HFT IV Discussion

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HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

The set has been emailed to George. The set is in the state in which it was played at Harvard--with a few errors corrected through the subsequent mirrors at UCSD, Central Gwinnett, and Rockford Auburn--rather than its state at VCU. Discussion of questions in their VCU form is of course welcome, and if you need a specific question from that iteration posted, I have a copy of that version I can access.

I wrote all the science (save five or so tossups, which were by Sam Peterson), and the majority of the philosophy, as well as a few questions in some other subjects. (I also wrote all the tossups twenty-one, save for the history and geography.)

I look forward to hearing criticism of the set. I know that its first iteration had problems with length (and difficulty, but I'd argue the former was more egregious) that made the set--if valuable didactically--inaccessible to non-top-shelf teams. I hope that not too many of the positive qualities of the set were lost in the process of cutting tossups to five or six lines.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Deviant Insider »

This was a good set. Some of the moderators had complaints about basic editing issues, but it played very well. The bonuses generally had good difficult parts--they were legitimately difficult but were occasionally converted.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by dschafer »

Reading through these now, a couple of comments (one general, one specific):
Packet 1 wrote: Systems with n phases possess n choose three of these...
ANSWER: triple point
This feels like it might be fraudable from that first clue; I'd think in my head from that "One of these is probably defined by three phases", which would lead me immediately to triple point.

EDIT (to generalize this to more than just this question): In the first few packets I saw, there were a few other tossups that seemed like they might have had this issue of fraudibility. "Valhalla" had "this is a place" and a Norse name in the first clue, for example. I don't know if these are more of an issue in reading than playing, though; someone who played it would certainly have a better perspective.
Packet 2 wrote: [10] This greedy algorithm named for a Dutch computer scientist produces a minimum spanning tree for a graph with nonnegative edge costs.
ANSWER: Dijkstra's algorithm
Dijkstra's solves the shortest path problem; Prim's and Kruskal's are MST algorithms.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Captain Sinico »

I thought the chemistry in this set was systematically much harder than other subjects. That said, I thought this set's overall difficulty (at least in rounds 1-10) was pretty close to what it ought to be.

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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

dschafer wrote:
Packet 2 wrote: [10] This greedy algorithm named for a Dutch computer scientist produces a minimum spanning tree for a graph with nonnegative edge costs.
ANSWER: Dijkstra's algorithm
Dijkstra's solves the shortest path problem; Prim's and Kruskal's are MST algorithms.
Good point. Shortest path tree != minimum spanning tree. My bad.

And yeah, I see why the triple point tossup could be a little transparent. I was of the opinion that players familiar enough that they should be getting the tossup at the leadin would see that immediately, and that players trying to figure it out would end up hearing a clue they knew before they figured it out--but I can see why that might not be the case.

One question: how did the chemistry play? I tried to make the vast majority of the chemistry draw on things that I had read about before taking orgo sophomore year, which is of course difficult; the end result was that I included a functional group tossup (but one that has been tossed up at the high school level quite a bit), some bonus parts (generally hard parts) on organic or industrial chem, and some tossups that could draw on organic clues (reduction, acetic acid, etc.). I imagine that a lot of these were hard to convert, but did it make the chemistry as a whole much less pleasant? I felt this was a better course than the alternative of writing tossups on "the steps in my gen chem textbook to balance a redox equation" or "the factor-label method."

EDIT: well, there's one answer! And yeah, I can see that being true.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

I felt that organic clues were widely overused, even if they were on subjects that players should arguably get at the end of the question (e.g. reduction). I also thought that hard part bonus difficulty was poorly modulated, but I recognize that it's tough to get that right when you're writing what by all accounts is the hardest "regular" high school tournament of the year (not that that's a bad thing).
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

cvdwightw wrote:I felt that organic clues were widely overused, even if they were on subjects that players should arguably get at the end of the question (e.g. reduction).
Reduction was probably the most egregious example, I think; I sat down to write the tossup and then realized that there really weren't that many good, meaty clues for the act of reducing something than I'd thought (without drawing on orgo). I decided to be stubborn incorrectly.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

dschafer wrote:Reading through these now, a couple of comments (one general, one specific):

EDIT (to generalize this to more than just this question): In the first few packets I saw, there were a few other tossups that seemed like they might have had this issue of fraudibility. "Valhalla" had "this is a place" and a Norse name in the first clue, for example. I don't know if these are more of an issue in reading than playing, though; someone who played it would certainly have a better perspective.
This may not be that fraudable since there are other notable places in Norse myth.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Tanay »

Doink the Clown wrote:
dschafer wrote:Reading through these now, a couple of comments (one general, one specific):

