Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

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Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Jun 22, 2013 2:35 am

The eighth annual Harvard Fall Tournament set will be available for mirrors starting November 9, all the way to the end of April. Here's the post describing the set: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=14494. Last year's edition was well received and deemed "exemplary" through PACE's certification program. The set will be edited by myself, Stephen Liu, and written by the members of the Harvard team, all of whom have writing experience, having participated in one or more HFT writing projects in the past.

The major changes to be aware of are that 1) the hard parts of bonuses will be a bit more challenging (but not overwhelming -- we found that our bonuses last year often had difficulty differentiating between the top fourth of our field; a good metric might be that the 70-100 percentile for difficulty in last year's hard parts would now become the 40-100 percentile; the hardest bonus parts will not be more difficult than the hardest bonus parts from last year, but there will be less hard parts that are on the easy side) and 2) leadins and early clues for tossups will be slightly more difficult, and more controlled across categories.

We are writing 15 packets, of which 13 are preliminary rounds and 2 are finals rounds. As in the past, the two finals packets will be significantly more difficult than the other prelim packets, and some finals questions may venture into NASAT difficulty.

We do want to make note that our question set is meant to be a bit more difficult than regular high school difficulty, but our goal is to choose topics and answerlines that allow us to maintain the same level of accessibility and playability that good regular difficulty sets achieve. That said, this tournament is not intended for fields compromised of a majority novice teams, though we believe that novice teams who want a good learning experience playing on interesting clues and questions will still be able to thoroughly enjoy the set.

To be concise, this year's questions will resemble last year's questions more than any other past HFT, which you can find online here: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/questionsets/581/.

So without further ado, we are looking for mirrors in the Kentucky/Ohio, Northern California, Missouri, and Texas areas, but especially in Illinois, Southern California, and the MD/DC/VA area. If you are interested in mirroring the set, please contact me at 7h3 dot white dot rabbit @ gmail dot com. The price for our mirrors will be $15 per team in attendance.

Thanks!


Tournaments Using HFT VIII:
11/09/13 -- HFT VIII at Harvard (MA)
12/07/13 -- HFT Midwest at Rockford Auburn (IL)
01/11/14 -- WIT II at Marist (GA)
01/25/14 -- Texas Mirror (TX)
02/01/14 -- Oakland Mills (MD)
Last edited by gyre and gimble on Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:14 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:51 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:The major changes to be aware of are that 1) the hard parts of bonuses will be a bit more challenging (but not overwhelming -- we found that our bonuses last year often had difficulty differentiating between the top fourth of our field; a good metric might be that the 70-100 percentile for difficulty in last year's hard parts would now become the 40-100 percentile; the hardest bonus parts will not be more difficult than the hardest bonus parts from last year, but there will be less hard parts that are on the easy side) and 2) leadins and early clues for tossups will be slightly more difficult, and more controlled across categories.

We are writing 15 packets, of which 13 are preliminary rounds and 2 are finals rounds. As in the past, the two finals packets will be significantly more difficult than the other prelim packets, and some finals questions may venture into NASAT difficulty.

We do want to make note that our question set is meant to be a bit more difficult than regular high school difficulty, but our goal is to choose topics and answerlines that allow us to maintain the same level of accessibility and playability that good regular difficulty sets achieve. That said, this tournament is not intended for fields compromised of a majority novice teams, though we believe that novice teams who want a good learning experience playing on interesting clues and questions will still be able to thoroughly enjoy the set.

To be concise, this year's questions will resemble last year's questions more than any other past HFT, which you can find online here: http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/questionsets/581/.
I'm almost hesitant to post about this, given how prior HFT discussions have gone, but I'm concerned that a year after the HFT finally resembles a difficulty appropriate set, the response from Harvard is "we've got to make this harder." For six years, HFT was entirely too difficult. The number of housewrites in 2012-2013 that were difficulty appropriate for a diverse field could be counted on one hand, and one of those is now motioning that it doesn't like that club.

