2009 ICT discussion

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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

There was a tremendous problem, I think, in there being bonuses with no easy parts. Was there an easy part to the elevator videogames bonus? What's the easy part in the first of those two Mexican history bonuses? I can't imagine that these are isolated examples; I remember feeling that there were a lot of bonuses that no one would ten save by guessing.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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everyday847 wrote:Was there an easy part to the elevator videogames bonus? What's the easy part in the first of those two Mexican history bonuses? I can't imagine that these are isolated examples; I remember feeling that there were a lot of bonuses that no one would ten save by guessing.
The first Mexican bonus should have had an easier part, and indeed the third part was probably unreasonably hard. I don't think it's hard enough to require guessing, since A. is reasonably famous and B. rewards real knowledge. Sorry that this one ended up medium-hard-IMPOSSIBLE instead of easy-medium-hard.
round 15 wrote:For 10 points each--name these video games that feature elevators:

A. You play "Agent Otto" as he navigates a 30-floor building removing confidential documents from behind red doors.

answer: _Elevator Action_

B. Acquiring a blue ribbon allowed bishops, lords, ninjas, and samurais in this adventure game to access an elevator to the ninth floor of the Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord.

answer: _Wizardry_ I: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

C. Using an elevator to move to a different floor was the only way to quiet guards around the walking nuclear tank after one of them had sounded a double-exclamation-mark alert.

answer: _Metal Gear_ (do not accept "Metal Gear Solid")
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

DumbJaques wrote:Eh, perhaps harder than I had thought - I think Fulcher of Chartres is pretty well known, though. There are plenty of other issues I'd identify with that question alone - for one thing, Bohemund is mentioned after the Treaty of Devol (which is almost certainly better-known than he is) and Alexios (who is certainly better-known). It also strikes me as dominated by list-type leadins - mentioning an important chronicler is one thing, but making the entire opening portion of the question essentially a list of people who wrote about it seems like a bad idea to me.
It's pretty absurd to claim that any of the things in that leadin are "well known." Maybe if you're a medievalist who loves him some crusades, but personally I've never heard of either Fulcher of Chartres or the Treaty of Devol. Mind you, my interests lie in other areas of history, but I'm old enough that if this were anything like an easy stock clue, I would know it, and I don't. That seemed like a perfectly decent question to me and I have no idea why you're complaining about it.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

everyday847 wrote:There was a tremendous problem, I think, in there being bonuses with no easy parts. Was there an easy part to the elevator videogames bonus? What's the easy part in the first of those two Mexican history bonuses? I can't imagine that these are isolated examples; I remember feeling that there were a lot of bonuses that no one would ten save by guessing.
The first Mexican history bonus seem ok (Diaz is the easy part there) but the one with the cities was near impossible. I would be impressed if anyone got even 20 on that.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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bt_green_warbler wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:This tournament was nowhere near as good as last year's, was actually the first NAQT event I've been to which seemed poorly managed, and occurred at an absolute travesty of a location. I think last year's ICT represented a really high point of NAQT's college involvement, and after the steps taken via Jeff to interact more with the community this year, I had high hopes for this event. It just seemed extremely disappointing.
For reference, here's last year's ICT thread.

Something quite prevalent last year (and almost nonexistant this year) was complaint about the quality of ICT science. I think that's an obvious improvement, and believe this to be a reflection of Matt Keller's hard work writing and editing over the past months. Chris, if you believe the history and geography in the 2009 set were much worse than the 2008 versions, I'd love to hear specifics.
I might have more comments later, but:

The gluons tossup dropped "Gell-Mann" as the very first clue, then tried to get cutesy and dance around the fact that there are eight of them. This was a bad bad bad question. I'm not qualified to talk about any of the other science, but I know Mehdi was complaining about some of the questions.

Also, the music was extraordinarily poor. To wit:
* "A Child Of Our Time" is, I suspect, objectively way too hard to be tossed up at anything other than a Westbrook-level side event. I would be surprised if that question was converted in more than three or four rooms. And, knowing how NAQT works, I just know that they'll use the low conversion for that question (and stuff like whatever Rigoletto character was tossed up in Round 1) to further marginalize music, when they should focus on finding more and better topics instead.
* This may be a case of my knowledge not really synching up with the canon, but I was under the impression that Webern's bagatelles were more famous than any of the other non-Fur Elise pieces mentioned in that TU, and possibly even more than the knowledge that Fur Elise is, in fact, a bagatelle. So, reverse pyramid there (and probably another question too tough for most of the field).
* The Moldau and Rhenish Symphony questions were okay, sort of; I can't think of anything to say about them right now.

And those were, out of ten rounds (okay, nine-and-a-half, but the first half of Round 8 didn't have music either), all of the four count 'em four non-opera classical music TUs I heard, not counting watching the finals. Yes, I know that's a distribution complaint.

Obviously, the canceled flight Friday afternoon did not help anything, and I appreciate NAQT's efforts to accommodate us, but this tournament was incredibly disappointing even putting aside the travel issues. There were some bright points (the zoning tossup was well-done and perfectly pyramidal, for instance), but it felt like they were few and far between.
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote: * The Moldau
Ooh, would like to see.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask »

