PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

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PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by First Chairman »

PACE has always run its NSC in the absence of a mirror arrangement (even when we have had a couple of requests to do so in the past). We had so many people who are "dying" to talk about the questions, so I have allowed Matt to release the 2008 questions by the end of the week. Expect the set to be placed into Chris Carter's qbpackets website. The questions include the mention of the contributing authors. We also had a lot of people carry questions back with them (save me from recycling).

Thus, this thread is for discussion of questions with the authors and editors. You obviously can discuss specifics. Rob Carson already posted info if you wanted to email him specifically, but I also wanted a wider discourse... here.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

PICKMENEXTTIMEJERK wrote:so I have allowed Matt to release the 2008 questions by the end of the week.
Hooray PACE! Viva PACE!
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by closesesame »

Obviously when the sets are released, we can discuss more about this question, but I believe there was universal cringing in Enterprise 80 when the Harold Godwinson tossup with early clue "son of Godwin" was read. That was interesting...
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

Also feel free to provide direct feedback on any of the ~120 questions of mine that are in the set. [email protected] is where to contact me.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

My main criticism-- hugely variable bonus difficulty. On one end of the spectrum was that Pop Art bonus-- a very easy 30 for any top team. On the other end of the spectrum-- bonus categories about extremely obscure Bosnian poets. Also, in the category quiz rounds, certain categories (computational math, which apart from two calc questions featured things that we learned in 7th grade like probability and FOIL, especially coming to mind), were much easier than others (literature, fine arts [to a lesser extent]). Overall, the tossups tended to be good and well-written, despite a few clunkers (Dogberry in power, "Son of Godwin" as an early clue for Harold Godwinson).
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Byko »

Let me ask a follow-up question related to some of what Henry just said:

In some past years, PACE has set the questions up so that the preliminary rounds are easiest, the playoff rounds are uniformly/universally more difficult, and the championship semifinals and finals are uniformly/universally still more difficult. In other past years, efforts have not been made for that to really be the case. What preferences do participating teams (or teams looking to participate) have with regards to this?
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi »

When the set is posted I would like to hear feedback on my questions. I wrote a significant portion of the literature and will be editing questions next year, so I'd like to hear what people's opinions are so I know what to consider changing.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

What Ted said pretty much goes for me as well, so I would definitely welcome any feedback on the science questions. It's a category that I do not have top-level familiarity with, but I felt like what I potentially sacrificed in being able to evaluate appropriate early clue placement, I tried to compensate for by making sure that the vast majority of science questions could be converted at the end (and at the same time, not lend themselves to too much fraud). Particularly as so many of the exemplary competitors we saw this weekend have so much science knowledge, I'd really appreciate the input. Feel free to email me.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by QuizBowlRonin »

Just listening to the finals -the first person to have his DNA sequenced was not James Watson, but J Craig Venter.

Also - there is no difference between oncogenesis and tumorigenesis.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

bonus categories about extremely obscure Bosnian poets.
OK, here's the thing. Ivo Andric is an important Nobel prize winning novelist and The Bridge on the Drina is something that is pretty big (like, makes top 20th century novels lists and is critically acclaimed and all that). I don't think it's any kind of inappropriate topic to ask about at an academic national championship. However-
I do very much agree with you and something Daichi said earlier about these bonuses. My thoughts on the set were that the biggest weakness of the set is the format (well, really the 1st and 2nd parts of the game), and here's why. With the 2 part bonuses it takes away one bonus part from writing, so you end up having to sacrifice one of these - the easy part, the middle part, or the hard part. This creates some unfair bonus conversion I felt because often times you would end up with an easy then a hard part, which would often limit your score to 10 even if you have familiarity with the topic that on a normal bonus would lead to 20, and every now and then what seemed to be a middle then a hard part, which would lead to a greater chance of a 0, or an easy and a medium which would increase the chance that you 20 it. I think that this kind of bonus construction can lead to some fairly unfair things happening, and that it is much more preferable to have 3 part bonuses where you can reduce these situations by putting in an easy, middle, and hard part. On the category quiz, the one part bonuses seemed to fluctuate in difficulty even more, with some very easy answers and some very hard ones, and everywhere in between. I am honestly baffled at what kind of conversion results one is aiming for on those, but I just found them to in general not be a great idea because they have to fluctuate so much or else you end up with a situation where, if all of them were uniformly easy then everyone gets all the points regardless of depth, or if all of them are uniformly difficult then only top tier teams will have a shot of really converting a good number of the parts. Matt, as you are a person who I know writes questions with specific conversion statistics in mind, I'm very curious what your aims for bonus conversion in those phases of the game are when you're editing them. In general though, I think PACE would have been able to produce just as valid results if they were to use the stretch round format for just 20 tossups and have that be that for the game without all these wacky bonus formats. Luckily though, the questions were good enough that the format didn't really affect my enjoyment of the tournament, and I don't know that it really affected results either.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Charlie, I wasn't objecting to Andric as a bonus answer-- I was objecting to the difference in difficulty between the bonus part on him and say, the bonus about expanding a factored polynomial expression. I actually agree with your main critique about bonus conversion.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

