(Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Old college threads.
Locked
User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

(Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:46 pm

Thanks to everyone for playing Missouri Open! I hope you all enjoyed playing as much as I enjoyed writing.

Before I say anything else, I should thank the rest of the writing team: Itamar Naveh-Benjamin, Shan Kothari, Rohith Nagari, and Ewan Macaulay. Itamar in particular deserve thanks for conceiving the tournament with me, serving as a co-head editor, and helping us keep solidly on track with difficulty; Shan, Rohith, and Ewan each did an admirable job coming up with interesting questions while sticking to our difficulty goals.

I should also thank the people who playtested my questions: Will Holub-Moorman, Chris Chiego, Saul Hankin, Victor Prieto, and Mike Cheyne. (I’m not entirely sure who playtested the other questions - I’m sure the other writers will have something to say.) Each of these folks provided valuable feedback and helped me make sure I hit my goals with the questions, which I’ve outlined below. I also tested large numbers of my questions informally on Kirk Jing and Itamar, so they both deserve mentions as well.

The writing breakdown was as follows:

Will: All of the history, philosophy, music, religion, geography, current events, astronomy, and non-psychology social science; most of the mixed and other academic questions; about half of the math, other arts, and painting; small amounts of literature and trash. 360 questions in total.
Itamar: All but a couple of the literature and mythology questions; half of the painting; all of the architecture and several additional arts questions; much of the trash. 177 questions in total.
Shan: All of the biology, earth science, computer science, and otherwise unmentioned other science topics; most of the film and lot of other arts questions; about half of the math. 60 questions in total.
Rohith: Half of the physics and chemistry; scattered questions in mythology and other academic; much of the trash. 44 questions in total.
Ewan: Half of the physics and chemistry; some of the trash. 29 questions in total.

Mike Cheyne also contributed the set’s one football tossup and one baseball bonus.

One of the best parts about working on a relatively small, cohesive team of reasonably experienced players was the ability of everyone to provide extensive amounts of feedback on each other’s questions. Every category had two or more people either writing or offering substantial commentary - for example, I had Shan giving me feedback on my philosophy, music, and math, Rohith and Ewan giving me feedback on my astronomy, and Itamar giving me feedback on painting in particular and pretty much every category in terms of overall difficulty. This feedback process was pretty much continuous throughout the months of September and October up until the set’s completion and it had an enormously positive impact on the set’s smoothness and quality.

Tournament Philosophy

This tournament was, obviously, intended to mimic NAQT tournaments in terms of question length, distribution, and overall feel - we even embraced NAQT-style tossup endings ala “XYZ - for 10 points - what thing?” We wanted to give players the chance to play on a style of questions they only get to play twice a year. In addition, we were excited by the possibility of giving players who were no longer eligible for collegiate play the opportunity to play competitive games of quizbowl on a style of question they may not have gotten a shot at for years.

That said, we did deviate a bit from the NAQT distribution and formatting. We used (soft, but generally adhered-to) five line length caps instead of character length limits and rather fewer pronunciation guides, including a large number of italics and reading guides to help moderators out instead. Our distribution used whole numbers for the subject distributions within a given packet aside from the 1/1 rotating category. Finally, our set had less trash, current events, and geography than a typical NAQT set and more arts, religion, and philosophy. In essence, we attempted to strike a balance between NAQT “flavor” and the more consistent feel (including the guaranteed presence of important subjects) of mACF tournaments.

In addition, this tournament was meant to be a little bit easier than other non-NAQT regular difficulty sets as of late. Our target difficulty is probably best expressed as “something between MAGNI and DRAGOON” in terms of mACF sets. In terms of NAQT sets, our target difficulty was equivalent to the 2014 and 2015 iterations of SCT, though we aimed to also have a bit higher bonus consistency/lower bonus difficulty than SCT. Across tossups in particular, we aimed to have 50% or more of our answers be (ACF Fall level) easy parts on their own, with these counterbalanced by one or two harder “outlier” tossup answers per category to keep players on their toes and give the set more of an "open" feel. We sincerely hope we achieved all of the above goals, since we wanted to provide a tournament that was accessible to and enjoyable by players of all skill levels.