Sir Thopas wrote:
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote: * The Moldau
Ooh, would like to see.
The Moldau question actually was somewhat wonky, as most of the words were taken up by technical descriptions of the music itself, which on one hand I appreciated, but on the other hand led to me being cautious and sitting on the question until somewhere near the FTP, when I had been thinking "Moldau" since the first clue. The Rhenish symphony one was similar, but I don't really know that symphony, so I wasn't sitting like I did with the Moldau question.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:gluons tossup .... This was a bad bad bad question.
round 12 wrote:They are often associated with the Gell-Mann matrices--of which there are the same number--as well as with expressions that can't add up to the forbidden singlet state; those include -i over radical 2 times the quantity r b bar minus (*) b r bar. The main reason for the complexity of QCD relative to QED is the fact that these entities interact with the force they carry since they have color charge. For 10 points--name these eight vector bosons that carry the strong interaction among quarks.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote: Also, the music was extraordinarily disappointing. To wit:
* "A Child Of Our Time" is, I suspect, objectively way too hard to be tossed up at anything other than a Westbrook-level side event. I would be surprised if that question was converted in more than three or four rooms. And, knowing how NAQT works, I just know that they'll use the low conversion for that question (and stuff like whatever Rigoletto character was tossed up in Round 1) to further marginalize music, when they should focus on finding more and better topics instead.
We're well aware that both of these questions tested the outer margins of ICT-level difficulty. We have no plans to reduce the amount of music in future tournaments because these two pushed the envelope.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote: * This may be a case of my knowledge not really synching up with the canon, but I was under the impression that Webern's bagatelles were more famous than any of the other non-Fur Elise pieces mentioned in that TU, and possibly even more than the knowledge that Fur Elise is, in fact, a bagatelle. So, reverse pyramid there (and probably another question too tough for most of the field).
round 13 wrote:Anton Webern's Op. 9 features six of these pieces for string quartet, while B\'ela Bart\'ok's Op. 6 contains 14 of them for piano. Franz Liszt wrote an experimental one "without tonality," but those of Ludwig van Beethoven are more famous, especially the one in A minor known as (*) "Fur Elise." For 10 points--name this style of light music whose French name also refers to a children's game.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:And those were, out of ten rounds (okay, nine-and-a-half, but the first half of Round 8 didn't have music either), all of the four count 'em four non-opera classical music TUs I heard, not counting watching the finals. Yes, I know that's a distribution complaint.
There are supposed to be 12 non-opera music tossups in 18 rounds of ICT; so there should have been (about) seven in a ten-round sample, and (about) five of those in the first twenty, so it's not obvious that four is way out of line. But yes, we know that players would like to see more fine arts in the 2010 SCT and ICT.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
Sir Thopas wrote:
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote: * The Moldau
Ooh, would like to see.
The Moldau question actually was somewhat wonky, as most of the words were taken up by technical descriptions of the music itself, which on one hand I appreciated, but on the other hand led to me being cautious and sitting on the question until somewhere near the FTP, when I had been thinking "Moldau" since the first clue. The Rhenish symphony one was similar, but I don't really know that symphony, so I wasn't sitting like I did with the Moldau question.
round 2 wrote:This composition in E minor, which is part of a larger work, opens with a flute solo representing a cold brook. Trumpets and horn calls suggest a hunt that fades away to a scene of folk dancing at a peasant wedding. Flutes and clarinets join a harp for the "Dance of the Water Nymphs," which leads to the more violent (*) "Rapids of St. John." For 10 points--name this nationalist tone poem, part of Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast, that depicts the river that runs through Prague.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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grapesmoker wrote:
everyday847 wrote:There was a tremendous problem, I think, in there being bonuses with no easy parts. Was there an easy part to the elevator videogames bonus? What's the easy part in the first of those two Mexican history bonuses? I can't imagine that these are isolated examples; I remember feeling that there were a lot of bonuses that no one would ten save by guessing.
The first Mexican history bonus seem ok (Diaz is the easy part there) but the one with the cities was near impossible. I would be impressed if anyone got even 20 on that.
Yeah, when I said "first," I meant "first in Jeff's post"--the cities one was first there for me, unless I am being unusually dense (which is quite possible). I know me my Diaz.
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:The gluons tossup dropped "Gell-Mann" as the very first clue, then tried to get cutesy and dance around the fact that there are eight of them. This was a bad bad bad question. I'm not qualified to talk about any of the other science, but I know Mehdi was complaining about some of the questions.
This was really frustrating for me, because, while we wouldn't have beaten Chicago in any case, we would have been about seventy points closer if I had trusted myself: Seth didn't buzz, and I assumed I was wrong since for god's sake it's Seth. Which says more about me having stupid instincts than anything else--I should be able to play on good questions and bad ones--but there's no reason to make players play mind-games over guessing why the other player's not buzzing. Gell-Mann matrices should not be the first clue; even if you've never heard of them, you can guess what they might be from the knowledge that Gell-Mann the dude had something to do with the strong force and, for extra help, matrices might do a decent job representing force-carriers. There are lots of hard clues about gluons, and the fact that this tossup didn't use any struck me as a little lazy.

Same with the quasars tossup, actually; the fact that Gunn-Peterson troughs are expected in quasar spectra since they're so far away and there's hydrogen in the middle isn't terribly well known (I will never make it an HFT tossup, fear not), but it's not leadin material at this level, I don't think. The "inflation" tossup was disappointing, but I can't remember its text, just frustration.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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Jeff wrote:But yes, we know that players would like to see more fine arts in the 2010 SCT and ICT.
Hey, Jeff, I'm not trying to take an antagonistic tone here, but I'm a little confused about what you mean by this statement ("Noted," "Yes, we KNOW THAT ALREADY, STOP TELLING US JEEZ" or "We know that and we will be including more fine arts in these tournaments," all seem like plausible interpretations to me). Is NAQT planning on upping the fine arts content in future SCTs/ICTs?
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Ken Jennings »

DumbJaques wrote: Well, I certainly don't understand what you were trying to say in response to Mike's post - it doesn't communicate anything to him (particularly, it gives no indication that, as you say, you were perplexed by what he was asking), and really, how can "Yeah! Pulitzer Prize-winning trash lit!" possibly be read as something that isn't sarcasm?
I'm not sure this two-sentence exchange really deserves the threadjack at this point. Sure, it was sarcasm, but I hoped it was a gently sarcastic/disbelieving way to say, "Wait, in the unending hsquizbowl discussion about how trash questions are ruining NAQT lit, we're now going to start seeing accusations that Pulitzer-winning novels should count as trash?" I don't think that kind of drive-by joke is unusual for--trying to put this as gently as I can--the style and directness of typical hsquizbowl discussion. And I like that informality and directness, don't get me wrong.

As for Charlie's tut-tutting about my "understanding of customer service"...I think my discussion above of the Dryden question is more in line with the way I typically treat serious responses to NAQT material. Luckily, I'm not in Jeff's official VP position of having to be formal and exaggeratedly patient in every post here. Obviously I know that if I'm a big jerk all the time then that would reflect badly on NAQT, but I don't think anyone fair-minded would think that about me. If smiley-ing my Pulitzer comment is all it would have taken to avoid these high-minded responses about tone and decorum and so forth, I'll happily agree that I should have done so.
there was an unacceptable amount of stuff at this event that was decidedly not positive.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

DumbJaques wrote:
So, my theory on what continues to cause the annual hatefest that is ICT question reaction (sans last year, for obvious reasons) is because some not insignificant number of question contributors are accurately described by this statement. Things have changed extraordinarily rapidly over the last few years, and I wonder how many people in NAQT's senior leadership even have a grasp on the realities of the game right now. I'd be interested to know who took point on editing for the tournament, how that setup worked, and who edited specific categories, etc. If I'm just way off base about this being the situation, then perhaps there is some other reason why tossups on the First Crusade mention Fulcher of Chartres and Guibert of Nogent in the first line, why there are tossups on The Garden of Earthly Delights that looks like it was ripped right out of an IS set, or why some bonuses seem simply not to care about the easy-medium-hard guidelines.
As far as "who took point": I wrote about a third of the tournament outright (including basically all of the philosophy/theology, most of the lit, and big chunks of the social science, arts, history, and pop culture questions). I also did substantial editing on the non-science, non-geography questions. Matt Keller and Jeff did a lot of work writing and editing in their areas. R. also did a lot of work on the final set editing.

