Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

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Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Jul 24, 2016 9:21 am

There being no mirrors, the question set for Chicago Open 2016 is now cleared for discussion.*

Here is the list of who edited what:
John Lawrence: All Literature, Auditory Fine Arts, Philosophy
Mike Cheyne: All History
Matt Jackson: Religion, Mythology, all Social Science except econ, most Your Choice (including all Geography and Current Events)
Adam Silverman: Biology, Chemistry
Mike Bentley: Visual Fine Arts, computer science
Aaron Rosenberg: Physics, astronomy, earth science, "true other" science
Jake Sundberg: math
Shan Kothari: econ, extra consult on earth science and ecology/macrobiology

Additionally, Ewan Macaulay contributed some chem and physics questions and advised a bit on those categories. Jonathan Magin contributed some editors' Literature. Eddie Kim and Kevin Koai playtested the Auditory Arts and made helpful comments in finalizing it.

We did things under a largely acephalous editing model, with each person handling their categories independently. Various editors contributed some editors' questions across category lines to help each other out. We kept each other honest via profligate use of Google Drive's Insert Comment feature and full-set readthroughs at the end by John, Mike, Mike, Adam, and myself. I am curious to hear whether this worked out okay and the tournament still felt like a cohesive whole, or if different categories still felt disjoint in editing vision or difficulty in a way that detracted from players' experience.

*Any packet which was played yesterday is clear for discussion. Because a team cleared the field for the fifth (!) year running and there weren't any play-ins or emergencies requiring the use of the emergency packet, there are three editors' packets which went unheard yesterday. We'll probably be holding off on posting those for a bit; John hopes to do some sort of online reading of those (probably an IRC free-for-all) early this week, after which those too will be cleared and posted.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by adamsil » Sun Jul 24, 2016 10:11 am

I want to thank Matt and John for giving me the opportunity to work on this set. Editing CO is a blast just for the opportunity to ask about a lot of things that you simply can't do at an ACF tournament. Also, many thanks to Shan for his invaluable advice on the non-molecular bio, and to my brother for his advice on the molecular bio and some of the chem.

I was heavy-handed with submissions, probably more than any other editor. That was partly because I had a list of things that I wanted to include in this tournament, and partly because I wanted the tournament to reflect my ideas of what a hard bio or chem question should look like (i.e.: focusing on mechanistic organic chem rather than lists of reactions; lots of chemical or biological engineering clues to have more "applied" tossups; cluing the names of important contemporary people in their fields rather than citing journal articles from the 80s; etc.) I don't know how successful this was: even seeing only half the tournament due to some travel snafus, I think I only saw one power and one 30 in my categories all afternoon. I didn't try to take pot shots at crazy stuff in my categories, but even excellent science teams didn't convert some answer lines that I don't consider all that difficult (e.g. DCC, C-H activation, Pichia). Sorry about that!

As an inexperienced writer/editor for these difficulties, I especially welcome specific feedback on what worked and didn't work, either here or by email, and general comments as well. I also wrote a handful of other questions (the "Your Choice" TU on antibiotic resistance, the physics tossup on order parameter, as well as the "other other science/engineering" questions on PID controllers and desalination). Sorry for the screwed-up ethology bonus where "red" gets mentioned in the bonus leadin--it was in a completely different FAP, but it appears that some people still got confused by it, and the overlap was just not something that I was thinking about when I wrote it.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Sun Jul 24, 2016 1:45 pm

I would also like to thank Matt and John for giving me an opportunity to work on the set. Using Google Drive as our main platform allowed for problems to be pinpointed very easily and also allowed for us to arrive at solutions to those problems just as easily. I would like to think that using the comment chains as frequently as we did resulted in a better overall experience for the players.

With regards to the math content of the set: In the end there ended up being 6/7 math sprinkled across the set (there are two or three questions whose content shall remain blind to you for the time being). As a result, making the distribution both fair and balanced was quite challenging. I hope I did a decent job in this regard.

All of the math tossups you heard yesterday were submissions, as I *believe* my two editors tossups are in the packets that haven't been read just yet. So any and all credit for yesterday's tossup answerlines goes to you, the player. I liked everyone's answer choices, even those questions that I ended up not using.

My philosophy on hard parts was two-fold: I wanted to reward people for depth of knowledge while I also wanted to introduce some new material into the canon (it is CO, after all!). I did shade slightly toward important/interesting things that are learned in a classroom setting that haven't necessarily been asked about in quizbowl. In fact, most of the hard parts were exactly those things. A couple of the hard parts were on very challenging but interesting (relatively) recent results.

Middle parts varied a bit. They ranged from "you've dabbled in the math distro so let me ask you about this doubly eponymous thing" to "let's see if you know the first thing that is learned about this subject, or maybe the second thing if the first thing was too easy for a middle part" to "harder clues on easier things" to pretty standard fare.

Easy parts were intended to be easy and converted by the field at an average of at least 8-9 ppb, hopefully more. They were exclusively pulled from things that are asked about a lot in quizbowl.

I tried to pull from as many areas of math as I possibly could without compromising the quality of the questions. At some point, I touched on modern geometry, group theory, modern number theory, ring theory, graph theory, combinatorics, numerical linear algebra, connections between graph theory and linear algebra, probability, machine learning (I'm fine with interdisciplinary stuff!), ODE, PDE, numerical methods, knot theory, additive combinatorics, real analysis, optimization, and classical number theory. Did people like this approach? Why or why not?

The submissions were for the most part excellent. Every submission gave me either a nice question to work with or a good idea for a question. If the question wasn't quite how I wanted your submission to be, I tried to implement your idea in some way/shape/form in the set. Unfortunately due to space restrictions I couldn't use everyone's ideas, however I would like to point out that everyone made a fine effort on their questions and I'm very thankful for that.

I welcome any and all comments.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Jul 24, 2016 3:45 pm

I think the overall impression I got from most players was that this tournament was brutally hard, even by CO standards, despite the authors' deliberate attempt to pick accessible answerlines and write solid questions with interesting clues (which they did). I think the power counts reflect this, though we should congratulate Jordan Brownstein on pulling off Matt Bollinger's feat from 2014 ICT: single-handedly outpowering every other team in the field.

Personal comments: the religion and myth were great - I could tell Matt was trying to set a model of what questions in these areas should look like going forward and I think he did. The history was overall solid - I should note that there were a number of really good ideas (Norwegian independence, Chinese occupations of Vietnam, the Delian league treasury - though the latter question should have had a better identifier) but also some that were really poorly executed (Saigo Takamori and the Catalan Company come to mind, and the choice of answerline for the Uthman assassination question seems suspect, though the cluing in that tossup seemed about as good as you could do for that). Ten out of fifteen world history tossups were on the 20th century, which felt like a massive snub, but I'm guessing that this is the result of this tournament being packet-submission and the authors wanting to use what they were given. The American and European history questions covered a wide diversity of topics and I think this was very good.

This is irrelevant since there are no future mirrors, but as a warning to people looking to create Near Eastern myth questions in the future - be super, super careful with your answerlines. If Deity X is basically an offshoot/modified form of Deity Y, you need to prompt on Deity X unless you're late in the question and the information has been exceedingly clear (I think this is different from things like Xipe Totec being called "Red Tezcatlipoca" - I am hesistant to say you should prompt on Tezcatlipoca alone, but I really don't know enough about this). Case in point: I got screwed on the Melqart tossup because I buzzed very early and went "I think this is a tossup on Melqart (!) - but to be safe, I'll say Ba'al and get a prompt if it is, in fact, on Melqart." The answer really needs a prompt on "Ba'al" because he's basically the analogous figure of Ba'al in Tyre, he basically plays the role of Ba'al in Tyre's myth system (son of El, etc.) and he's sometimes referred to as Ba'al Melqart (i.e. Lord King-of-the-City, a rather needless double honorific) or Ba'al-Melqart. (EDIT: I should note that, like, every male Semitic deity is called "Ba'al something" so this last point doesn't have a lot of meat to it, but the previous bit is important).
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Jul 25, 2016 4:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jul 25, 2016 1:37 am

I'll have more to say when I'm not super tired, but I want to thank Matt Jackson for helping me a lot and giving invaluable feedback on clues/difficulty. I was shooting for tossups that were hard to power but accessible and bonuses that were, well, hard, but hopefully not stump the chump hard.

