2010 HSNCT discussion thread

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2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun May 30, 2010 4:52 pm

Please use this thread to discuss question specifics from the just-completed 2010 HSNCT.

Two quick notes:

1. If you are playing a mirror of this tournament (currently one scheduled at UTC), please stop reading this thread RIGHT NOW.

2. I will be birdwatching in Wisconsin between now and NSC. I'll check this thread at least daily, but do not expect hour-by-hour updates.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by BRizzle » Sun May 30, 2010 5:20 pm

Just curious, why are questions like "stethascopes," "microphones," and "grafiti" being asked? Why is "twin primes" being asked, if it is bound to be negged a lot and have a low conversion rate, especially when a question on primes would be just as good? Why write a Berlioz question that is just filler until the clue March to the Scaffold? Why is there so much American geography, when it can cleary be biased towards teams at a Nationals competition? Why is watching sports more important than learning about economics and psychology? Finally, why are there timed matches when a reader can't get through 17 tossups in a game? I am frustrated; we tied for dead last on TU heard. I am frustrated that we got 76th place despite being 34th in pp20tuh and having a hard schedule because we beat 7th place finisher DCC A.

Despite all this, I thought the lit and science questions were great. Some of the history was transparent, but it was still good. I just wish these quality questions weren't clouded by the abundance of trash and general knowledge that brings no benefit to a National tournament.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by PennySalem » Sun May 30, 2010 5:34 pm

On the math bonus with the two 8-sided dice, the moderator asked for an answer within 5 seconds for each part. Are we expected to solve math like that in such short time? (The first part of the bonus was simple, while the other parts were much more time-consuming)

Sorry- I don't remember which Round this is.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by BGSO » Sun May 30, 2010 6:21 pm

Whalesong, really??
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by grapesmoker » Sun May 30, 2010 6:33 pm

The twin primes conjecture is a legitimately important mathematical problem. Say what you will about tossups on stethoscopes, but "twin primes" is a fine answer.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Charley Pride » Sun May 30, 2010 7:10 pm

Why tossup whale songs when you can tossup whales?

Why tossup "governors of Vermont" when you can tossup Vermont?

Why tossup microphones when you can tossup, well, anything?
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Susan » Sun May 30, 2010 7:14 pm

A couple of errata that I (or Margo) noticed:

-the Norns are Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, NOT Urd, Verdandi, and Skadi
-the speaker in "Terence, This is Stupid Stuff" is not exhorting Terence to eat his victuals faster (since, of course, he already eats them fast enough); also, considering that the answer lines went to the trouble of pointing out nearly everyone's middle name (and that, in the past, NAQT has instructed us to prompt on "der Alte" for Adenauer and other similarly unlikely answers) it's probably worth putting the number of the poem in the answerline
-Lynn Margulis's name is pronounced MARG-oo-lis rather than marg-OO-lis and she is more than happy to let you know, at great length, how much she dislikes the latter pronunciation
-the bonus part on the pituitary talked about its being the site of synthesis (or perhaps release?) of TRH; TRH, which is produced by the hypothalamus, is the hormone that stimulates the anterior pituitary to produce TSH. I assume it was supposed to say TSH. (This was somewhere in rounds 7-15 but I don't remember which one.)

-I thought the current events for this tournament were really well done, and that's not a category that I've historically been very impressed with. So, hats off there.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by etchdulac » Sun May 30, 2010 8:37 pm

PennySalem wrote:On the math bonus with the two 8-sided dice, the moderator asked for an answer within 5 seconds for each part. Are we expected to solve math like that in such short time? (The first part of the bonus was simple, while the other parts were much more time-consuming)

Sorry- I don't remember which Round this is.
this point regarding calculation bonus questions was brought up in the moderator meeting, and we were told that the five seconds rule would hold for every question unless otherwise noted. I never noticed any such notation in the 15 rounds I read. In timed matches where speed is stressed, perhaps this issue goes on the heap of reasons people have for wanting to exclude calculation entirely.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Dan-Don » Sun May 30, 2010 8:38 pm

I especially liked the tossup on the Queen of Spades whose lead-in described an opera with a "title card."
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by ryandillon » Sun May 30, 2010 9:25 pm

This isn't really a "complaint" as much as it is just something my teammates and I noticed as odd.

Don't ask me to recall the round, but we had an extremely close victory in which three tossups were related to Egypt. I mean, I know that they were all different kinds of stuff, but it was just odd to have Cairo, Egypt, and Book of the Dead in such close proximity. They are all great things to be tossed up, and I have no complaints with the quality of the questions, but it seems to me that three answers that closely related don't generally come up in the same round.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Sun May 30, 2010 9:39 pm

BRizzle wrote:"grafiti"
I obviously wasn't at HSNCT (what up, finals?), but this strikes me as a perfectly fine answer line. Graffiti is pretty important in contemporary arts and there's a lot you could say about Basquiat and Haring.
ryandillon wrote:This isn't really a "complaint" as much as it is just something my teammates and I noticed as odd.