I know that there's a time-honored tradition of people making passionate denunciations of NAQT tournaments in their immediate aftermath, followed by elaborate back-and-forth which usually leads (after exhausting discussion) to a more nuanced assessment of the set. I don't imagine we can cut this seemingly cathartic process short, but maybe we can try to tone down the rhetoric a little this year?

To take one example: I wrote, and Jeff edited, the First Crusade tossup which Chris attacks here. Maybe Jeff and I fail to "even have a grasp on the realities of the game right now," but we both thought it was fine for ICT. If you happen to know about the work of Guibert of Nogent, great -- you get a power. I didn't know about Fulcher or Guibert when I wrote the tossup; Jeff evidently thought that was a solid ICT lead-in; and when I read the tossup to two top-bracket teams (Minnesota A and Stanford, I believe) nobody buzzed on the first sentence. All this suggests to me that, in fact, this tossup was fine; I don't see how it serves as Exhibit A for an argument that this year's ICT was absurdly out of touch with the modern game.

For what it's worth, my own view before the tournament was that we had produced a pretty solid ICT: one that would be challenging for the top teams and still playable for the rest of the field. And, for what it's worth, I felt as though that initial estimate was mostly confirmed by the tournament. Reading for a wide swath of teams in my prelim bracket, and then for all of the top teams in the playoffs, I definitely didn't come away with the impression that this set was a failure. Incidentally, my positive sense of the overall quality of the set was reinforced by the favorable comments I received after the tournament from a number of players on top teams, though obviously it's possible that they really hated the questions but couldn't bring themselves to burst my bubble.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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everyday847 wrote:The "inflation" tossup was disappointing, but I can't remember its text, just frustration.
round 15 wrote:Its prediction of a perturbation spectral index slightly smaller than that of a scale-invariant Harrison-Zel'dovich spectrum has been confirmed at the 3-sigma level by WMAP. Like black holes, it is associated with a "no-hair theorem" addressing why magnetic monopoles are not observed today. It solves the (*) "horizon problem" of causally separated regions being in thermal equilibrium. For 10 points--what theory posits that spacetime expanded by a factor of about 10^26 shortly after the Big Bang?

answer: cosmic _inflation_
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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myamphigory wrote:
Jeff wrote:But yes, we know that players would like to see more fine arts in the 2010 SCT and ICT.
Hey, Jeff, I'm not trying to take an antagonistic tone here, but I'm a little confused about what you mean by this statement ("Noted," "Yes, we KNOW THAT ALREADY, STOP TELLING US JEEZ" or "We know that and we will be including more fine arts in these tournaments," all seem like plausible interpretations to me). Is NAQT planning on upping the fine arts content in future SCTs/ICTs?
It's the first one, Susan, and sorry if it came out sounding like the second (not at all my intention).

We may very well increase the arts content in the 2010 SCT and ICT, especially if the surveys are even remotely consistent with what seems a strong consensus among players on this board.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
everyday847 wrote:The "inflation" tossup was disappointing, but I can't remember its text, just frustration.
round 15 wrote:Its prediction of a perturbation spectral index slightly smaller than that of a scale-invariant Harrison-Zel'dovich spectrum has been confirmed at the 3-sigma level by WMAP. Like black holes, it is associated with a "no-hair theorem" addressing why magnetic monopoles are not observed today. It solves the (*) "horizon problem" of causally separated regions being in thermal equilibrium. For 10 points--what theory posits that spacetime expanded by a factor of about 10^26 shortly after the Big Bang?

answer: cosmic _inflation_
In retrospect, this looks pretty much fine (though people who have real astrophysics knowledge, interject here and tell me I'm wrong); my frustration was probably directed at my poor listening skills leading me not to buzz on the no-hair theorem clue (which is where I might have put power, rather than before "horizon problem"--though either is a pretty reasonable placement.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

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Maybe if you're a medievalist who loves him some crusades
Looks like I'm caught. I only had my own perception of that kind of stuff as fairly stock and the fact that it seemed like I buzzerraced it against Ray Luo, who at least to my knowledge does not particularly love him any crusades, but I'm perfectly willing withdraw the criticism.
This composition in E minor, which is part of a larger work, opens with a flute solo representing a cold brook. Trumpets and horn calls suggest a hunt that fades away to a scene of folk dancing at a peasant wedding. Flutes and clarinets join a harp for the "Dance of the Water Nymphs," which leads to the more violent (*) "Rapids of St. John." For 10 points--name this nationalist tone poem, part of Bedrich Smetana's Ma Vlast, that depicts the river that runs through Prague.
This seems fairly fraudable to me, as it tells you that it's part of a larger work and then talks about an opening involving a stream. I think it could have benefited from nixingthe "part of a larger work" clue and just noting in the answer line to prompt on Ma Vlast early, as I'm sure anyone who could buzz then would understand what to say if so prompted.
Andy wrote:The "inflation" tossup was disappointing, but I can't remember its text, just frustration.
If I recall correctly, the inflation tossup established that it was a theorized happening or concept, and then talked about verifying it using WMAP. I'm under the impression that WMAP is a pretty stock association with the CMBR, so that sort of directs you straight to inflation way too early. Well, it directed me there way too early, but I can't speak as to whether the first line of clues was appropriate for people who actually, well, understand what cosmic inflation is.

Jennings wrote:"Wait, in the unending hsquizbowl discussion about how trash questions are ruining NAQT lit, we're now going to start seeing accusations that Pulitzer-winning novels should count as trash?" I don't think that kind of drive-by joke is unusual for--trying to put this as gently as I can--the style and directness of typical hsquizbowl discussion.
Wow, you're doing a great job of addressing the concerns that you're just outright dismissive and superior with regards to your customers expressing their feedback on the primary forum for doing so! Seriously dude, how could anyone feel like you would seriously listen to the concerns they post here when you say things like this? Your last few posts are right up there in the recent NAQT parade-o-tact with Chad's "man, that's a big trophy for a SECOND PLACE TEAM" comment while handing Illinois an amazingly hard-won award. Good job!
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Susan »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
myamphigory wrote:
Jeff wrote:But yes, we know that players would like to see more fine arts in the 2010 SCT and ICT.
Hey, Jeff, I'm not trying to take an antagonistic tone here, but I'm a little confused about what you mean by this statement ("Noted," "Yes, we KNOW THAT ALREADY, STOP TELLING US JEEZ" or "We know that and we will be including more fine arts in these tournaments," all seem like plausible interpretations to me). Is NAQT planning on upping the fine arts content in future SCTs/ICTs?
It's the first one, Susan, and sorry if it came out sounding like the second (not at all my intention).

