Rice Acabowl

Original Announcement

Rice University Quiz Bowl is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its first college tournament on March 22, 2003. Called the Rice Acabowl, it will be a humanities/social sciences only NAQT style packet submission tournament. (That is, no math or science questions whatsoever.) We felt that Rice's position as a well-known science and engineering university would make it the perfect venue to host such an event.

The relevant information is as follows:

Name: The Rice Acabowl: Because Math and Science Suck!
Date: March 22, 2003
Format: Untimed NAQT style, 10 question rounds
Fee Schedule: $100 base fee per team

  • -$10 per additional team (i.e. 2nd team base fee $90, 3rd team base fee $80)

  • -$10 per working buzzer system (max of 2 per school)

  • -$10 per experienced moderator (max of 2 per school)

  • -$30 if packet turned in by Super-Early deadline (December 21, 2002)

  • -$15 if packet turned in by Early deadline (January 18, 2003)

  • -$0 if packet turned in by Regular deadline (February 1, 2003)

  • +$5 per day packet is not submitted after the regular deadline

  • Minimum Fee: $50 per team

Question Distribution:

  • History 5/5

  • Religion/Myth/Philosophy 4/4

  • Social Science (law, economics, anth, sociology, etc.) 4/4

  • Fine Arts 4/4

  • Literature 4/4

  • Your Choice 4/4

  • Total: 25/25

We are initially limiting the field to 15 teams and will reserve spots based on whose packets we receive first. Schools may bring a maximum of three teams. Each team must write a packet which is blind to all other teams including those from the same school. Each team may have a maximum of one graduate student. Currently, we plan on running a round robin among all teams.

For the Your Choice category, we require that the questions you choose to write not be science related (unless the scientist you're writing the question on had some significant humanities/social scientific achievements). The Your Choice cannot be sports or pop culture related and should fall under one of the topics listed above. Questions on current literary, social science, arts, etc. events are acceptable. You may distribute the Your Choice questions however you like (9/9 total history questions is fine). We request that you spread your questions across time periods and geographic areas and that no more than 25% of your questions have people as answers.

We are shooting for a NAQT invitational packet level of difficulty. Approximately 80% of tossups and 50% of bonuses should be answerable if heard completely. All bonuses should be worth 30 points. No spelling or FAQTP tossups. Tossups should not exceed 6 lines, bonuses 15. Creative questions will get you kisses from the packet editor. All rights reserved. No purchase necessary. 1.5% annual APR. Void where prohibited.

We encourage out of state teams to attend and will give them preference for spots over in-state teams should conflicts occur.

Interested teams should contact me, el director del torneo, at saslett at rice dot edu with the words "Rice College Tournament" in the subject line of the e-mail and indicate whether they would prefer awards in the form of trophies, cash, or gift certificates. Completed packets should be sent in .rtf format both to me and VP Michael Friedman.

As we get closer to the tournament date, registrations and additional tournament info will be posted to our brand-spanking new website (still very much a work in progress). Unlike those for certain other tournaments , we promise it will be promptly updated.

Stephen Aslett


Note: Information in this column supersedes information in the left hand column.

After much thought and some debate, we have decided to change the value of bonus questions for the March tournament to a maximum of 15 points per bonus question. Because we haven't received any packets yet, and because this format change does not alter the initial distribution, we figured it wouldn't harm anyone to institute it.

The thought behind making bonuses worth a maximum of 15pts rather than 30pts is that the number of points currently awarded to bonuses is so high as to almost break the game of quiz bowl. Frankly, the members of our organization--myself included--agree that the often wildly uneven difficulty of bonus questions makes for unreasonable swings in score, often awarding victories to teams who receive a lucky bonus distribution rather than teams who possess better speed and more knowledge. While we agree that greater speed and knowledge will result in more wins in the long run, the present setup allows for all too bitter and disappointing defeats.

Currently, in NAQT play, it is possible for a team to answer 10 tossups correctly during a game and earn an average of 10pts per bonus question, making for a total of 200pts, and yet have that matched by a team that answers only 5 tossups but sweeps every 30pts bonus question. Though, admittedly, this occasionally makes games exciting for spectators and may result in some dramatic wins for underdogs, we don't feel such things make up for demoralizing runaway victories with inflated final scores (where the added bonus points often belie the true difference in skill between the teams) and last-minute defeats caused by a well-timed Kevin Spacey bonus and an ill-timed amino acids one.

We understand that this problem could be mitigated by doing more to ensure that difficulty remains the same between questions. Frankly, though, we don't see how we could do that. First, difficulty is very subjective--what we consider easy, another team may consider hard; second, assuming we could even identify questions that met a set difficulty level, it would require too much effort on the part of packet organizers and question writers to see that relative difficulty remain the same across 12 or so rounds.

The easiest way to get around these problems (other than eliminating bonuses entirely) is to make the bonus worth less. We know that quiz bowl is a game of speed and individual knowledge, but we also agree that collaboration is important. However, we also agree that bonus points should not make up 75%(!) of all possible points as they do now. [20q x 10pts = 200pts, 20b x 30pts = 600pts, 600pts/800pts= 75%] Reducing the maximum bonus total to 15pts will allow the collaborative component of the game to be kept without making it irrelevant. It will also, hopefully, mitigate uneven bonus distribution and stop teams from committing hari-kari when they've gotten a bonus on minor Assyrian deities and the other team gets a bonus on Civil War battles or the TV show "Friends." [20q x 10pts = 200pts, 20b x 15pts = 300pts, 300pts/500pts = 60%]

Because bonuses will only be worth 15 and we don't want to have fractional scores, only bonus formats in the form of 5-5-5, 15-10-5, and 15-10 (just one 15-10) will be permitted. Please alter your bonus question writing accordingly.

The packet deadlines remain Feb. 15th and Mar. 1st. We welcome feedback on what everyone thinks about this change. We doubt you can convince us to have 30pts bonus tournament, but you're welcome to try; also, if you think for whatever reason that the problems discussed can be fixed in better ways than by making bonus values 15pts, we'd like to hear that too.

Stephen Aslett
Rice Quiz Bowl

P.S. Before anyone accuses us of sour grapes, we want to say that this reform isn't due in any part to our performance at any tournament. We've simply been thinking about it for a while and finally decided to do something about it.