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Author Topic: Battle of the Books  (Read 4108 times)

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bulbasaur

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Battle of the Books
« on: May 13, 2015, 09:56:03 PM »
If you're a nerd, then you know what I am talking about.  If not, then this wouldn't interest you....

An announcement came over the school intercom, "All students wishing to try out for the Battle of the Books team, please report to the library immediately for try-outs."  At the time, I didn't know anything about Battle of the Books.  However, my friends and I wanted to get out of class, so why not try out?  When we got to the library, the try-outs weren't really a try-out, it was a test.  The test had 75 questions about 25 books plus a matching section for author and book title.  Well, I didn't read any of those books.  Whatever.  This is just a get-out-of-class trip anyways. 

A week goes by, and my friends and I have forgotten all about Battle of the Books.  But then one Friday morning, an announcement came on the intercom announcing the Battle of the Books team.  To my friends and my own amazement, my name was called out.  I was given a packet by the coach later that day and told that the first practice would be the next Wednesday.  I was dumbfounded.  This must be a mistake...or a practical joke.  How can a guy who didn't read any of the books make a team that is supposed to have read all of the books? 

So, I show up to the first practice....  I guess I didn't have to show up, but I was curious.  The first thing the coach did was hand back our tests from the "try out."  There were 6 of us.  4 will be starters.  2 will be alternates.  The top score was 40+.  Then a 30+.  3 of them got 20+.  I got a 4.  4 out of 75 questions was good enough to make the team.  Apparently, no one guessed better than 4.   

And so, my Battle of the Books journey began...


« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 07:07:26 AM by bulbasaur »

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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 11:15:05 PM »
The ultimate goal was to win the State Championship.  A team had to win in 3 stages to become State Champions: Local, Regional, and State.  Our first competition was in 2 months.  There were 3 sets of all the books in the library just for us, and we were given free access to take any of the books whenever we wanted.

The captain of the team was the oldest.  She read all of the books, and she got the top score.  It made sense.  As for me, I didn't think I would be a starter considering my score.  These other kids actually read some of the books, and they actually wanted to be there.  It was doubtful that I was even good enough to be the first alternate.  I was the youngest member, and I didn't want to disrespect the team.  They were quite serious about this competition.  I must only had been there to just fill a spot.  In any case, I decided to give some kind of effort...

At the time, I didn't read much if at all.  I never read a book over 100 pages before.  I hadn't even read a book without some pictures drawn in it, unless you count Choose Your Own Adventure books.  So which book to try first?  I chose the thinnest book.  Obviously.    It was just a 50 page book. 


« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 11:21:49 PM by bulbasaur »

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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2015, 01:00:11 AM »
So I read my first book.  It took me a week, but I read it.  Looking back, it seems pathetic to have spent a week on a 50 page book, but I've never done anything like that before.  It is what it was.  Time to practice with Bob.  BTW, Bob is what I called Battle of the Books.  Whenever people would ask what I was doing today, I would say, "I'm studying with Bob today." 

Reading one book wasn't the only preparation I did.  I also memorized authors and book titles.  That only took a few minutes.  I had a knack for memorizing stuff back then. 

We practiced in a back room of the school's library.  It felt like an alien world to me.  I didn't know these kids.  Some of the parents were sitting outside.  They were all dressed nicely, and they were eager to watch us practice for the first time.  The parents had snacks and drinks for their kids.  Some of them were already eating.  I came in with a white Fruit of the Loom t-shirt, jean shorts, and Pro Spirit shoes.  As for food, I had to wait until I got home to see what leftovers we had.  Inadequate wouldn't begin to describe how I was feeling...



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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2015, 12:15:03 PM »
Our first real practice began.  The captain and coach would grab a book, then give a quick overview of each book.  The group would then give their opinions on the book.  Not everyone talked about every book because only the captain had read all of the books.  I was the only one who didn't talk at all.  I only read one book, and it wasn't chosen.  I guess they didn't want to talk about a 50 page book. 

