2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

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2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jun 07, 2015 8:18 pm

This is a thread for any and all discussion of the question set used at the 2015 PACE NSC, be it general, specific, or somewhere in the range in between. As is traditional I suspect that our chief editor, Auroni Gupta, will have much to say when he arrives back home and has a bit more time to gather his thoughts; for now, I'll merely begin by listing the editors for each subject area, who may well swing around to say more as well.

Auroni Gupta -- Biology, History (edited some American & European History, oversaw all), Religion, Mythology
Jordan Brownstein -- History (some American, some Euro, some World)
Rob Carson -- Literature (all)
Matthew Jackson -- History (some American, some World), Geography, Current Events, Mixed/General Knowledge
Aaron Rosenberg -- Fine Arts (all)
Max Schindler -- Math
Adam Silverman -- Chemistry, some Biology
Bernadette Spencer -- Philosophy, Social Science
Cody Voight -- Physics, Other Science


The set has been submitted to the archives for upload and should be available there within the next 24 hours; as such, requests to post specific questions will be ignored in the short interim while they're still in the upload queue.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Stately Rhododendron » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:38 pm

Who wrote the TU on Das Kapital? I just want to say I really enjoyed it.

There were many questions with an answerline of ship or boat or a more specific ship or boat. Don't know actual numbers, but I felt like it happened a bit too much.

I'm a terrible judge of difficulty (see my attempted BHSAT bonus on Finnish-American history) but this set felt much easier than last year, at least in terms of ease of power.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby vinteuil » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:44 pm

What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Angry Babies in Love » Sun Jun 07, 2015 9:58 pm

A weird thing to point out, but it really stood out to me: Was it just me and the people I discussed it with or were there a lot more answer lines that were animals than in average set. Lots of myth and art focused on animals, and I think in the 12 rounds I read, cow or cattle was a bonus answer twice and a tossup answer once. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but it felt kind of odd to me. It may have just been Baader-Meinhoff on my part, though.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auroni » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:01 pm

vinteuil wrote:What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?


One of these was Chemistry and the other Earth Science. We felt like they were different enough in content to merit having them both. We should have spaced them farther apart in the set, though.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Lo, Marathon Ham! » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:02 pm

There seemed to be several repeats that were distracting. They increased our hesitation to buzz greatly. In a national tournament where the canon can be no wider at the high school level, I really don't see the need to repeat while excluding other, more interesting and novel, answer lines.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Baking of the English Working Class » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:07 pm

Auroni wrote:
vinteuil wrote:What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?


One of these was Chemistry and the other Earth Science. We felt like they were different enough in content to merit having them both. We should have spaced them farther apart in the set, though.


Our moderator decided to skip the sulfur question in the second of the consecutive rounds because he said that some of the clues were too similar, if that means anything. I don't think repeating the answerline would be particularly tasteful (especially so close together) because a lot of people rule out certain answerlines after they've already come up. I don't personally think that this behavior is as egregious as repeating the answerline, which is certainly avoidable.

I really liked the set. I thought it was really well-written and of appropriate difficulty. I might post more comments after I look over my notes, but one thing that I noticed was that the moderator didn't accept "octet and sestet" for the bonus on Petrarchan sonnets and instead needed "octave and sestet." Octet is certainly right, and I didn't protest because I didn't care enough (it didn't end up affecting the outcome of the match). Was this just a case of not having enough acceptable answers in the answerline?
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby ScoBo » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:11 pm

The set has been posted: http://www.quizbowlpackets.com/1719/
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Post your tournaments, SQBS reports, and question sets to the Quizbowl Resource Center Database!
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:14 pm

Crazyflight wrote:
Auroni wrote:
vinteuil wrote:What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?


One of these was Chemistry and the other Earth Science. We felt like they were different enough in content to merit having them both. We should have spaced them farther apart in the set, though.


Our moderator decided to skip the sulfur question in the second of the consecutive rounds because he said that some of the clues were too similar, if that means anything. I don't think repeating the answerline would be particularly tasteful (especially so close together) because a lot of people rule out certain answerlines after they've already come up. I don't personally think that this behavior is as egregious as repeating the answerline, which is certainly avoidable.


I didn't write either of these questions (and don't really understand your last two sentences at all), but there's nothing philosophically wrong with having an answerline twice with non-overlapping clues. Moderators, please don't just decide to only read the questions in the packet you feel like!
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:16 pm

Auroni wrote:
vinteuil wrote:What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?


One of these was Chemistry and the other Earth Science. We felt like they were different enough in content to merit having them both. We should have spaced them farther apart in the set, though.


While everything Auroni says stands and is valid, it should be noted that the tossups were in Rounds 13 and 15, which weren't technically consecutive.

It is on-its-face unacceptable for a moderator to choose to skip questions of their own volition. There is a provision in the PACE rules for immediately replacing any question which is an exact duplicate of a previous question which has already been played, but that does not apply in this scenario.
[EDIT: We've spoken to the staffer in question, who merely misunderstood/misapplied our "exact duplicate" rule without any ill intent and has apologized to us for the error.]
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auroni » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:19 pm

Lo, Marathon Ham! wrote:There seemed to be several repeats that were distracting. They increased our hesitation to buzz greatly. In a national tournament where the canon can be no wider at the high school level, I really don't see the need to repeat while excluding other, more interesting and novel, answer lines.


Yeah, I became painfully aware of this while moderating this weekend. I apologize for this -- we caught many of these during the final stage of packet compilation, and should have caught many more. However, over the course of 1175 difficulty-controlled questions (25 packets of 24/23), this was somewhat inevitable, especially if it occurred across different categories handled by different editors.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Ndg » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:26 pm

Auroni wrote:
vinteuil wrote:What was the rationale behind the two chemistry tossups on sulfur in consecutive rounds?


One of these was Chemistry and the other Earth Science. We felt like they were different enough in content to merit having them both. We should have spaced them farther apart in the set, though.


