Titanomachy thanks & discussion

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Titanomachy thanks & discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Now that all the incarnations of the tournament have finished, you can discuss the Titanomachy set in this thread.

I'd also like to thank all the people involved in writing the tournament, especially Eric Mukherjee, Jerry Vinokurov, Seth Teitler, and Mike Bentley for writing the science, Seth again for doing a lot of coordination work and spot writing during crunch time, Andrew Hart, Jonathan Magin, Dwight Wynne, Ray Luo, Eric Kwartler, and Ryan Westbrook for writing whole freelance packets or a packet's amount of questions, and Leo Wolpert, Eric Douglass, and anyone I'm forgetting who provided needed questions to finish categories on time.

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Post by Strongside »

This was a pretty awesome tournament, and was one that I really enjoyed. Titanomachy is what a quiz bowl tournament should be like. The questions were well written, and the questions were really geared to my strengths and to what I had studied so that was good. I really liked The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life tossup. It is unfortunate that more people didn't get to play on the set, but hopefully those who played it enjoyed it.
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Post by wd4gdz »

Is this set going to be made available to the public?

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Post by vig180 »

Since I don't have it in front of me I can't think of too many specific questions, but like bjb87 I really enjoyed this set. In fact, I liked it more than ACF Fall because the questions seemed better written in terms of clue quality, answer breadth, and just overall ease of comprehension. If that's what we can expect more tournaments like say, ACF Regionals, to be like in the future, then we'll certainly be at more of them.

But the kicker for me had to be a tossup on the man-sized safe in Dick Cheney's office. Kudos to whoever dreamed that one up.

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Post by DumbJaques »

Titanomachy is what a quiz bowl tournament should be like. The questions were well written, and the questions were really geared to my strengths and to what I had studied so that was good.
Clearly this is what quizbowl tournaments should look like!


Seriously, I really liked this tournament. Good mix of very gettable - medium - somewhat challenging written with consistency, good bonus balance, some great original answer selection. A truly fun tournament on which to play - I would put this tournament forth as a great model for regular season mACF.

I was also a huge fan of the tossup that mentioned Lucas the Deer Fugger.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Ok, I hate to be the wet blanket in this love-fest, but I just looked at some packets from the set and I'm pretty confused as to what the target difficulty was. Not that the questions weren't well written, but many of the bonuses were downright ridiculous. Some examples of this (taken from the three packets I've seen so far): The Battle of Nahrawan, Guillaume Dufay, Spectres of Marx, A Summer Night, Constantine Cavafy, Alciphron, Ilyap'a, a trio of Holmes stories I have never heard of, Cortot, A Delicate Balance, the Battle of Karari, the Arcadia conference, Courland, and the carnival from Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Now, some of these, especially the music ones, might just be holes in my own knowledge, and there were plenty of reasonable (and even very easy) bonuses, but these parts would not be out of place in an upper-level tournament. Seriously, can anyone not named Seth Teitler name an Incan god that isn't Veerakocha? Is anyone going to be picking up Spectres of Marx? What's the point of even asking these things at a regional level tournament? The problem of the uneven bonus difficulty particularly jumped out at me, since some bonuses were surefire 30s while on others, you would be lucky to get 10.

Looking over the packets I have in hand, I feel like I would have really enjoyed playing at this event, and it looks like other people did too, so I'm glad for that. Nonetheless I question the inclusion of the above bonus parts in this set; I think this goes well beyond the advertised difficulty, which compared it with last year's Penn Bowl. Also, I'm glad that my favorite play, The Duchess of Padua, is finally getting some attention.
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Post by cvdwightw »

Jerry, I'm almost positive that about half of those things you mentioned were from the UCLA packet that was originally intended as Illinois Open freelance (a tournament whose target difficulty, at least in those freelance ones that could have possibly ended up as playoff packets, was higher than this) that got diverted at the last second to Titanomachy with essentially no editing. In particular, as a contributor to said freelance packet, I chose the latter two answers as hard parts of bonuses specifically with Illinois Open playoff difficulty in mind.