Could one of the mods move what I said earlier in "live comments" thread here? thanks
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by samer »

Deesy Does It wrote:In general though, I think PACE would have been able to produce just as valid results if they were to use the stretch round format for just 20 tossups and have that be that for the game without all these wacky bonus formats. Luckily though, the questions were good enough that the format didn't really affect my enjoyment of the tournament, and I don't know that it really affected results either.
As someone who had a large hand in creating the format, I figure I should address a couple of points here:
(1) The "wacky" format was intentional. Our major goals were to keep the tossup-bonus format, while incorporating what we felt were good/interesting ideas (e.g., the ability to choose bonus categories) in other formats.

(2) Our original intent in creating the format was not merely to have a progression of difficulty between phases of the tournament, but also something of a progression within the rounds themselves: moving from the RTB to the CQ to the stretch round, the questions should get progressively longer and more difficult. [So, for example, we originally envisioned RTB bonuses as missing the hard parts, the CQs were written with a rough goal of 50-60% conversion, and the SR bonuses with a goal of about 50%.]

I haven't had an active role in PACE in some time, though, so I can't speak to the current targets.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by First Chairman »

To also add regarding "wacky bonus formats," there is an element where we were reflecting what we saw were interesting wrinkles that addressed a concern we fielded about tossup/bonus (namely, "it's boring"). We made a decision to have bounceback bonuses to address concerns from the Southern feedback we had received. I can't remember every discussion we had, but the format reflects a lot of what we saw were the best of intended formats.

That said, the CQ has been perhaps one of the more interesting features and likely more controversial compared to the other sections (if you happen to be a 20/20 purist). We find a way to have teams opt to make their games have calculation "team tossups" (under the guise of a bonus question) if they want rather than have it pop up "mysteriously" under the current format. Thus all the storm and fury over calc tossups is mediated in this format... to have a calculation question without having it be a tossup or a three-part three-calculation bonus.

But again, I would prefer steering discussion back to content and not game format. Even with the mixture of odd formats, the blessing and curse of NSC format is that no one area has great familiarity with it, unlike some places which practice "only" in 4Q or NAQT/20tb format. To an extent, everyone has to start over to prepare for the NSC... so it is less about habit and more about knowledge (and an element of strategy). At least theoretically, everyone is on a more even playing-field.

(point me out to which post, Daichi... I can move it over. Unless someone else is on moving it.)
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

OK, but the reason I'm talking about the format is because its constraints seem to be the reason why the bonuses are uneven, which is what the question thread should be about.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

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Deesy Does It wrote:OK, but the reason I'm talking about the format is because its constraints seem to be the reason why the bonuses are uneven, which is what the question thread should be about.
Okay... as long as that's the extent of why format is what it is. The thing is reboundable bonuses do not allow other types of bonuses to be in play, such as "A, B, or C" questions.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

When did I ever talk about rebounding bonuses or "A, B or C" questions? All I'm talking about are the imbalance in difficulty in the 20 point and 15 point bonuses compared to the 30 point ones.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

For the first-round bonuses, our instructions as writers were to write an easy part (~90% conversion) and a part between a medium and a hard part (I think the target was around 50% conversion). The category quiz bonuses were to be between a medium and a hard part as well, so roughly 50% conversion as well.

