2018 Lisgar novice tournament

The final: Bell

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Lisgar CI held their novice tournament on Saturday. Ten teams from four Ottawa schools participated in the quizbowl event intended for junior and new players.

Bell HS won in a final over Glebe A 390-80. Lisgar A and C rounded out the top group of 4. Colonel By was the other participating school. Bell has had off-and-on activity ever since they withdrew from Reach earlier this decade, but if they are intending to re-subscribe, this team will probably be their main team. They only lost to Glebe A earlier in the day. Glebe was undefeated until the last round-robin game, but members started leaving after lunch and took a toll on the team’s performance as the day wrapped up. Lisgar, Glebe, and Colonel By all have more senior members who didn’t play today, so we don’t have a full preview of the season ahead in Ottawa.

This tournament used a Canadianized version of the 2018 SCOP Novice set. It served its purpose well – the novice teams answered almost all of the tossups and, without discussing specifics, nothing was too difficult for an average high school team. Hopefully the set will find use in southern Ontario or elsewhere.

The next tournament on my schedule will be quizbowl at Carleton on December 1, which is open to all high school teams and should bring out the senior players in Ottawa.

2018 UTS Fall results

The season opener.

Last Saturday, 32 teams got their start on the 2019 season by attending the UTS fall tournament. Most teams were from southern Ontario, but Lisgar CI and Kennebecasis Valley HS also made the trip. Lisgar won the tournament by defeating UTS 300-230 in the final.

The results table is now up. Every team had their bracket played out to determine the ranks from 1 to 32. A few lower bracket playoff games are missing, but nothing that affects R-values.

The schedule definitely stood out. Like last year, only the first five rounds of 8-team round-robins were played. This meant that each team missed out on two of the opponents they would be ranked against for determining afternoon placements. Depending on the relative strength of those missed opponents, a team’s strength of schedule could be much further from average (1.0) than what you’d find at, say, Ontario provincials. The most surprising example was that the team with the easiest schedule (Martingrove) and toughest schedule (Oakville-Trafalgar A) came from the same pool! A few contending teams like St. Michael’s and Abbey Park got burned by facing all the tougher teams and missing out on the top tier despite beating a top-tier-bound team that faced weaker opponents.

The organizers want to insist on a 32-team schedule to allow the three bracketed rounds in the afternoon. For a fairer schedule, the four initials pools of eight should be broken into two pools of 6 and four of 5 – the 6-pools do a round-robin, while the 5-pools pair off and have a team play all five teams in the paired pool (eg: pools C and D have 5 teams, with C1 playing D1 to D5, C2 playing D1 to D5, D1 playing C1 to C5, etc.). Once everyone has a 5-game record with a (hopefully) diverse range of opponents, rank the records for the whole field to split teams into the playoff tiers.

That being said, the initial pools were also uneven, and was noticed before the tournament began. Pool A had four teams from last year’s top ten playoff in Ontario (UTS, Lisgar, White Oaks SS, and Abbey Park), while Pool D had none (though that pool had KVHS). While it is true that it is difficult to seed the first tournament of the year, especially if team composition changes over the summer, the two Oakville teams should have been noticed. Abbey Park finished with the highest R-value thanks to that tough pool, and easily won the second tier. Also interestingly, Pool A had teams that finished 1 & 2, Pool B had teams 3 & 4, Pool C had teams 5 & 6, and Pool D had teams 7 & 8 (though the distribution below that was spread more evenly).

Despite the schedule, this was still a good preview for Ontario. There is a fairly clear cluster of teams with R-values over 100% that should be vying for provincial playoff spots. St. Michael’s looks ready to fill the void in Toronto representation left by RSGC. TMS and Abbey Park will build off their solid provincials debuts last year and contend for Monday games come May. While I don’t wish to imply that all teams’ fates are set, my early prediction is that eight of the ten Ontario playoff teams participated last week – the absences being Glebe CI and a potential Waterloo or Peel team. Hopefully many of these teams will take a crack at another tournament later in the year.

Speaking of which, the tournament schedule carries on. Lisgar hosts a novice quizbowl tournament next weekend, and Carleton will host an event on December 1 open to all levels of high school teams. Those tournaments will likely only have the eastern Ontario teams, but I’ll have reports after their conclusions.

Congratulations to all the teams that played at UTS last week, and good luck in your future tournaments.

UTS Fall update

Every Reach champ since 2006 in attendance

A quick update of the UTS Fall tournament (full results once I get back and have all the scores).

