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Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 2:17 pm
by yoda4554
So, while Colin recovers from his weekend, I figured I'd start a thread for the discussion of this, while it's fresh in everyone's minds. While Colin did all the editing, I'm responsible for the originals of a large amount of the pre-1990 film (and a fair chunk of the pre-1990 in many categories, I think), and smatterings of other stuff (especially the classic R&B and non-comics trash lit., like the sci-fi and children's, I believe), so I was curious as to how that all went over. Hope people liked the set: if Mike brought his recording equipment, I look forward to hearing the podcasts.

PS--As far as I see, there are no mirrors. If somehow I'm missing something, feel free to kill this thread.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:15 pm
by DumbJaques
I'm afraid that I found this tournament to range from pretty good (at times) to utterly terrible (at somewhat more frequent, though perhaps unfairly more memorable times). In particular, the final packets broke down utterly in terms of quality, answer selection, and most egregiously distribution. One packet seemed to have around 7 music tossups, and perhaps even others whose clues centrally referenced music. The finals packet, while perhaps meant to be harder, was really just silly and tossed out the idea of easy-medium-hard bonuses and was basically an example of why the principles of good quizbowl don't change when writing trash. I can't find the set right now, so if it gets posted I'll get more specific about what I mean, but the relative coherence and quality of the first batch of packets just decayed and seemed to very clearly reflect that a last-minute crunch really killed the quality. I mean, I know that happens, but it's necessary to project these things and ask people for help - I seem to recall some "Colin email me" post from Fred Morlan, and I wonder if that was related to this. Communication and asking for help promptly and efficiently is pretty important - I learned this the hard way a year ago, so if this was an issue, hopefully Colin and co. have learned this already as well.

The other issues were substantive. A lot of the questions at this tournament were bad. Accessibility in a global sense was actually not too bad, and deserves praise. I also don't want to make it out like this tournament was universally terrible - a lot of packets, particularly in the prelims, were just fine. But there were tons of badly written questions. Questions on Spock that opens with "this guy's brother stole a spaceship because he didn't like the logic-based philosophy of his race" or something like that? I have never seen an episode of Star Trek, but there was a universal buzzer race in my room on that clue. There were numerous transparency issues ("brotherhood of mutants" in the early lines of a Magneto question, numerous other examples I can't specifically pull right now without the set). There were things you just shouldn't do, like saying the answer in the question (and still having another 1-2 lines of tossup afterwards!) at entirely too many points during this tournament. Again it's hard to pull specific examples, but I think I recall that a tossup on I Walk the Line included either the word "walk" or "line" before the FTP - it occurred several times with other questions.

The distribution seemed very odd to me. Subdistribution was evidently often ignored. I hesitate to make statistical statements without the questions, but it sure didn't seem like there was a lot of non-hip hop recent music (as in, last 5 years or so). As mentioned, music would show up a ludicrous amount of times in some packets. Some packets would have multiple baseball tossups and only one or two movie questions. There seemed to be 2/2 internet culture in some packets, which seems a bit much too me, but who knows. Sub-distributions exist for a reason, and really shouldn't be ignored. If for some odd reason you find that you have way too many music/baseball/whatever, I guess you should divide it among packets rather than sticking a buttload of them in one, which basically just ruins that game.

I also know there's not much a TD can do when two (two!) rounds are screwed up, so let's just make this a cautionary tale about using passwords for specific rounds or having readers check in or whatever. Also, people in our room were a bit perplexed why the TD didn't even stop reading the present round to deal with the situation, and our reader was utterly unsure about what to do and nearly did something even more incorrect (again). But, that's not really Colin's fault and it ended up being handled as best it could be. This tournament's management was not handled that way - we were supposed to start very shortly after 10:00, and got in early to Espresso Expose after a LONG night to make that happen. I don't believe this tournament started too much before 11, which is just ridiculous. Schedules being made after 10:00 AM on the morning of the tournament is not good. Allowing lunch to run so long (we ran a full 20/20 round and still waited around for another 20-30 minutes) was equally bad - there are lots of things that can cause stat-entering issues, so I hesitate to apply particular blame to Colin. A tournament scheduled to run 9 rounds and start around 10:00 ended close to 5:30, didn't have finals packets available, and clearly had quality issues with some of the finals packets. I mean, the tournament did exist, so I guess it wouldn't have made sense to just say it needed to be posptoned and have everyone play JECHT, but I heard a lot of people express that they wished this had happened, which is not a good thing. I think these issues with management are more defensible and reflect a bunch of stuff (not the best staff maybe, the late opening of the rooms) that Colin perhaps had no control over. I think the issues with the set still stand.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:28 pm
by Mike Bentley
This tournament was certainly not the worst trash tournament I've ever played (it was probably better than last year's TRASH Regionals, for instance), but it did have both content and logistical problems.

