ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

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ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:37 pm

Congrats to Maryland and Jordan Brownstein for their gripping win in the finals of ACF Nationals 2017! Our editing team - me, Tommy, Evan, Rohith, Austin, and Ike - worked extremely hard over the past months to bring this tournament to you, and it was awesome to see our work culminate in that game. I'd like to thank all the editors on that team, who were universally diligent and on the ball throughout the entire process. The editors' packets were greatly improved by comments from playtesters, including Will Alston, Chris Manners, Brian Stack, Tejas Raje, Susan Ferrari, and Jonathan Magin. Magin in particular freelanced for and commented on many categories in the set, and deserves great credit for how well the music and social science filled out. Will also provided consulting services and freelance questions on many of my categories, especially history. Our proofreaders, who amended grammatical and substantive errors that we'd missed in the last couple weeks of the set, were Susan Ferrari, Matt Weiner, Naveed Chowdhury, Tejas Raje, Will Alston, and Saul Hankin. Rob Carson added pronunciation guides, and Cody provided essential IT and logistical support at every stage in the process.

I'd like to pre-emptively apologize for the handful of repeated easy parts, which were pretty much entirely my fault. Usually those came because of wires crossed between me and Evan, since Other Arts/Painting and American History/CE tended to have porous boundaries. I should have been on the lookout for those as head editor and found them. In retrospect playtesting the submitted packets, in addition to the editors' packets, probably would have uncovered most of them in time.

I think the tournament had a distinctive character that you may legitimately praise or criticize on your own, so I won't start this off with any manifesto on principles. Discuss away!
Matt Bollinger
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Panayot Hitov » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:02 pm

I thouroughly enjoyed myself! Also, *as a film major*, I thought the changes in the fine arts category were great! I had a great time with those questions, especially the one on theory in the UVA/WUSTL/Toronto/Florida/Amherst packet.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:47 pm

This tournament (except some inconsistencies in the science—physics noticeably harder than biology for instance) rocked my socks.

Could we see who edited what?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:57 pm

vinteuil wrote:This tournament (except some inconsistencies in the science—physics noticeably harder than biology for instance) rocked my socks.

Could we see who edited what?
I edited history, social science, philosophy, and visual arts; Evan did visual Other Arts, Geo/CE/Other, and Religion; Tommy did literature and music + opera/film; Rohith did biochem; Austin did physics some othersci + myth; Ike did compsci and math + freelancing.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:10 pm

I too would like to offer my congratulations to Maryland, and of course especially to Jordan, who was electrifying over the course of the last two days, putting in an all-time great Nationals performance. And congratulations should go out to Michigan, who fought back from a tough loss to force the final and played a great tournament overall.

As always, thanks go out to the editors for their hard work on this set. Matt and his team did some great work; from the standpoint of questions this was one of the most polished Nationals I've ever experienced. From the logistics side, I would like to thank all of the staffers who came out to help us run this tournament; I especially want to recognize the triple-threat of Jon PInyan, Sarah Angelo, and Cody Voight, who did some amazing work making sure that the stat room was running smoothly and adjusting the schedule after a last-minute drop by Ohio State due to airline problems. Jon in particular was a true quizbowl hero, driving back out to Bergen to pick up two buzzers to bring them to the tournament.

This of course brings us to the negative part of this weekend. As I started processing teams for check-in on Saturday morning, I realized that we were dealing with two distinct though related problems. The first was that a number of teams (it's not clear to me how many, but a sizable minority for sure) had never received invoices for Nationals, nor any instructions indicating how they were supposed to pay. Many other teams told me that they had only received invoices within the last few days and thus had not had the opportunity to submit them for payment to the appropriate finance officers at their schools. Without doubt, this was an organizational failure on our part, and for that failure I apologize to all the teams so affected. The issue of invoices is one that should have been settled weeks before the tournament, not the day of; it's obviously embarrassing to us as an organization to drop the ball in this way, and to me in particular as the TD. After the Saturday rounds concluded, we (ACF) had our annual meeting and of course this issue was front and center in our discussions. We are committed to revisiting our payment and invoicing system in the interests of making it more efficient and more responsive to teams' needs, and while I realize that this is cold comfort to teams who were thrown into chaos by our inadequate attention to these issues, I hope that the changes we plan to make will let us regain clubs' trust.

The second issue, related to the first, was of course the issue of the buzzers. As in, there weren't enough of them. This is related because at least a few teams told us that they decided not to bring their buzzers because their invoices indicated that they would not be getting discounts for them. Of course, mistaken invoices (especially coming as late as they did) are our fault; however, I have to say that I cannot understand the mindset of a team that is driving to a tournament, has registered buzzers, and then decides not to bring them without telling anyone. I know I've sent at least 3 or 4 emails in the runup to the tournament, so I know for a fact that everyone who registered a team had my contact information. If you were confused about anything at all, a brief email to me would have provided you with the requisite guidance. Instead, a bunch of teams decided to just not do something that as a quizbowl club you are just expected to do pretty much automatically, which is bring buzzers to a tournament.