Don't ask me to recall the round, but we had an extremely close victory in which three tossups were related to Egypt. I mean, I know that they were all different kinds of stuff, but it was just odd to have Cairo, Egypt, and Book of the Dead in such close proximity. They are all great things to be tossed up, and I have no complaints with the quality of the questions, but it seems to me that three answers that closely related don't generally come up in the same round.
Oh my, this is nothing compared to "Ethiopia" being an answer twice in the same round last year. Also, if there's no clue overlap, I imagine that this isn't really a problem beyond being a small aesthetic one.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Charley Pride » Sun May 30, 2010 9:52 pm

One packet tossed up Fredrick Barbarossa and mentioned his drowning, then the finals packet had a tossup on drowning with Fredrick Barbarossa as a POWER CLUE. The fact that the last three tossups at the HSNCT final weren't read was a tragedy; a bad repeat like this being thrown in would have been similarly tragic.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Unicolored Jay » Sun May 30, 2010 9:54 pm

I think we averaged around 3 PPB on math calculation. Not fun at all. Other than the one about calculating the sums of series, the ones e got we had no idea how to do, and everyone on our team has taken AP Calculus BC, one taking multivariable calculus. The truth tables and stuff were extremely odd as well. Time was an issue as well. We couldn't solve for roots of a polynomial in time.

Microphones went dead when we faced Hoover. That was a bad answer choice and I had no idea what an object that converts sound into electricity was.
BRizzle wrote:Why write a Berlioz question that is just filler until the clue March to the Scaffold?
I did not hear this question. How did this one go?

There were a few early clues as well - the one I remember most was the "black courtesan" in the tossup on Olympia that was within power mark by at least a sentence. I remember thinking 'wait, really?" before Neil outbuzzed me a few seconds later anyways, but that wasn't a good question. Also, the lead-in for Cnidaria probably shouldn't have been there. It came up when we were against TJ and I'm sure everyone was thinking that right off the bat.

Current events seemed rampant (or recent years just kept on popping up in questions).

One last thing: why were sports separate from pop culture in the survey? I can see why mythology (which, by the way, was generally too easy, for example the one on Gilgamesh) was separated from Lit, but...
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Sun May 30, 2010 10:05 pm

My off the cuff observations while reading:

*History and science seemed, a few poor answers aside, generally okay. Literature was erratic. There were at least a number of times when I thought a hard lit bonus part would have been too hard for most college tournaments, which is probably not what HSNCT should shoot for (off the top of my head, the Hardy poem about The Ruined Maid or whatever, and the "name this character" from Suddenly Last Summer).

*Current events, as Susan mentioned, were fine. You can hate this topic and ask for it to be lowered in the distro, but if it's there, it was written quite well.

*Trash was kinda problematic. The most famous QB from the Panthers has his name dropped right after the power mark on the Panthers tossup? And at least that's a reasonable answer line--why write a tossup on Gregory Peck that I, a person who loves old-timey film and is a decade older than most people playing this tournament, would have trouble powering? Why would you ask about Seduction of the Innocent? That really hard Martin Scorsese film I've never heard of? Dave freakin' Garroway, the first host of the Today show? Trash should be on things that people playing a tournament are likely to be familiar with.

*Agree with the analysis on the math--we were specifically told to give only 5 seconds, which was clearly not enough for some bonus parts. This should be fixed in editing with some (but not all) math bonus parts extended to a clear 10 seconds or so.

Some general comments about gameplay from a reader's perspective:

*I consider myself a decent reader, but there were some rounds where I was straining to get through 20 tossups (I think I hit 20 each time). Not getting through 20 tossups is sometimes the reader's fault, but it can sometimes be not the team's "fault" (which implies a problem)--but rather be tied to team behavior. I read for one team today that specifically used all five seconds on each bonus part, even when they knew the answer instantly. There is nothing wrong with this strategy, but it does chew time and when barely 20 tossups are finished, that is definitely a reason why.