In a similar vein, I'm guessing that the two physics tossups on "velocity" were justified by virtue of one being roughly astrophysics (round 6) and the other being on other areas of physics (round 8)? The latter also had a clue about galaxies, though, so they ended up feeling a little too similar.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby AKKOLADE » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:34 pm

Lo, Marathon Ham! wrote:There seemed to be several repeats that were distracting. They increased our hesitation to buzz greatly. In a national tournament where the canon can be no wider at the high school level, I really don't see the need to repeat while excluding other, more interesting and novel, answer lines.

Would you care to point these out beyond the ones previously mentioned above?
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:35 pm

Was the comics tossup general knowledge?
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:49 pm

The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote:Was the comics tossup general knowledge?


Yes.

Because some of them ended up looking rather like existing categories, it seems fair to post the full list of questions categorized as Mixed/Misc/General Knowledge; it was as follows (presented alphabetically, since I don't have a quick way of searching packet-by-packet for them). About half of these were written to resemble what in other contexts is called "Mixed_Pure_Academic"; the other half were on things which genuinely didn't fit any category at all. Some were deliberately written on science-ish topics which didn't seem academically rigorous enough for the Science distribution, though most of those were interlaced with clues from other categories so as to help separate them out clearly from the guaranteed 4/4 science.

comic books, crowns, feathers, Frank Sinatra, gelatin, locusts, mercury, Microsoft Excel, rain, Thailand, Ken Burns' The Civil War, theory of the four humors, warfare, wrestling

Baldassare Castiglione/Urbino/Carnegie, brazilwood/Amsterdam/Insecta, Burton/Arabian Nights/Mormonism, theater-in-the-round/proscenium/fourth wall, feminism/Schlafly/bell hooks, French/Chardin/journal, How to Lie with Statistics/sample size/"Correlation does not imply causation," hula dance/lei/Pele, Madison Ave./Watson/Adorno or Horkheimer, oil/Exxon Valdez/Aramco, Penguin/London/PARC, romanization/Wade-Giles/Yale, seances/Houdini/Theosophy
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:52 pm

Matthew J wrote:
The Two Hearts of Kwasi Boachi wrote:Was the comics tossup general knowledge?


Yes.


This set was a great example of how to do the general knowledge category right. Excellently done to the writers and editors.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby vinteuil » Sun Jun 07, 2015 10:57 pm

I was interested by the very "other" composition of the "other arts" distribution—would it be possible to give any sort of percentages/ratios for how categories were represented? (In particular, I noticed the expansion of things like dance and "world music," and a slight shrinkage of film and opera.)
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Baking of the English Working Class » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:17 pm

Steeve Ho You Fat wrote:
Crazyflight wrote:Our moderator decided to skip the sulfur question in the second of the consecutive rounds because he said that some of the clues were too similar, if that means anything. I don't think repeating the answerline would be particularly tasteful (especially so close together) because a lot of people rule out certain answerlines after they've already come up. I don't personally think that this behavior is as egregious as repeating the answerline, which is certainly avoidable.


I didn't write either of these questions (and don't really understand your last two sentences at all), but there's nothing philosophically wrong with having an answerline twice with non-overlapping clues. Moderators, please don't just decide to only read the questions in the packet you feel like!


What I was saying is that a lot of people (from experience with actually talking to people) don't like when answerlines are repeated (even if there are different clues used) and often rule out an answer in their head while a tossup is being read simply because it's been tossed up earlier. The way to avoid this would be to not write more than one tossup per set on an answerline, which doesn't seem hard. It's more understandable to toss up Japan in the context of literature and history, but it's less tasteful to toss up sulfur twice in a science context. This is my own personal opinion, but from what I've seen, I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

It's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I just don't think a tournament flows well when you have people saying "didn't that already come up?" It's just something that can be avoided.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Ndg » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:57 pm

Crazyflight wrote:
What I was saying is that a lot of people (from experience with actually talking to people) don't like when answerlines are repeated (even if there are different clues used) and often rule out an answer in their head while a tossup is being read simply because it's been tossed up earlier. The way to avoid this would be to not write more than one tossup per set on an answerline, which doesn't seem hard. It's more understandable to toss up Japan in the context of literature and history, but it's less tasteful to toss up sulfur twice in a science context. This is my own personal opinion, but from what I've seen, I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

It's really not a big deal in the grand scheme of things but I just don't think a tournament flows well when you have people saying "didn't that already come up?" It's just something that can be avoided.


I don't think it's necessarily bad to tossup the same answer in the context of two different scientific disciplines. In the case of the sulfur tossups, though, it probably wasn't nearly as clear to players hearing the question than it was to the editors constructing the set that they were coming from different disciplines. For example, the earth science tossup had a couple of clues about industrial processes involving the element, which tend to come up in chemistry questions as well (including the round 15 tossup in question). Furthermore, the giveaway clues ended up being quite similar, too ("odor... of rotten eggs", "smelly gas"). I'm not saying that any of the clues didn't belong in either tossup, and they were both very well-written tossups on their own, but I think the fact that they fall into different categories would have much less obvious hearing them read at high speed.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Superfluous Man » Sun Jun 07, 2015 11:59 pm

First, I'd like to thank the arts writers: Mike Bentley, Eddie Kim, Nathan Weiser, Shan Kothari, Aidan Mehigan, Jasper Lee, Carsten Gehring, Ike Jose, and Fred Morlan (EDIT: and Dan Puma) (plus Auroni, of course) for their contributions. They provided many excellent ideas and questions and it was a pleasure working with them. Special thanks to Auroni for always willing to give feedback and for keeping the set under control, in every sense.

vinteuil wrote:I was interested by the very "other" composition of the "other arts" distribution—would it be possible to give any sort of percentages/ratios for how categories were represented? (In particular, I noticed the expansion of things like dance and "world music," and a slight shrinkage of film and opera.)


Gladly:

4/5 Architecture
2/2 Ballet/Dance
3/2 Film
2/2 Jazz
5/4 Opera
1/1 Photography
5/5 Sculpture
3/4 "Misc" - this included interdisciplinary questions, a limited amount of 'borderline' academic material, and stuff that didn't really fit anywhere else (world music, musical theater, jewelry/decoration). Some of the other sub-categories had reduced percentages to accommodate this.

