2015 Delta Burke Discussion

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2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:02 pm

I doubt we'll have enough interest to set up separate boards, so feel free to blast away here!

If it matters, a couple things that are always true about Delta Burke: I try very hard to cater to our audience in Orlando. As you can see from our stats (http://www.hsquizbowl.org/db/tournament ... urke_2015/), the average bonus conversion for our field was 12.17, and even that is skewed by four New College teams that averaged 14 or more. No one averaged over 16.5. And of course, at our first mirror at NIU, that number was eclipsed by more than half the field.

So it's very hard to find a good balance between middle parts for Orlando site CC players and other sites' players. But I'd still like to hear how you think we did.

I apologize to readers at NIU for the minor typos, but we've cleaned that up (I hope) for future mirrors.

I look forward to discussion!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by TylerV » Mon Nov 16, 2015 10:50 pm

First of all I would like to thank you for putting together a set every year. I know writing is not an easy task and having a reliable set to play every year, such as Delta Burke, is a really nice feeling as a player. That being said, I had a few problems with the set this year.

The biggest issue I noticed, and that was relayed to me by moderators, was in regards to the bonuses. Considering the difficulty, I felt that some bonuses, such as Janus/war/Vesta, lacked easy parts. In the same vein, I felt that some bonuses also lacked a hard part. I might be biased, but the Meiji/Perry/Russo-Japanese War bonuses seemed like 3 medium parts. I also found problems with at least one bonus that doesn't involve difficulty. The diary/yellow wallpaper/plague bonus asks for plague after saying "Journal of the Plague Year." Whether this was an accidental error or intentional it still remains a problem because, at the very least, it is confusing to new teams.

In regards to toss ups, I noticed a difficulty variance beyond what is expected out of a normal tournament. A particular jarring occurrence involved the Vietnam War tossup, which dropped the most famous scene from Apocalypse Now quite early, being followed by a rather difficult Charles Dickens toss up. Furthermore, the giveaway for the Vietnam War toss ups seems sub par and really doesn't help anybody differentiate between Korea and Vietnam, which I would imagine would be the answers people buzz in with most.

Other random thoughts: I think the Chicago Bears toss up could have the George Halas clue swapped with the one immediately after it. In the Munich toss up, I think that the Munich Agreement is more well-known than the location of the Beer Hall Putsch. There was also two instances of missing alternate answer lines, though I am not sure if the answers were actually wrong or if they were mistakenly left off. Those were Oedipus the King for Oedipus Rex and Lucifer for Satan.

Once again thank you for producing the set and I hope you find my feedback useful.

EDIT: Also I disliked the gate/torii/tammuz bonus. It felt barely held together and I think it would have been better had Janus not been used elsewhere. Also, the Astoria toss up did not go over well.
Last edited by TylerV on Tue Nov 17, 2015 3:21 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by Potatoes » Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:14 pm

I'd like to echo Tyler's thanks. It's really great that you put this set together each year, and I'm really happy that NIU got to host it. I had a fun time playing it, and my teammates did as well.

The biggest complaint I got heard from moderators while playing were about the typos and notes about questions needing to be changed. I'm happy that the typos have been fixed. I'm not sure what word processor you use when you write the set, but I found while working for SCOP that using the comment system in Google Docs makes the notes a lot more noticeable, and less likely to slip through. Obviously this is a minor thing, I just thought I'd mention it.

Other than the questions that Tyler mentioned, I'd say the only thing that really stood out at me was having Don Quixote in the set two to three times. I'm not sure if the clues used in the questions were disjoint, but that was something that stood out.

Overall, I felt that most of the tossups were on good topics. There were a few that felt kind of weird, but that's par for the course for Delta Burke. Thanks again for writing the set and for letting NIU use it!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity » Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:16 pm

Hey all,

I contributed a handful of tossups and bonuses for this incarnation of Delta Burke. The following tossups and bonuses listed below are what I wrote (these are off the top of my head), please let me know if you felt these were enjoyable or not.