One problem that I noticed in this tournament was something that frequently appears in TRASH events, namely writing bonuses to appeal to specialists. Maybe it was a joke, but why would anyone write a bonus where the *easy* part of a bonus is Reconstruciton Site by the Weakerthans? That was a bonus that you either 30'd or got 0 on, there was no gradiation. Why not turn "Utilities" into "Weakerthans" and "Reunion Tour" into a question on another, more accesible Canadian indie band or something. This happened innumerable times in this tournament and resulted in matches hinging on bonus conversion statistics (for instance, I think we won our game against Sorice's team by 20 points or something despite answering one less tossup than them).

I also was not a very big fan of including meta in this tournament. I realize that I sound like something of a hypocrite by having recently written a tournament that was 1/4 meta, but general trash tournaments that are not the CO should not include meta in them beyond the occasional joke. There were several teams attending this tournaments (and the mirrors) that are not in tune with the internals of the circuit, and penalizing them with as much as 2/2 meta per round isn't the best idea.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 3:35 pm
by Jeaton1
It's not a huge thing, but the 1/1 to 3/3 Minnesota distribution per packet was not favorable. While it was cute and humorous the first time or two, it quickly became a groanfest from both players and moderators whenever the word 'Minnesota' was blatantly used in a question. I recommend either not simply doing something like this or announcing specific subdistros like this beforehand as was done with a Boston Trash Tournament two summers ago that had a 1/1 France distribution in honor of Bastille Day.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:08 pm
by Coelacanth
I pretty much agree with most of Chris' and Mike's points, so I won't rehash too much of that. Many (most?) of the logistical issues can be chalked up to the fact that this was Colin's first time doing anything like this. While the end result was far from optimal, it really wasn't from lack of effort on his part, just lack of experience.

A big issue I had with the questions was consistency of bonus difficulty. As Mike said, there were many 30-or-nothing bonuses, many that were an easy 30 for everyone, and others that probably went dead in every room. There is a lot to be said for sticking to the easy/medium/hard concept; too many questions were hard/hard/hard, easy/easy/easy, or just "three related things whose relative difficulty we didn't think about very much".

On the distribution:

Sports was pretty good. Good mix of old vs new, players vs teams, threw in a few minor sports. The basketball/hockey ratio was way off; not that they should be equal, but we heard one hockey question all day and it seemed like 1/1 hoops per round.

TV was also not bad. Again chronologically reasonably well balanced. Biggest problem was too many "name the character" questions. If you've never seen the show, how can you even guess this? Instead of a bonus of {name the show/name this character/name this other character} or even {name these three characters} why not do {show/character/actor}?

As usual, I don't have much to say about Movies. Seemed decent to me, especially the old school stuff, but I mostly tune it out because I know very little about movies and anyway Rom was on my team.

Music was very problematic. Too much indie we'd never heard of. Too much recent rap/hip-hop. Way too much "name this album" questions. Seriously, writers everywhere, STOP DOING THIS. Unless it's one of those seminal, classic, genre-defining records, nobody cares what album a particular song is on. Unplug your iPod and turn on a RADIO and write questions about what you hear there.

Video games, meh. I can't really comment. I'm OK with the fact that there's going to be 2/2 per round that we've got no chance at.

Most of the Other stuff was more or less as-expected. The food stuff was decent, and appreciated. (Mmmmmmm...chicken-fried bacon) The meta was not very well-written (a tossup on hurf-durf??) There was more internet-culture stuff than I would have liked, but that's what the kids read these days I guess.

Yes, the whole event was pretty ragged, but I really appreciated having it available to play. Thanks to Colin and all the other staffers (I don't know who you all are; we pretty much were in either Colin's or Auroni's room all day) for running this.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 4:13 pm
by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN)
So I can't imagine who is responsible for the tons of baseball. Dan Passner, do you have any thoughts on who it might be?

