VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

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VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:25 pm

This is the discussion thread for the VCU Open 2011.

Evan Adams wrote all the non-science, non-Social Science/Philosophy tossups, almost all the non-science Bonuses and two astronomy bonuses (that's around 500 questions, which is a truly awe-inspiring feat). Matt Weiner wrote all the Social Science and Philosophy tossups. I wrote all the science excepting the two astronomy bonuses noted before. Sean Smiley & George Berry wrote a few bonuses, and Tommy Casalaspi helped edit the music and a few lit questions.

I'd like to personally thank Susan Ferrari for taking the time to advise on the Biology and Chemistry questions. Her advice was immensely helpful when editing not only the Bio & Chem, but also the rest of the science categories.

We'd appreciate it if you pointed out any problems with individual questions, so that we can fix them for upcoming mirrors. Discuss away.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:45 am

I very much enjoyed the set, but at times it did seem to try too hard to be creative and it ended up creating some problematic questions. Probably the most emblematic of that was the very ill conceived tossup on Roman women which in my room was negged by Auroni with the completely reasonable guess of Vestal virgins early on, and the went dead because I couldn't figure out what they were asking for at the giveaway since I kept thinking they wanted some kind of class of people. Other people I talked to gave that tossup a big thumbs down as well, and I think there were definitely some others that were in that same creative vein that perhaps should be looked at again. Also, there were a lot of cases of the answerlines not including the foreign titles of works or basic alternate answers, like ova for eggs, so look back over that stuff. Thanks for writing it, I very much had fun driving out to play it.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:10 am

College Park Spyders wrote:I very much enjoyed the set, but at times it did seem to try too hard to be creative and it ended up creating some problematic questions. Probably the most emblematic of that was the very ill conceived tossup on Roman women which in my room was negged by Auroni with the completely reasonable guess of Vestal virgins early on, and the went dead because I couldn't figure out what they were asking for at the giveaway since I kept thinking they wanted some kind of class of people. Other people I talked to gave that tossup a big thumbs down as well, and I think there were definitely some others that were in that same creative vein that perhaps should be looked at again.
While I think the clues uniquely point to the answer of that question, I can see why this would be very frustrating to play. I'll replace it for the future mirrors. Can you think of any other creative answerlines that caused confusion?
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Susan » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:02 am

College Park Spyders wrote:I very much enjoyed the set, but at times it did seem to try too hard to be creative and it ended up creating some problematic questions. Probably the most emblematic of that was the very ill conceived tossup on Roman women which in my room was negged by Auroni with the completely reasonable guess of Vestal virgins early on, and the went dead because I couldn't figure out what they were asking for at the giveaway since I kept thinking they wanted some kind of class of people. Other people I talked to gave that tossup a big thumbs down as well, and I think there were definitely some others that were in that same creative vein that perhaps should be looked at again. Also, there were a lot of cases of the answerlines not including the foreign titles of works or basic alternate answers, like ova for eggs, so look back over that stuff. Thanks for writing it, I very much had fun driving out to play it.
The version of this question that I saw did have ovum listed as an alternate to egg or oocyte (or several other things, all of which were singular), but as one can't always count on moderators having perfect understanding of word forms ova should be added to the list.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 11:58 am

I thought this was fun, although I agree about there being almost too much effort to be creative in tossup answers. Women was the most egregious example, but there seemed to be a lot of things like "Trials of Oscar Wilde" and "Switching to the new calendar." Most of these were really cool, but by the end of the day it started to get kind of annoying when we had "Blue" the round after Women.

Also, by the way, I might play part of the trash tournament later in August at OSU, so I guess if it's a problem for me to be in this group you can kick me out, otherwise I assure you I have no desire to cheat at a trash tournament I'll probably only play a few packets of as a shootout anyway, so if there's a separate thread for discussing it I won't look at it.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:00 pm

Plan Rubber wrote:I thought this was fun, although I agree about there being almost too much effort to be creative in tossup answers. Women was the most egregious example, but there seemed to be a lot of things like "Trials of Oscar Wilde" and "Switching to the new calendar." Most of these were really cool, but by the end of the day it started to get kind of annoying when we had "Blue" the round after Women.

Also, by the way, I might play part of the trash tournament later in August at OSU, so I guess if it's a problem for me to be in this group you can kick me out, otherwise I assure you I have no desire to cheat at a trash tournament I'll probably only play a few packets of as a shootout anyway, so if there's a separate thread for discussing it I won't look at it.
Trash will be discussed here, so I'll kick you out in a few hours. If you think of any more comments, or decide not to play the trash tournament, you can apply for readmission.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:02 pm

Susan wrote:
College Park Spyders wrote:Also, there were a lot of cases of the answerlines not including the foreign titles of works or basic alternate answers, like ova for eggs, so look back over that stuff. Thanks for writing it, I very much had fun driving out to play it.
The version of this question that I saw did have ovum listed as an alternate to egg or oocyte (or several other things, all of which were singular), but as one can't always count on moderators having perfect understanding of word forms ova should be added to the list.
Susan is correct. When originally constructing the answer line, I hadn't taken into account that all my references were to "these things" instead of "this thing", so all my alternate answers were for the singular forms of alternate names for egg cell and not of the plural form. I've fixed this and will be going through the science and making sure plural forms are acceptable.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Auroni » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:15 pm

I thought this was a pretty good set. I appreciated the difficulty level, making this probably the most accessible hard tournament to play for all kinds of quizbowlers. There were a few issues though:

- Evan told me that the chem distribution was only 8/8. I don't think this was the right thing to do -- even if the writing team personally couldn't handle chem questions, it's not fair to the people who are good at these questions (such as Michael Hausinger, who noticed the deficit and was annoyed) to reduce the distribution.

- There seemed to be some very easy early clues. Some of these were the Solfeggieto for the CPE Bach tossup, which I personally know that tons of people learning piano play. The news story about Gaddafi's sons getting into trouble in Switzerland was also early on, for some reason, despite it being a major thing not too long ago. I think that these are good clues to use, but could probably have appeared later in the question to make it better

- Other times, I felt that the set could have been stricter about power-marking. The tossup on Federalists still had Rufus King in power. This isn't a huge issue though, because I know powermarking is an annoying thing to do, and I also enjoy getting powers.

- Like Charlie and Joe mentioned, sometimes the creative train went too far to make the questions less playable, such as the tossup on "Roman women." On the other hand, there were lots of cool tossups that resulted from the creative campaign (contra Joe, I enjoyed the switching to the Gregorian calendar tossup). I think that the presence of a lot of creative questions threw some people off their game, which isn't really a real criticism, but I'm not sure if that was one reason that there were lots of them.

- There were a few stupid bonus parts, such as asking for the move number in the Master of Go. Luckily these were few and far between, and I can't really name any other examples. There were also some easy medium parts all around the set (like The Yellow Christ) but this was not a pervasive problem either.

To end on a positive note, this set had some questions that I really really enjoyed. These were the tossup on piano teachers, the tossup on "Lady with a Dog," and the bonus with the part on The Cranes are Flying.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:38 pm

Blanford's Fringe-fingered Lizard wrote:I thought this was a pretty good set. I appreciated the difficulty level, making this probably the most accessible hard tournament to play for all kinds of quizbowlers.
I agree with this, as someone who's never played a tournament as hard as this was advertised to be I still enjoyed it quite a bit. There were some tossup answerlines I had never heard of, which was to be expected, but it did a good job of having hard clues and bonus parts without being crushingly hard.
(contra Joe, I enjoyed the switching to the Gregorian calendar tossup)
Sorry if I wasn't clear, but I had no problem with that tossup, in isolation I enjoyed it too. It was just the feeling that that kind of question made up a really large portion of the set that annoyed me.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:46 pm

There was a bonus part in I think packet 12 with "continuity equation" as the answer, that did not contain a pronoun indicating what the question was looking for.

EDIT: Also, the bonus part on shougatsu/Japanese New Year's (in the bonus with tanabata/shinto) sounded sort of like it was just a continuous stream of Japanese words, which would probably be rather unhelpful to someone who does not know the language (though I may be misremembering).

Let me note that I very much enjoyed this tournament on the whole, and that it is perhaps the best college tournament I have played thus far.
Last edited by Excelsior (smack) on Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Sun Aug 07, 2011 12:48 pm

As much as I like creative questions, the consensus seems to be that the set was over-saturated with them. I'm planning on replacing some of them to hopefully give the set a more solid feel. Can people suggest the five or so they thought were the most awkward to play?
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:02 pm

I addition to what has already been said, I felt that the "Eight Days" tossup was less than optimal, and the myth tossup on "Humans" asking for "this animal" was pretty unpopular.