I haven't seen the set, but I suspect that the bonuses were more even than what is being portrayed here. The three people who have commented so far (Daichi, Henry, and Charlie) were overwhelmingly the high scorers on their respective teams. When you're the one who's answering a lot of the bonus parts, it becomes a lot easier to conflate "things you know" with "things that are even in difficulty." I'm not trying to dismiss the criticisms (I haven't seen the set, and I have no vested interest in defending it blindly), but I'd caution against making such leaps.

Just looking at the stats, it seems like the conversions correlated almost perfectly with team placement. While there were almost certainly several bonuses that were too hard and too easy, it appears that the tournament in general rewarded more knowledgeable teams with more wins.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

One of the things I remembered offhand from moderating was that there were a few art tossups that didn't mention titles before the For 10 Points. Without any sort of context, I imagine that these questions were rarely buzzed on before this point. Artists tend to have a wide range of works you can ask about, so sticking solely to description seems unnecessary.

In terms of bonus fluctuation, there did seem to be a handful of bonuses that were notably too easy or too hard compared to the rest, but this is pretty much a feature of quizbowl. I think that the bounceback bonuses do remedy this a little bit, maybe enough so to make up for problems in adjusting the difficulty for having only one or two bonus parts in the first two rounds.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by First Chairman »

Deesy Does It wrote:When did I ever talk about rebounding bonuses or "A, B or C" questions? All I'm talking about are the imbalance in difficulty in the 20 point and 15 point bonuses compared to the 30 point ones.
Oh okay... I cannot answer that then. Sorry for misunderstanding the point, Charlie.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by vcuEvan »

I could be wrong here, but I don't think tossups on Henryk Gorecki or Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is appropriate at any high school tournament. This was mainly a problem with music questions, but Everything that Rises Must Converge is kind of pushing it as well.

Oh yeah: Overall the questions were excellent and good work Andrew Hart, Gautam, Rob Carson, Ted Gioa, Jonathan Magin, and especially Eric Douglass and Matt Weiner. These were the names I saw under questions most often, and all of these people produced a very large amount of accessible well written questions.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

Adamantium Claws wrote:I could be wrong here, but I don't think tossups on Henryk Gorecki or Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is appropriate at any high school tournament. This was mainly a problem with music questions, but Everything that Rises Must Converge is kind of pushing it as well.
I thought Thomas Tallis was reasonable. The other one was hard, though.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by wowitsquinthaha »

NBA Street was the best question ever.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by powerplant »

wowitsquinthaha wrote:NBA Street was the best question ever.
Agreed. As someone who is really only qualified to talk about the trash in the set, I think it was all really good and about the right difficulty.

My only complaints: Meet the Spartans was really transparent. Also, the only comic book stuff that came up was adamantium, which is really easy.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by wowitsquinthaha »

Meet the Spartans was really transparent.
Xerxes and Azamat were both played by Ken Davitian, so that first clue was pretty specific. I don't know about the rest of the question, cause thats where I got it :razz:
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Well, it didn't seem transparent so much as it had an early clue that was featured prominently in the advertisements for the movie (the vomit) if I remember correctly. I've certainly never seen the film, nor do I care to, but I did recognize that clue way earlier then I should have given my lack of seeing the movie.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by powerplant »

Well, I don't know much about the movie, but the question went recent pop culture reference after recent pop culture reference, I thought it made it pretty obvious, I just blanked on the name.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AE Ismail »

I thought Thomas Tallis was reasonable. The other one was hard, though.
As the primary music author in recent years, I think I can weigh in here.

When I choose the answers for music questions, I don't go "hunting" through sources--it's only stuff that comes off the top of my head. In addition, in the last three to four years, when writing for the NSC, I try to limit myself to answers that I had heard of through about my sophomore year in college (when I took a music appreciation course). It should be kept in mind, though, that I didn't play QB in high school or college, so I was never memorizing lists of works and composer biographies--my knowledge was obtained by meandering my way through the classical canon. I wasn't particularly seeking out rare repertoire at that point, so most of the composers would have been mainstream (or at least nearly so).