We may very well increase the arts content in the 2010 SCT and ICT, especially if the surveys are even remotely consistent with what seems a strong consensus among players on this board.
The second didn't seem like a very likely thing for you to say. :) Thanks for the clarification.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

DumbJaques wrote:
Jennings wrote:"Wait, in the unending hsquizbowl discussion about how trash questions are ruining NAQT lit, we're now going to start seeing accusations that Pulitzer-winning novels should count as trash?" I don't think that kind of drive-by joke is unusual for--trying to put this as gently as I can--the style and directness of typical hsquizbowl discussion.
Wow, you're doing a great job of addressing the concerns that you're just outright dismissive and superior with regards to your customers expressing their feedback on the primary forum for doing so! Seriously dude, how could anyone feel like you would seriously listen to the concerns they post here when you say things like this? Your last few posts are right up there in the recent NAQT parade-o-tact with Chad's "man, that's a big trophy for a SECOND PLACE TEAM" comment while handing Illinois an amazingly hard-won award. Good job!
I took a few minutes to step away and think about this, since I usually think people are being a bit too eagerly antagonistic towards Ken, but I'm with Chris here. For god's sake, Ken, you're not handling this well.

As a subject editor or, hell, anyone above a writer-peon of NAQT (you're a member, in fact), you do "speak for NAQT," and even if you bracketed your every sentence with "I don't speak for NAQT here" (which, thankfully, you do not, because it's irritating), you still would be representing NAQT as an organization. Does that mean that official members of NAQT don't get to tell drive-by jokes that obfuscate actual discussion and fail to respond to legitimate criticism? Yeah, pretty much. If you'd gone on to, I don't know, respond to the issues at hand, then you'd be a NAQT member doing his job and being funny. You didn't.

You're not bound to be excessively patient or whatever you accuse Jeff of being, of course, because you aren't specifically there to communicate, no. But it's not like everyone not explicitly intended to be a liaison to the community gets to be unhelpful.

I don't believe that you have some dastardly agenda, Ken, of infusing every packet with 1/1 trash lit; I don't believe that you hate academic quizbowl. I don't think you're a bad dude. I'm telling you this because the way you're operating will only attract more antagonism, and antagonism hasn't gone so well for you so far.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

While I did not play this tournament, as a fan of the fine arts canon, I definitely agree with the comments about the fine arts that have been posted here/that I've been told about. The "bagatelles" tossup is exciting for answer choice, but also not so excitingly reverse-pyramidal. The "Moldau" tossup is also not so well-constructed and of radically different difficulty than "bagatelles," not to mention (dear god!) A Child of Our Time.
Kyle wrote:On February 24 at 6:57pm, Kyle Haddad-Fonda wrote:Will also write common link on throwing shoes at people.
The fact that a parody tossup actually showed up in a packet should be indicative of some very serious answer choice problems.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

To take one example: I wrote, and Jeff edited, the First Crusade tossup which Chris attacks here. Maybe Jeff and I fail to "even have a grasp on the realities of the game right now," but we both thought it was fine for ICT. If you happen to know about the work of Guibert of Nogent, great -- you get a power. I didn't know about Fulcher or Guibert when I wrote the tossup; Jeff evidently thought that was a solid ICT lead-in; and when I read the tossup to two top-bracket teams (Minnesota A and Stanford, I believe) nobody buzzed on the first sentence. All this suggests to me that, in fact, this tossup was fine; I don't see how it serves as Exhibit A for an argument that this year's ICT was absurdly out of touch with the modern game.
Ok, I feel that's a slight misreading of what I was saying. I responded to Brian's post about being out of touch with the college game (something he volunteered), and asked (because I did not know) whether that was true of a substantial portion of the ICT's writers - evidently, this is not the case. Right after I posted the quote you picked out, I said that if this wasn't the case, maybe there's another reason that (examples I could produce off the top of my head meant to illustrate a wider personal impression). I didn't mean that in a sarcastic way, since I really did not know, and obviously would be delusional to suggest that you lack an understanding of quizbowl. Evidently, the answer to what accounts for the problematic first crusades leadin is "I'm wrong about this," which I acknowledged earlier. I still think the other questions I mentioned had issues.
I know that there's a time-honored tradition of people making passionate denunciations of NAQT tournaments in their immediate aftermath, followed by elaborate back-and-forth which usually leads (after exhausting discussion) to a more nuanced assessment of the set. I don't imagine we can cut this seemingly cathartic process short, but maybe we can try to tone down the rhetoric a little this year?
Well, I tried to balance the strength of my rhetoric (which, I agree, unfairly implies a level of quality this tournament clearly exceeded by a wide margin) with the provision that a large portion of the tournament seemed very well-written to me. I still think that having a decent amount of questions like the Ibn Khaldun tossup or the bonuses that seem to confound easy-medium-hard conventions is a pretty serious problem, and it's because I know that people like you, Jeff, Matt, etc. are working on the set that I mused on what the other factors could be, as you guys clearly write excellent questions. I did not mean to imply that this set was out of touch with qb, or that anyone in particular even was (again, this was raised by Brian first), but rather that such a lack of awareness on the parts of some hypothetical people might account for the portion of questions that seemed to be received so negatively. It was not meant to be extraordinarily caustic, and I apologize for combining my relatively substantial intent to inflame with regards to Ken's posts with my posts about the set.

I am basing my comments off my own evaluation, which is ill-informed compared to most of the top competitors at this event and, evidently, many of the writers, so I'm happy to just admit that I'm crazy and that the set was just fine. However, that's not what I was hearing people say during the course of the event, so perhaps some of those sentiments will also end up in this thread.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Ken Jennings »

everyday847 wrote: If you'd gone on to, I don't know, respond to the issues at hand, then you'd be a NAQT member doing his job and being funny. You didn't.
As above, I didn't understand what the actual issue with this tossup was (and it turns out there really wasn't one; Mike's post about Advise and Consent turned out to be an off-the-cuff comment, just like my follow-up, so apparently the most helpful response would have been none at all). I certainly wasn't trying to "obfuscate" anything. In that vein, I'll bow out until there's any new feedback about lit/myth in the ICT to look at.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Hannah wrote: The fact that a parody tossup actually showed up in a packet should be indicative of some very serious answer choice problems.
Yeah, I sort of did a double-take when someone posted that they were a shoe-throwing tossup enthusiast - to me this seems like a really bad direction to take current events questions. For one thing, I found it to be pretty transparent and buzzed in without any knowledge of the early clues out of a "hey, what's an action that was prominently done at a press conference recently" mentality. But much, much more importantly, there is a reason trash and geography are grouped in so readily with NAQT's trash distribution - because for every well-written tossup on an academically pertinent current events issue, there's a tossup on show throwing. I will go ahead and seriously challenge the academic value of knowing about the two other random incidents in which someone hauled off and chucked their Nikes around the press room. I doubt people would have as significant a problem with these questions if they were all written to reward pertinent, academic knowledge (sort of "very recent history" or whatever). "Shoe-throwing" strikes me, really, as a more of a trash question in terms of academic value. I thought stuff like "Alaskan Independence Party" also fit this bill, as it's basically only showing up at this event because Todd Palin filled out a membership card in the '90s.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Brian Ulrich »

I mentioned being out of touch specifically on the context of my not writing much for college anymore. Fourteen questions in this set were by me, and their dates of authorship were scattered from 2004 to summer 2008, with one CE bonus from the winter. Some of these were also things I meant to go to lower levels that editors decided were ICT-level. Normally I do try to write a bunch of college-level CE since it allows for a different sort of quality control, but I didn't have time for that this year. If I were to try writing specifically for college, I'd first use that searchable database to see what has been done with different topics during the past few years.