Tossups & Bonuses:

(History)
Japan
Tsar of Russia
Aztec Empire
Los Angeles
Algerian War for Independence

(Geography)
Miami

(Current Events)
FIFA/Sepp Blatter/Jack Warner
Paris/FN/Nicholas Hollande
Last edited by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity on Sun Dec 06, 2015 2:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by TylerV » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:09 pm

... and the chaos of Mexican modernity wrote:Hey all,

I contributed a handful of tossups and bonuses for this incarnation of Delta Burke. The following tossups and bonuses listed below are what I contributed (these are off the top of my head), please let me know if you felt these were enjoyable or not.

Tossups & Bonuses:

(History)
Japan
Tsar of Russia
Aztec Empire
Los Angeles
Algerian War for Independence

(Geography)
Miami

(Current Events)
FIFA/Sepp Blatter/Jack Warner
Paris/FN/Nicholas Hollande

In regards to the Japan tossup, the lead-in is extremely confusing to me. I can't find a single source as to what you're referring to and a quick google search only reveals papers on the term "internal other" and a mention of Hungary. Furthermore the Takarazuka Revue clue just seems out of place in the toss up, not to say that it doesn't have a place but the rest of the toss up seems to focus on Meiji things. In a nitpicky complaint, I don't think it is right to call daimyo "regional princes."

In regards to the Tsar toss up, in my room there was a buzzer race on Livonian War, but I think it is probably fine for the difficulty. However, I think the Rurik clue is harder than the Strelsy revolt and the Grand Embassy. Also, I am not sure if the Prince of Ryazan clue is correct because it seems that the principality was dissolved rather than the Tsar holding the title, but this just from a quick wikipedia read and it's very possible that I'm wrong.

I don't have much to say about the other questions but I do know that the Miami toss up played well in my room.
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:33 pm

TylerV wrote:
... and the chaos of Mexican modernity wrote:Hey all,

I contributed a handful of tossups and bonuses for this incarnation of Delta Burke. The following tossups and bonuses listed below are what I contributed (these are off the top of my head), please let me know if you felt these were enjoyable or not.

Tossups & Bonuses:

(History)
Japan
Tsar of Russia
Aztec Empire
Los Angeles
Algerian War for Independence

(Geography)
Miami

(Current Events)
FIFA/Sepp Blatter/Jack Warner
Paris/FN/Nicholas Hollande

In regards to the Japan tossup, the lead-in is extremely confusing to me. I can't find a single source as to what you're referring to and a quick google search only reveals papers on the term "internal other" and a mention of Hungary. Furthermore the Takarazuka Revue clue just seems out of place in the toss up, not to say that it doesn't have a place but the rest of the toss up seems to focus on Meiji things. In a nitpicky complaint, I don't think it is right to call daimyo "regional princes."

In regards to the Tsar toss up, in my room there was a buzzer race on Livonian War, but I think it is probably fine for the difficulty. However, I think the Rurik clue is harder than the Strelsy revolt and the Grand Embassy. Also, I am not sure if the Prince of Ryazan clue is correct because it seems that the principality was dissolved rather than the Tsar holding the title, but this just from a quick wikipedia read and it's very possible that I'm wrong.

I don't have much to say about the other questions but I do know that the Miami toss up played well in my room.
I apologize for the Japan tossup and how it played out. The objective was to write it from a Meiji-era social history perspective, so the theme of keeping it there is my fault and should not have mentioned the Takarazuka Revue. In terms of the "internal other" clue, that is from the notes I have from a Modern Japan class I took in the Fall of 2011 at George Mason. Specifically from what I understand, it was a term (translated obviously) to refer to indigenous people like the Ainu who lived in Japan during the reign of the Meji Emperor. I apologize for the confusion on that and should have modified that clue to something else.

In the Tsar of Russia tossup, Nicholas Riasnovsky's A History of Russia refers to the imperial styles used by tsars, and one of those titles was Sovereign/Prince/Duke of Ryazan. I agree with you on the Livonian War, however, I did write this tossup with novices on Florida community college teams in mind.