Everyone in this game, especially those who have more than a few years of high school and collegiate experience, should understand that buzzers are necessary hardware to make a tournament happen, and that teams bringing their buzzers are likewise necessary. There is no excuse, no matter what some invoice says or doesn't say, for not doing this very basic thing. By our count, there were 13 buzzers that were allegedly promised and were not delivered! This is absurd, people. If you want tournaments to happen and to run properly, you need to do your part, and that involves either bringing the buzzers that you said you'd bring, or notifying us that you cannot bring them. If we'd had even a day or two of advance notice, we might have scrounged some buzzers from local high schools; instead we had people playing slap-bowl, because teams that indicated that they were bringing multiple buzzers brought nothing. When I asked those teams why they didn't contact me or notify us in any way, I got the blankest of stares in response.

None of this is intended to absolve ACF of our failure to supply you with proper, correct invoices weeks in advance. But at the same time, teams need to understand that quizbowl works by you, the team, bringing your buzzer to tournaments. I don't care what the invoice says, I don't care what someone told you, or what you heard from a teammate, just bring your buzzer. Unless the TD tells you not to, you should just always assume that every email from a TD contains an implicit postscript in 36-point font, that says "BRING YOUR BUZZERS." This is not a new thing either, as we've had teams routinely fail to bring their buzzers to Nationals for years, but fortunately every year that I've been doing this, up until this one, we managed to scrape together enough sets to run the tournament. I don't imagine anyone enjoyed playing in a room without a buzzer, so let's all do our part to make sure that never happens again. I've already said that ACF is going to work hard to make sure you get your invoice (and your money too, if you're a host) on time and make it accurate. Reciprocally, we need you, the teams, to commit to bring your buzzers, to each and every tournament, always and forever, without exception, until the end of time.

Ok, that ends my apology/harrangue. On a lighter note, I'd like to say that I was super happy with the way the rooms were staffed up this weekend. Once we got past the initial problems with the buzzers, we kept the tournament moving fairly quickly; we got you out at around 7:15 on Saturday, and my estimate for Sunday turned out to be just about right, as the ceremony concluded at 1:30. That again is due to the hard-working staffers that came out from across the country to help make this happen, as well as the large Columbia contingent. Thanks again to all of those folks.

One more thing: in the next week or so, I'm going to send out a survey to teams that both attended Nationals and those who had bids but turned them down. It would help us greatly if you could fill out that survey within a few days of getting it. The survey will have some questions that will help us decide about the placement of Nationals for next year, as well as what we can do better logistically and otherwise to improve your experience. Thanks for coming, and we hope to see you at ACF Nationals 2018, wherever that ends up being.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Doga (Dog Yoga) » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:30 pm

Hi, I just wanted to post a brief thing. Thanks to Matt for letting me do this, Andrew Wang for his help with editing and writing a few of the chem tossups (TEMPO/7/Lanthanides/Mossbauer), Billy for editing and general expertise, and all of the other proofreaders who provided input. I tried to write about stuff that I thought was cool that I encountered by reading about/doing/being interested in science. So a lot of the ideas for questions came about like this (daptomycin/sputnik/ammonium cations to name a few). Hope you enjoyed.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Banana Stand » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:55 pm

The literature in this set was really really good. It was very accessible across the board while offering a great challenge on interesting hard parts and early-middle clues. Common links probing core works of famous authors including the ones on teachers and the beach(which I unfortunately negged with Paunamok instead of Paumanok) were refreshing to hear at this level. Not that recent Nats have felt like "title-bowl", but I think this one is a perfect example of how well the concept of hard questions on "easy" answerlines can be done, which is definitely a testament to Tommy's editing. I also really enjoyed the increase in social science and thought it was a step in the right direction. I still think it's pretty absurd that even with a buff, the portion of the distro covering psychology, economics, anthro, sociology, and linguistics takes a backseat to European history, but I digress.

Thanks to the editors and staffers, and congrats to Jordan for simultaneously being a total sicko and a wicked nice guy, which I think will contribute to the Lebron comparison in future GOAT conversations.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by heterodyne » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:12 am

I'll write more later but I really liked this tournament. Cool philosophy questions on things that actually matter! Fun deep core literature! Cool stuff. (I also had issues because I'm a quizbowler playing a tournament but like I had food poisoning Saturday and it was still a super fun day of qb which is a testament to the work of the editors for sure)
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by jonpin » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:43 am

Continuing a fine tradition from three years ago at ACF Nats 2014 Columbia... I lost the power cord from my laptop. Specifically, I have the wrong power cord.

At some point on Sunday morning, someone else asked to charge their laptop in the control room, and it appears that I took their laptop cord. I think that towards the end of the tournament, there was a power cord in the lost-and-found, and that may be mine. The other possibility is that the person whose laptop cord I took, in turn took my own. I have no idea who that person might be, so: if you do not have your laptop cord because I took it, please email me. If, conversely, you have mine (or if someone at Columbia has mine), please email me.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:46 am

I may post in more detail at some point regarding my overall quizbowl philosophy as it manifested in my contributions to this set, but for now, I want to make a few scene-setting remarks:

I wrote almost all of the tossups in physics, astronomy, earth science, and mythology from scratch, as well as many of the bonuses in those categories in the submitted packets. What I mean by "almost all" is that the tossups on canonical transformations, cube roots in astronomy, and spherical harmonics (the latter of which was a tiebreaker) were the only ones I edited from submissions. I used some submitted bonuses directly and also converted some tossup submissions to bonuses, but generally speaking my categories ended up looking like a housewrite. A lot of this had to do with when I had the most time to work on the set, which was largely in August and September and certainly before packets started coming in around the end of January. But it also turned out that way because it was just easier for me to work at my own pace without worrying about editing the questions for each combination of submitted packets during the week or two between seeing the submissions and needing to submit edited ones. I hope that the quality of my work was high enough that people do not have much of a problem with this approach, but if you do, definitely don't blame the submissions.

