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BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:33 am
by Adventure Temple Trail
If you have general commentary about trends across the set, please discuss them here, keeping in mind that there is a separate thread for issues with isolated questions. This thread will also serve as a place to report any factual errors remaining in the set, which we will remove for future sites when we hear about them.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2012 1:37 pm
by jonpin
I brought this up to el stat boy, but the bonus on Heisenberg uncertainty principle in... some round after lunch, probably in playoffs, started off with "This statement relates the uncertainties of position and velocity" and then had a part-a answer line of "Heisenberg uncertainty principle (ACCEPT Heisenberg uncertainty principle)". I think the first part should be restructured to ask directly for Heisenberg, or the lead-in needs to use a different wording.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sat Apr 14, 2012 7:44 pm
by jekbradbury
Generally speaking, I really liked the set today. In particular, I think you guys did an excellent job with writing questions that were clear, tight, and accessible--there were very few confusing questions and, as far as I can remember, no extraneously difficult ones. There was one factual error that a number of us noticed: in the bonus on uniform circular motion (formatted, probably somewhat inadvisably, almost as if it were a question on a physics test), the car is said to be moving counterclockwise around the track, but the answer given for the part that asks for the magnitude and direction of the car's angular momentum mistakenly lists the direction as down rather than up (as indicated by the right hand rule). This didn't matter in any games, but it should be corrected for future mirrors.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 1:18 am
by Excelsior (smack)
jekbradbury wrote:Generally speaking, I really liked the set today. In particular, I think you guys did an excellent job with writing questions that were clear, tight, and accessible--there were very few confusing questions and, as far as I can remember, no extraneously difficult ones. There was one factual error that a number of us noticed: in the bonus on uniform circular motion (formatted, probably somewhat inadvisably, almost as if it were a question on a physics test), the car is said to be moving counterclockwise around the track, but the answer given for the part that asks for the magnitude and direction of the car's angular momentum mistakenly lists the direction as down rather than up (as indicated by the right hand rule). This didn't matter in any games, but it should be corrected for future mirrors.
Well, that's embarrassing. This error has been corrected for future mirrors. I will defer to Matt Jackson if he would like to comment about whether or not this bonus is a good idea in the first place.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:58 pm
by UlyssesInvictus
Not sure if I should be asking for the question as well here, but one of our sophomores (Sid Verma) tells me that a bonus on Hindu festivals was incorrect. The question asked for where the Kumbh Mela was held: the answer given was Varanasi. Actually, "Varanasi is incorrect and Haridwar should be accepted, as should Allahabad, Ujjain, and Nashik." This is outside my knowledge range, but if you can post the relevant question, that would help; or if you think he's right, that works, too.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:53 pm
by Excelsior (smack)
Packet 3 wrote:3. For 10 points each, answer the following questions about religion in India.
[10] The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage to sacred body of water, which can see millions ritually bathe in it. Unfortunately, the practice has made it one of the most polluted rivers in the world.
ANSWER: Ganges River [or Ganga]
[10] This city, located on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, is a major holy site for Hindus. The Buddha is said to have given his first sermon here.
ANSWER: Varanasi
[10] Another river-related festival, this god’s Chaturthi, involves immersing clay statues of him in water. This remover of obstacles won a race around the world against his brother to earn the fruit of the gods.
ANSWER: Ganesha <SSp>
Though it is true that the Kumbh Mela is held at Haridwar and other places (and not at Varanasi), the second part of the bonus did not ask for this.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:51 pm
by Mewto55555
Presumably you want a "this" in the first half of the first bonus prompt.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Thu Apr 19, 2012 6:41 pm
by Adventure Temple Trail
The omitted "this" has been in every usage of the set since March 26. I suppose Ashvin is pasting from the original packets.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:19 pm
by jonah
Lots of tossups in this set used had a sentence (or multiple sentences) of the form describe a work/comma/name the work in ways that are ungrammatical and potentially confusing. For example, in packet 9 tossup 1, we see the sentence "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, who steals an Iron Cross medal, 'The Great Mahlke'." Careful examination of that sentence reveals that it's claiming the medal is called The Great Mahlke. I'm not going to pick out other examples, but there are half a dozen or so, and they're pretty annoying.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:06 pm
by ThisIsMyUsername
jonah wrote:Lots of tossups in this set used had a sentence (or multiple sentences) of the form describe a work/comma/name the work in ways that are ungrammatical and potentially confusing. For example, in packet 9 tossup 1, we see the sentence "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, who steals an Iron Cross medal, 'The Great Mahlke'." Careful examination of that sentence reveals that it's claiming the medal is called The Great Mahlke. I'm not going to pick out other examples, but there are half a dozen or so, and they're pretty annoying.
That sentence is not ungrammatical. The base sentence is "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, 'The Great Mahlke'." In normal written English, one would append "who steals an Iron Cross medal" to the end of the sentence, so that it would read "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, 'The Great Mahlke', who steals an Iron Cross medal." However, this is non-ideal for quizbowl because it is not pyramidal: the fact of stealing the Iron Cross should precede the name of the protagonist. Therefore, I moved the non-restrictive modifying clause to right after "the protagonist". This does not automatically suggest that the medal is named "The Great Mahlke", because the final comma is off-setting the non-restrictive modifying clause that precedes it from the following appositive, which modifies not the object of modifying clause but the object of the primary clause. I admit that it is possible to mis-read it as suggesting that the medal is called "The Great Mahlke", because there is some ambiguity as to how the final comma is functioning, but even that mis-reading is not going to prevent someone with knowledge from buzzing. In short, I agree that this is not the most elegant construction, but it is still grammatical, and it serves the purpose of sorting the buzzes more effectively than would the more elegant version. I do not know which are the other examples you are thinking of, but in all cases I tried to make each sentence as internally pyramidal as it could be, without the sentence becoming ungrammatical. There may be instances of genuine grammar problems due to oversights while copy-editing. This is not one of them.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:11 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
I mean, just write, "In addition to The Great Mahlke" or "Besides The Great Mahlke" or "That work is The Great Mahlke." It fixes these situations.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 9:23 pm
by Adventure Temple Trail
Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:I mean, just write, "In addition to The Great Mahlke" or "Besides The Great Mahlke" or "That work is The Great Mahlke." It fixes these situations.
The work isn't "The Great Mahlke," though!