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Post by DumbJaques »

There were a few things that were entirely too difficult (Neither Jon-Jon nor I could pull the name of the carnival from Something Wicked, despite the fact that I think we've both read it). I think the important issue is that it was mostly confined to bonuses, it didn't occur in any kind of amount that had a real negative impact on the game, and with some notable exception (horrible Sherlock Holmes bonus), I think it mostly fell into the category of "introducing a new answer of variable accessibility into the canon as part of a tolerable bonus/packet," which is something regular season events should do.

Also I move that this thread not become "I got this of of that" or "well I converted this bonus part" because it really doesn't matter and it's the worst argument of all time for justifying something being in a tournament. I've been seeing it a lot lately and it really drives me crazy.
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Post by vandyhawk »

grapesmoker wrote:stuff
The only two things in your list I feel qualified to dispute are Specters of Marx, which is at least always used as a clue for Derrida if not appearing as a bonus part on him, and Dufay, whom I think is quite fine as the 3rd part of a renaissance music bonus, assuming this is how he came up.

To repeat Billy's question, though, can we get ahold of the set?

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Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Is anyone going to be picking up Spectres of Marx?
Everybody should! Much of what ol' Jack said in that book has been shown to be eerily prescient in many world governments' press for unleashed capitalism, with business interests protected and aided by political power.

However, I agree with Jerry. That work is not reasonable toss-up fodder for undergrads (or even most players, as I know that the tournament wasn't restricted). And many other Derrida works are more likely to be read in lit theory courses before that one. But I'll stop now before again hijacking a thread with talk about French critical theorists (like the tasty Cixous discussion this summer). And let me echo Matt's desire to get the packets. But I don't mind paying money if need be.

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Post by yoda4554 »

Just about all of the stuff that Jerry mentioned was, granted, third parts of bonuses; Spectres of Marx came after Of Grammatology and Derrida, for instance. And much of what people have noted was too hard I would argue isn't: a guy on my team playing his first tournament described the "Something Wicked" bonus as one of the easiest 30s of the day, and "Red-Headed League" and "Silver Blaze" are both well-known Holmes stories that have come up in other tournaments.

I'll reiterate what has been said about bonus difficulty: IIRC, we got outplayed in the first game but had the fortune to get the bonuses on Wollstonecraft/Godwin/Shelley and the moonwalk instead of some others that were nearly impossible to get more than 10 on (I recall the first one being particularly egregious, though I forgot what it was about).

I'm not really sure that there should exist tossups on the safe in Dick Cheney's office. I'm also not sure there should exist tossups on the line "I'd buy that for a dollar," which is neither a terribly crucial part of Robocop, nor has it been widely adopted in popular culture to my knowledge (a misconception that tossup seemed to share with the Robocop tossup at last Penn Bowl). On the other hand, the rest of the trash was generally interesting and well-written: Green Eggs and Ham and Donkey Kong come to mind.

As with last Penn Bowl, I want to again urge people to guide the randomization of their packets: four lit. tossups in the first ten, while fine by me, really does through off the rhythm of the match.

That all said, there was a lot at the tournament that was quite well-done. I had three teammates playing their first tournaments, and they generally knew some stuff and had a good time, so it certainly wasn't miles beyond the stated difficulty level. Furthermore, there were a lot of original questions on stock topics--Quixote and labyrinths come to mind within my areas--even if the set wasn't as consistently good as last Penn Bowl.