Other arts is, perhaps, the 1/1 whose subdistribution has been dissected and discussed the most over the years, so of course the changes were an experiment, and I'd like to hear what people thought (in hindsight I would have shifted 0/1 sculpture over to film, at least).

The "Misc." Other Arts Questions were:
TUs: The Threepenny Opera, sitar, Guggenheim (NY)
Bonuses: graffiti/ Warhol/ Bansky, City of God/ Brazil/ Girl from Ipanema, King Tut/ lapis lazuli/ turquoise, Lindy hop/ rock step/ Benny goodman
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auks Ran Ova » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:26 am

Crazyflight wrote:[...] one thing that I noticed was that the moderator didn't accept "octet and sestet" for the bonus on Petrarchan sonnets and instead needed "octave and sestet." Octet is certainly right, and I didn't protest because I didn't care enough (it didn't end up affecting the outcome of the match). Was this just a case of not having enough acceptable answers in the answerline?

This appears to be my fault; I've never seen the octave referred to as an "octet" before, either in class or in reading, and so never even considered that alternate answers might be possible, but on doing a bit more research I see that it's apparently an acceptable alternate term for it. My apologies; you certainly would've won the protest had it been necessary.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby zman147 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:49 am

I would like to note that, as has already been stated, "velocity" was used as a tossup in rounds 6 and 8, which should always probably be avoided, regardless of the scientific context in which the tossup was given. However, what I considered even more egregious was that the same clue was used for both tossups.

Alexander Kashlinsky used the term "dark flow" to describe an unexplained form of this quantity in
galaxy clusters. The statistical dispersion of this quantity for an elliptical galaxy is related to its luminosity
by the Faber-Jackson relation. This quantity's value relative to a rest frame is called the "peculiar" type of
it, and it is not explained by (*) Hubble's Law. The change in this quantity is related to the logarithm of the initial
mass divided by the final mass by the rocket equation. By setting the kinetic energy equal to the potential energy,
one can derive the minimum value for this quantity for an object to escape from a body's gravitational field. For 10
points, name this quantity, the time derivative of position.


The relative energy shift in the Kundig experiment is proportional to this quantity squared for the
absorber. This quantity was sinusoidally varied by a loudspeaker for the radiation source in the PoundRebka
experiment. For a galaxy, the total value for this quantity equals its "peculiar" form plus H-nought
times distance. This quantity multiplies the cosine of the angle between the emitter and receiver in a (*)
transverse effect predicted by special relativity. The change in frequency equals the emitted frequency times a ratio
of this quantity. If the radial form of this quantity is increasing, then a redshift is seen. For 10 points, name this
quantity which causes a Doppler shift if it's different for the source and emitter, and equals the product of
wavelength and frequency of a wave.


I realize that the two tossups have different authors, but I still feel that the fact that both velocity tossups happened, and that they had the same clue ("peculiar type") was a major oversight.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby adamsil » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:16 am

Just to clarify upthread--I didn't edit any of the biology, but I did edit (and write) the chemistry, and would greatly appreciate any feedback on those questions. I believe my questions ended up being a fair bit harder than the rest of the science--or at least harder to power--but I did see a couple of excellent buzzes throughout the tournament. I also tried to focus almost exclusively on inorganic/physical chemistry--you probably noticed that there was pretty much no organic chemistry in the set, which meant that I was challenged to come up with some uncommon answerlines like glass, acetates, and the autoionization of water, which sadly didn't end up in the ASG where it probably should have been. I also tried this year to write tossups on canonical answers like acids (sorry, not reducing agents like last year!) and hydrogen bonding with newer clues that haven't yet been overused.

I also wrote the majority of the physics, and will gladly take any feedback there, since this is the first time I've written this much physics for a tournament of this difficulty.

As an author of both a velocity tossup and a sulfur tossup, I apologize for the confusion those had caused and take a lot of the blame. I was aware of both "repeats" but did not think the content overlap was substantial enough to make a difference. Obviously, if we were to keep both of those, they should have been far apart in the tournament, or preferably, have one in an emergency packet. I hope that the tossups themselves were interesting--the velocity tossup I wrote was really a tossup on the Doppler effect, and the sulfur tossup relied only on clues about sulfur's oxides/redox chemistry, and I was loath to bury either of them because I thought they worked well.

Finally--I apologize about the KMT vs. kinetic theory of gases question. I know that the protest was upheld in at least a few rooms. I've never heard of that theory called kinetic molecular theory, but apparently it is taught that way in many schools.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Formiddable Dark Skeik » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:55 am

After looking at the posted questions (I was not able to go to PACE), is it just me, or did the answer lines for a fair amount of the questions have a more general answer? I.e., the answer lines for some of the questions were flowers, soldiers, or mazes. It just seemed that there was a larger amount of these general answer lines than there would be in a regular season tournament.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby jonpin » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:09 am

The Formiddable Dark Skeik wrote:Is it just me, or did the answer lines for a fair amount of the questions have a more general answer? I.e., the answer lines for some of the questions were flowers, soldiers, or mazes. It just seemed that there was a larger amount of these general answer lines than there would be in a regular season tournament.


I can't speak to how prevalent this was throughout the set, but I note that I recognize all three of those answer lines, which means they were all in either TB #3 or Finals #1 (the only two rounds I read at the tournament). But I don't think "maze/labyrinth" is that general of an answer line.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby ashwin99 » Mon Jun 08, 2015 8:42 am

For the tossup on Plato (the 3rd tossup on the first round), the first clue seemed a bit ambiguous to me:

This man's theology was examined by Marisilio Ficino, a prominent Florentine.


Marsilio Ficino revived Plato's works, but he is also known for reviving Neoplatonism. If one had buzzed at this part, would Plotinus also have been acceptable?
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Formiddable Dark Skeik » Mon Jun 08, 2015 9:54 am

jonpin wrote:
The Formiddable Dark Skeik wrote:Is it just me, or did the answer lines for a fair amount of the questions have a more general answer? I.e., the answer lines for some of the questions were flowers, soldiers, or mazes. It just seemed that there was a larger amount of these general answer lines than there would be in a regular season tournament.