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 10:06 pm
by Down and out in Quintana Roo
RyuAqua wrote:
Down and out in Quintana Roo wrote:I mean, just write, "In addition to The Great Mahlke" or "Besides The Great Mahlke" or "That work is The Great Mahlke." It fixes these situations.
The work isn't "The Great Mahlke," though!
I read that paragraph too fast. I meant, protagonist. Or just simply "character."

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 3:45 am
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
The base sentence is "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, 'The Great Mahlke'." In normal written English, one would append "who steals an Iron Cross medal" to the end of the sentence, so that it would read "In one of his novels, a cat scratches the Adam's apple of the protagonist, 'The Great Mahlke', who steals an Iron Cross medal."
This kind of construction is still lame either way when you're playing it. Just write "who is nicknamed 'The Great Mahlke'" after the comma.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 3:50 am
by Auroni
Here are my thoughts after having moderated for a tournament using this set:

I liked the vast majority of tossups in this set and a good chunk of bonuses. This set was a good example of how worthwhile, fun, rewarding, even exciting questions can be written on completely mundane topics. I liked the tossups on The Scream and the Dreyfus Affair. I don't think I've ever even seen a tossup on the former, since it's taken for granted that it's a painting with so few details, yet this tournament pulled it off.

But anyway, this tournament had a great mix of creative answers, like _skull_s, _Japanese_-Americans, the _origin of life_ (the last one was great), along with answers that everyone can expect at high school tournaments like these. That said, I have some critiques about some aspects of the set:

- Inappopriately hard bonuses. I got the sense that this set wanted to be a nationals prep for any high school team while remaining playable for the vast majority of regular high school teams. However, I read quite a few bonuses today that seemed to run counter to this goal. The most egregious example to me is the German schools of art bonus: New Objectivity simply should not be a high school answerline. You could say the same thing about the scattering cross-section as well. The reason I'm making this point is not just to cherrypick individual bonuses that were too hard, but to argue that you could have easily written much more reasonable bonuses on these very same topics that would have played way better difficulty wise. Here is a list of bonuses (and some tossups) that I think could have had easy fixes to be more empathetic to peoples' knowledge:

- string theory/10-11/phase spaces, as if M-theory stuff wasn't hard enough already
- graphs/convexity/reflex angles, where the easy intended thing is at best a medium part
- Sweden/Strindberg/ghosts, where the easiest thing seems to rely on linguistic fraud knowledge
- Syndics of the Drapers Guild/Night Watch/Rembrandt, where the hard part makes no mention of a title profession (not to say that that's necessary, but it's pretty rough considering that it's the first thing being asked)
- Uppsala/Sweden/Lapland, which has two hard parts (one being quite tough and not even giving the country where it's located in)
- Franco/Spanish Civil War/plane crash, in which the hard part's only clue is the manner of death for a dude you may not even have heard of (Mola). Why couldn't this have had a clue about Hammerskjold or the recent Polish president?
- superconductors/magnetic field/London penetration depth, in which the entirety of the final part was underlined (with London having been mentioned in the prompt); that final part also follows a tough-as-written part on the B-field.
- sex/evolutionary stable/altruism, where the hard part was pretty hardcore (I don't think it's in Campbell's)
- Sleeping Gypsy/Gaugain/Vision After the Sermon, easily two tough parts
- Verdi/Bellini/trouser role: are the two later parts so well known that one or the other could be answered by 50% of the teams playing this set?
- stress: while no doubt many teams got this at the end when it mentioned "over strain," this was a poor choice since vanishingly few high schoolers are exposed to the solid mechanics that the clues were all about.
- aformentioned bonus on Blue Rider/Bridge/New Objectivity, hopefully for obvious reasons
- aformentioned bonus on scattering/Rayleigh scattering/cross-section

There were a couple of questions that I felt were sort of ambiguous or misleading:
- the prime numbers/natural logarithm/Riemann zeta function bonus only needed the word logarithms, but had one clue about ln and another about all logs (the one where log x + log y = log xy)
- Ethan Frome/Edith Wharton/NYC; the first part read "Edith Frome" and only had the second word underlined, which is all sorts of wrong and probably confused non-knowledgeable mods.
- "sinjin rivers?" Like, even if that's how his name is pronounced, you're going to screw a lot of people out of clues they know if they don't happen to remember that fact

There were some issues with prompts and lack thereof:

- Reconquista didn't accept Christian _Reconquest_
- All of the works in the tossup on _Soviet_ literature took place in Russia, Russia is therefore as much a correct answer as the Soviet Union is.
- I wasn't a huge fan of the decision to prompt on _Japanese_ people in that tossup (which was very well written, otherwise). Most teams that I have seen play interpret a "prompt" to be a more specific form of something instead of something that tangentially overlaps. I think that _Japanese_ should have been outright accepted in this instance.
- uncertainty/reduced Planck's constant/energy: this needed to outright "do not accept or prompt on "Planck's constant""

Other than these specific examples, this set gave me the impression that the history was more lenient with middle and hard part thresholds than the literature and arts were, although that may just be me exaggerating from what I know about who worked on what. There were also some thematic repeat issues, like an electrons tossup mentioning orbitals with a bonus on orbitals later on in the same packet, but otherwise I have no more complaints. This was a pretty good set, but future incarnations should strive to, in Thoreau's words, simplify, simplify, simplify, when it is at all possible.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 7:44 am
by Charles Martel
1. I thought that having tossups on "Iron" and "Gold" was pushing it. History in general seemed to be less events-oriented than history questions usually are. Even if this was your intent, I think you went overboard with it.

2. The writing was confusing and hard to understand. Several times, the last sentence of a bonus part would lead you in completely the wrong direction.

3. Some of the tossups were not pyramidal, such as the tossup on succession. Now, I've never heard of succession. But from the first line I could tell, "it's probably talking about a specific step of the process of life entering a new environment, or that process itself" and many others could too.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 2:49 pm
by Auroni
1. I thought that having tossups on "Iron" and "Gold" was pushing it. History in general seemed to be less events-oriented than history questions usually are. Even if this was your intent, I think you went overboard with it.
No, both of these tossups were great. They rewarded you for having knowledge that isn't commonly tested otherwise.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 5:19 pm
by Adventure Temple Trail
So, I have some general wrap-up thoughts about this most recent BHSAT set, which I'd like to share. I think stats bear out that this set did a very good job of distinguishing teams at all levels, from the best of the best, to the upper ranges, to the oft-neglected middle, to the lower ends of the spectrum, and I’m very proud of the work my fellow writers and editors put in to make it a reality.

