2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

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2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Eddie » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:58 pm

Thank you to everyone for playing (This) Tournament is a Crime. Our editing team was as follows:

Auroni Gupta (Head): Literature, Biology, Religion
Ike Jose: Math/Other Science, Painting/Sculpture, Other Art (Visual), Thought, Social Science, Geography/Current Events/Other
Eddie Kim: Music/Opera, Other Art (Auditory), Legends
Bruce Lou: History
Andrew Wang: Chemistry, Physics
Last edited by Eddie on Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by touchpack » Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:32 am

I will make a more detailed post later, but as a science (and especially chemistry) player this was the most fun I've had at a tournament in at LEAST the last year and a half. Big thank you to the editors for putting this together!
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by What do you do with a dead chemist? » Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:57 am

I'd like to offer my thanks for this tournament, I had a great time, particularly in the science and music (although it felt like there was a large difficulty variance between bonus sets e.g. spin echo vs magnetic dichroism/ellipticity as hard parts, one of which was encountered in a second year course, and the other I won't encounter at all in my entire undergrad chemistry degree, although these are probably just idiosyncrasies of the oxford chemistry degree).

It did feel like the other categories had a few issues, mainly revolving around transparency issues on questions which had good ideas behind them and inconsistent difficulty of what was in power, but I'll leave any more specific comments on those areas to people who are more qualified to talk about those areas.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Feb 26, 2017 8:40 am

Thanks to everyone who played the set yesterday. I apologize for any unevenness across categories or stupid easily-fixed bits of difficulty; due to the sneaky intrusion of real life, I had to scale down my level of head editorial oversight so that I could make sure that my own categories were done.

This was the first high-level project for three of my coeditors. Given this, I'd like to thank Andrew Wang for putting up with our constant (good-natured) prodding as he struggled through the sheer effort required to actually gaining a firm grasp of the subject of physics, which I think showed in his questions. Bruce Lou wrote several interesting (though often fairly difficult in places) history questions that hint at his future potential and desire to shape the direction of the category. Eddie Kim took a meticulous, Kubrickean level of perfectionist approach toward simultaneous creativity, freshness, answerability, and accessibility in his questions, which paid off in the form of perhaps the greatest set of auditory arts and mythology/legends questions ever written.

And lastly, there is the Stakhanovite labor of my comrade and friend Ike Jose, without whose sheer work and willingness to pump out questions in any category that needed any (he ended up with 192 total) the set would not have been done.

As far as my own categories: I put a ton of work into the literature, substantial (but slightly more rushed) work into the biology, and essentially crammed the vast majority of religion questions in the last 48 hours of writing. The last part is unfortunate, because I wanted this set to be a model for how religion questions should be written, but I didn't have the time needed to exact my vision. I may make a later post about my distributional approach, which I believe to be the correct one.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Feb 27, 2017 10:57 pm

In general, I thought this was a fine tournament despite being old and not knowing anything anymore. The thing that I didn't like was how relatively uneven it was across categories. In the same round got wallopped by a really rough science bonus (I think it was physics but I forget what) and then had a history question where you could basically get 20 points off basic high school level knowledge. In general, I thought the science (the parts that I knew) was substantially harder than the other stuff; I mean, being asked to identify the van der Pol oscillator from one of its terms seems pretty rough to me for a middle part. Also, there didn't seem to be much computer science in this set; I recall a tossup on "programming languages" and another on "optimization" (although that second one, from the clues I remember, should have really been a tossup on "compiler optimization" which is not at all the same thing as mathematical optimization). Otherwise, everything seemed pretty solid.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:25 pm

Snap Wexley wrote:In general, I thought this was a fine tournament despite being old and not knowing anything anymore. The thing that I didn't like was how relatively uneven it was across categories. In the same round got wallopped by a really rough science bonus (I think it was physics but I forget what) and then had a history question where you could basically get 20 points off basic high school level knowledge. In general, I thought the science (the parts that I knew) was substantially harder than the other stuff; I mean, being asked to identify the van der Pol oscillator from one of its terms seems pretty rough to me for a middle part. Also, there didn't seem to be much computer science in this set; I recall a tossup on "programming languages" and another on "optimization" (although that second one, from the clues I remember, should have really been a tossup on "compiler optimization" which is not at all the same thing as mathematical optimization). Otherwise, everything seemed pretty solid.
There was 3/3 or 3/2. I agree that is less than I would usually write for a tournament of this size, but the announcement made it clear that we would have 1 math question per a packet. If you have philosophical issues with this, feel free to discuss. I'm rather indifferent to it either way.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Kevin » Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:56 pm

First of all, thanks to the editors who put the set together. I had a lot of fun playing and I think this did a really good job of hitting the stated Nats-minus difficulty. Even though I was at a site that will probably be one of the weaker mirrors, not a lot of tossups went dead, and the easy parts of bonuses were very accessible.

A few general comments:

The religion in the set seemed more Judaism-heavy than usual.

There were a few repeat-ish sorts of things. There was a mention of masturbation in the venial sin bonus part, then masturbation (or something similar) came up us an answer line in another bonus. Also, in the round where "Requiem" came up as an answer, I negged with just "Mass" hoping for a prompt; later in the round the phrase "requiem Mass" was used in a bonus part. (I protested, but it was not resolved since my team won that match anyway.)

The bonus parts seemed very long. Our rounds were taking quite a while to finish.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:19 am

Kevin wrote:First of all, thanks to the editors who put the set together. I had a lot of fun playing and I think this did a really good job of hitting the stated Nats-minus difficulty. Even though I was at a site that will probably be one of the weaker mirrors, not a lot of tossups went dead, and the easy parts of bonuses were very accessible.

A few general comments:

The religion in the set seemed more Judaism-heavy than usual.

There were a few repeat-ish sorts of things. There was a mention of masturbation in the venial sin bonus part, then masturbation (or something similar) came up us an answer line in another bonus. Also, in the round where "Requiem" came up as an answer, I negged with just "Mass" hoping for a prompt; later in the round the phrase "requiem Mass" was used in a bonus part. (I protested, but it was not resolved since my team won that match anyway.)

The bonus parts seemed very long. Our rounds were taking quite a while to finish.
I tried to keep the bonus parts shorter. I agree brevity in these are good, but having a bit of wordiness to make things more interesting is also something we aim for. I apologize for the masturbation repeats. The second bonus was one of the first bonuses I wrote for the set, the venial sin bonus was the last bonus I wrote. When I googled "venial sin examples" I got this link, and put it in. I'll try to find a new venial sin example.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Kevin » Tue Feb 28, 2017 12:54 am

Ike wrote:I tried to keep the bonus parts shorter. I agree brevity in these are good, but having a bit of wordiness to make things more interesting is also something we aim for. I apologize for the masturbation repeats. The second bonus was one of the first bonuses I wrote for the set, the venial sin bonus was the last bonus I wrote. When I googled "venial sin examples" I got this link, and put it in. I'll try to find a new venial sin example.
It's tricky to name any one particular sin as venial--in fact, masturbation could arguably be considered a mortal sin depending on the circumstances. I don't remember the exact text of the question, but the Catholic Church's definition of a mortal sin is this: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." (I think some of that was worked into the question.) A venial sin would involve a matter that isn't "grave" or that is committed without full knowledge or deliberate consent (i.e. being blackmailed, being drunk, not knowing that what you're doing is considered a mortal sin, and so on).
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:05 am

Ike wrote:
Kevin wrote:First of all, thanks to the editors who put the set together. I had a lot of fun playing and I think this did a really good job of hitting the stated Nats-minus difficulty. Even though I was at a site that will probably be one of the weaker mirrors, not a lot of tossups went dead, and the easy parts of bonuses were very accessible.

