Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Order, Order!!

One little-explored facet of an Infinite Rebound format quiz has been the order in which teams are seated. In most quizzes, the order is decided by randomly picking chits. However at Quiz-o-mania, the organisers tried an innovation in which the teams got to pick their position on the stage. This was done in the descending order of elims scores, i.e the team which topped the elims got to pick first, and so on.

Now the innovative idea here was to try and give the top scoring teams a reward by giving them a choice in seating. However, I am not sure if that indeed happened. In fact I am quite sure that the opposite is what happened. I'll explain how by citing my own example.

Sarika and I were 3rd (or 4th) in the elims. When it was our turn to choose, we decided to take the spot to the right of Ramanand and Harish, who topped the elims, and in my books, were favourites to win the quiz. My logic behind this choice was that except for their "directs", we would get a shot at every question, before them. So if there were any questions which both R&H as well as Sarika and I knew answers to, we would benefit. Of course, this benefit would apply only in the first half of the quiz, following which the order would be reversed, and they would get a similar benefit.

This is exactly what happened. Ramanand and Harish were trailing in the first half, not because they didn't know much, but because we gobbled up most of the answerable passes. In the second half, they caught up superbly, but our ability to answer our directs better than they answered theirs in the first half, saw us through.

Thus our being able to position our team relative to theirs helped us in the first half at least.

This happened because in an infinite rebound quiz, the teams might as well be seated in a circle. because after the first question, the "1" in "team 1" ceases to be a number, and becomes a name. In Direct-and-Pass formats, yes, Team 1 has an advantage because it will get the first question in every round. But in infinite rebound the absolute position is not important.

What is important is your position relative to the other teams. If you think you can position yourself before your potential closest competitor, and build a good lead in the pressure-free first half of the quiz, then you can do that. It is somewhat like batting first in an ODI.

So the team that is at an advantage is the team that has most knowledge about the position of their competition, and not the team choosing first. As a result, when R&H picked a spot, they benefitted the least from the system, rather than the most, as the organisers might have intended.

If organisers of future quizzes want to implement a system where the elims topper is rewarded, then they should ask the team with the least score to just write their name on a blank paper. the team higher than them should then write their name on that team's left or right. the next team can place themselves either between the two teams, or on their right or left. And so on, until the last team is the topper which can position itself at the edges, or between any team it wants. This order should then be reproduced on stage.


Ramanand said...

Gaurav, to grab credit where it is due, I had first tried this at a quiz I did at SCIT last year where I wanted to see what teams would do in applying gamesmanship and if it would give the toppers an adv. Incidentally, that day, the toppers (Salil & Ganesh?) did win the quiz also.

Now, at VIT, two other things happened:
(a) The 1st half also had most of the India qns, which if i'm not being too presumptuous, were ideal for Vibhendu-Anand & Harish-me. As it turned out, they were usually ahead of us on most India qns and grabbed them. We got a lot of directs (as u did because of having V-A ahead of you; we got directs because we had u ahead of us), but they were mostly the non-India fare and we couldn't capitalise on them. So I think you didn't have a theoretical adv. in that sense, but in practice you actually got it b'cos of the way the distribution worked out.

(2)2nd point was that, if such a idea has to work out, the elims must accurately reflect the *seedings*. Again w/o being too hoity-toity and unfair, I would say that was not the case. So you got in the middle of the pack, rather than the #1 or #2 where I would have put u. OTOH, u can say that teams #2 & #3 after the elims underperformed in the finals.

Later that day, Harish & I talked about the same point you make i.e. that the toppers actually ended up with a disadv. If u think about it, the guys with the most adv. will be the ones with the choice in the middle, like you did, for only then do you have maximum flexibility. Not if you are #1, nor if you are #6. And that led us to the same conclusion as you did - that the elim toppers must be able to decisively shape the seatings in the finals. Our version was to perhaps let the toppers completely do it the way they want it, but your idea of incremental placement in ascending order of places sounds good too. I plan to try it in the PSPL quiz if I'm allowed to :-)

A more balanced quiz in terms of theme would have made a difference to Harish & me, is what I still feel.

This is fun, eh? - all this strategy making!

There are some other options to reward toppers - will mull over them more

Salil said...

At the SCIT quiz, Kunal & I topped the elims and went on to win the quiz. Not only us, the other 2 VIT teams (Ganesh-Siddharth, Anupam-Anand) who were 2nd and 3rd finished 3rd & 2nd respectively.

Vibhendu & Anand were 5th in elims, yet they were leading throughout.

Ramanand said...

This commenting sucks - kya tu BloggerGaurav - took a quick look at the VIT stats; I think you should also thank Anand & Vibhendu for choosing Team F (they had a choice of F & C). Because of that, u were in between them & us and it helped you get more directs than the rest. If they had chosen C, we would have been in the middle :-)

But I don't want to get into the trap of saying directs are important - I still believe total # of attempts is only important.

I haven't had a chance to get all the usual stats out - I had an exam today and my little stat tool needs some updates. Will post the details later.

Again, we're in danger of over-stating (pun intended) the quiz with stats - if we had 5 qns more, perhaps Shivaji-Vivek may even have won - they were on a roll at the end

Gaurav said...

Exam? Ahhha!! So you're still carrying an ATKT from college? :P

Ramanand said...

No, actually I'm like Patel & Pathan - haven't passed 12th : god bless forged certis ;-)

Line breakBTW, Niranjan had done some statistical analysis on placement of finalists last year to achieve balance. Was quite interesting. Dunno what happened to it since.