With that said, I think there was some earnest confusion among some players of the set as to what the intended difficulty was, what the actual difficulty was, and whether it hit its goals. BHSAT is in sort of a unique spot in that its main site has historically appealed to both a local circuit with little quizbowl experience and the best of the best nationally, with many teams in between needing to have meaningful games as well. My intentions for BHSAT were thus to produce a set which:

1. provided appropriate, meaningfully-disinguishing games to the local New England teams which had few other opportunities to play quizbowl this year and last,

2. also provided more challenge for the top fifty or so teams in the nation without sacrificing from number 1.

This meant that I wanted questions starting from the baseline of an NAQT IS-set or an HSAPQ set, allowing for more difficult, but still high-school appropriate, material limited entirely to lines 1 or 2 of the tossups and the third parts of bonuses. I don’t think I made it clear publicly that this was going to happen, and happen in such a way that it would minimally affect teams in the middle of the field (as stats seem to bear out was the case). The wording from the original post was this ambiguous turn of phrase:
Question difficulty will be suitable for teams preparing for national tournaments later on in the year or for those seeking a moderately challenging tournament; since last year's difficulty hit this standard well, expect the questions to be of the same difficulty as BHSAT 2011, with performance during the year on regular NAQT and HSAPQ sets correlating strongly with performance on this set.
I realize now that those words doesn’t really mean anything concrete, and could be interpreted to mean “awesome, a regular set!” or “this is going to be so hard!” I apologize if it misled anyone into thinking the set would be closer to “nationals prep” difficulty or more equal to “regular difficulty” than it actually was, which was hopefully somewhere in the middle. We are not HFT, and we don't intend to be HFT - as long as I'm involved, BHSAT will be an experience that all teams in New England can play and score points on - but at the same time there were going to be somewhat fewer first-lines than usual.

I concede and apologize that a large handful of the bonus parts in this set overshot our goals to the point of being inappropriate. Auroni's list is pretty instructional to me and should be to future writers attempting to toe this very thin line – in the future, I anticipate controlling bonus difficulty more tightly, particularly in situations where bonus ordering made things artificially hard (such as the Uppsala and Rembrandt bonuses) or where it’s much harder to reverse-engineer a bonus answer than it is to buzz on the same title when it’s an early clue in past tossups (Full Fathom Five, Juan de Pareja). Some middle parts were certainly above my goal of keeping all middle parts to regular high school difficulty – perhaps because of this, there wasn’t a huge glut of teams below 10 points per bonus, but there were more than I’d like to see in future years.

It's really, really hard to toe the line of "provide a tiny bit more challenge for the best without sacrificing anything for the rest", and I’d be interested in hearing more from people about whether it’s even worth doing in the future (i.e. whether we’d lose anything or anyone if difficulty went back to straight-regular and the rest of the writing style/quirk remained the same - increasing the difficulty is NOT a live option). I'd like to think there's something special we present to people playing this particular set - if so, where is that, and how can we bring it out more in future?

Further thoughts:

-There was also a little more discrepancy in terms of categories’ difficulty and creativity than I would have liked – the writers and editors for this set worked at very different paces, which meant I wasn’t as able as I would have liked to review the science, arts, or literature until close to the very end. I had direct control over history, RMP, social science, and geography, which in turn best reflected what I wanted the whole set to look like.