A few general comments:

The religion in the set seemed more Judaism-heavy than usual.

There were a few repeat-ish sorts of things. There was a mention of masturbation in the venial sin bonus part, then masturbation (or something similar) came up us an answer line in another bonus. Also, in the round where "Requiem" came up as an answer, I negged with just "Mass" hoping for a prompt; later in the round the phrase "requiem Mass" was used in a bonus part. (I protested, but it was not resolved since my team won that match anyway.)

The bonus parts seemed very long. Our rounds were taking quite a while to finish.
I tried to keep the bonus parts shorter. I agree brevity in these are good, but having a bit of wordiness to make things more interesting is also something we aim for. I apologize for the masturbation repeats. The second bonus was one of the first bonuses I wrote for the set, the venial sin bonus was the last bonus I wrote. When I googled "venial sin examples" I got this link, and put it in. I'll try to find a new venial sin example.
On the topic of bonus length, it feels that at a tournament like this you could save some space by just saying "he wrote the Great Gatsby" in the easy part rather than "he wrote about Nick Carraway and a title character who is obsessed with a green light in his masterpiece, the Great Gatsby". I don't think most people playing from this tournament are learning from these types of clues. (I can't recall if the Fitzgerald bonus suffered from this problem, but there were certainly some examples sprinkled throughout the set.)

Anyway, this tournament was very enjoyable. Thanks to the editors for all of the hard work.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ewan MacAulay » Tue Feb 28, 2017 1:59 pm

The chemistry and physics in this tournament were very good - solid answerline and clue selection all through, with plenty of fresh stuff. Apart from all my negs, my greatest regret from the day was not being able to play the gold nanoparticles TU in the finals packet (though the sting is softened by knowing that I didn't have to try and buzz off the like 1.5 things I know about GC). Glad to see a total synthesis question on morphine in there too - it's one of those fields that you can't really ask about in depth at regular difficulty.

A couple of tiny things - it might be better to use "these compounds" instead of "this sort of ligand" in the leadin of the phosphine question, since the professional organic chemist at our site said he'd been tempted to buzz with "bidentate ligands" right off the start.
The Henry reaction seems a bit well-known to be a lead-in for nitro groups at this level - especially given that just knowing the binary Henry=nitroaldol relationship gets you a first line buzz.

Also yeah the whole of the Changi sentence in the Singapore TU seems a bit out of place.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:42 pm

Also yeah the whole of the Changi sentence in the Singapore TU seems a bit out of place.
The entire theme of this geography tossup was about the Draconian measures / homogenous culture of Singapore. The clue might be a bit easy - indeed 50% of the rooms at the main site powered it, but I don't think it's out of place thematically, since when I was in Singapore three months ago, I nearly crapped myself when I saw people carrying machine guns.

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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by CPiGuy » Tue Feb 28, 2017 8:45 pm

Ike wrote:
Also yeah the whole of the Changi sentence in the Singapore TU seems a bit out of place.
The entire theme of this geography tossup was about the Draconian measures / homogenous culture of Singapore. The clue might be a bit easy - indeed 50% of the rooms at the main site powered it, but I don't think it's out of place thematically, since when I was in Singapore three months ago, I nearly crapped myself when I saw people carrying machine guns.

Ike
I think they mean out of place as in it's much easier than even the clues following it -- it definitely fit thematically, and I really liked the tossup as a whole, but I'd probably move it after the death penalty clue.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ewan MacAulay » Wed Mar 01, 2017 7:20 am

Ike wrote:
Also yeah the whole of the Changi sentence in the Singapore TU seems a bit out of place.
The entire theme of this geography tossup was about the Draconian measures / homogenous culture of Singapore. The clue might be a bit easy - indeed 50% of the rooms at the main site powered it, but I don't think it's out of place thematically, since when I was in Singapore three months ago, I nearly crapped myself when I saw people carrying machine guns.

Ike
Yeah soz this was more meant as a comment on difficulty - I can't imagine that "O'Hare" would be in power in a Chicago tossup.

It seems that the "airport police carrying submachine guns" thing is becoming more common these days - they were all over the place at Charles De Gaulle, and they've been at Heathrow a couple of times recently too.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Sam » Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:27 am

I enjoyed this tournament. I agree with Jerry that some things were very difficult and some were pretty easy, given the field and stated difficulty.

The writing could have benefited from another read through. There were multiple times where moderators had to guess missing words, re-order clauses, or otherwise try to divine what the writer meant to say. I think this was more a problem for bonuses than tossups, which I guess is better than the opposite, but it would be even better if there were no problems with either.

I thought the experimentation with the literature distribution worked well. The major differences I noticed were more non-fiction pieces and more plays. I enjoyed the former and was less excited about the latter (I side more with Stephen on how many people actually encounter much drama), but Auroni's probably right in that both are genres that could stand to show up more.

There were a handful of questions that felt guessable. Examples that spring to mind are "intelligence tests" (early 20th century people think these would be good for screening based on natural ability) and the "culture wars speech" (some speech from the recent past that seems to discuss a lot of cultural issues).
In general I'm a fan of figure-it-out-able tossups as long as each clue is (for the most part) easier than the clue that preceded it. From what I remember of the intelligence test question, the first clue was something I hadn't heard of but really sounded like it could be an IQ test. The second clue was another thing I hadn't heard of, but also really sounded like it could be an IQ test. Same for the third, fourth, etc., till whenever Will buzzed and got it. Cumulatively, there's a sort of pyramidality, but clue-to-clue there's not a clean gradation. I may also be remembering wrong and Will may have gotten the tossup in what was still close to lead-in territory, but it seemed like it was at least near the halfway mark.

Very good tournament, thank you to Auroni, Ike, Eddie, and all the moderators and scorekeepers who staffed it.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:07 pm

After I get the packets, I'll try to put together a more thoughtful response to the tournament as a whole, but for now, I just want to thank Auroni and his co-editors for making it happen. From my perspective as a player, the main flaws with the set were (as Sam said) a seeming need for a careful read-through to eliminate typos and the like and (as Jerry said) bonus difficulty variability between categories. That said, these are issues with nearly every set, and nearly impossible to eliminate root and branch across 15+ packets. I thought the set was fun to play on the whole, with several questions that stood out as very good, and I'm grateful that the writers took the time to put it together.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Eddie » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:39 am

Kevin wrote:First of all, thanks to the editors who put the set together. I had a lot of fun playing and I think this did a really good job of hitting the stated Nats-minus difficulty. Even though I was at a site that will probably be one of the weaker mirrors, not a lot of tossups went dead, and the easy parts of bonuses were very accessible.

