## Transparency (Penn Bowl 2015)

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### Transparency (Penn Bowl 2015)

A repeated complaint about this set is that the questions were transparent. I want to list one of these questions here, which I feel closer to because I edited it.
The rate of change of a parameter governing this force appears in the denominator of the Sverdrup (suh-VARE-drupp) transport. That parameter governing this force is the difference between the absolute and relative vorticity in the barotropic vorticity equation. Regional variation in this force leads to the beta effect. A consequence of this force’s vertical component is the increased perception of gravity at the equator, called the (*) Eötvös (YOT-vosh) effect. When this force is balanced against the pressure gradient, geostrophic phenomena occur. The determination of whether this effect is important within a system is denoted by the Rossby number. Its magnitude of acceleration can be calculated by taking the cross product of negative 2 times capital omega and v. For 10 points, identify this “fictitious” force that results from the deflection of objects when reference frames undergo rotational motion.
ANSWER: Coriolis effect [or Coriolis force]
Maybe its just me, but the only "suggestive" clue in power that is a little transparent, and that's the fact that I'm talking about "vorticity", so you might be able to reason from "stuff is spinning" to coriolis. I'm not really seeing this as being transparent, unless there's something I'm missing.
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### Re: Transparency

Sverdrup being an oceanographer is pretty famous, but maybe I'm overestimating that.

EDIT: And then "regional" means that this is some force/effect with vorticity that varies over a wide area?
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### Re: Transparency

I think it's more like tossups along the lines of "hm what's something you mine that you really wouldn't want to get in your water supply"
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### Re: Transparency

Black Miao wrote:I think it's more like tossups along the lines of "hm what's something you mine that you really wouldn't want to get in your water supply"
This, but also dropping equator in power for the Coriolis force question (in addition to Jacob's regional thing). Maybe you don't mind someone buzzing off an educated guess at that point, but it seems silly to reward me power for making a buzz on that. I mean, genuinely wondering--what other forces could you even ask for that are related to the environmental sciences?
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### Re: Transparency

I figured it out through a combination of knowing Sverdrup was an oceanographer and using "vorticity" to infer that (as you put it) "stuff is spinning." If you feel like that's enough knowledge to deserve 15 points, that's your call; I certainly did think it was a little transparent, since I didn't know what any of the clues really referred to. I'm not sure if this was a matter of the question being transparent, or a lucky guess on my part, but I did have the same overall impression that there were transparent questions.
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Victor Prieto
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### Re: Transparency

Transparent, to me, means someone without direct knowledge of the clue in question could figure it out within the first two or three lines. Many times, this process is made possible because of a quick narrowing in potential answerspace, as exemplified by the Coriolis force tossup.

I could tell right from the first line of the Coriolis force tossup that we're talking about some quantifiable force in earth science, just through the pronoun and the context of knowing that Sverdrup was an oceanographer (even if you didn't know about the dude, a lot of people know about sverdrup units measure ocean currents), without any knowledge of Sverdrup transport. Ike said that it could have been many answers, but I really don't see any other potential answers other than pressure, gravity, or maybe something to do with thermohaline circulation, I dunno. Personally, I waited until I was 100% sure, exactly when the question mentions it is balanced against pressure in geostrophic phenomena.

On the other hand, I absolutely think the SEALs tossup wasn't transparent. I'll post it here:
10. This group suffered relatively high casualties while securing the Paitilla (pie-TEE-uh) Airfield during one conflict and they captured the minelaying Ajr and helped destroy several oil platforms during Operation Nimble Archer. Members of this group were surrounded by carabinieri (kar-uh-bin-YAIR-ee) in a standoff at Signorella (see-nyaw-REL-la) Air Base in 1985 as they approached an EgyptAir plane that contained the (*) hijackers from the Achille (uh-SHEEL) Lauro. Units of this group are headquartered at Norfolk, Virginia and Coronado, California and emerged out of the World War II-era Underwater Demolition Teams. Operation Neptune Spear was carried out in Abbottabad, Pakistan by members of, for 10 points, what Naval special forces unit whose sixth team killed Osama Bin Laden?
ANSWER: Navy SEALs or U.S. Navy SEa, Air, and Land teams
If we look at this tossup's powermarked clues through the eyes of a lateral thinker with no direct knowledge of the clues, it's fairly easy to tell from the language used in the first line that the answer is some sort of military group. Branches of militaries can probably also be ruled out at the end of the first line, since a different pronoun would be used, but not for certain. Throughout power, there's not any contextual clues pointing towards the United States. The clues from Operation Nimble Archer can maybe point towards a more naval oriented team, but I wouldn't definitively rule out non-naval oriented forces, either. Through the end of power, it seems to be some non-Italian military group (not necessarily special forces). At this point, plausible famous military group answers generated through my hypothetical lateral thinker (who is also considering what other answerlines could merit tossups at Penn Bowl difficulty) include SEALs, Delta Force, US Rangers, SAS, Spetsnaz, French Foreign Legion, Swiss Guard (although those would be very early Italian clues), the Iraqi Republican Guard (Saddam Hussein tossup was a later round), and depending on whether they know about Patrick Liao's penchant for Canada, Lord Strathcona's Horse (that last one is a joke).