On a similar note, as a reader, having the clock remains quite stressful and I would love to see it be extended or eliminated. There was one round in which a team was making a valiant comeback attempt and I could tell was trying to speed through a bonus they didn't know to squeak in one more tossup. I finished reading the bonus and attempted to start the tossup before time expired (it ended up being roughly simultaneous, which is difficult to judge). This was very stressful as you may imagine, but my goal was to ensure that a team did not lose a match due to being screwed over by the clock.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Kanye West » Sun May 30, 2010 11:14 pm

I have to agree with Mr. Vinokurov. The twin primes conjecture is a fair and common part of the high school national-level math canon. A simple answer of "primes" would simply not suffice for an answer to such a question. However, I cede that the mention of the Sieve of Eratosthenes tended to throw one's mind off track and led one to say "primes" over "twin primes".

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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Steve Watchorn » Sun May 30, 2010 11:26 pm

Actually, that question never mentioned the sieve of Eratosthenes. It mentioned that the sum of twin prime reciprocals converged, as proven using sieve theory by Viggo Brun (a reference to Brun's theorem). An easy mistake to make in the heat of the match, though, especially at this level.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun May 30, 2010 11:45 pm

In my opinion, it's sort of a good sign that this discussion degenerated into specifics so fast, because overall, this was the highest-quality HSNCT set in at least three years, and certainly a legitimate national championship set. Questions were overwhelmingly solidly pyramidal and interesting, and some virtues of the NAQT format (more tossups means more interesting answers and different approaches to one person like Faulkner or Hesse) shone through over the deficiencies. There were a few clunkers - "whale calls" and "microphones" could have been, I dunno, "echolocation" and "amplitude" respectively - but they seemed significantly fewer and far-between.

For better or for worse, though, this was certainly the hardest HSNCT in recent memory - if "difficulty creep" is a real thing that's happening, this tournament suffered far more for that than for previously-decried NAQT issues. The bonuses, especially, fluctuated some but were on the whole too hard. It seemed like teams at even the highest levels of this tournament were getting 17 to 19 points per bonus (the stats will make or break this claim; for now it's a ballpark estimate), and the literature and current events/politics especially were scraping around for short stories and obscurata rather than rewarding deeper knowledge. Others, like bonuses I described at Maryland Spring last week, rewarded "random impossible" authors or theories that seemed completely extracanonical (Joyce Carol Oates and Leon Uris are really famous to adult readers of popular fiction, but have their secondary works ever been bonused before?) It seems like the usual goal of tournament difficulty for a field - producing a bell curve-like distribution for the field maxing out at 30 PPB for the best team ever, and working its way down with a height at 15 - didn't happen, capping out at around 20 and maxing around 10. This seemed wrong, especially when teams like LASA and State College were sometimes 0ing academic bonuses.

The computational math needed some sort of playtesting or looking-over to see if each individual part could really be done in five seconds' time. There's a huge difference between "find the slope of this line" (or even "find the sum of this geometric series") and "find the 6th entry of the 3rd diagonal of Pascal's triangle". If some of this comp. math is undoable in five seconds, consider adding a math theory part instead of the hardest example (according to the Internet, the third diagonal of Pascal's triangle is filled entirely with triangular numbers. This is a cool fact. Cooler than having to find the 6th one with only a nebulous description to light the way.)

The category of "mixed impure academic" is probably due for elimination. No one likes it when their bonus turns trash (or turns academic), it seems like a hassle to write, and opens up more space for better questions. There wasn't much of it at all, but it's a major pet peeve of mine that sort of betrays laziness on the part of the distribution or writing staff. (Mixed pure academic annoys some people too, though I don't mind that nearly as much, especially in bonuses.)

I had a lot of fun playing these questions - more than the other two HSNCTs I've been two, by a fair margin - and am hoping that these issues get ironed out so next year is even better than ever.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by kayli » Sun May 30, 2010 11:49 pm

Can someone post the Berlioz question. I think I got it off of Benvenuto Cellini.

Aside from that, I have a couple notes:
The swiss pairing turned out really weird. Pensacola ended up having to play (and lose to) Centennial, duPont Manual, and Bellarmine (twice!). Is this normal?

The difficulty variability was really funky. Bonuses seemed to sway a lot from easy to the point of triviality to difficult to the point of absurdity. Tossup clue selection also seemed highly variable in terms of difficulty. Some tossups seemed to have curved-yellow-fruit give aways.

Math computation bonuses did not give enough time to do some of them. Variability in difficulty was also very high.

Geography seemed to have some very obscure lead-ins. I don't think I saw a team power a geography tossup all tournament (but maybe I'm terribly mistaken).