I really liked this tournament, it had a lot of cool answerlines and the difficulty was great.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Windmill Tump » Sun Aug 07, 2011 1:48 pm

I thought this tournament was really fun, with a lot of great answers, and the difficulty was very good, seeing as I actually got questions. Thanks to everyone who worked on this.

Like mentioned several times before, the tossup on Roman women was, in my opinion, one of the most annoying answer lines; it went dead in our game too. I also agree with Jarret on the "Humans" tossup.
I thought that a couple bonuses asked for things that seemed silly, or just somewhat difficult to remember despite their importance; examples like the Master of Go move number, and to a much lesser extent, the eleven word phrase spoken by Howard Baker, although Joe nailed it.

Also amusingly, I lost a buzzer race on the Blue tossup on the same clue that I used for a lead in for my FNT tossup on blue (the headband from Girl with a Pearl Earring). I thought the tossup was fine though.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Aug 07, 2011 6:38 pm

I think a lot of the creative questions are clear examples of "your mileage may vary" questions. For instance, I liked the "humans" myth question and thought the question asking for Howard Baker's Watergate question was very interesting. However, the Roman women question was awful. I'm not sure if you can find a consensus (well, maybe the Roman women question). I'll look back through my notes to determine what else didn't seem to play well.

There were a few too easy lead-ins: the Churchill's speeches one used a very famous quote to begin it.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:37 pm

Also, I'm no biologist, but I thought that tossup on the Sargasso Sea was bad.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:41 pm

Inkana7 wrote:Also, I'm no biologist, but I thought that tossup on the Sargasso Sea was bad.
Were there specific clues that were bad, the answer line itself, or what?
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Sun Aug 07, 2011 7:45 pm

SirT wrote:
Inkana7 wrote:Also, I'm no biologist, but I thought that tossup on the Sargasso Sea was bad.
Were there specific clues that were bad, the answer line itself, or what?
I just thought the idea of listing a bunch of animals and asking where they are all located was dumb. That being said, I didn't know anything about any of the animals named, so the fact that they live in the Sargasso Sea might be Important (TM).
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun Aug 07, 2011 9:19 pm

Thank you for writing the set. There were quite a few questions I was happy to see, but there are plenty that still need work. For whatever reason, I got the sense that an unusually large number of those ended up in packet nine, so I'll start there. Maybe I only noticed them more because it was a close game.

Numerous people in the room were confused about what to answer for the Arab Revolt tossup. I don't know enough about the topic to explain very well, but I think it would have helped to clarify that the answer is a portion of a larger conflict. More instructions on what to do with "the Arabian part of WWI" in the answer line would have helped too.

I think this has already been mentioned, but the Churchill speeches tossup started off with a really famous quote.

The tossup on sigma bonds has a massive cliff at the word "alkanes." That clue should be part of the giveaway, and if I were to reorder the question I would probably end the question as "For 10 points, name this type of covalent bond, the only kind found in alkanes, contrasted with the delta and pi bonds." Instructions in the answer line about what to do with an answer of "single bond" (prompt, probably) would be helpful.

The Sargasso Sea tossup was already mentioned, but it seemed to list a bunch of animals that live part or all of their lives in one ocean region. With only the information I just wrote, my brain would immediately jump to the Sargasso Sea since it is an ocean zone which has very defined species that live there and often only there. I may just have different knowledge than most people, but it felt very transparent to me.


Questions that stood out from other rounds:
The fact that Yves Klein liked blue is apparently fairly well known (caused a buzzer mash even with one person pausing since "it couldn't possibly be the lead-in if that was right")

I'm not sure there are any clues specific to water between TIP4P and dessicants. The amorphous solid clue sounds cool, and may be unique, but it seems likely that some sort of glass can form on interstellar dust grains. The next three lines, though, pretty much say "this molecule can form hydrogen bonds, this molecule can form hydrogen bonds, and this molecule doesn't have any double bonds." These are all useful in narrowing down towards water, but they also apply to just about any alcohol or amine. Having a more-specific clue or two in this space would help a lot.

Instructions in the "colloids" answer line for what to do with a more specific answer, especially of "emulsions," would be useful. The clue about micelles and the Krafft temperature only applies for emulsions, I think, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone will buzz in with that.

I'll try to look through a few more questions and give more suggestions over the next couple days.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Gautam » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:49 am

The yves klein thing is not giveaway famous but probably a middle-ish clue at best. IIRC MO 2010 had a bonus part on Klein pretty much solely off International Klein Blue, and saw decent conversion.

Could I get a copy by the way? gkandlikar@gmail.com
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:46 am

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Thank you for writing the set. There were quite a few questions I was happy to see, but there are plenty that still need work. For whatever reason, I got the sense that an unusually large number of those ended up in packet nine, so I'll start there. Maybe I only noticed them more because it was a close game.

Numerous people in the room were confused about what to answer for the Arab Revolt tossup. I don't know enough about the topic to explain very well, but I think it would have helped to clarify that the answer is a portion of a larger conflict. More instructions on what to do with "the Arabian part of WWI" in the answer line would have helped too.

I think this has already been mentioned, but the Churchill speeches tossup started off with a really famous quote.

The tossup on sigma bonds has a massive cliff at the word "alkanes." That clue should be part of the giveaway, and if I were to reorder the question I would probably end the question as "For 10 points, name this type of covalent bond, the only kind found in alkanes, contrasted with the delta and pi bonds." Instructions in the answer line about what to do with an answer of "single bond" (prompt, probably) would be helpful.

The Sargasso Sea tossup was already mentioned, but it seemed to list a bunch of animals that live part or all of their lives in one ocean region. With only the information I just wrote, my brain would immediately jump to the Sargasso Sea since it is an ocean zone which has very defined species that live there and often only there. I may just have different knowledge than most people, but it felt very transparent to me.


Questions that stood out from other rounds:
The fact that Yves Klein liked blue is apparently fairly well known (caused a buzzer mash even with one person pausing since "it couldn't possibly be the lead-in if that was right")

I'm not sure there are any clues specific to water between TIP4P and dessicants. The amorphous solid clue sounds cool, and may be unique, but it seems likely that some sort of glass can form on interstellar dust grains. The next three lines, though, pretty much say "this molecule can form hydrogen bonds, this molecule can form hydrogen bonds, and this molecule doesn't have any double bonds." These are all useful in narrowing down towards water, but they also apply to just about any alcohol or amine. Having a more-specific clue or two in this space would help a lot.

Instructions in the "colloids" answer line for what to do with a more specific answer, especially of "emulsions," would be useful. The clue about micelles and the Krafft temperature only applies for emulsions, I think, so I wouldn't be surprised if someone will buzz in with that.

I'll try to look through a few more questions and give more suggestions over the next couple days.
I'll make the answer line more inclusive on the Arab revolt tossup and add some early clues to the Churchill tossup. I moved the Klein clue much deeper on the "blue" tossup. Cody's working on the science. Could the Sargasso Sea tossup be improved by referring to it as a "body of water"? Is that a fair description? If you find any other problems, please post them.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Windmill Tump » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:40 am

For the Vargas Llosa bonus in Round 6, I think it's The War of the End of the World, not The War at the End of the World. We answered the latter, and it was (correctly) protested.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:57 am

xpmath wrote:For the Vargas Llosa bonus in Round 6, I think it's The War of the End of the World, not The War at the End of the World. We answered the latter, and it was (correctly) protested.
Fixed, thanks.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:58 am

Do you think a different thread would be more appropriate for trash? I have no idea how many, if any, comments people have, but it seems like it could get confusing, especially after next weekend when more people will have played both tournaments.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:00 am

Cheynem wrote:Do you think a different thread would be more appropriate for trash? I have no idea how many, if any, comments people have, but it seems like it could get confusing, especially after next weekend when more people will have played both tournaments.
Yeah, a separate thread is a good idea.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by kdroge » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:46 pm

Overall, I was a little disappointed with this tournament- It seemed like the difficulty was all over the place, making it very difficult for me to buzz on questions because the questions could be ACF nats-level or HS nats-level. There were a number of questions I enjoyed, but there were more "clunkers" than I would have expected, and I feel like a number of questions could be modified to be better fairly easily.

So I went over the tossups from the packets that we played at the tournament (1-12). Here's what I think could use some work:

(packet 1)
On the harpsichord tossup, the clues that I would know are the de Falla concerto and Landowska. When I heard de Falla, I thought, this can't be so early, and didn't buzz. Looking over the question, those are the only two clues I would know. This may be just me (more so than other comments, I understand my music knowledge is sporadic at times), but even at the end, I wouldn't be able to distinguish this from a virginal or a clavichord, say, if it weren't for those clues.