I can't speak to how prevalent this was throughout the set, but I note that I recognize all three of those answer lines, which means they were all in either TB #3 or Finals #1 (the only two rounds I read at the tournament). But I don't think "maze/labyrinth" is that general of an answer line.


It was in TB #3 as I recall. I was just curious as to why the writers often chose general classifications as the answer line, instead of a particular object. Don't get me wrong, it was a nice set, but I would just like to know why you guys went with something different.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Vainamoinen » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:44 am

adamsil wrote:I believe my questions ended up being a fair bit harder than the rest of the science--or at least harder to power--but I did see a couple of excellent buzzes throughout the tournament. I also tried to focus almost exclusively on inorganic/physical chemistry--you probably noticed that there was pretty much no organic chemistry in the set, which meant that I was challenged to come up with some uncommon answerlines like glass, acetates, and the autoionization of water


I was very disappointed by the lack of organic chemistry throughout this set. From what I gather, the main argument against its inclusion is that it's "too hard" or whatever for high schoolers, but I don't see how replacing it with the uncommon answerlines you mentioned above makes things any easier (though the glass tossup was fun if you had watched the ACF Nats finals video). I know I'm not alone in having studied organic chemistry either in class or specifically for quizbowl, and I think considering how big and important of a topic it is, it should have been better rewarded throughout this set.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby blizzard » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:04 am

One thing my team noticed was a bit of a difference between auditory and visual art. There were numerous tossups on specific compositions, operas, or other musicals pieces, but very few tossups on paintings, sculptures, and other works of visual art. At the end of the tournament, we could only think of one painting off the top of our heads that was tossed up (The Stone Breakers). This just seemed very odd compared to past NSCs or other tournaments.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Formiddable Dark Skeik » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:32 am

blizzard wrote:One thing my team noticed was a bit of a difference between auditory and visual art. There were numerous tossups on specific compositions, operas, or other musicals pieces, but very few tossups on paintings, sculptures, and other works of visual art. At the end of the tournament, we could only think of one painting off the top of our heads that was tossed up (The Stone Breakers). This just seemed very odd compared to past NSCs or other tournaments.


My team told me that they noticed the same thing.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Superfluous Man » Mon Jun 08, 2015 12:32 pm

blizzard wrote:One thing my team noticed was a bit of a difference between auditory and visual art. There were numerous tossups on specific compositions, operas, or other musicals pieces, but very few tossups on paintings, sculptures, and other works of visual art. At the end of the tournament, we could only think of one painting off the top of our heads that was tossed up (The Stone Breakers). This just seemed very odd compared to past NSCs or other tournaments.


Short answer: At the high school level, I prefer tossups on artists to tossups on individual paintings because it's hard to find new, evocative clues for the tossupable paintings, whereas writing tossups on artists or movements provides a larger clue space.

Longer answer: Looking back on it now, should have been a few more tossups on individual paintings (there was one on The Gross Clinic in Finals 2, I believe) and other works on visual arts. That said, the shift away from tossing up individual works of art was largely by design. After the discussion in this painting thread from last summer, I began mulling over the increasing preference for contextual, meaty art history clues over minor details in the top-left corners of paintings, and how that was relevant to the high school game. You can describe the details of a painting in words, but most of those details are not particularly evocative of the answer ("4 figures in the lower-left corner, two of whom are wearing black hats" and the like), although large history and allegorical paintings often have enough action going on that this is less of a problem. The last thing I wanted to do was write, say, another tossup on Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grande Jatte that used clues like "a white dog with a single spot of brown walks through the trees in the background of this painting" or "a man in a top hat sits on the grass while holding his cane in his left hand." I find these clues not only to be unhelpful but also kind of boring. A tossup on a specific Cezanne still-life would be even harder. Once you get up to Regs-plus difficulty, you can start throwing in more art criticism clues and get around this issue. But the NSC is still a high school tournament, and I didn't want to write a slew of top-heavy questions on individual paintings that required you to have read specific art history journal articles or the like. So, I decided that focusing on painters/movements/countries would allow for a wider, more interesting clue space. At the same time, I wanted to minimize the number of tossups that just wend "This painter [Description of lesser-known work 1] in [name of lesser-known work 1]. He depicted [description of lesser-known work 2] in [name of lesser-known work 2]. etc. etc." (let's call these "quasi-list" painting tossups) I settled on an intermediate between the two extremes: focus on testing deeper knowledge of major works while making the answer lines on the painters/movements themselves. I admit that even with this goal in mind, there were still too many quasi-list tossups, and not enough contextual clues. But overall, I believe the actual text of the visual arts questions was far more interesting than it would have been had we taken an individual-painting-centric approach. Indeed, one of the editors' major guidelines was to focus on exciting clues rather than exciting answerlines. But yes, I did go overboard, and I apologize if any teams were disappointed by the lack of TUs on said individual paintings.

EDIT: Also, I find that auditory art lends itself better to tossups on individual works than does visual art. The main reason being that auditory art is primarily temporal and tends to have nice, clean divisions (between movements, acts, songs, and the like), and often an actual temporal narrative, much like quizbowl tossups themselves do. Visual art, on the other hand, is primarily spatial. You can speak in general terms of a background, middleground, and foreground, but a phrase like "the right corner of the foreground)" is pretty meaningless compared with something like "the end of act 3." Michelangelo's ~David~ is a classic, but it's all one piece and it's still just a man with a slingshot, in a widely-imitated pose. Imagine a nonsense clue like "a nude holding a slingshot enters in phase 3 of this artist's career".
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby gustavadolf » Mon Jun 08, 2015 1:43 pm

I was very disappointed by the lack of organic chemistry throughout this set. From what I gather, the main argument against its inclusion is that it's "too hard" or whatever for high schoolers, but I don't see how replacing it with the uncommon answerlines you mentioned above makes things any easier (though the glass tossup was fun if you had watched the ACF Nats finals video). I know I'm not alone in having studied organic chemistry either in class or specifically for quizbowl, and I think considering how big and important of a topic it is, it should have been better rewarded throughout this set.