I don't doubt that the field for HFT can deal with such a set (though, I will point out that a huge chunk of your field are local, inexperienced teams). I don't doubt that the top half of the field drawn in for a tournament at the University of Kentucky can handle the set. But if you're at all concerned about the bottom half - about the teams that aren't very good right now, but 1) are capable of improving in the future and 2) are necessary to have quiz bowl grow - then you need to step back and realize that a set which, in one round, had tossups on the Merovingian Dynasty, Fragonard, G.E. Moore, and "She Walks in Beauty" shouldn't set a goal of "harder."

Given the name value that Harvard holds and the value that can lend to quiz bowl through a well-written, reasonably hard set - and the damage that can be done with poorly chosen mirrors of a set that's too hard - I'd encourage you to reconsider this decision.

Edit: As a point of fairness, round 1 isn't as nutty for tossup answers, though there's a couple that I would hesitate to embrace as appropriate there.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Tue Jun 25, 2013 12:20 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:I'm almost hesitant to post about this, given how prior HFT discussions have gone, but I'm concerned that a year after the HFT finally resembles a difficulty appropriate set, the response from Harvard is "we've got to make this harder." For six years, HFT was entirely too difficult. The number of housewrites in 2012-2013 that were difficulty appropriate for a diverse field could be counted on one hand, and one of those is now motioning that it doesn't like that club.
I guess the problem here is that we're not seeing eye-to-eye on what HFT is supposed to be, probably due to miscommunication on my part. HFT isn't intended to be a tournament that's difficulty appropriate for a diverse field, with diverse field meaning the entire country. This is why we're only looking for mirrors in areas that we think are capable of drawing fields that these questions are intended for. But that doesn't mean we're saying, "If your team isn't in the Top 50, don't bother showing up." It's more like, "You should definitely play this if your team is in the Top 100 and even if it isn't you can reasonably expect to enjoy the tournament because the parts of the question set that concern your play and improvement most, i.e. late-middle/giveaway clues, tossup answerlines, and easy and middle bonus parts, are still designed to be difficulty appropriate for teams at all levels." This is the philosophy we held for last year's set, but we feel we overreacted to the difficulty of HFT in the past and made the set easier than we intended.