-Filling 1/1 each of Philosophy and Social Science with appropriate material was an exceedingly difficult task for this tournament, in part because I didn't just want to toss up things which were only appropriate for Nationals-caliber teams or have easy bonus parts on philosophers such as Hegel or Schopenhauer who most teams don't actually come across. I strongly encourage writers of future independent high school tournaments to not blindly copy this aspect of the ACF college distribution, which was devised for an age range with more exposure to these subjects, and reduce both subjects’ representation in their sets. HSAPQ and NAQT already do this, and I encourage future writers of independent high school tournaments to do so as well. I don’t think it’s a good idea to have more than .75/.75 of either, or 1.5/1.5 of them combined, period, in a high school set with as many packets as they need to have nowadays. Maybe things were different when good sets only needed to be ten to twelve packets long. (Side-note: It seems generally accepted that reducing World Lit to below 1/1 is a net good; BHSAT world lit was reduced to about .5/.5 per packet for the 2011 set, a change which we kept this year and will probably remain as such in future incarnations.)
To elaborate, it was in service of that goal (getting 1/1 accessible stuff in) that things such as the logic bonus and a bonus with easy part “art” and “paradoxes” were categorized as philosophy, I let mentions of Plato exist in multiple places, and allowed for more “intellectual-history” type questions on justice and on encyclopedias in that space. In seeking to be high-school appropriate for social science, I deliberately avoided such Canon standbys as high school tossups on dated anthropologists and vowel shifts, instead looking for more general answers such as “skulls” in archaeology, language, and “chickens” rather than Mead or Geertz. While psychology and economics both seem to be fillable with 3/3 to 5/5 of repeatable material per tournament, as they were here (though name-recognition of Krugman is probably less than we thought), it really seems as though outside those subjects the askable material is very, very limited (as we’ve gone over about anthro on these boards often) and should be minimized and kept accessible at all costs.

- Personal: I'll note that I felt a little bad at some times during this process that we as a club were writing our own set alone, in a year where so many HS sets happened and many weren't as good as they could be. I don't feel as bad now - in the end, we were able to produce thirteen packets of good questions and get eight mirrors up and running across the country in regions that all wanted that extra set there - but I think it's worth having a broader conversation about who should get to write high school sets, what the appropriate reasons to do so are, when collaboration is feasible, and how many sets is too many to exist a given year (given that areas such as Illinois, Missouri, and DC/MD/VA basically used every good set available this year despite the increased number). I'd like to participate in such a conversation without being or seeming hypocritical for thinking that BHSAT's continued existence is defensible, so I'll be assessing my thoughts over the next few days and saying something once I've gotten them all ironed out.

Responses to Adam:

-Your first point, re: iron and gold being answer lines, certainly doesn't hold up to scrutiny. I honestly don't see why it's a problem that I asked about this, or why people shouldn't do so in the future. A lot of knowing history is knowing the kinds of material things that drove events to happen, and to say that the advent of the Iron Age or desire for gold weren't important to history, or are less important than "events-oriented" things (whatever that means - if you mean "named people and places and battles", that describes a giant overwhelming portion of the history in this and in every set), is patently ludicrous - these materials meant the collapse of entire societies and literally changed the world many times over. If a tossup is pyramidal, rewards important information people know, and has a gettable answerline (Ashvin's data tells me iron was gotten in all nine rooms at the main site and gold in eight of them), that's a good tossup by definition. It shouldn't matter that it's not on an "events-oriented" topic - or is rarely found in previous packets - if it's still gettable and good.

-If the writing was confusing and hard to understand, or if bonus parts actually misled you out of points, I'd like specific examples pointed out to me, so I can figure out where the grammar was confusing and what I can do to make it work. Without any examples I can't know what to fix or where to look.

-I'm not wedded to the succession tossup, and if it's both rather hard as a topic and not particularly well-written/suited to pyramidality, I'm not going to go out of my way to defend it. I defer to Ashvin if he has further thoughts, and to people's AP Bio experiences as to whether they encounter this enough to be tossed up (which I'm not as confident about now as I was a month ago).

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 5:43 pm
by cchiego
2. The writing was confusing and hard to understand. Several times, the last sentence of a bonus part would lead you in completely the wrong direction.
This may be attributed to the clue-denseness and length of the some of the bonuses. At the time I was reading, the bonus parts got really tiresome and on several occasions confused the teams because so much info was being thrown at them (I recall a couple of pyramidal-style bonus parts--several very hard clues, then a medium clue then an easy clue...all for one bonus part). Looking back over the set, it's not as bad as it seemed at the time when reading it, but more economy in bonus part length would be a great goal for future tournaments. You don't have to have two lines full of clues (plus a clue-stuffed lead-in) for all bonus parts.
3. Some of the tossups were not pyramidal, such as the tossup on succession. Now, I've never heard of succession. But from the first line I could tell, "it's probably talking about a specific step of the process of life entering a new environment, or that process itself" and many others could too.
The succession one was also noted in the room that I was reading as being really transparent, but this also happened on a couple of other ones. For instance, the Bobbie Fischer TU was clearly from the start on a famous chess player. Now maybe someone like Gary Kasparov might be also worthy of a TU, but at the high school level the only grandmaster that could conceivably be TUd would be Fischer and giving away the chess part made it a game of chicken pretty early on.

