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MSHSAA format vs "National: 
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2015
Posts: 3
Post MSHSAA format vs "National:
I have had the pleasure of running an invitational tournament each year in January since 2007. Until this year I have utilized the standard 3 games in the morning, random draw, MSHSAA format with an 8 team single elim bracket after lunch and 1 or 2 consolation games for everyone else. I also am currently the administrator of the Private School League for St. Louis which is currently at 16 schools. The Private School league uses NAQT questions in a modified "national" format.

This year I'm hosting an NAQT style tournament with about 28 teams signed up from 19 schools. I've taken my team to both kinds of tournaments on a regular basis and see some benefits and drawbacks to each type. I'm not at all an opponent of pyramidal type questions and see their validity.

My observation/shared concern for the forum is this:
There are not enough tournaments available in the St. Louis area. When I was on the advisory board for MSHSAA I advocated loudly for an expansion of the competition limit, but for the last several years there haven't been enough tournaments in the area to make expanding the limit necessary, unless you have a league that plays weekly over the course of 5 or 6 weeks.

One drawback to hosting/organizing an NAQT "national" style tournament is that they are organizationally much more complex. Determining how many pools, how many rounds to play in am vs pm. How to organize the championship pool or pools, etc is simply more complicated.

What can MOQBA as an organization do to assist coaches who might be interested in hosting a "national" style tournament?

Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:42 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006
Posts: 591
Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
Coach Sothers,

I really understand what you're talking about. I've run things under different formats before, albeit in Middle School.

I'm embarrassed to mention this format from about 5-6 years ago. That was a mess to pull off. It was like two tournaments in the same day with very loose crossover. It made naming an overall champ at the end of the day sort of surprising, but I got over that really fast. It involved a ton of editing on my end, and lining up the scantrons was a logistical nightmare. 20/20 tournaments were a breeze after that stuff.

I personally enjoy the pyramid style because everyone, even the best player, leaves the day knowing more than when they started. Once I introduced my kids to it, they were hooked.

I've never found the rounds/pools etc., all that challenging. I look to what similar tournaments of my size have done and copy that, always thinking of ways to get more games in. A "suggested format" for different sized tournaments (12, 18, 24, etc.) wouldn't be an unwelcome addition to the MOQBA site. (Note to self: you could take a stab at writing one and, you know, try to make yourself useful.)

My problem is staffing. I need readers - good, competent readers. The 20/20 format is designed to get more games in, and a slow reader really gums up the works. In MSHSAA format, a slower reader doesn't affect the pace of the day so much - it's already a bit of a slog.

Even now, my tournament in February has such a backlog of teams wanting to get in, and most of those teams are in the STL area. I desperately want to get those teams over to my building, but I don't yet have the staff numbers to do it. I could have a couple of my people that are listed as scorekeepers try their hand at reading, but I don't want the quality to affect the experience of the teams involved.

I have a great deal of parents that really want to help, and I'm trying to get them over to my practices so they can get in the experience of reading. Our faculty - not so much. I think the problem is exposure. Once teachers have really had the chance to watch a game and get involved, it's much easier to get them back, but it's a huge hurdle to get that started. Even throwing some money in their direction hasn't helped. Our parents have attended a lot of matches, and have seen lots of readers, and they're much better about stepping up to that plate.

Perhaps a database of readers and their contact emails that people have used in the past would help, sort of like basketball has for referees. I could also see that being a massive minefield, though.

Sun Jan 04, 2015 7:40 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 13, 2006
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Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
PACE has a round robin schedule creating guide. I think it's most useful for stuff with odd numbers of teams.

Honestly, I just Google "6 Team Round Robin" and get this, I just do it all over again for the next bracket and so on.

Sun Jan 04, 2015 8:26 pm
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Joined: Sat Apr 23, 2011
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Location: Pacific, MO
Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
I agree that a "schedules made easy" thing is something that could be added to the MOQBA website. For my part, I always make sure to separate teams A,B, etc. teams first into different divisions (if a school has 3 teams and there are only 2 divisions, then it's unfortunately going to happen). I always make sure that I have a tiebreaker packet and enough packets available to run an advantaged final (so basically, 3 packets). Depending on what set you use (NAQT IS sets have 14 packets, an A set has 12 packets), then you can determine how many rounds to have. I also have my field help to determine how many rounds are run. (For the MOQBA website, I believe we recommend 7-9 rounds as a good experience for teams).

I do agree with you, Mr. Sothers, that we need more events available in the St. Louis area. I have no idea if Ladue is planning on hosting again in the future, but it seems like Oakville, yourself and WUSTL are going to be hosting events into the near future. Hopefully, we can have another host in the St. Louis-area come up. (Perhaps Orchard Farm and Washington can develop into those schools in the next year or two)

I do like the idea of a staffer grid to send out to hosts-this might be something I can work on over the next semester.

And Mr. Sothers, several of MOQBA's members are more than happy to help out with scheduling or making pools for a tournament. I'd be willing to help out with scheduling.

Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:36 pm
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Location: In between the bright lights and the far unlit unknown (aka Johnson County, KS)
Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
Welcome to the board!

Generally, whenever MOQBA helps a host with their first "national" style tournament, a member in the area works directly with the host to work through all of the logistical details. The direct assistance of an experienced person helps the tournaments run more effectively, but sometimes we may not do a good enough job of training the host on how to run future tournaments with less assistance.