Therefore, the changes we are making this year are designed to affect only the teams for whom this difficulty shift would be welcomed, while the rest of the set will remain the same. This is based on analysis of how last year's set played out. If you look at the Harvard field for HFT last year, you'll see that roughly half the field was local and we only had 4 of 36 teams fall below 10 ppb. On the other hand, the local teams that returned for NAQT States, with five months worth of additional quizbowl experience and classroom learning, all scored less than 15 ppb on the IS set, with the exception of Lexington A, which did well on both HFT and IS-126. (Sharon, E. O. Smith, and Arlington did not play HFT, while AMSA brought a different team to each tournament.) Based on this, I think it's safe to say that teams at this level of play/experience are not seriously adversely affected by slightly more challenging hard parts to bonuses, especially when the easy and middle parts will remain at the same difficulty. Hopefully this clarifies things; we're not making the set more difficult wholesale, we're eliminating those bonus hard parts that missed the easy side of our intended difficulty range.
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:I don't doubt that the field for HFT can deal with such a set (though, I will point out that a huge chunk of your field are local, inexperienced teams). I don't doubt that the top half of the field drawn in for a tournament at the University of Kentucky can handle the set. But if you're at all concerned about the bottom half - about the teams that aren't very good right now, but 1) are capable of improving in the future and 2) are necessary to have quiz bowl grow - then you need to step back and realize that a set which, in one round, had tossups on the Merovingian Dynasty, Fragonard, G.E. Moore, and "She Walks in Beauty" shouldn't set a goal of "harder."
Like I said in my previous paragraph, last year's HFT was not that much more difficult for local teams than IS-126 was, and the changes we are making are unlikely to impact bottom-half teams to any significant degree. Again, easy and middle parts are staying the same, as are tossup answerlines. By the way, the examples you give above aren't really fair, Fred. You're cherry-picking the hardest questions from a Finals packet, which literally the two best teams at the tournament and nobody else will play on. I'm fine with writing all the Merovingian questions I want for Finals, without any concern about whether the 20th place team will be able to convert it.
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:Given the name value that Harvard holds and the value that can lend to quiz bowl through a well-written, reasonably hard set - and the damage that can be done with poorly chosen mirrors of a set that's too hard - I'd encourage you to reconsider this decision.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think you misunderstood what "this decision" is. Picking out answerlines that seem difficult to convert and arguing that writing on stuff that's "even harder" is bad has nothing to do with HFT because we're not writing on stuff that's "even harder." Our tossup answerlines aren't getting more difficult! We're just going for a pyramid with a slightly steeper slope towards the beginning of the question, with the second half of the tossup staying the same. So the concern that tossup answerlines will get more difficult is misplaced. I know you mean only the best for us and quizbowl in general, but I can't help but suspect that you didn't read the original post very carefully, as I believe I explained all of this there. I apologize if the original post wasn't clear.
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:Edit: As a point of fairness, round 1 isn't as nutty for tossup answers, though there's a couple that I would hesitate to embrace as appropriate there.
It should make sense that Round 1 isn't as nutty for tossup answers, since Round 1 and Finals were written at different difficulty levels. I think you'll find that Rounds 2-13 also avoid nutty answers. And you can expect this for this year's set as well. The tossup answers for Round 1, by the way, were Mao, Superconductivity, the Bible, Socrates, Oliver Cromwell, La Boheme, Polk, Murakami, Quadrilaterals, Excalibur, Pride and Prejudice, Death of a Salesman, Liszt, Don Quixote, Louis XVI, Entropy, Zimbardo, Pennsylvania, Italy, and Glycolysis. Maybe I'm crazy, but this selection of answers is not at all unreasonable for regular difficulty high school, and certainly within the limits of the "regular difficulty plus but keeping it reasonable" model that HFT is going for.

I hope this clears up your anxieties about HFT going off the deep end. I wasn't trying to fool anyone when I said that this year's set will closely resemble last year's.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Mewto55555 » Tue Jun 25, 2013 5:01 pm

Dude, your leadins do not need to be harder. In packet 1, I would literally have only buzzed in the first line of two tossups: Pennsylvania, because I know things about Eakins, and Louis XVI, and maybe Italy if I had figured it out fast enough. I know I'm not the high-achieving high school quizbowler your tournament is aimed at, and I'm sure someone who was good at history probably would have had a shot at two or three others, but I'll note that I didn't buzz in the first line of any lit tossups or the math. I know we're in a world where sweet little Corin of LASA probably threw a chair at the main site because he lost the buzzer race on a description of the Sackur-Tetrode equation, and Carlo got into a fistfight with Zihan when they both realized that "O soave fanciulla" was their favorite aria, and only one of them could win the buzzer race, but c'mon!

To check that I wasn't anomalous, I read the lead-ins of packet 2 to the IRC (which included luminaries like Auronio, Matt Jackson, and His Holiness Sri Sri Lord Eric Mukherjee, among others), where they could only buzz on 14.5 of them -- the 0.5 came from the tossup on arteries which only had a "these" midway through the second line, but Eric knows what the catopril test is and could buzz there so I gave them partial credit. This number comes from basically infinitely many buzzes and the mentality of a guess being better than nothing; we estimated had it been a real game only 9-10 would have been buzzed on.

Penn is not playing Yale on your set. The leadins to do not need to be harder, the pyramid does not need to have its slope increased.


Disclaimer: LIST had a similar rate of one-lines on the random packet we played. The leadins are being made more accessible this year, not less.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Tue Jun 25, 2013 8:53 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:Dude, your leadins do not need to be harder. In packet 1, I would literally have only buzzed in the first line of two tossups: Pennsylvania, because I know things about Eakins, and Louis XVI, and maybe Italy if I had figured it out fast enough. I know I'm not the high-achieving high school quizbowler your tournament is aimed at, and I'm sure someone who was good at history probably would have had a shot at two or three others, but I'll note that I didn't buzz in the first line of any lit tossups or the math. I know we're in a world where sweet little Corin of LASA probably threw a chair at the main site because he lost the buzzer race on a description of the Sackur-Tetrode equation, and Carlo got into a fistfight with Zihan when they both realized that "O soave fanciulla" was their favorite aria, and only one of them could win the buzzer race, but c'mon!

