Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

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Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:32 am

The set available is here: http://collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com/634/

A fair bit of discussion about the principles of good quizbowl have taken place on Facebook already. You can see me make posts ranging in tone from "quite annoyed" to "inadvisably uncouth" at people about this tournament here: https://www.facebook.com/chris.curtis.9 ... 7328509598

Stats are here: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournaments/2091/
Last edited by Red Panda Cub on Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:16 pm

Joey wrote:A fair bit of discussion about the principles of good quizbowl have taken place on Facebook already. You can see me make posts ranging in tone from "quite annoyed" to "inadvisably uncouth" at people about this tournament here: https://www.facebook.com/chris.curtis.9 ... 7328509598
I sent a friend request so I could join in the conversation, but I doubt it'll get approved.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:24 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:
Joey wrote:A fair bit of discussion about the principles of good quizbowl have taken place on Facebook already. You can see me make posts ranging in tone from "quite annoyed" to "inadvisably uncouth" at people about this tournament here: https://www.facebook.com/chris.curtis.9 ... 7328509598
I sent a friend request so I could join in the conversation, but I doubt it'll get approved.
I guess you can use the event page to say things if you'd like: https://www.facebook.com/events/3912008 ... ts&fref=ts
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by mhayes » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:46 pm

I found this statement to be very disheartening:
I find it odd that literature becomes nothing more than a litany of plot details, which reward people who've learnt lists of minor characters - or who've read the books
Rewarding knowledge is supposed to be a good thing...right?
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:57 pm

mhayes wrote:I found this statement to be very disheartening:
I find it odd that literature becomes nothing more than a litany of plot details, which reward people who've learnt lists of minor characters - or who've read the books
Rewarding knowledge is supposed to be a good thing...right?
What else do they want literature questions to be about? What color the book cover was?
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:03 pm

I think someone made the comment that they wished that biographical clues were acceptable, as if all of them were bad. (All of them aren't bad; it's stupid, lazy ones that aren't liked).
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:37 pm

To be honest, any format where two teams of students from one US university can beat the best club teams and individuals in the world is a flawed format testing only a very small cross-section of knowledge, imho.
Because it's impossible that Chicago could just be that much better than your teams.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:51 pm

Unrelated to any issues of set quality or editing philosophy: The "QLL TEAiM Gray Monks" packet, and the .zip file, both return an error message saying "The file does not exist" when I try to download them on quizbowlpackets. Is there a way to reupload those two?
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by adosreme » Mon Jan 27, 2014 2:53 pm

This reminds me very much of the 2009 VETO discussion, where it just takes people who are unfamiliar with quizbowl a while to get used to it. We did, and I'm sure you will too.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:02 pm

RyuAqua wrote:Unrelated to any issues of set quality or editing philosophy: The "QLL TEAiM Gray Monks" packet, and the .zip file, both return an error message saying "The file does not exist" when I try to download them on quizbowlpackets. Is there a way to reupload those two?
Sorry, I uploaded the wrong version of the QLL packet so had to take it down (the zip contained that wrong version too). The QLL packet will be up as soon as Will Butler deals with yet another pestering permissions request.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Susan » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:04 pm

I always find it interesting how closely these sorts of discussions (whether it's 2014 Oxford Open, 2009 VETO, or late 1990s/early 2000s US quizbowl growing pains) tend to mimic each other. Of course there are going to be common themes, but some of these are so specific--Deb Fuller lives again in the comments about popular majors that aren't represented in the distribution, the particular locution of "[x] many of my questions survived editing" (I remember when this used to be said frequently on the US circuit, as though editing were diphtheria or the Middle Passage), etc. This is part of the challenge about how we have this discussion with people--when we've been arguing about this for 10 years, it can be hard to respond to people who are relative newcomers to the discussion without outright dismissing them.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:07 pm

Susan wrote:This is part of the challenge about how we have this discussion with people--when we've been arguing about this for 10 years, it can be hard to respond to people who are relative newcomers to the discussion without outright dismissing them.
It's important to remember in these discussion that just because it's old to you doesn't mean it's not new to someone else.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:12 pm

It seems like the discussion is proceeding relatively appropriately on its own, really. I don't think it's anything to get too discouraged from--you have people who are trying to promote and explain good quizbowl. It's not a monolithic response of "we hated this."
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:21 pm

Susan wrote:"[x] many of my questions survived editing" (I remember when this used to be said frequently on the US circuit, as though editing were diphtheria or the Middle Passage)
Those questions drowned while trying to ford Quality River on their way to Usefulness Town.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jan 27, 2014 3:22 pm

they should have caulked their wagons
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Edmund » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:34 pm

In many ways I am disappointed that Joey opened this thread by linking to a complaint about repetitive phrasing in questions which grew into the assault on quizbowl as a practice that follows every open quizbowl tournament in the UK. Fairly obviously, those who sprang to the defence of the style and organisation, or who contributed to the discussion in a balanced way, are those who have spent most effort in enabling quizzing in the UK (of any form, quizbowl or otherwise). It's a given that "good" quizbowl is not going to be universally popular.