Afterwards, it was decided that we would have a mock competition of 3 on 3.  The parents got really excited.  This is what this team was all about.  The captain was given the responsibility to sort the teams.  I thought she would make the teams somewhat fair.  I was foolish.  She chose the next two highest scorers on  her team, and us bottom three on a team.  Oh well, I got ready for a butt kicking.

The rules were simple.  There were a bunch of questions in a box.  Answer a question, get a point.  If a player fails to answer the question correctly, the other team is allowed to answer the question to get a point.  First team to 10 wins. 

It was decided that the weakest member go first, and the strongest member be the anchor.  I was chosen to go first.  My team wasn't going to win.  I just hoped that the game would be short as to save us from the embarrassment.  And so the game began.

The coached whirled her hand in the box and pulled out a card.  She asked me a question.  I could the see looks of disgust from my teammates and their parents.  They gave me no chance of answering the question.  If I were a  betting man, I would agree with them.  However, the question the coach asked just happened to be about the one book I read.  I got the first point of the game.  Sweet!

The other team got question 2.  To my astonishment, it was also about the same book, and they got the answer wrong!  I quickly answered.  2-0 underdogs! 

I would have been happy getting beat 10-2.  I got my two questions, I can relax knowing I didn't embarrass myself.  Little did I know, luck was going to fall in my favor some more...

The rest of the questions that were drawn that day required us to simply match authors with books titles.  As I said before, I just studied that, and I had a knack for memorization.  For some reason, the captain's teammates missed all of them.  I took advantage and answered them all.  My teammates went 0% as well, but with a 2-0 lead, the captain couldn't catch up.  The underdogs beat the captain's stacked team.  The little scrub just shocked the Dewey Decimal out of the preps. 




« Last Edit: May 15, 2015, 12:27:37 PM by bulbasaur »

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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2015, 11:36:40 PM »
I knew I got lucky at the mock competition.  However, I now knew that I could compete.  I just needed to devise a strategy. 

It was impossible for me to read all the books by the first competition.  I simply wasn't that fast of a reader.  I read the covers for an overview of the plot.  I read the first and last few pages of each book.  Then, I would simply thumb to random pages of each book and read them.  I may not become an expert at any one book this way, but I might be decent at all the books.  After all, if the mock competition was any indication of a real competition, then being decent at all the books was more beneficial. 

Our team practices were like book club reviews.  Because of the way I was training, I didn't know enough details about the books to have a real discussion.  However, listening to the discussions filled me in on the gaps.  Their discussions about the books were helping me more than it was helping them.  I always believed that people know what they know, so they need to learn what they don't know.  My teammates were regurgitating what they already knew.  They were talking about books they already read.  I would soon find out if my strategy was the right one.  Our next mock competition would be in a week...


« Last Edit: May 16, 2015, 11:40:03 PM by bulbasaur »

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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2015, 06:45:51 PM »
Our next mock competition was about to begin.  Just like the last time, the captain was allowed to divide the teams.  Just like last time, she picked her top 3.  Just like last time, the parents watched on eagerly.  This time, everyone wanted to see who was going to make the final cut to start. 

The battle went back and forth.  This go around, it wasn't just me versus the captain.  Everyone improved.  Unlike the last time, my team lost.  However, only 2 players answered all their questions correctly.  One was the captain.  The other was me.  Unlike the last time, the coach took notes.  She was deciding who would start and who wouldn't. 

I felt pretty good about my performance.  As I was leaving practice, I overheard a couple of parents talking to the coach.  They were trying to convince the coach to let their kid be a starter.  The coach was agreeing with them.  Did I not have a chance regardless?...