The coal mines tossup just doesn't seem like a good idea- If you talk about D.H. Lawrence that early, you're basically asking "what type of place did D.H. Lawrence write about," which is pretty transparent. I would much rather have preferred a TU on Lawrence, or Sons and Lovers, or Germinal.

The Spear of the Nation tossup seems to be negbait for Inkatha Freedom Party, which Auroni beat me to the neg, but I was about to do the same. Maybe not give away "this is South African" by getting rid of the Blood River clue would have helped.

Apparently the Citizens United TU was buzzed off of "this is an important recent supreme court case" by a lot of people who just figured it out with the attitude of "what else could this be." Perhaps Mike could give you a better idea of what exactly caused this impression, though, since I don't really know.

The Moon tossup didn't play very well; I buzzed off John Couch Adams and said Neptune. I understand that wasn't a smart thing of me to do, but I don't think the scientists at our tournament were happy with this TU either.

The Dasein tossup I'm not a huge fan of. It talks about this word and then says some German stuff. I'd just rather see a TU on Being and Time.

(packet 2)
The hyperbolic geometry tossup is pretty awkward. Are the first clues referring to hyperbolic geometry or just hyperbolic things (the answer line is only hyperbolic, which seems problematic to me)? Then, saying "this type of geometry" in the middle of the TU is really bad, that should be the giveaway, along with Lobachevsky; the other material really just isn't needed at this level since it can really only be hyperbolic or spherical and people who haven't gotten the question already aren't going to be able to differentiate between the two with an additional two lines of description.

The Intentionality tossup needs to have a note of what to do on the buzz of "Intention," which is what I said. The Anscombe book is titled just Intention, right, so should that be accepted, or prompted (or possibly not at all, I don't know the actual philosophical terminology very well), but either way, this needs a more specific answer line.

The Pilar tossup I thought was an interesting idea for a more "creative" answer line that wasn't confusing.

The Phantom of the Opera tossup was perceived as very NAQT-ish. I don't know if people actually read the novel. It's obviously an important work of literature, but my impression would be that people are more likely to get this off of knowledge about the musical than having read the book. In that case, even though the TU is about the book, I feel like this shouldn't be classified as lit but rather as a musical tossup.

The Nixon visiting China question is borderline in my opinion in terms of the answer line. Mike Cheyne was negged for saying "U.S. China relations" or something like that. I think the clue ordering is fine, but the answer line needs to be more specific- these are the kinds of questions that, by themselves, are okay, but that there were too many of imo at this tournament.

The powermark on Bruckner seems very generous; you could get fifteen for guessing it off of "the question is going late, and you're talking about his fourth symphony, which is probably his most famous."

The nuclear tests question is really transparent from the start. I just don't like how this question plays- you're not sure if you're going to need tests of a specific country or not, so you really can't buzz confidently until later on even though it's very obvious as to what it's talking about from the start.

(packet 3)
The Washington Crossing the Delaware tossup is really easy. I think it could be word for word ported to PACE NSC. I'm not saying it's a bad question by itself, but having questions like this interspersed at a tournament of this level is a problem (the next tossup is on Koolhaas, to get a full idea of the contrast).

The 7/7 attack question needs work on the answer line (First off, I hope this was CE and not history). The answer given was "London Subway Bombings." What do you do as a moderator? Surya prompted, but of course no one remembers exactly which year they happened in, and I've never heard the term "7/7 attack" before. Especially since there haven't been any other notable London Subway Bombings, I think that should be marked as acceptable.

The human beings tossup has already been commented on. It's very questionable.

The invading Korea tossup I don't have an explicit problem with, but I don't see why the question can't be phrased as "one attack on this region" or something like that to have the answer line of "Korea" rather than as it currently is. This is just my personal preference for a more concrete answer line if possible rather than anything being wrong clue wise with the question.

(packet 4)
The Umuofia tossup is interesting and (despite me negging it) I think a good example of an unusual, harder question that plays well.

The Venetian Navy tossup is another good question I think, but it should have an answer line that includes information as to what to do if someone says "Italian navy." I honestly don't know what should be done in that case.

The Brancusi tossup seems transparent in that, at any "easier" tournament, I would have buzzed very early, but at this level I checked myself since I thought well, it could be someone else who is much more difficult. The Kiss is also very early within the tossup. I think writing on Brancusi at this level, any of the well-known works could be the giveaway, and I think the last three lines as written are just never going to be read (unless someone negs, I guess).

I don't really like the gold tossup. It's quite transparent in the middle since you're hinting at the U.S. going off the gold standard without saying so, and the first few clues seem impossible to me to know off actual knowledge (though, again, it's pretty easily guessable since it's something valuable that's traded that can't be oil or some sort of food given the clues).

(packet 5)
The Salamanca tossup is transparent. I should have buzzed off Vittoria, but thought that it couldn't be so early a clue and waited. I don't really see how you could know this tossup at the end but not power it; I think that the peninsular war battle is certainly very well known, and the early clues hint at "spanish names intellectual stuff" far too much. I would find harder clues and then condense the last 5 or 6 lines into 2 or 3.

The Zebulon Pike tossup is basically one line of an anecdote, then description of a later clue, and then an IS-level tossup on Pike (lead in with his death at York, talk about Leech Lake, then mention how he was an explorer, then his namesake mountain). I also think the namesake purchase in Minnesota clue is harder than a lot of the stuff before it, and that purchase could use some description of more specifically why it's important and where it is. There's nothing really wrong with this question on the surface, but including it at a regionals-plus level difficulty event makes the tournament very difficult to play well.

I don't really like the May Day tossup. I've read May Pole of Merry Mount. How am I supposed to know it's set on May Day? Also, the Richard Wright clue is way too early. I would rather see this as a TU on any of the works mentioned in the question than have the answer line be May Day.

In the Panama tossup, Omar Torrijos is way too early. That should be definitely out of the power, and possibly even as the pre-FTP clue (though in this question, it's probably harder than Just Cause but easier than everything else that is discussed).

The Atlanta tossup mentions Ebenezer Baptist Church as the clue right out of power. I don't see how this works- if this were a PACE NSC tossup, than sure, but having 3-4 lines of material that people at this level are pretty much 100% to know basically means wasted space. I would move the King clue as the pre-FTP, and maybe talk about the civil war battle in Atlanta or something that is more mid-level.

(packet 6)
I'm not sure about the Auden tossup. I guess both Auroni and I know a lot about September 1st, 1939, but if you're going to spend more than half a TU on that, why not have that as the answer line instead of Auden? I feel like if you're going to use Auden, you can talk at least a bit about a lesser-known work. This isn't really as much of a problem as some of the other stuff though, just my general opinion.

The conservative tossup is okay clue-wise, but it's a little confusing to call conservative an adjective the whole time when you're talking about "Why I am not a Conservative," where Conservative is used as a noun.

The Lake Victoria tossup I'm not a huge fan of. I'd like to see harder clues that are more history or culturally based rather than just a bunch of African geographical names (the albino killings clue is okay in this respect). I just feel like this is both too hard and too easy at the same time in a weird way that I can't really elucidate very well- Is Ukerewe harder than Migingo? Is Migingo harder than the Bujagali plant? Is Speke Gulf or the Kagera River easier than any of those?

The trials of Oscar Wilde tossup is pretty wild. This is another one where there's nothing explicitly wrong with the clues or ordering or importance, it's just that I'd rather see a TU on "De Profundis" or "Ballad of Reading Gaol" than this.

In the Gobind Singh tossup, saying "Muslim and Hindu sweets" clue points to a Sikh, making this, from very early on, a "which guru is this going to be" tossup. I understand that tossups on any guru are eventually going to be transparent as a Sikh figure, and I'm okay with that, I just don't like having that be so early.

The income tax tossup I like quite a bit.

The Peer Gynt tossup has the same problem as the Phantom of the Opera tossup- are people more like to get this off of FA knowledge or lit knowledge? Here, I think it's a lot closer, but still something to consider.

The adopting the Gregorian calendar tossup is just pretty silly. That really shouldn't be an answer line to a tossup.

(packet 7)
The Airy tossup is really long. I didn't notice this when it was played, but it seems like some info could be cut from it. Also, John Couch Adams is referenced again, though I'm not sure how helpful that clue is (I almost negged with Le Verrier, but didn't given the result of my previous Neptune-related buzz) and it seems more history-of-science ish rather than actually something that people would study in a class (though I would happily defer to someone with more knowledge than I).