Finally, trash (including current events) exists. This is a huge problem.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Frater Taciturnus » Mon May 31, 2010 12:00 am

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: The swiss pairing turned out really weird. Pensacola ended up having to play (and lose to) Centennial, duPont Manual, and Bellarmine (twice!). Is this normal?
Swiss pair on this size with a non power of 2 creates a small amount of repeat matches, perhaps 20-30 total out of 1005 total prelim games. It happens.
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: Geography seemed to have some very obscure lead-ins. I don't think I saw a team power a geography tossup all tournament (but maybe I'm terribly mistaken).
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Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: Finally, trash (including current events) exists. This is a huge problem.
CE is absolutely not trash, regardless of your opinion on the worthiness on the inclusion of trash, the idea that a current events question is the same as trash is absolutely unequivocally wrong.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 31, 2010 12:05 am

I'll try to elaborate on George's point. Well written current events is a very important topic. Poorly written current events (figure it out bowl, tabloid bowl, who died bowl) are not important. In my opinion, quizbowl should maximize the former and weed out the latter and I think this tournament for the most part did that.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by kayli » Mon May 31, 2010 12:07 am

Frater Taciturnus wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: The swiss pairing turned out really weird. Pensacola ended up having to play (and lose to) Centennial, duPont Manual, and Bellarmine (twice!). Is this normal?
Swiss pair on this size with a non power of 2 creates a small amount of repeat matches, perhaps 20-30 total out of 1005 total prelim games. It happens.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: Finally, trash (including current events) exists. This is a huge problem.
CE is absolutely not trash, regardless of your opinion on trash, the idea that a current events question is the same as trash is absolutely unequivocally wrong.
Ok, it's not really trash, but I don't think CE should be that much in the distribution. Also, I think a lot of it turned into obscurata. I think they should have focused more on having harder clues on easier answers instead of having a lot of questions on sort of obscure answers. It got to the point where I questioned the relevance of any of it was... and I doubt even in two years that it will be relevant. I guess that's the point of "current events" but there should be some distinction between engaging, relevant topics and stuff about random politicians who did some sort of important thing once.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Mon May 31, 2010 12:11 am

BRizzle wrote:Just curious, why are questions like "stethascopes," "microphones," and "grafiti" being asked?
Because there are miscellaneous and general knowledge distributions that must be filled. Just thank your lucky stars that graffiti was not fine arts and that stethoscopes and microphones were not science.
Why write a Berlioz question that is just filler until the clue March to the Scaffold?
I did not find this to be true at all... echoing the call for this tossup to be posted.

As I alluded above, this was the best NAQT set I've seen in terms of relegating silly answers (whalesong, anyone?) to general knowledge/miscellaneous and keeping the cute to a minimum. The one major ovararching concern I had was the dearth of alternate answer lines or info on promptables. NAQT tournaments like this one require a vast number of staffers, many of whom do not, frankly, have nearly enough knowledge to be able to interpret all answers given. There were definitely instances in which answers that were not given as alternates should have been perfectly acceptable, or when promptable information was not indicated as such. I'd hate to see a team negged unfairly because of this.

And Mike, I/Andy never had a problem getting through over 20 tossups. What were the barriers you encountered to this?
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon May 31, 2010 12:14 am

I don't think a lot of what the current events distribution asked about was obscurata, aside from some hard parts of bonuses. Most of it was stuff that, even if I did not know the name of, had heard about, and most of the ones we didn't get or lost a buzzer race on near the end we were like, "oh yeah...".
What questions in particular seemed to bother you, Kay? I'm just curious; I don't remember anything egregious about current events at the HSNCT.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon May 31, 2010 12:17 am

Thanks for the comments, everyone. naqt.com is down right now (we believe due to heavy traffic re: HSNCT results), so it will probably be tomorrow before I can post any question text (posting text of partially edited packets: not so useful).
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by kayli » Mon May 31, 2010 12:17 am

I'd have to look. But, perhaps I'm not just as informed (which is a distinct possibility).
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Mon May 31, 2010 12:21 am

bt_green_warbler wrote:Thanks for the comments, everyone. naqt.com is down right now (we believe due to heavy traffic re: HSNCT results), so it will probably be tomorrow before I can post any question text (posting text of partially edited packets: not so useful).
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 31, 2010 12:24 am

[feel free to move this somewhere, it's not really about the HSNCT's questions]

Well, first of all, I admit I am not an elite reader, but I also don't think I'm a poor one. Certainly you and Andy read faster than I do. I don't like using the word "barriers" because I don't want to suggest that these are problems, but what tended to happen is:

I read for a lot of midlevel teams, teams fighting to go 6-4 and get into the playoffs, etc. These teams tended to need all hear of the question before buzzing in. They would generally know the answers, but not until the very end. During bonus parts, they tended to use all 5 seconds to either think of a guess or deliberate on an answer or even if they knew it, tended to lack confidence in directly answering it right away. Thus, you're chewing up like the maximum amount of time on a tossup bonus sequence. Now, all of this is perfectly understandable and okay, but you hear less questions. My problem with the clock format then is you seem to be penalizing teams for not getting through questions quickly.