Mike Bentley actually edited a good chunk of the editors packets history.

I haven't edited a hard set in a while; I'm sure there were a good share of clunkers. Submissions were generally rather good; I got a bit antsy towards the end and began throwing in more of questions I wanted to write instead of editing submissions, so sorry about that. Will is right that world history skewed modern; in some ways, it was submissions, while in others, it was just easier for me to write. In the Euro, at least, I tried very consciously to avoid hitting only topics I like.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:05 am

I will add my voice to the praise song for Matt Jackson. His organizational genius was invaluable in keeping this set perpetually on point. I think all of us can say that his myriad comments helped us improve the quality of our questions. (And I, in particular, greatly benefited from his comments on my philosophy questions, in which he caught a couple of embarrassing errors and one hose.) Most of all, we should not forget that he came in to work on this set after formally deciding months prior that he would not be able to do this.

Matt has also already mentioned Kevin Koai and Eddie Kim (who playtested the music) and Jonathan Magin (who kicked in a few literature questions). Matt Jackson, Mike Bentley, and Ewan also contributed a couple of editors questions to the categories that I edited. I thank them for their contributions.

Thanks is owed to all of my co-editors. As you know, this set almost didn't happen, because no one accepted my initial overtures to work on it (with the exception of Adam). It was thanks to their goodwill and hard work that this set actually happened. It was a pleasure to work with all of them.

I'm glad that it was such a pleasure, because (as many of you know) I intend this to be my last time editing a collegiate/open academic set (with the possible but not terribly likely exception of set-editing an ICT, sometime after I finish my PhD program in 2019). While I have always found editing enjoyable, it has become too time-consuming for me to continue doing it, while attempting to pursue any robust program of dissertation research. (Indeed, in order to edit this tournament, I had to stall the major research portion of my dissertation by one year.) Also, I feel like I've reached the point where most of the ideas and/or principles that I strove to bring to the game have been absorbed into some portion of the mainstream; and those that have not are destined not to, regardless of further advocacy on my part. I look forward to seeing what a younger generation of editors does with the game.

I'll say a little bit about my editing philosophy for this tournament, so that future CO editors can decide which elements are worth adopting. In Literature, my top priority was balance across rounds. By this I mean a diversity of genres and time periods within packets and across the set, a diversity of types of hard parts on bonuses, and a restriction to (at most) one crazy tossup idea per round. The lack of enforcement of these things (especially the last of these) at most previous COs has been my biggest complaint over the years. I would like to believe that is possible to control this, even at a packet submission tournament such as this, in which few if any packets are combined. And I hope that I succeeded in this effort. In Philosophy, I wanted to focus on major thinkers, concepts, and extremely important works, as opposed to random-ass fourth-tier books/essays no one has read. Luckily, that is basically what was submitted to me anyways. There is (to my mind) only one very hard individual work that got tossed up in the philosophy distribution, and I'd happily defend its significance. In Music, I was generally very impressed at the tossup answers people chose to submit. I tried to keep very many of the submitted answers, and just rework the clues.

In the editors' questions (including replacement questions), my motto was: "Pursue the overdue." I strove often (but not always) to ask about things that I was surprised hadn't been tossed up yet (e.g. if we take dance seriously as a fine art, how have we somehow never tossed up Fred Astaire?). I heavily favored those over "Hell, why not? Let's see what happens..."-type answers. I also deliberately revived some carefully chosen works that were popular 5-6 years ago, but have dropped out of circulation since. I strongly urge editors of tournaments such as this to consider canon expansion and canon maintenance as equally important goals. Sometimes answer-lines die well-deserved deaths: they shouldn't have received prominent places in the canon to begin with. But sometimes answer-lines that are genuinely important and worthwhile disappear after a spate of being tossed up too many times in a short period. This is unfortunate. I think that it is worth reviving such answers at a later date, so long as there are fresh clues worth exploring.

I may say more about difficulty later in this thread. Suffice to say that I'm surprised that people found this set to be harder than the last couple of COs, as most of my editing was dedicated to making submissions easier (very many submissions that we received were absolutely insane), and I was under the impression that my stuff at least was more canonically grounded.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:24 am

I was also a little surprised that people found it "brutally hard," even compared to other CO's. I knew it would be hard, but at least in looking at the categories where I have knowledge (lit and history), it seemed accessible tossup answerlines and a clear easy-medium-hard bonus structure (with the usual CO hard-ass hard parts). I do not know if people felt every category was super hard or just a few or if it was more like the combined effect.

I don't think you should take the suppressed power numbers as proof that it was brutally hard. I won't speak for my co-editors or even John, but I suspect that many of them share similar mindsets that powers should be pretty hard to get (although I would surmise that people were powering my questions more than other categories). Just because the power mark is stingy or the early clues are hard doesn't necessarily mean it's a brutally hard tossup (it could be, of course).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:34 am

First, some additional thanks are in order. Matt Jackson deserves every bit of praise above and more. His comments were helpful across all subjects. He also designed the schedule, with assistance from Jon Pinyan. I'd also like to thank Adam, Ewan, and Shan for their contributions to the physics and my areas of other science, both questions and comments. Seth Teitler and Stephen Eltinge also looked over a number of the physics questions and suggested many key fixes and improvements. Seth also pointed me to some very useful resources for the astronomy, without which I would be out of my depth.

Finally, thanks again to all the staff who made this happen: John, Mike Cheyne, Adam Silverman, Adam Sperber, Saul, Eliza, Samir, Olivia, Abby, Morgan, Andrew Nadig, Harris, Victoria, Young, and Albert. And a shout-out to my friends Baird and Kelsey who transported all the breakfast food and other staff goodies to the tournament.

Moving on to the set: this was my first - and perhaps final - time as official editor of physics, astro, and earth sci, at any level. My goal was to strike a balance between important areas of current research and the standard fare of science curricula. On the whole, I think the physics covered a good range of topics. Most of the submitted bonuses ranged from solid to excellent, and it was unfortunate that I had to tweak several due to repeats. I replaced more of the tossups, but there were great submissions there too. This tournament did have a lot of quantum field theory and GR, but I don't consider that a problem, since they are the two foundations of modern physics and the upper-level physics curriculum. I also limited my categories to two total tossups on scientists, though in hindsight I could have done with one or zero.

I was a bit harsher on the other science, mainly to make room for engineering questions and keep the astronomy balanced between observational, planetary, stellar, galactic, and cosmological. Adam contributed the wonderful control theory bonus, and I wrote the tossups on sand (in materials processing) and FPGAs.

I hope players enjoyed these categories, and welcome feedback.

edited for completeness
Last edited by Lagotto Romagnolo on Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:15 pm

I don't think it was the suppressed power numbers as much as the clue structure and the bonuses that made the set feel exceptionally hard. I remember a bunch of moments like the "Autobiography of Red" tossup, which Tommy has read and didn't answer until the sixth line because of all the steep clues before then. On the non-history categories the first half of each question was pretty daunting.

That said, I enjoyed this set a lot and liked getting to play with Jerry and Mike for the first time. It was also the first time in a while that I've felt really out of my depth, which is a healthy thing for everyone to experience periodically. It was a rigorous set that challenged me to start really learning shit again.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:17 pm

Also Jordan is Steph goddamn Curry.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:17 pm

Is that foreshadowing anything?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:26 pm

Cheynem wrote:Is that foreshadowing anything?
breaking: eric mukherjee transfers to Kansas to win his home town a title
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Jul 26, 2016 12:33 pm

Cheynem wrote:Is that foreshadowing anything?
*I'm signing with Maryland next year and Ophir's going to go around kicking people in the balls.