I'd agree with Auroni too on the bonus variability. There were a number of easy easy - impossible bonuses and then several that seemed to have no easy part. The lit in particular seemed extra tough, especially for medium-to-poor teams. The real problem is not so much the impossible parts--if you want to challenge the top teams in the country on the third parts, go for it--it's the variability that's the problem. I know this is very tough from an editorial standpoint, but it's fine to have hard 3rd parts so long as all the 3rd parts are hard and the 1st and 2nd parts are similarly easy-medium.

The TUs were excellent for the most part. Science seemed particularly gettable, as did history. I really liked the iron and gold TUs--good, interesting, clues on important things that don't come up as often as they should've in QB. Lit again was the area where things got tough--I'd say almost every dead TU in my room was Lit.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 5:45 pm
by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode
RyuAqua wrote: -I'm not wedded to the succession tossup, and if it's both rather hard as a topic and not particularly well-written/suited to pyramidality, I'm not going to go out of my way to defend it. I defer to Ashvin if he has further thoughts, and to people's AP Bio experiences as to whether they encounter this enough to be tossed up (which I'm not as confident about now as I was a month ago).
In my AP Bio course this was one of those topics that we basically just acknowledged as something that happened in ecology (and vaguely covered primary secondary stuff) but we spent about 5 minutes of the entire school year going over it. The tossup itself was really transparent and I refrained from buzzing on that since I was wondering why someone would ever toss it up

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 6:21 pm
by Guile Island
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote: - I wasn't a huge fan of the decision to prompt on _Japanese_ people in that tossup (which was very well written, otherwise). Most teams that I have seen play interpret a "prompt" to be a more specific form of something instead of something that tangentially overlaps. I think that _Japanese_ should have been outright accepted in this instance.
Yeah, I buzzed off of the Gentleman's Agreement clue and said "Japanese Immigrants," which I got promted on and negged when I couldn't pull it. As Wikipedia puts it:
The Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 (日米紳士協約 Nichibei Shinshi Kyōyaku?) was an informal agreement between the United States and the Empire of Japan whereby the U.S. would not impose restriction on Japanese immigration, and Japan would not allow further emigration to the U.S.
I thought my answer should've been accepted there, but I'm not sure if the clues beforehand would make me wrong.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 7:20 pm
by Charles Martel
I guess I was just kind of annoyed because I negged gold with salt on the first line. I definitely feel that the Babylon tossup was lacking in good clues. I thought the iron tossup was good.

With regards to the bonuses, I think one of the problems is that it was often anti-pyramidal, identifying it, but then continuing on in a misleading direction.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 7:42 pm
by Smuttynose Island
Charles Martel wrote:With regards to the bonuses, I think one of the problems is that it was often anti-pyramidal, identifying it, but then continuing on in a misleading direction.
What does this sentence even mean? What is the "it" that you refer to? Is it the bonuses, because that really isn't clear. A bonus can't be "anti-pyramidal," although it can lack a clear "easy-medium-hard" structure.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 8:00 pm
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
I mean, maybe the criticisms aren't being articulated as well as they should, but bonus length needs to be handled better. There's no reason to have more than 2 lines of clues for each part. If you can't properly control your difficulty within those fairly generous constraints, then you should change your bonus answers, because most bonuses can really get across all of the necessary information to be of a proper difficulty in under a line. Droning on and on for each part serves no benefit, since it just has people zone out and lose track of the answer and think to themselves "god, these questions are way too long," making pyramidal quizbowl that much harder of a sell in many places.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 8:07 pm
by Cheynem
One thing I've noticed when I write particularly long bonus parts is that for middle to lower tier type teams and inexperienced players, it can be be very difficult to figure out what is wanted. I'm all for interesting/good clues in bonus parts and for doing necessary swerves to help out difficulty, but sometimes it just can be confusing if goes on too long (one way of tracking this is to note how many times when you're reading a bonus, if a team keeps asking "What do they want?" Yeah, ATTENTION MUST BE PAID, and yeah, sometimes teams are just stupid, but there's no sense in going crazy with length).