That said, I'm aware this isn't just about me, and the idea NAQT is a bit out of touch has been around for awhile. I would submit that Andrew, Jeff, and Matt have done a lot to ameliorate this.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

DumbJaques wrote:I thought stuff like "Alaskan Independence Party" also fit this bill, as it's basically only showing up at this event because Todd Palin filled out a membership card in the '90s.
This is actually pretty important: you can't conclude that a subject is academically important current events just because it's recently in the news AND passes the test of "is this not gimmicky, like throwing a goddamn shoe." If the AIP were a tossup on the Constitutional Union party, say, it'd obviously be a fine history tossup; if it were a tossup on Fatah, say, it'd be a fine current events tossup. But it's a tossup on a party that's only famous, thank god, for being the former passion of the dumb husband of a criminally stupid figurehead. Sarah Palin's husband is no political figure and his political affiliations are no more academically important than Cher's shoe affiliations.

Brian: you're absolutely right that getting editors like Andrew, Jeff, and Matt on board is unbelievably better than the alternative.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

Fourteen questions in this set were by me, and their dates of authorship were scattered from 2004 to summer 2008
Yeah, I certainly wasn't trying to get all "Brian Ulrich destroyed the ICT and probably killed some number of puppies," but rather find out more about how the current writing/editing team is set up (while other non-NAQT people seem to have this info, I really didn't). I hope it didn't seem like it was personally directed at you, although I'm curious as to when the Ibn Khaldun tossup was written.

Also, is the using five (or possibly more) year-old questions par for the course for ICT, or is it a pretty unusual event that affects only a couple of questions each year? Given how much the game has evolved (two years, let alone four years, is a long time, and issues like canonicity, pure difficulty, and transparency are even more fluid at the national level than they are at other levels), I would personally be wary of the prospect of recycling questions written so long ago in a set I put together. Obviously editors can fix problematic 2004 questions just as they can fix problematic 2009 questions, but it seems like the amount of problematic 2004 questions being used in 2009 is just going to be much higher. An editor typically uses the original tossup's author as at least some kind of verifiability source for "is this thing too hard/is this clue of sufficient academic value/does this seem like a good place for this clue," particularly if it's on a specific answer they are not amazingly well-versed in, so I could see this theoretically eat into the editing time/set quality, but I obviously lack any real knowledge of the situation.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Important Bird Area »

DumbJaques wrote:Also, is the using five (or possibly more) year-old questions par for the course for ICT, or is it a pretty unusual event that affects only a couple of questions each year? Given how much the game has evolved (two years, let alone four years, is a long time, and issues like canonicity, pure difficulty, and transparency are even more fluid at the national level than they are at other levels), I would personally be wary of the prospect of recycling questions written so long ago in a set I put together. Obviously editors can fix problematic 2004 questions just as they can fix problematic 2009 questions, but it seems like the amount of problematic 2004 questions being used in 2009 is just going to be much higher. An editor typically uses the original tossup's author as at least some kind of verifiability source for "is this thing too hard/is this clue of sufficient academic value/does this seem like a good place for this clue," particularly if it's on a specific answer they are not amazingly well-versed in, so I could see this theoretically eat into the editing time/set quality, but I obviously lack any real knowledge of the situation.
It's pretty unusual. I mean: it happens all the time, but questions that old are only a small percentage of any particular set. It is certainly true in my experience that older questions are more likely to be more problematic than more recent questions, so they call for special attention in set editing, up to and including such remedies as sending them back to the writers with a note saying "hey, this doesn't meet the following standards- can you please revise it?" The ones that have changed difficulty are actually easier to deal with, because it's trivial to adjust the coding such that a question like that gets passed along to some easier future tournament.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Brian Ulrich »

DumbJaques wrote:
Hannah wrote: The fact that a parody tossup actually showed up in a packet should be indicative of some very serious answer choice problems.
Yeah, I sort of did a double-take when someone posted that they were a shoe-throwing tossup enthusiast - to me this seems like a really bad direction to take current events questions. For one thing, I found it to be pretty transparent and buzzed in without any knowledge of the early clues out of a "hey, what's an action that was prominently done at a press conference recently" mentality. But much, much more importantly, there is a reason trash and geography are grouped in so readily with NAQT's trash distribution - because for every well-written tossup on an academically pertinent current events issue, there's a tossup on show throwing. I will go ahead and seriously challenge the academic value of knowing about the two other random incidents in which someone hauled off and chucked their Nikes around the press room. I doubt people would have as significant a problem with these questions if they were all written to reward pertinent, academic knowledge (sort of "very recent history" or whatever). "Shoe-throwing" strikes me, really, as a more of a trash question in terms of academic value. I thought stuff like "Alaskan Independence Party" also fit this bill, as it's basically only showing up at this event because Todd Palin filled out a membership card in the '90s.
I'll address this as a legitimate problem. I had mixed feelings about both toss-ups, and wound up approving them on the grounds that they were usable, if not the platonic ideal of a ce toss-up. I also had the feeling that there were more questions that made my CE cut at that level than I would have preferred. (I was unsure about The Lancet, and maybe the overall situation actually wasn't that bad since I'm not seeing much else actually in the set on a quick read-through - oh, yeah - Wichita). In short, I've complained about questions with stuff that get "ripped from the headlines," and allowed some of that in, mainly due to the overall pattern of submissions I was getting. At the same time, I don't see it as anything like a 1/1 ratio of good/bad - they were overwhelmingly decent, defenisible CE. As for those that weren't, all I can do is say that I hope this was just an off tournament, and that in the future we'll be able to put out sets more like the SCT, where people seemed to like the CE more, as well as last year's ICT, where the major complaint was over the "Science Current Events."
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

DumbJaques wrote:
Also, is the using five (or possibly more) year-old questions par for the course for ICT, or is it a pretty unusual event that affects only a couple of questions each year? Given how much the game has evolved (two years, let alone four years, is a long time, and issues like canonicity, pure difficulty, and transparency are even more fluid at the national level than they are at other levels), I would personally be wary of the prospect of recycling questions written so long ago in a set I put together. Obviously editors can fix problematic 2004 questions just as they can fix problematic 2009 questions, but it seems like the amount of problematic 2004 questions being used in 2009 is just going to be much higher. An editor typically uses the original tossup's author as at least some kind of verifiability source for "is this thing too hard/is this clue of sufficient academic value/does this seem like a good place for this clue," particularly if it's on a specific answer they are not amazingly well-versed in, so I could see this theoretically eat into the editing time/set quality, but I obviously lack any real knowledge of the situation.
Using old questions isn't entirely uncommon, though it doesn't happen in current events (NAQT's system requires that current events questions be tagged with a "use before [this date]" code -- typically, I think, they have to be used within a year of when they were written).