*Not actually happening.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:48 pm

At the risk of even more editors tooting their own horn, here are some more of my long-form thoughts.

The original plan, as hatched in July 2015, was for John and I to co-edit most/all of the non-science, and bring in two or three more people to help with science and gaps in our knowledge bases. Between being on TV and some other personal-life stuff, I really wasn't in a place to work on this or any other tournament, and had to drop away in mid-December. I'm glad that by March or April I was open to being roped back in, and I'm really glad to have been a part of a large, responsible, and timely team of editors, which made the entire experience go smoothly and maximized the joy:despair ratio of the whole thing.

Re: difficulty

(take everything I say with a grain of salt here, because I wasn't at the tournament and didn't see how it played firsthand)

From what I can tell, bonus conversion is roughly in line with that at the past five COs. If I'm doing my quick math right, the average number of tossups converted per game was something like 15.61 (average of Bonuses Heard column, divided by 14 games played, times 2 since two teams play in a given game), meaning of course that on average 4.39 tossups went dead per game. That's suboptimal but not that different from what I suspect most teams experience at most COs.

The main difference that leaps out compared to previous years, then, is the huge drop in power numbers on every team except the first place team, compared to what the top half of the field usually manages in years where CO has powers. What the suppressed power numbers tell me is that our early and middle clues were systematically less gettable than we expected them to be. Maybe we were a little too overzealous about ensuring that the pre-giveaway clues of tossups weren't recycled from previous packets. Maybe we just thought things were more gettable than they were. Speaking for myself, particularly in social science, I took several stabs in the dark trying to find clues that were genuinely important to the fields, using things like number of citations and presence in introductory textbooks to try and get a proxy for that nebulous quality we call "Real World Importance" -- but that of course is no guarantee that quizbowlers are in on the ground floor of an academic discipline enough to convert those clues. It could also be influenced by field composition (even factoring out the editing team, many CO-champion mainstays of past years were absent, and others have atrophied).

Re: heavy handed editing

As Adam and Aaron alluded to, I think it's fair to say that most of the subject editors of this tournament took a pretty "activist" or "iron-fisted" approach to making their categories the way they wanted them to be. Many original submissions which were already pretty good were revised pretty heavily, and some usable material was discarded largely due to time-saving or subdistribution-balancing concerns. In the end, across all packets in the set (including the fourteen submitted packets and six editors' packets), editors' questions constituted about 52% of the set and questions edited or rewritten in some way from a submission constituted about the other 48%. Considering only the submitted packets, submitted questions (including full rewrites or bonuses where only one answer was kept) constituted about 70% of the material, with editors' questions taking up about 30%. We also kept all tossups to between 7.5 and 8.5 lines pre-bolding, power-marking, numbering, pronunciation guide-ing, etc., though I guess that didn't mean much when most tossups went so late anyways.

I had editors mark cells in the answer sheet with a special symbol if a given submitted question was especially good and needed minimal to no editing to be used in the set. In total, there were 48 submitted questions marked this way across the 16 submitted packets we used (combined into 14 tournament-final packets). The Gupta et al. packet had 13 questions marked as usable with minimal editing, and we only wrote 5 replacement questions for it, so I feel comfortable calling it the "best" packet we received. Congrats, or something.

Re: my editing choices

In general, I think this tournament tried to strike a balance of going deep into "canonical works", testing the edges of the existing "canon", and breaking all-new ground, which is ideally a balance all tournaments ought to strike as is appropriate for their difficulty level.

I do really like John's idea of "canon maintenance" above; it's the first time I've heard it, but it definitely makes sense for describing some of the flavor of parts of this set. Posts like this one definitely allude to the idea that over time frames like six, seven, or eight years, topics won't just get over-used and then disappear in bubble-like fashion -- they'll be able to recur and be "done right" at some future date. The canon isn't going to expand infinitely; rather it's a sort of subduction-like process where clue-magma is pushed into the earth and comes back out again some time later. And ultimately, as the CO-playing audience ages and more people from bygone eras loop back around to playing it here or there, having more "shadow canon" stuff pop back up from time to time can be a nice nostalgia trip.

In theater, directors often talk about making a "strong choice" -- committing 100% to doing a particular scene or show or character portrayal in a new, bold way to see if it works out. (For one example, integrating sign language into the recent Broadway revival of Spring Awakening, which makes the show more accessible to deaf audiences and opens up new character nuances for hearing/ASL-illiterate audiences as well.) Sometimes a "strong choice" doesn't work out or gets critically panned, but you'll never know how viable it could have been if you half-ass it or the actor scoffs at it while playing the role. I think of myself as having made some "strong choice"s in the above vein at this tournament -- I make no guarantee that they turned out okay, but they merit explanation.

RM

As Will alluded to earlier, I did take deliberate steps with Religion and Mythology to stake out areas of future exploration for those categories. Among them, I:
  • put a decent number of questions on scholarship of religion and mythology under those category headings proper (e.g. the myth tossup on Jung, the "theories of religion" bonus on sacred-profane/Axial Age/hypersensitive agency detection device, the submission on Max Muller), rather than jamming all of that into social science,
  • focused on texts where possible, both in asking people to name them (e.g.: Description of Greece, Shabaka stone, the Natyashastra, Surah 9) and using "lit clues" from them as the primary source of clues (e.g.: tossups on Briseis and "the shield of Aeneas" [talk about overdue!], death of Pan bonus)
  • focused on concepts useful in comparative perspective ("hospitality," "sleeping under a mountain until the nation's hour of need") instead of deep-diving into the characters of an obscure myth system,
  • highlighted the cultural or ceremonial aspects of believing in a religious/mythological story where possible (bonus on oral literature, submission on Hmong funeral rites, Santa Muerte, the Acrocorinth temple complex, Chinese silk myths submission)
  • introduced less "sacred" topics which nonetheless pertain to the supernatural things humans believe in (e.g. Church of Satan, Nazi occult fantasies, unicorn hoaxes, cryptids)
  • focused a lot of the Religion on things contemporary believers do, learn about, or dispute, or on recent religious history (e.g. birth of Muhammad celebrations, Catholic education, Paryushan, Jewish prayers, the Heavenly Mother doctrine in Mormonism, submissions on New York rabbis and clerical celibacy)
None of the above was dogmatic or absolute across the tournament; there were still plenty of questions (esp. submitted questions) which took a more "traditional quizbowl" approach, including common links and just asking people to know mythical beings straight-up (or identify a culture from its myths). Regardless, I definitely did stake out a position in the way I edited these categories, which I hope inspires and invigorates future editing work on them. (In particular, I have come to believe over the last few years that the current state of mythology questions at high-difficulty tournaments is somewhere between "a bore" and "an embarrassment". Expect to hear more general thoughts about this in my upcoming manifesto.)

Social Science

When it comes to the social science, this tournament was on board with the recent move away from "dead theorists" and "musty old tomes" and tried to keep a near-exclusive focus on the way social sciences are studied today. With the exceptions of the tossup on "logotherapy" and the bonus on anthropological hoaxes in the Laferbrook packet, I think I managed this, and was able to keep to recent developments or still-relevant seminal work in my cluing of topics which could cut either way (such as the submitted ethnography tossup on Indonesia). Giving the "religion and myth scholarship" a new home in the RM distribution, and having an academically-wide Your Choice distribution, both help a lot with ensuring that social science can stay on-point.