Also, as I've said, the clock just creates stressful scenarios. As I alluded above, there was a time when a team was desperately fighting back with a few seconds left on the clock. They didn't know a bonus part and basically said pass when they realized they didn't know it. I refrained from wasting a few seconds by saying the answer in order to keep moving. I find this heinous to my quizbowl aesthetics--not getting a chance to think and learn because you want to hear more questions in an attempt to win a game bothers me. Quizbowl should be about learning and demonstrating knowledge, not about trying to use gamemanship to exploit a clock. There were also times in which my finger would get stuck on a page or I'd stutter on a word or I couldn't quite hear a response and ask someone to repeat and that would blow a few seconds here and there that could be the difference between one more tossup/bonus sequence. These are things that happen several times in a nontimed match and it's no big deal, but in a timed match, I always feel very stressed.

I realize in a gigantic tournament you have to keep things moving and that all readers read at variable speeds, but this is why I dislike reading on a clock.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by kayli » Mon May 31, 2010 12:29 am

To add to the clock comment, a byproduct of readers trying to read really fast is that a lot of times it's hard to comprehend what readers are actually reading whether it be because you can't process that fast or because the reader slightly mispronounces a word.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo » Mon May 31, 2010 12:31 am

The questions were wholly superior to last year's. That much is almost certainly a fact. I can't see anyone disagreeing. Kudos for NAQT for the improvement.

However, the NAQTness of them is just... too much, at times. To have yet another tossup/answer on "morning sickness." To hear more impossible Lit (in bonuses mainly, the Lit tossups were actually quite good). Among other things.

The math computation was brutal in those bonuses. We might have gotten about 10 or 20 points the entire tournament on them, mostly because we did not have enough time. I have competent math players who know how to do many of these things but could never do them in 4 seconds. It is time for them to be all 10 seconds or for them to just go away.

Also.

What happened to the survey that we took last year about each moderator and their speed, professionalism, knowledge of rules, etc.? This needed to happen as there were some moderators who were too slow, did not prompt for bonus answers (as instructed in the rules), did not give enough time on bonus answers, did not understand some rules (including the supposed "stall" rule), or just generally were not very good. There is just no reason not to ever get to more than 20 tossups on a game. If you can't do that, read faster or find someone who can. It wasn't an issue for us much, but i know it was for other teams. To have a game decided in one room because the reader only got to 18 tossups is silly. Either we should have 10-minute halves or we should have uniform 20/20 like almost every tournament does and no timed matches.

When i look more at the questions (i may have time tomorrow) i'll have specific comments on them as well.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 31, 2010 12:36 am

I agree with Mr. C's comments in the abstract about moderators, but I just want to point out I've seen perfectly fine moderators not hit 20 questions in a round.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon May 31, 2010 12:39 am

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
BRizzle wrote:Just curious, why are questions like "stethascopes," "microphones," and "grafiti" being asked?
Because there are miscellaneous and general knowledge distributions that must be filled. Just thank your lucky stars that graffiti was not fine arts and that stethoscopes and microphones were not science.
Yeah. The thing I want to do more than anything is decrease the GK: allotment. I'm not terribly bothered by MI: and MI:PC: anymore, particularly when the MI:PC: that I let in the set was pretty slanted towards the academic. Same with CE, incidentally--though I don't think that the CE in this set was bad; it was just irritating to fill needs in it. (Pick your least favorite subject in the NAQT distribution: it's the one that gets finished last. At some point, NAQT should simply decide that, survey data be damned, a distribution that is both more pleasant to write and likely better quizbowl in some capacity is just what we ought to do.
Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:
Why write a Berlioz question that is just filler until the clue March to the Scaffold?
I did not find this to be true at all... echoing the call for this tossup to be posted.
I'd be surprised if this tossup was changed in the two-ish hours between this build and the final set.

A three-note {ostinato}, A, B-flat, A, is sung continuously in the Offertorium [OFF-ur-TOR-ee-um] of this composer's ~Requiem~, which requires four brass bands. Niccol\`o Paganini initially rejected a work he wrote for {viola} and orchestra. (*) "March to the Scaffold" is a movement from his work inspired by this composer's obsession with Harriet Smithson. For 10 points--name this French composer of ~Harold in Italy~ and ~Symphonie fantastique~ [fahn-tahs-TEEK].

answer: (Louis-)Hector _Berlioz_


Overall, I was pretty happy with this set. I think the lit was systematically a bit hard; particularly, there was a dearth of material in author tossups from an author's best known work. I think there were some things I could have done better, no question, though. I look forward to working on NAQT tournaments in the future.