I suggested to Ike that we split the other science 30/30/20/20 to give more space for math and computer science, since I felt there was more material to cover in those categories than in astronomy and earth science, and Ike agreed with me. So the overall breakdown across 20 packets was 6/6 math, 6/6 CS, 4/4 astronomy, and 4/4 earth science. I felt somewhat vindicated in the decision we made when it became clear from the submitted packets that people didn't generally want to write earth science questions (which in my view is a sign that the category is "played out" to some extent, like mythology - more on that in just a bit). However, there were several good astronomy submissions, both tossups and bonuses, that didn't make it into the tournament because there wasn't space for them, so to those writers, my apologies and please keep up the good work. I encourage editors of future tournaments to consider similar experimentation with the science subdistribution, perhaps even going so far as to reduce chemistry slightly or fold astronomy into physics. The relative weights shouldn't be set in stone; if you feel that one category should be given more room to breathe and another is getting a little stale, why not modify the distribution somewhat for a regular season tournament and see how it goes?

Because there was only 10/10 mythology in the set, which is significantly less than in recent years of ACF Nationals, I wanted to prioritize myth systems with the most well-known source texts and the most academic exposure. For example, I decided I'd rather write a tossup on literary criticism of the Odyssey than try to find fresh early clues for {insert Native American / Mesoamerican deity here}. Hence the dominance of Greek and British Isles content, which accounted for 6 of the 10 tossups. Those two myth systems, together with Norse and Indian, made up 75% of the total number of tossups and bonuses, which is maybe a little higher than the norm but pretty close to what I'd recommend as the ideal subdistribution going forward. I should note at this point that the decision to reduce the amount of mythology was made before I joined the editing team, so I had nothing to do with that, but I have no problem with the idea in principle. Where I disagree with some of the people who have argued for less myth is when they say that there are hardly any fresh clues left to use, even at Nationals difficulty. That may be true for some myth systems that don't have that much askable content to begin with, but it's certainly not true for the more important ones. Part of my goal in editing mythology for this tournament was to disprove the notion that there isn't anything new that can be done with this category. I'd like to think that I succeeded, but you may disagree.

In addition to the people Matt mentioned in the OP, I want to thank Billy Busse and Seth Teitler, who playtested about 75% of the physics tossups and 25% of the astronomy/earth science tossups way back in the first half of September.

This tournament marks the end of my involvement in quizbowl, so if you have anything to say about a particular question in one of my categories or a more abstract aspect of my writing (I say writing because as mentioned before, I didn't really do much in the way of editing), please speak up in the next 3 weeks or so before I stop visiting the forums! I welcome everyone's comments.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:06 am

I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask about this, but is there any word on the reasoning behind the apparent decision to accept "Secret Chronicle" for the tossup on the "[Mongol] Secret History" protest?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:09 am

We ruled that even though "Secret Chronicle" was a rarely-used name, it should be acceptable under the "acceptable translation" rule for foreign-language titles.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by wcheng » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:27 am

I would like to thank the editors for producing an excellent set, which was challenging yet restrained in difficulty. I thought that the religion questions in this set were, for the most part, excellent, since they avoided the worst tropes of high-difficulty question writing in those categories (forcing people to name things about random obscure religions like Tenrikyo and Seicho-no-Ie or whatever) and explored interesting new material like Islamic jurisprudence. I also enjoyed the econ questions since they emphasized important concepts and not "which economist wrote which paper." There were a few questions that I found odd, like the tossup on "names" that used "these objects" as the pronoun, but I don't think that they diminish the editors' achievements.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:46 am

This tournament was exemplary, particularly the literature. There were many, many questions that probed interesting aspects of important topics (the tossup on "nothing" from Shakespeare stands out as probably my favorite example).
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:35 am

I edited religion, other arts except film and opera, and CE/geo/other academic. Matt Bollinger, Tommy Casalaspi, Jonathan Magin and Ike Jose contributed some excellent questions to those categories. Also, I think I speak for all the editors in thanking the teams that really worked hard on their submissions. Maryland and Michigan in particular submitted excellent packets.

I won't go manifesto on those categories because I wasn't really trying to break any new ground. I was particularly inspired a lot by Matt Jackson's work for the religion, Stephen Liu's side tournament for the other arts, and Mike Bentley's technology tournaments for the CE/geo/other academic. The "other academic" category is always kind of a wildcard, and I was really gratified to see teams use that slot to embrace the "answers that don’t quite fit into any of the preceding categories" language from the announcement post. Even if I couldn't use all of them, I really liked the spirit of the submissions in that category, such as "the Crystal Palace", "armadillos", "the British Museum", "shark attacks" and "tweets".