A few general comments:

The religion in the set seemed more Judaism-heavy than usual.

There were a few repeat-ish sorts of things. There was a mention of masturbation in the venial sin bonus part, then masturbation (or something similar) came up us an answer line in another bonus. Also, in the round where "Requiem" came up as an answer, I negged with just "Mass" hoping for a prompt; later in the round the phrase "requiem Mass" was used in a bonus part. (I protested, but it was not resolved since my team won that match anyway.)

The bonus parts seemed very long. Our rounds were taking quite a while to finish.
I am not a fan of prompting on "mass" when the answer is "requiem" because it creates confusion with an already-existing musical genre, in much the same way that "John Adams" is not promptable for "John Quincy Adams." I know it's a little opaque, but it can also be helpful in preventing procedures where someone might waffle between "mass" and "requiem," buzz in, and hope for a prompt.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Kevin » Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:07 pm

Eddie wrote:I am not a fan of prompting on "mass" when the answer is "requiem" because it creates confusion with an already-existing musical genre, in much the same way that "John Adams" is not promptable for "John Quincy Adams." I know it's a little opaque, but it can also be helpful in preventing procedures where someone might waffle between "mass" and "requiem," buzz in, and hope for a prompt.
But a requiem, liturgically speaking, is a type of mass. John Quincy Adams is not a type of the second president John Adams. While some composers have deviated substantially from the traditional format (to the extent that you wouldn't call them a mass, i.e. the German Requiem), a standard requiem is certainly a type of mass, and usually features many of the same parts. I don't know if I have a perfect solution; I just don't think I agree with the notion that a requiem and a mass (as musical genres) are completely different things.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:24 am

The history in this set was not good at all. It was insanely uneven, filled with difficulty cliffs, weirldly lacking in any kind of social history at all and overflowing with ridiculous answer lines.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:39 am

I didn't think the history was perfect, but most of the answerlines seemed fine to me. What insane ones were you thinking of?
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:22 pm

Auroni wrote:Bruce Lou wrote several interesting (though often fairly difficult in places) history questions that hint at his future potential and desire to shape the direction of the category.
You think that your fellow editor's history was too hard? You won't take responsibility for that as head editor?

I'm sure I and/or other people from the northeast site will post in more detail later, but we, as a whole, had a pretty negative reaction to the set. There were definitely a number of fresh/new/interesting/well-executed questions (often all at the same time); but there were oodles of problems of all kinds—on top of (or to expand) those already mentioned:

A huge number of difficulty cliffs for no good reason (i.e. the tossup spent way too long on leadins and just said "fuck it" to middle clues). These often came in the middle of "transparent but impossible" questions—for example, Surabaya out of nowhere in the Islam in Indonesia question. Other questions, lacking a single cliff, took a series of very steep dives—call it multi-cliffing—instead of having, you know, enough middle clues. To reiterate: this wasn't every question, and probably not a majority, but such a high proportion (especially given current middle-clue standards) to affect gameplay.

As Auroni (!) already mentioned, there were a number of difficulty problems with the history. Some of these were ridiculous tossup ideas—sure, it's probably possible to know the first few lines of the Wall Street Bombing or Dzungar genocide TU, but did you really think those tossups were the best use of X lines to differentiate teams based on knowledge? (Who aside from Jordan is buzzing before 10 Great Campaigns in the latter? Except based on "China, out west, kinda old, oh maybe not that old"—but this wasn't the most transparent-but-impossible question by a long shot.) The point being that, not only are these things very hard, but they're "niche" enough that you can't expect anything but a very very small number of people to be learning about them in early-clues depth independently. In other words, not many players will even know the answerline, and those who do are likely to know the topic as "a thing that happened, but I don't know much substantial about it."

Even more stupid-hard (as in, extremely hard, but not for "good" reasons) were some bonus parts. Abdülmecid I entirely from that anecdote about the Irish potato famine? Literally having to quote, not paraphrase, the TEN EXTREMELY GENERIC last words of L.E.G. Oates?? I apologize for not using more constructive language, but how is it possible that neither Bruce nor Auroni, nor any of the other editors who may have glanced at these questions didn't think that these were terrible ideas? These kind of extremely hard answerlines and clues might be more acceptable if they had any sort of actual historical import, but they frankly and obviously don't (especially the Oates bonus).

As Jerry pointed out, there was huge bonus variability, even within categories. There were a number of just brutally hard middle parts, especially relative to the numerous more well-controlled questions—the Abdülmecid part, for instance, came after a middle part on Charles Trevelyan. A number of hard parts were gettable, which made the impossible ones (The Orphan of Zhao couldn't have been ANYTHING remotely easier—like zaju?) stick out even more (Karl Marx's novel?). And Eddie's well-controlled categories pointed up how unnecessarily brutal the other ~17/17 often were.

This tournament was not Nats-minus as announced. Auroni, can you seriously not tell when your literature is too hard? John Guare, Geoffrey Hill, etc. TUs are already way pushing it and then you throw in An Inspector Calls? Were you just trying to match Bruce's difficulty? Why not bring his questions down? (But just to make this clear, these questions were often fun and interesting to listen to, and many other questions—e.g. Sanskrit from plays—were very well executed in terms of playability as well as content.)

Is a whole tossup on Lou Andreas-Salomé really a good way of differentiating teams? Some of the more "miscellaneous" questions in academic categories had the related problem of being on gettable answerlines who don't have middle clues either period (Theo Van Gogh—great, you have to guess at some point!) or within the "theme" (Mussolini—you couldn't add a single middle clue that wasn't just "come on, we really want you to guess"?)

This is a very negative post. While I think this tournament had some serious issues, let me just reiterate that a big number of the question were well-constructed, interesting, and fun. In general, there were very few noticeable errors, and sentence construction was usually easily parsable. Most of the clues were "interesting" in Ike's sense (sometimes in wacky ways, sometimes a bit too wacky). And this tournament certainly succeeded in showing that its (experimental) distribution can work well, so kudos for that as well.
Last edited by vinteuil on Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:27 pm

Yeah, the Oates bonus--those are pretty memorable last words but it's very, very hard to pull the exact verbiage. I might have asked for a portion of the words ("Oates said he was just going outside and he may be what?") or given the words and asked for the situation.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Sun Mar 05, 2017 12:49 pm

Cheynem wrote:Yeah, the Oates bonus--those are pretty memorable last words but it's very, very hard to pull the exact verbiage. I might have asked for a portion of the words ("Oates said he was just going outside and he may be what?") or given the words and asked for the situation.
Amusingly, at the UK site, this was free points, because every child learns the story.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:19 pm

I disagree a lot with your post Jacob. You can pull up the conversion data and see that teams, even players who are still in college, were converting Karl Marx, and having a wide distribution of buzzes on things like Theo van Vogh and Mussolini. And I think for a tournament like this that's supposed to be Nats minus, the Wall Street Bombing and Dzungar genocide are fine answer choices.