Questions

I’m sure other editors will have more to say about their stuff - I’ve outlined what each person wrote above. I don’t have a ton to say about most of my questions other than that I tried hard to make sure they were on target in terms of difficulty, relatively fresh sounding, and balanced in distribution. I’ve never written this many questions for a tournament before, particularly not in music, social science, other arts, and religion, and aside from Penn Bowl 2014 I haven’t had this much experience writing painting or philosophy either. I sincerely hope I did a good job.

I should, however, comment on the Other and Mixed Academic questions, since most of these were my doing. Most of the questions I wrote for this category either crossed various subjects or were things I thought didn’t cleanly fit into other categories. Itamar and I did want to retain a bit of NAQT feel in this category by having some common-links on rather disparate topics (even if this is something that is sometimes criticized about their questions), hence Itamar’s tossups on lawyers and "Baldwin" and my bonus on Japanese things named Asahi; one could also group my tossups on “Ramadan” and “terrorism” with these as well, though they had a bit more thematic unity. Aside from that, the mixed and other academic category was filled with things like law, finance, various “thought” questions that wouldn’t neatly fit into philosophy or social science, the history of science, some Modern World style topics related to current events, and some other topics like food and chess. Essentially, about 60-75% of it ended up being “stuff I find interesting” - I hope you all as players found these things interesting too.

Finally, I should say that one of our goals with using the rotating “other” distribution to include additional other science and other arts specifically (as well as literature and history) was to use this extra answer space to explore legitimate topics that don’t come up as much, but which we thought were definitely worth asking about, especially if we didn’t have to cut down on things we knew were important and needed to get hit well. We got to ask questions about cool things like clothing, folk music/ethnomusicology, West African crafts, remote sensing, engineering, science history (though some of this got stuck in Other Academic) and various interdisciplinary topics. At the same time, we had room for plenty on more “core” topics - on the Other Science side, we fit in 6/6 math, 3/3 astro, 3/3 earth science, and 2/2 computer science while in Other Arts we fit in 2/2 architecture, 2/2 sculpture, 3/2 opera, 2/3 jazz, 1/1 photography, 1/1 ballet, and 3/4 film.

I have some personal comments about the set that I'll keep segregated from this thread and may not post immediately. Once again, thank you all for playing and I sincerely hope you enjoyed our product.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Sun Nov 01, 2015 5:12 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Oct 25, 2015 5:48 pm

I've already been made aware that there are a few issues with the formatting and a few issues with the placement of specific questions (two USA tossups in round 3, too many difficult answers in Packet 5) that need fixing. We'll get to that as soon as possible before future mirrors.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

Jason Cheng
Rikku
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:23 am

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Mon Oct 26, 2015 3:14 pm

I don't really have time to give a long treatise right now, but I can give some of my general thoughts here. I've already shared some minor thoughts with Will yesterday, so I'll confine myself to some broad ideas. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the set. Having played it on the same weekend, as Penn Bowl, I think MO felt more put together, though that's not a knock against Penn Bowl. I think the set certainly achieved its stated goal of being an NAQT lookalike that tried to use some of the quirks of the NAQT style to its advantage:
  • I could tell there was a significant amount of thought put into the answer selection, and the five-line format lent itself to some slam dunk answer lines (ex. Black Power, kimonos, Shang, Shahadah, etc)--this set certainly had more visible "wow that's a cool answer line that wouldn't work on Penn Bowl length" than I felt SCT usually does.
  • The newer players at the tournament (from USC and UCSD) were pretty engaged with the tournament since the 24/24 format with wider coverage guaranteed that there would be at least a couple of questions every round that they were interested in.
  • As a corollary, since the questions were shorter, the games were far more fast-paced and minimized the long drags that the usual 20/20, 7-10 line question with wordy bonuses format sometimes becomes. The set lost some amount of robust pyramidality that comes with longer questions, but since this was an attempt at a different format, I didn't think that was a huge problem. In addition, the writing team clearly made strong efforts to counter the loss of pyramidality.
  • It might have been more apparent since I'd just played Penn Bowl the day before, but I felt that the different format allowed me to feel very clearly where skill played just as prominent a role as knowledge during tossups (not in the question itself, but in levels of buzzer aggressiveness or trying to connect the dots Yaphe-style even faster), and allowed me to be enthused with both while in the flow of the game. I loved this part, because it sort of doubled the level of in-the-moment enjoyment that I felt as I was playing.
  • I thought the trash/mixed academic/"cute" NAQT was pretty well-executed--it seemed a little more conservative than NAQT usually swings, but I also can't imagine anyone really complaining about the stuff. I haven't seen anything past packet 11 yet, but I thought the tossup 2014 Forest Hills Drive was just fantastic (the bonus going mAAd city/Kendrick/Tupac from the interview was equally excellent, so good job on the rap game I suppose).
Some other thoughts:
  • I've already pointed this out to Will, but there were some moments where the question shuffling seemed off--some rounds had a significantly higher frequency of hard answer lines than others. There was also that one moment where I got the United States historiography question, and one tossup later buzzed on the leadin about Chris Burden's Metropolis II and almost messed it up because in the heat of the moment I couldn't believe the answer was "United States" again.
  • At some point I thought this set was harder to power, but I ended up getting the same average that I did the day before on Penn Bowl, so I probably made that up. I did think the bonuses were slightly harder to handle, but that was probably a result of having 4 more potential bonuses thrown at us, all covering subjects that don't normally get this much light of day--now that I think about it, this is really more of a pro than a con, so I'll just change this list to "other thoughts"
Jason Cheng
Arcadia High School 2013
UCSD 2017
PACE
http://www.socalquizbowl.org