Shan Kothari did a great job keeping the econ honest for the set and provided useful commentary on other social sciences as well. On my part, a lot of editing social science involved a decent amount of guesswork to figure out what difficult social science clues might be unique and knowable either to high-level students, to quizbowlers, or both. In doing this, I consulted extensively with one recent introductory textbook apiece in cultural anthropology, sociology, and psychology, which helped with generating ideas and vetting them to see if specific papers or concepts had mainstream awareness or appeal in the social sciences. I also tried to raise the level of Political Science in the set to be more on par with the traditional quizbowl emphasis on psychology, economics, and anthropology/sociology, and thankfully a few good submissions helped with that. Social Science is the category where I suspect my attempts could have gone over the weakest in actual practice, and so I'd like to hear more, particularly from people who study a social science or two, about how they felt it went.

Your Choice

Coordinating Your Choice was probably the most fun aspect of my editing job on this tournament -- teams submitted all kinds of wild and wacky stuff, which meant we got to use a lot of original ideas. The final packets had 1/1 Your Choice apiece; in total, out of 20 packets, the set had 4/3 Geography, 4/3 Current Events, 0/6 Mixed_Pure_Academic, 1/1 Food, and I guess that leaves 5/7 which was truly Your Choice or uncategorizable as quizbowl currently does things. There were some occasions where we thought a submission worked better in Your Choice than it did in the standard category where it was originally submitted (or vice versa); for example, the submissions on Paper Lion and "theatrical stages" were originally Literature, but we moved them so we could make use of them without crowding out "'real' 'Literature'" in each case.

I will say that of the submissions we got, the "genuine choice" submissions were, on the whole, a lot more inspired and well-written than the geography or current events submissions, which we also required one of from each team. I suspect that geography and current events are, for whatever reason, topics that today's elite players just tend to find boring and unworth the effort to spruce up. I think that's kind of a shame (and I wonder if NAQT is taking note -- it may well be an artifact of the fact that the mACF distribution family puts far less emphasis on them, and college players play a lot more of those than NAQT). Hopefully things like the quasi-science current events tossup on "antibiotic resistance" and the geography bonus on Malay mountains (complete with myth and botany crossover) show that there's ways to make these categories fresh and rewarding.

Concluding Thoughts

This isn't quite a set discussion item, but: I suggest that the entry fees of CO be raised in future years to better compensate the amount of work editors put into producing it. This will also help with things like recruiting/reimbursing staff, paying for lunch, etc., which makes CO weekend a more attractive and "legit"-seeming experience for players to travel to. For some reason, people are anchored on $120 being the "fair" market price for any quizbowl event, not factoring in that CO is much longer than the average tournament and that travel expenses make most player's entry fee a rather small part of the actual attending cost. A base fee and discount structure more in line with ACF Nationals (including, perhaps, large discounts for sufficiently good packets) might help with all of the above.

This was also the first year since 2009 that Chicago Open didn't make use of a full round-robin, because it was too large to do so. I think this is a good development, even though it meant some packets had to be cut or doubled-up within a round. It'll take a few years, but I want to see CO keep growing in size and scope as quizbowl grows and retirees/dinosaurs stick around -- it's not out of the question to envision that by 2022 or so, there will be as many as forty teams playing (though at that point it might be worth considering reviving BASQUE or having three major sites across the country or something).

This is a good time to announce that CO 2016 is the last tournament I plan to edit; I too am permanently retiring from subject and set editing for the foreseeable future. I may still write original questions on an "as-I-feel-like-it" basis for tournaments here or there, and may put together small side events or "phun pakkitz" on occasion moving forward. (And I am signed up to write for NAQT this year!) But the tasks of supervising the assembly, rewriting, and completion of a pile of questions and shaping it into a playable tournament set have been a tremendous (and more-or-less continuous) source of joy and stress alike for me for most of the past eight years. With the completion of this high-difficulty mACF event, I've more or less accomplished everything I've sought out to do in the editing realm. And this game requires editors who have lots of new ideas and the zeal for implementing them so that it can stay vivid and avoid stagnation. As such, I feel that this is a good time for me to move on to new challenges outside of quizbowl question-production. I look forward to seeing new players join the "editing stable" and take the game in their own directions.
Last edited by Adventure Temple Trail on Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:04 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:54 pm

Also, if you're interested in editing CO 2017, now would be a good time to speak up (feel free to email me, John, and Matt, although none of us are going to veto it).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:57 pm

The Superfluous Man wrote:( none of us are going to veto it).
Unless you're a terrible editor. :razz:
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 26, 2016 2:58 pm

I just want to reassure my fans that I plan on editing many more tournaments.

(But probably not CO 2017)
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:09 pm

I suggest drafting Jordan.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:10 pm

I will draft Sam Bowie instead.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Jul 26, 2016 3:15 pm

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:When it comes to the social science, this tournament was on board with the recent move away from "dead theorists" and "musty old tomes" and tried to keep a near-exclusive focus on the way social sciences are studied today. With the exceptions of the tossup on "logotherapy" and the bonus on anthropological hoaxes in the Laferbrook packet, I think I managed this, and was able to keep to recent developments or still-relevant seminal work in my cluing of topics which could cut either way (such as the submitted ethnography tossup on Indonesia). Giving the "religion and myth scholarship" a new home in the RM distribution, and having an academically-wide Your Choice distribution, both help a lot with ensuring that social science can stay on-point.
I thought this was an interesting experiment worth carrying out more at hard tournaments in the future. The big issue I foresee is accessibility for lower-level events: there's only so many theorists who are accessible at a lower level, and you can't really write that many pure myth tossups clued mostly from theorists Levi-Strauss or Jung for tournaments like ACF Fall. Mixing in clues like this here and there is a good idea and should be welcome, and I think mythography bonuses should be a regular feature of the myth distribution (though should not eat it up entirely).

For social science, I liked the focus on "realness" and I think this is easier to translate down to lower levels of play than the experimental religion/myth distribution; however, I think this will need to be done by mixing in more "dead theorists" and things that a greater non-academic audience is more likely to be familiar with (stay tuned for this year's EFT). It's always worth keeping in mind that quizbowl is a general-interest phenomenon, not a place exclusively for people with super in-depth academic knowledge to show off their stuff. Writing questions in a "totally real" way is only good insofar as they remain playable, educational, and interesting to a wide audience - otherwise, the high-level economics distribution would mostly consist of paper citations and econometrics, thus pushing interest away from the category in a similar way to how I was pushed away from economics academia.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by kdroge » Tue Jul 26, 2016 4:38 pm

First off, I had a lot of fun playing this tournament. It was clear that the questions were of a very high quality, and that the editors all put a lot of time, thought, passion, and flavor into crafting the set. There were lots of things about which I was excited that they showed up, and there was lots of stuff I'm excited to learn about.

I am slightly baffled at the surprise over the low power rates, though, and I think that the answer line selection for this tournament played a major role. Choosing to write the R, M, P, and SS by emphasizing real-world and contemporary studies type clues- with many tossups being on concepts using clues from research- is awesome, but it's going to lead to low power rates because it's hard to get those sorts of questions early unless you've studied that sub-sub-category in the classroom. Likewise, tossing up Jealousy (as opposed to say, Robbe-Grillet) or the Invincibles (as opposed to say, the Phoenix Park Murders) is going to lead to lower power and conversion rates. Plus, many of the "easy" answer lines at this tournament, such as firefighters or the Birth of Muhammad, were on things that are going to be answered correctly at the end in 100% of rooms, but are also going to be very difficult to power, no matter how they are clued. This isn't at all meant as a criticism- I enjoyed every one of the tossups that I mentioned- but rather to suggest that which answers are chosen for tossups has a substantial impact on power rate because it brackets the range in which most people can reasonably be expected to buzz.