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Sun May 20, 2012 9:06 pm
by AustinlSmith
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote: - Inappopriately hard bonuses. I got the sense that this set wanted to be a nationals prep for any high school team while remaining playable for the vast majority of regular high school teams. However, I read quite a few bonuses today that seemed to run counter to this goal. The most egregious example to me is the German schools of art bonus: New Objectivity simply should not be a high school answerline.
Maybe this is me being naive, but I took AP Art History this year, and when you mentioned German schools of art New Objectivity is exactly what my mind went to (even before Bauhaus). I was actually conversing with my brother just a day or two ago about how we have never heard a question about New Objectivity. Again, you could chalk this up to me being naive, but I've considered that school of art very famous.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 12:00 am
by Kouign Amann
AustinlSmith wrote:
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote: - Inappopriately hard bonuses. I got the sense that this set wanted to be a nationals prep for any high school team while remaining playable for the vast majority of regular high school teams. However, I read quite a few bonuses today that seemed to run counter to this goal. The most egregious example to me is the German schools of art bonus: New Objectivity simply should not be a high school answerline.
Maybe this is me being naive, but I took AP Art History this year, and when you mentioned German schools of art New Objectivity is exactly what my mind went to (even before Bauhaus). I was actually conversing with my brother just a day or two ago about how we have never heard a question about New Objectivity. Again, you could chalk this up to me being naive, but I've considered that school of art very famous.
If you've taken AP Art History, then you know far more about art history than nearly all high schoolers. Congrats, and be proud of that knowledge; it's good stuff. But don't let it fool you into thinking that New Objectivity is actually "very famous" among high schoolers. It's not.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 11:45 am
by Adventure Temple Trail
Horned Screamer wrote:I mean, maybe the criticisms aren't being articulated as well as they should, but bonus length needs to be handled better. There's no reason to have more than 2 lines of clues for each part. If you can't properly control your difficulty within those fairly generous constraints, then you should change your bonus answers, because most bonuses can really get across all of the necessary information to be of a proper difficulty in under a line. Droning on and on for each part serves no benefit, since it just has people zone out and lose track of the answer and think to themselves "god, these questions are way too long," making pyramidal quizbowl that much harder of a sell in many places.
No bonus part was meant to ever exceed two lines, and if any did so it's because of some spacing conversions when pasting into Microsoft Word that I didn't catch. I was actually policing "no more than two lines" pretty heavily throughout. That said, this meant there were a lot of bonuses which went all the way to the two line mark with information, rather than being actively cut below it, and in high school quizbowl, a tournament where 30 to 40 percent of bonus parts are exactly two lines long is neither necessary nor desirable for the reasons Adam and Charlie pointed out. I really don't think it correlated with the difficulty of answers, but rather with a habit I know about in my writing of trying to give as much info as possible to teams in each bonus part ("McKenzie-style" bonus writing gone a little over the rails). However, I understand that the limits on this for high school questions are probably far more stringent than I thought they were, and that cutting dead weight from bonuses that are already of appropriate difficulty should be a priority in future writing/editing work that I do.

I take it this is a process of taking bonus parts such as
BHSAT, Round 3 wrote:[10] Name this longstanding Kentucky Senator, a “Great Compromiser” who ironed out the Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850 at the ends of a career in which he feuded with John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster.
and altering them to something such as
modified that wrote:[10] Name this Kentucky Senator who ironed out the Missouri Compromise and Compromise of 1850. He rivaled John C. Calhoun and Daniel Webster.
Furthermore, upon going back and reading some bonuses, I noticed that a lot of the writing used long constructions or clauses before getting to the word "this," which probably added to the confusion as much as, or more than, the length. Whenever possible, I'll be looking for things such as this:
BHSAT, Round 3 wrote:[10] The end of the Mesozoic era is geologically characterized by this iridium-enriched layer. It is named for the time periods it separates, and is also rich in shocked quartz.
and making them look more like this, so teams know what they're looking for from the beginning:
modified that wrote:[10] This iridium-enriched layer geologically characterizes the end of the Mesozoic era. This later is also rich in shocked quartz, and is named for the time periods it separates.
Though bonuses aren't "pyramidal," I can understand how the former writing style can mess up teams, especially if no demonstrative adjective is given for over half a line.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 2:23 pm
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
I really liked the tossups on "actual" historical things like newspapers, gold, and iron, which better adheres to the kind of "trend" history emphasized in survey courses in high school. There should be a reward for having studied those things along with the specific person/place/thing/event mentality pervading high school. One thing that could definitely be fixed is the overly hard third parts, like La Rochelle and 36-30. The latter is the kind of information that is rather trivial to ask about.