I also think you mischaracterize the underlying philosophy of the questions too; we're not asking you to name Karl Marx's most famous novel, we're asking you to identify him from either the novel's title, a famous biographer, or the import of one of his ideas on The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon. Yes, you can guess on Theo van Gogh, or Mussolini, but that's what a good question does - it suggests the answer to people who know things; the fact that there were middle clue buzzes at differing points in both question suggests to me that there are good clues in each. And in particular, you shouldn't be writing questions so that they are impenetrable or dense. I think the big problem with your post is that you don't actually suggest very few things that are either constructive, useful or even correct - you suggest that certain tossups were a series of mini difficulty-cliffs, I don't see how that's any different from constructing a smooth pyramid theoretically, especially since words are discrete units.

But that's part of the problem, I think you're attacking choices of editorial discretion rather than fundamental flaws with the tournament. Originally I was going to write only 90 questions for the tournament, I ended up writing close to 200. I would have liked to gone over some things with a finer-tooth comb but I think almost all of the things are things I would let into a tournament I write for this level; the only one I probably disagreed with Auroni on that you brought up was Lou-Andrea Salome -- but even then I would have converted that since Lou x Rilke, so it didn't really cross my mind too much.

I think this tournament was substantially harder than Stanford Housewrite but easier than George Oppen. I would put it at one minus ACF Nationals. I actually forgot that Auroni had said this tournament was going to be as easy as Stanford Housewrite, I do remember telling folks that it was going to be harder than that, so whoops.
I apologize for not using more constructive language, but how is it possible that neither Bruce nor Auroni, nor any of the other editors who may have glanced at these questions didn't think that these were terrible ideas?
Okay, just to be clear, I worked my ass off on this tournament. I was doing my job, and so was Bruce. Auroni and I both greenlit the Dzungar genocide TU and the Oates last words. If you have anything constructive you want to direct toward Bruce or me or Auroni, that's fine. But this post, and this quoted part especially suggests to me that you think neither I nor Auroni were working our rear ends off and that Bruce is a terrible lunatic with his ideas. If you actually think that's the case, you can :capybara: off. But even if this quoted text is a a rhetorical flourish, you can still :capybara: off anyway; it's Bruce's first major tournament and he did a much better job than I did at mine, and he's amenable to listening to criticism, so seriously treat him especially and us in good faith. I won't speak for Auroni, but I take all criticism very seriously.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:30 pm

Ike wrote:You can pull up the conversion data and see that teams were...having a wide distribution of buzzes on Mussolini.
Did I misread the stats? They say 0/8/2 in 9 rooms to me, which seems like a pretty narrow distribution of buzzes.

EDIT: Add in 0/3/0 in 3 rooms for the Maryland site.

EDIT 2:
Ike wrote: it's Bruce's first major tournament
Sure, NHBB might not count maybe, but ACF Fall doesn't?

EDIT 3:
Ike wrote: you suggest that certain tossups were a series of mini difficulty-cliffs, I don't see how that's any different from constructing a smooth pyramid theoretically, especially since words are discrete units.
Let me rephrase for clarity: the middle-clue segment of many tossups wasn't long enough (didn't have enough clues), so that the ride down the difficulty gradient was extremely steep, and often unnecessarily (there were more middle clues available).
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Sam » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:03 pm

vinteuil wrote:Some of the more "miscellaneous" questions in academic categories had the related problem of being on gettable answerlines who don't have middle clues either period (Theo Van Gogh—great, you have to guess at some point!) or within the "theme" (Mussolini—you couldn't add a single middle clue that wasn't just "come on, we really want you to guess"?)
I don't agree with all of Jacob's post but this point is accurate. Ike's right that you want to reward people who know enough to figure out a question even if they don't recognize specific facts, but there should still be some gradation.
The complaint about lack of social history seems misplaced. Maybe there are differing definitions of "social history," but I recall there being a pretty good number in all the subcategories. (Off the top of my head: 1990s, Elaine race riot, Indians (in South Africa), Korean-Americans, 1660s. There may have been another decade tossup in the mix, too, that was mostly social history.)
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:06 pm

I don't know where the 1990's tossup went, but I buzzed on political history clues.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:10 pm

vinteuil wrote:
Ike wrote:You can pull up the conversion data and see that teams were...having a wide distribution of buzzes on Mussolini.
Did I misread the stats? They say 0/8/2 in 9 rooms to me, which seems like a pretty narrow distribution of buzzes.

EDIT: Add in 0/3/0 in 3 rooms for the Maryland site.

EDIT 2:
Ike wrote: it's Bruce's first major tournament
Sure, NHBB might not count maybe, but ACF Fall doesn't?

EDIT 3:
Ike wrote: you suggest that certain tossups were a series of mini difficulty-cliffs, I don't see how that's any different from constructing a smooth pyramid theoretically, especially since words are discrete units.
Let me rephrase for clarity: the middle-clue segment of many tossups wasn't long enough (didn't have enough clues), so that the ride down the difficulty gradient was extremely steep, and often unnecessarily (there were more middle clues available).
Firstly, I forgot Bruce Lou did work on ACF Fall. That doesn't change my point or how I feel about your quoted text. Every time Bruce wrote a question he playtested it with Auroni and I. Often times we both voiced objections to a hard part, easy part or medium part or tossup answer. He was VERY responsive and proactive in fixing issues. I understand that some of Bruce's style doesn't fit into modern trends or have the same flair but it is not our job to make sure Bruce pleases every body, especially since so much of that is individual style.

Secondly, I disagree with the contention that 0/11/3 is a narrow distribution of buzzes. I'm not sure if you have gotten your SCT buzz conversion data yet, but I'm willing to bet hundreds of dollars that you wrote questions that went 0/20/X in like 20 rooms or something. That's perfectly OK, and is not indicative that you've written a bad question -- though if every question were like this, you're doing something wrong. It may suggest something is up, but it could be indicative of a lot of things. In this case, I wrote what I considered to be a hard question in architecture that people don't know a lot about - fascism in architecture. I will contend it's a great idea for a question since it's in so many art history books, etc. etc. But people did buzz on the EUR clue, the Ara Pacis clue, and in my room the giveaway. And I'm absolutely OK with all of the buzzes occurring post-power for this particular question.

Edit: clarity
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:11 pm

Jacob, I'll extend you the benefit of the doubt and reply to your post is if it was made by someone without known preconceived judgments about my writing and editing.
vinteuil wrote: You think that your fellow editor's history was too hard? You won't take responsibility for that as head editor?


