2019 Hamilton results

No, not the musical.


The first stats of the 2019 SchoolReach season are in. Hamilton wrapped up their league this past week, with 11 teams from 8 schools. Westmount SS, no stranger to provincial competition now at this point, handily swept the field and qualified. The stats are found here.

Westmount has put up some good numbers so far this year, and their regional result sets a high bar for the other teams. I don’t expect their 224% R-value to hold up, though, largely because the “Set PPG” will increase as a few stronger regions get added later. They should end up at least over 190%, which has been a good indicator of making the Ontario final four (though Glebe missed the playoffs with >190% regionally last year).

If your region has stats to add, they can be sent to me through reachscores -AT- gmail.com. I can accept any list of results, but to be included in the R-value calculations, I need a way of knowing who played who (either a schedule or an assurance of a complete round-robin) and total points for all teams.

Also this past week, “Montcalm” (a pseudonym that a Hamilton team had to keep for the tournament) won U of Toronto’s quizbowl tournament. Results are found here. The team notably beat UTS A once in the round-robin and again in the final. Another surprise of the results was Toronto Montessori Schools, who finished with only a 3-7 record, but two of those wins came against UTS A and the Hamilton team. TMS had underlying stats comparable to when Lisgar and Glebe played in December, and combined with their top bracket finish at UTS’ fall event, they may have a crack at the Ontario playoffs.

March break begins for most Ontario schools, so there will be a brief respite before more competition resumes.

2019 Lisgar Tournament results

Where no question goes unanswered.

Last weekend, Lisgar CI hosted their annual Reach-style tournament. 10 senior and 11 junior teams from eight schools participated. Both fields played on the same set of questions, and results are found here.

Firstly, the junior division. A full round-robin was played in field with several Lisgar and KVHS teams. I did not get to see the games, but a Lisgar team went undefeated and was the only junior team to crack 100% R-value (ie: better than an average team on this set). Glebe and another Lisgar team both finished with 8-2 records and shared second place, though Glebe had the points edge.

The senior division saw strong teams getting prepared for their provincial and national runs. The University of Toronto Schools took their fourth straight title at this event by sweeping the field, both in the full round robin and the top bracket of four. Their R-value of 213% is somewhat boosted by having junior teams included in the average of teams playing the set, but it is still the best result in any iteration of the Lisgar tournament (which usually includes a junior division) so far. Lisgar, a team I will name as “AP”, and Glebe were closely matched in the rest of the upper bracket: they each shared a win and loss between themselves in the final group. Assuming they qualify and attend, all four of those teams should be contenders on playoff day at SchoolReach provincials. UTS B, though not eligible for SchoolReach, was also competitive against the top quartet, and Kennebecasis Valley HS  and Colonel By SS knew their stuff, but just couldn’t get the wins. Ashbury College, still new to the Ottawa scene, rounded out the field and left after the initial round-robin.

This was a good set for a Reach experience. There were repeats (both of the copy-paste kind and rewording of facts kind) and there was some minutiae that would not be in the grasp of a typical player (including vague 40-point openers on who-am-I), but overall, this was an opportunity to score lots of points. The round-robin match between UTS and Lisgar saw only five questions go unanswered. High conversion of questions is ideal for making sure the more knowledgeable team wins more often; games with lots of dead questions are prone to upsets when a weaker team just happens to run into a string of questions they know, and the stronger team doesn’t have enough chance to overcome it. Assuming that Lisgar makes the set available with their repeat corrections, this set is a good “proving ground” for teams hoping to make it far this year. If your region wants to use the set, contact the Lisgar coach or contact me as an intermediary (through reachscores -at- gmail.com).

There are no recordings of this tournament. Leaving a delay of several months before posting was not considerate to the participating teams, and it was out of people’s minds by the time it was released. The delay was necessary to not compromise other sites that would use the set; in the same vein, any publicly-viewable discussion of the set should not occur during the remainder of this season. Results from these independent tournaments (UTS and Lisgar) do get used for official Reach seeding, so please respect the integrity of the records.

In other tournament news, U of Toronto will hold a quizbowl tournament on March 3, making use of the “Canadianized” set first played at Carleton in December. The busy regional season will be underway, then a weekend double of History Bowl nationals and ONQBA provincials on May 4 and 5. I won’t be able to attend many events (other than Ottawa SchoolReach regionals), but I will pass along any results I get.

2019 Lisgar quick results

I heard UTS is good.

Lisgar CI hosted their independent Reach-style tournament on Saturday. 10 senior and 11 junior teams participated.

UTS A continued their title streak at this event and went undefeated to win the tournament. Lisgar finished second, while “AP” (a team I will give some anonymity to, since they might not have approval from their school) and Glebe filled out the top bracket. Results are available here.

I will make a longer post next week. That being said, I encourage teams to get this set played in other regions; contact Lisgar’s coach if interested. This also means there should be no public discussion of specific question content.

I also have to make a note after something that happened: any prospective fields I list before a tournament (independent or official SchoolReach) are only speculative. Teams still need to register/qualify with the tournament organizers before they can participate. This also acts as a notice for the multiple local clubs who might not actually be registered with SchoolReach and the league matches that are coming soon.

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.

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.
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.
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.