I'd like to agree with this. I understand that organic chemistry is something that a lot of high schoolers don't encounter in their classes, but this is true for the vast majority of quiz bowl's topics (at least at the nationals level). No one's going to learn about the WKB approximation or specific operators from QM in a high school physics class--in fact, I think there's a pretty good case to be made that organic chemistry is actually better suited than other high-level science topics for a high school set, because the lack of high-level math makes it more likely that people have studied it.

(For what it's worth, LASA offers two years of organic chemistry so I may be biased)
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Jun 08, 2015 2:43 pm

The Formiddable Dark Skeik wrote:Is it just me, or did the answer lines for a fair amount of the questions have a more general answer? I.e., the answer lines for some of the questions were flowers, soldiers, or mazes. It just seemed that there was a larger amount of these general answer lines than there would be in a regular season tournament.


I didn't write the set, but I would suggest that using "general" answers like these makes it easy for writers to incorporate new, interesting material in a way that remains accessible, i.e. can still be answered by a wide variety of teams.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Muriel Axon » Mon Jun 08, 2015 3:51 pm

What Will says is probably true, but keep in mind also that writers aren't all coordinated in what they choose to write about. If there are more "general" answer lines (and I'm not convinced), it could just be a statistical fluctuation due to the cumulative actions of many individual writers.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby wordsinblood » Mon Jun 08, 2015 4:44 pm

I'd be interested to see the subdistribution within Religion, if such a thing exists.

Splitting hairs here, but looking back at the first line of the "Jummah/Friday" tossup -- "Anyone who recites a chapter telling the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus on this day will be blessed until the next iteration of this day" -- I was kind of confused/annoyed as to why this tossup (that is otherwise only on Islam) decided to refer to the "seven sleepers of Ephesus" (a Judeochristian thing) rather than the "People/Companions of the Cave" (as they are called in Qur'an). Like I know that Surah al-Kahf is recited on Fridays and I know that al-Kahf contains the story about the dudes who slept for a long time in a cave; but the location is not a thing in Islam and the fact that there are seven people is notably false/ambiguous in Islam (verse 22 of the surah in question). I might just be salty because I didn't get this question, but it seems kind of unnecessary to make this question like 'impure religious' especially given the nature and specificity of other religion questions in the set. (Also this particular clue is rendered useless, because a Muslim (probably) won't recognize it and a Jew/Christian who does (probably) won't place it in the context of Islamic Friday rituals.)

Anyway, I'll probably never be 100% satisfied with the quality of quizbowl Islam but overall I was really happy with the amount of it (and other non-Judeochristian religion) in the set/how well written most of it was, so thank you to Auroni (for the Islam) and all of the other religion writers!
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby adamsil » Mon Jun 08, 2015 5:44 pm

gustavadolf wrote:
I was very disappointed by the lack of organic chemistry throughout this set. From what I gather, the main argument against its inclusion is that it's "too hard" or whatever for high schoolers, but I don't see how replacing it with the uncommon answerlines you mentioned above makes things any easier (though the glass tossup was fun if you had watched the ACF Nats finals video). I know I'm not alone in having studied organic chemistry either in class or specifically for quizbowl, and I think considering how big and important of a topic it is, it should have been better rewarded throughout this set.


I'd like to agree with this. I understand that organic chemistry is something that a lot of high schoolers don't encounter in their classes, but this is true for the vast majority of quiz bowl's topics (at least at the nationals level). No one's going to learn about the WKB approximation or specific operators from QM in a high school physics class--in fact, I think there's a pretty good case to be made that organic chemistry is actually better suited than other high-level science topics for a high school set, because the lack of high-level math makes it more likely that people have studied it.

(For what it's worth, LASA offers two years of organic chemistry so I may be biased)


This is probably a worthy point of split-off discussion, but I'll explain my reasoning in this thread first:

For the most part, I agree with you--I think that organic chemistry is something that a lot more HSers have a better chance of knowing than even quizbowl mainstays like modern physics, computer science, geology, etc. I don't personally think organic chemistry is too hard to put into NSC, at any stretch. Basic organic chemistry is taught in both AP Biology and Chemistry, and many above-average schools offer a class in it (my senior year in HS, I self-studied Solomon & Fryhle for a period every day using a syllabus for a class that used to be taught before the teacher lost interest). On the other hand, there's no way that high school players--unless they attend an elite math/science school, and even then-- learn about positrons or software optimization or the Millennium Prize Problems in class. And in every tournament I've ever written, I make a point of using clues that come from classwork, not old packets. I tried to write a lot of AP-test-sourced physics for this set, because it's a lot more likely you learned about Faraday's Law in class than you did about the dynamics of plasmas.

My real contention is this: I think more than any other subject, organic chemistry is something that high schoolers don't study academically, they study it for points. This is partly because organic chemistry has gained a reputation for being tossups on "functional group" given "named reaction", which is extremely easy to flashcard. So we press harder and harder into the list of named reactions until we get to nonsense like the Julia olefination or the Corey-Fuchs reaction that nobody learns about in undergraduate organic chemistry, but which elite players learn to binary-associate. On the other hand, a lot more people are going to engage academically with physics, mathematics, and computer science through extracurricular pursuits and interests like Physics Olympiad, USAMO, online coding classes, and so on. Even Chemistry Olympiad refrains from asking about organic chemistry in detail until camp--there's usually only about 5-10% organic on the national exam, which is on par with a topic like electrochemistry.

I like organic chemistry, and there was some indirectly in the tournament. You got power in the acetate tossup if you knew about oxymercuration-demercuration; you got power in the chemistry sulfur tossup if you knew about sulfonate leaving groups in SN2 reactions; you got power in the chlorine tossup if you knew about radical chlorination. All three of these topics (no named reactions, for what that's worth) are extremely fundamental things you would learn in any intro organic chem class, and you should get power if you know them. But, I'd prefer not to write tossups on alcohols or the Clemmensen reduction (please, please stop asking about this), because even if a lot of teams convert it, very few of them will know much about the clue they buzz on. That's not how I write questions. (This concept is also how I tried to write my physics questions for the set. If you thought a tossup had a lot of formulas/random constants in it, that was probably me.)