Eddie
Rikku
Posts: 447
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:59 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Eddie » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:13 pm

I really enjoyed the common link trash questions, especially the ones on Miami and lasagna. They chose very evocative moments from popular culture and linked them in creative and amusing ways.

I also liked how the music questions asked about important pieces that rarely show up in questions (Schumann's piano quintet and Beethoven's Op. 131 are the ones that immediately come to mind). The shorter questions made powers harder to get, but at the same time more rewarding.
Eddie Kim
he/him/his
local lad, no major affiliations

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:42 pm

Yeah, I was really surprised that I'd never seen a question on the Schumann piano quintet before since, from what I read about it at least, it was basically the piece that established piano quintets as a genre. I wrote the tossup on Scheherezade with the same logic in mind - sure, it comes up a lot in Rimsky-Korsakov questions, but it's a very famous piece on its own that's you can make a few good, solid clues out of. The tossup on Telemann (stuck in as one of the "deliberately hard" answerlines meant to give the set an "open" feel/keep people honest) was written out of this thought process as well.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

User avatar
Doga (Dog Yoga)
Lulu
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Doga (Dog Yoga) » Mon Oct 26, 2015 4:57 pm

Jason Cheng wrote: I thought the trash/mixed academic/"cute" NAQT was pretty well-executed--it seemed a little more conservative than NAQT usually swings, but I also can't imagine anyone really complaining about the stuff. I haven't seen anything past packet 11 yet, but I thought the tossup 2014 Forest Hills Drive was just fantastic (the bonus going mAAd city/Kendrick/Tupac from the interview was equally excellent, so good job on the rap game I suppose).
Thank you :) glad my vanity trash wasn't too out there
Rohith Nagari
Brown '17

User avatar
armitage
Wakka
Posts: 195
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:52 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by armitage » Sun Nov 01, 2015 1:46 pm

supervillin wrote:
Jason Cheng wrote: I thought the trash/mixed academic/"cute" NAQT was pretty well-executed--it seemed a little more conservative than NAQT usually swings, but I also can't imagine anyone really complaining about the stuff. I haven't seen anything past packet 11 yet, but I thought the tossup 2014 Forest Hills Drive was just fantastic (the bonus going mAAd city/Kendrick/Tupac from the interview was equally excellent, so good job on the rap game I suppose).
Thank you :) glad my vanity trash wasn't too out there
^^^
Richard Yu

User avatar
Kouign Amann
Forums Staff: Moderator
Posts: 1134
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:44 am
Location: Morristown, NJ

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Kouign Amann » Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:01 am

How many Bible questions were in this set? It didn't seem like particularly many.
Aidan Mehigan
St. Anselm's Abbey School '12
Columbia University '16 | University of Oxford '17 | UPenn GSE '19

