QUESTION SPECIFIC Thread for NAQT SCT

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QUESTION SPECIFIC Thread for NAQT SCT

Post by AuguryMarch »

Ok, I am starting a new thread because I don't want this drowned out.
Additionally, please keep your comments in this thread to individual question discussions only. Nothing about logistics, scorekeepers, slights to Sorice's sense of propriety, NAQT distribution, etc. Ok?

So first of all.. I stole a bunch of the packets. Sue me. I am going to retype some questions here to comment on them. My point here is to show how various questions from this set exemplify various poor NAQT writing / editing. I am going to stick to my areas of expertise. I'm splitting my posts up by round. What follows is selections from Round 1. Also, I'm going to focus on tossups since people have already harped about various dumb bonuses.

Round 1:

The politically conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute declared this the worst book of the 20th century, and Derek Freeman has repeatedly challenged the accuracy of its stories, claiming that several of its (*) Polynesian subjects have recanted. For 10 points—name this study of 68 girls between the ages of 9 and 20 that shocked Americans in 1928 with its frank depiction of sexual activity recorded by Margaret Mead.

Comment: This tossup plain old sucks, for several reasons. First, the first clue is totally pointless. Would anyone know about the books some conservative think tank thinks are terrible? Moreover, does this help at all to narrow down the question in any way? It could be anything at all at this point. Then after this, it jumps right to Derek Freeman, a stock leadin for this work that was already ass in 1996.

This author boxed as a welterweight in army Golden Gloves tournaments, and he was stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941 when the Japanese attacked. Both experiences inspired Private Robert E. Lee (*) Prewitt,
the protagonist of his most famous novel. For 10 points—who wrote From Here to Eternity?

Comment: No titles, nothing substantive about the content of his writing at all. Just some throwaway biographical shit and then the protagonist of From Here to Eternity. How does this tossup not just go "quack quack" speedcheck?

In Nicholas Rowe's 1703 play The Fair Penitent, this haughty and gallant character seduced Calista; he soon became a stock character in English literature. The title character of a George Handel opera and the
model for Lovelace in Samuel Richardson's (*) Clarissa, his name has become part of the language. For 10 points—give this eight-letter term for a notorious seducer.

Comment: Again, a terrible terrible question. You know from the first line and a half... its a stock character that seduces people. Who the fuck else could it be? Paul Litvak? Really, I understand that NAQT likes to write questions where you have to "figure it out", but there is as much figuring it out in this question as the instructions to a microwave burrito.

This man's mother was the first flight attendant for El Al. In 1990 he became New Jersey's U.S. Attorney a position he retained under Bill Clinton. Later he led the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui [moo-SAH
wee], the “20th hijacker” of 9/11. After Bernard Kerik was forced to withdraw, this man was nominated in January 2005 to replace (*) Tom Ridge in the Cabinet. For 10 points—name this Secretary of Homeland
Security.

Comment: I guess I can sanction the "man's mother clue".. although honestly with space constraints, why not put in a clue that is about Chertoff himself. Mostly this sucks because where the power marks is. This should not be after the name "Bernard Kerik" is mentioned.

She enjoys smoking a hookah, although she makes sure to note that, in compliance with standards and practices, she enjoys it in a drug-free way. Angela Mills provides the voice for this Heisman Trophy
winner, who has been repeatedly seduced by Marco. Her (*) classroom includes Dolphin Boy and the rest of the underwater children. For 10 points—name this Sealab 2021 character, the only black character other
than Quinn.

Comment: I love Sealab 2021. Still. this is retarded. Why put a trash question on the 5th most important character from that show? Why not a question on Sealab itself, that people who have seen fewer (or zero) episodes could actually get?

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Round 2

Post by AuguryMarch »

The time is exactly 12:43 as shown by the squarish, black clock resting between two candlesticks on the mantle of the fireplace below a mirror. That marble fireplace is empty save for the (*) surprising appearance of a tiny train engine steaming into the room out of thin air. For 10 points—name this curious picture of a captured moment by René Magritte [mah-GREET].

Comment: Seriously, one of the worst tossups in the tournament. You are describing one of the most famous parts of the painting immediately. What the fuck else is going to be? Anyone with almost any knowledge of this painting is going to power it. I did. And I suck at art.

One is telepathic, another can change sex at will, and others can travel through time. There were originally 1,001 of them, all with supernatural powers, but half are dead by the age of 30 in 1977. Saleem and his countrymen were all born at the hour of (*) independence. For 10 points—name these nocturnal offspring of India in the title of a 1980 novel by Salman Rushdie.

Comment: Again, this is the "figure it out" style. I buzzed on this almost immediately. The only thing you need to figure out is that its not talking about superheroes. Once you make that leap, this tossup is patently obvious. Moreover, the Saleem clue, as people have said, should not be for power. let me say this: THE PROTAGONIST OF THE BOOK SHOULD NEVER BE BEFORE THE POWER MARK. EVER.

This man's best-known plan called for confiscating personal fortunes greater than 100 ties that of the average family. Pensions would be guaranteed to those over 60, and families would be guaranteed an
income at least one-third the average. These were the main provisions of a (*) 1935 proposal bearing the slogan “Every Man a King.” For 10 points—the “Share Our Wealth” movement was begun by what
Louisiana politician?

Comment: Giveaway-tastic! Is there any more famous part of Long's political platform then share the wealth? I know there isn't, since the tossup informs me that its his "best-known plan" immediately. You couldn't find anything more obscure to say about Long?

Its namesake, a Caltech trustee and partner of Robert Noyce, says that it could fail as early as 2017, when certain “finite (*) limits” may be reached. To even reach those limits, however, the problem of increasing
heat from ever-more-tightly packed transistors must be solved. The co-founder of Intel suggested—for 10 points—what empirical rule that the power of microprocessors doubles every 18 months?

Comment: This would have been a great tossup.. in 1995! NAQT.. where bad leadins go to die. This question gets to the point way to quickly. I just don't see how its not obvious to someone almost immediately. Perhaps someone thinks otherwise. Explain it to me then.