It's more than a bit unqualified, but it seemed like history power rates were about on par with previous years, literature was somewhat less so, but that science power rates were very low.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Tue Jul 26, 2016 5:59 pm

I liked this tournament! It was actually easier than I expected since my only experience with playing Nats-level questions was like Nats 2014 and I was really terrible then and didn't get anything. I was expecting to feel the same about CO, but it actually wasn't too bad. This impression is limited to questions in the categories I can actually answer, though. There are the usual issues with "wildly variable difficulty" in bonus parts, but I'm probably not qualified enough to make complaints about whether a medium or hard part was too hard -- I just noticed several bonuses that didn't seem to have an easy part. The bio was pretty good, although I got tripped up a couple times on clues that I *thought* I knew (I answered the urchins TU with "clams" because cyclins were discovered by Tim Hunt as a result of a series of experiments involving both clams and urchins). Pichia was really hard. It's not even mentioned in the 1500+-page Alberts textbook (which talks about S. pombe -- what Eric and I negged with -- multiple times), or even on the Wikipedia list of model funguses... It's mainly used in pretty specific circumstances for protein expression, more like a biotech tool than a research organism, making it unlikely for most biologists to have been exposed to it. I'd be fine with having some difficult answerlines at CO, but this just came as a total surprise given the accessibility of all the other tossups.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by cornfused » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:10 pm

kdroge wrote:the Invincibles (as opposed to say, the Phoenix Park Murders) is going to lead to lower power and conversion rates.
I agree with Kurtis, but this seems as good a moment as any to point out that Chris Borglum got this on literally the first clue. It was a ridiculously good buzz.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by adamsil » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:41 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote: Pichia was really hard. It's not even mentioned in the 1500+-page Alberts textbook (which talks about S. pombe -- what Eric and I negged with -- multiple times), or even on the Wikipedia list of model funguses... It's mainly used in pretty specific circumstances for protein expression, more like a biotech tool than a research organism, making it unlikely for most biologists to have been exposed to it. I'd be fine with having some difficult answerlines at CO, but this just came as a total surprise given the accessibility of all the other tossups.
I let my personal educational biases color this question--having learned about Pichia in at least three different [engineering] classes that I've taken, I figured it was well-known to biologists too. Pichia is nearly as important for producing recombinant proteins, especially monoclonal antibodies/antibody fragments, as are CHO cells [another topic criminally under-asked about in the quizbowl canon]. I had it earmarked as probably the hardest bio tossup in the set, but it would have worked better as a bonus part here. Sorry.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Tue Jul 26, 2016 6:53 pm

adamsil wrote:I let my personal educational biases color this question--having learned about Pichia in at least three different [engineering] classes that I've taken, I figured it was well-known to biologists too. Pichia is nearly as important for producing recombinant proteins, especially monoclonal antibodies/antibody fragments, as are CHO cells [another topic criminally under-asked about in the quizbowl canon]. I had it earmarked as probably the hardest bio tossup in the set, but it would have worked better as a bonus part here. Sorry.
It's kind of sad, because something like half my thesis work is producing recombinant antibody fragments cloned from humans, and I'd read about Pichia a month or two ago (as an alternative to the E. coli and HEK293 I've been stuck with), but I still idiotically said S. pombe because I heard "yeast + not S. cerevisiae". I agree this was too difficult for a tossup (as for biologists its like a 7th tier model organism), but I personally could have handled it better.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Bloodwych » Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:04 pm

I like hard things and liked this set a lot. Thanks for writing and editing it!
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Tue Jul 26, 2016 7:39 pm

adamsil wrote:...as are CHO cells [another topic criminally under-asked about in the quizbowl canon].
Hey now, I forced CHO into a VHSL tossup this last year...
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by John Ketzkorn » Tue Jul 26, 2016 8:07 pm

I'd just like to add some anecdotal evidence that might help further explain why the power count was so low:

James Incandenza - I'm currently reading Infinite Jest, and my teammate Matthew has as well. Matthew said he tuned out at "this director". I remember recognizing some clues, but thinking to myself "okay, so they want a director who does James Incandenza like stuff" and ended up realizing it was just James Incandenza the question wanted after more titles were dropped out of power.

The Tree from Waiting for Godot - I think this was a creative answer line. I recognized the quotes being from Waiting for Godot, but "this object" tripped me up and perhaps I overthought it. "Pozzo's pipe? Watch? Gogo's boots? What do they want?". I think it was mostly my fault I didn't power this though. Also, Jordan Brownstein still powered this off the Giacometti clue, so this really didn't contribute to a loss in powers in our room.

Queequeg's Tattoos - I recognized Moby Dick in the last line of power, but I couldn't figure out what "these things" was referring to (I believe I was thinking of coffins like the toss-up at PACE) until "body art" made it obvious to pretty much everyone in the room. Once again, I think this toss-up was creative, but really difficult to power.

Yerma - I was thinking Yerma around last line of power with the "gossiping women" clue, but the question (to the best of my knowledge) didn't explicitly call them washer-women or refer to them as six women, so I ended up needing Dolores to buzz with any confidence.

Overall, despite "hyper-real" lit toss-ups and the set's difficult nature, I really enjoyed it, so great job to everyone involved. Look forward to the set produced by whoever helps edit it next year!
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:30 pm

Could I see the "authoritarianism" tossup?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Jul 26, 2016 11:38 pm

Granny Soberer wrote:Could I see the "authoritarianism" tossup?
Zhang packet wrote:According to Juan Linz, this political phenomenon is characterized by "mentalities," which are more flexible than ideologies. A data set of all examples of it since 1945 was gathered for a game-theoretic paper on its "Breakdown" by Barbara Geddes. A study with its adjective form in its title often contrasts college students dubbed "Mack" and "Larry;" that study's authors included Else Frankel-Brunswik, Nevitt Sanford, and Daniel Levinson. According to a 2012 book by Milan Svolik, the resolution of two "fundamental" problems underpins the Politics of this sort of (*) Rule. " Karen Stenner relates its prevalence to "perceived threat." Anti-intraception, projectivity, and exaggerated concern about sex are among nine factors in the psychology conducive to it, according to a 1950 study which introduced the "F-scale" test. For 10 points, Theodor Adorno studied the Personality underlying what type of non-democratic rule?
ANSWER: authoritarian rule [or authoritarianism; accept autocratic regime until "adjective"; accept The Authoritarian Personality; prompt on non-democratic or dictatorial or illiberal; anti-prompt on fascism or fascist; do NOT accept or prompt on "totalitarian" -- Linz's work specifically distinguishes authoritarian from totalitarian]
This was edited from a submission. In doing so, I tried to make sure every clue uniquely pointed to the specific word "authoritarian" rather than the general concept of non-democratic or harsh regimes. Did I fail?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Jul 27, 2016 10:49 am

I agree with Kurtis, but this seems as good a moment as any to point out that Chris Borglum got this on literally the first clue. It was a ridiculously good buzz.
Thanks for the props, Greg. In this case the reference to "Skin-the-Goat" as the driver resonated with the antepenultimate chapter of Ulysses, Eumaeus, in which the cabman who hosts Bloom and Stephen is thought to be "Skin-the-Goat." Good times.

I'm not as good as the players discussing whether this was a harder CO than usual, but I have played all but three of them, and of the last six years, the difficulty of this set didn't seem much different to this mid-pack player. I imagine that the top players who expect to get a larger number of powers would notice a greater difficulty in power-value clues, but at the giveaway level this seemed actually more accessible to me than the last two years.

I was kind of bummed out my team's set was completely cut, though I understand some packets had to be. I tried to write some interesting lit and social science, and since I don't do the IRC stuff, maybe I'll just post some in the "Community Question Clinic" so people can explain why they blow.

Bottom line: I love attending this tournament despite my declining skills. I appreciate the work the editors put in and enjoy seeing the good players I only get to see once or twice (if I read at ICT) a year.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:44 am

Right off the bat, a few impressions (this will be a little free-form, sorry).