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Nov 15, 2015 1:30 am

Kouign Amann wrote:How many Bible questions were in this set? It didn't seem like particularly many.
There weren't a lot of pure Bible questions, that's correct - I think the Job tossup and the Nehemiah bonus were the only questions that drew primarily on Biblical knowledge, though there were also scattered other things with Bible clues (rainbow tossup, Eucharist tossup, a few bonuses). This wasn't ideal but I was just far more comfortable with my ability to construct and evaluate religion questions on other things. There was still a good helping of Christianity and Judaism in the set, I feel.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1357
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sun Nov 15, 2015 2:45 pm

I think this set did a great job (better than any set I can think of since DRAGOON) of keeping middle parts almost uniformly within range, and most of the tossup answerlines were similar. (I did notice a lot of very hard parts in chemistry in particular, and the middle parts were often a bit harder than the other categories.)

I've already talked to Will about this (and he certainly saw this in action), but there were numerous tossups that had an actual serious difficulty cliff (two immediate examples: "Linear B" in Mycenaeans and "it gives a lovely light" in Edna St. Vincent Millay); part of the reason is that the leadins were often quite difficult, which can really shift the rest of the question when the lengths are so restricted. On the other hand, when done well, this allowed relatively underexposed things into tossups, which is always nice.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Nov 15, 2015 3:34 pm

I swapped the order of the beehive tomb and Linear B clues in the Mycenae tossup just now but other than that I don't think there are a TON of changes I could make without making the tossup too top-heavy.

I definitely got a decent number of comments about buzzer-races and seeming cliffs at this tournament. At some point, there's only so much you can do with a five-line tossup, and I cared as much about the ability of lower-quality teams to beat each other out by making solid after-power buzzes as I did top teams' ability to play on the questions, since this was a regular-season tournament that weaker teams would play as well. The same reasoning went into bonuses - yeah, 20 probably wasn't too hard on a lot of stuff for decent teams, but the ability to distinguish two lesser teams by who gets more points on bonuses matters as well. The Finals packets were a tad bit harder in terms of tossup clue/answer material to cater to top teams, since only the best at each site would get to play those.

In addition, I think most buzzer races aren't nearly as 50-50 as people think they are. Things like paying attention to the full tossup and having a good idea of what the answer might be by piecing together clues will - as Ike Jose pointed out in this great post - typically give you a massive advantage when a clue that you and both the opponent know comes up. For example, Jacob knows a lot more music than I do - even if we both recognize the second or third line of a hypothetical music tossup, he's almost certainly going to beat me because he's more "primed" to buzz on music (since it's his best category), he probably had a much better idea of what the answer could be since he has WAY more knowledge than I do, and he's probably paid more careful attention to each of the clues on account of the second fact as well. So he's probably going on win, and that's probably the "right" outcome.

I'll let Itamar speak to his myth and lit questions. I'm a bad lit player so the fact that I powered almost no lit on playtesting his stuff didn't bother me. The same on some of Ewan and Rohith's chemistry/physics hard parts, though I will point out that I thought several of these were very difficult too and articulated as such, even though I almost certainly wouldn't have gotten the hard parts even if they were easier.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

User avatar
1.82
Rikku
Posts: 307
Joined: Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:35 pm
Location: outside the Perimeter
Contact:

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by 1.82 » Sun Nov 15, 2015 5:58 pm

I thought the tossup difficulty was good, but the bonuses (across multiple categories) struck me as much more difficult than the tossups. This feeling was generally held among the people at our site to whom I talked. It has already been mentioned in this thread, but several people noted the lack of Bible content; even the Job tossup had significant extrabiblical content. It would have been nice to have more Christian theology in the set in general.
Naveed Chowdhury
Maryland '16
Georgia Tech '17

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:32 pm

There were tossups on the Eucharist, Mary, China (from Catholicism) and Methodism and bonuses on Mount Athos, medieval mysticism, and the Seventh Day Adventists, making "purely" Christian content 25% of the set's religion distribution, by far the best-represented religion (as it should be). There was also Christian content in several other bonuses and the aforementioned Bible questions. I definitely don't think this is imbalanced at all. Again, I will admit that a bit more Bible content may have been better, but I think the reason I chose to not write more bible content was eminently defensible and probably improved the quality of the religion overall.