I don't really like the Guggenheim museums tossup. I buzzed off Guadalajara and got 15 points because I wrote a similar question for an IS once (and that tossup basically had the same major buzzpoints as this one except had more well placed descriptions of the institutes in Bilbao and New York). I'd much rather see this as a TU on, say, the Guggenheim in Bilbao or something more specific like that.

The MacArthur tossup has a lot of "early" clues (about five and a half lines of them), but I don't know if any of them are helpful, or if any of them are either than any others. I'd rather see more info about his relevant career as a commander in battles and have the lead-in clues condensed to make room.

The Calais tossup seems to get easy pretty fast. I'm not sure what the Mary Tudor clue is about, or how it's important (and it's certainly not explained in the context of the tossup). It seems like getting rid of that sentence and adding one at the start of harder material would help.

The Minoan tossup was okay when the first four lines were read and Auroni 15ed it (if I remembered more about Classical Archaeology class I took I would have buzzed as well; I do recognize all the clues and they are important things). The three named sites and the Palatial clues seem to me to be harder than anything else that is mentioned in the TU, though. Also, I feel like talking about Phaistos as a secondary site might not be the worst idea instead of a lengthy sentence about Thera; the last few clues are all giveaway level, and at this level only one or two of them need be mentioned (preferably with description instead of just name-drop of, say, the palace at Knossos, or the writing system).

The Aladdin tossup I don't know how to react to since I don't know what part of the distro it was in. I will say that "Roc" means Middle Eastern and I don't like name dropping that quite so early.

Being turned to stone is a cool tossup idea, and, despite my ill-advised neg, this was one of the better, fun, questions in the set.

Why would you ever toss up Harriet Taylor in the first place? Even so, it very early says "her" to queue that it's a woman, and mentions a date, and then says "she's known for a chapter of a larger work." This is basically 0 for 3 in terms of stuff that should not be mentioned early on in a tossup on her and leads to "figuring it out" rather than actually knowing it. I'd much rather see this as a TU on "The Subjection of Women."

The Trill of the Ceausescus is too out there for my taste. I understand it's a tiebreaker, but that's no excuse. First off, what if someone says "The Romanian Revolution of 1989?" What is the mod supposed to do? I just don't get why this is an answer line instead of just Ceausescu, where you can actually use clues that are more historically important and that people are more likely to know about. I don't see who can buzz this as it's written anywhere until "two hundred kilograms of wheat," maybe, so the first half of this is just wasted.

(packet 8)
The San Fran tossup looks okay to me. Mike Cheyne said something about having read Rain and not knowing the lead-in, so if it's the case that it's such a minor detail in the story, perhaps a more relevant clue could be picked out.

The Charles V tossup would be fine for a lower level tournament, but the sack of Rome is really well known and can't be so early in the question. Francis I needs to be later as well. I'd also like to see some description of the battles with Frances I rather than an anecdotal clue.

Eugenics was buzzed at Buck V. Bell, which Auroni and Mike seemed to think was too early. Reading through the TU, it seems like a lot of clues that people aren't likely to "know" but rather very likely to "figure out" until you get to Galton, which should probably just be the giveaway. I'm just not a fan of this TU as history, really, since it seems more like "aca other" anyways (if it was classified as such, my apologies).

(packet 9)
The eight days tossup seemed to play awkwardly in most rooms and received some negative feedback in the hallway. To me, it actually seems okay, though.

The odd tossup was protested because of the clue about a line of points being inside an object. I have no idea what this clue is referring to, but maybe look into this or into the wording of that clue.

The two quotes in the Kennedy tossup are seemingly pretty well known (though in our room it wasn't buzzed there). I would rather see history clues about events or other things rather than those as the lead-in. Also, everything after the power is pretty easy for this level and should be condensed to two or three lines to make way for harder clues (they would be fine at HS-nats).

The Arab Revolt tossup is sub-par. As soon as you drop Allenby, it's pretty obvious as to what this is talking about, but then no one wants to buzz because, well, this thing doesn't have a real name. I eventually grew a pair and buzzed with "The Arabian theatre of World War One." Is this answer acceptable? What it really comes down to is that the answer line just isn't concrete enough of a thing to be tossed up. I'd rather see a TU on Allenby, or Lawrence, or Sykes-Picot, or Battles of Megiddo, or Aqaba, etc.

The Rite of Spring premiere riot tossup I thought was a good, creative idea.

The Twain Autobiography tossup I'm not a fan of; Westbrook negged with "The Innocents Abroad" at brother Orion, and, if you don't know the first clue, which I'd assume is very difficult, there's no way you would know that you want this instead of any other autobiographical Twain work. I think this needs to start with "One scene from this work" or such to narrow it down much more, and then move Orion to later in the question. Alternately, I'd rather see the answer be Mark Twain with clues drawn from the autobiography.

The Speeches of Churchill question was too easy, from what people said. To me, it seems okay, though admittedly I don't know too much about them.

The Myth of Er seems a little early in The Republic tossup. I also think that it should be described before being name dropped, though I'm not sure if the previous sentence is a poor attempt to do that or not (having read it, I don't recognize it, but it was a couple of years ago).

(packet 10)
The Sherlock Holmes question is too easy: What is five pips doing in the fifth line (or before the FTP, for that matter)? Mike Cheyne first clued this. He may have very extensive knowledge, though, so I'll refrain from commenting on the first few clues, but the last few sentences could be condensed into a couple lines to make room for harder clues either way.

I don't like saying "many slave rebellions" in the Jamaica tossup. If you want to talk about the Morant Bay Rebellion, or the Western Uprising or whatever it's called, do so, but don't hint at it but not say anything concrete.

The Quest of the Historical Jesus tossup uses the best known thing about the work, the chapters about Strauss, as the lead in. That should be the pre-ftp clue at the earliest- I would have negged there rather than later by messing up the exact name of the title if I hadn't thought "that can't possibly be the lead-in."

The Aegeus tossup mentions the tribute of seven youths of each gender too early. That should probably be in the giveaway or maybe directly before the FTP (or at least after the next sentence, which is considerably harder imo).

The golden tossup is too easy also- The Golden Horn is really really well known, that could be the giveaway. I just don't like the idea here- spending five lines talking about "Golden Law" and "Golden Bulls" at this level is just wasted because people either know about all of those things or none of them. I'd much rather see a TU on one of the things mentioned in the question than a common link TU.

Auroni negged Tibetan Buddhism with Lamaism. I have no idea whether this deserves mention in the answer line, but I thought I'd bring it up (on a related note, prompting on Vajrayana is good, because I almost buzzed with that an that would have been disappointing had that been ruled straight up wrong).

I wouldn't mention Henry VII so early for Cabot; that really narrows down the time period and solidifies his connection with the English (this was another one I would have buzzed had I not thought that that clue couldn't possibly be so early).

(packet 11)
The Poland-Lithuania tossup is a little transparent because of the sound of the names. I would prefer a tossup that talks about "this polity" or some such where the answer is "Poland-Lithuania" (as in the commonwealth).

Roman women has already been commented on. I don't see how this tossup is a good idea.

The parrots tossup was good, and an interesting idea to write about with good clue ordering imo.

In the Election of 1916, the women picketing is pretty notable; it's a good middle clue, but maybe having it be a sentence or two later wouldn't be the worst idea.

(packet 12)
The price discrimination tossup is mediocre. I negged with "price fixing," which I guess is wrong. What I don't get is why you don't talk about price discrimination clues that would actually come up in econ classes- the fact that there are first, second, and third degree types of it and how to model them would make for great clues. There is even a really neat study that looks at coupons as a form of price discrimination that could be described to reward real knowledge about the study and the concept. As a more general point, this tournament was very econ-light (this is the only econ question in the whole set I remember; maybe there were one or two more that I'm forgetting at the moment), which I found a little disappointing. I can understand that it's personal preference as to the SS subdistro, but having at least a few econ questions would have been nice.

Rufus King is too early in the Federalist Party TU (as has been mentioned). On a greater scale, this tossup is too easy; all the clues that come after King are easier than King (with the exception of Fries), which would be OK at an easier event but I think this just needs more hard clues and have the last few sentences greatly condensed.

The music teacher question was pretty cool, my only concern is whether people would be hesitant to buzz because they don't know if just "teacher" or "music teacher" or "piano teacher" is what is wanted, but the answer line does a good job of handling possible answers.

Yves Klein is way too early in the blue question. I would advocate putting it immediately before the FTP.

The Saxe-Cobourg and Gotha TU is okay clue-wise, but I've always heard it called just "Saxe-Cobourg." Maybe this is just me and that answer is just wrong, but either way the answer line should include something about what to do with a partial answer.


