2017 Etobicoke Regionals results

Small but powerful

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Thanks to Isaac’s contribution, I have the Etobicoke league results. I have uploaded them to the database, and have also updated the set PPG for the other regions, which slightly affects R-values.

Etobicoke is a small league, but it is the toughest so far with the highest average scores. This is partly attributed to Martingrove CI having a larger footprint than Lisgar CI in Ottawa or Westmount SS in Hamilton, but the other teams in Etobicoke also put up strong numbers. In the end, Martingrove won and Michael Power-St. Joseph HS finished second and qualified for provincials.

Martingrove’s R-value of 190% is pretty good. In a fair provincial tournament, it should be a Nationals-bound value, unless some other teams like UTS or London Central SS also put up amazing numbers. Martingrove is definitely within striking distance of Lisgar, and could beat them if they met in the playoffs (or heaven forbid, a pool).

Michael Power’s R-value of 129% is on par with about the lower limit of provincial qualifications that aren’t awarded simply by winning a region. It would be a struggle to make Ontario playoffs at that level, but if they get themselves in an easy pool with only one team stronger than them, they might get the needed 6-1 record. In recent history, they have finished with a rank in the teens.

A little bit of history: Michael Power occupies the building that used to house Vincent Massey CI. That was the team that won the title twice in the CBC era. Their first title was the first national season of Reach for the Top, and their second was in the 1978 national championship. The 1978 team played still-participating Richview CI in the first regional round, and that Richview team featured a young Stephen Harper.

Once again, thanks for the results, and I’ll be on the lookout for more!

Lisgar tournament audio wrap-up

An experiment in recording

Lisgar’s annual Reach-style tournament was held two weeks ago. First of all, my results table is found here. More significantly to me, it was the trial run of recording audio of games.

Recording and production was, thankfully, pretty straightforward. I used a recording app on my iPad and placed it in front of me. In an effort to muffle/anonymize the players, I put a folder between the iPad and the players to dampen their voices. It turned out that players could be understood most of the time, but I don’t think they could be individually identified unless you actually knew the person. What I should have done was find a way to put the iPad between myself and the question papers; I was slightly muffled, and the page turning was the clearest sound in the recordings. The buzzer sound was not overpowering, but I placed a sweater over the speaker to make it quieter. Production was done in Audacity; I didn’t need to edit out identifying names, so I just normalized the audio and faded in and out. In the future, I may add more recording time before and after the reading so that there is more room to fade. Finally, I made the mp3s and uploaded to a free host.

I was satisfied with how these first recordings came out. I had done similar work back in 2005/06 for a VETO tournament, but this was taken a little more seriously. To respect the fact that most players are minors, I guaranteed anonymity, no video or images, and no monetization of the recordings. Most students in the Ottawa school board signed a year-long media waiver to allow things like appearing on the news if a camera crew comes by, but I thought it best not to take any chances with privacy issues. In terms of audio quality, it is okay for a free effort. I am reluctant to invest money for better sound at this stage, lest I end up in a tailspin where I need to start finding ways to get money to sustain the project.

Anyway, here’s what you came for – all 10 rounds of the tournament I recorded:

  1. Kennebecasis Valley vs Lisgar “B” (post) (audio)
  2. Glebe vs Lisgar “A” (post) (audio)
  3. Almonte vs UTS (post) (audio)
  4. Colonel By vs Merivale (post) (audio)
  5. UTS vs Merivale (post) (audio)
  6. Lisgar “B” vs Glebe (post) (audio)
  7. Almonte vs Glebe (post) (audio)
  8. UTS vs Glebe (post) (audio)
  9. Merivale vs Colonel By (post) (audio)
  10. Almonte vs Merivale (post) (audio)

My next effort will be Ottawa’s regional tournament. I’m not sure what will happen after that. If you have audio of games (and permission from associated parties to air it), I’d be glad to either link to it or run it on Reach Scores Audio.

If you have any questions or comments related to these Reach Scores efforts, feel free to contact me at reac5hscores@gmail.com (remove the number). Enjoy!

Reach Scores Audio #8

2017 Lisgar tournament, UTS vs Glebe

Sorry about the hosting issue, but it’s back up with new links and still free. From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 8 match has UTS against Glebe CI. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.

Notes:

  • We’ve got Glebe for three games in a row and their fourth overall. Nothing against Glebe, but the scheduling didn’t give as much team variety as it could.
  • Questions on the “Trudeau cabinet shuffle”: “Which one?” Because all high school students know the portfolio maneuvers of Pierre Trudeau…
  • “Which one?” reappears as a joke on the plots of Taken films. And now if you ask about the audio host, I can say, “which one?”
  • Liam Neeson was not in Les Miserables. Didn’t affect the player getting the right answer, though.

Thanks for listening!

Canadian History Bee & Bowl

For when players are stuck in the past.

Four regional tournaments are being played today for the Canadian division of the International History Bee & Bowl. Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, and Vancouver all have events today, with Montreal and Saint John scheduled later.