I really loved what John did with the literature (and of course the music). He did a phenomenal job balancing between important material that's important and well-known in quizbowl and important stuff that quizbowlers might have encountered outside of the game. Hopefully, a lot of the exciting and new lit in this tournament will stick around, especially the stuff that shouldn't have been exciting to hear tossed up for the first time in 2016. I only wish that the tossups on literary critics and theorists hadn't clustered so much in the packets that weren't read at the tournament!

I also really liked Matt's approach to his categories, although I wish there had been a tiny bit more "mainstream" (dangerous word, I know) Abrahamic stuff. But I did appreciate the effort to avoid the stale ("embarassment" is a great word) treatment of these categories.

As Matt (J) acknowledges, his approach definitely ramped up the difficulty of those categories, and probably depressed their power rates. On the other hand, I'd much rather have it this way around: questions that I can't get/power now that will be exciting and edifying to study later—I've never been so excited to re-read a tournament.

I also agree with Mattbo that many tossups in every category could sometimes be extremely unforgiving with early clues; but I think the low power rates might have been more of an artifact of relatively stingy powermarking. That is, I think the editors actively decided to make powers very hard to get, rather than (inadvertently or not) making the clues themselves sooo much harder.

I haven't gone back over it yet, and I haven't done a detailed comparison, but I really do think that this was the hardest CO I've seen, although maybe not consistently over categories. I got the impression that the editors more or less kept to the "1/4 of each category can be on quizbowl-crazy answerlines" (what John did for the lit). That ends up giving 5+ crazy tossups per packet. I'm not sure that's a huge problem (this is CO, that's what we all came for), but it's a hell of a lot nicer when the editors pick interesting and important crazy answers like John and Matt did. This care in picking "good crazy" didn't necessarily manifest in every category—I can't say I appreciated so much of the painting being devoted to questionable (and questionably important) painters like Greuze, Hayez, Teniers, etc., and there were several science questions that seemed to be on unnecessarily hard answerlines for the material ("specific volume").

I think a lot of the difficulty of this tournament came from the science. My impression was that the "engineering slant" (I'm not saying that every question was written from that perspective! Just more than usual.) might have contributed to the difficulty of the science, given how few of the science players in the field learned the material from that perspective (and how little quizbowl normally approaches science that way). I'll post about the math separately.

Overall, the set was quite polished, I don't think I heard any errors (I apologize for my two protests!), and the logistics was fantastic. And as a set to read and learn from, this will almost definitely be one of my favorites.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:55 pm

vinteuil wrote: I think a lot of the difficulty of this tournament came from the science. My impression was that the "engineering slant" (I'm not saying that every question was written from that perspective! Just more than usual.) might have contributed to the difficulty of the science, given how few of the science players in the field learned the material from that perspective (and how little quizbowl normally approaches science that way). I'll post about the math separately.
After seeing the way the finals packets played: yes, the science was too hard (in my categories, anyway; can't speak for bio, chem, cs, math). I'm now certain this tournament could have done without the Weyl and Sommerfeld tossups.

Was there an engineering slant? Of course. As expected, even, given that 2 engineers wrote most of the science. To some degree, there's no way to avoid that. Writers will always be influenced by the context and order in which they learned the material. My views on engineering's place in the canon are no secret, and if some brutal questions at this tournament are what it takes to get more writers to explore that field, then I'll accept them as a necessary short-term sacrifice. I was very glad to see the Alston packet's submitted bonus on microfabrication, for instance. Even though many quizbowl-playing schools don't have engineering departments, I think that the discipline absolutely merits inclusion, due to its academic rigor and importance in the real world. So, I'll just let this tournament stand as the hardest pack of engineering questions I will ever write.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Wed Jul 27, 2016 12:58 pm

Is there a reason our packet hasn't been posted :(
Also why is round 1 encrypted still.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by adamsil » Wed Jul 27, 2016 1:29 pm

vinteuil wrote:several science questions that seemed to be on unnecessarily hard answerlines for the material ("specific volume").

I think a lot of the difficulty of this tournament came from the science. My impression was that the "engineering slant" (I'm not saying that every question was written from that perspective! Just more than usual.) might have contributed to the difficulty of the science, given how few of the science players in the field learned the material from that perspective (and how little quizbowl normally approaches science that way). I'll post about the math separately.

Overall, the set was quite polished, I don't think I heard any errors (I apologize for my two protests!), and the logistics was fantastic. And as a set to read and learn from, this will almost definitely be one of my favorites.
To be fair, the answerline to that tossup was just "volume", also accepting a whole bunch of other types of volume, so that's not a particularly good example, but point taken. I think the tossup on CH activation would better suit you here-- something that has a name, but probably not one that people are familiar with.

I will cop to writing a lot of engineering questions--in addition to the ones I mentioned upthread, there were tossups on mixing in chemical reactors (edited from a submission about reactors) and on reflux ratio. Then there were a lot of engineering clues in tossups like the ones on gels, PDI, and in the bonuses on MOFs and UNIFAC. But I think a lot of these ideas were based on my goal (unstated, but definitely shared among the editing corps) of writing about things that are currently important in academic communities (or, to a certain extent, to industry). The direction that chemistry is expanding in the real world is toward engineering--materials science, biotech, alternative energy, etc. For instance, the hydrogen tossup in the finals was focused on ways to make hydrogen for fuel cells, inspired by a really cool paper I read about a phage that was engineered to split water into oxygen and hydrogen. That was even more pronounced in the bio, where I wanted to ask editors' questions about genetic engineering (Cas9), protein engineering (phage display), metabolic/strain engineering (Pichia), and drug design (ACE, HIV protease), rather than the nth question about Wilson's disease or whatever. My logic was that people who read the scientific literature would be able to recognize these things even if they didn't have engineering training, just like engineers can recognize what Wilson's disease is even though we don't go to medical school.

I think that decision skewed the medical bio distribution downwards, probably down to a lot less than you'd see in a normal tournament, but in my mind, it's a lot harder to find interesting new things that people are doing with osteoclasts or the Mullerian ducts. (Not saying you can't find good clues on those things, just that it's rarely cutting-edge stuff that gets discussed widely.) Hopefully, though, conditions that are well-studied academically (cancer and Alzheimer's, for instance) were represented. The problem with the engineering slant, of course, is that I had no idea how well-known these things were to players, so I may have overshot difficulty in some cases. CLARITY was originally gonna be a hard part, before I decided it was too easy and too old, and changed it to ExM, a type of microscopy that apparently nobody's ever heard of. By contrast, I am delighted that people know things about phage display, which was one of my favorite ideas.

I am curious what people thought about the evo bio/ecology side of the distribution. To me, it felt like there was a lot of it. Shan graciously walked me through a bunch of stuff when writing those questions (and also wrote a few of them himself), since it's pretty far from my knowledge space. But again, since it's something that a lot of people do study academically, I wanted to include more of it than most tournaments do.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Jul 27, 2016 1:33 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:Is there a reason our packet hasn't been posted :(
Also why is round 1 encrypted still.
My mistake, I'll fix that tonight.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 27, 2016 2:10 pm

Could someone post the text of the "Strong AI" tossup?
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Sam » Wed Jul 27, 2016 2:21 pm