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Post by grapesmoker »

yoda4554 wrote:Just about all of the stuff that Jerry mentioned was, granted, third parts of bonuses; Spectres of Marx came after Of Grammatology and Derrida, for instance. And much of what people have noted was too hard I would argue isn't: a guy on my team playing his first tournament described the "Something Wicked" bonus as one of the easiest 30s of the day, and "Red-Headed League" and "Silver Blaze" are both well-known Holmes stories that have come up in other tournaments
Even third parts of bonuses should be plausibly gettable. I don't remember if it was at Deep Bench or this tournament that I heard a bonus on Stanford psychologists, in which the third part was some woman I'd never heard of. Clearly, I'm not a psychologist and I'm sure she's well-known within the discipline, but this is the equivalent of me writing a question on particle physics and having the third part be Gerald Guralnik (one of the dudes who has predicted the existence of the Higgs). The Holmes bonus, by the way, was 30d in practice by one of our undergraduates, but she clearly had deep Sherlock Holmes knowledge; everyone else would have gotten zero. This should illustrate the problem of saying "some guy on my team knew the answer," because I'm pretty sure that even if you've read "Something Wicked," recalling the name of the damn carnival is pretty unreasonable. Things like this, combined with some ass-easy bonuses, just exacerbate the problem of bonus difficulty unevenness and often have the effect of killing a more knowledgeable team that's just unlucky enough to land impossible bonuses.
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Post by naturalistic phallacy »

grapesmoker wrote:Ok, I hate to be the wet blanket in this love-fest, but I just looked at some packets from the set and I'm pretty confused as to what the target difficulty was. Not that the questions weren't well written, but many of the bonuses were downright ridiculous. Some examples of this (taken from the three packets I've seen so far): The Battle of Nahrawan, Guillaume Dufay, Spectres of Marx, A Summer Night, Constantine Cavafy, Alciphron, Ilyap'a, a trio of Holmes stories I have never heard of, Cortot, A Delicate Balance, the Battle of Karari, the Arcadia conference, Courland, and the carnival from Something Wicked This Way Comes.
On the other hand, there was a bonus of Mary Wollestonecraft/William Godwin/Mary Shelley that was on a far easier level than the ones you mentioned.
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Post by grapesmoker »

Weekend at Bernadette's wrote:On the other hand, there was a bonus of Mary Wollestonecraft/William Godwin/Mary Shelley that was on a far easier level than the ones you mentioned.
That was part of my point, though. I mentioned this before but I will gladly do so again: you can't have such swings in the bonus difficulty because you run the risk of penalizing teams disproportionately for the accidental misfortune of drawing an impossible bonus. The bonus you're talking about is easily 20d by any moderately competent team, and probably 30d by many teams in the upper half of the table. But were I to draw that Sherlock Holmes bonus, I would get 0 points on it, despite the fact that I'm familiar with a number of the more canonical Holmes stories. How is this fair, or help distinguish between teams with various levels of knowledge?
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Post by yoda4554 »

grapesmoker wrote: Even third parts of bonuses should be plausibly gettable
They should be, and they were, since many were converted by the most knowledgable people at the tournament: there were multiple people at the Maryland site that did indeed remember the name of the carnival. Similarly, I think there are enough qb people who are well-read on Holmes to justify a bonus of that nature (I 20d it, so it certainly wasn't an all-or-nothing kind of bonus), just as one can write a Hitchhiker's or Monty Python bonus requiring ridiculous depth. The problem, as you have mentioned, is mostly one of consistency, in that some third parts were far more gettable than others, but it would not be wholly unreasonable to have this level of tournament written, with a uniform difficulty, at the level of those bonuses.

There were other bonuses with third parts that were less gettable, some of which you and others have mentioned, that are more of a problem.

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Post by grapesmoker »