To check that I wasn't anomalous, I read the lead-ins of packet 2 to the IRC (which included luminaries like Auronio, Matt Jackson, and His Holiness Sri Sri Lord Eric Mukherjee, among others), where they could only buzz on 14.5 of them -- the 0.5 came from the tossup on arteries which only had a "these" midway through the second line, but Eric knows what the catopril test is and could buzz there so I gave them partial credit. This number comes from basically infinitely many buzzes and the mentality of a guess being better than nothing; we estimated had it been a real game only 9-10 would have been buzzed on.

Penn is not playing Yale on your set. The leadins to do not need to be harder, the pyramid does not need to have its slope increased.


Disclaimer: LIST had a similar rate of one-lines on the random packet we played. The leadins are being made more accessible this year, not less.
First I'll say -- all right, I agree that the leadins for the most part don't need increased difficulty. I guess I was just referring to stuff like that I and the Village question that apparently went first-line in half the rooms. The point is, the height of the pyramid isn't getting any taller; we're just aiming at less buzzer races in the first three lines.

And to be completely open about this, the reason why I'm explicitly outlining the potential difficulty changes that may be perceived in this set after it is played is because in the past HFT has gotten criticism for being a lot more difficult than advertised, and I'd rather people be aware of the possible difficulty of the set before they decide to order it for mirrors. Sure, it might not be a great marketing tactic but it's important to me as the head editor that appropriate audiences are hearing our questions. Chances are that even I'm exaggerating how much of a change there will be from last year's set to this year's.

That said, while I get your main point I don't understand what your argument is. I thought it was pretty normal for leadins to not be buzzed on more than about 10% of the time -- that seems to fit a 10-20-30-40 pyramid analogy nicely, supposing there are four sentences or something. So, even despite that you captained a national championship team, if you could have first-lined two of twenty tossups by yourself, we've already got the 10% covered and seven other players' worth of knowledge to first-line even some more! I'm not sure that this is so problematic. And along these lines, I have no idea what the fact that Penn and Yale would first-line 10 questions at our tournament is supposed to imply. Is 10 not enough? Should they be first-lining 15? 20? There isn't really a benchmark for how many tossups college teams should first-line on high school questions. Besides, the goal isn't to have great teams first line everything in the packet, so you're right, we're not writing for Penn to play Yale on our set.

Also, it's a little weird comparing LIST to HFT since LIST has a much larger intended audience; you guys had like five times as many mirrors as we did last year! We don't expect as many teams to play this tournament, and we'll be selective about the regions that mirror HFT to optimize the match between our question difficulty and players' experience. I understand you guys are doing a great job with your set and that's great, but the changes you see fit are not necessarily those that are vital to HFT. In fact, the similarity between the number of questions first-lined between HFT and LIST is precisely what we hoped to avoid with the changes for this year; as I understand it LIST is a very accessible and strictly regular difficulty tournament, whereas HFT is meant to be a bit more difficult while remaining in the same answer space. Given this goal, I think it's not unreasonable for our leadins to be first-lined a bit less often than LIST's.