Were the bonuses that difficult? Middle-skill teams with experienced players (Yale B, Maryland B, MIT B and C, UCSD, etc.) were consistently in the 15-20 PPB range. None of the Top 3 teams in the country have played the set yet, but already two teams scored more than 23 PPB (yours being one of them) and several more scored in the 22.X range. This is pretty much exactly what we aimed for. In addition, almost all bonuses had a true easy part - I accidentally made the Reynolds number bonus in Packet 12 too hard when I edited it a bit, so I'm going to tone it down, but I can't think of anything else that lacked a solid easy part, so please let me know if such bonuses existed.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

Ewan MacAulay
Lulu
Posts: 65
Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2012 10:15 am

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Ewan MacAulay » Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:30 am

vinteuil wrote:I think this set did a great job (better than any set I can think of since DRAGOON) of keeping middle parts almost uniformly within range, and most of the tossup answerlines were similar. (I did notice a lot of very hard parts in chemistry in particular, and the middle parts were often a bit harder than the other categories.)
Thanks for the feedback on this - I'd be intreested to hear which chemistry answerlines stuck out as particularly hard. I tried to restrict hard parts to stuff that had come up in my undergrad degree at some point, but I'm aware that syllabuses differ across the Atlantic and that I may have misjudged some bonuses.
Ewan MacAulay
Oxford 2015
Cambridge 2018

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1357
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:57 am

The parts on the Ruff degradation and Josiphos ligand (neither of which are in Clayden) particularly stuck out to me, as did Lonsdaleite.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

Jason Cheng
Rikku
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:23 am

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Tue Nov 17, 2015 1:45 pm

I'm not posting this to be contrarian, but I did learn about the Ruff degradation in two separate classes here at UCSD as a biochemistry major, so I'd say it's at least a somewhat undergraduate-relevant reaction here in the states. It was more of an aside in one of the classes though, so there's that.
Jason Cheng
Arcadia High School 2013
UCSD 2017
PACE
http://www.socalquizbowl.org

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1357
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:04 pm

Jason Cheng wrote:I'm not posting this to be contrarian, but I did learn about the Ruff degradation in two separate classes here at UCSD as a biochemistry major, so I'd say it's at least a somewhat undergraduate-relevant reaction here in the states. It was more of an aside in one of the classes though, so there's that.
Oh, I wasn't saying they weren't real or important! (I'd love it if you could point me to some good sources about it though—I can't find it in Carey/Sundberg or Kurti/Czako on the orgo side, nor in Voet/Voet or Lehninger on the biochem side.)

EDIT: Same goes for the Josiphos ligand, since I can't find more than a passing reference to it in Carey/Sundberg and nothing in Kurti/Czako.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

User avatar
armitage
Wakka
Posts: 195
Joined: Sun Nov 28, 2010 11:52 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by armitage » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:15 pm

vinteuil wrote:Carey/Sundberg or Kurti/Czako
It's just in Wade...
Richard Yu

User avatar
vinteuil
Auron
Posts: 1357
Joined: Sun Oct 23, 2011 12:31 pm

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:31 pm

armitage wrote:
vinteuil wrote:Carey/Sundberg or Kurti/Czako
It's just in Wade...
Sorry, I didn't think to look in any other "first" orgo sources after Clayden (but I think the point that it would be very easy not to learn about this in class still holds?)

EDIT: I think I'm making this point too obliquely. Part of the point of a hard part is that you expect some number of teams to get it (otherwise it's functionally a two-part bonus and you've lost much of the ability to discriminate between better and worse teams). I'll happily be contradicted about this, but it seems to me that bonus parts quite this off-the-beaten-track actually restrict beyond, say "people who have completed a substantial college (bio)chemistry curriculum"—which is already a very small subset of quizbowlers.