I'll take responsibility in the sense that if I had more time or if I had budgeted it absolutely perfectly, I would have changed some of the less desirable third parts (like that Abdulmecid one) as a head editor.
A huge number of difficulty cliffs for no good reason (i.e. the tossup spent way too long on leadins and just said "fuck it" to middle clues). These often came in the middle of "transparent but impossible" questions—for example, Surabaya out of nowhere in the Islam in Indonesia question.
May I kindly suggest that this is a case of you needing to learn more things, ie. Islam as practiced in the most populous Muslim country? At the Michigan site, this question was powered and several people got it just out of power on the detail about the nine saints.
As Auroni (!) already mentioned, there were a number of difficulty problems with the history. Some of these were ridiculous tossup ideas—sure, it's probably possible to know the first few lines of the Wall Street Bombing or Dzungar genocide TU, but did you really think those tossups were the best use of X lines to differentiate teams based on knowledge? (Who aside from Jordan is buzzing before 10 Great Campaigns in the latter? Except based on "China, out west, kinda old, oh maybe not that old"—but this wasn't the most transparent-but-impossible question by a long shot.) The point being that, not only are these things very hard, but they're "niche" enough that you can't expect anything but a very very small number of people to be learning about them in early-clues depth independently. In other words, not many players will even know the answerline, and those who do are likely to know the topic as "a thing that happened, but I don't know much substantial about it."
You continue to choose unfortunate examples here. I actually had the same misgivings about you re: the Wall Street Bombing question, but it was answered by Chris Ray comfortably in the middle of the question and would have been powered even earlier by several others had they been playing in the final. Thanks to the magic of Ophir stats, I can reveal that no fewer than five people got the Dzungar genocide tossup on a spectrum of buzzes and that Will Alston negged it (while clearly knowing what was going on). Am I arguing that these are easy tossups? No, but clearly people have differing degrees of knowledge about them, and these are things that are absolutely worth knowing about (one of the earliest genocides, a key incident in the anarchist movement in the US), and they are not beyond the pale as the hardest answers in their respective categories.
Literally having to quote, not paraphrase, the TEN EXTREMELY GENERIC last words of L.E.G. Oates??
There is nothing generic about this extremely famous quotation that I have independently come across on a political comedy page I follow on Facebook, and this just continues to reveal that perhaps you should take this set as a cue to learn about more things. Sure, you can dispute its historic importance, and it could have been phrased more leniently, but as you can tell from Oliver's post, this is knowledge that has not come up in quizbowl, is possessed by a swath of people, and is worth testing as such.
A number of hard parts were gettable, which made the impossible ones (The Orphan of Zhao couldn't have been ANYTHING remotely easier—like zaju?)
So this was one of literally two or three literature bonus parts where I came across something and took a gamble about whether or not people would know it. Ultimately, I decided on going with it, because writers such as Voltaire and Metastasio adapted it. Was it a miscalculation? Probably. But most things I could ask about Chinese drama would have been hard, and I will defend the creative spirit needed to take a stab in the dark to round out a fresh and interesting bonus on an oft-overlooked subject (and one that often heads in the direction of the quizbowl-favorite The Peony Pavilion. (For what it's worth, it's not clear to me zaju would have been any easier)
This tournament was not Nats-minus as announced. Auroni, can you seriously not tell when your literature is too hard? John Guare, Geoffrey Hill, etc. TUs are already way pushing it and then you throw in An Inspector Calls? Were you just trying to match Bruce's difficulty? Why not bring his questions down? (But just to make this clear, these questions were often fun and interesting to listen to, and many other questions—e.g. Sanskrit from plays—were very well executed in terms of playability as well as content.)
Congrats on identifying three of the six hardest literature answerlines throughout the set and conveniently ignoring the dozens of others that sat in the ACF Fall to ACF Regionals range! For what it's worth, I selected all of those answerlines because people are likely to know about them: On top of writing the widely-read play from the last 30 years Six Degrees of Separation, John Guare also wrote the moderately read The House of Blue Leaves, which I thought some people had a chance of knowing about. Geoffrey Hill is the most important British poet of the past 50 years. An Inspector Calls is another widely-read quizbowl-overlooked classic, and that tossup was answered (and even powered) by people not known for their literature knowledge, such Mike Cheyne and Andrew Ullsperger.
Is a whole tossup on Lou Andreas-Salomé really a good way of differentiating teams?


As the self-proclaimed vanguard in quizbowl's charge for including cultural history, you should have been positively salivating over this tossup on a woman with widespread influence on the Berlin and Vienna cultural scenes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The genesis for this question was the biopic mentioned in the leadin (In Love with Lou (2016)), which I saw on a flight. I realized that several neglected topics (ie, women who are intellectual titans and who are routinely ignored in favor of their male contemporaries) could not come up and leave a lasting mental impression in quizbowl if not forcefully. So I decided to make the literal one hardest question in the Geo/CE/Other category (interesting that you weren't commenting on the other stuff there, as someone interested in reforming that 1/1 slice) a tossup on someone whom people would either already know about or whom people should go out and learn about, because she was a fascinating and important person.
This is a very negative post. While I think this tournament had some serious issues, let me just reiterate that a big number of the question were well-constructed, interesting, and fun. In general, there were very few noticeable errors, and sentence construction was usually easily parsable. Most of the clues were "interesting" in Ike's sense (sometimes in wacky ways, sometimes a bit too wacky). And this tournament certainly succeeded in showing that its (experimental) distribution can work well, so kudos for that as well.
I appreciate your criticism.

EDIT: one final thing from another post
vinteuil wrote:
Ike wrote: it's Bruce's first major tournament
Sure, NHBB might not count maybe, but ACF Fall doesn't?
What Ike meant to say is that this is Bruce's first major upper difficulty tournament. Taking that fact into account, I stand by all the praise Ike and I have heaped on him in this thread.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Sam » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:16 pm

Cheynem wrote:I don't know where the 1990's tossup went, but I buzzed on political history clues.
Oh, that may be true. I remember there being something about Harrod's but I guess it was more about the owner's involvement in politics.

As an aside, the question of whether some categories were more difficult than others seems like the kind of thing that Ophir-stats would be excellent in helping to answer. I can't download the spreadsheet because I don't know how computers work, but it should be pretty simple to compare average conversion, buzz point, etc. across categories.

EDIT: So, it turns out at least some of those conversion statistics are actually already in the sheets, hidden in large letters on the first page. Just eyeballing the Michigan site, it looks like everything hovered around 90%, though some of the science was closer to 80%. There was a lot more variation in powers, but again science was on the lower side. (History was pretty average, and in the case of European history actually much higher.) Maryland appears similar.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:27 pm

Cheynem wrote:I don't know where the 1990's tossup went, but I buzzed on political history clues.
Yeah, that was fairly political, if you ask me. I may have overstated my claim, (though Sam's examples were are still fairly "political," the Indians one, fx). On the whole though, I think there was 1: an inordinate amount of questions on military history and 2: very little "social" w/i the political and military questions.

There were good questions, though! The "YMCA" TU and the bonus on illumination/gas lighting were both fun (there were other fun ones too!). It wasn't totally terrible by any means. A lot of Jacob's points, though, ring true to me.

