2009 Lexington Varsity Tournament

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The 2009 Lexington Minutemen Academic Tournament was a Varsity tournament hosted by Lexington High School on March 21, 2009. Thirty-eight teams were split into Small School and Large School divisions. The tournament was run in standard MSHSAA format using questions from Questions Galore.

Hallsville A won the Small School division after a 225-105 final over runner-up Pilot Grove. Cameron won the consolation game 145-130 to place third over Richland A. Taylor Smith of Hallsville A was the high scorer with 13.33 tossups per game.

Savannah was awarded first place over North Kansas City in the Large School division after a first-to-three tiebreaker following a 185-185 tie in regulation. The tie resulted following a controversial denied protest on the last bonus that would have given North Kansas City a ten-point win. Many believe the incorrect decision was made due to the protest being handled improperly, and thus believe North Kansas City should have been declared champion of the large school division. Liberty won the consolation game 225-165 to place third over Park Hill. Zach Kerns of Savannah was the high scorer with 12.83 tossups per game.

Format

In each division, teams played three MSHSAA format Swiss-paired preliminary rounds, and then were placed into a twelve-team single-elimination playoff bracket to determine the top four teams.

Small School Division

2009 Lexington Minutemen Academic Tournament (Small School)
Champion Hallsville A
Runner-up Pilot Grove
Third Cameron
Fourth Richland A
High scorer Taylor Smith, Hallsville A
Editor/s Questions Galore
Site Lexington High School
Field
Stats "Blue Division" Scores

Teams

All-Tournament Team

There are 50 tossups per MSHSAA-format game. These top-player averages are extremely low for a MSHSAA-format tournament.

Large School Division

2009 Lexington Minutemen Academic Tournament (Large School)
Champion Savannah
Runner-up North Kansas City
Third Liberty
Fourth Park Hill
High scorer Zach Kerns, Savannah
Editor/s Questions Galore
Site Lexington High School
Field
Stats "Red Division" Scores

Teams

All-Tournament Team

There are 50 tossups per MSHSAA-format game. These top-player averages are extremely low for a MSHSAA-format tournament.

Championship Game

The tournament is notable for a controversial denied protest that determined the outcome of the championship game and thus who was named the large school champion.

Savannah dominated the first half of the championship game, leading North Kansas City at halftime with a score of 145-50. North Kansas City rallied to bring the score to Savannah leading 180-160 going into tossup 47. Tossups 47-49 all went dead, and Grant Gates of North Kansas City correctly answered tossup 50, a math calculation, bringing the score to within 10.

(Note: This paragraph is intentionally vague due to question security requirements.) The bonus category was science, with four questions worth 5 points each (standard MSHSAA bonus format). The first part essentially asked for the magnitude of a vector quantity, to which North Kansas City responded with a negative answer, and was ruled incorrect. Savannah rebounded with the positive equivalent, which was ruled correct. North Kansas City protested the question, claiming that because no direction was specified, the value could be negative if the vector were in the appropriate direction. The protest was noted. After completing the other three parts, which North Kansas City answered correctly, the score was tied at 185.

The moderator took the protest to tournament director Jim McCrary (who is not a science teacher), who consulted longtime friend Bob Brown, a chemistry teacher at Richland High School (which was competing in the small school division); the two ruled rather quickly that the answer given by North Kansas City was incorrect. With the game tied at 185, the game then proceeded to overtime, which stipulated that the first team to answer three tossups correctly would be declared the winner. Savannah correctly answered three tossups first with North Kansas City answering none, and so was declared the winner of the 2009 Lexington Varsity Tournament large school division.

After the tournament, most, if not all, appropriately knowledgeable people presented with the question, most notably Eric Mukherjee, have confirmed that North Kansas City's answer was correct, and thus should have had its protest accepted. The tournament director has been significantly criticized for his handling of the protest by consulting a chemistry teacher of a competing team instead of a reputable physics reference, especially considering that the protest decided the champion of the tournament. As a result, many believe North Kansas City should have been declared champion of the large school division.

Questions

The tournament's questions were provided by Questions Galore and were universally despised by players, coaches, spectators, and even tournament staff. The low quality of the questions is evident by extremely low scores even by some of the best teams in the state.

Jeffrey Hill's detailed analysis

Having heard nonstop criticism of Questions Galore without a sufficient number of specific examples (partially due to question security), and also not having heard firsthand any of the company's current product, Jeffrey Hill observed all seven rounds (350 tossups) of the tournament and noted problems with each question. The summary of his observations, which is perhaps the longest post in the history of the Missouri Academic Competition Message Board, found that at least 62.0% of the tossups had at least one major problem:

  • at least 20.0% were long-winded rambling tangents full of unhelpful CLOOS that never pointed specifically to any answer, followed by a one-liner. This is by far the biggest flaw with questions from Questions Galore.
  • at least 20.9% were one-liners.
  • at least 7.1% were anti-pyramidal without falling into any other category. The actual number is probably much larger.
  • at least 4.6% were answers that shouldn't come up in quizbowl, had neither cute nor clever aspects, or were just plain stupid. The actual number is probably much higher as he was charitable about what constituted "stupid" considering MSHSAA's ridiculous distribution.
  • at least 2.3% were transparent. The actual number is probably much higher.
  • at least 2.0% had vague CLOOS. The actual number is probably higher.
  • at least 1.1% were going for a specific answer, usually expanding an acronym.
  • at least 1.1% had clues that were definitely not uniquely identifying.
  • at least 1 question had a difficulty cliff without falling into any other category. The actual number is probably much higher.
  • at least 1 question had an explicit left turn, with "this" statements referring to two different answers. Many questions with rambling tangents could probably be considered left turns, but are not considered as such in this list because they weren't explicitly pointing to an answer at all before the eventual one-liner.
  • at least 1 math question was an outright hose, though the actual number is probably MUCH higher given that 20% of the questions contained random tangents going nowhere.
  • at least 4 questions (all math calculation) had outright wrong answers. The actual number is undoubtedly higher.

In addition to that 62.0%, there were:

  • at least 16.6% additional math calculation questions. Including the 4 that were found to have an incorrect answer, this means that at least 17.7% of the questions were math calculation.
  • at least 2.0% spelling questions
  • at least 2.3%, probably many more, that were considered too obscure or nowhere near canonical.

This leaves 17.1% of the questions not falling into any category, but this definitely does not mean that those questions are good. At a minimum, these questions appeared to have a "this (something)" statement early in the question and pointed to the same answer throughout, but the vast majority probably had some unhelpful clues, minor antipyramidality or transparency, or other issues, but they didn't stand out as being quite as bad as the others.

Considering the amount of time spent compiling this data about such a terrible product, it was hoped that this detailed description and quantitative list of problems, each accompanied by a sample question illustrating the type of problem, will finally convince coaches like Jeremy Gibbs how terrible Questions Galore really is, and push for a format change as no reputable writers are willing to conform to MSHSAA's ridiculous distribution. Unfortunately, while many coaches expressed opposition, Questions Galore was selected as the provider for the 2010 MSHSAA District and State series and as a result numerous Missouri tournaments are still hosted on bad questions.

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