCT I played in (1993) and the two I staffed (1995-96) used a full round robin for the sixteen teams, and a best-of-three final for the top two teams. So at some point, they figured out that the format sucked, and they implemented a format that was much more reasonable.
1991 was the first year of the round-robin format. That year featured one team at 13-2 and two tied at 12-3. So you play off those two teams to see who makes the finals, right? Nope. Tiebreaker is head-to-head. What if there's a circle of death? Nobody thought of that ahead of time.

So the 12-3 team that advanced to the finals was the one who won the game against the other one on a brutally mishandled protest. Guess which team I was on?
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by jonpin » Fri Apr 19, 2019 5:43 pm

Coelacanth wrote:
Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:39 am
matthewspatrick wrote:
Wed Apr 17, 2019 11:14 am

The one CBI NCT I played in (1993) and the two I staffed (1995-96) used a full round robin for the sixteen teams, and a best-of-three final for the top two teams. So at some point, they figured out that the format sucked, and they implemented a format that was much more reasonable.
1991 was the first year of the round-robin format. That year featured one team at 13-2 and two tied at 12-3. So you play off those two teams to see who makes the finals, right? Nope. Tiebreaker is head-to-head. What if there's a circle of death? Nobody thought of that ahead of time.

So the 12-3 team that advanced to the finals was the one who won the game against the other one on a brutally mishandled protest. Guess which team I was on?
And then in 1994, BYU was in second place after the round-robin. But the finals were to be held on Sunday, so they declined to play. CBI's response was to bump them to third place and invite Virginia to play in the finals in their place.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Fri Apr 19, 2019 8:13 pm

I vaguely recall a story about an incident in the late 90's where there was a tossup about India that was the subject of a protest, and they resolved it by asking a player from another team who was Indian. Was that at CBI Nationals?
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by jnelson » Thu May 30, 2019 6:05 pm

So I played CBI in college, but since I went to an HBCU, I played Honda Campus All Star Challenge from 2005-09. It's CBI with an infusion of questions about African American history, scholars, and the like. Based on what I'm reading here, we definitely got the better end of the deal.

As far as the question material, it definitely skewed easier than ICT (or even late round MSNCT), but we also didn't deal with regular hoses. We played semis and finals on a professionally lit stage and high production values, and all things considered, it wouldn't have surprised me if I found out they were using those games as pitch films to get a network deal. There's also the point that because we had a major sponsor, more care was taken around creating quality question content and avoiding repeats.

Speaking of sponsors, I'm not sure what the CB nationals experience was like, but our nationals experience was top-notch (nationals hosted at Disney World, fully stocked student center, guest speakers and musicians, theme park tickets, etc). Having a campus tournament was required to earn a bid to attend nationals, but we could get decent turnout by using the nationals trip as a carrot on a stick- arm twisting for recruiting players was rarely a problem.

In my junior and senior years, I received emails from other team captains at universities that were playing other formats who'd invited us to come and scrimmage with them. Although the team was up to go, there were some questions around whether or not we'd be suspended by HCASC for playing another format. At that point, the decision to stay home was made for us. But once I got those emails, I started to poke around to see what other colleges were doing, and it opened me up to this much larger world of quiz bowl I hadn't really taken time to explore. Either way, I'm glad I'm here now.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by sonstige » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:11 am

jnelson wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 6:05 pm
...there were some questions around whether or not we'd be suspended by HCASC for playing another format....
Somewhat off-topic, but: I always wondered why the Florida circuit in particular seemed to never see HBCUs like Bethune-Cookman or FAMU playing ACF, NAQT, and the like (Delta Burke?) --- knowing that such schools did (do) compete at HCASC. Hearing that HCASC (itself obviously a product of "College Bowl") would have potentially suspended those schools is frustrating to say the least. Were there cases of this actually happening?
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by amcombill » Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:35 pm

I started at UT Knoxville in the 1980-81 school year. College Bowl that year went as described -- an intramural tournament at the student center, with teams mostly from fraternities and other student groups. I had been active in high school (city champions in Nashville the previous year) and when I read about it somehow, grabbed a guy (Henry Green) from my dorm and said "I'm buying beer afterwards, but you have to come watch me do this." He and I had a two-man team called "The Kingston Trio". The team was essentially me -- it simply wasn't Henry's thing -- and while we didn't win the tournament, I did well enough as an individual that I was told to come to the practice for the team that would attend regionals.

I don't remember much about regionals. It was held in North Carolina. We did well - there was one grad student on our team whose name I don't remember who was really good. He liked to drink Drambuie. We got beaten by a NC team (Duke? NC State? UNC/ Chapel Hill or Charlotte?) that went on, I think, to win the nationals that year.

You all have mentioned CBI as the sponsoring organization. I mostly remember it as being ACUI. Maybe CBI worked with them? Our school had to be affiliated with ACUI to participate in the College Bowl Tournament. It was quite expensive, as well.

The next year, Don Windham and Carol Guthrie showed up at UTK. The sponsor of the team, the university's events coordinator, was willing to let Don and Carol do everything associated with College Bowl, and she simply signed forms as needed. Don and Carol were grad students by them, and taught, so as university employees, they could drive school vehicles and be covered by insurance. They told us about the growing non-CBI affiliated college bowl activities that they had been a part of at Berry College. For the amount of money the school spent to participate in one "official" College Bowl program, we could afford to register and travel to several regional tournaments (Ga Tech, Berry, Auburn, Mercer, others.) That first year, I think both Don and Carol were player/managers, but after that they didn't play while I was there, and simply ran the team. (Don, in particular, was so dominant that the others of us on the team may have well as been stumps; Carol was the only other person who got any significant playing time while he was on the team). I think we participated in the CBI regional during their first year there (1981-1982), and essentially gave CBI up after that, for cost reasons.