I know this post seems overly critical; I tried to pick out some creative answer lines that I liked in addition to stuff I didn't. This has taken me a couple hours to go through and think about the questions, and I hope that this improves the tournament at the other sites- I guess the main issue I had was a lot of tossups on things that shouldn't get tossed up, and then vastly differing question difficulty that made the tournament very difficult to play well on. I'm sure there are also issues with the science that I do not know enough to comment on (as evidenced by me getting quite a few science questions during the course of the day). Anyways, end of ridiculously long post.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:38 pm

Just adding to what Kurtis said...

I powered "Spear of the Nation" at the Blood River clue by putting "South Africa + Political Group" together and giving it a whirl. That wasn't exactly knowledge of the group, so maybe that clue should be moved/changed?

Joe Nutter beat me to the tossup on the 7/7 bombings, but had I beaten him I would have also said "London Subway Bombings" and not known what the actual date of the attack was, so changing that answer to accept more things might be a good idea.

The tossup on the Venetian navy should not accept Italian Navy as an answer because they are totally different polities that did different things, and all of the clues point towards mostly 15-16th century advances made by the Venetian Navy. I enjoyed this tossup.

I thought the May Day tossup was very confusing and no one in our room got it until the very end of the question.

FWIW, I got the MacArthur tossup on the first clue, but reading the rest of the clues, Kurtis is right in that most of the clues in power aren't that important.

On the Arab Revolt tossup, I knew basically what was going on at Allenby, but didn't know what to buzz with, and when the clue about Sykes-Picot was read I buzzed with something like "The British war against the Ottomans during World War I" and was prompted, after which I said "The British Middle Eastern Campaign" since Allenby and Sykes-Picot both dealt primarily with the Levantine area. I probably should have figured it out but the answer line should be more inclusive, IMO.

As much as I enjoyed getting 15 for knowing what the Golden Horn was, that clue shouldn't be in power.

I guess the take away lesson is that with creative tossups, complete answer lines that are prepared for any number of given answers are a necessity.

Besides that, there were a lot of questions I really, really enjoyed at this tournament. One that sticks out is the bonus on Muskets/Arquebus/Terico which was really cool, as well as the Valmy and Catherine the Great bonuses.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:40 pm

kdroge wrote:Overall, I was a little disappointed with this tournament- It seemed like the difficulty was all over the place, making it very difficult for me to buzz on questions because the questions could be ACF nats-level or HS nats-level. There were a number of questions I enjoyed, but there were more "clunkers" than I would have expected, and I feel like a number of questions could be modified to be better fairly easily.

I know this post seems overly critical; I tried to pick out some creative answer lines that I liked in addition to stuff I didn't. This has taken me a couple hours to go through and think about the questions, and I hope that this improves the tournament at the other sites- I guess the main issue I had was a lot of tossups on things that shouldn't get tossed up, and then vastly differing question difficulty that made the tournament very difficult to play well on. I'm sure there are also issues with the science that I do not know enough to comment on (as evidenced by me getting quite a few science questions during the course of the day). Anyways, end of ridiculously long post.
I understand why this tournament may have been frustrating to play. My philosophy in writing tournaments is to include a wide variety of difficulty in the answer lines of questions. The problem I have with most hard tournaments I've played over my quiz bowl career is that they draw from a separate pool of answers than easier tournaments. In many cases, it seems that this pool of answers is actually smaller. At these tournaments you're more likely to see questions about Soseki, Howells, or Flann O'Brien than questions on Madame Bovary, the Scarlet Letter, or the Aeneid. Of course this is alienating to the teams at the bottom of the field. It also teaches a certain style of play. At countless tournaments, and many times in this post, I've seen complaints like "This confused me because I thought it was "X," but that doesn't make sense for this tournament." I write tournaments like this because I want to restrict the power of this kind of reasoning. I'd rather people think "This clue applies to the right answer, so I'll give the right answer."

Obviously this doesn't excuse the mistakes in clue ordering that questions in this tournament had. I agree that for the most part, each tossup should have approximately the same gradation in difficulty. But especially with such a wide array of answers, this won't always be perfect. Quizbowl players should buzz in when they hear the clue that uniquely points to the answer, not internally debate about whether or not the clue's position in the tossup makes the right answer right.

That said, you do point out a lot of specific problems with the way tossups get easier. I'll go through each of your comments and see if I can improve the questions. Feedback from other people would be helpful here, in helping me assess whether certain clues were too easy, or just too easy to Kurtis.

EDIT: the feedback about the inadequacy of the alternate answers in this tournament has been really helpful. I'll definitely try to make these more inclusive and helpful.
Last edited by vcuEvan on Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:42 pm

Hey, not to wade too far into this discussion since I obviously have an interest, but I'd like to question the recent trend of pretending that things don't have names just because particular players don't know those names. "The Arab Revolt," much like "La Reforma," is a well-accepted name for the thing to which it refers, and thus questions on those things do not suffer from any answer line vagueness.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:54 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:Hey, not to wade too far into this discussion since I obviously have an interest, but I'd like to question the recent trend of pretending that things don't have names just because particular players don't know those names. "The Arab Revolt," much like "La Reforma," is a well-accepted name for the thing to which it refers, and thus questions on those things do not suffer from any answer line vagueness.
Actually, the real problem with this tossup is the pronouns that were used. It switched from "this conflict" to "one of its leaders" and "this war" and "what theater of World War I?" I think this question should make it very clear that it's looking for an uprising from the very beginning and use a pronoun to denote that it is throughout the question.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by kdroge » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:57 pm

vcuEvan wrote:At these tournaments you're more likely to see questions about Soseki, Howells, or Flann O'Brien than questions on Madame Bovary, the Scarlet Letter, or the Aeneid. Of course this is alienating to the teams at the bottom of the field. It also teaches a certain style of play. At countless tournaments, and many times in this post, I've seen complaints like "This confused me because I thought it was "X," but that doesn't make sense for this tournament." I write tournaments like this because I want to restrict the power of this kind of reasoning. I'd rather people think "This clue applies to the right answer, so I'll give the right answer."
I agree with this- I guess the issue I had is more with specific questions that get easy too fast. I fully support the idea of harder questions on accessible answer lines so that a tournament at this level can be played and enjoyed by a greater variety of players and so that important, core, works/authors/concepts can come up. I'm not so much against those answer lines that embraced this principle rather than some of the clue placement or selection within those questions.

Also, I do encourage other people to comment on the points I made, since I fully acknowledge that on some of them (especially science) I'm probably wrong, and some of them are more "food for thought" types of things anyways. I'm also curious to see what other people thought of some of those questions to get a better idea of adjusting my own perceptions on difficulty.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:40 pm

I don't want to sound ungrateful for the comments. I really appreciate the amount of time you spent looking over the set and am going to put in place a lot of the updates you suggested.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Aug 08, 2011 4:16 pm

My comments. I didn't mind the mix of hard and easy answers, I typically enjoy this at tournaments, although I do agree that it becomes problematic with too easy early clues or cliffs.

Packet One

Baltimore was a fine idea.

I thought the Citizens United tossup was a little transparent because it kept suggesting it was a very important, game-changing-for-political-campaigns recent case.

Pretty awesome to see Betrayal tossed up, although I wonder how well read that work is. I got it based off Seinfeld knowledge, thus making an impressive 2/0 earned in that round through Seinfeld.

Packet Two

Power was probably too generous for Horatio. I buzzed in on the "there are more things in heaven and earth" quote, which I thought was super well known.

Tossing up Godwin, the father of Harold Godwinson, was kinda stretching it I thought.

I don't have a problem tossing up The Phantom of the Opera the book. Especially if this was a Your Choice question, it's cool to see tossups on works that might be read but not studied.

Nixon going to China was a really good idea to toss up, although this is a case where I was confounded in trying to think of a name and never thought to say Nixon. Again, I don't mind being penalized for not knowing which things have names and which don't, but I feel like this set was doing that a lot. What were the alternate answers to that question? I almost said "the opening of U.S./China relations."

Uthar Pendragon--super awesome.

Packet Three

I agree that the London Subway bombings should have alternate answers.

The Group? Holy cow!

I liked the humans tossup.

Packet Four

The Name of the Rose tossup is an amusing example of I think of the benefits of mixing answer lines. I haven't read (most) of this book, but I was like, "this sounds sort of Eco-esque," so I spent most of the question trying to remember Baudolino's name and then realized I recognized clues. I think it's good mixing up answers so experienced players can't just game the system in that way.