The wider thing behind my complaints is that I felt there wasn't much concern going in to the actual experience of listening to the questions. Difficulty cliffs are bad because they suck to play against! It's not fun to be mystified with 7 other people and then have a buzzer race when everyone hears something they think is familiar!
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:22 pm

AOL Email Address Haver wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Yeah, the Oates bonus--those are pretty memorable last words but it's very, very hard to pull the exact verbiage. I might have asked for a portion of the words ("Oates said he was just going outside and he may be what?") or given the words and asked for the situation.
Amusingly, at the UK site, this was free points, because every child learns the story.
This is false.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:26 pm

Short-beaked echidna wrote:
AOL Email Address Haver wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Yeah, the Oates bonus--those are pretty memorable last words but it's very, very hard to pull the exact verbiage. I might have asked for a portion of the words ("Oates said he was just going outside and he may be what?") or given the words and asked for the situation.
Amusingly, at the UK site, this was free points, because every child learns the story.
This is false.
So it was. My memory of a week ago is apparently increasingly poor.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:58 pm

Ike, can you post the question that had the bit about Marx's novel or whatever it was? I recall being confused by this.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:32 pm

[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in this philosopher’s novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
I guess I should say, the version as you heard it was:
[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in his novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
Making it ambiguous to which "his" is referring. If that was a source of confusion, I apologize. Anyway, this was the intended hard part, and what the bonus part was getting at was the line "Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philestine" was an early form of the idea that "History repeats itself: first as tragedy, second as farce."
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Eddie » Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:06 am

Kevin wrote:
Eddie wrote:I am not a fan of prompting on "mass" when the answer is "requiem" because it creates confusion with an already-existing musical genre, in much the same way that "John Adams" is not promptable for "John Quincy Adams." I know it's a little opaque, but it can also be helpful in preventing procedures where someone might waffle between "mass" and "requiem," buzz in, and hope for a prompt.
But a requiem, liturgically speaking, is a type of mass. John Quincy Adams is not a type of the second president John Adams. While some composers have deviated substantially from the traditional format (to the extent that you wouldn't call them a mass, i.e. the German Requiem), a standard requiem is certainly a type of mass, and usually features many of the same parts. I don't know if I have a perfect solution; I just don't think I agree with the notion that a requiem and a mass (as musical genres) are completely different things.
Hi Kevin,

Thanks for being patient with my response. I'll readily admit to the fact that choral music is certainly not my strong suit and that, as you said, a requiem is usually a direct subset of a mass. My disagreement with the leniency of the answer line comes from my understanding of the unfortunate naming convention: the term "mass" by itself is almost universally used to refer to the hypernym, and is never used to refer to the hyponym specifically describing a mass for the dead. Even though a requiem is a type of a mass, conflating the two terms in a non-quizbowl context would create confusion. If you or anyone can correct me on this (i.e. it is in fact common practice to call a requiem simply a mass, e.g. "Verdi's Mass"), I'll be happy to change the answer line.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:29 am

Ike wrote:
[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in this philosopher’s novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
I guess I should say, the version as you heard it was:
[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in his novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
Making it ambiguous to which "his" is referring. If that was a source of confusion, I apologize. Anyway, this was the intended hard part, and what the bonus part was getting at was the line "Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philestine" was an early form of the idea that "History repeats itself: first as tragedy, second as farce."
This is entirely too oblique, I think. The line in question appears only in "Scorpion and Felix," rather than "The 18th Brumaire." So you're really asking people to know about a line from an unpublished work of fiction that's tangentially related to something you would find in a philosophical work, which I think is just unreasonable. I think this is a good example of a question that falls in love with its conceit a little too much and neglects to provide actual clues that one could reasonably expect to convert.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Mar 06, 2017 11:42 am

Snap Wexley wrote:
Ike wrote:
[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in this philosopher’s novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
I guess I should say, the version as you heard it was:
[10] In a biography, Francis Wheen argues that this philosopher’s line “Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philistine,” which appears in his novel Scorpion and Felix, inspired this author’s treatise calling the government a “giant parasitic body.”
Making it ambiguous to which "his" is referring. If that was a source of confusion, I apologize. Anyway, this was the intended hard part, and what the bonus part was getting at was the line "Every giant ... presupposes a dwarf, every genius a hidebound philestine" was an early form of the idea that "History repeats itself: first as tragedy, second as farce."
This is entirely too oblique, I think. The line in question appears only in "Scorpion and Felix," rather than "The 18th Brumaire." So you're really asking people to know about a line from an unpublished work of fiction that's tangentially related to something you would find in a philosophical work, which I think is just unreasonable. I think this is a good example of a question that falls in love with its conceit a little too much and neglects to provide actual clues that one could reasonably expect to convert.
It may look that way, but just to be clear I think that this is gettable from the title drop alone. And originally it just did that, but i decided to add in the "flavor text" and some high-dangling fruit about The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, which is all to say, I really doubt anyone knew the import of Scorpion and Felix on The 18th Brumaire, I just wanted someone to get the bonus from either name of Scorpion and Felix, Francis Wheen, or a clue about the 18th Brumaire. One team did get it (maybe through guessing, can't really tell) so I'm open to the idea that this bonus part is too hard (and thus was too trivial, though I contend Marx is one of those guys who you can know everything about), but not that it was too coy.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Mar 06, 2017 12:13 pm

Why are you asking people to get stuff from "Scorpion and Felix," a book that I guarantee you no one reads? I don't know how important the Wheen bio is in the constellation of Marx biographies, but I think it's a real stretch to expect people to know much about it; you could at least clue the two recent bios by Steadman Jones and Sperber (a quizbowl dad!) that got written up in the NYRB (I believe) recently, but of course then you'd have to scrap the bit about his novel. Or, if you want to stick with the Wheen, you could drop the bit about how it won the Deutscher Prize, which I think would definitely clue some people into "this is probably a prominent communist." Even your "high-dangling fruit" from "The 18th Brumaire" is a generic phrase that appears briefly in one section of the essay; you don't even say that he's talking about the French government, which would at least allow someone to put two and two together.

I guess my main frustration with this part is that it doesn't seem to hit either anything significant about Marx's actual work or even particularly secondary scholarship about his work (other than mentioning Wheen). I'm not trying to pick on you (I thought most of the questions in your areas were pretty good), but I do want to use this as an example of what not to do. It's fine to throw something like "Scorpion and Felix" in as a "this is interesting but I don't expect anyone to know it" clue, but the way that I would do this would be to use that in the bonus leadin, make the first part a hard part about Marx from substantive philosophical clues, and then carry the conceit through to the other two bonus parts. Instead, announcing to people "this is a bonus about novels by philosophers" doesn't do them any favors or give them any useful information, and takes up space that you could use to convey clues. As a result, you end up with a cramped bonus part that jumbles together a number of things in the hope that someone will recognize one of them, which I think is a bad way of writing.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Mon Mar 06, 2017 1:21 pm

Jerry's post is right. I'd add that Ike's right that people go in the weeds deep with Marx. They just don't go into Scorpion and Felix! If you want to tie in Marx's other writings to his philosophy, why not ask about his (actually published!) journalism? Or his (partially published in English, fully published in German) notebooks? These are things people actually study! Kohei Saito, fx, has an upcoming book that's mostly drawn from Marx's doodlings about fertilizer or whatever.
(Also, this is minor, but in my interpretation of Marxist state theory, that quote isn't about the government, but more about the bureaucratic forces within it, an important distinction re: Poulantzas)

