Thursday, March 25, 2004

College Bowl a.k.a Quizzing in the U.S

In continuation to College bowl explained - II


1. Mainly academic in nature with almost around a 80:20 ratio leaning toward facts from standard academic subjects such as the natural sciences, math, history, geography, social sciences etc. Pure trivia and popular culture (i.e. movies, TV, music etc.) makes up the rest. This is the view of several College Bowl veterans here in my univ who have played it since their high school.

2. All questions are set by independent quiz masters and have to be purchased for a fee from the College Bowl organization that conducts regional competitions and national finals.

Sample questions (from a set from the Univ. of Alabama, posted in the files section of the QuizBowl Yahoo group):

1. It radiates three times as much heat into space as it gets from the sun. Some of Earth's best pictures of it were obtained by Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2. For 10 points--what planet's Cassini division is located between its A and B rings?
answer: Saturn

2. The 20,000 pounds he bet on his trip was less than half of what he was accused of stealing from the Bank of England. For 10 points--who returned to London in December 1872 after going Around the World in 80 Days?
answer: Phileas Fogg

3. The province of Kosovo now uses the German mark as its currency, bypassing--for 10 points- what monetary unit used not only throughout the rest of Yugoslavia, but also in Tunisia, Jordan, and Algeria?
answer: dinar

4. This 1968 invention now has unusual versions that include one for left-handers, one that uses an LED instead of a rubber ball, and one where the index finger is higher than the middle finger. For 10 points--what computer device even has a tailless version called a "hamster"?

answer: mouse

5. Some consider it a "fictional force" because it is directed outward from the axis of rotation only when the frame of reference is accelerating. For 10 points--what force disappears when the reference point is stationary but can be felt inside a car as it goes around a curve?
answer: centrifugal force (not "centripetal")

College Bowl Tournaments

The College Bowl club in my univ has just about 10 regular members in it (attendence varies between 6 and 8 people every week), every week we just form two teams comprising of who ever is present and play among ourselves for as long as the practice questions downloaded from the College Bowl website last (usually around 4 to 5 sets of questions are downloaded every week).

For the campus tournament, we (the univ paid for it and organized it) had to buy question packets from the College Bowl Organizers. The questions for the campus tournaments were/are the same for all campuses holding such tournaments. So these tournaments are usually held on the same day. This year it was on the 25th of January. The tournament attracted 12 entries and hence we just formed three teams of four members each and played round robin games. The top two teams that won the maximum games faced off in the final.

The issues that I can think about right now that anyone wanting to organize such a tournament would be facing are with regards to the number of questions, the quality and the infrastructure. Let's say that there are "n" teams wanting to play in such a tournament. There are three different ways to do the whole tournament - Single Elimination, Double Elimination and Round Robin.

* The Single Elimination system is a pure knock-out system. The teams play each other and teams get knocked off as soon as they are defeated once.

Pros: Accommodates a high number of teams; low resources (i.e questions) needed
Cons: Good teams may be eliminated after one bad match
Number of games: n-1 (where n is the number of teams in the tournament)

* The Double Elimination system knocks out teams once they have been defeated twice.

Pros: Every team plays at least twice; seems to be the most popular format
Cons: Can be time consuming and resource intense; good teams could still suffer from a bad draw.
Number of games: 2n-1 (if number of teams is 10, games = 19)

* Round Robin Tournament is self explanatory. Every team plays every other team atleast once. It is left to the organizers to hold semis and then finals or just declare the team with the best record as the winner.

Pros: Every team plays every other team once; good format for small team numbers
Cons: The most time and resource intensive; no build up to the ultimate final champion if organizers choose not to hold a final game between top two teams
Number of games: [(n)(n-1)/2] (ie: 10 teams=45 games)

Some explanations regarding the tournaments:

The single elimination system is termed a "low resource" system because games can be held simultaneously at different places with the same questions. Let's say that there are 4 teams involved. Then just three games and two question sets would be needed to find out who wins. The first two games to eliminate teams can be held simultaneously with the same question set. And the final game between the winners requires another set of questions. The same system can be used for the Double elimination and Round Robin system too, but that would depend on the number of teams invovled in the tournament and some amount of slogging from the organizers. In any case, tournaments of this kind are unsuitable for large open quizzes like the ones made popular by Landmark etc. These would probably make good TV material though, if questions are chosen properly.

:: Anti

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