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:
This was also the first year since 2009 that Chicago Open didn't make use of a full round-robin, because it was too large to do so. I think this is a good development, even though it meant some packets had to be cut or doubled-up within a round. It'll take a few years, but I want to see CO keep growing in size and scope as quizbowl grows and retirees/dinosaurs stick around -- it's not out of the question to envision that by 2022 or so, there will be as many as forty teams playing (though at that point it might be worth considering reviving BASQUE or having three major sites across the country or something).
Based on conversations at the tournament I know this wasn't a universally held opinion, but I was much happier after finishing fifteen rounds around 8:30 than I've been in the past after finishing seventeen or eighteen rounds closer to 10, especially when those fifteen rounds were all consistently well edited. I understand the perception that CO should have a length reflecting its Mysterium-like status, but the difficulty of the questions and the quality of the competition is more than sufficient for doing that. I hope future iterations strive to hit a similar length.
This is a good time to announce that CO 2016 is the last tournament I plan to edit; I too am permanently retiring from subject and set editing for the foreseeable future. I may still write original questions on an "as-I-feel-like-it" basis for tournaments here or there, and may put together small side events or "phun pakkitz" on occasion moving forward. (And I am signed up to write for NAQT this year!) But the tasks of supervising the assembly, rewriting, and completion of a pile of questions and shaping it into a playable tournament set have been a tremendous (and more-or-less continuous) source of joy and stress alike for me for most of the past eight years. With the completion of this high-difficulty mACF event, I've more or less accomplished everything I've sought out to do in the editing realm. And this game requires editors who have lots of new ideas and the zeal for implementing them so that it can stay vivid and avoid stagnation. As such, I feel that this is a good time for me to move on to new challenges outside of quizbowl question-production. I look forward to seeing new players join the "editing stable" and take the game in their own directions.
Thanks for all your hard work, Matt (and John)! This tournament was excellent, a fitting way to cap off all you've done for quiz bowl in the past eight years.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Jul 27, 2016 3:45 pm

I was going to complain about the math at length, but, in retrospect, I'm not positive there was so much more to complain about than there was in several other science categories. There were a few clunkers (matroids, Prüfer p-groups), some wording problems (that bonus's first and last parts; the bonus part on ergodic theory), and a number of leadins that I can't imagine that Jake thought anyone would actually buzz on. But otherwise, the subdistribution was pretty good (maybe too much algebra and not enough topology) and there were a lot of good submissions (Max's tossup was a cool idea, even if it was hard to process at game speed).
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Jul 27, 2016 4:41 pm

The set is now posted to collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com, which should obviate future requests to post the text of specific questions.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by ryanrosenberg » Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:00 pm

Adventure Temple Trail wrote:
Granny Soberer wrote:Could I see the "authoritarianism" tossup?
Zhang packet wrote:According to Juan Linz, this political phenomenon is characterized by "mentalities," which are more flexible than ideologies. A data set of all examples of it since 1945 was gathered for a game-theoretic paper on its "Breakdown" by Barbara Geddes. A study with its adjective form in its title often contrasts college students dubbed "Mack" and "Larry;" that study's authors included Else Frankel-Brunswik, Nevitt Sanford, and Daniel Levinson. According to a 2012 book by Milan Svolik, the resolution of two "fundamental" problems underpins the Politics of this sort of (*) Rule. " Karen Stenner relates its prevalence to "perceived threat." Anti-intraception, projectivity, and exaggerated concern about sex are among nine factors in the psychology conducive to it, according to a 1950 study which introduced the "F-scale" test. For 10 points, Theodor Adorno studied the Personality underlying what type of non-democratic rule?
ANSWER: authoritarian rule [or authoritarianism; accept autocratic regime until "adjective"; accept The Authoritarian Personality; prompt on non-democratic or dictatorial or illiberal; anti-prompt on fascism or fascist; do NOT accept or prompt on "totalitarian" -- Linz's work specifically distinguishes authoritarian from totalitarian]
This was edited from a submission. In doing so, I tried to make sure every clue uniquely pointed to the specific word "authoritarian" rather than the general concept of non-democratic or harsh regimes. Did I fail?
Not from my perspective; the political science clues all pointed uniquely to authoritarianism. I liked this tossup and the political science in this tournament a whole lot; as someone who's done a lot of political science coursework, I felt that was rewarded here.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Jul 27, 2016 5:43 pm

vinteuil wrote:I was going to complain about the math at length, but, in retrospect, I'm not positive there was so much more to complain about than there was in several other science categories. There were a few clunkers (matroids, Prüfer p-groups), some wording problems (that bonus's first and last parts; the bonus part on ergodic theory), and a number of leadins that I can't imagine that Jake thought anyone would actually buzz on. But otherwise, the subdistribution was pretty good (maybe too much algebra and not enough topology) and there were a lot of good submissions (Max's tossup was a cool idea, even if it was hard to process at game speed).
Personally, I don't think matroids was a clunker. I think it was a (submitted) tossup on a really hard thing that more people should have known about. I think it played a bit harder than I intended it to and that makes it appear to be more of a clunker-type "gotcha" question than a challenging tossup on an important thing. From what I hear, the conversion rate was nonzero but barely so. This was surprising to me. I'm not saying that the tossup should have been converted at a much higher rate. I am saying that the tossup should have been converted in at least a couple more rooms. It was a very difficult topic for sure. It was also the first tossup submitted to me and if you recall, I wanted to use your submissions whenever I got the chance. I would have used every single submission if I could have but space was limited in the set.

[aside: Quizbowl, you should learn about matroids and why they're important. They're very interesting! Here's a link to a simple, enriching paper that will provide you with an overview. I'm providing a link to an article for enrichment purposes. I don't think people should be afraid to occasionally ask about these kinds of things at the highest levels of competition in some way, shape or form. I think that no matter how much people study, there will be holes in their knowledge. Sometimes a group of experts also has knowledge holes. Well I accidentally found one of the holes, so let's patch it up! http://www.maa.org/sites/default/files/ ... sknown.pdf]

The bonus part on ergodic theory was a bit long but I figured I would explain to the player why I chose the particular bonus topic that I did. I also did a clue look up on ergodic theory to make sure it was something that came up multiple times and chose to give a frequently quoted clue on said topic to ensure higher conversion rates. It might have played a little tough but I imagine that anyone with a strong-ish physics or applied math player on their team got 20 on this bonus even if Szemeredi was the hardest bonus part in the set. But hey, arithmetic progressions in the prime numbers is a rather interesting research topic and I hope you find the time to at least introduce yourself to it even if some of the actual mathematical material behind it is extremely tough.

I do apologize for the poor wording on the Prüfer p-group bonus. I don't really have much more to say on that matter. I'll have to go modify the wording in the near future. I don't really apologize for the content of the question, however. Prüfer p-groups are important in the classification of infinite abelian groups and they provide counterexamples for many homework problem-type statements of the form "Is a group with (insert properties) something or other? If so, prove. If not, provide a counterexample." In fact, I studied the Prüfer p-group in advanced undergrad / beginning grad group theory classes at two different universities. Was it a difficult bonus part? Sure! But it's CO and those exist at this level. Was the middle part of rational numbers challenging? Yes, but I believe I clued it in a way that was deducible even if you didn't know the theorems. The bonus part did have some added difficulty because of poor wording.

Regarding the reflections tossup, the submission had tons of Coxeterian/Weylian middle clues so I had to go in a different direction with it. I chose a more applied approach for the later power clues as a result. I didn't really have a choice in the matter as the overwhelming majority of reflection clues are either hard theorems, things about Coxeter and Weyl, easier things about dihedral groups, and Householder reflectors. (The fact that other people submitted clues on Coxeter really does come to show you that quizbowl has a hive mind in some ways!)

Regarding the lead-ins, they were very challenging. At this level of math, these clues do indeed get very difficult! Buzzes on lead-ins (or the first 2 to 2.5 lines) at the CO level are very rare and even more so on material of a more technical nature. It's fair to say they were extremely challenging because that's just the nature of the beast. How many first clue buzzes did the field (outside of, say, Young Mukherstein) have in the entire tournament? Very few, I would imagine.