Finally, I want to apologize to Berkeley A. While I think the protest ruling that the tournament directors reached was correct under the ACF rules, I should have included "ballet sets" as an acceptable answer for the "stage design" tossup. That was a big oversight on my part and I'm sorry it cost you a game.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by The Billiards Fool » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:03 pm

Insofar as I can actually comment on this (given my skill level), I really enjoyed the history (from game 8 on, since I was not there before and cannot comment on it). There were some creative answerlines, most notably the "denying the link between HIV and AIDS" tossup that, even though I didn't get it, was fun and interesting to listen to. Same with homophobia. I also liked the bonuses on failed coups (don't remember/Equatorial Guinea/Seychelles) and female rulers of Africa (I don't actually remember the phrasing but I remember the first and last parts were Asante (using Yaa Asantewaa) and Nzinga so I'm assuming). The only question I remember being salty at was the 10th Amendment question, but I'm almost positive its because I learned/read Garcia v. SAMTA and National League of Cities v. Usery in the context of the commerce clause not 10th amendment and failed to rethink that fast enough during the tossup, not because the TU was actually bad in any way.

I'd also be curious to see where Nina Simone fits in to the distribution (history? I recall some history of her in the civil rights movement clues I think?).

I'm not really experienced enough to comment too extensively at this level, though I may try when I have the packets in from of me as I'm currently cherrypicking examples from my memory while ignoring my stats lecture. Overall, thanks to all the editors for an awesome first Nats experience and Matt for history that I thought was very engaging!
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by felgon123 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:16 pm

wcheng wrote:There were a few questions that I found odd, like the tossup on "names" that used "these objects" as the pronoun, but I don't think that they diminish the editors' achievements.
I wrote this tossup and can attest that the pronoun phrase used throughout was "these things," and that the phrase "these objects," which would indeed have been misleading, does not appear in the question.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:29 pm

I'd also like to apologize to teams for the scheduling snafus (repeated games, mystery room 305). While they wound up being the least of our problems and were corrected fairly quickly, both were my fault and shouldn't have happened. I'd like to thanks teams (and the staff) for being great about adjusting -- even with the confusion, no teams played the wrong games.

We'll be doing a few new things next year to avoid this problem, including posting the schedule beforehand.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:59 pm

We'll be reading the only unused packet from this weekend, Finals 2, in the #quizbowl IRC channel at 9 PM eastern tonight.
Last edited by vcuEvan on Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by wcheng » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:20 pm

felgon123 wrote:
wcheng wrote:There were a few questions that I found odd, like the tossup on "names" that used "these objects" as the pronoun, but I don't think that they diminish the editors' achievements.
I wrote this tossup and can attest that the pronoun phrase used throughout was "these things," and that the phrase "these objects," which would indeed have been misleading, does not appear in the question.
Hmm, must have been my mistake, then. Sorry about the confusion.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by felgon123 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 1:59 pm

I edited all of literature, music, opera, and film. I wrote the majority of the literature and music in the set from scratch, as well as all of the opera and film. The European and World/Other literature includes about 20 excellent questions written by Matt and Evan, and Jonathan Magin freelanced 3/4 very fine music questions to fill gaps in submitted packets on the homestretch (Naples, 5/4 time, Boulanger, album leaf/Für Elise/Reger, galliard/lute/oud, Van der Aa/violin/LA Phil, sight-reading/pitch/Ut queant laxis). I also chipped in some tossups to philosophy, religion, and other academic (Rousseau, What is Enlightenment?, "Structure, Sign, and Play," "Experience," imagination, names, whirlwinds, Gesualdo).

Like my co-editors, I don't have any elaborate editorial philosophy to expound here: you've played the questions, and they exemplify my ideas better than any abstract declaration of principles could. The bottom line is that I tried to write the kinds of questions I would be happiest to hear as a player, and it was deeply gratifying to both see and hear about so many extraordinary buzzes on my tossups coming from excited players throughout the field. (Special shout-out to Jacob Reed and John Lawrence for confirming in jaw-dropping fashion that a great many early clues in my music tossups were both knowable and useful.) A final note on distribution: I told Matt and Evan that I conceived of this as a tournament with "something for everybody," and accordingly did my best to write questions spanning the full historical and generic range of literature and classical music. So while it is inevitable that my areas of expertise received a bit more attention than others, hopefully no one felt that they had been shortchanged by editorial whims and that their favorite era or genre had gone unrepresented, and hopefully everyone had at least a few buzzes or 30s that particularly pleased them.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:25 pm

felgon123 wrote:A final note on distribution: I told Matt and Evan that I conceived of this as a tournament with "something for everybody," and accordingly did my best to write questions spanning the full historical and generic range of literature and classical music.
I thought the tournament did an excellent job of this, and not only in the literature in music. For idiosyncratic, personal reasons I remember most of the economics answer lines better than other subcategories, and even at that level of granularity there was a healthy mix of micro/macro, stuff you'd learn in class/stuff you'd learn reading the newspaper, contemporary/historical, etc. The answer lines were also almost all perfectly matched to the topic: given the notability and exposure people have to Shakespeare, asking on a specific word in several of his better known plays works beautifully. For a tossup on John Osbourne's work, it's much better to just ask on the title. For a Virginia Woolf essay that's probably more widely known than Look Back in Anger but not as well known as, say, Hamlet, focusing on a specific thought experiment fits nicely.

Matt thanked them in the opening post, but I'd like to continue the habit of praising the proofreading of sets. I remember at most maybe four instances of readers being tripped up by confusing syntax, and as a player I was never confused by what the question was asking for.