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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2015, 09:11:18 PM »
A couple of weeks went by, and we practiced as usual.  I still haven't fully read many of the books, but I had a good understanding of all of them.  I've been keeping up with the captain in practice, and I knew most of the answers.  I was finishing top two daily.  I felt pretty good about my performance, but I didn't feel good about my chances of being a starter.  After every practice, all of the parents would give the coach a gift.  My parents never showed up.  They didn't even know I was in Battle of the Books.  The coach would choose the starters the following week...




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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2015, 09:29:38 PM »
The next practice would be a bit different.  There was an unusual amount of people there.  Well, there wasn't a lot of people, but more than just us kids and a few parents.  This time, both parents showed up for my teammates.  There were also a 3 teachers lingering around.  Everyone must have showed up for the announcement of the starters. 

We did our practice as usual.  At the end of practice, the coach stood in front of us.  We all knew what that meant.  She was going to announce the starters.  She even left the door open so parents and teachers could hear.  She gave the usual speech about how we all worked hard and how sad she was that she could only choose four and how the alternates were just as important and whatever.   

After that, Coach started with naming the captain as captain.  It appeared that she was going with the obvious and working her way down.  If I were to make the team off merit, then I should be named second because my performance was just as good as the captain's.  However, I wasn't named.  I wasn't named second or third.  At this point, I felt disgusted.  Even though I knew I wasn't going to make the team, I hated experiencing the injustice happening before me.  I suppose I was always the fish out of the water.

The coach took quite a while to announce the last name.  She must have been taken some notes from American Idol.  The parents of the uncalled students were really tensed.  I saw one mom crossing her fingers.  When the final name was called, everyone was shocked.  It was me.  I couldn't believe it.  And apparently, so couldn't some of the parents judging from their groans. 



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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2015, 06:59:54 AM »
So I made the team at the 4 spot.  I think I deserved the 2, but the coach was at least willing to give me a starter spot.  The captain didn't seem pleased.  The two that didn't become starters were older than me, and they were classmates with the captain.  If it were up to the captain, she would have chosen one of them over me. 

Less than 2 weeks before the local competition.  I felt pretty confident that we would win.  I knew I was going to ace the individual round.  And even though I didn't care for the captain, I knew she would probably ace her individual round too.  All we needed was for the other two starters to do decent. 



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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #9 on: June 06, 2015, 07:04:51 AM »
The practice before the local competition, we received a surprise: team t-Shirts.  The parents chipped in to get us t-shirts.  Well, not my parents.  The other parents probably thought I was an orphan.  It was apparently the first time the BoB team got team shirts.  I couldn't but think that the parents didn't want me to show up with my dirty white t-shirt.  In any case, I didn't care.  I got a new shirt, and the competition was that Saturday.     



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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #10 on: June 06, 2015, 07:25:38 AM »
The Day of Competition. 

16 teams showed.  Some schools were allowed 2 teams because of their size.  However, there would only be one team to take the local championship. 

The competition started at 9 and would end at 12.  My dad dropped me off at the local library where the competition was being held.  I might have been the only student whose parents didn't come to watch.  Other parents had signs, flowers, etc.  I didn't not have the support in the crowd, but that wasn't going to stop me from winning. 

The strategy in my head was simple:  The captain and myself will ace our individual rounds.  That would be good enough to make it to the group round.  From there, the captain and I could answer all the questions.  There was no way another team would also have 2 of their starters acing all of the questions, would they? 



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bulbasaur

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Re: Battle of the Books
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2015, 09:48:20 AM »
The plan went perfectly.  Top 9 teams went to the group.  3v3 until the Final 3.  I knew the captain and I were going to get our questions right.  As long as one of my other teammates answered correctly, that should be good enough to make it to the finals and possibly win. 

I was only half right.  It was good enough to make it to the finals, but winning would be a bit more difficult.  In the finals, there was another team that had a stacked team.  All their players were good, and they aced the previous round.  We haven't aced any round.  There was another team in the finals, but they were nothing to worry about.  They were only answering at 50%.  My concern was over my other two weaker teammates. 



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