EDIT (to generalize this to more than just this question): In the first few packets I saw, there were a few other tossups that seemed like they might have had this issue of fraudibility. "Valhalla" had "this is a place" and a Norse name in the first clue, for example. I don't know if these are more of an issue in reading than playing, though; someone who played it would certainly have a better perspective.
This may not be that fraudable since there are other notable places in Norse myth.
I thought Valhalla was fraudable, but I'm not the best myth player, so at the beginning, that was one of the, like, three places in Norse mythology that I felt could logically made sense. However, I think this other myth question is a bit more fraudable:

"One of these is called Irkalla in Sumerian mythology. After visiting one of these, Izanagi created Tsukuyomi in the process of purifying himself, and the god Xolotl aids the journey to one of these places."

I thought this was pretty fraudable for "underworld". The clues "visiting one of these" and "aids the journey to one of these places" pretty much gave it away.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

What was the intended difficulty for this set? Normal high school difficulty? Slightly above that? HS nationals?
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

"One of these is called Irkalla in Sumerian mythology. After visiting one of these, Izanagi created Tsukuyomi in the process of purifying himself, and the god Xolotl aids the journey to one of these places."

I thought this was pretty fraudable for "underworld". The clues "visiting one of these" and "aids the journey to one of these places" pretty much gave it away.
This is the kind of complaining from good high schoolers that I think is unproductive and is driving sets to be more and more unplayable. These clues are absolutely fine and you buzzing there means you are a good quizbowl player.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
"One of these is called Irkalla in Sumerian mythology. After visiting one of these, Izanagi created Tsukuyomi in the process of purifying himself, and the god Xolotl aids the journey to one of these places."

I thought this was pretty fraudable for "underworld". The clues "visiting one of these" and "aids the journey to one of these places" pretty much gave it away.
This is the kind of complaining from good high schoolers that I think is unproductive and is driving sets to be more and more unplayable. These clues are absolutely fine and you buzzing there means you are a good quizbowl player.
Agreeing with Charlie here.

We started reading these in practice today; it's probably good that the kids who went to VCU recognized none of the problems reported after that tournament when hearing the edited questions. Length and difficulty seem controlled, and the set manages to expand the canon without forgetting about all-important middle clues.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Auroni »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:
"One of these is called Irkalla in Sumerian mythology. After visiting one of these, Izanagi created Tsukuyomi in the process of purifying himself, and the god Xolotl aids the journey to one of these places."

I thought this was pretty fraudable for "underworld". The clues "visiting one of these" and "aids the journey to one of these places" pretty much gave it away.
This is the kind of complaining from good high schoolers that I think is unproductive and is driving sets to be more and more unplayable. These clues are absolutely fine and you buzzing there means you are a good quizbowl player.
I'm not sure that he's making the assessment that this question is fraudable based on the difficulty of those clues (which are, by and large, just fine), but that the specific detail that Izanagi has to "purify himself" after visiting one of these might facilitate "figure-it-out bowl." I might have rewritten that clue to say "Tsukuyomi was born from Izanagi's face after he visited one of these places known as Yomi."
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Tanay »

jpn wrote: I'm not sure that he's making the assessment that this question is fraudable based on the difficulty of those clues (which are, by and large, just fine), but that the specific detail that Izanagi has to "purify himself" after visiting one of these might facilitate "figure-it-out bowl." I might have rewritten that clue to say "Tsukuyomi was born from Izanagi's face after he visited one of these places known as Yomi."
Thank you, Auroni. That was what I meant.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Deviant Insider »

My team negged with river on that clue. It should say after Izanagi left one of these places to avoid confusion.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Nuclear Densometer Test »

This was clearly my favorite high school set of the past 2.5 years I've been playing.
A few things I'd like to bring up.

In the first line of the Whorf tossup, the "empty gasoline drums" clue seemed a bit early. (Possibly since we just saw this come up pretty late in a Whorf-Sapir tossup at Fall)

The Austria-Hungary tossup was easily fraudable. When I heard it start with "These two countries fought with each other..." followed by some European sounding names, there were not many other options that would show up on a high school set.

In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Dark Ages: Fae wrote:The Austria-Hungary tossup was easily fraudable. When I heard it start with "These two countries fought with each other..." followed by some European sounding names, there were not many other options that would show up on a high school set.
I could write entirely high-school-appropriate military history tossups on "England and France" or "Germany and Russia" right now, at minimum. Let's not get carried away with the "hey, I knew something, therefore too easy" posts.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Tanay »

Dark Ages: Fae wrote: In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
Yes. Yes it was. Does anyone have conversion stats for this?
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Fucitol »

Dark Ages: Fae wrote:

In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.