I'm glad to hear that about the Miami tossup. Thank you for the feedback Tyler!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:43 pm

Hey, Tyler! Great feedback. My replies:
The biggest issue I noticed, and that was relayed to me by moderators, was in regards to the bonuses. Considering the difficulty, I felt that some bonuses, such as Janus/war/Vesta, lacked easy parts. In the same vein, I felt that some bonuses also lacked a hard part. I might be biased, but the Meiji/Perry/Russo-Japanese War bonuses seemed like 3 medium parts. I also found problems with at least one bonus that doesn't involve difficulty. The diary/yellow wallpaper/plague bonus asks for plague after saying "Journal of the Plague Year." Whether this was an accidental error or intentional it still remains a problem because, at the very least, it is confusing to new teams.
Yeah, the "plague" bonus asking for "Journal of the Plague Year" was most certainly an accident! And amazingly, I actually even read it out loud in a match and still had to have someone point out to me that it did that! Sometimes a problem just sits in your blind spot, I guess. So it's fixed, but I'm sorry y'all had to deal with it, as did folks at our tournament.

As to the difficulty of bonus parts, that's a very complicated issue when we write for DB. For the Janus/war/Vest bonus, I figured that noting Janus as a "two-faced deity" was the easy part. The gates being closed in times of war was the medium part (in my room the team said "peace," indicating they at least knew about the war/peace dichotomy for the gates), and then Vesta, even with the virgins in the clue, was the hard part for the Orlando DB field. I don't think Janus is a hard part even for a novice tournament at college level, but I'm open to being told I'm wrong.

You may also be right about the Meiji/Perry/R-J War. I guess I figured that R-J War is hard, but now that I think about it, I think I agree with you. Maybe I'll change the last part to "Portsmouth."
A particular jarring occurrence involved the Vietnam War tossup, which dropped the most famous scene from Apocalypse Now quite early, being followed by a rather difficult Charles Dickens toss up.
Yeah, we'll move the "Flight of the Valkyrie" clue deeper into the Vietnam TU. But is the Dickens TU really hard? I tried to make it tough with Martin Chuzzlewit and Pickwick Papers clues early, but then it eases up just before the FTP and certainly after.

FWIW the Chicago Bears TU went dead in a number of rooms at our tournament! I was thinking I needed to add an easier giveaway! But that's likely a bizarre outgrowth of Florida CC players traditionally not doing well on sports (weird, I know). But yeah, Papa Bear Halas should be known. And I think we can switch the Putsch and Munich Agreement clues, sure.

I indeed find the feedback useful, so if you have any more ideas, send them along. Cheers!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:48 pm

Thanks to you for feedback, too, Alec.
he biggest complaint I got heard from moderators while playing were about the typos and notes about questions needing to be changed. I'm happy that the typos have been fixed. I'm not sure what word processor you use when you write the set, but I found while working for SCOP that using the comment system in Google Docs makes the notes a lot more noticeable, and less likely to slip through. Obviously this is a minor thing, I just thought I'd mention it.
There was just one note about a question needing to be changed (Billy's good suggestion to me to put the "Buda" clue before the "Mohacs" clue in the Hungary TU). It was in red just above one toss-up, but that was it. Annoying, and fixed now, but not repeated. And the typos were a pain in the patoot, but they're cleaned up now. It seems no matter how much proofing one does over so many questions, little things are going to get noticed when you read in a formal match setting. So it goes.
Other than the questions that Tyler mentioned, I'd say the only thing that really stood out at me was having Don Quixote in the set two to three times. I'm not sure if the clues used in the questions were disjoint, but that was something that stood out.
Yeah, that's not so great. There's a music TU on Don Quixote, then a bonus on the novel, and then a clue in the sheep TU. So in theory none of those overlap, but I agree that's too much. I'll likely replace the bonus and keep the music TU, as that won't overlap with the sheep clue. Thanks for the suggestions!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by TylerV » Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:42 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Yeah, we'll move the "Flight of the Valkyrie" clue deeper into the Vietnam TU. But is the Dickens TU really hard? I tried to make it tough with Martin Chuzzlewit and Pickwick Papers clues early, but then it eases up just before the FTP and certainly after.

FWIW the Chicago Bears TU went dead in a number of rooms at our tournament! I was thinking I needed to add an easier giveaway! But that's likely a bizarre outgrowth of Florida CC players traditionally not doing well on sports (weird, I know). But yeah, Papa Bear Halas should be known. And I think we can switch the Putsch and Munich Agreement clues, sure.