The C-shaped castle, the W-shaped tower, the X-shaped infirmary, and the irregularly shaped academy are the largest pieces, each of which covers five squares of the ten-by-ten board. The title (*) building is
even larger, though, and is placed first. For 10 points—identify this game of territorial capture named for a medieval religious structure that belongs to neither player.

Comment: Can you find any more obscure trash? Why not write a tossup on the W-shaped tower?

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Post by solonqb »

I can't find the exact text of the tossup immediately, but the one on Syria attributed the Hamah massacre as taking place in 1983, when it was a year earlier.
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Post by AuguryMarch »

Ok, I'm doing a few from Round 3 and then taking a break.

It extended southward from Grodno, passed through Brest-Litovsk, and then followed the Bug [boog] River. On December 8, 1919, the Allied Supreme Council authorized the creation of a new independent
nation west of it, but its status as a (*) permanent border was not formalized until after World War II. Named for the British Foreign Secretary, this is—for 10 points—what boundary between Poland and the
former Soviet Union?

Comment: This is a bad question because it just cuts to the chase far to quickly. Its some kind of border passing through parts of eastern europe... again.. what else can it be? How does this tossup not just zero in on the answer immediately?

This man built his namesake summer home for the sole purpose of outshining Versailles [vur-SYE] with seven parks, four water cascades, an avenue of 64 fountains, and 37 gilded statues. Its most famous
fountain, the Samson, commemorates his (*) 1709 victory over the Swedes. For 10 points—name this ruler who built his summer home on the Gulf of Finland while tsar of Russia.

Comment: This tossup has 1 clue, that Peter built a summer home. Tossups with 1 clue are bad. Moreover, who cares how many water cascades it had? How is that not more than just filler? Is someone hearing this and thinking "Ok, this guy had a summer palace... wait... it has four water cascades? oh! its Peter!"

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Post by Matt Weiner »

The sometimes overly difficult focus on board games and RTS computer games to the exclusion of other game questions has been a longstanding reflection of the interests and age of NAQT writers over the actual knowledge of the players. General-interest video games should probably make up the vast majority of gaming questions.
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Post by matt979 »

AuguryMarch wrote:Moreover, who cares how many water cascades it had? How is that not more than just filler? Is someone hearing this and thinking "Ok, this guy had a summer palace... wait... it has four water cascades? oh! its Peter!"
(Not my question, nor do I feel like looking up who did write it, but...)

Despite the sarcasm, if you've actually been to the Summer Palace then those turn out to be useful clues after all. Strictly speaking that makes this a question about the palace whose answer line happens to be Peter, but still.

I'm not in a position to argue on any of the other R1-3 citings but this one was (in my individual opinion) unfairly maligned.

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Post by DumbJaques »

AuguryMarch wrote:
Moreover, who cares how many water cascades it had? How is that not more than just filler? Is someone hearing this and thinking "Ok, this guy had a summer palace... wait... it has four water cascades? oh! its Peter!"


(Not my question, nor do I feel like looking up who did write it, but...)

Despite the sarcasm, if you've actually been to the Summer Palace then those turn out to be useful clues after all. Strictly speaking that makes this a question about the palace whose answer line happens to be Peter, but still.
I think the point he was trying to make was that the amount of water cascades hardly points you to a specific answer. Even if you had been to the palace, and had been particularly enthralled by the majesty of the notably four in number water cascades, you're not going to hear that and think "it can't be anything else in the world than X." You're going to find things like fountains and statues at just about any place the question could possibly be going for. Like a number of the tossups mentioned, it contains information that is not particularly useful in pointing a player toward an answer.

Also, as a high school player I don't have a lot of standing (or more accurately, any) to complain. But I found most of these examples to be questions I could easily power, with the exception of the weird ones that were chosen because they were. . . weird. In particular, the Time Transfixed is almost identical to a tossup I heard at the 2005 HSNCT (HS should not = Div I SCT), and the midnight's children tossup seems a virtual word for word ripoff of a tossup I came across on stanford somewhere. I'm not saying that to insinuate plagiarism or anything, just a general lack of creativity/effort to find new and difficult clues.

With a few exceptions, these seem not unlike high school questions. Having played on ACF/college level stuff, I can see where that would be pretty annoying.
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Post by grapesmoker »

matt979 wrote:
AuguryMarch wrote:Moreover, who cares how many water cascades it had? How is that not more than just filler? Is someone hearing this and thinking "Ok, this guy had a summer palace... wait... it has four water cascades? oh! its Peter!"
(Not my question, nor do I feel like looking up who did write it, but...)

Despite the sarcasm, if you've actually been to the Summer Palace then those turn out to be useful clues after all. Strictly speaking that makes this a question about the palace whose answer line happens to be Peter, but still.

I'm not in a position to argue on any of the other R1-3 citings but this one was (in my individual opinion) unfairly maligned.
I've been to Peterhoff and it's still a stupid question, in my view. Its problem lies not in the fact that it starts out with a clue about Peterhoff (which is a decent way to start the question, although it caused me to buzz immediately) but because that's the only clue there. Also, who cares how many fountains it has? Do you think I counted them or something? If it's a question about Peter, it needs more clues. If it's a question about Peterhoff, it starts out vague, then becomes specific with information no-one is likely to know, and then gives the house away. This question could have been made better simply by mentioning Monplaisir (another of Peter's constructions), and the Samson fountain, while the most famous of the Peterhoff fountains, is still obscure enough to probably belong in the beginning rather than the end.
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Post by steven-lamp »

DumbJaques wrote:
AuguryMarch wrote:
Moreover, who cares how many water cascades it had? How is that not more than just filler? Is someone hearing this and thinking "Ok, this guy had a summer palace... wait... it has four water cascades? oh! its Peter!"


(Not my question, nor do I feel like looking up who did write it, but...)

Despite the sarcasm, if you've actually been to the Summer Palace then those turn out to be useful clues after all. Strictly speaking that makes this a question about the palace whose answer line happens to be Peter, but still.
I think the point he was trying to make was that the amount of water cascades hardly points you to a specific answer. Even if you had been to the palace, and had been particularly enthralled by the majesty of the notably four in number water cascades, you're not going to hear that and think "it can't be anything else in the world than X." You're going to find things like fountains and statues at just about any place the question could possibly be going for. Like a number of the tossups mentioned, it contains information that is not particularly useful in pointing a player toward an answer.