But I think the really important point I'd like to make is that the NSC is the most influential set of the year. When high school teams look to housewrite next year, they're going to be looking at the questions PACE produced and using those as models. I don't want high school teams to think that, just because PACE wrote a tossup on the Wittig reaction, that means that it's kosher for a Saturday housewrite. It's not.

(For what it's worth, I don't think acetates is a very hard answer line--presumably every chemistry class ever makes you memorize polyatomic ions. I would have picked mass spectrometry, Beer's Law, or fullerenes as the hardest questions in my category, even though all three of those frequently come up in quizbowl. I tried to find fresh clues for each of them.)
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby gustavadolf » Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:02 pm

Ok, that makes a lot of sense.

FWIW, I did like the chemistry in this set a lot and I don't mean to be overly critical. Also the rest of this set. It was pretty great.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby adamsil » Mon Jun 08, 2015 6:14 pm

Not at all--and this was certainly not directed at you--organic chemistry in HS quizbowl is a subject I've given a lot of thought, since I've written hundreds of chemistry questions for high school tournaments over the last few years.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Ike » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:04 pm

So I wrote both the sulfur and velocity questions that were in other science - the sulfur was in earth science, and the velocity was in astronomy. For the case of sulfur, I think it is perfectly okay to have these two tossups in the set - the clues are entirely exclusive, with the possibility of the giveaway having some amount of overlap - and that could have been fixed easily. It is unfortunate that I happened to use peculiar velocity as a clue and Adam used a peculiar velocity clue as well - that's something that I'm sure, if the editors were aware of, they would have rectified. That being said, I have no problem having two tossups on velocity in two different subareas of the science - my tossup was intended to ask about galactic dynamics in an interesting way - I could have say, written a tossup on ellipses from astronomy using many of the same clues, but as long as that it doesn't conflict clue-wise with a math tossup on ellipses, I would be okay with that too.

I'm in agreement with Adam here for the rationale behind the relative exclusion of organic chemistry. I also believe that Adam - and whoever writes the science next year, can be dissuaded from this stance - if there is some form of intellectual contest, classes, etc. that makes it likely some fraction of the NSC field will deal with organic chemistry in some intelligent way, the editors would love to hear about it. This isn't something that is set in stone: What's particularly interesting is that 8 years ago or so, there was the same existential crisis with computer science in high school - but the rise of coding academies and the general desire to make kids more software literate has done more than enough to warrant its inclusion in high school.

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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Baking of the English Working Class » Mon Jun 08, 2015 7:55 pm

The powermark in the Guggenheim museum was somewhat absurd in my opinion. Anyone who knows anything about the museum knows that it's built such that one can see all of the works without having to take any stairs. I can't even imagine what other clues could have come after that, besides the fact that it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Also, in the tossup on Romania, the clue about "mother heroines" seemed really ambiguous. The title of mother heroine was also bestowed upon women who bore ten of more children throughout the Soviet Union.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus » Mon Jun 08, 2015 11:37 pm

Ike wrote:I'm in agreement with Adam here for the rationale behind the relative exclusion of organic chemistry. I also believe that Adam - and whoever writes the science next year, can be dissuaded from this stance - if there is some form of intellectual contest, classes, etc. that makes it likely some fraction of the NSC field will deal with organic chemistry in some intelligent way, the editors would love to hear about it.


The Chem Olympiad notably requires basic organic chemistry, but the aversion to including organic chemistry in the NSC, for now, makes sense. The difference between including things like QM in the physics distribution is that you can use QM clues on easier answerlines (i.e. a tossup on "Hooke's law" using clues from the quantum harmonic oscillator); if you were to do something similar by using organic chemistry clues to pad an easier chem question, I wouldn't be opposed to that.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby touchpack » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:21 am

Part of the aversion to organic chemistry in quizbowl is due to the fact that for a long period of time (maybe like 2005-2011 or something) chemistry in quizbowl was supersatured with organic chemistry, and by organic chemistry, I mean named reactions. It was really stupid how much stuff like the Wolff-Kishner reduction and the Cannizarro reaction would get tossed up. I haven't looked at nearly as many old high school questions as college questions, but I assume due to trends college writers put too much orgo in high school questions as well. Nowadays, all the top chemistry writers realize that's stupid, and are thus hesitant to include too much organic chemistry content in high school sets. Possibly this caused the amount of orgo content in this year's NSC to be too low (I've only looked at a few packets), but honestly, I think undershooting it is better than overshooting it in this case. I fully agree with Corin that orgo deserves to come up, but I also agree with Adam that the best way for it to come up is as clues in tossups on simpler answers.

Contra Adam, I would totally write a tossup on alcohols for the NSC, using organic chemistry clues for the first half of the question, then specific clues about ethanol / ethylene glycol for the second half of the question. The key here is to be creative--thankfully, Adam Silverman is one of the most creative chemistry writers in quizbowl, as is evidenced by several tossups mentioned upthread, so the set was most likely excellent. The parts I looked at were certainly very, very good.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auroni » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:40 am

First off, let me say that I was thrilled to see people from all tiers of this tournament excelling at the questions. Every year, the attendees of this tournament find new ways to amaze me and it warms my heart.

My goal as head editor of this set was to produce a tournament very similar to past three incarnations of NSC, curbing the difficulty of some lead-ins and third parts here and there. My secondary goal, later in the set production process, was to reduce the burden on the writers and editors to think of "creative answerlines," and to instead try to find fresh clues on "bread and butter" topics. I chose this as a goal because my own writing has suffered when I tried to go for broke pushing myself to find the coolest, never-done-before answerlines (in the vein of Rob's tossup on the green light at NSC 2013), instead of letting them come to me organically. I think we largely failed at the first goal and succeeded at the second.

While the set did not end up overly hard, there were still plenty of really tough leadins and hard third bonus parts, particularly in history questions that I wrote and edited. However, I saw some very good teams rise to the challenge and easily answer both, so the necessity that I attached to reducing the difficulty of these things may have been misplaced. Of course, in lieu of available conversion statistics for all of these questions, I'll have to encourage readers from lower playoff brackets to tell me how the questions went over with those teams.