I was a little confused by the scheduling. Barring travel mishaps that aren't the fault of any team or ACF, the total number of teams seemed an odd choice. Was the tournament constrained by the rooms available?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:28 pm

As a spectator, I really enjoyed the tossup on "venture capital" firms, which I thought was testing just the right kind of mix of historical and contemporary knowledge. Good job, whoever wrote that.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:31 pm

Sam wrote:I was a little confused by the scheduling. Barring travel mishaps that aren't the fault of any team or ACF, the total number of teams seemed an odd choice. Was the tournament constrained by the rooms available?
Originally, we had a schedule worked out for a 42 team field, which is what we thought we were getting. At the very last minute, there was a series of drops that brought us down to 39 teams. Cody then worked out a schedule for 40 teams that did not necessitate double byes, and I tried to find a 40th team; I was unsuccessful in doing so. At the very very last minute, Chris Ray texted to inform me that Delta had screwed OSU and they would not be able to make it. This brought us to 38 teams, which is a real shitty number for tournament purposes. With 40 teams, we would have been able to give you a single-bye schedule with 5 brackets of 8, but with 38 teams there wasn't much we could do besides punch a hole in the bracket affected by the OSU drop and soldier on, because we didn't have the packets to radically reconfigure the field. I know that this was less than ideal, but I think this was the best thing we could have done under the circumstances.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:32 pm

Sam wrote:I was a little confused by the scheduling. Barring travel mishaps that aren't the fault of any team or ACF, the total number of teams seemed an odd choice. Was the tournament constrained by the rooms available?
We were constrained by the number of teams that wanted to come (and the number of packets). We had a 3-stage format for 42 teams. As the field dropped to 40 teams, I drew up a 2-stage limited single-bye schedule for the tournament. (A format I will write up at some point.) Is there any thing in particular you're confused about?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Sam » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:38 pm

Cody wrote:We were constrained by the number of teams that wanted to come (and the number of packets). We had a 3-stage format for 42 teams. As the field dropped to 40 teams, I drew up a 2-stage limited single-bye schedule for the tournament. (A format I will write up at some point.) Is there any thing in particular you're confused about?
Not anymore, your and Jerry's posts explained it well. I didn't know about the last minute drops. Based on forum posts it had seemed like there were more teams who wanted to come than could, which would make choosing 39 a weird upper bound. After a slow start in the morning the tournament was run efficiently, and you all did a great job dealing with the new constraints that were suddenly imposed on you.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 24, 2017 2:40 pm

Sam wrote:
Cody wrote:We were constrained by the number of teams that wanted to come (and the number of packets). We had a 3-stage format for 42 teams. As the field dropped to 40 teams, I drew up a 2-stage limited single-bye schedule for the tournament. (A format I will write up at some point.) Is there any thing in particular you're confused about?
Not anymore, your and Jerry's posts explained it well. I didn't know about the last minute drops. Based on forum posts it had seemed like there were more teams who wanted to come than could, which would make choosing 39 a weird upper bound. After a slow start in the morning the tournament was run efficiently, and you all did a great job dealing with the new constraints that were suddenly imposed on you.
Yeah, I apologize for not updating the forums as frequently as would have been ideal. It was a real harried time for me personally and I was trying to put out a lot of fires with team drops happening all over the place. Basically what happened was that a number of teams that really wanted to come couldn't find affordable transportation options and had to bow out.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:29 pm

From a moderator's perspective, I found this set quite enjoyable to read. I read for the bottom bracket in the playoffs, and it seemed that most teams were engaged with the questions and at least with the middle and easy parts of bonuses - the games were meaningful and most players had at least a few questions per round that engaged them. From what I perceived, the main frustration was with repeated topics - something that I think could have been fixed with more thorough outside proofreading.

Playtesting this tournament was a blast, too, and the editors' willingness to discuss and reason through questions was particularly welcome. In particular, from a history player's perspective, I think this set marked a huge step up from previous incarnations of ACF Nationals I've seen/read/played, and did a good job of explaining why institutions/events were important, how people interacted with them, etc. Major props to Matt and Evan.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by cornfused » Mon Apr 24, 2017 6:30 pm

vcuEvan wrote:We'll be reading the only unused packet from this weekend, Finals 2, in the #quizbowl IRC channel at 9 PM eastern tonight.
Out of curiosity, how many packets went entirely unused (at least Princeton and Northwestern, right?), and how were those packets chosen? Quality? or was it just that they were late submissions?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Mon Apr 24, 2017 7:41 pm

Set was excellent. Interpuncts were used a little excessively to the point that some words were kind of hard to read
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by 1.82 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 8:25 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Sam wrote:
Cody wrote:We were constrained by the number of teams that wanted to come (and the number of packets). We had a 3-stage format for 42 teams. As the field dropped to 40 teams, I drew up a 2-stage limited single-bye schedule for the tournament. (A format I will write up at some point.) Is there any thing in particular you're confused about?
Not anymore, your and Jerry's posts explained it well. I didn't know about the last minute drops. Based on forum posts it had seemed like there were more teams who wanted to come than could, which would make choosing 39 a weird upper bound. After a slow start in the morning the tournament was run efficiently, and you all did a great job dealing with the new constraints that were suddenly imposed on you.
Yeah, I apologize for not updating the forums as frequently as would have been ideal. It was a real harried time for me personally and I was trying to put out a lot of fires with team drops happening all over the place. Basically what happened was that a number of teams that really wanted to come couldn't find affordable transportation options and had to bow out.
On a related note, how did people feel about Columbia as a location? It seems like teams not being able to find affordable transportation options is a problem that could be averted or at least minimized. Last night on IRC there was discussion about whether having ACF Nationals at a high school might be a better option logistically; I think this is worth discussing.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cody » Mon Apr 24, 2017 9:01 pm

In my experience in Virginia, a high school is much less ideal than a college, for many reasons. (Consider hotel availability, as just one example.)

