Monday, May 23, 2005

Round Reversals - Are they really that effective?

I was reading JR's anniversary article archives written in a seemingly alternately illegible hand and experienced firsthand Gaurav's pole-position & 4 quarter system at the S.E.Q. This post is a result of these two things.

The point is this, whatever may be the fallacies in a particular system of scoring these are ironed out due to round reversal. I.e. if a certain team is getting large number of directs due to another team sitting before them, this advantage is immediately transferred to the team on the otherside of that team. So seemingly all is well.

Then comes Quiz-O-mania '05, which witnessed super Vibhendu-Anand first half performance followed by an amazing catch-up in the second half by The Moops. (ala CSKA Moscow). Reason? It was surmised that the first half of questions had a concentration of Hindi-film questions and due to these questions being absent and/or due to round reversal Gaurav's team getting to answer before them they could perform better. So it is like the quiz being in two parts. Two absolutely different styled halves (?) thereby making round reversal ineffective.

So Gaurav decides that we'll go one step further and reverse 3 times. Now as his quiz was mostly done by him and JR (70-30 as he put it) and probably due to dispersion of JR's questions throughout the quiz this didn't have any major difference. I think the result would have been pretty similar had the normal system been adopted.

So does the 'success' of Gaurav's idea as many have claimed mean that the more we reverse the better it is. Actually a good way of testing a particular method is to take it to the hilt and then test it's effectiveness. Funnily it turns out that such a system would effectively result into an 'ox-cart'/Boustrophedon system which JR linked to recently. That is we go along in a particular order and then reverse once the cycle for a question is over.

So consider a particular case.

A - B -C -D. D gets it right. Now it is C's turn by this system. So we go C - B - A - F. F gets it right. Fair enough?

Now consider the following :

Team A : 2 attempts 0 points
Team B : 2 attempts 0 points
Team C : 2 attempts 10 points
Team D : 1 attempts 10 points
Team E : 0 attempts 0 points
Team F : 1 attempts 10 points

Now looking here you would say that logically the next question should be to E. But - as F got it right the next question will go back to A and so on. Those teams, which are around the leading teams, will get maximum number of attempts due to continuos reversals. Now this is an extreme case - but whenever we reverse in a quiz the team that was supposed to get the next question but don't is extremely hard done by. This is like omitting them from the current cycle of questions much like being a lap behind in F1. So whenever we reverse we are heavily discriminating against such teams. Now that I think about it, this happened to us at least once at SEQ. So consider a snapshot of the passing during a reversal: D-E-F-A-F and so on. How unfair to B!

Ideally as most agree 'fair'ness in a system is characterized by equal number of directs and more importantly attempts. So playing around with IR doesn't naturally imply a better system. More importantly I wanted to point out that 'reversal' is not necessarily the answer to all problems. I am not saying that reversals should be done away with - maybe one would be okay. I think next time someone is cataloguing a quiz he could note when the rounds reverse and so on. BTW did anyone manage to track SEQ statistically? That would be very interesting. Pls. post stats if available.

! gnizziuq yppah neht lliT

~ Abhishek

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