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:09 pm
by Rothlover
I wrote I believe 7 baseball tus and 9 baseball bonuses. I can list them for feedback etc. With the 12 proposed packets, I was simply covering as much of the 1/1 baseball dist as I had time for. I also wrote a few of the other tus and bonuses, hope people liked the semi-legit recent lit bonus, etc. Will have more to say later.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:21 pm
by Cheynem
Everyone else pretty much has explained this tourney well. I'd just like to say...can we retire "The team was owned by Ray Kroc" as a lead-in for the San Diego Padres?

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:37 pm
by Rothlover
OK, here is the stuff I wrote, in the order I wrote it, feel free to pillor, praise, comment etc. I playtested each q at least twice with irc channel people to help tweak. I was very busy and communication on one side wasn't ideal, so I didn't write a fraction of what I could have and would liked to have. I consciously tried to write more group tus to see how that goes over.


Washington 1B
300 win club (gotta know victor starfin people)
players named clark(e)
Roy Halladay
Cleveland Indians bullpen
Dan Uggla

Non baseball tus
meta/stealth academic-ish tu on De Stijl
common link tu on Dice, with WP Kinsella and Robert Coover leadins
abortion in (mostly important) tv
bestiality in (mostly) "cinema"

For bonuses, I tried to make the 30 something where you had to know your shit. It wasn't clear to me if this was consistant with all of the packets since I only saw a few on google docs and did not get a good sense for where the mean was supposed to be. I tried to make at least one part easily accessible and the middle part accessible to a general person who knew the area.


2008 breakouts (Bradley/Wieters/Campillo)
old shite (Ross Barnes/players named White/ Black Sox)
AAAA players (Ken Phelps/ N Cruz/ Matt Stairs)
Traded dudes (Texiera/Bedard/Carlos Santana)
Piratiana (J Wilson/Matt Morris/ Jose Tabata)

Guess it was 6/5 baseball

non baseball bonuses
legitish linked lit (E White/J S Foer/ JC Oates)
guitars (strat/tremolo/Kramer guitars)
cooking (pressure cooker/ Col Sanders/ sand frying)

May have missed a couple.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 5:47 pm
by Cheynem
Of the baseball TUs, the 300-win question was a very good one that I negged in the stupidest way possible. The Roy Halladay one seemed overly dominated by statistics aside from the lead-in about President Bush (I got it at the part about him dominating the Detroit Tigers). The rest were fine: I fell victim to an incomplete answer on the Cleveland Indians bullpen question, but that's my own fault. And I love any TU that can reference Nig Clarke.

The bonuses were pretty neat too. I didn't hear all of the ones you listed, but of the ones I did, I thought they were solid. I thought the old-timey bonus was a little too easy, actually (Devon and Rondell _____).

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 6:50 pm
by BuzzerZen
Stuff I wrote for this, for the record:

Tossups: Police Trainer, Tetris, Powerthirst
Bonuses: Eurogames, Roguelikes, Internet forums, and a bonus about Game Boy games that made me angry.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 9:28 pm
Whoever said You Don't Know Jack is "funn" is in for a world of pain.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Mon Oct 20, 2008 10:08 pm
Questions I remember writing

Women in Refrigerators bonus (Scarlet Witch/Gwen Stacy/Kyle Rayner)
Unloved video game characters (Kiddy Kong/Link/Bubsy)
DRM & games (Spore/BioShock/Starforce)
Southern Vampire Mysteries (Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood/Bill Compton)
Non-Marvel, non-DC movie adaptations (Sin City/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen/Hellboy)
Celebrities in video games (Drew Carey/Jet Li/Def Jam)

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:03 am
by Skepticism and Animal Feed
I enjoyed the bonus on different kinds of milk-cows.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 10:05 am
by pray for elves
There are still two packets I haven't heard in this event - packet 1 and packet 6. My team was in the room both times when a reader read the wrong packet.

I don't want to pile on about things like distribution issues, bad questions, too much meta, or bad organization; these things are well-documented. I'd instead like to say that there were many good questions, the non-meta answer selection was for the most part (but not entirely) good (even if the questions sometimes weren't), and most of the issues are correctable. Basically, Colin should not be too discouraged; sure, this tournament was not good, but I would not avoid a future tournament edited by Colin, because he is presumably capable of learning from his mistakes and producing a better set next time.

Re: Pilatus Discussion

Posted: Tue Oct 21, 2008 12:25 pm
by theMoMA
I have to say that this tournament was mostly a pleasant experience for me. I didn't really know how Colin would manage on his own, and I think he at least produced a set that was enjoyable to play for most everyone involved. There are plenty of positive things to take away from this, even if some lessons had to be learned the hard way.