After that, we had regular practices (using both old CBI packets [which we did not destroy!], and many rounds of questions that Don and Carol had accumulated and written over their undergraduate CB careers. We'd go to 3-4 tournaments a year. Usually all we spent was tournament registration and gas money -- Don and Carol had enough friends that we'd find somewhere to crash, with sleeping bags, and so we didn't have hotel bills.

The ACF wikipedia page says"the University of Maryland and University of Tennessee stopped participating in College Bowl," and implies that this happened in the late 1980s, mostly in response to format reasons and problems with questions. As far as I recall, we (UTK) had nothing to do with "official" college bowl after the 1981-1982 school year, and the reason was cost. School run tournaments were so much cheaper than registering for CBI tournaments that we as a team decided to "deaffiliate". In addition, tournaments were usually round-robin/swiss-pair format, so we'd play more games in a more competitive pairing (I believe that the last few rounds of CBI regionals had been single-elimination, which meant that lots of teams didn't get to play a full slate; it was not unusual for teams to leave and go home after elimination, so that individual awards given at the end of the tournament had no one to pick them up). Games were 20 question instead of timed (like CBI), which was much better. I remember playing the clock in the freshman year CBI intramural tourney, which made sense at the time, but realistically is a bullshit thing to do.

All we gave up was the chance at winning the "official" national title, and while we were pretty good and mostly competitive, we didn't feel like we had a legitimate shot at the title. But in return, we had a full school year of tournament play, instead of the single regional CBI tournament in the spring.

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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by matthewspatrick » Tue Jun 04, 2019 6:37 pm

amcombill wrote:
Tue Jun 04, 2019 1:35 pm
You all have mentioned CBI as the sponsoring organization. I mostly remember it as being ACUI. Maybe CBI worked with them? Our school had to be affiliated with ACUI to participate in the College Bowl Tournament. It was quite expensive, as well.
It was a partnership between ACUI and CBI. Schools would buy their questions from CBI, and the intent is that someone in the school's student activities bureaucracy would run the intramural tournament and select the team that would go to regionals. The regionals were organized by the ACUI regional staff, and the borders coincided with ACUI's own regional borders. CBI then ran the NCT.

Something that CBI never really figured out was how to deal with a program which was a student-run, full-year organization. And in fairness, most of their clientele were not like that, so I can understand why they didn't put a ton of effort into it, until it was too late.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by jnelson » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:44 pm

sonstige wrote:
Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:11 am
jnelson wrote:
Thu May 30, 2019 6:05 pm
...there were some questions around whether or not we'd be suspended by HCASC for playing another format....
Somewhat off-topic, but: I always wondered why the Florida circuit in particular seemed to never see HBCUs like Bethune-Cookman or FAMU playing ACF, NAQT, and the like (Delta Burke?) --- knowing that such schools did (do) compete at HCASC. Hearing that HCASC (itself obviously a product of "College Bowl") would have potentially suspended those schools is frustrating to say the least. Were there cases of this actually happening?
There weren't cases we knew of, but I recall reading something in the rules back then re: conflicts with HCASC being grounds for disqualification. In hindsight, we probably should have asked more questions instead of just speculating, but we interpreted the rules as being no different than moving to another athletic conference- once you leave, you can't play for our championship anymore.
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Re: Let's tell the kids stories about CBI

Post by BabeRuthOfCollegeBowl » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:20 pm

We're only talking about CBI, the reboot of the GE College Bowl TV show, right? For history about that, the Facebook group "College Bowl Valhalla" is a good place to start if you're interested in contacting Those Who Were There.

My experience with CBI dates to the work Richard Reid (with help from his then-elderly father Don, the creator of the TV show) did in the late 70's with ACUI. He obviously earned a lot of criticism for question quality (accuracy and trashiness) and rules looseness (well documented elsewhere and I won't belabor it), and it was always there, but I'm a forgiving person. Richard obviously wrote pretty much all the questions himself, in addition to moderating tournaments in a number of places. The load was obviously too much and he either didn't want to or couldn't afford to commission others to do it for him - and remember, there wasn't nearly the size of the quizbowl community then to draw on that there is now. Maybe it's just the soft fog of memory, but I do think there was an understanding that there were inevitable growing pains but that we needed to help interest in the activity grow and that required patience. Any muttering was quiet.

Following my high school career playing "In The Know" on WBNS-TV in Columbus (it wasn't always on WOSU, kiddies), I'd put together the team that won the first intramural tournament at MIT in January 1977, and was delighted to learn there was going to be an intercollegiate tournament soon with a national one in Miami Beach (at the Fontainebleau, IIRC). We all went to Bentley College to play them and the only other New England school with a team, Yale. Unfortunately we choked a bit and Yale got the trip. Well, future years got to be quite a bit more populated - I recall watching the Olympic Miracle on Ice game at Fairfield U. between rounds - and the best we could do was to get to the (apparently-infamous) 1980 tournament at Marshall. No excuses, but WUSTL went into the championship game against us still warm, while we were cold, they were good and they won. Art Fleming of Jeopardy! moderated, and I have a photo of our MIT team posed with him (and a joke shot where he's choking me). I've reconnected with Brick Barrientos from Maryland and Charlie Steinhice (who I thought I remembered from WUSTL but he was actually not there) via other means, and "they keep pulling me back in!". I'm back in the trivia world, which I'd thought I'd left after my Jeopardy! and WWTBAM appearances and the end of the Prodigy network where I used to host chatroom games.

Oh, and there's a story out there that Richard discussed that tournament at a later year, and had an anecdote involving me that somehow spread through the community. I'll just say my own recollections don't quite match, but the stories are more entertaining so let's just go with them.

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