I chose to write a contemporary composer tossup, and chose Górecki because the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is one of the best-known works among modern composers (not "best" necessarily, but definitely best-known). It was also well-known enough that several of my acquaintances who were non-classical music buffs knew the work--which led me to think that it might be gettable for an NSC. In hindsight, however, I agree that Górecki would probably have been better suited for a bonus part (or CQ question).

On the other hand, I also believe writing music questions for a high school championship tournament is a very difficult job. The set of answers that 80-90% of teams can reasonably get is quite limited, and nobody should have to stick to questions on Brahms or Symphonie fantastique or Tosca or "tritone" every single year because that's what's "gettable." I will admit to the fact the NSC music distribution skews harder than any other HS tournament, but so long as I'm sticking to the "real-world" classical canon, I don't think I'm being too unreasonable.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AndyShootsAndyScores »

I had never heard of Gorecki, but Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is definitely high school level. Everything That Rises Must Converge seemed easy to me, but that's only because I know the plots of the other two O'Connor works that are asked about, A Good Man is Hard to Find and The Life You Save May Be Your Own.
AllsWellThatPosts4 wrote:Well, I don't know much about the movie, but the question went recent pop culture reference after recent pop culture reference, I thought it made it pretty obvious, I just blanked on the name.
I buzzed after the Azamat/Xerxes clue and said Epic Movie and immediately realized how stupid I was.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

lone1c wrote:When I choose the answers for music questions, I don't go "hunting" through sources--it's only stuff that comes off the top of my head.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AE Ismail »

I just meant I'm not going to go digging through Grove's Dictionary or the archives of Gramophone magazine to hunt down possible answers for questions. If I have to look up the answer, I'm pretty sure the question won't be appropriate for anything other than ACF nationals. (Also, if I don't know the work or composer in advance, the odds of me writing a good question about it decreases greatly.)

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

lone1c wrote:
I thought Thomas Tallis was reasonable. The other one was hard, though.
As the primary music author in recent years, I think I can weigh in here.

When I choose the answers for music questions, I don't go "hunting" through sources--it's only stuff that comes off the top of my head. In addition, in the last three to four years, when writing for the NSC, I try to limit myself to answers that I had heard of through about my sophomore year in college (when I took a music appreciation course). It should be kept in mind, though, that I didn't play QB in high school or college, so I was never memorizing lists of works and composer biographies--my knowledge was obtained by meandering my way through the classical canon. I wasn't particularly seeking out rare repertoire at that point, so most of the composers would have been mainstream (or at least nearly so).

I chose to write a contemporary composer tossup, and chose Górecki because the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is one of the best-known works among modern composers (not "best" necessarily, but definitely best-known). It was also well-known enough that several of my acquaintances who were non-classical music buffs knew the work--which led me to think that it might be gettable for an NSC. In hindsight, however, I agree that Górecki would probably have been better suited for a bonus part (or CQ question).

On the other hand, I also believe writing music questions for a high school championship tournament is a very difficult job. The set of answers that 80-90% of teams can reasonably get is quite limited, and nobody should have to stick to questions on Brahms or Symphonie fantastique or Tosca or "tritone" every single year because that's what's "gettable." I will admit to the fact the NSC music distribution skews harder than any other HS tournament, but so long as I'm sticking to the "real-world" classical canon, I don't think I'm being too unreasonable.
A quick search of the Stanford archive and Chris Carter's database show that Gorecki has never been the answer to a tossup at any level of collegiate/open competition. His Symphony of Sorrowful Songs has been an early clue to tossups on "Third Symphonies," and he's been the hard part of Polish or modern composer bonuses. Needless to say, that means there is absolutely no reason for him to be a tossup at this tournament. Your method has its merits, but quizbowl isn't the real world, and you need to pay attention to what has come up before, and not ask about things that have only been "hard" topics at the college level. By the way, how did the editors let this one get through? That's crazy hard... Oh, I support the notion that Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis is ok for this tournament. Prob a bit tough, but I'd wager a good percentage of rooms had it converted.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

I've definitely heard tossups on Gorecki before, though they may not be in the archived tournaments.