I'll list the tossups which I felt were transparent, and could do a similar analysis for. I might be wrong about some of them, these are ones I just feel were transparent when going back over my notes (through 12 rounds).

Palmer raids
abortion
Panipat
Coriolis force
(American) nuclear tests
Markov assassination
Naguib Mahfouz
Himalayas
orbits (although using the pronoun systems provides sufficient ambiguity here to help combat transparency)
underworlds
Last edited by Victor Prieto on Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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### Re: Transparency

I'd add the tossup on Defenestrations of Prague to Victor's list. That tossup was horrible.
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### Re: Transparency

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I'd add the tossup on Defenestrations of Prague to Victor's list. That tossup was horrible.
I should point out that I didn't construct a list of tossups that I thought were horrible, just the ones I felt were transparent. Every one of these answerlines are good, solid ideas, I just think a little tinkering with wording and maybe snipping a clue here or there would fix their transparency issues.
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### Re: Transparency

Yeah I'm just saying in this particular case it was the coriolois force, though if the answer were on gravity, pressure, geostrophic, turbidity currents, upwelling, etc. people wouldn't be complaining.

This set had tossups that were on the "other" answer - like open clusters. The correct thing to do as a set editor is to make sure you have a mix of both so that the Nash equilibrium is to not preferentially pick one over the other (and to write a lot of tossups on answer lines that don't have this issue). I think for a number of tossups, it just happened to work out so that players guessed the right answer.
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### Re: Transparency

11. Preparations for one of these actions included the installation of 150 Ponderosa Pines at Frenchman Flat. One of these events affected the cast of Dick Powell's Genghis Khan movie, The Conqueror, including John Wayne. One of these events named Sedan carved a still-extant rock formation and the Desert Rock exercises took place as part of some of these events, which included the construction of mannequin families in (*) "Survival Town." Residents of St. George and other parts of southern Utah have experienced higher rates of cancer as a result of these events in Nevada and they took place above-ground before the 1963 signing of the Partial Test-Ban Treaty. For 10 points, identify these events, one of which took place on July 16, 1945 at Alamogordo (AL-uh-muh-GORE-doh), New Mexico at the Trinity site.
ANSWER: American Nuclear Tests [Accept “atomic” instead of “nuclear”; accept “explosions” instead of tests; accept reasonable equivalents.]
I'm trying to get a better idea of exactly what made it transparent. Was it the fact this was a named event in the desert? Was it higher rates of cancer? Was it "above-ground" or "in Nevada"?

This was originally a TU on the Nevada Test Site, but that was clearly too hard, so I edited it to make it broader. I considered making the TU about Nevada, but I also didn't want to have too many state-name answer lines since people like to complain about those even though I find them perfectly acceptable to make it clear what's being asked for and to include lots of cool history like this.

I can see how some of the others would have transparency issues. The Palmer Raids would have been better either about the First Red Scare or Palmer himself since namesake + events narrows the range down too rapidly. Making "Palmer" the answerline though probably would have also gotten some complaints, but "First Red Scare" doesn't seem like a slam-dunk answerline either.
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### Re: Transparency

Well, the tossup on Defenestrations of Prague was both transparent and bad, since the tossup made it obvious that

1) There were multiple events of this kind
2) They were related to specific religious disputes (as opposed to things like general hatred of Jews)
3) They were causing substantial physical harm to certain people

This takes some baseline level of knowledge to figure out but my thought processes on that tossup basically consisted of what Raynor was talking about in the other thread about not enjoying the transparency of clues. The tossup could have been written on "Prague" and I suspect the transparency issues would have been ameliorated, since there were a lot of religious conflicts in various cities.