The site for ACF Nationals was discussed after the tournament, and Jerry's survey is part of that.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Borrowing 100,000 Arrows » Mon Apr 24, 2017 11:34 pm

Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station wrote: It seems like teams not being able to find affordable transportation options is a problem that could be averted or at least minimized.
Oklahoma was definitely in this boat. A trip to NYC would have cost us roughly three times as much as last year's trip to Ann Arbor. Columbia seems like less than ideal site given the cost of lodging and travel in NYC. I'd be curious to know what other schools, if any, submitted bids. That said, I agree with Cody, hosting Nats at a high school seems like a pretty bad alternative.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Benin Rebirth Party » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:30 am

What are the roadblocks with ACF Nationals moving to a hotel?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:39 am

Aaron Manby (ironmaster) wrote:What are the roadblocks with ACF Nationals moving to a hotel?
it's expensive
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:45 am

Aaron Manby (ironmaster) wrote:What are the roadblocks with ACF Nationals moving to a hotel?
the fact that we're not made of money
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:24 pm

I liked the bio tossups in this set quite a bit. The A. tumefaciens, CYP450, and poly-A tails ones were fresh and pretty interesting. I wasn't a fan of the ketogenesis tossup, though. I spent quite a bit of time wondering if it wanted a specific fatty acid metabolism process like β oxidation, but refrained from buzzing with that since the clues just didn't seem to always match with it. I ended up negging with "ketone production", which wasn't prompted but I followed up with "ketolysis" anyway and that was ruled even more incorrect. For some reason I had been under the impression that general ketone body metabolism was at play, but I would have to see the clues again. I was also not particularly fond of the Warburg hypothesis tossup, since it was similarly difficult to parse whether certain sub-processes referenced in the clues were acceptable or not. I messed up on the SNAREs tossup too, but that was mostly my fault for somehow never actually learning that syntaxin, synaptobrevin, etc. — which I know quite a bit about — were in this superfamily.
On the other hand, I was quite disappointed by the bonuses in this set. In particular, I felt that the non-biochem/mol bio was absurdly easy. This impression is mostly based on having been a TA for intro bio at Rutgers for a year; if my students, who are only in this class if they didn't take/pass AP bio and include a fair number registered solely to satisfy their "science requirement", can 20 or 30 ACF Nats questions, I think there's a problem. Like, this class is literally as basic a bio class as you can get without being remedial (although for some bizarre reason they spend five weeks learning about like unikonts and other taxonomic classes or whatever…I would have killed a question on the Derived Traits of Ecdysozoa).
•Mullerian/Sertoli/Y – Mullerian really isn't that difficult for anyone who has taken intro anatomy, but my main quibble is with Sertoli as a medium part, given mention of Leydig cells. My students, who are baffled by how urine gets out of the body, can compare and contrast Sertoli and Leydig cells. In fact, one of the workshop topics they had to do recently required this knowledge.
•SA node/Valsalva/something easy – this was even easier. My teammate Sam, who hasn't thought about bio whatsoever since high school, easily 20'd this and had certainly heard of the Valsalva maneuver despite us both just blanking on the name.
•dendritic spines/axon/Purkinje – dendritic spines is *really* not a hard part. Purkinje could be if the heart stuff wasn't mentioned. Sam also 20'd this.
•EMT/mesoderm/neural crest cells – this one wasn't too bad, but taken together with all the other easy bio bonuses I think something harder than a really basic element in tumorigenesis could've been used.
•prolactin/oxytocin/voles – this was the most egregious in my opinion. Sam 20'd this. My students would 20 this. Undergrads in the UW intro bio series, intro psych, intro neuroscience, and intro physiology could reasonably 30 this. Prolactin was a (albeit unreasonable) tossup at HSNCT.

One or two of these kinds of bonuses isn't a problem in Nats, but it honestly seemed like a system-wide problem for anything that wasn't molecular bio or biochem. Like, there's no way Streptomyces is equivalent in difficulty to any of those medium parts. I recognize that not everyone has the physiology background that I do, but…neither do my teammates. I would have loved to have heard more bonuses like the one in the finals (cyclins/something medium/ATM), which seemed a lot more satisfying to answer than the five I outlined above.