Also, I agree with the aforementioned comments re: math calculation. I don't know if it's easy at all to have a difficulty curve that looks the way you want it to; moreover, you're doomed when you require short time limits.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite » Mon May 31, 2010 1:23 am

I felt the moderators could be handled better. In one room, there were Ian and Guy, two people who easily got to 26 each. Meanwhile, in my room, we had someone who could only read 16 in a round, and me, who couldn't read due to my accent.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Charbroil » Mon May 31, 2010 1:46 am

BRizzle wrote:Just curious, why are questions like..."microphones,"being asked?
I mean, if I recall correctly, that tossup wasn't that bad; the clues were definitely legitimate and "real," given that I recognized them from the work I'm doing on my research project on microphones right now.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Mon May 31, 2010 2:11 am

Charbroil wrote:
BRizzle wrote:Just curious, why are questions like..."microphones,"being asked?
I mean, if I recall correctly, that tossup wasn't that bad; the clues were definitely legitimate and "real," given that I recognized them from the work I'm doing on my research project on microphones right now.
Here's the problem with general knowledge questions - they can lead to replies like this, and I can't tell if this is a parody or not.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Charbroil » Mon May 31, 2010 2:18 am

styxman wrote:
Charbroil wrote:
BRizzle wrote:Just curious, why are questions like..."microphones,"being asked?
I mean, if I recall correctly, that tossup wasn't that bad; the clues were definitely legitimate and "real," given that I recognized them from the work I'm doing on my research project on microphones right now.
Here's the problem with general knowledge questions - they can lead to replies like this, and I can't tell if this is a parody or not.
No, it's not; I'm definitely biased since this is the subject of my research project, but the clues I recognized were, as I mentioned, very much "real."
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Tanay » Mon May 31, 2010 4:45 am

Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: I guess that's the point of "current events" but there should be some distinction between engaging, relevant topics and stuff about random politicians who did some sort of important thing once.
:w-hat:? This is a national-level tournament and the current events matched these standards. You can't possibly say that people like Lula, Mugabe, al-Maliki, or Petraeus "did some sort of important thing once" or are "random politicians". Some of these people would be considered perfectly appropriate even for IS-level sets as far as difficulty is concerned. As far as "engaging, relevant topics" are concerned, there were tossups on drug policy, gun policy, and DADT. What exactly were you expecting?
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Brian Ulrich » Mon May 31, 2010 9:37 am

NoWayItsTanay wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: I guess that's the point of "current events" but there should be some distinction between engaging, relevant topics and stuff about random politicians who did some sort of important thing once.
:w-hat:? This is a national-level tournament and the current events matched these standards. You can't possibly say that people like Lula, Mugabe, al-Maliki, or Petraeus "did some sort of important thing once" or are "random politicians". Some of these people would be considered perfectly appropriate even for IS-level sets as far as difficulty is concerned. As far as "engaging, relevant topics" are concerned, there were tossups on drug policy, gun policy, and DADT. What exactly were you expecting?
From looking through the set's toss-ups, the U.S. toss-up answers most open to attacks on relevance were Jack Murtha, Chris Christie, and Norm Coleman, and I'd argue that all three are on the right side of the relevant/irrelevant line.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by etchdulac » Mon May 31, 2010 10:30 am

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:The one major ovararching concern I had was the dearth of alternate answer lines or info on promptables. NAQT tournaments like this one require a vast number of staffers, many of whom do not, frankly, have nearly enough knowledge to be able to interpret all answers given. There were definitely instances in which answers that were not given as alternates should have been perfectly acceptable, or when promptable information was not indicated as such. I'd hate to see a team negged unfairly because of this.
Seconding this. I'm definitely one of those moderators who will yield to others' thoughts on the majority of protests due to an utterly lacking knowledge base in several subjects. With 67 rooms running, this is going to happen. So, while there were alternate answers on a large percentage of the questions where they were needed, every effort should be made to increase that number. However, I can't testify to how many protests of this nature actually needed resolution this weekend.
Cheynem wrote:I agree with Mr. C's comments in the abstract about moderators, but I just want to point out I've seen perfectly fine moderators not hit 20 questions in a round.
This as well. I had a wide range of teams come through Sky Harbor; there were several matches where I got to 22 or 23 (as opposed to 19 or 20) only because of the number of dead tossups. Also, some experienced teams will play deliberately slow to "shorten" the game if they know they are up against a better team, using all of the alloted time on every bonus part. If the other team is not hurrying in response, that can result in a game that struggles to get to 20.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Charley Pride » Mon May 31, 2010 11:49 am

NoWayItsTanay wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: I guess that's the point of "current events" but there should be some distinction between engaging, relevant topics and stuff about random politicians who did some sort of important thing once.
:w-hat:? This is a national-level tournament and the current events matched these standards. You can't possibly say that people like Lula, Mugabe, al-Maliki, or Petraeus "did some sort of important thing once" or are "random politicians". Some of these people would be considered perfectly appropriate even for IS-level sets as far as difficulty is concerned. As far as "engaging, relevant topics" are concerned, there were tossups on drug policy, gun policy, and DADT. What exactly were you expecting?
A tossup on the current events of Kyrgyzstan is on the crazier side...I was almost more impressed with the fact that Greg Tito second-lined this tossup than the fact that he won HSNCT yesterday.

