Oxford Open 2017: Specific Question Discussion

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What do you do with a dead chemist?
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Oxford Open 2017: Specific Question Discussion

Post by What do you do with a dead chemist? » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:07 pm

This thread is (ideally) to be used for discussion of specific questions, if you have any comments on any aspects of particular questions, it would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Car » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:10 pm

In particular, I wrote roughly a third of the misc. and geography, as well as a smattering of assorted other things.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:15 pm

If it dealt with the ancient world, chances are I wrote it. Various other history was also mine.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:20 pm

tommykl wrote:
(This) Tournament was a Crime.

It...wasn't very good.
Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

That barb being thrown out, I would like to echo the sentiments of Stephen Liu in the original set announcement. I would also like to echo Eric Chen's statement that there were many first-line buzzes followed by dead tossups, but unlike him, I didn't feel that they were fun, more annoying after about 12 rounds or so.

I will only speak for history and some literature and other topics I have a bit of knowledge about, but even in those, I experienced extreme swings in difficulty and inconsistent cluing. For example:

-the first history tossup was a tossup on the Covenanters. Pardon my language, but I didn't buzz on the question and waited until the very end because I was thinking "what the actual :capybara: ?" I realize that they may be important in British history, but for a set that advertises itself as "Regionals-minus", there is no way that this Nationals-plus answerline is anywhere close to the benchmark.

-The tossup on the Covenanters, along with the tossup on Waterford, Ireland, were two examples of the systematic British bias in the set. It seems that though the editors Americanized the set, they either failed to un-Briticize it, or had little idea of what American players know.

-The American history was, on the other hand, way too easy. A tossup on Andrew Johnson mentioned Thaddeus Stevens in the second line, which lead to a massive buzzer race.

-In general, American stuff was way too easy. Clues that shouldn't be coming up early in the question (like the Grangerfords and Shepardsons in Huck Finn) came up multiple times and led to massive buzzer races.

-I will say that the world history was decent. I would have preferred more Asian history—I can't recall playing a single one—but the world history was not plagued by the difficulty issues mentioned above.

I realize that this is probably the first time a British tournament has been widely mirrored in the United States. I apologize for the negativity in this post, but I hope that the editors of this tournament learn from the criticism given to them to produce more high-quality products in the future.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Car » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:27 pm

I apologise for that previous comment. At that point in time, I was quite tired and only read half of the tournament, so I was quite easily influenced by the thoughts of others who had played the tournament. In hindsight, my comment on TTIC was unfair.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:36 pm

GOODCOMPANY88 wrote: -The tossup on the Covenanters, along with the tossup on Waterford, Ireland, were two examples of the systematic British bias in the set. It seems that though the editors Americanized the set, they either failed to un-Briticize it, or had little idea of what American players know.
I wrote the tossup on Waterford, although I was not part of the team who Americanized the set due to increasing work-related demands on my time.
.Reginald’s Tower in this city is most likely named for one of its early Viking rulers. This city was captured in 1170 by forces supporting the once-deposed King of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada [mur-ka-tha]. That force was commanded by the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, Richard Strongbow. This city refused to recognise the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, and so gained its motto “[this city] remains the untaken city”. This city was the point of departure of (*) James II from Ireland, and of arrival of the first English king on the island, Henry II. For 10 points, name this city, the oldest in Ireland, where a namesake “Crystal” business was founded.
ANSWER: Waterford [accept Port Láirge]
The first clue should probably be removed/altered. However, given that Diarmait Mac Murchada and Strongbow are the start of major English involvement in Ireland and the Lordship (somewhat important in the history of the island!), they do not seem to me to be unreasonably placed in power.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Æthelred the Unready Steady Cook » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:37 pm

If you mention ask the things that felt awry that would be great so I can neaten them up before others play the set. In general, we were a bit short-handed on the Americanization (I personally did almost all of it) so I can only apologize for the history difficulty being variable.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Knickerbocker glory » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:13 pm

I'm not saying that clues within the Waterford tossup were misplaced, I'm saying that Waterford, as an answerline, is very difficult for any tournament below ACF Nationals difficulty. This applies to Covenanters and other tossups. I know that Waterford and Covenanters are important topics in British history and deserve their place, but perhaps at ACF Nationals, not at a tournament that bills itself as Regular-minus. I think that much of the difficulty variability is due to the Britishness of the set and the inadequate Americanization, though the set as a whole did not have the consistency of quality US sets.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Edmund » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:23 pm

I don't think the Waterford question worked at the UK site either, and this is already feedback I gave to the editors. Simply not enough people know that much about Waterford. When I played this question, all four people on my side of the table buzzer raced each other on the word "crystal" while Chicago B sat passively opposite. So this question was dodgy at best in the original site and it definitely should be nowhere near a set that had been ostensibly "Americanized".
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Æthelred the Unready Steady Cook » Fri Mar 24, 2017 2:46 am

I've removed the Waterford and covenants questions, more suggestions for changes would be nice ASAP.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:33 am

Æthelred the Unready Steady Cook wrote:I've removed the Waterford and covenants questions, more suggestions for changes would be nice ASAP.
This appears to have not happened, because it showed up at the NYU site as well and had the same issues. All the information is definitely important (Strongbow, etc.) but the answerline is just way too hard.

I agree with basically everything Bruce said about the history. The classical history struck me as very well-executed and the world history seemed fine (though, again, basically no Asian history), but the rest seemed kind of plagued by inconsistency.