Further discussion re: the askability and importance of the 36-30 line has been moved here. --Mgmt.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 2:26 pm
by Charles Martel
I was extremely annoyed at the bonus part on SB1070, where it was basically asking if you knew the name of the bill, but it didn't make it clear that it wanted the official designation.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 5:29 pm
by The Herb
The Golden Sun bonus part made me cry tears of joy.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Mon May 21, 2012 5:51 pm
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
The Herb wrote:The Golden Sun bonus part made me cry tears of joy.
As did the tossups on Misty, lightsabers, and George Costanza.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 7:00 am
by Deviant Insider
Now that we've determined that 36-30 is important and askable, I'd like to return to two points upthread.
It's really, really hard to toe the line of "provide a tiny bit more challenge for the best without sacrificing anything for the rest", and I’d be interested in hearing more from people about whether it’s even worth doing in the future (i.e. whether we’d lose anything or anyone if difficulty went back to straight-regular and the rest of the writing style/quirk remained the same - increasing the difficulty is NOT a live option). I'd like to think there's something special we present to people playing this particular set - if so, where is that, and how can we bring it out more in future?
This is in fact worth doing, and please keep doing it. As the elite and average teams improve, while the novice teams will always be with us, the reaction from writers should be to widen the gap between easy/medium/hard bonus parts and between leadins and giveaways, and even between early middle and late middle clues. The downside of this may be lots of 20'd bonuses and some buzzer races halfway through tossups, but writers just have to do the best they can to try to lessen these problems, and teams just have to accept that these things happen sometimes.
Whether or not you, or anyone else, thinks an answer is unimportant (or important) is immaterial. The importance of an answer doesn't justify it's inclusion or exclusion.
I'm pretty sure this statement is incorrect.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 8:52 pm
by i never see pigeons in wheeling
Oh and also Chimney Sweep is not the same thing as Chimney Sweeper. The first is from SO Innocence, the latter from Experience, and the first should definitely be acceptable as an answer. We ran into this exact same problem on 2011 Regs where only Sweep was accepted, so we made sure to say Sweep this time and were deemed wrong.

Edit: My bad.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Wed May 23, 2012 9:32 pm
by nadph
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Oh and also Chimney Sweep is not the same thing as Chimney Sweeper. The first is from SO Innocence, the latter from Experience, and the first should definitely be acceptable as an answer. We ran into this exact same problem on 2011 Regs where only Sweep was accepted, so we made sure to say Sweep this time and were deemed wrong.
I did some research, it turns out that (a) the Regs bonus said "Chimney Sweeper" and (b) there is no poem called "Chimney Sweep." Apparently the poems from SOI/SOE included in our school's British lit anthology had incorrect titles, so this was our mistake. Sorry about the confusion.

Re: BHSAT General Thoughts and Discussion

Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 1:57 pm
by Boeing X-20, Please!
nadph wrote:
List of Fighting Spirit characters wrote:Oh and also Chimney Sweep is not the same thing as Chimney Sweeper. The first is from SO Innocence, the latter from Experience, and the first should definitely be acceptable as an answer. We ran into this exact same problem on 2011 Regs where only Sweep was accepted, so we made sure to say Sweep this time and were deemed wrong.
I did some research, it turns out that (a) the Regs bonus said "Chimney Sweeper" and (b) there is no poem called "Chimney Sweep." Apparently the poems from SOI/SOE included in our school's British lit anthology had incorrect titles, so this was our mistake. Sorry about the confusion.
According to THE INTERNET, Chimney Sweeper can be used to title both, but Chimney Sweep seemingly only applies to the Songs of Innocence poem.