Also, as a high school player I don't have a lot of standing (or more accurately, any) to complain. But I found most of these examples to be questions I could easily power, with the exception of the weird ones that were chosen because they were. . . weird. In particular, the Time Transfixed is almost identical to a tossup I heard at the 2005 HSNCT (HS should not = Div I SCT), and the midnight's children tossup seems a virtual word for word ripoff of a tossup I came across on stanford somewhere. I'm not saying that to insinuate plagiarism or anything, just a general lack of creativity/effort to find new and difficult clues.

With a few exceptions, these seem not unlike high school questions. Having played on ACF/college level stuff, I can see where that would be pretty annoying.
I remember that Time Transfixed question from HSNCT as well. I think it may have used that same lead-in. I just remember powering it after hearing "fixed clock" in the lead-in.

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Post by AuguryMarch »

Ok folks, lets jump to a tossup in Round 9! (I don't think I need to say more about the Peterhof or whatever)

This was the last year in which the Democratic and Republican National Conventions were held in the same city, as both parties chose Miami Beach. It was the second presidential cycle in a row that the
Republicans chose Miami Beach, while the Democrats sought to avoid the debacle of four years earlier in (*) Chicago. For 10 points—what year saw the nominations of George McGovern and Richard Nixon?
1972

Comment: So you are going to write a year tossup.. first mistake. And then you only focus on one thing.. the nominating conventions.. second mistake. If you wanted to write about the nominating conventions, you could actually say something about them other then where they were. What's next? Is NAQT going to release a list of "You Oughtta Know the Locations of these Presidential Nominating Conventions"? Who gives a fuck? Basically it seems like this is a buzzer race at Chicago. I don't see how this tossup is acceptable by any standards.

I just had to post that one because it was so egregious. Now lets look at packet 6. I'm skipping the University of Michigan tossup as it was already discussed:

The title character leads a comfortable life despite his lack of an official license. That changes after he meets his wife, Trina, across the Bay in Oakland; he eventually ends up (*) killing her when she is stingy
with her lottery winnings. He also kills his friend Marcus Schouler, but not before Marcus can handcuff them together in Death Valley. For 10 points—name this novel about an angry dentist by Frank Norris.

Comment: Minor point, but Trina should not come this early. Other than McTeague himself, she is the most important character (moreso then Marcus).

Its overture prominently features the triangle and the bass drum to simulate the Turkish music appropriate to the residential quarters of the Pasha Selim. The (*) Pasha is in love with the Spanish lady Konstanze whose lover, the nobleman Belmonte, schemes to rescue her from the palace. For 10 points—name this Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera whose lovers are allowed to marry despite the failure of the title abduction.

Comment: I know next to nothing about Opera. Seriously. I can't even tell you whats Verdi and whats Puccini. And yet I powered this tossup. isn't the pasha the most famous character? isn't that for power? Pasha aside, you say "Turkish" and "residential quarters". Anyone without any knowledge at all (like me) could easily power this question (and did). This is so lazy.

This song has been covered by T.A.T.U., Snake River Conspiracy, Everclear, and Love Spit Love, whose version introduces the Halliwell sisters. The original never charted in the U.S. but was released as a single in 1985, just before the band's (*) Meat Is Murder album. “I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgar” is the first line of—for 10 points—what song by The Smiths, the theme for Charmed?
How Soon Is Now?

Comment: Again, it seems like this is way harder then equivalent academic content. Someone else can back up this point, I think.

This man chose Jacques Turgot [tur-GOH] over Adam Smith as the greatest economist of the 18th century; The Wall Street Journal chose him over John Maynard Keynes [kaynz] as the most important
economist of the 20th. This founder of the (*) Econometric Society wrote about business cycles in The Theory of Economic Development. For 10 points—what Austrian advanced the idea of creative destruction in
Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy?

Comment: Jerry commented on this one, so I thought I'd post it. There are no clues before the power mark. I negged with Friedman because I thought that the Wall Street Journal would pick a conservative economist. Go figure.

Of the three countries against which Britain declared war on December 6, 1941, this is the only one that did not also go to war against the U.S. Despite the state of war, this fellow democracy never engaged in
any fighting against the British. It allied itself with (*) Germany to oppose Russia, which had invaded it two years previously in the “Winter War.” For 10 points—name this country whose capital is Helsinki.

Comment: I might be wrong, but this is shitty too. I mean, unless you know this unique fact about Finland, how does anything before "invaded Russia" help you at all? This looks like a 1 shitty clue question to me.

e received the epithet “Trivia” because of her association with crossroads, as in the title of a George Meredith novel. Her cult centered at Aricia near Lake Nemi, which was known as her “mirror,” and she
was a goddess of (*) childbirth, having helped her mother Latona give birth to her own twin brother. For 10 points—name this Roman goddess of the hunt, the sister of Apollo.

Comment: None. Just posting this to facilitate the existing commentary about it.

An introduction by fictional author John Ray tells us that it was subtitled “the Confession of a White Widowed Male” when it was written, in the fall of 1952, in (*) prison, where its author was being held for the murder of Clare Quilty. For 10 points—name this 1955 novel whose fictional author was Humbert Humbert and whose real author was Vladimir Nabokov.

Comment: This isn't a super terrible question, but I've seen this John Ray leadin a million times, and really its time to retire it. This is such a fabulous novel, you can find something else to say about it. Seriously.

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Post by NatusRoma »

AuguryMarch wrote: This man chose Jacques Turgot [tur-GOH] over Adam Smith as the greatest economist of the 18th century; The Wall Street Journal chose him over John Maynard Keynes [kaynz] as the most important economist of the 20th. This founder of the (*) Econometric Society wrote about business cycles in The Theory of Economic Development. For 10 points—what Austrian advanced the idea of creative destruction in Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy?

