Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

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Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by magin » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:11 pm

I'd like to thank Ahmad Ragab, Shantanu Jha, Gautam Kandlikar, Eric Mukherjee, Mike Bentley, Ted Gioia, Chris Chiego, Jerry Vinokurov, Trygve Meade, Mik Larsen, Dennis Jang, Dwight Wynne, Kent Buxton, and Donald Taylor for their outstanding help in writing for Gaddis II; the tournament would have been nowhere near as good if they hadn't written many, many excellent questions. Moreover, I want to thank Ezequiel Berdichevsky for looking over the lit and giving constructive feedback about it.

I would also like to thank Dwight Wynne for keeping stats and figuring out the format. Additionally, all the NAQT members I talked to about running the tournament were uniformly pleasant and helpful, considerably assisting me with buzzers, rooms, etc.

The questions are cleared for discussion. I'd like to hear what questions players liked or disliked, and why (if you don't tell us why, we can't figure out how to adapt and change things for the better). I thought the length and the difficulty were a little too much, at times, but I'd like to hear what the players thought.

My goal for this tournament was for players, at least once, to buzz in with an answer and be absolutely delighted. Personally, I look at quizbowl not as a game where you push a button and pile up points, nor a game where you remember the answers associated with clues and say them, but a game where players are enthusiastically delighted when they recognize the answer to a question, and feel great for answering it. So, hopefully, that happened for players during Gaddis II.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:14 pm

The only qualm I had is that some of the hard questions on easy answers weren't actually hard questions. There were a number of these in the first packet in particular, and it was frustrating to try to feel out the tournament on questions that didn't seem could possibly be in the set. There were also a couple of questions where ancillary language provided insight as to the probable answer nearly right away (Robber's Cave and Democratic Peace were perhaps the worst of these). Overall, it was a really fun tournament, and thanks for putting it together.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Jun 01, 2009 12:52 pm

I agree with Andrew in that the first few packets seemed to have a touch too many "easy stuff with I guess slightly harder clues," such as the Molly Maguires. Also, perhaps I misheard the score, but it seemed like I got 20 for getting "Rome: Open City" after it had given the complete plot, mentioned there was a titular city while making it clear it was an Italian film, and begun to say Roberto Rossellini's name.

What I Liked:

*The American lit. A lot of it was up my alley, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (my favorite buzz of the tourney), You Know Me Al (my second favorite), Walk on the Wild Side, Summer and Smoke, and others.

*Having Season of Migration to the North come up. That book rocks and I freely admit I will continue writing about it to drive it into the canon.

*The American history seemed fairly good. I didn't get a lot of it (and was way too slow on Alf Landon despite getting it), but it seemed interesting.

What I Thought Could Have Been Better:

*I liked some of but not all of the trash. I realize it's picayune to nitpick answer selection in this tournament's trash, but of all the Goosebumps books in all the gin joints in all the world, why pick the one about the sink monster? Why ask about a piece of Nintendo hardware and not a game which would have had more entertaining clues? Where was the sports? Nice job on the "They Live" tossup, though. I've only seen like a minute of that movie but I think I've mastered the important aspects of it.

More to come perhaps later.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Gautam » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:03 pm

Cheynem wrote:I agree with Andrew in that the first few packets seemed to have a touch too many "easy stuff with I guess slightly harder clues,"
I will take the blame for that.. I assigned each tossup to a packet, and somehow forgot to look for difficulty even-ness in each rounds. I did try to put in some of the hardest tossups in the last round, because it seemed like Jonathan was okay with that for Gaddis I. However, I agree that there is no reason to have the early rounds filled with easier tossups. I will surely not forget to put this into consideration the next time I compile packets.

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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by marnold » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:08 pm

I mean, this tournament was okay I guess, but I'd put it well behind Ryan's Experiment for tournaments of this type. There are a few reasons for this. The first was that I just totally sucked on this set, as I'm sure my, like, 8 PPG total will illustrate when the stats are up. But I think that the reasons I blew were some of the things I disliked about this tournament.

The first was that the philosophy (an area I like and think I'm at least decent at - possibly some other subjects were similar, but I'm not qualified to comment on them) was really, really hard in a particular way. Wilfrid Sellars tossups and works of Derek Parfit are cool I guess, and if I had been able to answer those questions I might have been sort of excited, but those seem really damn hard to me, and like a lot of this tournament, they are "horizontally" hard rather than "vertically" hard. I guess I tend to prefer hard tossups on more obscure aspects of canonical things. Of course, this tournament tried to do things like that yet, it seemed that when it did, the results were kind of wacky. Like Andrew, I couldn't get a feel for when I should be buzzing on these questions, particularly on easier answers. I mean, I think the "Ancient Order of the Hibernians" clues were placed in equivalent places in Gaddis Molly Maguires tossup and the HSNCT Molly Maguires tossup from earlier in the day: I consciously refused to buzz because I thought that it just couldn't be that there and someone else called themselves Hibernians. The 13-line tossup on Mozart and the tossup on Japan from feminism clues were just a bit too delighted with themselves (if it even makes sense for a tossup to be delighted with itself; it makes sense in my mind) and just helped to contribute to my mystification about when I should and shouldn't be buzzing.