Best "clear knowledge equivalent" answer I have ever seen given: The... the GEICO giant wad of Cash.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

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Dark Ages: Fae wrote:"empty gasoline drums"
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

In the first line of the Whorf tossup, the "empty gasoline drums" clue seemed a bit early. (Possibly since we just saw this come up pretty late in a Whorf-Sapir tossup at Fall)
Are you kidding me? Did you learn nothing from my post in this thread? This complaint is absurd.
Last edited by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) on Tue Dec 15, 2009 8:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by New York Undercover »

Dark Ages: Fae wrote:In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
Considering the 2008 HFT Tossup on the "Geico Gecko", there seems to be a trend here..

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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Haaaaaaaarry Whiiiiiiiiiite »

Arquette wrote:
Dark Ages: Fae wrote:In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
Considering the 2008 HFT Tossup on the "Geico Gecko", there seems to be a trend here..
HFT has a 1/0 Mascot distribution in the set.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Earthquake wrote:
Arquette wrote:
Dark Ages: Fae wrote:In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
Considering the 2008 HFT Tossup on the "Geico Gecko", there seems to be a trend here..
HFT has a 1/0 Mascot distribution in the set.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Kyle »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
Earthquake wrote:
Arquette wrote:
Dark Ages: Fae wrote:In addition, the "The Money You Could Be Saving with Geico" question was possibly the greatest trash tossup ever.
Considering the 2008 HFT Tossup on the "Geico Gecko", there seems to be a trend here..
HFT has a 1/0 Mascot distribution in the set.
I have no idea what you're talking about.
Yeah, guys, it's just a coincidence.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Tanay »

I noticed some discrepancies in difficulty in the World Literature section. There were some bonuses that seemed reasonable (I'm not saying easy, just saying that they were a gettable thirty for a sizable fraction of the field). These would include the bonuses about Nadine Gordimer and her two most important works, Mishima and two of his most important works, Kawabata with one important work and then a bonus part where you had to know House of Seven Gables, and the Oe bonus.
In comparison, there were some bonus parts that just seemed really tough for a non-national tournament. For example, there was the bonus where you had to identify Guantanamera based off a paraphrased description of some lyrics in the song (without a mention of Marti, which was the next bonus part). Then there was the Indian authors bonus with Anita Desai as a third part, which I thought was really tough. When I looked her up in the packet archives (not the best way to go about determining difficulty, I know...), she had only shown up at four tournaments-- three times as the "hard part" of a bonus at the college level and one time as a mentioned author in the middle of another tossup at a college tournament. I guess more World Literature authors have to be brought into the canon somehow (to avoid the tossups on the same fifteen people), but this one seemed especially rough.

In general, though, this tournament was a blast to read, and probably a great one to play. It was mostly pretty consistent from top to bottom in terms of difficulty.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by TheKingInYellow »

I'll beat Charlie Dees to the punch and say you're wrong, Tanay. At the majority of tournaments, lots of teams don't know who Gordimer or Mishima are. And I don't think either of those other things are very unreasonable-- I think they make good hard, hard parts, and that every tournament needs a few at that level
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Well, Tanay is certainly right that those topics like Guantanamera without mentioning Marti are extremely hard and should have been made easier. I would say that if the HFT set were trying to approximate a regular high school event, then yeah, bonuses where Mishima or Gordimer are the easy parts are misguided, but it doesn't sound like that was HFT's plan (which is a different phenomenon, and one worth discussing - why do we have to have so many independently written sets be harder than what HSAPQ or an IS set are offering? What happened to a good old fashioned housewritten set that is accessible to all kinds of teams?)
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Well, Tanay is certainly right that those topics like Guantanamera without mentioning Marti are extremely hard and should have been made easier. I would say that if the HFT set were trying to approximate a regular high school event, then yeah, bonuses where Mishima or Gordimer are the easy parts are misguided, but it doesn't sound like that was HFT's plan (which is a different phenomenon, and one worth discussing - why do we have to have so many independently written sets be harder than what HSAPQ or an IS set are offering? What happened to a good old fashioned housewritten set that is accessible to all kinds of teams?)
But Charlie, Andy and Harvard told everyone earlier this year as the set was being finished that they wanted to make HFT easier and more accessible than last year!
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