I let that one in (for a playoff packet, as the hardest music tossup in the set, with the rest being substantially less difficult) because I know that people who have non-quizbowl interest in classical music know who Gorecki is, and I like including a reasonable amount (1 question per every 1-2 rounds) on things that would be "too hard" by canonical standards but I expect people to know anyway.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Frater Taciturnus »

Honesty time: I did an atrocious job on writing and editing that Meet the Spartans Tossup. While finishing the trash, I really did a poor job in putting it together, and there is no excuse for that. :sad:


Joe, FWIW, I also wrote a TU on the Watcher that got cut to a CQ bonus for the all-star game.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

Matt Weiner wrote:I've definitely heard tossups on Gorecki before, though they may not be in the archived tournaments.
I can't recall a Gorecki tossup and there isn't one in my archives, but he's been a bonus answer at least 7 times (including once as far back as 1996) and a clue at least twice. So I'd say he's not, like, way outside the cannon or anything.

Also, if anyone wants to know stuff about my questions, such as "Quantum computers?! What were you thinking?!" or "What the hell is an adiabatic invariant?" please feel free to ask.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by closesesame »

So, I liked most of the tossups at PACE, especially the science. My main pet peeves were with some of the history tossups, such as the now-infamous "son of Godwin" one. In any case, Grover's Algorithm came up at Gaddis, so hearing it again made me smile.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AE Ismail »

Needless to say, that means there is absolutely no reason for him to be a tossup at this tournament. Your method has its merits, but quizbowl isn't the real world, and you need to pay attention to what has come up before, and not ask about things that have only been "hard" topics at the college level.
I respectfully disagree with this. As a musician, it's hard not to let real-world biases and judgments intrude into my thinking about what's appropriate for the distribution. I'd also argue that the fact that something has come up multiple times does not mean it's appropriate to ask at the HS level, and the absence of it doesn't mean that it's not appropriate to ask.

The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is arguably the biggest classical "hit" of the last thirty years, which I think is reason enough to consider it worthy of knowing. And, as I mentioned before, I was familiar with the work even in my pre-quizbowl days, so I felt there was a chance that enterprising HS classical fans (or QB music experts) would have heard of it. Perhaps I miscalculated, but I don't think it was too egregious an error. Also, given that it's the only one that people are really complaining about out of about three dozen, I'm not going to get too worked up about it--or completely revise my question-writing methodology over it.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! »

Another issue: some of the common links tossups were a little transparent. The worst offender was the one on suicide. Although pretty much from the start, I was thinking "this is suicide. No, there's no way it would be that obvious..." until I heard "Smerdyakov," which confirmed that indeed, it was suicide.

Also, on that Mayan myth tossup, the mention of 7 Macaw or some other such clue tipped it off quick-- I'm pretty sure that the Maya are the only culture with numbers in the names of their gods.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by yoda4554 »

SwissBoy wrote:Another issue: some of the common links tossups were a little transparent. The worst offender was the one on suicide. Although pretty much from the start, I was thinking "this is suicide. No, there's no way it would be that obvious..." until I heard "Smerdyakov," which confirmed that indeed, it was suicide.
This was mine. Looking at my raw version, I don't see anything in particular that tips off "suicide" better than "this is a thing Russians do," unless I'm missing something; if you were thinking it that early, then I'd say, without hearing other people's responses to the question, that it was just a good hunch on your part.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

SwissBoy wrote:Also, on that Mayan myth tossup, the mention of 7 Macaw or some other such clue tipped it off quick-- I'm pretty sure that the Maya are the only culture with numbers in the names of their gods.
I'm not going to try to defend the "Godwine" clue in this way since that was indeed placed too early in retrospect, and I apologize for the oversight. But for this clue, I will definitively state that if you know about Mayans naming kings things like Seven Macaw as a high schooler, you deserve to get the tossup on the fourth clue, and that clue was definitely put there on purpose. Don't sell your own abilities short by thinking it was that easy for everybody.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AndyShootsAndyScores »

yoda4554 wrote:
SwissBoy wrote:Another issue: some of the common links tossups were a little transparent. The worst offender was the one on suicide. Although pretty much from the start, I was thinking "this is suicide. No, there's no way it would be that obvious..." until I heard "Smerdyakov," which confirmed that indeed, it was suicide.
This was mine. Looking at my raw version, I don't see anything in particular that tips off "suicide" better than "this is a thing Russians do," unless I'm missing something; if you were thinking it that early, then I'd say, without hearing other people's responses to the question, that it was just a good hunch on your part.
I also thought th suicice TU was transparent. I had the exact same train of thought Henry did.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by yoda4554 »