I appreciate the feedback, but I'd really hate for this thread to end up like the one that pops up every single year, especially when we produced a well-received product last year and I've repeatedly emphasized that this year's won't look much different, with the differences designed to avoid detracting from the experience of lower-level teams. Though if we can avoid a "HFT difficulty discussion" thread before Harvard even writes the tournament, I could call that progress.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by AKKOLADE » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:10 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:This is why we're only looking for mirrors in areas that we think are capable of drawing fields that these questions are intended for.
So, considering the state of Tennessee HS QB, is this a good idea?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Wed Oct 09, 2013 8:45 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote:This is why we're only looking for mirrors in areas that we think are capable of drawing fields that these questions are intended for.
So, considering the state of Tennessee HS QB, is this a good idea?
Especially considering the closest strong circuit (Kentucky) has a competition scheduled for that day that every top quizbowl team except for Gatton will be busy with.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Thu Oct 10, 2013 12:25 am

This was tentatively approved under the condition that Oliver Springs can draw a strong field. Perhaps I wasn't clear about this in my emails but I wanted to see some indication that good teams from western Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky would be in attendance at this mirror because the initial request suggested that they would. I guess some miscommunication resulted in this tournament announcement being posted prematurely? Anyway I hadn't given the go-ahead yet so I'm surprised that this is up. Nick's post, plus a conversation with one of my TN native teammates, suggests this mirror shouldn't happen so I'll let Oliver Springs know.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by AKKOLADE » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:21 am

So what was your plan if they just drew normal Tennessee teams? Yank the questions away from them the week before the tournament? I don't understand.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:05 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:So what was your plan if they just drew normal Tennessee teams? Yank the questions away from them the week before the tournament? I don't understand.
No, I thought they would ask around among the better teams in the area to see if there would be interest before officially announcing the mirror. Does this make sense? Like, the plan was to know way beforehand if a strong field was likely so that the scenario you just put forward would never happen.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Cheynem » Thu Oct 10, 2013 4:22 pm

Yeah, I think Stephen is saying they were trying to gauge INTEREST in a mirror, not just announce a tournament and see what happens. It sounds like the announcement was premature.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by AKKOLADE » Fri Oct 11, 2013 5:07 am

gyre and gimble wrote:
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:So what was your plan if they just drew normal Tennessee teams? Yank the questions away from them the week before the tournament? I don't understand.
No, I thought they would ask around among the better teams in the area to see if there would be interest before officially announcing the mirror. Does this make sense? Like, the plan was to know way beforehand if a strong field was likely so that the scenario you just put forward would never happen.
I understand now. The previous post was guided by the assumption that you had given a hard okay for the set to be used.

I think this kind of underscores my more general point that high school quiz bowl as a whole would benefit if HFT's set wasn't produced with the intention of aiming it towards a more narrow audience. Approving only mirrors that can draw a "strong enough field" sends some bad messages about pyramidal quiz bowl ("you can only play these questions if you're one of the best teams", for example) and also seems like a functional nightmare. Example of the latter concern: so far, UK's tournaments have drawn very strong fields, but what if next year we agree to mirror HFT for UK Fall and end up with 30 teams that are brand new to non-KAAC play? Most sets are mirrored in Kentucky, so a late switch would be difficult to work, and with our geographically diverse field, telling teams a week before the tournament "hey, so, you already played this set, sorry" would make a lot of people angry. What would you do with that circumstance? Can you reliably draw teams from far away to come to your tournament with the promise of play HFT, with the possibility of the set being forced to change? What if only a handful of "strong" teams sign up? Do you cancel the mirror then?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Oct 11, 2013 7:15 pm

Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote:
Grams's Go-Go Boots wrote:So what was your plan if they just drew normal Tennessee teams? Yank the questions away from them the week before the tournament? I don't understand.
No, I thought they would ask around among the better teams in the area to see if there would be interest before officially announcing the mirror. Does this make sense? Like, the plan was to know way beforehand if a strong field was likely so that the scenario you just put forward would never happen.
I understand now. The previous post was guided by the assumption that you had given a hard okay for the set to be used.