Comment: Jerry commented on this one, so I thought I'd post it. There are no clues before the power mark. I negged with Friedman because I thought that the Wall Street Journal would pick a conservative economist. Go figure.
The Wall Street Journal clue was submitted near the end of a Schumpeter tossup in one the packets for the most recent Bulldogs Over Broadway. I edited it out because I didn't think that it was academic enough, but it appears that this is a known clue. A better clue that incorporated the WSJ's selection of Schumpeter over Keynes might have described Schumpeter's jealousy of Keynes's perceived greater stature and/or his rejection of Keynes's theories.
AuguryMarch wrote:Of the three countries against which Britain declared war on December 6, 1941, this is the only one that did not also go to war against the U.S. Despite the state of war, this fellow democracy never engaged in any fighting against the British. It allied itself with (*) Germany to oppose Russia, which had invaded it two years previously in the “Winter War.â€

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Post by yoda4554 »

Well, for whatever it's worth, the Finland and 1972 were picked up on their first clues in my games by a guy who, while generally up on his politics and military history, isn't an expert on either topic. That doesn't say much about whether they're good clues or efficient uses of line-space, but they're not utterly unhelpful in getting a non-expert player to the answer.

Additionally, is the John Ray clue something that's come up at lots of previous NAQT tournaments, or just at lots of tournaments in general? ACF, as it looks to comprise current players for the immediate future, wouldn't have much of a problem keeping tabs on clues used at other tournaments. NAQT, though, possibly by necessity, comprises mostly people who don't regularly play circuit tournaments anymore and wouldn't have access to what clues always come up about certain topics at recent tournaments. I don't know if anyone has any suggestions about how to avoid this.

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Post by Chris Frankel »

One specific pet peeve with NAQT sets is the handling of opera questions (I'm generally disappointed by the treatment of fine arts in general, but opera is the one I'll single out now). There never seems to be any emphasis on the musical aspects of these pieces; rather the questions either reduce themselves to simple plot summary (i.e. Lit "lite") or bits of anecdotal trivia about specific performances. I'll go through some examples from the set and critique them; like Paul I was fortunate enough to borrow a copy of the set and have it in hand, and will be retyping the text of the questions I discuss (at least the ones I remember).

-Tossup: Abduction from the Seraglio (already pasted by Paul)

I'm basically echoing Paul's complaints about fraudability. This is the closest tossup to making an effort at discussing musical excerpts of an opera, but all that disappears with the easily guessable "Turkish music" a few words in. After that, it's all a very general plot summary, and nary a mention of arias. I suppose it at least gave a wide range of character names to provide concrete clues, but I wish more attention had been paid to other aspects too.


-Tossup: Radames
The downfall of this victorious general is his merciful treatment of prisoners, one of whom turns out to be the father of his lover, who gets his daughter to convince this general to desert and (*) reveal the location of the Egyptian forces. For 10 points—name this general condemned for treason, the lover of Aida.

It's been mentioned by others, but for me this was one of the most disappointing tossups. This is an opera tossup ostensibly, but the clues offer nothing to suggest this. Obviously mentioning Radames' most well-known aria, "Celeste Aida," is going to be pointless, but you could bring up one of his duets (e.g. "Misero Appien Mi Festi") and then mix it with some plot summary or offer clues on parts by other characters (e.g. his love sings "O Patria Mia.") Even as plot summary, the tossup is weak. All the pre-power mark text consists of generic appositives, with no specific names or passages, as if asking the player to try to decipher a puzzle rather than recognize a unique specific clue and buzz, and probably making a fraud buzz on "Egyptian," although the lack of any clue to indicate that the question is about an opera muddies even that. Lastly, I almost never expect writers to take in questions from older sets into account, but given that SCT 2005 also had a tossup on a supporting character from Aida (and again note that this memory is magnified by the low opera distribution), it would be more interesting had the author picked another Verdi subject to ask about this time around (I think Don Carlos, A Masked Ball, and The Force of Destiny don't get enough play in QB in general, but hey, even a bread-and-butter tossup on Rigoletto or La Traviata would have been a change of pace).


Tossup- The Dream of Gerontius
George Moore called this work “holy water in a German beer barrel." Pope Pius XIII thought it was "a sublime masterpiece." Frederick Delius called it "nauseating." First performed in 1900, its text is taken from a long, mystical poem by Cardinal (*) Newman. For 10 points—name this oratorio about the death and afterlife of an "old man" that was written by Sir Edward Elgar.

It's been castigated enough so as not to need repeat. I'm just retyping the text to see how people respond to the quote-based leadins and the lack of concrete musically themed clues (mentioning Delius is the closest thing to one initially, but even that only creates a guess that the answer in question is a musical work).


-Bonus
Name these French composers from the works that won them the Prix de Rome for 15 or from easier clues for 10:
A. 15-the 1857 cantata Clovis and Clotilda.
10-the operas The Pearl Fishers and The Fair Maid of Perth showed this man's development toward his most famous 1875 opera.
answer: Georges Bizet
B. 15- the 1884 cantata The Prodigal Child.
10-his only completed opera was Pelleas and Melisande, though his Clair de lune was associated with the pantomime character Pierrot.
answer: Claude Debussy

I know this couldn't have been an unfinished 10-10-10 turned into a 15-15 for expedience, because the 15 clues are obscure enough to have been well researched. But I just don't see the point of offering a single, very, very obscure works (in the case of The Prodigal Child, a cursory skimming of Amazon.com reviews seems to say that there is only one extant CD recording of this cantata, suggesting it's probably a less-than-key piece in the performance repertoire of Debussy works... and the Prix du Rome clue seems to hint that the value of both works mostly lies in list memory) as the sole basis for giving players full points is a little over-the-top. Did anyone at the SCT's get any of the 15's? Why not merge the hard clues in with the 10's (which were perfectly fine), make it a 10-10-10, and throw in a third part another notable Prix du Rome winner like Berlioz?