AndyShootsAndyScores wrote:
yoda4554 wrote:
SwissBoy wrote:Another issue: some of the common links tossups were a little transparent. The worst offender was the one on suicide. Although pretty much from the start, I was thinking "this is suicide. No, there's no way it would be that obvious..." until I heard "Smerdyakov," which confirmed that indeed, it was suicide.
This was mine. Looking at my raw version, I don't see anything in particular that tips off "suicide" better than "this is a thing Russians do," unless I'm missing something; if you were thinking it that early, then I'd say, without hearing other people's responses to the question, that it was just a good hunch on your part.
I also thought th suicice TU was transparent. I had the exact same train of thought Henry did.
Well, then I'm curious what tipped that off, because I can't see what would...
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

Now that I checked my notebook, I can confirm my first impression that the tossups were really good. (The problem with the bonuses, I already talked about). I got few things early, and most of the ones I did, I guess I deserved them.
Elasticity tu seemed pretty transparent; if I remember correctly, it mentioned something about too much stress and namesake point fairly early on. Levi-Strauss and Malinowski tossups mentioned Structrual Anthropology and Magic, Science and Religion, respectively, in like the first or second line - I think those titles are pretty easy even for hs. I know Eric wasn't happy that his Levi-Strauss tossup was watered down by the editor, and I'm guessing that's what happened with the Malinowski tu too. Wellington tu (again, if I remember correctly. I apologize if I'm wrong), established the time period he lived in and then mentioned that he fought battles and that he was a British prime minister. I didn't know that many British Prime Ministers so I just went in and got the power. (I don't think it's a huge problem, but that round featured two naval battle toss ups, which were the only 2 in the tournament that I heard). 2nd law of thermodynamics tu seemed too easy and/or transparent, especially for a playoff packet.
I thought music featured the most difficult answer selection. I'm talking about answers like The Three-Cornered Hat (or was the tu on its composer?), Pablo Casals, Villa-Lobos, and Gorecki. I'm not saying that the top teams don't know it, but I had never heard those answers come up at HS level. But then again, that was true for a lot of things.

EDIT: I should emphasize that I really really liked the set, appreciate the writers etc. I don't want to give an impression that I'm out to criticize people, since I realize quizbowl packets can never be perfect.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by AndyShootsAndyScores »

Pablo Casals comes up all the time as "that Spanish cello player." At least, that's about all I really remember him for. Also, The Three-Cornered Hat came up at the end of the Manuel de Falla tossup. All the music answers, save Gorecki, seemed very appropriate for a high school nationals packet.

I could tell you if I had the question in front of me, Dave, as I don't remember the question verbatim.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Stat Boy »

aesthete boy wrote:Wellington tu (again, if I remember correctly. I apologize if I'm wrong), established the time period he lived in and then mentioned that he fought battles and that he was a British prime minister. I didn't know that many British Prime Ministers so I just went in and got the power. (I don't think it's a huge problem, but that round featured two naval battle toss ups, which were the only 2 in the tournament that I heard).
It did seem odd to have two British naval battles (along with Wellington) in the same round. The Jutland tossup I thought was fine, but I think the Trafalgar tossup mentioned fleets crossing the T in the second clue. The Wellington tossup's third clue, after his family's holdings in Ireland and a couple of dates, was Salamanca, which is probably too well known to be placed that early.

I would, however, like to thank the writers and editors for what was, on the whole, one of the most consistent and enjoyable sets I've played on this year.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

I'm not sure what was done to my Malinowski tossup; I had Magic, Science, and Religion pretty early in the original:

One of his essays opens by dividing the title entities into the Sacred and the Profane, and his autobiography is entitled A Diary in the Strictest Sense of the Term. In addition to Magic, Science, and Religion, he defined his field as the study of institutions that satisfy human needs in A Scientific Theory of Culture. He wrote the introduction to a work about the Kikuyu by Jumo Kenyatta, and he published several works while in exile in Papua New Guinea. FTP, name this author of Coral Gardens and Their Magic, who discussed “The Departure of an Overseas Expedition” and the Trobriand Islanders’ Kula Exchange in Argonauts of the Western Pacific.
ANSWER: Bronislaw Malinowski

In retrospect, it would have probably been better to describe the works more and push the titles to the middle. I don't have the best gauge on what high school quizbowl considers easy or hard, so I'm constantly surprised by the things that you all know (I was surprised to learn there was a gorecki tossup in the set).