yoda4554 wrote:They should be, and they were, since many were converted by the most knowledgable people at the tournament: there were multiple people at the Maryland site that did indeed remember the name of the carnival.
So far I have your teammate and possibly Jon Magin. Jon Magin also singlehandedly won a literature singles against a field much stronger than that present at Titanomachy, so I'm going to suggest that if he is the only other one of "multiple" people answering that part of the bonus, it doesn't count.
Similarly, I think there are enough qb people who are well-read on Holmes to justify a bonus of that nature (I 20d it, so it certainly wasn't an all-or-nothing kind of bonus), just as one can write a Hitchhiker's or Monty Python bonus requiring ridiculous depth.
Again, for what level of tournament? I am quite certain of my ridiculous depth of knowledge of both the Hitchhiker's books and Monty Python (I also powered the Dirk Gently tossup off "St. Cedd's College" if that helps boost my nerd credentials), and yet there is no way that I would write a bonus for this even in which the answers were Colin, Perfectly Normal Beast, and Mr. Prosser, because most teams would get no points on that. That is the equivalent of that Holmes bonus; why couldn't one part of that be "A Scandal in Bohemia" or "The Sign of Four" or something that people who don't have super-deep Holmes knowledge can get some points?
The problem, as you have mentioned, is mostly one of consistency, in that some third parts were far more gettable than others, but it would not be wholly unreasonable to have this level of tournament written, with a uniform difficulty, at the level of those bonuses.
I have no idea what "this level of tournament" is even supposed to mean. I played Penn Bowl last year, so I know what "like Penn Bowl" would mean, and I also edited ACF Regionals last year, so I know what "like ACF Regionals" looks like. This tournament was some of both, and yet not wholly either one; unless the packets I have seen are an aberration, it was certainly not at the level of Penn Bowl.
There were other bonuses with third parts that were less gettable, some of which you and others have mentioned, that are more of a problem.
The bonuses I singled out came from packets 5, 6, and 7, which are the only packets I've seen from this set. The questions which are under discussion right now are being talked about because I assume that no one is foolish enough to defend bonuses on unknown battles that only Charles Meigs has a hope of answering.
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Post by naturalistic phallacy »

grapesmoker wrote:
Weekend at Bernadette's wrote:On the other hand, there was a bonus of Mary Wollestonecraft/William Godwin/Mary Shelley that was on a far easier level than the ones you mentioned.
That was part of my point, though. I mentioned this before but I will gladly do so again: you can't have such swings in the bonus difficulty because you run the risk of penalizing teams disproportionately for the accidental misfortune of drawing an impossible bonus. The bonus you're talking about is easily 20d by any moderately competent team, and probably 30d by many teams in the upper half of the table. But were I to draw that Sherlock Holmes bonus, I would get 0 points on it, despite the fact that I'm familiar with a number of the more canonical Holmes stories. How is this fair, or help distinguish between teams with various levels of knowledge?
I was bringing that up to support your point, actually. My word choice was just poor. That particular bonus stuck out in my mind as incredibly easier than most of the set due to my awareness of the three subjects, but it was clearly at a lower difficulty level than the Holmes bonus, for example.
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Post by cvdwightw »

Would packet 6 have been out of place at Illinois Open, especially the playoff rounds? I would say it was certainly the hardest packet of the set.

I know there were some other hard-ass third parts that Jerry hasn't seen yet, but I think for the most part those bonuses (and even a majority of those outside of packet 6 that Jerry cited) did fill the easy-medium-hard gradient (in other words, knowledgeable teams should have still gotten 20 on most of those bonuses). The issue is how hard the "hard" part of a bonus should be. Is canon expansion only allowed at "Regionals level" and above? Should the hard part of a Penn Bowl-level bonus always be a reasonable ACF Regionals tossup answer? Uniformity of bonus hard parts seems to be the sticking point this year.

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Post by magin »

Despite having read Something Wicked This Way Comes, I didn't remember the name of the carnival; that said, I think that was a fine hard part, but it might have been a better idea to make the bonus Something Wicked This Way Comes/Bradbury/Cooger and Dark (Chris and I were confused on the first part and answered Something Wicked This Way Comes). Similarly, the Holmes bonus didn't really have an easy part; replacing The Engineer's Thumb or The Silver Blaze with The Sign of Four or something like that probably would have been a good idea to help more teams convert at least 10 on it. However, I don't think those bonuses were particularly egregious. They could have been better structured, but judging proper difficulty (especially with something like Holmes stories which presumably many people read and many people don't know about) is sometimes hard to do in practice (for instance, I thought my bonus part on Attar was a reasonable hard part when I wrote it, but I doubt that it was converted by many teams at the various mirrors).

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Post by Matt Weiner »

The questions have been sent to Stanford and will presumably appear on their archive shortly.

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