On the other hand, I think we were successful in writing "fresh" questions on well-worn topics. The key to doing that was to pick a somewhat specific "theme" or "approach" that each question took with its answer, so that the clues were all related and focused, instead of going off in wild and random directions. So while there were still plenty of creative questions in the set, more of them had to do with clue choice and theme, and fewer had to do with answerlines. Two examples that quickly come to mind are the tossup on Roman _coin_s and on _turtle_s in Asian history. My coeditors Rob, Matt, Jordan, Cody, Adam, Aaron, Bernadette, and Max were all intelligent and forward thinkers on this front.

Here is how my overarching goals for the set translated to subject-editing in my categories:

Biology - I managed to contain my impulses to write questions packed with difficult medical, biochemical, and molecular clues and to instead focus on the core AP Biology curriculum (pre-dumbing down, of course) from when I took the class. Thus, there were plenty of questions on topics like plants, ecology, evolutionary biology, and physiological processes, and fewer questions specifically on diseases (except for that all-star game tossup!). Joelle Smart, Adam Silverman, and Eric Mukherjee were instrumental to making sure that this category was interesting, accurate, and fair.

Religion - I continued last year's trend of writing questions on underexplored dimensions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, while rewarding knowledge of the core belief systems of other major world religions. I really, really de-emphasized questions on minor religions. I did this in the hopes that people were able to use hitherto-untested stores of knowledge on really important topics, and it looks like people did well. I apologize that that Esther tossup ended up in the finals, though. Matt Jackson's constant churning out of ideas was critical in helping me finish writing and editing this category.

Mythology - I allowed myself one or two clues at most from sources that aren't the Metamorphoses, the Iliad, the Odyssey, the Aeneid, Theogony, etc. This allowed me to strike the right balance between freshness and difficulty in Greco-Roman myth. The non-classical myth was rather standard, though I have Eddie Kim to thank for taking a creative tack with most of those questions.

History - As a relatively new history editor, I stuck with safe, standard answerlines and tried to remember what material was covered in my American and European history classes forever ago. I resisted the impulse to stack hard clues upon hard clues, which I think made this a successful category. Many of the best questions overseen by me in this category were inspired by some interesting submissions by Mike Bentley. I have Jordan Brownstein (particularly for coming on board on such short notice!) and Matt Jackson to thank for bringing considerably more expertise to editing this subject than I had.

I want to once again thank my writer and editor corps for making this tournament happen. Thank you, so very much, Rob Carson, Matt Jackson, Dan Puma, Adam Silverman, Aaron Rosenberg, Joelle Smart, Ben Zhang, Gaurav Kandlikar, Nathan Weiser, Joe Nutter, Aidan Mehigan, Shan Kothari, Sam Bailey, Stephen Eltinge, Richard Yu, Max Schindler, Cody Voight, Mike Cheyne, Carsten Gehring, Jordan Brownstein, Lloyd Sy, Eric Mukherjee, Marianna Zhang, Ryan Rosenberg, Jasper Lee, Corry Wang, Michael Bentley (who submitted over 300 questions!!!), Jacob Wasserman, Ike Jose, Eddie Kim, Aseem Keyal, and Jason Cheng.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auroni » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:44 am

Crazyflight wrote:Also, in the tossup on Romania, the clue about "mother heroines" seemed really ambiguous. The title of mother heroine was also bestowed upon women who bore ten of more children throughout the Soviet Union.


I'll take the blame for this one -- the clue was supposed to be about how Ceausescu tried to curb Romania's low birth rate by encouraging mothers to raise large families (which is a fairly well-known aspect of his regime), but the manner in which I worded the clue made it hilariously non-specific. A protest would have thrown that question out for sure.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Auroni » Tue Jun 09, 2015 12:56 am

wordsinblood wrote:I'd be interested to see the subdistribution within Religion, if such a thing exists.

Splitting hairs here, but looking back at the first line of the "Jummah/Friday" tossup -- "Anyone who recites a chapter telling the story of the seven sleepers of Ephesus on this day will be blessed until the next iteration of this day" -- I was kind of confused/annoyed as to why this tossup (that is otherwise only on Islam) decided to refer to the "seven sleepers of Ephesus" (a Judeochristian thing) rather than the "People/Companions of the Cave" (as they are called in Qur'an). Like I know that Surah al-Kahf is recited on Fridays and I know that al-Kahf contains the story about the dudes who slept for a long time in a cave; but the location is not a thing in Islam and the fact that there are seven people is notably false/ambiguous in Islam (verse 22 of the surah in question). I might just be salty because I didn't get this question, but it seems kind of unnecessary to make this question like 'impure religious' especially given the nature and specificity of other religion questions in the set. (Also this particular clue is rendered useless, because a Muslim (probably) won't recognize it and a Jew/Christian who does (probably) won't place it in the context of Islamic Friday rituals.)

Anyway, I'll probably never be 100% satisfied with the quality of quizbowl Islam but overall I was really happy with the amount of it (and other non-Judeochristian religion) in the set/how well written most of it was, so thank you to Auroni (for the Islam) and all of the other religion writers!


The tossup on Friday was one of my proudest, most creative ideas! I'm saddened to hear that I messed it up (by thinking that in Islam there were seven sleepers as well) I didn't go with "People of the Cave" because of some silly reason probably having to do with me thinking that narrowed it down to Islam pretty early, so I apologize for that. As requested, here's the religion breakdown:

Bible/Christianity: Esther, fasting, Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians, tax collectors, temptation of Christ, Peter, Lazarus, Baptists, Constantinople, lions, Ecclesiastes/Solomon/Hezekiah, Judges/Abimelech/Samson, Revelation/seven/scroll, Book of Common Prayer/Anglican Church/litany, African Methodist Episcopal Church/Apostles' Creed/Thomas, ordination of women/deacon/Paul, Theotokos/Ephesus/trinity, eyes/Alexandria/Monica, ten plagues/lamb's blood/heart was hardened, footwashing/agape/Luke