I hope people enjoyed the bulk of the social science in the set; I'd say a little more than half of it was written by me.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

aestheteboy wrote:Elasticity tu seemed pretty transparent; if I remember correctly, it mentioned something about too much stress and namesake point fairly early on.
As I wrote the question, it was:
Me wrote:Above the glass transition temperature, amorphous polymers are also known as this property’s namesake substances. The density of the form of energy named for this property is given by the stress squared over twice the shear modulus. At stresses above this property’s namesake limit, plastic deformation occurs. Interactions with this property conserve not just momentum, but also kinetic energy; such interactions include namesake scattering and namesake collisions. For 10 points, name this common property from physics whose name indicates that a system will spring back to its original state.
ANSWER: elasticity [accept word forms; accept elastomers or elastic energy density or elastic limit or elastic scattering or elastic collisions]
<Sorice>
So the elastic limit is, like, the fourth or fifth clue, which I think is fine for this level; if you know that, I have no problem giving you the question there. As Matt said, don't denigrate your knowledge; I wouldn't have known that clue until junior year of college.

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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by Blackboard Monitor Vimes »

AndyShootsAndyScores wrote:
AllsWellThatPosts4 wrote:Well, I don't know much about the movie, but the question went recent pop culture reference after recent pop culture reference, I thought it made it pretty obvious, I just blanked on the name.
I buzzed after the Azamat/Xerxes clue and said Epic Movie and immediately realized how stupid I was.
I did the same thing! Except I think it was before Xerxes...I don't remember exactly. I managed to forget Meet the Spartans existed and followed the string of pop culture references to Epic Movie... I'm so glad that this happened in a format without negs...negging on trash would suck.

Also, on the trash, the Angry Beavers TU made my day, even though a teammate managed to just barely beat me to it. I'm curious as to the rest of the question; we only heard the first two clues.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

MLWGS-Gir wrote:Also, on the trash, the Angry Beavers TU made my day, even though a teammate managed to just barely beat me to it. I'm curious as to the rest of the question; we only heard the first two clues.
When the main characters, living apart from their parents for the first time, decide to stay up all night, they apparently stay awake long enough to find themselves in a sheep-dominated future. They became too spooked to sleep after watching a scary movie called "The Crawling Spleen" while eating "tasty jalapeños." The plot of another episode of this animated show centers around one of the titular brothers deciding to stop gnawing wood so he can attract the ladies with his long front teeth. For ten points, name this Nicktoon whose larged-toothed main characters, Norbert and Daggit, lived in a well-appointed dam.

Answer: Angry Beavers

I'm glad you liked it. This was one of the three questions I contributed to the set, along with "Dinosaur Comics" and the Smash Mouth tossup during the All-Star game.
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Re: PACE NSC 2008 Question Discussion

Post by The Laughing Man »

I would like to thank the question writers for what was probably the best set I've ever played. The tossups were consistently excellent; the only ones with which I had issues (and they were minor ones) were the common link ones, which were often ambiguous or transparent.
Although the Native American authors one did clearly use the word ethnicity, I did not buzz in on the Sherman Alexie clue because unfamiliar with the previous author(s) in the question, I did not know if the answer was a specific tribe, or just Native American. It was often difficult to ascertain the specificity of answer required, I had the same problem with the apocryphal tossup(although in retrospect I don't what else it could have been), and this problem reared its ugly head again when Shantanu negged on the sword tossup in the finals.
Also, some common links were transparent, mentioning in the fasting tossup that women do it for their husband's help seemed like a bad idea, although because we were playing a team that hadn't buzzed all game, and I am an idiot, I waited and my teammate negged. I don't really have any solution to this, I'm just pointing out that the common link generally seemed weaker than the rest of the set, which was fantastic.
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