To give one example, I wrote this question in 2004, though it didn't get used until this year's ICT:

This man's best-known creation retired to Mount Silexedra after Philautus announced his marriage to Fraunces. He wrote about the love of the painter Apelles for Campaspe [kam-PASS-pay] in one comedy, while Tellus is spurned in favor of Cynthia in his allegorical ~Endimion~. This (*) "university wit" is best known for two books subtitled "and his England" and "the anatomy of wit." For 10 points--name this Elizabethan author of ~Euphues~ [YOO-fyoo-eez].

answer: John _Lyly_ ["lily"]

I think this kind of question doesn't age too badly, though of course it's a good idea for set editors to be conversant with the modern game and alter questions as needed. Generally, my experience is that NAQT's system (of stockpiling questions and then plugging them into sets as the latter come along) is somewhat less time-consuming/quality-inhibiting than having to write everything from scratch for each tournament, since it's easy to simply kick a question out of the set or back to the original writer/subject editor if it seems not to have stood the test of time.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by cchiego »

DumbJaques wrote:
Hannah wrote: The fact that a parody tossup actually showed up in a packet should be indicative of some very serious answer choice problems.
Yeah, I sort of did a double-take when someone posted that they were a shoe-throwing tossup enthusiast - to me this seems like a really bad direction to take current events questions. [...] "Shoe-throwing" strikes me, really, as a more of a trash question in terms of academic value. I thought stuff like "Alaskan Independence Party" also fit this bill, as it's basically only showing up at this event because Todd Palin filled out a membership card in the '90s.
Sure, it's not a very "academic" current event, but I'm curious what the point of current events questions should be in the first place to some extent (this is targeted at no one in particular, just a general comment for discussion). You can do random politicians who've been in the news recently (Sibelius), random elections with random acronyms, pieces of legislation that have just passed, a random judicial decision, Chris Brown's assault on Rhianna, etc. and classify them all as current events.

I'd prefer to think that current events should be "academic," but I'm not a fan of tossups on random politicians who've been in the news or random countries that just had elections unless something very significant happened (i.e. former rebels took over the presidency of El Salvador by running a former CNN news anchor for president, Ghana held a super-close runoff that seemed to consolidate their democracy, etc.). Those questions are usually pretty boring and give current events a bad name. I liked the shoe-throwing TU because it was different than the average current event, even if the exact wording allowed for guessability, but I can easily see how it could/should have been classified as trash instead. I'm not sure what to think of stuff like the Sarzoky as royalty TU (my gut says it was bad), but I do appreciate the creativity.

Personally, I'd prefer consolidating trashy CEs, sports, and the current pop culture distribution into something the size of the current pop culture distro (which is still pretty big) and trying to find a new way to categorize/write current events (maybe that "world affairs" distribution someone mentioned on another thread? either way, it doesn't need to be as big as it currently is) so that they're interesting and pyramidal but not repetitive politician/election bowls.

Another thing I wanted to bring up though was that this year I thought the moderators were superb. In the past I had been disappointed with the quality of NAQT mods, but this year whether it was the 10-minute-half change or just sheer luck I found that the readers we had were markedly better and matches ran more smoothly than in any past ICT that I've been to. Chris Borglum and Matt Weiner especially were excellent and I think we finished all 26 questions every time Borglum read, so that was a pleasant improvement over previous years where we had 18 and 19 question rounds with mods unable to pronounce non-English (and sometimes even English) words.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by jagluski »

uga_chris wrote:
Another thing I wanted to bring up though was that this year I thought the moderators were superb. In the past I had been disappointed with the quality of NAQT mods, but this year whether it was the 10-minute-half change or just sheer luck I found that the readers we had were markedly better and matches ran more smoothly than in any past ICT that I've been to. Chris Borglum and Matt Weiner especially were excellent and I think we finished all 26 questions every time Borglum read, so that was a pleasant improvement over previous years where we had 18 and 19 question rounds with mods unable to pronounce non-English (and sometimes even English) words.

As the logistics/staff coordinator for the ICT, this is very good news. I'm glad to heard that you thought that the readers you heard were good and the tournament's logistics ran smoothly.

If anyone has any specific comments on staffing, please email me at [email protected] (to prevent criticizing individuals on a public forum) and I will make sure to take these comments under advisement for our 2010 ICT Staff Selection process. It may take me a week or so to reply as I'm going out of town on Wednesday for about a week, so please understand that I am not ignoring your email if you don't get an immediate reply. Thank you.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Brian Ulrich »

For what it's worth, I mostly agree with the Georgian Chris. I also think we might have fallen a tad short on avoiding the random elections from March syndrome; though I rejected several toss-ups on those grounds, I'm not sure all those I accepted had their importance made explicitly within the question, which seems to be a standard people apply to CE. Madagascar, for example, had been in my editing queue since before SCT. I finally approved it when the events there seemed to reach a certain critical mass and level of prominence, though I admit impressions may differ on that point.

I don't mind questions on world leaders and prominent politicians. I think they test knowledge that's important for people to know, and are an important part of the category.

On the shoe throwing question, I liked the atypical answer space, was a little worried about vague references to "the act," and found the stuff right before the FTP didn't really add much if you knew the answer, but wasn't successful at making improvements. I forgave it the "ripped from the headlines" bit because the Iraq affair was definitely major, and the larger context that made the event relevant could just be assumed. As I said, it wasn't ideal, but it seemed usable.

I prefer to think of "current events" as "current affairs."
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

Brian Ulrich wrote:I prefer to think of "current events" as "current affairs."
What does this mean?
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by rylltraka »

My two cents:

Guibert of Nogent and Fulcher of Chartes are legitimate to have in power on a tossup on the First Crusade; I would possibly like to see them closer to the power mark than a first-line clue, but that is minor. I don't believe either of them is significantly more well-known than the other; I buzzed on the Guibert clue and didn't hear Fulcher clearly. I am or was also "a medievalist who loves him some crusades".

The easy part of the "elevator" video game clue was Metal Gear. Metal Gear is quite well-known, I should think. Wizardry was the middle, and Elevator Action was the hardest. What might have influenced the conversion was that they all came out around 1987.