I have been wanting to put together a tournament hosting guide for the MOQBA website so that hosts can easily reference it and not have to rely as much on someone else. Unfortunately, with all of my other commitments, I haven't had much time to work on it. A list of suggested formats would be just one part of that, but could certainly be useful to put together and get posted before the rest of the guide is done, since that can be one of the more complicated aspects of running a "national" style tournament. (David and Jacob, feel free to help with getting that started :))

Here are a few things to consider when running a tournament with pooled preliminary rounds and rebracketing into playoffs/consolation:

- You must factor in the experience and efficiency of your moderators when deciding on a schedule. If you have inexperienced moderators that take an hour to complete a round, a schedule that requires 10 rounds will not work because teams will be scheduled to play until 8:00 PM in games that drag on way too slowly, and nobody wants to go through that.

- Advance moderator training is critical to ensure that a tournament with a large number of rounds is successful. Moderators need to be exposed to the rules and gameplay well ahead of time so that they aren't asking basic questions like "what's a tossup?" right before you send them off to run a game room for the day. It's also important to remind moderators that the key to an efficiently run game is not to rush through the questions, but to minimize the amount of downtime between questions. If a moderator takes several seconds to switch between tossups and bonuses or allows players to talk between questions, that time adds up extremely quickly.

- I strongly recommend using the national 5 second timing for bonuses (and prompting for an answer after 4). In my experience, allowing 10 seconds rarely results in a team providing a correct answer that they wouldn't have been able to provide in 5 seconds, and often results in awkward silence until the time expires, causing the game to drag on. (With 20 three part bonuses, each extra second of time allowed on a bonus part has the potential to add one minute to each round.)

- Rebounding bonuses can also lengthen games somewhat because of the extra time allowed for the rebounding team to answer, and the slightly greater chance of a moderator mistake by forgetting to give the other team a chance to answer; on the other hand, it is nice to give the other team a chance to answer. Especially given that the vast majority of Missouri schools prefer rebounding bonuses, it's understandable when they are used. When using rebounding bonuses, I recommend using PACE NSC timing of 2 seconds on rebounds. The rebounding team has time to quietly collaborate during the first team's five seconds, so unless the first team answers immediately, they should have plenty of time to arrive at an answer. Two seconds is also better than the zero seconds the team would get if bonuses did not rebound.

- Tournament directors need to clearly communicate the expected schedule for the tournament and their expectations for consolation rounds, especially in areas where consolation rounds are not as common. Teams used to the standard MSHSAA-style schedule may not realize that they are expected to stay for consolation rounds if they don't make the playoffs, and teams unexpectedly leaving early can cause significant headaches. Teams also want to get home in a timely manner, so announcing an approximate end time in the tournament announcement and making sure the tournament actually ends close to that time is extremely important to make sure everyone has a good experience. Any rules variations should also be communicated ahead of time so that teams can prepare for the rules that will be used at the tournament.

- The preliminary pools need to be reasonably balanced; you don't want to have the top 3 teams all in the same pool, for instance. Using past tournament results, you should seed the teams based on their expected finish and snake them into the preliminary brackets. For example, a tournament with 4 pools of 6 should have pools with:

A: 01 08 09 16 17 24
B: 02 07 10 15 18 23
C: 03 06 11 14 19 22
D: 04 05 12 13 20 21

Once the teams are pooled and any adjustments are made (for instance, swapping teams so that a school's A and B teams are in different pools), if you want, you can do things like alphabetize the teams within the pools or relabel the pools so that they aren't A=1, B=2, C=3, D=4.

- You also want to make sure that you have backup schedules for smaller field sizes in case teams drop at the last minute.

Shortening a schedule fairly
If slow moderators are unavoidable, it's going to be better to make some sacrifices with the schedule to make sure the tournament ends at a reasonable time.

First, if at all possible, you should always ensure that every team in a pool plays every other team in the pool exactly once. The advantage of round robin scheduling is that everyone in a pool plays a common schedule, and cutting rounds from a round robin causes imbalances that could result in unfair outcomes.

When advancing teams from a championship-eligible pool to the next stage of the tournament, MOQBA tournaments typically take the top 2 teams from each pool into the next stage. This reduces the chance of eliminating a team with only one loss; the only way a one loss team is eliminated is if there is a three-way tie at 1 loss. (Tournaments also use advantaged finals for similar reasons.) If doing this would make the tournament run too long, there are some adjustments that could be made to reduce the number of teams that advance that are still reasonably fair. Rather than try to enumerate the options, it's probably better to evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. I'll be happy to answer any questions about scheduling, either by email or on the message board.

Of course, if a schedule needs to be shortened in this manner, the ideal solution for future tournaments would be to better train moderators so that future tournaments run more efficiently, or set a smaller field cap so that the tournament can be run in fewer rounds with fewer compromises.

Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:55 pm
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Joined: Thu Apr 29, 2004
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Location: In between the bright lights and the far unlit unknown (aka Johnson County, KS)
Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
In the interest of sharing resources, I've attached a handout I put together for a presentation* I made at the MACA Conference back in October with some tips for running tournaments efficiently.

(The presentation ironically went past the scheduled end time because the first round of breakout sessions started late.)

Tips for Running an Efficient Tournament.docx [29.63 KiB]
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Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:58 pm
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Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2015
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Post Re: MSHSAA format vs "National:
Great advice and very practical. I appreciate the feedback from experienced college players and TD's like yourself.

Mon Jan 05, 2015 8:22 am
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