Chicago Police Department was a great idea. If I had the ability to actually remember things I spent time studying, I'd actually have gotten it.

I don't know if people care about trash questions, but the man in the yellow hat tossup was really fun.

Packet Five

I can't comment on the other May Day clues, but the Maypole of Merry Pount's May Day setting is pretty notable, I thought.

I really love Stagecoach the movie, so the early clues seemed somewhat less than optimal to me. I admit I may have just forgot the first clue, but the second thing about Orson Welles loving the movie...well, I knew he liked John Ford, but I didn't want to go in with a specific Ford film at that point. I'm probably just nitpicking here.

Packet Six

I liked the trials of Oscar Wilde tossup, although I can see why this could bother some folks.

The zoning tossup was pretty cool. I think law bowl scared me away from buzzing because the answers there were so technical.

The calendar tossup was very cool.

Packet Seven

Not sure on the "upper room" tossup. I'll have to hear others if they thought the early clues helped.

Packet Eight

Regarding the San Francisco tossup, I'll have to check out "Rain" again--I admit I don't know some details from the story. The Sea Wolf clues were fine and very clearly pointed to San Fran, so I'm not complaining.

Packet Nine

Yeah, the bit about the nuclear test treaty I think narrowed down answer choices for JFK quickly.

I've definitely heard the Arab Revolt as a name before, so I think that's fine. The question is what alternate answers you can take, I guess.

I thought the Rite of Spring premiere tossup was good, but I'm not sure if it really rewarded knowledge. I buzzed when I heard a composer's name and it was clear they were describing something chaotic happening.

As I said earlier, Churchill's speeches tossup had a way too early lead-in.

Packet Ten

I powered Sherlock Holmes because I've seen the movie "The Pearl of Death." I have no idea how notable a story that is (it seems like it is?), so my opinion is probably not very helpful here.

A tossup on the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze, huh? While a cool story, I noticed while writing my own tossup on it that the sheer lack of incidents made it hard to write on.

"Brains" in power for Halleck seems a touch generous.

Packet Eleven

Confessions of Nat Turner was cool. So was Asclepius.

My other quibble with the election of 1916 tossup was that it mentioned Edith Galt very quickly, who is the second Mrs. Wilson.

Packet Twelve

Some neat ideas here--Poe from hard works, Birth of the Cool, the Gambler (even using the clue about how it was written, which inspired the fine Kate Hudson film "Alex and Emma,"--look it up). I agree that Federalist Party had a way too generous power mark.

I hope I didn't come off whiny, but I wanted to provide some feedback and it seems Evan is receptive.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Mon Aug 08, 2011 10:09 pm

vcuEvan wrote: I'll make the answer line more inclusive on the Arab revolt tossup and add some early clues to the Churchill tossup. I moved the Klein clue much deeper on the "blue" tossup. Cody's working on the science. Could the Sargasso Sea tossup be improved by referring to it as a "body of water"? Is that a fair description? If you find any other problems, please post them.
I'm not quite sure how I would word it. It is obviously connected to the Atlantic after the "Atlantic flying fish" clue, though it could conceivably be fresh water if the fish laid eggs like salmon do. The problem is mostly that there aren't going to be a bunch of fish that only live in, say, the Gulf of Mexico, since they will also probably swim over to the Caribbean sometimes. The only water places that tend to have really unique species are lakes not connected to much else, like Baikal or Lake Nicaragua. All of the clues are probably fine, but I'm still unable to think of any other areas that they could conceivably apply to. I'll let you know if I think of a better way to word it.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:42 am

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:The tossup on sigma bonds has a massive cliff at the word "alkanes."
Fixed, thanks! (and the single bonds bit)
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:The Sargasso Sea tossup was already mentioned
I think using "body of water" (which afaik is an appropriate description) fixes the transparency you mention. There are numerous bodies of water that interact with the Atlantic Ocean that have their own species (Mediterranean Sea, Caribbean Sea/Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Ocean come to mind)
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:I'm not sure there are any clues specific to water between TIP4P and dessicants. ... Having a more-specific clue or two in this space would help a lot.
The question was long enough that I just removed the amorphous ice clue. I'll look into shoring the middle clues up a little bit.
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Instructions in the "colloids" answer line for what to do with a more specific answer, especially of "emulsions," would be useful.
You're right; I now prompt on aerosols and emulsions, thanks!
kdroge wrote:The Moon tossup didn't play very well; I buzzed off John Couch Adams and said Neptune.
While you're right that you shouldn't just buzz off John Couch Adams, I can see how this is problematic. I've rephrased it to send JCA to the end of the sentence which should avoid this problem (or at least avoid any complaints that actually have merit). I haven't heard any other complaints about this TU, so if people didn't like it, they should speak up.
kdroge wrote:The hyperbolic geometry tossup is pretty awkward. Are the first clues referring to hyperbolic geometry or just hyperbolic things (the answer line is only hyperbolic, which seems problematic to me)?
All the clues are about hyperbolic geometry. However, the interior of a compact Haken atoroidal 3-manifold is referred to as just "hyperbolic" even though it has a hyperbolic geometry, so I just accept "hyperbolic". I'm not sure why I didn't originally tack on geometry (un-underlined/bolded), but it's fixed now, thanks! I'll also look into tightening up the phrasing of the lead-in so it isn't confusing to people who don't know about the hyperbolization theorem.
kdroge wrote:The Airy tossup is really long.
You're right, I removed the Airy spiral clue to get this under 1000 characters.
kdroge wrote:Also, John Couch Adams is referenced again, though I'm not sure how helpful that clue is (I almost negged with Le Verrier, but didn't given the result of my previous Neptune-related buzz)
I rephrased this to move JCA back a little bit. It should be helpful as it is some of the history behind the so-called Neptune Affair.
kdroge wrote:The odd tossup was protested because of the clue about a line of points being inside an object.
It was supposed to refer to the number of times you had to cross an object's boundary to get from inside the object to outside the object (the number is always odd). I'm not quite sure how I managed to botch the clue so badly, but I removed it as the tossup is plenty long enough.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Aug 09, 2011 9:58 am

[This issue has been resolved and contents edited to avoid revealing trash answers. Thanks, VCU]
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:44 am