-Bonus
30-20-10. Name the opera.
A. The opera begins and ends on the banks of the river Scheldt.
B. At one performance, tenor Leo Slezak quipped, "What time does the next Swan leave?"
C. The title character, a knight of the Holy Grail, pledges his love to Elsa provided she never asks his name or his origin.
answer: Lohengrin

Before, I discuss the clues, I'll observe that the 30-20-10 has rapidly fallen into disuse among well-regarded non-affiliated circuit tournaments (e.g. IO, Chicago Open, Terrapin), not even appearing at all in many. I notice the number of them declining in NAQT sets, and wonder if it wouldn't be worth dropping them entirely in the near future. That said, my objection is the lack of musical clues. The 30 only offers a vague description of the setting; if you're going to reward a person 30 points for knowing an opera, at least reward him for knowing lesser musical pieces or excerpts. The 20 just adds a guesswork element- Leo Slezak has no noteworthy ties to the opera's history, and so that's a non-clue, basically boiling down to "guess an opera in which a swan appears." The 10 is fine as a giveaway and would be all right as one part of a 10-10-10. But as I said, opera questions should offer more than plot summary; I know Wagner isn't the best in terms of having tons of famous named arias, but at least mention the Bridal Chorus or something musical.


-Bonus
For 10 points each- Identify the Wagner opera from a few of its characters.
A. Amfortas, Titurel, and Klingsor
answer: Parsifal
B. Hermann, Venus, and Wolfram von Eschenbach
answer: Tannhäuser
C. Daland, Senta, Erik, and a bunch of Norwegians
answer: The Flying Dutchman

Another Wagner bonus? We all know what an operatic giant he is, but given the dearth of opera, it would be nice to diversify and ask about other major opera composers like Puccini, Donizetti, Monteverdi, Handel, etc. And the setup of "works from characters" seems lazy to me; obviously using characters isn't problematic, but the structure could be more than a quick list bonus.


For 15- name these composers. If you need an easier clue about their writings, you'll earn 5.
A.15- Hector Berlioz ridiculed this composer's opera The Village Soothsayer, an attempt to bring music back to Nature.
5-this Frenchman is better remembered for a work of political science, The Social Contract.
answer: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
B.15-this man's operetta Bitter Sweet was filmed twice; its waltz "I'll See You Again" was a regular show-stopper.
5-his plays include Song at Twilight and Blithe Spirit.
answer: Noel Coward

I found this bonus pretty insulting as a music player. It gets your hopes up for a music bonus, and then you're left with what turns out to be a generic "author from book" bonus with a 10 point ceiling unless you happen to have memorized some trivia about the authors' brief, little studied forays into other creative venues. A tossup on Noel Coward with his composing history as a leadin might be a little interesting, but to ask about it in a music bonus doesn't. I understand someone was trying to be creative and break the mold, but really all this bonus does is punish music players, and any formulaic "name the composer" bonus would have done much more justice to the category. Hopefully this was actually counted as GK, but the leadin doesn't get my hopes up.


Name the composers of operas with similar plots, 15 from a plot description, or 5 if you need the name of the opera.
A.15-after sailing away from his native Portugal, Vasco da Gama is rescued by tropical queen Selika, whom he marries according to local custom. She later kills herself when he is seen with a former love.
5-L'Africaine
answer: Giacomo Meyerbeer
B.15-the title African queen mounts her funeral pyre after declaring her love for the title prince, who has sailed away to fulfill his destiny in Italy.
5-Dido and Aeneas
answer: Henry Purcell

I feel like I'm repeating myself, so I'll just refer above to my distaste for 15-5/10 type bonuses and for opera questions that purely rely on plot summary. Both operas do have concert pieces that you can find readily on aria compilations, and there was really no reason not to bring them up, especially if you're doing the hard clue-easy clue type thing. The 15 for Dido and Aeneas irks me in that it avoids the issue of musically distinguishing it from, say, Les Troyens, by talking only about title characters: even something simple like "The title female sings the recitative 'Thy Hand Belinda' in this Baroque composer's adaptation of the Aeneid with a libretto by Nahum Tate" would have offered less room for fraud. Also, I'm not entirely in agreement with Paul's claim that L'Africaine is too hard for SCT, but I will agree that in the 15-5 structure, the necessity of an average player's knowing it/having heard of it to get a decent bonus conversion is excessive.


That's all the SCT opera I remember; my summary is as follows: emphasize pure plot summary less, include more musical selections as clues, make it clear early on that the tossups are on musical works, eliminate anecdotes about one-time performances or reviews of the work unless they're so well-known as to be key to studying the output of the composer and the progression of the opera's performance history. To close my post, I will present two examples of what I consider to be well-written opera tossups; these are from ACF Regionals and I thank Matt Lafer for supplying the text of them for me:


Singing "Avant de quitter ces lieux", in the second act of this opera an officer entrusts his sister to the care of Siebel. In the fourth act, after returning singing "Gloire immortelle," that officer duels with the title character, and in the last act, the title character and his love sing "Oui, c'est toi que j'aime." The Tintin character Bianca often sings the jewel aria from this opera, whose third act features a ballad about the King of Thule sung by the main female character at a spinning wheel. That character, Marguerite, appears in a vision for the title character in the first act. Beginning with the gift of a magic potion of youth, FTP, identify this opera about a deal with Mephistopheles, the masterpiece of Charles Gounod. ANSWER: Faust

Notable pieces in this opera include the duet “Il core vi dono,â€
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Post by Llanowan »

[quote]
Of the three countries against which Britain declared war on December 6, 1941, this is the only one that did not also go to war against the U.S. Despite the state of war, this fellow democracy never engaged in any fighting against the British. It allied itself with (*) Germany to oppose Russia, which had invaded it two years previously in the “Winter War.â€

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Re: QUESTION SPECIFIC Thread for NAQT SCT

Post by creed_of_hubris »

AuguryMarch wrote:Ok, I am starting a new thread because I don't want this drowned out.
Additionally, please keep your comments in this thread to individual question discussions only. Nothing about logistics, scorekeepers, slights to
This author boxed as a welterweight in army Golden Gloves tournaments, and he was stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941 when the Japanese attacked. Both experiences inspired Private Robert E. Lee (*) Prewitt,
the protagonist of his most famous novel. For 10 points—who wrote From Here to Eternity?

Comment: No titles, nothing substantive about the content of his writing at all. Just some throwaway biographical shit and then the protagonist of From Here to Eternity. How does this tossup not just go "quack quack" speedcheck?
The book is set in Pearl Harbor, and the protagonist is in the military and boxes. These are useful clues if you know much about the book (or have seen the movie).