EDIT: With regards to the nuclear tests tossup, it seems easy to figure out if you know that people generally tested nuclear bombs in deserts and other uninhabited places. Also, this is irrelevant and it may just be me, but having tossups on uranium (from something), the Iran nuclear deal (CE), and nuclear tests (history) seems really excessive.
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### Re: Transparency

UlyssesInvictus wrote:
Black Miao wrote:I think it's more like tossups along the lines of "hm what's something you mine that you really wouldn't want to get in your water supply"
This, but also dropping equator in power for the Coriolis force question (in addition to Jacob's regional thing). Maybe you don't mind someone buzzing off an educated guess at that point, but it seems silly to reward me power for making a buzz on that. I mean, genuinely wondering--what other forces could you even ask for that are related to the environmental sciences?
Well, there was that tossup on "gravity" at MUT last spring, but I remember a lot of grumbling on that one as well.

Also, I thought the first (or maybe second) line drop of UF6 during the Iran nuclear deal tossup was kinda weird. Like, I understand that you can't just outright say "uranium hexafluoride" so early, but trying to disguise it as some meaningless alphanumeric abbreviation felt a little too cutesy.
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### Re: Transparency

west neg, new york wrote: Also, I thought the first (or maybe second) line drop of UF6 during the Iran nuclear deal tossup was kinda weird. Like, I understand that you can't just outright say "uranium hexafluoride" so early, but trying to disguise it as some meaningless alphanumeric abbreviation felt a little too cutesy.
That (UF6) was actually what was used in multiple guides to the Iran Deal and what I've heard used in the arms proliferation control lingo in general before, so if you could figure it out based on that then I'm fine with letting you get a power (especially since it was used in context with other terms for types of centrifuges).
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### Re: Transparency

cchiego wrote: I'm trying to get a better idea of exactly what made it transparent. Was it the fact this was a named event in the desert? Was it higher rates of cancer? Was it "above-ground" or "in Nevada"?
So I did power this with real knowledge because I know John Wayne possibly died from cancer from nuclear testing, but by the time "carved a still-extant rock formation" is read, there's not many "actions" (which rules out natural events) that can carve rock formations. Higher rates of cancer obviously points towards radiation, but that's just before the giveaway and pretty much fine right where it is. I didn't notice this before you posted the answerline, but there's nothing about nuclear weapon testing in the answerline, which is definitely what was happening and is a very plausible answer that can be given by teams.
I considered making the TU about Nevada, but I also didn't want to have too many state-name answer lines since people like to complain about those even though I find them perfectly acceptable to make it clear what's being asked for and to include lots of cool history like this.
Who the hell says this and why? I totally agree with you, these questions are cool, and there should be more of them! Granted, I wouldn't put in more than one every three or so rounds, but I didn't notice an overabundance of state-name answerlines yesterday.
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### Re: Transparency

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:Well, the tossup on Defenestrations of Prague was both transparent and bad, since the tossup made it obvious that

1) There were multiple events of this kind
2) They were related to specific religious disputes (as opposed to things like general hatred of Jews)
3) They were causing substantial physical harm to certain people
Here's the tossup:

3. The last of these events killed a man who was the only non-Communist or “fellow traveller” in his government and approved a sale of arms in Israel’s War of Independence. Another of these events occurred at the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snows; the king died from a heart attack after hearing of it. That one of these events was performed in defense of one of the few supporters of the doctrine of “in both kinds” in his city, and led to a conflict involving the drafting of the (*) Four Articles. A victim of one of these events later fled to the domain of a loser at the Battle of Wittstock, John George I, while the perpetrator, Count Jindrich Matyas Thurn, suffered a setback at White Mountain against the forces of Ferdinand II after being elected a Defender of the Protestant Faith; that second one of these events set off the Thirty Years War. For 10 points, name these events in a certain city, where people were thrown out of windows.
ANSWER: defenestrations of Prague [accept first, second, or third defenestrations of Prague]

I just didn't think this was too bad of a tossup. Lots of things in history occur multiple times and cause substantial physical harm to certain people. Also, to me, unless one has specific knowledge, there really isn't a single clue in the question that suggests some of the defenestrations were motivated by "specific religious disputes." To me, someone without specific knowledge could think of things like assassinations, invasions, executions, or terrorist acts as possible answers.
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### Re: Transparency

I'm not going to deny that I have a pretty sizeable base of history knowledge to work with when "figuring out" a tossup like that one, but that tossup seemed fairly transparent/obvious to everyone in the room, including members of the opposing team, none of whom seemed very experienced. Yes, there are a very large number of general "events" that could be tossed up, but the question seemed to imply that there were a finite number of these events and that they were all relatively prominent, which ruled out a lot of the answers you suggested as reasonable possibilities. Perhaps I'm reading far more into context clues than other people would.