I'd be interested in hearing Bruce's response to me and Jacob's critiques.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Mar 06, 2017 5:38 pm

Snap Wexley wrote:Why are you asking people to get stuff from "Scorpion and Felix," a book that I guarantee you no one reads? I don't know how important the Wheen bio is in the constellation of Marx biographies, but I think it's a real stretch to expect people to know much about it; you could at least clue the two recent bios by Steadman Jones and Sperber (a quizbowl dad!) that got written up in the NYRB (I believe) recently, but of course then you'd have to scrap the bit about his novel. Or, if you want to stick with the Wheen, you could drop the bit about how it won the Deutscher Prize, which I think would definitely clue some people into "this is probably a prominent communist." Even your "high-dangling fruit" from "The 18th Brumaire" is a generic phrase that appears briefly in one section of the essay; you don't even say that he's talking about the French government, which would at least allow someone to put two and two together.
Actually I would have clued Sperber if it weren't for the meta-implications. I wrote this bonus after stumbling across this article. Heck, I even read through the selections on Marxists.org afterwards. (And as an aside some parts of it are actually pretty funny.) But I don't think this bonus is suggesting that people should have read that novel, but rather they should know this tidbit about Marx's life. I guess what this is all saying is, I don't see what's wrong with my philosophical approach to the idea of the question -- you'll see that I readily concede below that some of the execution could have been improved. Again, I will readily concede that this bonus may have been too hard if no one got it, but I don't think there's any one particular way to write a hard part on Karl Marx, and this is definitely a legitimate one.
I guess my main frustration with this part is that it doesn't seem to hit either anything significant about Marx's actual work or even particularly secondary scholarship about his work (other than mentioning Wheen). I'm not trying to pick on you (I thought most of the questions in your areas were pretty good), but I do want to use this as an example of what not to do. It's fine to throw something like "Scorpion and Felix" in as a "this is interesting but I don't expect anyone to know it" clue, but the way that I would do this would be to use that in the bonus leadin, make the first part a hard part about Marx from substantive philosophical clues, and then carry the conceit through to the other two bonus parts. Instead, announcing to people "this is a bonus about novels by philosophers" doesn't do them any favors or give them any useful information, and takes up space that you could use to convey clues. As a result, you end up with a cramped bonus part that jumbles together a number of things in the hope that someone will recognize one of them, which I think is a bad way of writing.
This is fair enough.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Mar 06, 2017 6:59 pm

The bonus part isn't perfect, not least of all because my team was unable to convert it, but it doesn't seem to warrant the response that it's getting here. Marx is indeed someone whose entire life is fair game for quizbowl at this level, and the bonus part didn't just mention his novel, it gave some context for its place in the overall scheme of Marx's work. It might have been a bit too hard from an empirical standpoint (but probably not the worst offender, given that there were surely some bonus parts not converted at all, when this one appears to have been converted at least once). But the idea that it's never worth cluing at all seems a bit ridiculous to me. Sure, it's more of a biographical clue, but the bonus part was based on the conceit of Marx's biography.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:37 pm

Again, I'd like to hear a response from Bruce.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Wed Mar 08, 2017 11:17 pm

The Stately Rhododendron wrote:Again, I'd like to hear a response from Bruce.
As I mentioned in another thread, no one on HSQB is obligated to give a response to what anyone posts. And honestly Isaac, I think you are being incredibly disrespectful and unreasonable in the way you have treated Bruce Lou in your collective interactions in this set of subfora.

In the vulgarity thread, Bruce Lou posted a good faith response to why he included the word "Chancellor of the Exchequer" in the tournament. I agree that it may have been a little glib, but if all you are going to do is express outrage and offense for a response that you didn't like, than I think you are being unreasonable, because that response shows that you do not actually want to have a "productive" dialogue with Bruce. Furthermore your response to him shows somewhat of a double standard--off in that thread, you suggest that Bruce is merely producing trivia questions, whereas in this thread you are demanding that Bruce writes more social history--a "more academia, less trivia" demand. As Andrew Hart has written, there are legitimately, good academic reasons to include vulgarity in questions. I am not endorsing such positions in this response, but rather pointing out that you have a double standard, and that I and others have told Bruce Lou that your opinions don't matter*; if he wants to improve his history writing there are plenty of other more reasonable people from which to get feedback. By which I mean, Bruce may need to incorporate more social history into his tournaments, but someone who isn't as much of a prick to interact with can tell him that.

*I guess this is an appropriate place to leave a footnote saying that I think Yale's responses in this set of threads have been incredibly unreasonable, and hence they don't really matter. They come off as more of an inept scathing expose about why they didn't like this tournament, as opposed to honest discussions about what was flawed or attempts to give good-faith writers helpful feedback. I think this is most prominent in Jacob's post about Panofsky, where I literally cannot understand what he is complaining about, other than "this Panofsky bonus leadin doesn't come up in the classroom," coupled with a bootstrapped claim that my bonus leadin** made the question more confusing and unplayable. I have no problem interacting with Jacob or Isaac in person, but hey, come on now! ... this is a little frustrating!

** Just to be clear, this is a FUCKING BONUS LEADIN FOR FUCK's SAKE!
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Jem Casey » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:21 am

I'm rather late, but just wanted to enumerate a few strengths and possible shortcomings of what was clearly a good open-level tournament. By category:

Literature: Auroni did great work here. Tossup difficulty was consistent and reasonable, clues were evocative, and the few questions that pushed into nats/nats+ territory (with the arguable exception of "Tobermory" and Sabato) did so to hit on "real world" famous things. I also thought the common-link answerlines were put to good use in illuminating motifs across the works of single authors (e.g. _wine_ in Poe), movements/periods (_ballads_, _beauty_ in Romantic poetry, _whore_s in Jacobean drama), or the broader history of literature (Irish immigrant experience in _Brooklyn_, _ghazal_s). The latter is exactly the sort of thing the genre-based subdistro should be used for, if it is implemented in other tournaments.

History: Isaac's assessment that the history was "not good at all" is unduly harsh--there were plenty of solid questions and several great ideas. I think this was a pretty commendable first open-level writing effort from Bruce, but would trace any frustration I had with the category while playing the set to three recurring issues: 1) too many questions focused on biographical or anecdotal aspects of their subjects, instead of events of broader social/cultural/political importance or interest; 2) occasional bonus parts that felt balls-hard in a trivial sort of way (Operation Lalang, Operation Agatha, and that Oates quote come to mind); 3) tossups that have "been done" and just weren't interesting this time around, such as William Bligh, expulsion of Jews from Spain, and abolitionism in Britain. At least a majority of the questions were unaffected by these problems and were fun to play. Also, I'm not sure I understand the complaints about tossup difficulty; I count ~8 tossups with answerlines of nats/nats+ difficulty, (to be clear, not all of these were hard in a good way; Dzungar genocide and Bayonet constitution probs weren't) which seems like an appropriate number of deliberately hard tus for a tournament of this level.