Apropos of later quibbles, I own a copy of the Cathedral board game.

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Post by quizbowllee »

OK - I wasn't there. I really miss playing, but I find coaching more fulfilling. However, I wanted to point out (as a few people already have) how incredibly easy these questions are, particularly for Div. I SCT questions. Of those posted so far, there are only about two that I'm sure I would not have powered. Even the bonuses seem easy.

Is this sampling we are getting here indicative of the difficulty across the board, or are we seeing examples of insanely easy questions for the very reason that they were so easy and somewhat out of place among more difficult questions?

If all (or most) of the questions were this easy, is this a sign of an overall shift in difficulty among NAQT questions?
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Post by grapesmoker »

Chris Frankel wrote:Did anyone at the SCT's get any of the 15's?
I got Debussy, not because of my awesome knowledge of Debussy works, but because I had to name a French composer who was active in the late 19th century, and I went with the first one I could think of.
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Post by Howard »

Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't we be not discussing these questions until July? I believe NAQT has rights to use them in HS tournament packets as well (and plans to do just that).
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Post by quizbowllee »

R. gave the go ahead to discuss the Div. I questions.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Howard wrote:Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't we be not discussing these questions until July? I believe NAQT has rights to use them in HS tournament packets as well (and plans to do just that).
There was a post from R. on the Yahoo! group permitting discussion of the D1 questions.
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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

In discussing the 30-20-10 on "Lohengrin," Chris F. wrote of its opening clue mentioning the setting on the River Scheldt,
The 30 only offers a vague description of the setting;
and later argued that opera toss-ups have to "offer more than a plot summary."

Opera is a form that obviously mixes multiple artistic disciplines, and that idea I reckon has its apotheosis in Wagner's idea of gesamtkunstwerk. So though I completely agree with Chris's point that operas should have more than plot summary (and this one didn't), I don't agree that this was that bad a 30-point clue. It isn't vague (it offers a specifically named river, and unless other operas begin and end there, it is uniquely identifying (and hard--thus the 30 points for knowing it)), and in opera, plot and presentation (costuming, sets, etc.) are part of the show. Thus, I think it's okay to "reward" a player for knowing the non-musical aspects of an opera. This may not be okay in other types of symphonic music (at least to some folks--as an old-timer, I don't mind extra-contextual clues to get to musical works), but in opera it seems appropriate.

Still, I agree the whole bonus could be better by providing clues separate from just the Opera Encyclopedia plot stuff.[/quote]

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Post by matt979 »

Hey great, two of mine and one that I mistakenly thought was mine until looking it up. Incidentally, on the music theory question that two posters in the other thread described as "the worst of the tournament": You've got a point. Obviously I liked it when I submitted it, but in hindsight... mea culpa.
AuguryMarch wrote: This was the last year in which the Democratic and Republican National Conventions were held in the same city, as both parties chose Miami Beach. It was the second presidential cycle in a row that the
Republicans chose Miami Beach, while the Democrats sought to avoid the debacle of four years earlier in (*) Chicago. For 10 points—what year saw the nominations of George McGovern and Richard Nixon?
1972

Comment: So you are going to write a year tossup.. first mistake. And then you only focus on one thing.. the nominating conventions.. second mistake. If you wanted to write about the nominating conventions, you could actually say something about them other then where they were. What's next? Is NAQT going to release a list of "You Oughtta Know the Locations of these Presidential Nominating Conventions"? Who gives a fuck? Basically it seems like this is a buzzer race at Chicago. I don't see how this tossup is acceptable by any standards.
Not mine, but the maligning of it seems quite out of place.
1. Year tossups: I share everyone's general frustrations with year trivia (i.e. why is it important that something happened in 1978 as opposed to 1977 or 1979?). Presidential elections and Olympiads should probably be an exception, though, as the four year interval is plenty of time to mark different eras.

2. "Focus on one thing": I'm intrigued by the implicit assumption that whatever a question's answer line happens to be, the question itself should either throw the kitchen sink at that specific answer or be the one true platonic ideal sequence of clues approaching that answer. It seems that among the most heavily criticized questions here are those that are fundamentally "about" something a bit removed from what's actually on the line. (e.g. political conventions of 1972 rather than 1972 in and of itself)

3. "Who gives..." - subsequent posters have pointed out that it was powered on "same city" or "Miami Beach" or "Republicans chose" or "avoid the debacle." You could fairly criticize this as almanac knowledge, though a packet set with literally no "almanac knowledge" would seem incomplete to me. (Just my own opinion.)

AuguryMarch wrote: This song has been covered by T.A.T.U., Snake River Conspiracy, Everclear, and Love Spit Love, whose version introduces the Halliwell sisters. The original never charted in the U.S. but was released as a single in 1985, just before the band's (*) Meat Is Murder album. “I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgarâ€

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Post by Captain Sinico »

Okay, so, please stop acting like all this stuff is "just someone's opinion." I posit that the following is a fact: Pyramidal questions with large numbers of relevant, uniquely-identifying clues are the type of questions most likely to reward the people who know more first; they are, therefore, the only type of question anyone should ever be writing. It usually helps to pick a non-retarded answer, too, but we'll come to that later, I assume; I'll not touch it for now, anyway.
I... would think that's self-evident or, if it's not for some reason, that the fact that everyone who's chosen to speak on the matter has been saying that for literally decades would have made it sufficiently obvious. Without exception, each question cited as bad here contains few clues, contains irrelevant clues, or is non-pyramidal; therefore, all of these are, in point of esablished fact and not just in some jerk's opinion, bad questions.
One may, of course, differ about how well known a certain clue is, how relevant it is, or even on the function of the game (maybe it's to provide fun fun fun for a fictional television audience, or something?) What one may not validly do is to just write all this off as "just my opinion;" while it is my opinion, it happens to be so because it's right and I and everyone else who's given any thought to the matter knows it.

MaS

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Post by Steve Watchorn »

Longtime reader, first-time poster:

First of all: re: Paul:
So first of all.. I stole a bunch of the packets. Sue me.
Thief! Also, seriously, great idea for a thread. I think this sort of specific feedback helps all writers get a sense of what makes a great question in today's circuit.

