Bonus Policy in ACF

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No Rules Westbrook
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Bonus Policy in ACF

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Just to pose a random and unimportant theoretical question...Do most people like the general ACF rule not to read answers of bonuses until after the entire bonus?

I'm not such a fan of it. It seems to me to just disrupt the flow of the game and maybe impede learning clues orally. It just seems natural for me when a team answers something incorrectly to just give the answer as if to say "this is what those clues equal," instead of waiting and then going back and saying something long-winded like "okay, you get zero points, that first part was the Battle of Obscuria, the second part was the Treaty of Try Again Dumbasses, and that all happened in the War of Just Read the Next Damned Tossup"

I realize the whole point is not to give away answers that influence or give undue clues for later answers in that bonus, but should any bonuses even be written where this is a problem? I mean, unless someone still thinks that there should be bonuses where the three parts are Batesian, Mullerian, and Mertensian mimicry, is this justification even valid?
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Chris Frankel
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Post by Chris Frankel »

I think it's silly and have never used it in any tournaments I've directed.

For people playing in the CO history tournament, the bonus rule won't be in effect there either (i.e. all bonus answers and a confirmation of correctness/incorrectness will be given immediately after each part).
"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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grapesmoker
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Post by grapesmoker »

I think most ACF bonuses are written such that the next bonus part almost always provides the answer to the previous part of the question, so that's not such a problem.

I'm ambivalent about the policy; I've never found it to really impact me one way or the other, though I suppose it encourages you to pay attention to the next bonus part to get the whole context of the question.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Also, shamelessly stealing from Westbrook for my new sig. Thanks Ryan.
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Birdofredum Sawin
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Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

I have no idea why this policy was originally instituted by the founders of ACF. However, here's one reason why it might be a good idea.

Imagine a standard bonus which asks a team to name three works of George Eliot for ten points each. Further imagine that it is asked to a team which knows next to nothing about literature, but one of the players has memorized some titles and knows that this Eliot person wrote some books named "Middlemarch," "The Mill on the Floss," and "Silas Marner." Playing with the standard ACF policy on not reading bonus answers, that team is probably going to say "Is this Middlemarch? Let's just keep guessing it" and at most get 10 points on the bonus, which is as it should be. If the answers are read, that team can luck into 20 or 30 points just by eliminating answers: "Is this Middlemarch? Sweet, it is! OK, let's guess that Mill on the Floss thing this time. Right again!"

If you're not really interested in having teams luck into too many points by sheer guesswork, then the ACF policy might not be a bad thing.

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No Rules Westbrook
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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Right, Andrew's example is the most logical reason for the policy. But, I wonder how many bonuses are even written where this holds up. As mentioned, many bonuses now give the answer for the first part in the clue for the second part, etc, which is kind of awkward. And, a much more common bonus than Andrew cited that you might see today would be something like Eliot/Middlemarch/Dorothea Brooke. Even for bonuses that ask, for example, works of people, I think the argument only applies when the difficulty is the bare minimum i.e. Floss/Marner/Middlemarch. If you take a bonus that's something like Custom of the Country/Middlemarch/Romola, giving away those parts afterwards does next to nothing to help the team. Also, I think this strategy of "riding the pony" that teams are sometimes inclined to adopt when the policy is in place is a little bit silly. I mean, they could theoretically play the trifecta and get 30 by guessing the three works they know in the right places. I realize they have less chance of this, but the whole idea of deciding whether to ride pony or roll the dice seems a little frivolous to me.
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No Rules Westbrook
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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yes, I'm aware Eliot did not write Custom of the Country...mother fucker!
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Post by cvdwightw »

I'm going to take Andrew's example a little further.

Suppose someone writes a Mill on the Floss/Silas Marner/Middlemarch bonus for ACF Fall 2006, and that the editors actually let that bonus through without editing the answer choice. Suppose also that the team that gets this bonus is exactly as Andrew described, except that the only work the four of them can come up with by Eliot is Middlemarch.

With ACF bonus policy:
Team guesses Middlemarch on all three parts and gets 10 points for the last part. Moderator reveals answers to first two parts, and all the team learns is two more answers to randomly guess on a tossup that ends "Name this George Eliot novel about (BLANK)."

Non-ACF bonus policy:
Team guesses Middlemarch and is told no, the answer is Mill on the Floss. Team guesses Middlemarch and is told no, the answer is Silas Marner. Team guesses Middlemarch and is told they get ten points. Now, if someone's paying attention (and remembers), that team might actually get points off of "FTP Name this George Eliot novel centering on the life of Maggie Tulliver" or "FTP Name this George Eliot novel whose title character is the Weaver of Raveloe" (assuming those clues are used in the bonus)

I think this is what Ryan's talking about when he implies ACF bonus policy may impede learning clues (I think he means aurally). Sure, it may keep teams who rightly deserve 10 points from getting 20 or 30, but it also might (and at least in my view, probably does) keep those same teams from learning the clues that would allow them to get a deserved 20 or 30 points the next time a similar bonus comes.

This of course discounts the fact that the team could probably learn the information better by writing their own Mill/Marner/Middlemarch bonus, but in my experience I've found it's easier and more rewarding to write questions on stuff about which I know something (however minimal) than on stuff I've merely heard show up at past tournaments.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Somebody should look through recent ACF packets and see how many bonuses of the "name 3 things in the same category" variety there actually are.

Personally, I shut off my brain whenever I hear a literature bonuses, but from what little awareness I have during them, it seems that most are "name this book, name the author of the book, name a character from the book", where no worthwhile information would be given that isn't also given in the bonus prompt.
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Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

Bruce wrote: Personally, I shut off my brain whenever I hear a literature bonuses
And apparently I do so when I write about them too.
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Post by NatusRoma »

I suppose that one reason I and others might prefer hearing the correct answer immediately after the related bonus part might simply be a desire for instant gratification.

That said, I very much prefer hearing the answer after each bonus part (excepting, of course, 30-20-10 bonuses)

As has been indicated above, can anyone remember a tournament from the last 2-3 years that has used the ACF bonus policy, yet has included numerous bonuses whose answers are 3 out of the 3-5 elements of some category? Of course, there are plenty of good tournaments that don't use the ACF bonus policy (as well as some bad ones). Yet, paradoxically, ournaments that use the ACF bonus policy have bonuses that are sufficiently well-written to render the policy moot in virtually all cases.
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Post by Nathan »

I think novice level ACF tourneys are the ones where this policy is of the most use (i.e. ACF fall)...when dealing with a limited answer space...
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Post by yoda4554 »

I don't have a position one way or the other on hte policy, but the policy certainly has a measurable effect at harder tournaments. For example, the Walker Percy and Saul Bellow bonuses at ACF Nationals both had two works by those authors as the first two parts without identifying the author, and the author as the third. Presumably, if you heard the answer from the first part, you might recognize the author and at least be able to narrow the possible answers for the second part. It strikes me as a decent method for maintaining a high level of difficulty here, by requiring that people recognize the work on its own merits and not just thinking "of the X works that I've heard of by author Y, Z intuitively seems most likely to be the answer."
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Post by No Rules Westbrook »

It's a good point about the "work-work-author of those works" style of bonus. I'm not sure how I feel about them "aesthetically," as we've come to say. Certainly, they're not perfect, since a team that figures out the first work on its own merits can infer what the second work may be. Really, in general, I think bonuses sometimes try too hard to have all their parts be on one narrow "topic" and relate to one thing...sometimes bonuses seem much better written when the topic covered is more general i.e. "answer some crap about optics."
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