I think this kind of underscores my more general point that high school quiz bowl as a whole would benefit if HFT's set wasn't produced with the intention of aiming it towards a more narrow audience. Approving only mirrors that can draw a "strong enough field" sends some bad messages about pyramidal quiz bowl ("you can only play these questions if you're one of the best teams", for example) and also seems like a functional nightmare. Example of the latter concern: so far, UK's tournaments have drawn very strong fields, but what if next year we agree to mirror HFT for UK Fall and end up with 30 teams that are brand new to non-KAAC play? Most sets are mirrored in Kentucky, so a late switch would be difficult to work, and with our geographically diverse field, telling teams a week before the tournament "hey, so, you already played this set, sorry" would make a lot of people angry. What would you do with that circumstance? Can you reliably draw teams from far away to come to your tournament with the promise of play HFT, with the possibility of the set being forced to change? What if only a handful of "strong" teams sign up? Do you cancel the mirror then?
I don't see why this sends bad messages about quizbowl, especially when it seems like the consensus opinion of the community a couple years ago was that we should only approve mirrors that would be appropriate for the difficulty of the tournament. Like, this tournament is a bit harder than normal so it shouldn't be used for an inexperienced audience! How does this sound like we're shutting people out because they're not among the best? You're making it sound like people are begging to use our questions and we're just denying them because we deem them not good enough. It's not like HFT is some super valuable commodity reserved for the elites. It's just a question set available for anyone who wants a bit more of a challenge than the high school norm.

Re: "functional nightmare," it's really up to the hosts, I think, to know what the level of play to be expected of their field is and not up to the writers of HFT. I would say that our/my responsibility is to inform potential hosts of what they might be getting into with using our questions, given the issues we've seen in the past. This is exactly what I did with Oliver Springs--I said that the questions might be too difficult for the field unless all of the good teams from KY/TN/NC came to play and I told them that we overshot the difficulty mark for the WKU mirror two years ago. If it were UK I probably would have given the go-ahead if UK seemed comfortable mirroring HFT despite these things, but given that Oliver Springs seems to be hosting its first tournament ever, I proceeded with more caution.

Let's be realistic here, though--what are the chances that a mirror we did approve because we had good reason to think that it would attract a good field ends up having all brand-new teams? Would this ever happen in Illinois, or California, or the DC area, or Texas, where we're actually looking for mirrors? Maybe the chances are nonzero but they're pretty low and I'm fine with that. The point is, I think you're over-anxious that I/Harvard has absolutely no sense of judgment in choosing mirrors, which I think is unfair. Granted, we had inappropriate mirrors in the past but that was back when our philosophy of approving mirrors was "You want our questions? Okay!" and not "That sounds good, but first we want to make sure these questions are right for you."

And in the very unlikely event that some disaster happens to the expected field and you do end up with a bunch of novice teams, we've definitely toned down the novice-relevant parts of our tournament so that tossups are gettable and bonuses are at least 10-able. You can see this by looking at the Consolation Playoffs stats from last year's HFT, the majority of which was new-ish local teams who didn't seem to be having a miserable time.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Nov 18, 2013 8:16 pm

I'm happy to announce two more mirrors of this question set. They'll be taking place on January 25 in Texas (please speak with Chris Romero if you are interested) and on February 1 at Oakland Mills High School in Maryland.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by jonah » Sat Dec 07, 2013 1:11 pm

Is there a discussion area available for this set?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:24 am

gyre and gimble wrote: The major changes to be aware of are that 1) the hard parts of bonuses will be a bit more challenging (but not overwhelming -- we found that our bonuses last year often had difficulty differentiating between the top fourth of our field; a good metric might be that the 70-100 percentile for difficulty in last year's hard parts would now become the 40-100 percentile; the hardest bonus parts will not be more difficult than the hardest bonus parts from last year, but there will be less hard parts that are on the easy side) and 2) leadins and early clues for tossups will be slightly more difficult, and more controlled across categories.
Now that I have read last year's set and this year's set,I don't think those are actually the major changes between this set and last year's.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by jonah » Tue Dec 10, 2013 1:49 pm

Is anyone from Harvard reading this thread? There are some serious concerns with this set that I would like to discuss.

In terms of things I can discuss publicly, why was Auburn not given the entire set for its mirror?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Tue Dec 10, 2013 3:20 pm

jonah wrote:Is anyone from Harvard reading this thread? There are some serious concerns with this set that I would like to discuss.