I indeed find the feedback useful, so if you have any more ideas, send them along. Cheers!
I'm not a lit player so I can't really say for sure whether Charles Dickens was difficult, I am just going on how late Northwestern A buzzed (artful dodger) combined with what another lit player at the tournament said. From my perspective, again not as a lit player, I don't recognize anything from before Artful Dodger. In regards to the Chicago Bears, obviously the Northern Illinois site is going to have an easier time with the toss up than others but I agree with you that the FTP could use some reworking.

With that I think I am out of anything that considered constructive feedback. Once again thanks for producing the set, I had a great time playing it!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by marianna » Fri Nov 20, 2015 4:08 am

I'm pretty late to the discussion, but I just wanted to quickly point out two factual errors. (I don't have the actual set in front of me, so these are just the ones I jotted down in my notes.)
- Niobe gloated that she had more children than Leto, not Hera. (I'm not sure Leto's two children Apollo and Artemis would kill Niobe's kids to defend Hera's honor.)
- Take 5 is named after its 5/4 time signature I believe, rather than the duration of some break.

I realize philosophy can be a difficult subject to make accessible to novices and CC players, but I was disappointed that a substantial number of philosophy questions in the set leaned mostly on clues that lacked actual philosophical content. I strongly believe that avoiding clues with philosophical content is not necessary to write accessibile philosophical questions, and in fact, may hinder the intellectual exploration of novices with potential interests in philosophy.

The example that comes to mind is the Hegel bonus, which contained a part on master-slave dialectic with no philosophical content. If I recall correctly, that bonus part spent most of its time giving a definition of the word "slave", from which players were presumably expected to ctrl+f their memories for a term associated with Hegel that contains the word "slave". A short phrase like "struggle for self-consciousness" could easily fit into that clue, and explains what the dialectic is actually about, and why the dialectic is an important concept in Hegel's thought and philosophy generally.

In other cases, even having philosophical understanding of the clues made it difficult to ascertain what a question was looking for. In particular, I'm thinking of the thought experiment tossup, which confused both myself and a teammate. We recognized and understood the thought experiments being discussed, but we spent most of the tossup futilely looking for a common philosophical concept linked between them (eg artificial intelligence). I don't remember the exact pronoun used, but I think it's probably something about the phrasing of the question and the pronoun usage that made this question confusing.

Generally, the set was fun to play; Chicago's first-years certainly seemed to enjoy the day. Again, the most salient issues to me in this set were philosophical content, bonus variability which people above have talked about (eg that Sacks bonus stuck out as significantly harder than the rest), and the Niobe bonus part. Thanks again for your work!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Fri Nov 20, 2015 8:36 am

That's good stuff, Marianna--thanks! I hadn't even noticed the Hera/Niobe error, but you're right! I certainly know that story, but somehow I just went right by it, both in editing and reading. I'll fix it now and re-send that packet to the sites that are mirroring tomorrow.

I completely understand your thinking on the philosophy questions, as that's a subject dear to me but indeed hard for new players, especially at the CCs, I think. That's why I try so hard to write on answer lines like "colors" or "names," as I can at least get the TU converted with a very cheap, non-philosophy giveaway. My hope in doing so is to introduce some new ideas for those players to learn about for the spring tournaments (and their souls!), but also to offer earlier clues that can challenger or get early buzzes from players like yourself.

Here's the thought experiment question:

Donald Davidson presented one of these situations by suggesting the possibility of a “Swampman” created by lightning who shares all of Davidson’s brain structure. Wittgenstein posited one in which individuals can only truly understand their own “beetle in a box.” John Searle invented an example in which a person translates Chinese script using an instruction set without really understanding the language. Daniel Dennett criticized that “Chinese Room” example as an “intuition pump,” suggesting it omits important implications of the problem. FTP what are these conceptual problems that posit a situation to exemplify questions in philosophy?
ANSWER: thought experiments

Thinking of a good noun to use to refer to certain answer lines is often tricky, and probably worth some kind of thread on the main board, maybe resulting in a list of good nouns, especially for abstract concepts. Here you can see I went with "situation," which I can see as not to helpful, but otherwise I probably would've just used "constructs" or "things." I don't know if those are better.