I really enjoyed the tournament, but would tinker with the distribution, mostly in line with what others have said above. End of line.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Brian Ulrich wrote:On the shoe throwing question, I liked the atypical answer space, was a little worried about vague references to "the act," and found the stuff right before the FTP didn't really add much if you knew the answer, but wasn't successful at making improvements. I forgave it the "ripped from the headlines" bit because the Iraq affair was definitely major, and the larger context that made the event relevant could just be assumed. As I said, it wasn't ideal, but it seemed usable.
Is there any relevance at all to any of the events but the Iraq? Is there any reason that it exists besides "hey, I bet this happened other times. It did? How cute!"
Brian Ulrich wrote:I prefer to think of "current events" as "current affairs."
I'm with Hannah in that this means nothing unless I am very bad at words.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

bt_green_warbler wrote:
DumbJaques wrote:I'd be interested to know who took point on editing for the tournament, how that setup worked, and who edited specific categories, etc.
Andrew Yaphe, Matt Keller, and I all did substantial work on this tournament. (No prizes for guessing which of us was primarily responsible for which big-three category.)
Just to clarify, I wrote pretty much all of the chem from scratch and did about 50/50 writing / editing submissions for bio, but didn't have much time to help in other areas like I had hoped to. I left a few notes here and there for R. to take care of in math and physics, but didn't really look in depth at those areas. I also did the PCR and mass spec tossups for the "technology" category to try to put a little different twist on that area, and made some suggestions in fine arts.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by at your pleasure »

I know this is beating a dead horse, but it does not take great Ibn Khaldun knowledge to see the problems with that question. Now I read the question a few minutes ago, before which I knew nothing about Ibn Khaldun save that he was a Middle Eastern historian. Even so, my first thought as I was reading the tossup was "this seems really, really weird and bizarrely written".
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Brian Ulrich »

The term "event" tends to make people want to write about specific events which form the basis of headline stories on CNN. To me, the term "affairs" tends to move the focus more toward issues that lie behind and give meaning to the events. Michelle Obama putting her arm around Queen Elizabeth II is an event. Possible changes in status and succession within the royal family slips more to affairs. It's admittedly not an absolute difference, but seems to get some people to focus in a different, and to me better, way.

Also, I've shied away from saying this because I know people hate it, but the biggest problem with NAQT's ce this year has been the same thing others familiar with the groups' internal workings have said is it's bane in general: Not enough people submitting quality questions. With SCT, I think I rejected around half of what I got, and there was a CE crisis on the eve of when the set had to be done. For ICT, I loosened up a bit on what I approved, and the result was a somewhat weaker section.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Critiquing this tossup naively--which I didn't pay attention to once I noted it had an Arabic word in it:
EDIT: Kyle would like me to note that I barely heard the word " 'asabiyya" at all because he buzzed on the Tamerlane clue.
This man played a role in Damascus' surrender to Tamerlane, whom he thought could marshal the 'asabiyya to begin a new age. 'Asabiyya, the tribal solidarity that leads to civilization, was a concept from the "new science" this man used to explain the past. The idea that (*) socio-economic developments were critical to understanding history was developed by--for 10 points--which North African author of the Muqaddimah?
The first clue is biography. But the only real information in this tossup is the word " 'asabiyya," its definition (which is vague as hell, but in any event probably shouldn't follow it), the phrase "new science," which is going to get people to neg with Vico if they're confused or just conclude his method of history was somehow unprecedented, which is not terribly helpful. Then the second-to-last clue could apply to tons of people, except that maybe this dude was the first. And then we have "North African historian." Where were the clues? This is stuff that, in a good tossup, would either not exist or fit in one and a half lines total.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Kyle »

Re: shoe-throwing, I have been closely following news coverage of the repeated episodes of shoe-throwing for a long time because I like to see whether CNN notes that throwing a shoe at somebody's head is an insult in the particular culture in question. They tend not to mention that it is an insult in most Western cultures, but they invariably point out that it is an insult in the Middle East. This is important, lest Americans watching the news mistakenly think that Muntadhar al-Zaydi intended to throw his shoes at George Bush's head in order to praise him. An interesting lead-in to this question might have mentioned that Santa Claus came on the Tonight Show and threw his shoes at Jay Leno, prompting Leno to note that throwing shoes at someone's head is "an insult in North Pole culture."
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by dschafer »

round 15 wrote:C. Using an elevator to move to a different floor was the only way to quiet guards around the walking nuclear tank after one of them had sounded a double-exclamation-mark alert.

answer: _Metal Gear_ (do not accept "Metal Gear Solid")
rylltraka wrote:The easy part of the "elevator" video game clue was Metal Gear. Metal Gear is quite well-known, I should think.
Metal Gear would have worked as the easy part of a bonus, I agree, but in this particular case, while "walking nuclear tank" gives you that we're in the Metal Gear series, I don't see anything else that identifies a specific game; had I played on this, I probably would have guessed one of the four Metal Gear Solids, for example.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

I'd sure think that to make it an easy part you could say, you know, "... features in one game in this series that includes characters like Solid Snake" or whatever. I mean, maybe I am just terrible at videogames, but this makes it convertible by 90% of the field but certainly not more, right?
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Cheynem »

I would have given a Metal Gear clue that indicated it was the first game, like mentioning the villain in the NES version was Cataffy or something.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Maxwell Sniffingwell »

I would have given an identifying phrase in the Metal Gear question, as what was given appears to be a simple declarative sentence.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

cornfused wrote:I would have given an identifying phrase in the Metal Gear question, as what was given appears to be a simple declarative sentence.
Er, all the questions are like that, probably because it had already said "name these video games." Really, it's a much smaller problem than the fact that there are three games of different difficulties that you have to identify off clues that are all hard-ish.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Summoned Skull »

Not that it's terribly important, but has anyone else noticed how awfully inaccurate the statistics are?

I'm missing more that half of my points, for example... which is perplexing.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Paul150 »

uga_chris wrote:Another thing I wanted to bring up though was that this year I thought the moderators were superb. In the past I had been disappointed with the quality of NAQT mods, but this year whether it was the 10-minute-half change or just sheer luck I found that the readers we had were markedly better and matches ran more smoothly than in any past ICT that I've been to. Chris Borglum and Matt Weiner especially were excellent and I think we finished all 26 questions every time Borglum read, so that was a pleasant improvement over previous years where we had 18 and 19 question rounds with mods unable to pronounce non-English (and sometimes even English) words.
I want to agree with Chiego here and praise the moderators overall for how good they were. Special props here also go out to Chris Borglum and Matt Weiner. This was my first ICT/DI tournament, so I have no previous years to compare it to, but it was by far one of the best moderated tournaments I've been in. Again, I think the location was an issue in regards to food (I think I spent $55 total on four meals trying my hardest not to splurge), but that can be avoided in future tournaments if it's investigated beforehand or if ICT is held in a city with an established transit system.