Also,
Ethnic history of the Vilnius region wrote:there really isn't a single clue in the question that suggests some of the defenestrations were motivated by "specific religious disputes.
the tossup you posted wrote:3. The last of these events killed a man who was the only non-Communist or “fellow traveller” in his government and approved a sale of arms in Israel’s War of Independence. Another of these events occurred at the Church of the Virgin Mary of the Snows; the king died from a heart attack after hearing of it. That one of these events was performed in defense of one of the few supporters of the doctrine of “in both kinds” in his city, and led to a conflict involving the drafting of the (*) Four Articles. A victim of one of these events later fled to the domain of a loser at the Battle of Wittstock, John George I, while the perpetrator, Count Jindrich Matyas Thurn, suffered a setback at White Mountain against the forces of Ferdinand II after being elected a Defender of the Protestant Faith; that second one of these events set off the Thirty Years War. For 10 points, name these events in a certain city, where people were thrown out of windows.
The first clue doesn't necessarily imply that the type of event is religious in nature but the second sounds an awful lot like a dispute over religious doctrine, or at least it does to me.
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### Re: Transparency

I think it might be useful to talk about what separates questions that are fraudable or transparent from questions that just deploy lots of context clues in an appropriate way (in the manner of this Jerry post). How fuzzy is the boundary?
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### Re: Transparency

So I want to make another post about this because I think most people posting in this thread are just being silly. Yes, there is such a thing as a transparent tossup, but it's not happening that often, and it certainly isn't happening with the amount of frequency to the point where the tournament is ruined.

It's perfectly normal and encouraged, to think about your tossups as you play them. We all should be doing that, after all, despite what others think, everyone uses context clues. But just happening to think of the answer when you hear a couple of clues in a few instances does not make a tossup transparent. If we were forced to buzz in and go with what is the first answer that pops into our head for every tossup, almost every player complaining in this thread would end their tournament with negative points.

Everyone who has complained about transparency, go back and count the number of times in which you thought the tossup was going towards some answer, but you ended up changing your mind because you were wrong. Then go back and add up your negs that resulted from giving it your best shot (i.e. not forgetting the title or misspeaking,) I think you'll find that the complaining you are making about X tossups is far-outweighed by the combined number of these.

Let me frame the problem another way. To simplify the analysis, let's talk about a tournament that only has one type of transparent question: questions on female figures: like Empress Wu, Lady Murasaki, Kim Campbell, etc. Almost all of these suffer from the problem of pronouns (i. e. - never using she or he.) Obviously, if you can spot these questions that have weirdly worded pronouns, you can see through the question and answer it - hence why it is transparent. Of course you can solve this problem with a solution similar to what Andrew Hart did in 2012 MO - in which only gender neutral pronouns were used - overkill and inelegant if you ask me, but it sure gets rid of the transparency issue.

But there is a more elegant way to solve this. For every tossup you write on a female person: write one or two or three tossups on male persons that avoid using "he or she." This makes it so that a person is less likely to game the tossup, since if that person detects the bizarre wording of the pronouns, that person is only likely to be right 25-50% of the time (and that's an upper bound; assuming that person is less than 100% right when that person find anomalous pronoun usage in the first place, it's lower.)

If you apply this analysis of very simplified transparency to the transparency of Penn's set as a whole, it doesn't have a problem! For one, there are more than 3-4 answers that any answer could plausibly be for any one of the so-called transparent tossups, unlike the case with "female pronouns." (That is, even if you recognize Sverdrup is an oceanographer, you're still left with more than just one answer). Also, there were numerous times where the answer was on "the other answer" or on something you just don't expect - this tournament had a number of very hard tossups, presumably to keep teams honest for this reason. Mathematically, just rushing in and giving your best guess on so-called transparent tossups, even on topics you don't know isn't going to pay off in the long run (you can bet your barn it won't pay off at ICT or ACF Nationals or any upper level tournament!)

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