The IHBB is the international branch of History Bee & Bowl in the US. It was established by former Jeopardy! champion David Madden, and holds competitions in several countries. The Canadian regional sites lead to a national championship (held in Montreal for 2017), and many top participants qualify for a History Olympiad in the summer.

The team event is the History Bowl. Two teams face off to compete in a four-round game. Three of the rounds are variations on quizbowl’s tossups. The third round is a unique lightning round where each team selects a category they prefer, then get exclusive access to answer as many snapper-style questions (up to 10) that they can in one minute.

The individual event is the History Bee. Usually, 4-8 players compete on the same buzzer set, with multiple rooms occurring simultaneously to accommodate everyone. Everyone competes individually to answer from 30 multi-clue tossups worth one point each. If a player reaches 8 points, they step aside (“shootout” style) and get some bonus points based on how quickly they reached 8 points. The preliminary phase usually has several rounds, with players shuffling between rooms to vary the competition, and the players with the highest combined point totals proceed to playoff games.

Canadian History Bowl has hit off best in the GTA, bringing in the biggest fields and attracting teams that don’t even play SchoolReach or quizbowl. Other cities still struggle for attendance, but get by.

For today, Lisgar should win the senior division in Ottawa. They will probably also get the JV title, but few teams are competing for it. Toronto will be a clash between UTS, Royal St. George’s, and Westmount. I will respect player anonymity, but the Toronto Bee will likely preview two top contenders for the 2018 Reach for the Top national title.

Good luck to the participating teams!

Disclosure: I received money from IHBB for tournament directing services in 2015. I no longer participate in IHBB events.

Reach Scores Audio #5

2017 Lisgar tournament, UTS vs Merivale

From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 5 match has University of Toronto Schools against Merivale HS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.

Notes:

  • Bad phrasing in the 20-point special and a Harry Potter question. Thankfully, no team got hosed (possibly because they could detect something was up from my preemptive hesitation). Both questions started by suggesting a list, then naming a few items and requiring the player to answer the rest. If anyone buzzed and gave the (arbitrarily-chosen) answers already listed in the question, they would be burned. This practice is unnecessary in trivia and is either sloppy writing, a nefarious attempt to penalize strong teams, or both. Both questions needed a re-phrasing.

Thanks for listening!

Reach Scores Audio #3

2017 Lisgar tournament, Almonte vs UTS

Now with extra page-turning noises! From the 2017 Lisgar Reach-style tournament, this round 3 match has Almonte DHS against UTS. Moderating and production by Ben Smith.

Here is the link to the episode.

Notes:

  • Once again, I don’t think anything was left unresolved after the game. Makes the write-up easier.
  • In this round, I started noticing that the reset button on my buzzer system was causing trouble. At this point, I still had the box resting on a sweater (to muffle the speaker), so I assumed the fabric was absorbing the force of the button press. Not the case – it will get worse as the day goes on.

Thanks for listening!

2017 Lisgar Independent Tournament results

Able to declare winners better than the Oscars

Lisgar’s annual Reach-style tournament was held last weekend, with 13 teams in attendance across two divisions. Teams from the University of Toronto Schools won both. Lisgar, Kennebecasis Valley, and Glebe rounded out the top 4 in the upper bracket. Congratulations to all the teams.

I have uploaded results here. I noticed a nice bit of elegance in that all the teams finished in order of R-value; in other words, their performance in practice (wins) lined up with their theoretical performance (answering questions).

Speaking of R-value, most teams saw a drop compared to last year. While some of the upper division teams are weaker than last year (including Lisgar “A” missing their top players due to authorship), the change looks like it can be attributed to the improved performance of the less experienced division. The record R-values of last year probably came from strong teams playing other strong teams on a set that had its average PPG deflated by poor point totals in the lower division. A stronger lower division this year meant it was more difficult for top teams to “stand out”. Overall though, it does look like year-to-year R-value comparisons need to be taken with a grain of salt. NAQT’s D-value, which the R-value is derived from, does not compare year-to-year; it is only relevant for comparing teams playing on the same set (making R-value most applicable for Reach Regionals).

The quality of the question set was up and down. Based on the final results, it was clearly able to sort teams properly and not produce weird upsets. Assigned questions were balanced. Relays were balanced and parts increased in difficulty evenly. Most “what-am-I”s became easier with each passing clue. The absence of shootouts, “wordplay” questions and solving math on paper is a great personal preference. On the negative side, there were still problems associated with old SchoolReach that even modern Reach is trying to get rid of. Some questions tricked where the answer was heading – a question should never use “but” to change the course partway through. “Who-am-I”s still frequently open with biographical information about birth and education – very few people are important to know about because of the date of their birth, unless they are Jesus or from Midnight’s Children. Finally, there were too many questions about movie directors (and I like movies!) – the set needed to be guided by an overall subject distribution. All this being said, I’m aware that writing a tournament requires a lot of work (I’ve done it) and I don’t want to come across as too tough on high school students. Their work is as good as, if not better than, current SchoolReach sets.

I was able to record the matches I read. I have transferred over the raw audio to start working on it, and will probably limit the editing to removing personal information (if any) and dead air. No intros! Stay tuned here for updates.