TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

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TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by kpamurthy »

I am pleased to announce a new and exciting middle school/easy high school set called TAILS (TAG’s Academic Introductory Level Set) to be mirrored during the 2020-21 season!

Alistair Gray is TAILS’s head editor, and the rest of the set writers and editors are members of the TAG Magnet quiz bowl team: Jonathan Farner, Jaik Havlick, Georgia Leakey, Ketan Pamurthy, Akhil Peddikuppa, Jonathan Singer, Andrew Volney, Cooper Wilk, and Jisoo Yoo.

TAILS will consist of 12 packets of 20/20 (20 pyramidal, power-marked tossups and 20 three-part bonuses), along with a packet of extra tossups and bonuses to be used as tiebreakers. The extra tossups and bonuses will come from one of the big 3 categories: history, science or literature. Each tossup will be approximately 4 lines long in Times New Roman 10 point font, and each bonus part (including the lead-in) will be no longer than 2 lines of the same text for a maximum of 8 lines total.

This set will be a middle school difficulty set, but the content is made to be accessible to both middle school and high school players.

The TAILS distribution is as follows:

4.5/4.5 Science
> 1/1 Biology
> 1/1 Physics
> 1/1 Chemistry
> 1.5/1.5 Other Science (Earth Science, Computer Science, Astronomy, Math, but no Computational Math)

4/4 History
> 1/1 US History
> 1/1 European History
> 1/1 Ancient History
> 1/1 World History

3/3 Literature
> 1/1 Long Fiction
> 0.5/0.5 Short Fiction
> 0.33/0.33 Drama/Plays
> 0.33/0.33 Poetry
> 0.33/0.33 Mixed Lit
> 0.5/0.5 Children’s Literature (Kid Lit, Young Adult)

2/2 Fine Arts
> 0.5/0.5 Visual Fine Arts
> 0.75/0.75 Auditory Fine Arts
> 0.75/0.75 Other Fine Arts (Musicals, Film, Jazz, Architecture, etc.)

2/2 Geography
> 1/1 US Geography
> 1/1 World Geography

1.5/1.5 Other Academic/General Knowledge (includes Current Events and Philosophy/Social Science)
1/1 Religion
1/1 Mythology
1/1 Pop Culture and Sports

The mirror fee is $10 per attending team.
One of our teammates made a website with the basic information about this set, along with background on our team: https://jssinger.github.io/housewrite.html.

Our team will be hosting a Texas regional mirror (date TBD) and a national mirror at the end of the year. If you would like to run a TAILS mirror for your region or have any other questions, please contact Ketan Pamurthy at [email protected] or through discord (username: ketone#3450). Hope you enjoy our set!!
Last edited by kpamurthy on Wed Oct 07, 2020 4:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Ketan Pamurthy
TAG Magnet
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Re: TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by kpamurthy »

10/10/20: California - California Fall Novice Tournament (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=24467)
10/22/20 (start): Ohio - Northeast In The Know League (weekly)
11/14/20: Connecticut - Darien Fall Invitational
12/05/20: Alabama - Alabama Scholars Bowl Open Tournament (viewtopic.php?f=46&t=24364)
01/09/21: Ohio - SHATEYAHRONYA V (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=24417)
Last edited by kpamurthy on Fri Oct 16, 2020 4:31 pm, edited 7 times in total.
Ketan Pamurthy
TAG Magnet
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Location: Champaign, IL

Re: TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by db0wman »

I don't think it's a good idea to name a set that is clearly academic in nature "TRIVIA".
Dylan Bowman
Uni '20; UIUC '24
Set name consultant
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Re: TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by kpamurthy »

Based on feedback from the community, we've decided to change the set's name and made slight modifications to the distribution:
>The new set name is TAILS (TAG's Academic Introductory Level Set)
>The new distribution took away 1/1 from Literature, 0.5/0.5 of which was put in Other Science and the other 0.5/0.5 of which was put in Other Academic/General Knowledge, which includes Current Events and Philosophy/Social Science.

Also, can forum mods please change the overall thread to say TAILS instead of TRIVIA? Thank you

Done --Mgmt.
Ketan Pamurthy
TAG Magnet
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Joined: Mon Oct 24, 2011 8:28 am

Re: TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by romeokar »

We just concluded a small invitational tournament using the TAILS set. The field had 10 of the top MS teams in the country (Churchill B & C, Herberger, Hunter, Longfellow, Middlesex A, B, & C, Springfield-Franklin, and Winburn). We played 7 rounds in total (packets 1-7)

First, let me say, I really liked the set. I thought the questions were very well written, and they were all incredibly appropriate for middle school-age kids. I include that last part, because we have recently played some high school sets where questions broached topics that I believe are too mature for 11, 12, and 13 year olds.

I haven't gotten feedback from players yet, but I wonder if the questions were a little too easy for them. Two key stats that demonstrate this:

Almost 80% of all tossups were powered (547 out of 685).

I looked through all (ok, not "all") of the matches played at MSNCT to see if any one game beat that percentage. I found that it was only ever topped once. You have to go all the way back to 2012 in round 15 when Kealing and Longfellow combined for 21 powers out of 24 tossups.

The 10 teams' combined PPB at our tournament was 25.64.

Some perspective- in the 9 years of MSNCT, only two teams have scored better on bonuses during the preliminary rounds: the 2012 Kealing A team (26.41) and the 2018 BASIS Silicon Valley A team (26.20).
Moreover, only a grand total of 13 teams have even averaged over 25 PPB for preliminary rounds at MSNCT.

But let me be clear about this- I was incredibly happy with the packets. I would recommend this packet for any regular season MS tournament. And if they put out another set in the future I would certainly consider using it for one of the tournaments I host.
Ken Romeo
Middlesex Middle School
Darien, CT
Arras Agility
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Re: TAILS (MS/HS easy, 2020-2021)

Post by Arras Agility »

Good to hear you enjoyed running the set! I do have a couple thoughts of my own on the difficulty of the set I'd like to comment on.

Firstly, at the middle school level there's a vast gulf between experienced and less-experienced teams, and TAILS was written thinking of newer players in particular. Experienced teams tend to do very very well on questions written for middle schoolers, much better than new teams. That effect was probably magnified by the fact that, as you point out, these are among the best middle school teams. I'm sorry if you were expecting something closer to MSNCT difficulty, but we were aiming below that - as those statistics do definitely show.

That said, we very well may have undershot! However, to my mind undershooting on difficulty is much better than overshooting when aiming to be accessible to all players, and so we generally tried to err on the side of caution in producing the set. In particular, I often chose to have late powermarks - getting fifteen points feels good, and our philosophy in writing the set was that it was intended to engage players with quizbowl and generously reward knowledge, which getting lots of powers does.

Thanks again for the feedback! And a reminder to anyone reading that TAILS is still open for mirrors at high school novice, middle school regular, or below difficulties.
Alistair Gray
Homestead '18
UCSD '22
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