kdroge wrote: On the harpsichord tossup, the clues that I would know are the de Falla concerto and Landowska. When I heard de Falla, I thought, this can't be so early, and didn't buzz. Looking over the question, those are the only two clues I would know. This may be just me (more so than other comments, I understand my music knowledge is sporadic at times), but even at the end, I wouldn't be able to distinguish this from a virginal or a clavichord, say, if it weren't for those clues.
I switched the de Falla and Landowska clues with the Haydn clue that followed it. I remain convinced that the Scarlatti and Bach stuff is more widely known.
kdroge wrote: If you talk about D.H. Lawrence that early, you're basically asking "what type of place did D.H. Lawrence write about," which is pretty transparent.
I buy that. I modified this to move most of the Lawrence clues later.
kdroge wrote:The Spear of the Nation tossup seems to be negbait for Inkatha Freedom Party, which Auroni beat me to the neg, but I was about to do the same. Maybe not give away "this is South African" by getting rid of the Blood River clue would have helped.
You're right that its South African location is given away too early. I took out the Blood River clue. I don't think it's misleading though, and I don't really pity Auroni for making a wrong guess.
kdroge wrote: Apparently the Citizens United TU was buzzed off of "this is an important recent supreme court case" by a lot of people who just figured it out with the attitude of "what else could this be." Perhaps Mike could give you a better idea of what exactly caused this impression, though, since I don't really know.
I agree. This one is going to be edited.
kdroge wrote: The Intentionality tossup needs to have a note of what to do on the buzz of "Intention," which is what I said. The Anscombe book is titled just Intention, right, so should that be accepted, or prompted (or possibly not at all, I don't know the actual philosophical terminology very well), but either way, this needs a more specific answer line.
"Intention" is accepted now.
kdroge wrote: The powermark on Bruckner seems very generous; you could get fifteen for guessing it off of "the question is going late, and you're talking about his fourth symphony, which is probably his most famous."
That makes some sense. I moved power to just before "fourth."
kdroge wrote: The 7/7 attack question needs work on the answer line (First off, I hope this was CE and not history). The answer given was "London Subway Bombings." What do you do as a moderator? Surya prompted, but of course no one remembers exactly which year they happened in, and I've never heard the term "7/7 attack" before. Especially since there haven't been any other notable London Subway Bombings, I think that should be marked as acceptable.
Added more alternate answers to this.
kdroge wrote: The human beings tossup has already been commented on. It's very questionable.
Auroni pointed out a problem with the second line that would lead to a justified buzz of "bear." This is fixed. Otherwise I think this question is fine, but i'm interested in more specific criticisms.
kdroge wrote: The Brancusi tossup seems transparent in that, at any "easier" tournament, I would have buzzed very early, but at this level I checked myself since I thought well, it could be someone else who is much more difficult. The Kiss is also very early within the tossup. I think writing on Brancusi at this level, any of the well-known works could be the giveaway, and I think the last three lines as written are just never going to be read (unless someone negs, I guess).
I agree that this gets a little easy a little fast. I've added some more middle clues.
kdroge wrote: The Salamanca tossup is transparent. I should have buzzed off Vittoria, but thought that it couldn't be so early a clue and waited. I don't really see how you could know this tossup at the end but not power it; I think that the peninsular war battle is certainly very well known, and the early clues hint at "spanish names intellectual stuff" far too much. I would find harder clues and then condense the last 5 or 6 lines into 2 or 3.
There's some merit to this complaint. I moved some clues around and added a new early one to reduce the "intellectual Spanish city" vibe.
kdroge wrote: The Zebulon Pike tossup is basically one line of an anecdote, then description of a later clue, and then an IS-level tossup on Pike (lead in with his death at York, talk about Leech Lake, then mention how he was an explorer, then his namesake mountain). I also think the namesake purchase in Minnesota clue is harder than a lot of the stuff before it, and that purchase could use some description of more specifically why it's important and where it is. There's nothing really wrong with this question on the surface, but including it at a regionals-plus level difficulty event makes the tournament very difficult to play well.
I've switched some clues around in this question, but I think that generally, adding some harder clues to an IS-level tossup is a pretty good model for writing harder questions on easy answers.
kdroge wrote: In the Panama tossup, Omar Torrijos is way too early. That should be definitely out of the power, and possibly even as the pre-FTP clue (though in this question, it's probably harder than Just Cause but easier than everything else that is discussed).
This has been pointed out and fixed.
kdroge wrote: The Calais tossup seems to get easy pretty fast. I'm not sure what the Mary Tudor clue is about, or how it's important (and it's certainly not explained in the context of the tossup). It seems like getting rid of that sentence and adding one at the start of harder material would help.
I wish you could be a little more specific here. The Mary Tudor quote is widely known, but the reason it's so late in the question is that it reveals that the answer is a French city lost by the English. Even without knowledge that Mary lost the last English possessions in France, I figured this would clue people into the answer more than the Crecy clue. I could be wrong here.
kdroge wrote: The Aladdin tossup I don't know how to react to since I don't know what part of the distro it was in. I will say that "Roc" means Middle Eastern and I don't like name dropping that quite so early.
I changed "Roc's egg" to just "egg"
kdroge wrote: Eugenics was buzzed at Buck V. Bell, which Auroni and Mike seemed to think was too early. Reading through the TU, it seems like a lot of clues that people aren't likely to "know" but rather very likely to "figure out" until you get to Galton, which should probably just be the giveaway. I'm just not a fan of this TU as history, really, since it seems more like "aca other" anyways (if it was classified as such, my apologies).
This is going to get edited.
kdroge wrote:The two quotes in the Kennedy tossup are seemingly pretty well known (though in our room it wasn't buzzed there). I would rather see history clues about events or other things rather than those as the lead-in. Also, everything after the power is pretty easy for this level and should be condensed to two or three lines to make way for harder clues (they would be fine at HS-nats).
Harder early clues will be added to this question.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Aug 09, 2011 12:18 pm

kdroge wrote: The Sherlock Holmes question is too easy: What is five pips doing in the fifth line (or before the FTP, for that matter)? Mike Cheyne first clued this. He may have very extensive knowledge, though, so I'll refrain from commenting on the first few clues, but the last few sentences could be condensed into a couple lines to make room for harder clues either way.
I think this is a reasonable place for "five orange pips" to go. I did add another line of middle clues before this though. A lot of your comments seem to be from the position that "this will make a question play better between two elite teams. This is an important consideration for me, maybe the most, but I'm also interested in how a question will play between two less good teams or two good teams that don't have elite knowledge of a particular answer.
kdroge wrote:The Aegeus tossup mentions the tribute of seven youths of each gender too early. That should probably be in the giveaway or maybe directly before the FTP (or at least after the next sentence, which is considerably harder imo).
I switched these two clues.
kdroge wrote: Rufus King is too early in the Federalist Party TU (as has been mentioned). On a greater scale, this tossup is too easy; all the clues that come after King are easier than King (with the exception of Fries), which would be OK at an easier event but I think this just needs more hard clues and have the last few sentences greatly condensed.
I'll add some earlier clues to this TU.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Aug 09, 2011 2:06 pm

redacted
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Ringil » Tue Aug 09, 2011 3:27 pm

Alright I'm gonna comment on some of the science, which I felt had some more problematic stuff that hasn't already been mentioned. Part of my post was deleted while i made it, so it gets shorter as the post goes on as I was lazy to retype everything.

I felt like there was a lot of history of science: Rankine, the moon, a large part of the tu on Airy, Cowan(whose great-grandfather apparently was the father of bee keeping...)

There was a lot of taxonomy: tu on cephalopods, bonus on tubeworms, horseshoe crabs, cicadas

Packet 1:
TU on Landau has "This man partially names a two dimensional quantum field theory characterized by a potential term in its Lagrangian." as a clue. This clue is very unhelpful as...since the Lagrangian is defined as Kinetic Energy minus Potential Energy, nearly all Lagrangians have a potential term... It seems more important that the Lagrangian for LG theory partially comes from a superpotential function (though what this is exactly I'm a bit unsure).

Packet2:
The bonus on Kelvin waves was pretty cool :)

One slight problem with the bonus on Clebsch-Gordan coefficients is that you might wanna add accept Wigner 3j symbols or Racah V coefficients as they are all basically the same thing, though I would doubt that people would answer those. Its not a big deal.

Packet 5:
The tu on eggs should in my opinion have description of stuff acrosome releases before the much too early name drop of acrosome. Also, it needs to have some sort of situation in the answer line about follicles as the Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) notably causes follicles, which do contain eggs, to grow.

Bonus on doping may be a bit easy, but once again not that big of a deal.

Round 6:
This tossup seems to be hard to buzz before the very end as both cAMP and ATP contain phosphate groups, which makes the description of the role of cAMP fairly useless as they have no idea if you want phosphate or adenosine.

Round 7:
The black body bonus was very easy.

Round8:
The bonus part on clenshaw-curtis was very randomly placed and seems to bear very little relation with the previous 2 parts.

round 10:
the stuff about test theories in SR seems not so important as they cannot be even measured, but perhaps I'm wrong.

round 11:
The giveaway on the tu for dispersion relations doesn't mention their most notable fact- that they relate wavenumber and angular frequency (or velocity and wavelength). While it does vaguely say it a bit earlier in the question, I don't think it does a very good job at giving it away at the end.

round 12:
The tu on vorticity states that "According to one of Helmholtz's theorems, if this property for a fluid particle is (*) zero initially, it will remain zero." Unfortunately, it doesn't state the important condition on that (ie no external rotational forces), which is a little questionable in my opinion (though adding that clue would make it worse for play)

The tu on chickens seems to be very hard before the very last clue and has very few middle clues (though someone powered it off the first clue in my room).

The tu on DFT seems like its pretty hard and would be better as a tu on just fourier transform.

As mentioned already the continuity equation bonus part didn't have what they wanted.

Other notes:
round 9 has a typo in spelling Burgher's Daughter.
In, round 9 I think that the Chinese All Souls' Day is better known as Zhongyuan Festival as opposed to Ullambana or even All Souls' day. (also there's some association of All Souls' day with the Qingming festival) Either way, it should probably also accept egui for hungry ghosts as this is a chinese bonus.