Legends: This category was really well-executed, and may have been the best open-level myth since VCU Open 2015. The tossup clues were consistently interesting to listen to, rewarding to buzz on, and engaged with memorable aspects of important texts and traditions. The common-links that traced subjects across cultures and texts, such as "introduction of fire" or "night raids in epics" were particularly strong.

Painting/Sculpture: Good and fun, but decidedly harder to power and 30 than the other humanities categories.

Thought: Predictably, Ike did a good job of cluing a bunch of important aspects of human intellectual history that would have been out-of-place in a pure philosophy distribution. I did feel, though, that said pure philosophy, especially more modern stuff, was short-changed. I count six 20th century thought tossups: Barthes, Word and Object, Unamuno, original position, Panopticon, and Situationists. It seems a bit off to give half this limited distro to French social critics and another spot to a tossup (like the Tolstoy one) on an intellectual better known for other work, leaving only two for major ideas/issues in 20th century philosophy. But this is a minor quibble; of course no subdistribution is perfect.
vinteuil wrote:A huge number of difficulty cliffs for no good reason (i.e. the tossup spent way too long on leadins and just said "fuck it" to middle clues). These often came in the middle of "transparent but impossible" questions—for example, Surabaya out of nowhere in the Islam in Indonesia question. Other questions, lacking a single cliff, took a series of very steep dives—call it multi-cliffing—instead of having, you know, enough middle clues. To reiterate: this wasn't every question, and probably not a majority, but such a high proportion (especially given current middle-clue standards) to affect gameplay.
Jacob, I understand that what you're describing here must have been frustrating, but I think this is a subjective impression. Here's another subjective impression: in the games of TTIAC I played at Michigan and staffed at Maryland, difficulty cliffs--as roughly measured in apparent buzzer races--were no more, or less, of an issue than any of the other hard tournaments I've played in a while. All the close games Maryland A played seemed to be won or lost not on easy clues materializing after impossible ones, but by one team knowing more about the packet's topics than the other. My experience doesn't mean, of course, that this tournament's middle clues and difficulty gradation were unusually good, but neither does your experience suggest the opposite.

More generally, I don't think criticism of difficulty cliffs does much to explain why a tournament had "serious issues," unless we can use common sense or buzzpoint data to identify multiple tossups a packet that went off said cliffs. Certainly, such criticism does little to help the writers--who all, no doubt, tried to select middle clues for their tossups--understand what they should have done differently, or how they should revise their approach for future projects (to be clear, though, I'm not saying tournament feedback is invalid if it doesn't do these things).
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Thu Mar 09, 2017 12:31 am

Ike wrote: *I guess this is an appropriate place to leave a footnote saying that I think Yale's responses in this set of threads have been incredibly unreasonable, and hence they don't really matter. They come off as more of an inept scathing expose about why they didn't like this tournament, as opposed to honest discussions about what was flawed or attempts to give good-faith writers helpful feedback. I think this is most prominent in Jacob's post about Panofsky, where I literally cannot understand what he is complaining about, other than "this Panofsky bonus leadin doesn't come up in the classroom," coupled with a bootstrapped claim that my bonus leadin** made the question more confusing and unplayable. I have no problem interacting with Jacob or Isaac in person, but hey, come on now! ... this is a little frustrating!

** Just to be clear, this is a FUCKING BONUS LEADIN FOR FUCK's SAKE!
Hey, I'll be posting in more detail when I'm less busy next week, but I agree (and am sorry!) that my rhetoric in that post was overheated given the subject matter, i.e. I agree that it was a fundamentally aesthetic argument made with the same force as the playability claims I put forth here. (I still want to make clear exactly what that aesthetic argument was, but not now.)
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by The Stately Rhododendron » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:30 am

I was being a jerk, my bad. I meant no disrespect with "trivia," for me, that term applies to all quizbowl questions (and there's nothing wrong with that!)
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Ike » Thu Mar 09, 2017 6:27 pm

Thanks, Yale. I'm going to assume that some of the heat behind the posts was that you guys didn't enjoy the tournament that much. I think I speak for all the editors when I say, we wished you liked the tournament.

Thanks for the thought-out post Jordan! I'll respond to your points. The point about philosophy is a fair criticism. I just didn't have enough time to do a second-hard pass on many of these questions, so I didn't do as much tweaking and revisioning, and I am surprised that it worked out such that all the continental philosophy in the 20th-century was French social critics. For this tournament, I didn't mind being a bit more fast and loose with the subdistribution to experiment - that Tolstoy question in philosophy is something that I don't mind trying out here. Actually that brings me to my larger point...I tried out some weirder questions in this tournament that I wouldn't have let into a tournament lIke Nationals -- these include the coke bottles TU for example. I think for a tournament like this -- nats-prep, open-level, it's OK to experiment a bit with new ideas and see how they play out. Hopefully that didn't ruin anyone's experience, but I can see it definitely being a contributing factor to a "weird tournament."

In another point, you noted how the arts was hard to power. That may be true, and I want to talk about that for a little bit. For this tournament, on my own questions, I enforced a hard cap of eight(.5 occasionally) lines pre-power. My co-editors did not write such TUs all the time. In fact, if I was convinced a TU did its necessary gradation in 7-lines, I wrote a 7-line TU. For all of these questions, I tried to make sure power was ended before the 5th line of a tossup was ended, so that I left behind a significant amount of lower middle clues. This in turn made my questions harder to power since you had much less wiggle room to sit on a tossup--and I strongly suspect this deflated my categories' power numbers. And honestly, when I look at why some more of the prominent players had slightly depressed power numbers, I suspect that this length decision I made was a part of it.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Thu Mar 09, 2017 10:15 pm

Ike wrote:For all of these questions, I tried to make sure power was ended before the 5th line of a tossup was ended, so that I left behind a significant amount of lower middle clues. This in turn made my questions harder to power since you had much less wiggle room to sit on a tossup--and I strongly suspect this deflated my categories' power numbers. And honestly, when I look at why some more of the prominent players had slightly depressed power numbers, I suspect that this length decision I made was a part of it.
I think some interesting answer line choices like "Coca Cola Bottles" and "Benito Mussolini (in architecture)" may have also contributed to this as people don't really study those things in depth. I'm making no statement about the quality of the answer lines / toss-ups, just an observation that may on a decision that may have led to a reduced power count.
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Re: 2017 (This) Tournament is a Crime General Discussion

Post by Charbroil » Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:31 pm

Joker wrote:
Ike wrote:For all of these questions, I tried to make sure power was ended before the 5th line of a tossup was ended, so that I left behind a significant amount of lower middle clues. This in turn made my questions harder to power since you had much less wiggle room to sit on a tossup--and I strongly suspect this deflated my categories' power numbers. And honestly, when I look at why some more of the prominent players had slightly depressed power numbers, I suspect that this length decision I made was a part of it.
..."Benito Mussolini (in architecture)"...
I can't speak for the Coca-Cola bottles thing, but the impact of Mussolini on Rome's current layout is actually a huge deal and a thing that people who study urban design, history/archaeology (because of all of the damage he did), or architecture do learn about.
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