The thing about "nationals difficulty" is that it's up to your conception: should we tend to "regular"--or "hard"--questions on hard answer lines, or should we tend to harder questions on "regular" answer lines? I definitely think we need both, but I suppose also that you can make a reasonable argument for more of either. Should "God of Carnage" (went dead for us against Gov) or "Perth" being tossed up (Tito first-lined it!!) be the rule or the exception?


All in all, I would say that this was the best NAQT set I've ever seen. I've been a critic before, and I still am to some degree (lots of cutie answer lines, too much love for CE and geo and PC, mathcomp, etc.), but this was a pretty good set for what it sought to accomplish (distinguish between top teams in timed rounds). My comments this pretty much echo Matt Bollinger's.

Moderators did seem to be somewhat of an issue. There were several moderator teams that should have been split, as well as several moderators who should not have been reading questions, as they never had a prayer of reading 26 questions. Even in the final, where someone commented that, with the depth and early buzzing of Gov and SC, even the slowest moderator could finish the packet, only 23 questions got read. In a game that was decided by 25 points, that's a huge deal.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon May 31, 2010 11:57 am

The reader we had when we faced Hoover interjected with comments while the clock was running and we got through only 18 tossups. That was my least favorite reader. One particularly bad duo included a guy with an accent who couldn't read due to it and a slow reader.

We tried to waste as much time as possible against TJ to hold a lead over them-it didn't work as there was like 0.5 seconds on the clock or so when we finished a bonus. (It didn't even matter anyway.) This tactic can make games shorter than they normally would be. We also used the clock in many different ways the entire weekend. :| It just created a much different format for us, as we had not played in a tournament like this all year (although we did host one).

Also, I could have easily powered that Berlioz tossup. The Requiem's four brass bands are significant, and so is Harold in Italy being commissioned by Paganini. I don't see anything wrong about it.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Lightinfa » Mon May 31, 2010 1:09 pm

Charley Pride wrote:
NoWayItsTanay wrote:
Arsonists Get All the Girls wrote: I guess that's the point of "current events" but there should be some distinction between engaging, relevant topics and stuff about random politicians who did some sort of important thing once.
:w-hat:? This is a national-level tournament and the current events matched these standards. You can't possibly say that people like Lula, Mugabe, al-Maliki, or Petraeus "did some sort of important thing once" or are "random politicians". Some of these people would be considered perfectly appropriate even for IS-level sets as far as difficulty is concerned. As far as "engaging, relevant topics" are concerned, there were tossups on drug policy, gun policy, and DADT. What exactly were you expecting?
A tossup on the current events of Kyrgyzstan is on the crazier side...I was almost more impressed with the fact that Greg Tito second-lined this tossup than the fact that he won HSNCT yesterday.

The thing about "nationals difficulty" is that it's up to your conception: should we tend to "regular"--or "hard"--questions on hard answer lines, or should we tend to harder questions on "regular" answer lines? I definitely think we need both, but I suppose also that you can make a reasonable argument for more of either. Should "God of Carnage" (went dead for us against Gov) or "Perth" being tossed up (Tito first-lined it!!) be the rule or the exception?


All in all, I would say that this was the best NAQT set I've ever seen. I've been a critic before, and I still am to some degree (lots of cutie answer lines, too much love for CE and geo and PC, mathcomp, etc.), but this was a pretty good set for what it sought to accomplish (distinguish between top teams in timed rounds). My comments this pretty much echo Matt Bollinger's.

Moderators did seem to be somewhat of an issue. There were several moderator teams that should have been split, as well as several moderators who should not have been reading questions, as they never had a prayer of reading 26 questions. Even in the final, where someone commented that, with the depth and early buzzing of Gov and SC, even the slowest moderator could finish the packet, only 23 questions got read. In a game that was decided by 25 points, that's a huge deal.
Well that was partly because there was that math comp bonus that killed over a minute of time. That was definitely not a moderator problem.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Bananaquit » Mon May 31, 2010 1:11 pm

I was very pleased with this set, particularly with history and geography. I will second (or third or fourth) that this was the best HSNCT I've heard.