I wanted to respond to the one of mine that has been mentioned, since I think, as others have said, it is important to show that NAQT writers are listening. I want to add a caveat to that in a bit, below, but first, the question of mine:

re: Chris Frankel:
Name these French composers from the works that won them the Prix de Rome for 15 or from easier clues for 10:
A. 15-the 1857 cantata Clovis and Clotilda.
10-the operas The Pearl Fishers and The Fair Maid of Perth showed this man's development toward his most famous 1875 opera.
answer: Georges Bizet
B. 15- the 1884 cantata The Prodigal Child.
10-his only completed opera was Pelleas and Melisande, though his Clair de lune was associated with the pantomime character Pierrot.
answer: Claude Debussy

I know this couldn't have been an unfinished 10-10-10 turned into a 15-15 for expedience, because the 15 clues are obscure enough to have been well researched. But I just don't see the point of offering a single, very, very obscure works (in the case of The Prodigal Child, a cursory skimming of Amazon.com reviews seems to say that there is only one extant CD recording of this cantata, suggesting it's probably a less-than-key piece in the performance repertoire of Debussy works... and the Prix du Rome clue seems to hint that the value of both works mostly lies in list memory) as the sole basis for giving players full points is a little over-the-top. Did anyone at the SCT's get any of the 15's? Why not merge the hard clues in with the 10's (which were perfectly fine), make it a 10-10-10, and throw in a third part another notable Prix du Rome winner like Berlioz?
I went back and forth when writing this question. What swung me towards this format was that (1) I liked the Prix de Rome tie-in, and (2) I thought both of the ten-point clues I included were very, very straightforward, and that the 15's were things I had seen in my own playing days more than once. Perhaps I had just focused on them, but I had seen them as fairly early clues in mutliple tossups and bonuses, and so thought they were fair game as 15ers. In my opinion, three ten point clues (including another composer) would have been too easy, while the two 15's, as given, were sufficiently gettable at that level to give some teams a chance for at least one of them. I may have hedged too much by including the dates, making them too guessable, but I thought that was the better alternative.

Again, this hinges on my determination of the difficulty of the clues, based on my experience (and, I suppose, the editor(s) of the question, as well). If I misjudged that, my apologies. I know NAQT tends to shoot for an average 2/3 bonus conversion by good teams, and that this bonus fulfilled that, since the 10-point clues were (in my opinion) quite easy. But I have seen many cases where my notion of easy and difficult (especially for lead-in clues on tossups) is switched around from a majority of the circuit. Anyway, I think your point is well made, and a fine, informed point of view on the question. Thanks for the feedback.

**********************************************
I think my comments about the question submission procedure and structure at NAQT should go on the other thread, since it is not question-specific. Again, keep those comments coming. Some of us, at least, are listening.

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Post by Chris Frankel »

Chris: Point taken; Wagner is by far my weak spot as far as opera knowledge/interest goes, so perhaps the river setting may hold more than I gave it credit. I guess my frustration lies more in tying it to a 30-20-10 format; in that that single clue holds the full point potential of the bonus in its hands. I'd certainly have no qualms using the clue as part of a leadin in a tossup though, and so I'll reiterate that the format of the bonus was as much of a point of discomfort as the clue itself.

Steve: Thanks for your response. As I mentioned in my musings on your question, it stood among the others I posted as the one where it was clearly obvious that the writer (you) put a lot of thought into selecting the clues to try to craft a balance between traditional/accessible and unusual/challenging, and that's always much appreciated. I think the Prix de Rome theme certainly works, though it's always been my experience that it's been a lot harder to base clues primarily off PdR wins than it is for say, a Booker Prize or a Pulitzer, perhaps since your average player can't pull out a quick almanac list and at least try for the fraud. Your mentioning having seen the clues in your own play and Jerry's mentioning his ability to get 15 on one part to some degree placates my concern about the percieved impossibility of the parts, but at least for SCT, I'd still have to question their difficulty.

Also, I'll note that stylistically, I've always made it a point to try to include multiple clues whenever possible in bonus parts so that nothing ever hinges on a single point of recognition (thus making harder bonuses easier and offering new facts to players on easier parts). But on both parts, I'm glad to hear the responses, and though I still have my resolve on how I would done things differently, seeing the reasoning behind these bonuses and getting to air out my concerns and have them addressed makes me hopeful about the handling of an IMHO neglected subject area (opera/music) in the future.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Post by Steve Watchorn »

Hi, Chris. You beat me to my next comment, which I forgot to give earlier, about opera questions. I am certainly no classical music buff, but I also enjoy opera questions that include some clues about the arias, or notable dances, or music of the opera. And I wanted to say that it is, in fact, the length restrictions on NAQT questions that makes it very, very difficult (I have found) to do that for NAQT opera tossups. The problem (with a 4-1/2 line, twelve-point font limit I mentioned on the general SCT discussion thread) is that many arias have names long enough to eat up 3/4 of a line on their own, leaving less room for other clues. I can squeeze in one aria name, then I have to say something about the plot before (effectively) "for 10 points." As I mentioned on the other thread, I keep hoping one day NAQT will insititute a longer tossup (for untimed tournaments or longer-timed tournaments) that will allow questions like the opera ones you mentioned to be easier to include. For myself, I will still try to write some that way, as I like them, too.
Last edited by Steve Watchorn on Wed Feb 15, 2006 5:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by AuguryMarch »

Ok, this is great.

Let me respond to some of the responses.

I guess I get the idea about the Jim Jones question, the facts of his life being relevant to the plot of From Here to Eternity. I still think its about as shallow a question on him as I could imagine. It basically offers a one line summary of his best known work. There are worse questions though. Fine.

As for the Finland question, I don't deny that people might know that clue. Still, the only clue before the power mark is the single clue about it not going to war against the US. You might say that it being a democracy is another clue, but I don't see anyone who doesn't know the leadin could think "oh, its a democracy! its finland". The two clues are very much linked and it doesn't serve to differentiate further.