However, the questions themselves were very much powerable. In fact, both Coxeter and Artin were impressively powered in IRC last night. The reflections tossup had the entire description of Householder reflectors (which is almost certainly learned in numerical linear algebra classes) inside of power. The 2n choose n tossup, although it was potentially tough to parse at game speed, had the entire description of Catalan numbers inside of power. The Dirichlet distribution tossup (which was used as a tiebreaker) had the description of LDA and the Chinese Restaurant process inside of power. Matroids was a difficult answerline, but certainly powerable for those who have technical knowledge of them. (It happened that no one in the field actually possessed that knowledge, but it's CO and that happens occasionally.)

The set had enough of a geometric feel to it. There was the Khovanov homology bonus and the Coxeter TU. Instead of 1/1 topology I opted for 1/1 geometry/topology. For the record, I'm a topologist who has taken quite a few algebra classes. As hard as I try to avoid being biased toward algebra, that bias is hard for me to overcome. (Like Aaron and Adam's bias towards engineering, or Cody's bias toward more applied math.) Of note, there was a tossup submitted rather late to me on an algebra topic that I wanted to use (which would have made the set even more algebraic!), but I opted to write the bonus on L^p spaces instead in order to give analysis a presence in the set. It's hard to balance the distribution when you only have 6/7 to work with. I felt I had to do this for balance purposes. When I started writing I thought I might have in the neighborhood of 8/8 or 9/9 to work with and so I took that into account when writing/editing questions. However I ended up with 6/7 so that may be another reason for slight skews in one direction or another. This also kinda made the math on average a little harder than I intended it to be. I was hoping to add a few more accessible tossups toward the end of editing process but, understandably, we had to make room for more CS and astronomy in the set.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:02 pm

The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Personally, I don't think matroids was a clunker.
This statement is ridiculous. The only people whose opinion matters on whether a question is a "clunker" or not is the players, not the writer. A writer can think very highly of their own question (or one they've edited) but if it doesn't play out well because it's too hard for the field or on a topic that isn't familiar to players, then it can end up being a "clunker" no matter how good of a question it is.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:20 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
The Ununtiable Twine wrote:Personally, I don't think matroids was a clunker.
This statement is ridiculous. The only people whose opinion matters on whether a question is a "clunker" or not is the players, not the writer. A writer can think very highly of their own question (or one they've edited) but if it doesn't play out well because it's too hard for the field or on a topic that isn't familiar to players, then it can end up being a "clunker" no matter how good of a question it is.
I wrote this question and don't understand this line of critique. Since when is a question going dead at CO mean it is a clunker? I would be surprised if every CO packet didn't have at least one question that went dead in a majority of rooms, but that doesn't mean the question was bad or a clunker (else something like 10% of the tournament, or more!, might be clunkers)
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Ike » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:30 pm

stuff about matroids
I'm going to go out on a limb here and actually defend the idea of this question. I had encountered matroids and have clued them before, so this tossup didn't strike me as that hard. I'm not sure if I would write a whole tossup on them, but I probably would make it a hard / medium part. So what I'm saying is, it's a legitimate idea for a topic, but speaking empirically, this tossup was excessive, especially if I'm the only one who converted it. Will Alston is definitely right: it's a clunker.
When I started writing I thought I might have in the neighborhood of 8/8 or 9/9 to work with and so I took that into account when writing/editing questions. However I ended up with 6/7 so that may be another reason for slight skews in one direction or another. This also kinda made the math on average a little harder than I intended it to be. I was hoping to add a few more accessible tossups toward the end of editing process but, understandably, we had to make room for more CS and astronomy in the set.
This is really backwards. You don't get to claim your set is more accessible if you're going to write X really hard questions, and then say, "well if math had more space, it would have been more accessible, because I would have written more easy questions." Just cut your hard tossups.

Like Jacob said, I don't have a huge an issue with the subdistribution in mathematics, but I do have a problem with how this tournament's math tossups worked. In particular, I don't think CO should be tossing up so many hard answers, and that 2n choose 2 tossup had serious parsibility issues. Citing an IRC event when literally half of QBs collective brain power is there is not a good defense of individual tossups. The other problem with I think tossing up Coxeter and Artin is that they are just relatively minor in the grand picture of things. The other science tossup in Finals 1 was on Edgar Codd from Computer Science - that guy has a paper with over 9,000 citations, and numerous papers with over 1,000, and he's considered to be the inventor of (relational) databases. On the other hand the two mathematicians are relatively minor and I think really only encounterable by mathematicians - I encountered the Artin Reciprocity theorem in my number theory class and have heard of Artinian rings while trying to write some pure mathematics for QB. Since it's not going to be self-evident as to why these people are so important, I think it would be a better to ask about a simpler concept and use harder clues than just asking about the mathematician.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:34 pm

Cody wrote:I wrote this question and don't understand this line of critique. Since when is a question going dead at CO mean it is a clunker? I would be surprised if every CO packet didn't have at least one question that went dead in a majority of rooms, but that doesn't mean the question was bad or a clunker (else something like 10% of the tournament, or more!, might be clunkers)
I'm not stating whether the question was a clunker or not - I don't know high-level math at all and don't really have the knowledge to judge whether this was actually a clunker or not. What I am arguing is that the statement from the writer that "I do not think this was a clunker" is worthless, because the only judge of whether a question is a clunker or not that matters is the audience. I can praise my hypothetical tossup on the well-field system as an "important concept from Chinese history" all I want and insist that it's not a clunker, but if it doesn't play out well for reasons having to do with how the tossup was constructed (or, more likely, because of my answer choice) then my opinion does not matter. If it plays out badly because of some inherent flaw in quizbowl's knowledge, then that's not a good enough reason for it to be a clunker, but from what others are saying that's not what's going on here.

EDIT: This phenomenon appears to be similar to the phenomenon of insisting that your tossups were fun and rewarded knowledge even though people who actually played them (as opposed to those who wrote them) said they were not fun and did not actually reward knowledge.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Dominator » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:38 pm

When I was in grad school, a friend of mine was thinking of studying matroids for his dissertation. He asked our professor "Do people still work on matroids?" and was told "It depends who you ask."

I'll go out on a limb here and say that matroids were in vogue at some point in the 70s and 80s because some people thought that they could be used to organize and reshape a wide swath of mathematics. That revolution is yet to come. That does not mean that matroids are irrelevant - anything that Laszlo Lovasz dedicated so much time to has to be somewhat important. But if my professor could not find them worthy of interest to a specialist in the same general discipline, I don't see why we would toss them up to a general audience.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by Bloodwych » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:52 pm

The Superfluous Man wrote:
Amizda Calyx wrote:Is there a reason our packet hasn't been posted :(
Also why is round 1 encrypted still.
My mistake, I'll fix that tonight.
It's fixed on collegiate.quizbowlpackets.com now. Thanks! :)
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Jul 27, 2016 6:55 pm

Artin is one of the major modern mathematicians, actually. His contributions to modern algebra are rather prominent. Ring theory gets a lot less coverage in quizbowl circles than does group theory, so I figured I would work some major results from ring theory into one of my editors questions. His name is everywhere in ring theory. It just so happens that I also included some of the number theory stuff he's notable for, as well. If you forced me to keep one and only one of three hard answerlines, I would have definitely kept Artin. Perhaps he's not standard fare to be asked to every player throughout the day, however I don't think it's necessarily unfair to ask about him in, say, the finals of CO where I would hope at least a couple of players know something about ring theory.

In retrospect, I should have cut the Coxeter question - that's a very fair critique. I am happy to see that a few people had deep enough knowledge of him to know who I was talking about 4-5 lines before the question was finished. From what I gather, using clues from his work in creative ways is probably fine for the occasional early clues for nats level and above.
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Re: Chicago Open 2016 Set Discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Jul 27, 2016 8:07 pm

Joker wrote:James Incandenza - I'm currently reading Infinite Jest, and my teammate Matthew has as well. Matthew said he tuned out at "this director". [...]
Wait really? My teammates were just joking about someone potentially attempting to write a question like this. Anyone know what packet this happened in?
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