In terms of things I can discuss publicly, why was Auburn not given the entire set for its mirror?
Please feel free to post general concerns here or to email me with specifics. We're all in the middle of finals period so I might not be as responsive for a couple weeks, but I am of course interested in any criticisms you have. If you want, you can also contact Will Holub-Moorman as this will be the last year I edit HFT.

I wasn't aware that I hadn't sent Auburn the finals packets, and that's clearly my fault; when I was making the .zip file I forgot to select those. I wish someone had contacted me about this though! I was around all of Saturday and had computer access and everything so it would have been a simple matter of emailing those last two packets and would have taken 15 seconds. Just so I understand the whole situation, what ended up happening as a result of those packets not being available?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by jonah » Tue Dec 10, 2013 4:35 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:Please feel free to post general concerns here or to email me with specifics.
I'm not going to attempt to discuss whether this set hit its target difficulty because I don't understand what its target difficulty was supposed to be. What I can say is that it was not suitable for use as a high school set. There are hard high school sets that are appropriate, like the HSNCT and NSC sets every recent year. Sets that have multiple lines on minor named reactions as the start of several chemistry tossups are not suitable; high schoolers simply do not have the background to have a meaningful understanding of such clues, so the question becomes a test of "how thoroughly have you studied ACF Nationals packets?". (I assume that that's not what you're trying to assess; if it is, please rethink that.) There was also at least one math tossup whose lead-in, besides being either confusing or straight-up incorrect (details to come by email), was about material from a math class that is usually only offered to graduate students; I just don't see any high schoolers knowing much functional analysis.

There were other factual errors. One of them was pointed out in a note from "EM" (Eric Mukherjee? I don't even know; no listed writer or editor has those initials), but both the note and the incorrect information was left in the set.

Many questions were structured oddly, such as a tossup of which half was clues about a different but analogous concept (I'll point out the specific one in my email). More pervasively, lots of science bonuses had intros that would have been hoses if they were tossups, but instead were just incredibly confusing. Here is a paraphrase of round 10 bonus 15, with all the substantive words changed:
Redacted round 10 bonus 15 wrote:Al and Betsy were one of these. For 10 points each, answer the following questions about the inventors of purple nail polish:
[10] Name this person who independently discovered the formula for Dye Number Thirty-Two.
ANSWER: Charlie
Al and Betsy are not a Charlie. By quizbowl convention, "this" and "these" always refer to the next desired answer. "Name this X" only makes sense if you've already talked about X. There were a lot of these bonuses, and they were annoying; each time, I had to stop, reword the question, and give teams the coherent version.

The set had the usual proofreading errors, although it might actually have been a little bit better than the median.
gyre and gimble wrote:I wasn't aware that I hadn't sent Auburn the finals packets, and that's clearly my fault; when I was making the .zip file I forgot to select those. I wish someone had contacted me about this though! I was around all of Saturday and had computer access and everything so it would have been a simple matter of emailing those last two packets and would have taken 15 seconds. Just so I understand the whole situation, what ended up happening as a result of those packets not being available?
We couldn't access email at Auburn for most of the day, and I don't know if anyone remembered that the set was supposed to have 15 packets. We were surprised and disappointed that there were no specifically earmarked finals packets, but we did have enough regular packets for a full RR and finals.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Ringil » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:08 pm

jonah wrote: I just don't see any high schoolers knowing much functional analysis.
Not that I've read this set or anything, but NASAT had a lead-in involving the Hahn-Banach theorem from functional analysis, so presumably the people from Harvard are not alone in having this idea!
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Cheynem » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:11 pm

NASAT is supposed to be as difficult as a regular college set. It intentionally tests for knowledge that high schoolers may not inherently learn in class.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Ringil » Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:25 pm

Cheynem wrote:NASAT is supposed to be as difficult as a regular college set. It intentionally tests for knowledge that high schoolers may not inherently learn in class.
Sure, but it is still a high school set. Jonah is arguing that high school sets should not have these kind of lead-ins because "high schoolers simply do not have the background to have a meaningful understanding of such clues." At least in my opinion, if Harvard really wants to have a super hard high school set, they make this very clear (which they did as far as I can tell), and people want this to happen, it's not that bad. Surely there can non-nationals tournaments for which there can be nationals level leadins right?