I think the great majority of attendees, even the non-students or non-ex-students, had a great time at OO on Saturday and were satisfied to see Chicago A win because they were the best team. If I was displeased because Chicago A won, it's because I wanted to win. But I wasn't good enough. Tough luck.

We will say thanks again to the teams from Chicago and MIT who made the long trip here to play: you added to the diversity of the field by your presence. My team had an enjoyably very close game against Chicago B and an enjoyable, far-from-close game against Chicago A. I also got to see John Lawrence squirm through my efforts at canon expansion in our own packet.

Once I've had dinner I will sit down to write some thoughts on the actual set.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Edmund » Mon Jan 27, 2014 4:37 pm

To be honest, any format where two teams of students from one US university can beat the best club teams and individuals in the world is a flawed format testing only a very small cross-section of knowledge, imho.
The best response to this accusation (which its author, who wasn't even at the tournament, has since withdrawn as not well measured) came at the event itself. One of the best British teams came out of their match against Chicago A and said, in complete jest, "if it had been 10/10 football and 10/10 British politics we'd have won".
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by macaskillnc » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:02 pm

As someone who was an average player in an average team at Oxford I'm glad whoever posted the remark quoted by Edmund has since withdrawn it. Chicago A were by far the best team there. In fact I don't think I could have formed a team of 4 from all the British teams (or even British quizzers who were absent) that would have beaten them. Same thing happened in 2012. It has to be acknowledged that in this format, the top US teams are far ahead not only of UK student teams, but teams made up of experienced (i.e "old") UK quizzers, including some who make their living on TV quiz shows such as the Chase and Eggheads.

However - there is such a thing as the World Quizzing Championships - http://www.worldquizzingchampionships.com - which is an individual tournament with a "written exam" format. Steve Perry is the only American in the top 10 for 2013.

Now wouldn't it be interesting if some of the top Quizbowl players had a shot at the World Title in 2014? There are heats of this Championship in the US......

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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Kyle » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:07 pm

If I may, I'd like to avoid addressing any of the issues previously mentioned in this thread and instead focus on two very positive things that came out of this tournament.

Tris Cole and Hugh Bennett were part of the Sheffield team that beat mine in the quarterfinals of University Challenge in 2011. They came to their first regular tournament that year and finished 0-10. [Edit: So what I should have said is that they beat us in 2010 but it didn't air until 2011, and they played at ACF Fall in 2010, which was later in the year that they won their game against us. Is that precise enough, Edmund?] They have kept playing since that experience and are now extremely good. Both of them even played at Chicago Open this past summer. At this tournament, Tris was the top individual scorer of British nationality. More important, Tris and Hugh wrote what was far and away the best submitted packet, and the editors would have had a much more difficult time getting the tournament ready but for their efforts.

Emma Laslett is an undergrad in Lincoln College whose involvement with quizbowl to this point has been somewhat sporadic. She played this tournament on a team with three members of her family, and they didn't win any games. Emma wrote an entire packet by herself for the tournament. She submitted it early and has now asked the editors twice for feedback. Obviously, there is room for improvement, but, on the whole, she did a terrific job writing her packet. We even featured it as one of the three non-combined packets that got used for the playoffs, along with Tris and Hugh's packet and Edmund's packet.

I think that Emma, Tris, and Hugh all ought to be publicly commended on their relentlessly positive attitudes. I'm sure that Joey, Ewan, and the others who helped to edit parts of this tournament will join me in thanking them for their contributions.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:46 pm

macaskillnc wrote:However - there is such a thing as the World Quizzing Championships - http://www.worldquizzingchampionships.com - which is an individual tournament with a "written exam" format. Steve Perry is the only American in the top 10 for 2013.
I would imagine that most quiz bowl players are dubious of the question quality and don't value this competition, hence the lack of participation.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Ewan MacAulay » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:03 pm

I'm pretty new to playing quizbowl and even newer to writing, so I'm just going to join Kyle in thanking Emma, Tris, Hugh and Edmund for their submissions. Even to my untrained eye they seemed to be a cut above the rest and were a massive relief after reading a question on John Locke in another packet which opened "This philosopher's father was also called John".
I'd also like to mention the other newish UK student teams, who once again pulled together and submitted questions without which OOT could not have happened: Sink the Bismarck (who finished 1-9 at BSQC at the end of last year before finishing 4th at our ACF Fall mirror last term) and Ostentatious Hydromancy.
Quizbowl in the UK is still at a pretty embryonic stage and it'll be interesting to see what happens with OOT and the regular inter-university circuit over the next few years. At the moment it's nice to know that there are a few student teams who are committed to keeping it all going.