Meantime, considering the lack of conversion of a lot of the philosophy TUs, Billy and I are talking about upping the fine arts distribution to 3/3, and lowering the RMP to 2/2, which would to me entail keeping 1/1 myth and spreading the other 1/1 between myth and philosophy. I do teaching units about the history of visual art with my players, for instance, but don't really do any on philosophy, preferring to discuss those ad hoc when they come up. But I guess that's because I see that my players remember paintings and sculptures better than they remember philosophy (though maybe that's just because I've never really tried to teach it--but it's a lot harder to do so than to say, "Here's 'Las Meninas'"!

Anyway, I'd be glad to hear more on any of the philosophy questions. Do you need a copy of the set sent to you?
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by marianna » Sun Nov 22, 2015 6:23 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote: Here's the thought experiment question:

Donald Davidson presented one of these situations by suggesting the possibility of a “Swampman” created by lightning who shares all of Davidson’s brain structure. Wittgenstein posited one in which individuals can only truly understand their own “beetle in a box.” John Searle invented an example in which a person translates Chinese script using an instruction set without really understanding the language. Daniel Dennett criticized that “Chinese Room” example as an “intuition pump,” suggesting it omits important implications of the problem. FTP what are these conceptual problems that posit a situation to exemplify questions in philosophy?
ANSWER: thought experiments

Thinking of a good noun to use to refer to certain answer lines is often tricky, and probably worth some kind of thread on the main board, maybe resulting in a list of good nouns, especially for abstract concepts. Here you can see I went with "situation," which I can see as not to helpful, but otherwise I probably would've just used "constructs" or "things." I don't know if those are better.
I see where the confusion originates. In the bulk of this tossup, there's no strong indication of what the tossup is looking for among each clue. I see from Searle to FTP that "example" was supposed to represent the answer-line, but since thought experiments are often used in themselves as examples in a conceptual argument, it can be unclear that "example" here means "example of answer-line" rather than "a philosophical example". As a result, these two sentences can easily make one think, "Yes Searle did invoke that, yes Dennett did critique that - these are both true statements, now what does this tossup want?"

Primarily, I think using pronouns more, whichever pronoun it might be ("situation", "problem" are actually fine), would clarify this tossup more than tweaking the wording of the first pronoun. "Wittgenstein posited one of these that", "Searle invented one of these situations" are all fixes that make this tossup more comprehensible.
ValenciaQBowl wrote:Anyway, I'd be glad to hear more on any of the philosophy questions. Do you need a copy of the set sent to you?
I'm not sure if there're any mirrors left, but sure.
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:14 pm

Thanks, Marianna! But I'm going to debate now: because there's no clear link in concept between these philosophical "examples" (or constructs, or whatever), I might think a player with deep philosophical knowledge might quickly infer that these are situations thinkers use to illustrate a mental phenomenon. Further, before the "FTP, the Dennett concept of "intuition pump" is dropped," which I'd think would clarify things. And if players who don't know much about philosophy have to sit back till the end, well, this tournament is about learning!

Still, you make a good point about using the noun/pronoun a lot. Bottom line: this question was probably too hard for DB, but I do have a few of those every year. Not saying it's right, just saying it's so! At least it was in last two packets. Thanks again!
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Re: 2015 Delta Burke Discussion

Post by marianna » Sun Nov 22, 2015 8:58 pm

ValenciaQBowl wrote:Thanks, Marianna! But I'm going to debate now: because there's no clear link in concept between these philosophical "examples" (or constructs, or whatever), I might think a player with deep philosophical knowledge might quickly infer that these are situations thinkers use to illustrate a mental phenomenon. Further, before the "FTP, the Dennett concept of "intuition pump" is dropped," which I'd think would clarify things. And if players who don't know much about philosophy have to sit back till the end, well, this tournament is about learning!
Yeah, we're on the same page here. I just think that a player with deep knowledge of all the examples given shouldn't have to wait for 2-3 examples to come out to figure out what the tossup is looking for. "Quickly infer" in that case would happen quite some time into the tossup. Indeed, this would be a waste of tossup space if buzzes can't be made in the first couple lines, which could be possible with more pronoun usage.
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