Other: Ali, Quran, Friday, Reconstructionist Judaism, wine, Spain, Buddhism (in Japan), Daodejing, turbans (in Sikhism), Jerusalem, cows, Theravada Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Aztecs, Hindu temples, funerals, Here I Am/Abraham/Black Stone, suffering/end of suffering/samsara, Advaita/moksha/karma, Ayurveda/yoga/Atharva Veda, tantra/Tibet/Dalai Lama, tefillin/Kaddish/Book of Psalms, Akiva/Mishnah/Elijah, Ten Lost Tribes/Beta Israel/Jacob, Zion/Adon Olam/Babylon, sumo wrestling/purification/Hachiman, Book of Rites/Confucianism/Mencius, ahimsa/Jainism/telling the truth, conversion to Islam/Shahadah/Five Pillars, Universal House of Justice/Bahai/Haifa, hadiths/sutras/Book of Mormon

Goals were to have a lot of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and Indian religions, and for each religion to test a good mix of both scripture and beliefs, which I think was something I succeeded at.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby jekbradbury » Tue Jun 09, 2015 3:13 am

This was probably my favorite high school set ever. Thanks to everyone who worked on it, but especially to Adam Silverman, whose science questions were absolutely marvelous (making me disappointed that I was reading rather than playing) and should end the debate about whether it's possible to write an entire set of reasonably gettable chemistry without relying too much on orgo or cutting the chem distro in half.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Chef Curry » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:42 am

Auroni wrote: funerals


I just wanted to say that this was a great set; my teammates and I really loved all the questions about Hinduism and Islam etc. But I was slightly irked on the funerals question, I buzzed in at the point where they said throws sesame seeds and rice in Hinduism, and negged on weddings. I do realize that it's non-protestable because the clues before it all mentioned funerals, but I just wanted to say that it was a bit misleading, because throwing sesame seeds and rice is not unique to funerals. Another one that I negged was the Theravad Buddhism question; I buzzed on the Vipassana clue. While I also realize this is non-protestable as well for the same reason, being a practitioner of Vipassana, I buzzed and said Buddhism, because that is the closest religion to where it is practiced. When prompted, I said Mahayana which also should have been acceptable, because Vipassana is explicitly a non-sectarian practice. It was created by Siddarth Gautam when he was a Hindu, and is still a common practice in many religions not exclusively Thervad Buddhism. I don't know if I'm allowed to link it here but if you Google dhamma.org, you will find the website of the current and longtime head of the Vipassana movement, S.N. Goenka. And if you click on the about section it states that Vipassana is not attached to any religion. So while Theravad, is correct, it was a misleading clue because even though it is practiced in many sects, it is not just Therevad, and could just as easily be practiced in Hinduism. On a different point I really very much enjoyed a lot of the other material in this set, it was great. My favorite question of the tournament was by far the ayurved bonus, so thanks for writing such a great variety of religious questions.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby Corry » Tue Jun 09, 2015 8:56 am

Auroni wrote:
My goal as head editor of this set was to produce a tournament very similar to past three incarnations of NSC, curbing the difficulty of some lead-ins and third parts here and there. My secondary goal, later in the set production process, was to reduce the burden on the writers and editors to think of "creative answerlines," and to instead try to find fresh clues on "bread and butter" topics. I chose this as a goal because my own writing has suffered when I tried to go for broke pushing myself to find the coolest, never-done-before answerlines (in the vein of Rob's tossup on the green light at NSC 2013), instead of letting them come to me organically. I think we largely failed at the first goal and succeeded at the second.

While the set did not end up overly hard, there were still plenty of really tough leadins and hard third bonus parts, particularly in history questions that I wrote and edited. However, I saw some very good teams rise to the challenge and easily answer both, so the necessity that I attached to reducing the difficulty of these things may have been misplaced. Of course, in lieu of available conversion statistics for all of these questions, I'll have to encourage readers from lower playoff brackets to tell me how the questions went over with those teams.


I just want to note that I consciously tried to reach for this first goal when I started writing for the NSC, by using easier lead-ins in my own history and geography tossups than previous NSCs have in the past. That being said, in the editing process, harder lead-ins were added to almost a majority of the tossups that I wrote. This isn't necessarily a problem, per say (the new lead-ins were totally fine, clue-wise), but I do feel like there were some tonal inconsistencies in the writing process.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby blizzard » Tue Jun 09, 2015 9:26 am

This is a really slight error, but the tossup on Nigerian lit that described Purple Hibiscus in the first line incorrectly stated that Kambili was the one who poisoned her father Eugene when in fact it was Eugene's wife.
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Re: 2015 PACE NSC: Question set discussion

Postby The Stately Rhododendron » Tue Jun 09, 2015 11:38 am

Chef Curry wrote:
Auroni wrote: funerals


I just wanted to say that this was a great set; my teammates and I really loved all the questions about Hinduism and Islam etc. But I was slightly irked on the funerals question, I buzzed in at the point where they said throws sesame seeds and rice in Hinduism, and negged on weddings. I do realize that it's non-protestable because the clues before it all mentioned funerals, but I just wanted to say that it was a bit misleading, because throwing sesame seeds and rice is not unique to funerals. Another one that I negged was the Theravad Buddhism question; I buzzed on the Vipassana clue. While I also realize this is non-protestable as well for the same reason, being a practitioner of Vipassana, I buzzed and said Buddhism, because that is the closest religion to where it is practiced. When prompted, I said Mahayana which also should have been acceptable, because Vipassana is explicitly a non-sectarian practice. It was created by Siddarth Gautam when he was a Hindu, and is still a common practice in many religions not exclusively Thervad Buddhism. I don't know if I'm allowed to link it here but if you Google dhamma.org, you will find the website of the current and longtime head of the Vipassana movement, S.N. Goenka. And if you click on the about section it states that Vipassana is not attached to any religion. So while Theravad, is correct, it was a misleading clue because even though it is practiced in many sects, it is not just Therevad, and could just as easily be practiced in Hinduism. On a different point I really very much enjoyed a lot of the other material in this set, it was great. My favorite question of the tournament was by far the ayurved bonus, so thanks for writing such a great variety of religious questions.


Yeah, I noticed that too in the Theravada TU. Vipassana meditation in the US is almost always (in my experience) encountered as a fairly secular thing, just another meditation teechnique.
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