On another note, this was my first time editing (all the non-bio science) and I'd appreciate any advice if you have a spare moment to look at the set.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Priscus Attalus » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:12 pm

Kyle wrote: More important, Tris and Hugh wrote what was far and away the best submitted packet, and the editors would have had a much more difficult time getting the tournament ready but for their efforts.
Thank you, but at the risk of sounding self-serving, I am going to point out that Tris didn't write any of our packet. I wrote 22/21 and the rest (1/1 maths, solid state physics, bitcoin and monads) was written by Jonathan.
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Kyle » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:24 pm

Priscus Attalus wrote:
Kyle wrote: More important, Tris and Hugh wrote what was far and away the best submitted packet, and the editors would have had a much more difficult time getting the tournament ready but for their efforts.
Thank you, but at the risk of sounding self-serving, I am going to point out that Tris didn't write any of our packet. I wrote 22/21 and the rest (1/1 maths, solid state physics, bitcoin and monads) was written by Jonathan.
Then I retract all praise of Tris!
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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by OldMaJohnson » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:35 pm

I've visited this forum many times since I got back into serious quizzing 10 years ago but this is my first venture into active commenting.

At the Oxford tournament last Saturday I had the honour and pleasure of captaining Pericardium in the unavoidable absence of our regular leader. The two comments made near the beginning of the thread which seem to have ignited the most ill-feeling have both been withdrawn by their makers who have both apologised: I know them both as thoroughly decent men as well as skilful and enthusiastic quiz enthusiasts in buzzer quizzing and in several other quiz formats.
I enjoyed the entire tournament on Saturday and could not be more complimentary about the organisation. I am halfway through reading the question sets and again I want to say how much I appreciate the hard work which went into editing a huge variety of questions into a usable format and then making them available through this site.

I'm happy to admit that I suggested that the format of the literature toss-ups could be varied as the existing format became a little wearying over the course of 9 or 10 matches. Please note I said "varied" and not changed altogether, and I'm more than happy with the proportion of literature questions in this format of quiz. If the format stays as it is at present, it still won't put me off signing up for the next Oxford Open tournament at the first opportunity. I've been to all the open tournaments at Oxford since I've been in a position to do so, and have never met with anything other than blinding skill and friendly good sportsmanship from English or American guest teams (except on one solitary occasion, an unlovely spat over a disputed question, which led to harsh words and no little ill-feeling).

I have been truly staggered by the skills of the Harvard and Chicago teams I have seen in action over the last few years: that most of us play perforce in other formats most of the time doesn't blind us to excellence in academic quizzing when we see it displayed. If the somewhat intemperate discussion elsewhere impels more British quizzers to find out more about what makes quizbowl tick, then all the ink spilt won't have been entirely wasted.

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Re: Oxford Open 2014 Discussion

Post by Edmund » Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:56 pm

Another correction is that Tris and Hugh broke their quizbowl duck at ACF Fall way back in 2010. Their rise, together with Sink The Bismarck (Southampton) has been very heartening.

Here are some general remarks on the set:

I thought the overall balance was good and the tastes of individual writers shone through without introducing egregious variations within the set. My impression was that the afternoon was harder than the morning, and the Lasletts packet had the air of being slightly harder and rather more solidly canonical: I'd be interested to see the round report to see if this is actually statistical. The set was almost wholly and creditably free of repeats.

The science seemed fairly well distributed to me, but others have pointed out a heavy amount of chemical physics compared to mathematical and quantum physics. Since I was educated in the same curriculum as the science editor, we probably share prejudices in our knowledge base. In the interest of making the science accessible to an open field that contained very few dedicated science players, I thought they were occasionally reluctant to offer challenging hard parts to bonuses.

The science notably fell victim to what I felt was the worst offence of this set, which was a sloppily large number of stock clues in first lines. Just off the top of my head, here are some examples of very early stock clues, or clues that prematurely and artificially narrowed the answer space: Larnaca for Cyprus, Bromsgrove for Worcestershire, Larkin for Lucky Jim, Slater for determinant, Marangoni for surface tension, paramagnetic for oxygen, "northernmost town" for Norway, "second-largest country subdivision" for Western Australia, Lethe for Hades. These generated either direct buzzer races or confusion, and were either errors or else underestimated the quality of the field. In the science distribution I recognise that there may have been a conscious effort to lower the difficulty, but putting basics in the first line just invited science specialists to mop these up.

I would echo the criticism of the literature and painting clues as being sometimes overly formulaic. On the fine art side, the "describe something largely irrelevant in an odd corner of a well-known painting" trope seemed much in evidence: I thought "In the top right of this painting man with a yellow cloth covering his lap rests his left hand on an L-shaped rod" for Burial of the Count of Orgaz and "This work features an orange grove scattered with white blossoms picked out in gold." for Birth of Venus stood out. The last one is outright bad as Primavera is full of oranges.

I have some notes on specific questions which I left in the office and will relay later.
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