On another note, was there any ecology or plant content (other than Agrobacterium, I guess) in this tournament? Also, four organism/virus tossups seemed a bit much...
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Nice hockey Cote d'Azur » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:03 pm

As a staffer, I just wanted to thank Cody, Jerry and Jon again for the amazing work they did organizing the tournament despite the various snafus. And of course, thanks to Matt, Tommy, Evan, Austin, Rohith and Ike for producing a fantastic set, I was glad to see that teams of all levels enjoyed playing it.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:19 pm

Steph Curry-Dwight Howard Isomorphism wrote:
Chandrapur Super Thermal Power Station wrote: It seems like teams not being able to find affordable transportation options is a problem that could be averted or at least minimized.
Oklahoma was definitely in this boat. A trip to NYC would have cost us roughly three times as much as last year's trip to Ann Arbor. Columbia seems like less than ideal site given the cost of lodging and travel in NYC. I'd be curious to know what other schools, if any, submitted bids. That said, I agree with Cody, hosting Nats at a high school seems like a pretty bad alternative.
We expected to have school funding for ACF Nats that fell through, and by late March we noticed that plane tickets were nearly $400 per person from Louisville to NYC and that we weren't going to be able to scrape together that kind of money; therefore we dropped from the field. I don't know if travel costs are an issue at Columbia that some equal number of teams don't experience at a different site (like Michigan) but that's definitely something that should be considered.

I don't have any inside info from ACF as to how many schools submitted bids, but I heard from some friends on another team not far from us that they had submitted a bid. I would imagine there were more than just a couple, but maybe not.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:22 pm

On balance for the whole ACF Nationals field (most of which is, historically, along the East Coast), I think you will find that NYC is among the least expensive destinations for ACF Nationals. The cost of lodging will be higher, but the difference in lodging is typically going to be much less than the cost of flights for alternate sites.

I am not very surprised to hear that flights from SDF -> NYC were hideously expensive under 1 month away because you were screwed by your university, but I don't think there's anything ACF can do in selecting a site to account for that.
Last edited by Cody on Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Doga (Dog Yoga) » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:24 pm

Amizda Calyx wrote:I liked the bio tossups in this set quite a bit. The A. tumefaciens, CYP450, and poly-A tails ones were fresh and pretty interesting. I wasn't a fan of the ketogenesis tossup, though. I spent quite a bit of time wondering if it wanted a specific fatty acid metabolism process like β oxidation, but refrained from buzzing with that since the clues just didn't seem to always match with it. I ended up negging with "ketone production", which wasn't prompted but I followed up with "ketolysis" anyway and that was ruled even more incorrect. For some reason I had been under the impression that general ketone body metabolism was at play, but I would have to see the clues again. I was also not particularly fond of the Warburg hypothesis tossup, since it was similarly difficult to parse whether certain sub-processes referenced in the clues were acceptable or not. I messed up on the SNAREs tossup too, but that was mostly my fault for somehow never actually learning that syntaxin, synaptobrevin, etc. — which I know quite a bit about — were in this superfamily.
On the other hand, I was quite disappointed by the bonuses in this set. In particular, I felt that the non-biochem/mol bio was absurdly easy. This impression is mostly based on having been a TA for intro bio at Rutgers for a year; if my students, who are only in this class if they didn't take/pass AP bio and include a fair number registered solely to satisfy their "science requirement", can 20 or 30 ACF Nats questions, I think there's a problem. Like, this class is literally as basic a bio class as you can get without being remedial (although for some bizarre reason they spend five weeks learning about like unikonts and other taxonomic classes or whatever…I would have killed a question on the Derived Traits of Ecdysozoa).
•Mullerian/Sertoli/Y – Mullerian really isn't that difficult for anyone who has taken intro anatomy, but my main quibble is with Sertoli as a medium part, given mention of Leydig cells. My students, who are baffled by how urine gets out of the body, can compare and contrast Sertoli and Leydig cells. In fact, one of the workshop topics they had to do recently required this knowledge.
•SA node/Valsalva/something easy – this was even easier. My teammate Sam, who hasn't thought about bio whatsoever since high school, easily 20'd this and had certainly heard of the Valsalva maneuver despite us both just blanking on the name.
•dendritic spines/axon/Purkinje – dendritic spines is *really* not a hard part. Purkinje could be if the heart stuff wasn't mentioned. Sam also 20'd this.
•EMT/mesoderm/neural crest cells – this one wasn't too bad, but taken together with all the other easy bio bonuses I think something harder than a really basic element in tumorigenesis could've been used.
•prolactin/oxytocin/voles – this was the most egregious in my opinion. Sam 20'd this. My students would 20 this. Undergrads in the UW intro bio series, intro psych, intro neuroscience, and intro physiology could reasonably 30 this. Prolactin was a (albeit unreasonable) tossup at HSNCT.

One or two of these kinds of bonuses isn't a problem in Nats, but it honestly seemed like a system-wide problem for anything that wasn't molecular bio or biochem. Like, there's no way Streptomyces is equivalent in difficulty to any of those medium parts. I recognize that not everyone has the physiology background that I do, but…neither do my teammates. I would have loved to have heard more bonuses like the one in the finals (cyclins/something medium/ATM), which seemed a lot more satisfying to answer than the five I outlined above.

On another note, was there any ecology or plant content (other than Agrobacterium, I guess) in this tournament? Also, four organism/virus tossups seemed a bit much...
i thought it was probably better to err on the side of making things easier rather than too hard, but oh well

also s/o to harrison wang for help w the blue tossup
Last edited by Doga (Dog Yoga) on Tue Apr 25, 2017 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Amizda Calyx » Tue Apr 25, 2017 3:49 pm

I understand that, but it seemed like this "caution" applied only to the physiology/cell bio. Biochem had stuff like an easy part on tryptophan where the easiest clue was that it has an indole group...and then you have a neuro bonus with the easy part on axons after axons had already been mentioned in the question.