With varying frequency, tossups in some other categories seemed to lack middle clues and degenerate into buzzer races a bit more often than ideal, or not have an idea of what was a pretty famous chestnut. I suspect this was more due to lack of experience than anything else, not due to some sort of nefarious intent. I'd cite some of the music tossups (symphonies No. 5, concerti grossi, Schoenberg, arguably the organ tossup) as examples - though I'm not exactly super well-versed in the repertoire and would probably want someone to back me up here.'

EDIT: Oh yeah, that bonus that had Canaletto as the middle part (from his British stuff, which definitely isn't his most famous work over here!!!) was probably an example par excellence of British bias towards content that wasn't even British. I'd encourage the editors to not only look at the British content, but questions like these as examples of what to watch out for when Americanizing a tournament. Frankly, I'm mostly okay with playing a pure-British set just as Brits play purely American sets, but if you advertise a tournament as "Americanized" then please watch out for these!
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Mar 27, 2017 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by csheep » Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:34 am

There was a British firefighting history bonus that seemed very difficult. That's the main thing that jumps out.

Agreed w/ Will on music. I also got the impression of a high amount of not particularly helpful score clues.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Off To See The Lizard » Mon Mar 27, 2017 7:57 pm

The first clue in the Hannukah tossup is not exclusive. Grandpa Boris also tells the story of Passover in an episode of Rugrats. It led to a neg in my room at least.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Thu Mar 30, 2017 2:45 pm

The science, or at least biology, was...not good, although somewhat consistent with regards to its high school-level difficulty. Seriously guys. Check packet archives or aseemsdb for clue placement at least! Chromaffin cells do not belong anywhere close to power, even at NSC or Prison Bowl. The answer choices were also pretty meh, but I understand that this is a necessary constraint when the writers don't know enough about bio to explore more involved topics. I did like the anesthesia and heart rate tossups though.

Also, I think the first clue in the lactic acid tossup actually points to lactose -- Eric buzzed on the MacConkey agar clue and was negged, although at the end we let him have it since I believe the wording implied that the answerline was fermented to produce the pink color.

More notes:
• Cold Comfort Farm is really hard!
• Jurassic Coast as a tossup?! And what's more, including "this coast" and fossil stuff in power??
• The silversword fern clue for Mauna Kea was interesting, even though I stupidly negged with Mauna Loa since that mountain also has a namesake silversword species. I probably misheard the clue and missed the disambiguation though.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Thu Mar 30, 2017 3:30 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote: • Jurassic Coast as a tossup?! And what's more, including "this coast" and fossil stuff in power??.
For the original British audience, I think it is reasonable as a tossup (I agree that the fossil stuff should not have been in power, and would have said so to the editors if I'd had the time to look at the added powermarking, and maybe it should not have been in the Americanized set). As for saying "this coast", I tried to find a different term when I was first drafting the question, but "this site" (as in World Heritage Site) and "this region" seemed more liable to mislead.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by armitage » Thu Mar 30, 2017 11:40 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:Also, I think the first clue in the lactic acid tossup actually points to lactose -- Eric buzzed on the MacConkey agar clue and was negged, although at the end we let him have it since I believe the wording implied that the answerline was fermented to produce the pink color.
I made the same neg, but I was under the impression I missed the wording. If it actually suggests this then it should probably be changed.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by George Corfield » Fri Mar 31, 2017 11:13 pm

I guess as the main editor for biology (as well as Other Sci and large bits of the music), I had better reply. Perhaps something which wasn't emphasized to the American audiences playing the set was how a lot of the science was pegged at an easier difficulty than the rest of the content. This reflects the lack of science specialism in the field who play Oxford Open at the UK site, and it is with this in mind that answerlines and clues are chosen. In fairness, I think we may have gone too far with making the questions a little easier, but I must admit I thought this was a problem which affected the other parts of the science distribution to a greater extent.

I'll cop to the adrenals question being not up to scratch and I'll either rewrite or excise it. Ditto with the opening clue for lactate. As for accusations of answerlines being a bit "meh", this I guess was a necessary constraint of having to choose answerlines that I could guarantee the field would convert. I tried to choose answerlines that for the most part weren't boringly canonical (adrenals, nucleus and seeds were probably the only ones I'd consider "boringly canonical"), and I reckon over half the answerlines managed to be both gettable and would have <5 tossup hits on aseemsdb or whatever (shoulder, melanoma, penguins, heart rate etc...). Believe me, I'd have loved to have been writing questions on limb patterning, phyletic gradualism, TLRs and phytohormones - this was not the tournament to do it.

I'd be interested on more detailed feedback if you're willing to give it - either here, or we can create a separate discussion thread.

While I don't particularly want to make excuses I guess I'll afford myself one; namely that the deadline for this set was only 2 days away from my medical finals. Hardly ideal and in retrospect I'd probably not have given myself the extra stress, but there you go. I guess I'll also go ahead and take slight umbrage about being told I don't know enough biology when Oxford A averages over 10 points per tossup heard on powermarked biology questions (at least those I can find our stats for), but ho hum.
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Re: Specific Question Discussion

Post by armitage » Sun Apr 02, 2017 4:52 pm

I thought the bio was just fine - my only issues were the lactate leadin and the repetition of adrenal glands, the latter of which I can see isn't the biggest problem. The "easy" answerlines felt appropriate for the overall flavor of the set, at least at our site, and I appreciate the decision to spare me from being turned to stone by embryology questions.
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