That post was probably too long, but regarding non-science, I felt like there was a bit too much common link/creative answer lines.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Aug 09, 2011 5:07 pm

Ringil wrote:I felt like there was a lot of history of science: Rankine, the moon, a large part of the tu on Airy, Cowan(whose great-grandfather apparently was the father of bee keeping...)
Cowan isn't history of science. If I am counting correctly there was 1 bonus part, 1 and 5/6 of a tossup that was focused on history of science; I feel that is an entirely acceptable amount of history of science.
Ringil wrote:There was a lot of taxonomy: tu on cephalopods, bonus on tubeworms, horseshoe crabs, cicadas
The bonus part on Limulus was entirely on the Limulus ameobocyte lysate and thus isn't taxonomy. The tubeworm and cicada bonuses only had one part that dealt with taxa. Thus, I feel there's an entirely acceptable amount of taxonomy in this tournament.
Ringil wrote:TU on Landau
I replaced this with a bit on the complex order parameter and it not changing appreciably within the coherence length as I can't say I understand this potential/superpotential stuff at all.
Ringil wrote:The bonus on Kelvin waves was pretty cool :)
Thanks :)
Ringil wrote:Clebsch-Gordan coefficients
Thanks, I added these in. Should I also accept Wigner 6j and Wigner 9j symbols? From my reading of Wolfram, they seem to be acceptable according to the clues I give, but I'm not sure.
Ringil wrote:The tu on eggs
Both fixed.
Ringil wrote:This tossup seems to be hard to buzz before the very end as both cAMP and ATP contain phosphate groups, which makes the description of the role of cAMP fairly useless as they have no idea if you want phosphate or adenosine.
I disagree as "phosphate" wouldn't really make a lot of sense, for a couple reasons. Probably the most prominent[/obvious to someone playing the question] reason is that you can't deaminate a phosphate group, so there wouldn't be a deaminase enzyme for it. There is also no deoxy form of phosphate as that only applies to sugars with a hydroxyl group.
Ringil wrote:The black body bonus was very easy.
I was afraid this was the case. I'll look into replacing the quantized part with a hard part.
Ringil wrote:The bonus part on clenshaw-curtis was very randomly placed and seems to bear very little relation with the previous 2 parts.
I know there is some relation there, but I can't seem to find it right now. I'll include it in the question once I find it.
Ringil wrote:the stuff about test theories in SR seems not so important as they cannot be even measured, but perhaps I'm wrong.
I honestly don't know, but was having a lot of trouble find clues for this tossup so wound up including them. Do you know of any sources on SR?
Ringil wrote:The giveaway on the tu for dispersion relations doesn't mention their most notable fact- that they relate wavenumber and angular frequency (or velocity and wavelength). While it does vaguely say it a bit earlier in the question, I don't think it does a very good job at giving it away at the end.
Fixed. I couldn't really find this description anywhere but on Wikipedia, so I assumed it wasn't giveaway-level important.
Ringil wrote:The tu on vorticity ... doesn't state the important condition on that (ie no external rotational forces), which is a little questionable in my opinion (though adding that clue would make it worse for play)
I feel that specifying Helmholtz's theorem sufficiently differentiates it from other quantities while at the same time not confusing people.
Ringil wrote:The tu on chickens seems to be very hard before the very last clue and has very few middle clues
While I agree this tossup is rather difficult before it gets close to the end, I feel that ~1/3 of this tossup is dedicated to "easier" clues (from the mention of ovalbumin to the giveaway).
Ringil wrote:As mentioned already the continuity equation bonus part didn't have what they wanted.
I've fixed this (forgot to reply to Ashvin's post).
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Tue Aug 09, 2011 11:17 pm

Evan and Cody, thank you for making all these changes.

A few more things I thought of:

Round 1: Poxviridae should be in the answer line for pox viruses, in case anyone answers that.

Round 2: If peptidoglycan is supposed to be an easy part, you should probably mention the word "bacteria" somewhere, like "prevents osmotic lysis in bacteria."

Round 7: Should "parallel" be promptable or acceptable for "multi-core" processors?

Round 7: I hate Divine Comedy questions which ask for a circle number other than 1 or 9. I've read Inferno, and to me the particulars of which circle used which torture were not at all memorable or important. I did think the third part was an interesting way to finish out the bonus without asking for another forgettable name, so thank you for that.

Everything else I have remembered so far while glancing through questions seems really trivial.


Now, a few of the things I especially liked (nowhere close to exhaustive, obviously), since I have been somewhat harsh so far:
I also thought the Pilar tossup was a cool idea.
I think the Helmholtz energy tossup was written well, though it's not something I know that much about.
The Reynolds tossup had a very good progression of clues after power. I don't think it became super obvious that a dimensionless number was being described until the more common definition of Re. I don't know anything about the earlier clues, but I assume they are fine too.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Wed Aug 10, 2011 2:12 am

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Round 7: I hate Divine Comedy questions which ask for a circle number other than 1 or 9. I've read Inferno, and to me the particulars of which circle used which torture were not at all memorable or important. I did think the third part was an interesting way to finish out the bonus without asking for another forgettable name, so thank you for that.
Look, like, some of the critiques coming from you and other Michigan people are the exact same things I agree with and was thinking when I played the set, but complaints like this are really unhelpful and only boil down to you saying "I dislike that you asked about a question in a way I aesthetically would not have chosen to do." Sorry if you don't remember that the second circle of hell was where they punish lust in a big whirlwhind, but it's a phenomenally important book and it's something I think other people who have read it could certainly find memorable (I obviously did, I thought it happened to be the most interesting circle in the work). The idea that there is a certain narrowly acceptable way to write questions on topics like the Inferno is silly and makes it really hard to figure out what else you are arguing about that is actually a valid complaint as opposed to you complaining about a question that was fine but you happened to play poorly on.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:10 pm

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Round 1: Poxviridae should be in the answer line for pox viruses, in case anyone answers that.
Added, thanks.
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:If peptidoglycan is supposed to be an easy part, you should probably mention the word "bacteria" somewhere, like "prevents osmotic lysis in bacteria."
It's supposed to be the middle part (beta lactam is supposed to be the easy part).
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Round 7: Should "parallel" be promptable or acceptable for "multi-core" processors?
I looked into this and it doesn't look like this is a thing. Are you confusing this with parallel processing perhaps?
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:I think the Helmholtz energy tossup was written well, though it's not something I know that much about.
Thanks!
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:The Reynolds tossup had a very good progression of clues after power. I don't think it became super obvious that a dimensionless number was being described until the more common definition of Re. I don't know anything about the earlier clues, but I assume they are fine too.
I'm glad I succeeded here.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Tower Monarch » Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:39 pm

SirT wrote:
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Round 7: Should "parallel" be promptable or acceptable for "multi-core" processors?
I looked into this and it doesn't look like this is a thing. Are you confusing this with parallel processing perhaps?
This is far from my specialty, but I think the issue is what do you do if someone mistakenly says _parallel_ (processing system or computer), which is not necessarily wrong, depending on what clues are in the question. I would recommend a prompt unless the question makes it unnecessary. A multi-core processor can be considered a class of parallel computing systems.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:27 pm

Tower Monarch wrote:
SirT wrote:
Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:Round 7: Should "parallel" be promptable or acceptable for "multi-core" processors?
I looked into this and it doesn't look like this is a thing. Are you confusing this with parallel processing perhaps?
This is far from my specialty, but I think the issue is what do you do if someone mistakenly says _parallel_ (processing system or computer), which is not necessarily wrong, depending on what clues are in the question. I would recommend a prompt unless the question makes it unnecessary. A multi-core processor can be considered a class of parallel computing systems.
I don't know much about it either, but I wondered since the next part begins "Multi-core processors are a type of parallel system." I don't think a prompt would hurt, at least.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Cody » Wed Aug 10, 2011 11:00 pm

The question is very explicit:

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Cache coherence is a particular problem in these systems, and the L3 cache is typically shared between the constituents of this type of processor. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this type of processor which contains two or more independent processors on the same die.
ANSWER:     _multi-core_ processor
[10] Multi-core processors are a type of parallel system, which are an example of this type of system in which multiple processes execute at the same time.
ANSWER:     _concurrent_ system
[10] C.A.R. Hoare developed this formal language for describing concurrent systems whose component processes interact with each other by communication. FDR, or Failures/Divergence Refinement, was highly influential in the rise in popularity of this language.
ANSWER:     _CSP_ [or _Communicating Sequential Processing_]
Cody Voight, VCU ‘14. I wrote lots of science and am an electrical engineer.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Tower Monarch » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:09 am

OK, no prompt is good. It might even be worth putting a do not accept. The explicit "type of processor" twice takes care of the issue. For some reason, I was picturing this as a tossup, where confusion could occur.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:15 pm

Thanks for the explanation. That makes sense.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by i never see pigeons in wheeling » Sun Aug 14, 2011 1:28 pm

I think most of my issues with this set have been previously explicated by others, but one thing I was puzzled by was the appearance of "House Mouse, Senate Mouse" in what was otherwise a legitimate polisci bonus.
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Re: VCU Open 2011 Thanks & Discussion

Post by akessler » Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:30 pm

What are the alternate early answers, if any, to the image compression TU in Round 6? I powered it in the first line after hearing "discrete cosine transform" but on further reflection "audio compression" would still have been a valid answer at that point, unless there's something there I'm forgetting.
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