I also heard troubling things about the approach to writing the (nonexistent) ecology, which I do think is an issue that should be addressed.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Apr 25, 2017 6:15 pm

The set is posted here.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:01 pm

Just wanted to chime in and generally say I really enjoyed this year's set. It seemed extremely accessible (relative to ACF Nats-difficulty of past years, anyway), the questions were creative, and I had a lot of fun. Thank you to everyone involved in writing and staffing!
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:43 pm

vcuEvan wrote:The set is posted here.
Can a zip file be made? For science?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by otsasonr » Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:00 pm

I thought this tournament was good, but there were several problems with physics questions over the course of the tournament:
  • The tossup on viscosity includes a prompt for "momentum diffusivity", but not for the broader category of "diffusion coefficient", even though the question says "form of this quantity", which leaves it ambiguous what it's actually looking for.
  • The tossup on the distribution function had a completely useless clue saying something like "the time derivative of this function can be calculated as its Poisson bracket with the Hamiltonian", which applies to literally any function of the canonical coordinates in Hamiltonian mechanics.
  • The tossup on curl used a lead-in describing it as being computed at every step of the Yee algorithm, which led to a swift neg with "finite differences". That should be prompted at least (since that's what is actually computed), or better yet the phrasing of that clue should be changed to something to the effect of "a numerical approximation of this operation is computed at every step of the Yee algorithm", which clarifies what the question is looking for.
  • I thought the AdS/CFT correspondence was a bit early in the de Sitter tossup, but that might just be a bias.
  • Did anyone convert sawtooth collapse in the tokamak bonus? I've taken a whole course on fusion reactors and didn't, but I might just be salty.
  • Describing what the six-factor formula calculates as a property of neutrons themselves is a pretty serious abuse of terminology.
  • While I will grant that Goldstone's theorem is the more common name, it is also definitely referred to as Nambu's theorem and the Nambu-Goldstone theorem, so those answers should be acceptable
  • The first clue of the pendulum tossup is not unique, and is completely unhelpful. Two-timing analysis and effective potentials are used to analyse many different systems, not just Kapitza's pendulum.
Other notes:
  • I enjoyed that there was a good amount of software engineering content in this set (thinking of map, inheritance, the Facebook tossup focussing on software they have developed, etc.). I wish that other fields of engineering were as represented in other categories.
  • I thought the philosophy tossups skewed towards the continental, but that might just be a feeling.
  • The math felt like it had more stats than in other tournaments, which is definitely not a bad thing. But some of those tossups felt much easier than other math tossups, most notably the tossup on Student's t-distribution.
The only other thing that I will say is in response to Austin's decision to write almost all of his categories from scratch, instead of editing submissions. I think it's disrespectful to participating teams to have them contribute questions to those categories if it is known that they are not going to be used. It's one thing for questions to be cut if they are repeated or of poor quality, completely another to knowingly let people write questions which will not be used even if they are good and unique. I understand that things like this are not necessarily known beforehand, but since this pattern apparently began back in August, I think this could have been foreseen.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Apr 25, 2017 9:07 pm

Yus vs. Jews wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:The set is posted here.
Can a zip file be made? For science?
It's been added.
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:02 am

A couple points I'd like to ask about:

- Difficulty. We followed a system roughly similar to what we used for VCU Open, designating "Nationals canon" tossups {3} and "extra-canon" tossups {4}, with 8 "{3}"'s and 2 {4}'s allowed per round. In practice we generally undershot those caps; still, while reading it I felt like there were more canon-busting tossup answers in this set than in last year's, accompanied of course by lots of easy common links.

At its best, this approach drove up difficulty for the top brackets and drove down difficulty for the bottom, making the set both enjoyable and formidable for all. There's little that matches the excitement of an early buzz on a topic that's never been a tossup before. There were also moments when we may have overshot the mark with tossups that were excessively daunting. What were people's general experiences on the set's harder questions?

- Distributional changes. We added extra social science, cut down on myth, and packed sculpture/photography within painting to make room for true "other arts." How did people feel about these changes? Did they make room for more underexposed material? Are they replicable in future events?
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Apr 26, 2017 6:02 pm

I thought the distributional changes didn't feel drastic (in a good way), and I really liked the balance that resulted. I also appreciated the amount and execution of the "other" category, as opposed to "pure" geography and current events like we've had in the past.

One thing that hasn't been brought up: I appreciated the many literature and arts questions that made judicious use of salient, knowable biographical and historical clues—I think they provide a great model for that kind of question.
Jacob Reed
Chicago ~'25
Yale '17, '19
East Chapel Hill '13
"...distant bayings from...the musicological mafia"―Denis Stevens

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Sygyt/Kargyraa
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Re: ACF Nationals Thanks and Discussion

Post by Sygyt/Kargyraa » Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:16 pm

I liked the "other" questions as well. In terms of the myth and social science distribution though, I feel like my team (Toronto B) found the social science the most intimidating part of the tournament, and as much as that reflects on us more than the tournament, I wonder if increasing social science at the expense of myth would make the distribution less accessible to newer players (not that accessibility needs to be the focus of Nats, of course).
Zhenglin Liu
University of Toronto MechEng 1T9+PEY, Engineering Science dropout

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