(Obviously I've not read any of this so the set could be terrible in many other ways like having very poor answer selections etc)
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by AKKOLADE » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:11 pm

Ringil wrote:
Cheynem wrote:NASAT is supposed to be as difficult as a regular college set. It intentionally tests for knowledge that high schoolers may not inherently learn in class.
Sure, but it is still a high school set. Jonah is arguing that high school sets should not have these kind of lead-ins because "high schoolers simply do not have the background to have a meaningful understanding of such clues." At least in my opinion, if Harvard really wants to have a super hard high school set, they make this very clear (which they did as far as I can tell), and people want this to happen, it's not that bad. Surely there can non-nationals tournaments for which there can be nationals level leadins right?

(Obviously I've not read any of this so the set could be terrible in many other ways like having very poor answer selections etc)
There's a significant difference between "writing for a high school all star national tournament with a clearly declared difficulty of 'regular season college tournaments'" and "writing for a high school tournament during the regular season which had stated difficulty goals that did not seem to match 'meet NASAT in terms of difficulty.'"
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:37 pm

Ringil wrote:Surely there can non-nationals tournaments for which there can be nationals level leadins right?
If you have a nationals-level leadin in a tossup in a regular season tournament, you're intentionally taking tossup clue space and throwing it over the heads of a staggering percentage of your audience. To control for this, you have to do one of two things -- either a difficulty cliff after your leadin or an extra line of clues at whatever the proper "regular season" leadin level is.

I feel like HFT8 did more of the latter than the former, which is good in a vacuum, but it made for a very long day for the inexperienced readers in 2 of the 6 rooms at Auburn's site, which in turn made for an aggravating day for teams that had those moderators often. That's not Harvard's fault, but it is something they could have made better by simply writing a better set of questions.


On a general note, my kids had fun putting up 11 PPB, but so, so many things could have been improved such that they'd have even more fun and put up somewhere from 11 to 13 PPB without affecting the experience for nationals-level teams. I felt that the average bonus in this set was incredibly ill-conceived for high school play -- note that this is different from "the average PPB was too low," which I don't think will be true -- and that the hardest ~5% of tossup answer lines were too hard for high school play. Both of these feelings will be expressed in the private forum when it's up (and probably after my finals are given and graded).
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:59 pm

Somebody should figure out how difficult they want this tournament to be and then edit the questions so that they are that difficult and in English.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:31 pm

in on these shenanigans wrote:Both of these feelings will be expressed in the private forum when it's up (and probably after my finals are given and graded).
Was a subforum not set up after the main site? Did people from that site respond by email with their thoughts in the absence of a private forum?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by jonah » Tue Dec 10, 2013 11:59 pm

RyuAqua wrote:
in on these shenanigans wrote:Both of these feelings will be expressed in the private forum when it's up (and probably after my finals are given and graded).
Was a subforum not set up after the main site? Did people from that site respond by email with their thoughts in the absence of a private forum?
I see no relevant forum at ucp.php?i=167.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Wed Dec 11, 2013 1:33 am

There's a private discussion forum now. Stephen has been set up to approve requests for the usergroup.

EDIT: My mistake for overlooking this, but here is the appropriate way to request a private discussion forum.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by gyre and gimble » Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:12 pm

How do I add Will as a group administrator?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Wed Dec 11, 2013 6:10 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:How do I add Will as a group administrator?
You can't, unfortunately. He's been promoted.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VIII Seeking Mirrors

Post by Deviant Insider » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:45 pm

After rereading a few rounds, I decided this set wasn't as bad as I had originally thought. It is directed to strong teams to enough of an extent that below average teams should avoid it, and it could use some more editing to clean up the this/that issues and fix the two to three questions in each round that are bad, but there are a lot of good questions in this set as well.
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