I'm not the first person to say this, but: this goes beyond hard parts in chemistry. If you really make middle parts gettable, you have to be thinking very hard about how gettable your hard parts are, otherwise bonus conversion starts to (_starts to_) converge on 20 PPB in that category for many teams—missing the point of having 3 bonus parts to begin with.
Last edited by vinteuil on Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

Jason Cheng
Rikku
Posts: 361
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 3:23 am

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Jason Cheng » Tue Nov 17, 2015 2:41 pm

vinteuil wrote:I'd love it if you could point me to some good sources about it though
Ruff degradation gets a pretty meaty section to itself in Volhardt, which is the orgo textbook that UCSD uses. I'm not the biggest fan of the textbook in general since it's pretty hit-or-miss in terms of how helpful it actually is (i.e. solutions manual is sometimes really clear and concise and sometimes hilariously confusing), but it gets the job done. It's also organized in a way I didn't really mesh with when I took the series but that's not really important for quizbowl--what's important is that it does go out of its way to explain reactions, which I liked. There should be a pretty lengthy discussion in chapter 24, which is the sugar chemistry chapter, iirc

We also use Lehninger in a couple of biochem classes here, but that was the class where Ruff degradation was more of an aside. The professor was talking about how certain cycles like the pentose phosphate pathway and SHMT pathways synthesize n-carbon compounds that are hard to come across in normal diets and brought up artificial synthesis on a (pretty long) tangent
Jason Cheng
Arcadia High School 2013
UCSD 2017
PACE
http://www.socalquizbowl.org

User avatar
Ike
Yuna
Posts: 917
Joined: Sat Jul 26, 2008 5:01 pm
Contact:

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:16 am

So I had fun at this tournament and thought the set was decently executed for the most part.

However, let's talk about the NAQT process of production and this tournament's process of production. As you may or may not know, NAQT, for the ICT and SCT levels, basically works by the following:

Writer writes tossup -> subject editor (usually an expert, say Yaphe for literature, or Seth for astro, etc.) makes ~significant~ changes -> set editors (guest editors at SCT) makes "significant" changes -> other people do readthroughs potentially to assess the playability of a question-> feng shui issues are resolved -> set goes out.

The point is, NAQT puts a lot of work of making sure that their sets are quality, and that even though the questions are shorter, there are a bunch of people who are editing that are ensuring the final product looks good. The only person who may or may not know what they are doing is the initial writer - but that's okay under NAQT's model because you have a bunch of other people who will ensure that the question is fixed.

I'm not sure what MO's model of production was, but I doubt it was as thorough as this, and it probably can't ever be - especially since, MO writers don't have NAQT's feng shui software. At times, this set had very good tossups, but I think it needed a bit more polish even if we disregard the clunkers. For example, I think the Boris Pasternak tossup could have used a bit more polish - it's mostly a good tossup, but it needs to have about one line of clues about Dr. Zhivago before you drop My Sister Life, which is something that very few players potentially know about. I think almost every question in the set could have benefited from a general read through and incorporating "one line of changes" - The monopole tossup cliffs too much for my taste, the pollination tossup shouldn't drop "namesake substance" until the very end, etc. For a tournament like Regionals or Nationals, this is a rather minor blemish - one line of pyramidality isn't likely to help a lot. But at NAQT style tournaments, every word counts since NAQT is an economy of words.

I'll also add that I think at times this tournament failed to live up to NAQT's goals of "interesting questions." Having people identify JL Austin's home country isn't rather interesting, and questions asked about countries to the point of it becoming kind of crazy. While NAQT does employ country common links, it doesn't employ them that much, and it employs a whole lot of other style common links. If there is one thing NAQT is really good at, it's making sure that there are no feng shui issues and that the content does not feel in anyway "repetitive." I'd like to see this improved if people want to do something similar next year.
Ike
UIUC 13

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Nov 23, 2015 4:48 am

Ike wrote:Having people identify JL Austin's home country isn't rather interesting, and questions asked about countries to the point of it becoming kind of crazy.
Yeah, after a quick look-over of the set, this happened way too much in categories that weren't history/geography/CE (in which, IMO, it's very easy to defend having a lot of country tossups) and was in some cases a product of outright laziness (that JL Austin bonus part I wrote). I'm sympathetic to the idea that this can get excessive and boring quickly, and this is definitely worth remembering even though I doubt I'm going to be editing large swaths of things outside those categories for a major set for a while.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

User avatar
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Auron
Posts: 2051
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 11:53 pm
Location: New York, NY

Re: (Missouri Open 2015) Thanks and General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Dec 20, 2015 8:21 pm

The set should now be clear for discussion.
Will Alston
Bethesda Chevy Chase HS '12, Dartmouth '16, Columbia Business School '21
NAQT Writer and Subject Editor

Locked