Incidentally, the reason I got the Kyrgyzstan TU so quickly was that it mentioned the city of Osh, which I knew from being good at geography, not current events.

I also agree with the need to have more time on computation bonuses. On the two derivative bonuses, Maggie Walker got only one or two parts on each (I don't remember exactly) although I personally knew how to solve all the questions, as did everyone else on the team (we have all had some calculus). There was just too little time to finish them.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Golran » Mon May 31, 2010 1:50 pm

Just a couple of notes from my time in the stat room:
1) There are many ways to fill out a scoresheet that can become confusing or annoying. These include tally marks for individual stats, and not tallying individual stats at all. Also, not indicating where a player subbed in causes confusion where we weren't always able to determine how many tossups were heard by a player. Scorekeepers, please follow the directions given in the staff meeting at the start of the day!

2) People can have pretty bad handwriting, which was responsible for the wrong input of scores in most cases, occasionally affecting the winner. Make your 2's look like 2's, not 3's, not 1's. Make your 0's look like 0's, not 8's or 6's. But the bad handwriting can occasionally turn humorous, such as one room whose "St. Viator" turned into "St. Violator".

From the questions I did read on Sunday for playoffs/consolation, the only issue I saw was distribution. I think there were 2 math tossups in the first five for round 18 or 19? I also thought Samuel Huntington was a little early for the answer line of democracy, as one of the common papers read for Comparative Government classes is Huntington's "Third Wave of Democracy"
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by wexs883198215 » Mon May 31, 2010 2:30 pm

Are the moderators reading in the playoffs supposed to be the best moderators in the tournament? In our second (and unfortunately last) playoff game, we honestly had one of the most incomprehensible readers I had ever met. He was quiet, slow, and slurring words all over the place. It was such an obvious problem that my entire team exchanged looks of horror after toss-up one and promptly called timeout to move our table right up to the reader's table. That didn't really help too much. I ended up having to repeat what I thought he was saying to my teammates on several bonus parts.

The most frustrating thing was, the scorekeeper was a moderator that I had had before that actually could read well. I have no idea why in the world he wasn't reading instead.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by etchdulac » Mon May 31, 2010 3:15 pm

wexs883198215 wrote:Are the moderators reading in the playoffs supposed to be the best moderators in the tournament?
I don't think any individual knows who the best moderators are beyond their experience, and I would wager that, due to the number of new staffing faces this year especially, anyone who is making that decision hasn't heard a lot of the moderators at all.

I didn't really examine the surveys handed out this year; I know the distribution questions were there as usual, but was there anything about moderators? NAQT is working with too little information to be expected to determine the best readers beyond the people who they know are good readers from years of seeing them. If someone new arrives who is an exceedingly good or poor reader, someone who coached or played in that room should drop NAQT a line.

Speaking for no one but myself, I need feedback as a reader. In my HSNCTs as a reader, I've gotten no negative feedback and minimal positive feedback. If there is such a thing as too loud, I want to know, because by the end of Saturday, I was probably getting there.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Dan-Don » Mon May 31, 2010 3:29 pm

Golran wrote:But the bad handwriting can occasionally turn humorous, such as one room whose "St. Viator" turned into "St. Violator".
In case any coaches/school administrators are lurking, I swear this wasn't me!
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Unicolored Jay » Mon May 31, 2010 3:46 pm

I would give feedback about readers if I knew who they were!
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon May 31, 2010 3:47 pm

Perhaps future HSNCTs should package--with every packet--two moderator evaluation cards. That would be easier than, at the end of the day, trying to recall specific moderator experiences. The actual length of time it would add to the game would be the time it takes for the moderator to say his or her name.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by GBRodgers12 » Mon May 31, 2010 3:51 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Perhaps future HSNCTs should package--with every packet--two moderator evaluation cards. That would be easier than, at the end of the day, trying to recall specific moderator experiences. The actual length of time it would add to the game would be the time it takes for the moderator to say his or her name.
This would be a very good idea. One room that we had two different matches in had two readers that were just terrible. They were slow, only getting through 16 questions and seemed to be almost incompetent when it came to moderating and pronouncing words. While in other rooms, we had two staffers that were both great readers.
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Re: 2010 HSNCT discussion thread

Post by Cheynem » Mon May 31, 2010 3:53 pm

Teams should perhaps even be encouraged to evaluate a moderator during a bye round (maybe the same one that already read for them), so they can get a different perspective. [Also, if teams didn't listen to bye rounds, protip: do it. As a reader, I noticed quite a few teams guessing stuff that had already come up, which I assumed occurred in their bye rounds.]
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