In response to the question about John Ray. Its something thats come up at a lot of tournaments in general; its also something that can be gleaned from an extremely shallow knowledge of the leadin. This is a question appropriate for high school, not D1 SCT.

Ok, onto the Schumpeter clue. This first clue about his preference in economists is totally useless. As for the WSJ clue, fine bad buzz on my part. That still doesn't make this a good question. If you study Schumpeter, why would you care what the WSJ thinks of him? Why is this important to the work or ideas of Schumpeter? Why is this clue interesting? I think Jerry is right on this. But thanks for pointing out that it was a bad buzz Matt.

As for the year tossup. You have no response to the fact that the 1972 tossup is still a one clue tossup. I'm not saying it has to be a kitchen sink as you put it, just that it has to have more than one clue. Just because people buzz at more than one point doesn't mean that there are many clues there. There are individual differences in information processing. I sitll don't understand why the location of this nominating convention (or any others) is important (maybe 1968 because of the riots). I don't object to it being from an almanac. I object to it being trivial.

As for the How Soon is Now. It might be well known, fine. I contend that I haven't heard it, but I don't watch Charmed, I don't listen to the Smiths, T.A.T.U, the Snake River Conspiracy, Everclear, or Love Spit Love. I'm probably in the minority.

[/quote]

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Post by Stained Diviner »

As for the year tossup. You have no response to the fact that the 1972 tossup is still a one clue tossup.
It is an election tossup, not a year tossup.
Clue #1: both conventions in Miami
Clue #2: next election after convention debacle
Clue #3: next election after Dems left Chicago
Clue #4: McGovern
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Post by Matt Weiner »

The problem with the Wagner difficulty is its comparison to other bonuses in the set. You could get a 30 at this tournament by knowing "The Purloined Letter" and "A Scandal in Bohemia" on a 15-15 bonus. To get a 30 on that opera bonus, you must know the setting of Lohengrin, a work which I would not expect some teams to get on even the easiest clues. What happens if those are the last two bonuses of a close game, for example? Should the team that got the Lohengrin question feel cheated?

On "How Soon is Now" -- I got this question somewhere after the power, because I am a fan of 1980s alternative rock. I don't think you can reasonably expect someone on each team to be in that position; declaring that Paul "must have" heard it only shows the age, distance from the game, and undue focus on trash possessed by NAQT writers that I've been harping on. I think it's perfectly plausible that not a single radio station in a city where Paul has lived is likely to have played "How Soon is Now" at any time in the past 15 years. And picking a song where the title is not prominently featured in the lyrics just amplifies all these problems. That you admit he may have heard it but be unable to "put the title to the music" is an indication that writing on the title is another way that the trash questions take a step above the academic questions in difficulty.
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Post by Kilby »

[quote="matt979"]
[quote="AuguryMarch"]
This song has been covered by T.A.T.U., Snake River Conspiracy, Everclear, and Love Spit Love, whose version introduces the Halliwell sisters. The original never charted in the U.S. but was released as a single in 1985, just before the band's (*) Meat Is Murder album. “I am the son and the heir of a shyness that is criminally vulgarâ€

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Post by AuguryMarch »

Alright, one more on the 1972 tossup (its a convention tossup, fine. the answer is a year, therefore I called it a year tossup). I guess it depends on what your definition of "clue" is. So assuming that it is a question on the nominating conventions of 1972, what does it matter that they were both in the same place? Furthermore, what does it matter that its in Miami? In what way did the Democrats seek to avoid the debacle of four years earlier? By having it in Miami? It just seems like this whole tossup is orthogonal to the actual content of the 1972 nominating convention. I could be a student of American political history and still get no substantive information about the content of the convention itself until Chicago.

This illustrates a point about NAQT (and question writers) in general. Often times you have people "writing around the answer." Like for a literature tossup, this would be like 'The blah blah blah edition of this work', which is acceptable if the editions of the book are relevant somehow to its history, but saying that the "4th edition of this book has a bright orange color" is totally useless, even if people know it.

Put another way, I think a natural way to think about this is in terms of counterfactuals. If the nominating conventions has been held in, say, New Orleans, would it make much of a difference? Of course, if they had nominated someone else, or the votes had gone differently, it would have made a huge difference (please don't start with Cleopatra's Nose stuff here, thank you).

My final point is that some questions can be bad not because of the clues that are in them, but in the clue that are not in them. In NAQT this is especially salient, because of the oft discussed space limitations. When you put in stuff about the convention being in miami, you are omitting stuff about what took place at the convention itself. Even if it is pyramidal and "clue laden", its still a stupid question.

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Post by Stained Diviner »

I'll grant AuguryMarch that his points are generally valid. I'm beating a dead horse, and I wouldn't defend this question to the death. That being said...

It was significant in some respects that the conventions were in the same city. For one thing, 1972 was when convention protests became an industry (as opposed to 1968 when you had true believers who thought they were changing the world). Having both conventions in the same city made it easier on them--the same people protested both conventions. For another thing, 1972 was a time when the Republicans were more crooked than normal. Having the Democrats in a city they had been in and would soon be in again may have made their tricks easier to pull. Pat Buchanan, then a Nixon Aide, wrote a memo outlining several covert operations the GOP could pull off during the Democratic Convention.

Before 1972, Chicago had hosted 6 of the last 10 Democratic and 6 of the last 10 Republican Conventions. In 1968, there were lots of riots outside the Dem Convention, and a lot of people blamed Mayor Daley and the Chicago Police. A major discussion point leading up to the 1972 Conventions was the fact that neither party had any plans to return to Chicago.

The 1972 Democratic Convention was also significant because it was the last real convention as opposed to televised theatre. McGovern gave his acceptance speech at 3AM because it took that long for the convention to choose him. This has nothing to do with Miami, but it is a reason to study the Convention generally. (The rewriting of rules, arguments over slates, McGovern/Humphrey fight, Buchanan memo, and nomination of Eagleton would be more interesting topics than cities if one wanted to write a 1972 Convention tossup, which seems to be where we agree.)

Another point is that we probably will never see conventions in the same city again for a variety of reasons. It might be interesting to somebody that as recently as 1972 it was a reality.
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