FredMorlan wrote:What was the intended difficulty for this set? Normal high school difficulty? Slightly above that? HS nationals?
So, like, is there an answer for this?
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Dr. Isaac Yankem, DDS wrote:
Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Well, Tanay is certainly right that those topics like Guantanamera without mentioning Marti are extremely hard and should have been made easier. I would say that if the HFT set were trying to approximate a regular high school event, then yeah, bonuses where Mishima or Gordimer are the easy parts are misguided, but it doesn't sound like that was HFT's plan (which is a different phenomenon, and one worth discussing - why do we have to have so many independently written sets be harder than what HSAPQ or an IS set are offering? What happened to a good old fashioned housewritten set that is accessible to all kinds of teams?)
But Charlie, Andy and Harvard told everyone earlier this year as the set was being finished that they wanted to make HFT easier and more accessible than last year!
1) I maintain that it was easier and more accessible than last year's. If you don't understand that "easier than HFT III" isn't mutually exclusive with "harder than a HSAPQ or IS set," then I can't help you.
2) Different editors had different visions for the set, and not everyone wrote to my stated vision. That happens sometimes.
FredMorlan wrote:
FredMorlan wrote:What was the intended difficulty for this set? Normal high school difficulty? Slightly above that? HS nationals?
So, like, is there an answer for this?
We wanted this set to be a step above regular high school difficulty, and we weren't afraid to have outliers that wouldn't be too out of place at a nationals.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:We wanted this set to be a step above regular high school difficulty, and we weren't afraid to have outliers that wouldn't be too out of place at a nationals.
Good to know. I'm still going through the set, but the round or two I've read seems to mostly have accomplished this. My only complaint so far is the Fellini bonus that shockingly didn't mention 8 1/2 at all, which is pretty nuts.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Auroni »

Anita Desai is too hard to be a hard part, even at this tournament. Same deal with Guantanamera from lyrics. I understand that world literature is intrinsically going to be harder than other subcategories in a tournament like this, but don't go about reaching crazy far for hard parts.

Also, the Mishima bonus's third part was "sailor," and the clue was (paraphrased) "Another Mishima novel is about how one of these that "fell from grace with the sea." Other examples of these include Captain Ahab and Billy Budd." The team that got the bonus in my room converted Mishima but not "sailor," saying something like "whaler" instead. I feel that if we use words in titles as easy parts to bonuses, then it should be pretty clear what's going on. Fortunately, this complaint isn't systematic and this is the only question that I remember having this sort of problem.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

See what you mean about the Mishima bonus;' that one was initially enormously too hard (Honda/Temple of the Golden Pavilion/Mishima, I think?) and so I think that was how we revised it down for our site. Perhaps Sinbad would have worked better there (and more world-litty, too).
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Tanay »

TheKingInYellow wrote:At the majority of tournaments, lots of teams don't know who Gordimer or Mishima are.
Agreed. But the point I'm trying to make is that a bonus on Gordimer or Mishima (who comes up a LOT) would be 10 or 20 points for a "pretty solid" team (however you choose to define that), and 30 for a great team, especially with the boost from bonus parts like "sailor". On the other hand, the bonuses on Tagore/Lahiri/Desai and Guantanamera/Marti/Cuba would be maybe 10 for a "pretty solid" team. I'm not saying that Mishima/Gordimer is easy, because it isn't. I'm stating that there is a clear discrepancy between the difficulty of bonuses on Gordimer/Mishima and those on Desai/Guantanamera.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Nuclear Densometer Test »

tk447 wrote:
TheKingInYellow wrote:At the majority of tournaments, lots of teams don't know who Gordimer or Mishima are.
Agreed. But the point I'm trying to make is that a bonus on Gordimer or Mishima (who comes up a LOT) would be 10 or 20 points for a "pretty solid" team (however you choose to define that), and 30 for a great team, especially with the boost from bonus parts like "sailor". On the other hand, the bonuses on Tagore/Lahiri/Desai and Guantanamera/Marti/Cuba would be maybe 10 for a "pretty solid" team. I'm not saying that Mishima/Gordimer is easy, because it isn't. I'm stating that there is a clear discrepancy between the difficulty of bonuses on Gordimer/Mishima and those on Desai/Guantanamera.
The Marti bonus came up in the second finals packet , so I would expect it to be harder.
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Re: HFT IV Discussion

Post by Down and out in Quintana Roo »

We just started practicing on these, and i just want to say that so far i've really liked the packets. I know i looked through the numbers the first time it was given in 2009, and i criticized the set going on things that i heard and answers that were used... but overall this really is a quality set that does border on slightly harder than regular difficulty.

While a few of the tossup answers are slightly too tough in my opinion, i've found that the bonus questions are largely excellent and very accessible, most of the kids in the room today at practice could get the 10-point easy part just about every time... and we averaged over 20ppb as a group.

So, i just wanted to take back some of my criticism and apologize for being a little judgmental about the set before i really could form an educated opinion. This is a very good set for great teams, and still a good set for others because of all the great and helpful clues in every question, with very few "impossible" 30s or that's-so-obscure-don't-even-bother-learning-it answers. Nice job, Harvard and co., on the good set.
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