I've let my thoughts be known in regard to the question sets (I still think clues like at the end of the extinction question are a bad thing), but I'll add in the fact that I am a fan of trash/sports/pop culture in tournaments. The argument can be made about the place of trash in academic tournaments, but the higher rate of trash topics is one of the things that draws me to NAQT over formats like ACF. I'll reiterate that as the fifth member of the team and unexpectedly moving up from DII, I only played in four rounds, but sitting in the other rounds, I thought the questions were well-rounded (albeit pretty damn hard to me). I don't have the in-depth knowledge in most of the questions discussed in here to argue about power placements and the like, but the question quality debate so far seems to nitpick over such smaller deal issues as a misplaced clue here or there or seems to be based on NAQT's selection of what are legitimate questions as a whole.

With that said, there are players like me who really enjoy the topics that get shunned at ACF events. Also, after reading through old NAQT packets at practice and studying on the plane to ICT, I'll say that I see improvement in the way things are written as a whole. I understand that posting this isn't going to change a lot of the anti-NAQT sentiment that seems to be thrown around these boards, but I'll be disappointed if NAQT becomes an ACF clone due to the complaints I always see after NAQT tournaments. I also realize that having only first been exposed to quizbowl my sophomore year in college at a non-powerhouse school may affect my vantage point on the argument, and my leaving an established school for a grad school without a program (that I know of) may cause my opinions on NAQT to seem less significant. However, I hope that NAQT realizes that there are at least some of us out here who truly enjoy and prefer their format over the other options.

Anyhow, I apologize that that turned into a mini-rant, but I feel NAQT seems to get ripped by a lot of members here and felt like giving my thoughts on the matter.

EDIT: James, I made a comment about this to Chris Chiego, and according to him, 'playoff' stats aren't included individually because they may be considered biased. I think if you click on your name, though, you can see individual round statistics for everything, but you're still missing a summary with everything.
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

Regarding the "missing stats": For whatever reason, NAQT is not showing the playoff stats; this is not anything new, but it is extremely annoying.

As someone whose main concern in previous year's ICTs was "wow, the science questions weren't really that good," I certainly don't have that complaint. There were a few questions that weren't that good, but on the whole the science was much more solid. Props to Matt for continuing the growth-factor canon expansion; unfortunately, my rusty knowledge prevented me from distinguishing EGF from VEGF until the end of the question.

I will say that the Izanami question was not very good (the "died giving birth to the god of fire" lead-in is a mid-level clue at even a Regionals-level tournament; I won't debate whether it should still be power, but it should definitely not be the first clue). Also the Coatlicue question seemed like an easy power, but maybe that's just because Rob Carson and I were playing that packet (I'm assuming that the power mark was right before "Huitzilopochtli," as it never got that far).

Packet 3 was arguably the worst top-to-bottom packet I've seen in recent ICTs; there were plenty of misplaced clues, widely variable bonuses, and tossups on things that probably shouldn't come up (see: Shoe Throwing). Packet 9 also wasn't so good. On the whole, though, I enjoyed this set a little more than 2008 and a heck of a lot more than 2006 and 2007.

Despite my earlier rant about "WHY THE HECK IS THIS IN A HOTEL" I think that having it in a hotel was, while less-than-ideal, passable. Having teams take an elevator 12 floors to rotate staffers is not a good idea; neither is having the stats room located 12 floors away from the majority of D1 games. That said, there were a litany of problems with this location:
1. Something like 3 places delivered. If you didn't have a car, your options were pizza, Chinese food, and whatever overpriced nonsense the hotel was selling ($10 for a crappy cold sandwich, a small bag of chips, and a 12 oz soda? Are you kidding me?).
2. Related to (1), there was absolutely nothing to do if you did not have a car; since we did rent a car for Sunday, we were able to see that there was another Hyatt Regency within ~30 minute walk of such places as the Sixth Floor Museum and the Arts District. If a hotel were closer to stuff that people would reasonable want to see/eat/etc., or public transportation existed to take teams from the hotel to places of interest, then this would be better. I mean, most of us are here to play quizbowl, but it is kind of annoying when there is nothing to do between check-out time for the hotel and check-in time for a Sunday afternoon/night flight.
3. I think I speak for most college-level quizbowlers when I say that, unless the hotel is an absolute dump, we would vastly prefer like an $80-$100/night hotel with complementary breakfast and reasonable amenities than next year's equivalent of the DFW Hyatt Regency. Let's face it, most of us use the hotel for three things: sleeping, practicing, and holding post-ICT parties. All of these are just as easy to do in a reasonably priced hotel room. Maybe NAQT is trying to start the movement for quizbowl gentrification, but when I was not actually playing a match, I felt that I was there for a business meeting and not to play quizbowl. I'm obviously not advocating holding the tournament at a Howard Johnson, but I feel that a fancy hotel does not cater to the quizbowl crowd as well as a college campus does.
4. Holding tournaments in cities that are not anywhere near a sizable portion of teams will inevitably result in multiple teams not bothering to even come (see: 2003, 2007), and a resulting diluted field. I would also like to take this post to remind people that American Airlines is the official airline of Quizbowl Travel Disasters, and thus holding any major tournament in a city where 90% of the available flights are via American Airlines is a terrible idea.

I did, however, very much enjoy the "7 rounds on Friday, 6 + finals on Saturday" format. This allowed everyone (except the teams in our bracket) to know exactly what bracket they would be in, or what they would have to do to get into a certain bracket, the night before the playoffs. This resulted in no meaningful delays while figuring out tiebreakers (the "meaningful delay" was caused by Alabama beating Penn in the morning make-up game, thus forcing the old-style "great now we have to take a few minutes to seed these teams, find them, etc.").
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by The Goffman Prophecies »

Something that I think has come up in other places (but I don't recall where offhand), but would be a great idea - especially for tournaments of this size - would be an official cell phone contact number for each team during the tournament.

Can't find a team and need them to play a tiebreaker? Call them, have them come to the control room, and resolve the situation accordingly. Obviously this doesn't work so well when you're in a building with spotty cell phone reception, but it's certainly more optimal than spending 10 minutes going "Hey, has anybody seen Team x?" "Great, we've got Team X, but now where is Team Y?"
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Re: 2009 ICT discussion

Post by Kevin »

As far as the hotel situation went, for the actual game play I think things went quite well--the rooms for each pool were in the same wing, the sound insulation in rooms was good, the rooms were comfortable. For everything else, it was bit of a mess. Obviously I think the food thing was the number one problem. It was probably possible to find something within the hour-and-a-half allotted for lunch, but nothing was within a very close drive, at least as far as I saw. And that doesn't help the teams without automobiles, so teams were stuck waiting for Domino's to deliver all of the dozens of orders.

In NAQT's defense, let's realize that the odds of finding a cheap hotel with cheap food available on the premises is unlikely--Days Inn is not going to be able to accommodate 32 games at once. However, a hotel located within reasonable distance of other food options would have been much better.

Minor nitpick: why not have microphones for the players (or at least one for each team) during the finals? If you were beyond the first few rows it was almost impossible to hear the responses.
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