Lisgar CI won the tournament with a 300-230 final over UTS. Westmount SS and Martingrove CI were the other semifinalists. 32 teams competed, and the playoffs were set up to sort everyone in a rank from 1 to 32.

The incomplete round robin (first 5 games of an 8-team schedule) produced some strange underlying numbers. I’ll get to those in a fuller update.

Congratulations to all the competing teams, and thanks to UTS for hosting.

Upcoming fall tournaments

The real season preview

The 2018-19 tournament season opens with the UTS fall tournament this coming weekend. UTS has run house-written tournaments off-and-on for more than a decade, and the event has grown to be a good preview for the Ontario provincial tournament. The field has been mostly GTA and southern Ontario teams, though national contenders like Kennebecasis Valley HS and Lisgar CI have made occasional trips.

I don’t have much to preview for this year’s tournament, considering that nobody has played yet. While several teams will have a winning reputation entering the event, this is also the time for hidden talent to make their mark – the RSGC squad had their breakout performance when they finished 3rd behind UTS and eventual national champ KVHS in 2015. Teams that would normally be “off the radar” can make an impression to help for placements or seedings in later events.

I will be at the UTS event. I will give my updates through Twitter, and will eventually have a report when the results are available.

Eastern Ontario teams can prepare for Lisgar’s novice tournament on November 10. It will be in the quizbowl format, but if your school is new to quizbowl, you can count as “novice” (experienced clubs will field their junior players). Lisgar and Glebe will probably sit their stars for this, so we will have to wait until later in the year to see how they shape up.

Good luck to the teams competing in these events!

Analysis: Coping with the Schedule

More than a gauntlet is needed for schedule balance

The Ontario SchoolReach provincial championship whittles roughly 40 teams down to three national invites. To coordinate the largest field of any SchoolReach event, teams are split into pools that play amongst each other, with the (usually) top two of eight in each group moving on to the playoffs.

The composition of the pool can play a significant role in how far a team can progress in the tournament. There are good-faith efforts to balance the pools, but historically with no other background information, organizers had to use reputation (and geographical separation) to form the pools. Often, this led to strange results, such as two 2013 national invites coming from the same preliminary group. Ideally, and with more information, teams would be sorted so that they earn a final rank appropriate to their performance.

But I can’t solve that for now. What I can do is look back, thanks to collecting data from past tournaments. I occasionally get asked (or hear complaints) about how teams don’t get a fair shot during provincials, either through losing a playoff spot to a “weaker” team or having to deal with a group of death. I took a look at some numbers.

The analysis is based on teams that had at least 10 appearances at Ontario provincials since 1999. Results from 2003-05 are excluded from the averages because I don’t have pool composition for those tournaments (just points and ranks). 18 schools fit the bill, including most of the modern “usual suspects” for national qualifications.

rank_PPG
Fig 1. Average rank and PPG of frequent Ontario SchoolReach championship attendees

First up is a team’s average rank against their average round-robin points per game. See figure 1, and excuse the crowded labels in places; some teams are close together. There is an unsurprising relationship – teams that finish well scored more points to get there. There are four teams that are at least a full standard deviation from the linear trend:

  • UTS earns more points than necessary to get their rank. They are also limited by being unable to go below 1, even though they would fit closer to a theoretical rank of “0”.
  • Lisgar gets the round-robin points to justify an average rank in the 1-3 range. However, they have a history of stumbling in the playoffs, especially the televised ones, which gives them a lower final rank than their seed would suggest.
  • I will get back to Leaside in a later graph. In the early years, the team scored UTS-esque point tallies. In their later years, they had schedule benefits. Their mid-years are excluded (2003-05).
  • Assumption earns fewer points than expected. It will be seen later that one of my past assumptions (pun intended) that they get easy draws is false. Instead, they probably earn lots of close wins in the prelims, operating on razor-thin margins of victory to often get on the better side of the playoff bubble.
rank_SOS
Fig 2. Average rank and strength of schedule of frequent Ontario provincials attendees

Next is the comparison of rank and strength of schedule. The relationship is not as strong, but teams with better ranks usually have an easier schedule. This is expected for balanced pools – the top teams in the pools face teams weaker than them, while the bottom teams face opponents stronger than them. Unfortunately, we don’t have information-based balance, so we are starting to see some outliers:

  • Leaside is on the low side of this chart. They were getting statistically significantly easier schedules than their rank would suggest. However, I believe I can explain this – Leaside made the provincial final in all (and only) the three excluded years. Leaside was extremely good in the 2003-05 period. They were also a very strong prelim team before that, but would slip in the playoffs. For their remaining active years (consecutively until 2009), they probably benefited from reputation placing them as expected pool winners, but they never made playoffs again after the 2005 run. If the 2003-05 results could be added, they would have a higher average rank with probably not too much change in SOS.
  • Lisgar appears low, but is within a standard deviation. As mentioned before, their average rank is worse than expected because of historical poor playoff performance.
  • The cluster of Oakville-Trafalgar, Waterloo, and Westdale have a right to gripe. They face statistically significantly tougher schedules than their results would justify – Westdale is almost two standard deviations from the trend. OTHS is particularly surprising: they had good results in the missing years (thanks to University Challenge celebrity Eric Monkman), but don’t appear to have been given a “boost” from that reputation; they seem to be put in pools under the assumption they don’t do well. Westdale’s tough luck was also looked at in an earlier post when I posited (incorrectly) that Hamilton teams in general suffered from bad schedules.
SOS_PPG
Fig 3. Average strength of schedule and PPG of frequent Ontario provincials attendees

The last graph, comparing SOS and PPG, could be summarized as how teams cope with the schedule they’ve been dealt. Strength of schedule loosely represents pool strength and the potential unbalance, so teams getting PPGs above the trend are punching above their weight to overcome a bad draw. A few teams are outliers:

  • Westdale still stands out (OTHS and Waterloo draw closer to the trend in this analysis). Their single greatest mountain to climb was the 2013 pool: they had a 5-2 record, their second-best ever PPG relative to the set, and a final rank of 11th, all while dealing with two nationals-bound teams and a third team that also got into the playoffs. Westdale also incredibly made playoffs in 2009 with a 1.15 SOS. Westdale often got the worst schedules, but they made every effort to try to get something out of it.
  • Assumption is the outlier on the low end. I don’t wish to suggest that they are a low-effort team, though. They get schedules that are roughly fair for what is expected of them, but the first analysis suggested that they just don’t pick up large margins of victory.
  • UTS is also an outlier. They appear to have an easy slate of opponents, but they are still performing better than their schedule would expect. UTS has had a few years with tough pools (including the 2013 one mentioned earlier) while still consistently putting up points – they have qualified for nationals four times with a preliminary SOS greater than 1. Organizers (unintentionally) throw tough teams at UTS, and they still prevail.

So there are some data to ponder. I’m sure there are some less-frequent teams that also struggle or get an easy break, but the teams highlighted here should have enough sample size to stand out. Use your own results to see how your team compares to these provincial regulars.

Reach Scores Audio #22

2018 Lisgar Tournament, CB vs LCI C

Final match of the day. From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 12 match has Colonel By SS against Lisgar CI “C”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.

Notes:

  • I don’t know what I was thinking of for my comments about the 28-3 comeback game. It was Super Bowl LI. Perhaps I was sarcastically surprised it was a question about the 2017 Bowl rather than the numerous ones about the 2018 one that happened about two weeks earlier at the time.
  • The Dutch basketball team is not great, despite the height of their citizenry. They have never made the Olympics, and have infrequent qualifications to the European championships.
  • Once again, the aesthenosphere pops up. The poorly-written question suggested it was part of the crust.

Thanks for listening! This ends the series of recordings for the 2018 Lisgar tournament. As a final reminder, listening to any of these games will prevent you from playing on the questions competitively, however I suspect the circulation of this set is finished. If Lisgar writes again next year, I may reconsider recording: it was not very appropriate to hold back recordings of other people for such a long time, but releasing audio would complicate the use of the set elsewhere. I hope other regions will be open to trying an independent tournament next year as a way to improve their circuit.

Reach Scores Audio #21

2018 Lisgar Tournament, LCI B vs LCI C

From the 2018 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 11 match has Lisgar CI “B” and “C”. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.

Notes:

  • A much more straightforward match compared to the last one, at least until the end.
  • Will Smith is “Will Smith” on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A question on the character would accept “Will”, while a question on the actor needs “Smith”.
  • I called “time” before a (correct) response, and this point swing affected the outcome of the match. It was more notable because it was the last question of the game. A moderator calling “time” cannot be protested, but thanks to this audio recording, I can show that it was fair. The buzz was at 24:13.9, I called “time” at 24:19.8 (5.9 seconds available for an answer), and the answer was given at 24:20.1.

Thanks for listening!