And that sort of confusion leads to me doing stupid stuff like letting questions go by I should get and negging my team out of things when I shouldn't - actions which, in turn, hurt our chances of winning. Which is just a roundabout way for me to say: this format was predictably dumb. Like Bruce said before, a vast majority of people treated this just like a regular tournament and I know the only time I even thought about the wacky collaboration system was to make fun of it. Competition is fun and you can get the same delight answering hard tossups when some other team is across from you at the time.

Anyway, this tournament was reasonably fun and you certainly can't beat the price. Thanks to Jonathan and everyone else for running it.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:36 pm

I also found that the Pictures at an Exhibition tossup did the same. My best buzz was on the Battle of the Talas River question, though I also enjoyed the fact that there were tossups on Pinball, 1973 and The Book of Disquiet, as well as the very difficult Gao Xingjian tossup.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Mon Jun 01, 2009 1:37 pm

marnold wrote:The 13-line tossup on Mozart and the tossup on Japan from feminism clues were just a bit too delighted with themselves (if it even makes sense for a tossup to be delighted with itself; it makes sense in my mind) and just helped to contribute to my mystification about when I should and shouldn't be buzzing.
I had a lot of fun answering these tossups and a lot of fun watching people superpower crazy, crazy answers. But I had a problem with these cute answers that Michael mentions. Emphasis on the "fake geography" fake tossup.

Also, the music answer choice was generally excellent, but people need to keep in mind what's going through a player's head while a tossup is being read. It's great to list the notes of the Promenade theme (is that what it was? I'm pretty sure, but not positive) from Pictures, but when words are coming very quickly, you're not going to stop and play it through in your head. Similarly, saying that the Allegro assai movement of a piece follows an A-B-A structure, or whatever, is not only non-unique, it's virtually unbuzzable.

And yeah, the competition structure did not really amount to much. If this had been a traditional tournament, it would have been just as entertaining.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Jun 01, 2009 4:55 pm

marnold wrote:The first was that the philosophy (an area I like and think I'm at least decent at - possibly some other subjects were similar, but I'm not qualified to comment on them) was really, really hard in a particular way. Wilfrid Sellars tossups and works of Derek Parfit are cool I guess, and if I had been able to answer those questions I might have been sort of excited, but those seem really damn hard to me, and like a lot of this tournament, they are "horizontally" hard rather than "vertically" hard. I guess I tend to prefer hard tossups on more obscure aspects of canonical things.
I wrote 4 of the philosophy tossups in this set: possible worlds, intentionality, A Fragment on Government, and Friedrich Schelling. If anyone had strong feelings about those let me know.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Jun 01, 2009 6:44 pm

STATS:
Wacky Gaddis Format
Points were computed as 2T+4R, where T was the number of teams you outscored and R was the number of rooms you and your opponent combined to outscored. Round Report doesn't work and is useless as each round had an average of 17 points.

Traditional Format
Traditional format is the "hey if we were playing this by normal rules, what would have happened?" format.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by ak47 » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:14 pm

Since many of my sentiments regarding the HSNCT set echo the criticisms posited by a lot of people already, I won't rehash them. Instead I'll give my thoughts on Gaddis.

First, I thought the tournament was amazing. Gaddis pretty much salvaged my weekend. After hearing an interminable barrage of TUs on purring, art dealers, The Memento, Keyboard Cat, and tenderloin, I was extremely glad I had Gaddis to look forward to. And when Gaddis finally did come, it fulfilled all my expectations. I got to play in an extremely relaxed environment on lots of challenging tossups with a host of interesting clues (definitely going to read up on some Fernando Arrabal now), and I also was able to meet a number of college players and high school players whom I had only heard about or known of through the IRC or HSQB. All you guys are a great, amicable bunch, and I look forward to the years to come. So thanks very much Jonathan Magin and co. for putting this tournament together.

Second, although I don't think I'm terribly qualified to discuss the technical aspects/questions (since this was my first Experiment-like experience), here are some of my thoughts. Like many others have already stated, I thought the whole "collaboration" aspect of the tournament was nowhere to be found, as almost everyone treated every round like a regular, competitive quizbowl game (i.e. Mike Sorice yelling "Dammit!" out loud when being beaten to a Zinoviev TU by Lafer). That being said, this competitive spirit didn't at all hinder the amount of fun any player had at this tournament, a testament to the fact that a "collaboration"-based tournament format is not needed to foster quizbowl camaraderie or whatever.

(Sorry if the following commentary is a bit chaotic--I'm just going in order of questions as I go through the set.) I'll go ahead and defend the Promenade theme note clue as a fine clue, since Dees indeed was able to buzz off of it during that round. The Cyclone Catarina TU seemed liked it shouldn't be included due to its lack of importance; it seems like its only claim to significance was the fact that it was the "only cyclone in the South Atlantic to make landfall." I was surprised that the Devil's Dictionary TU was still at power after it started mentioning clues about definitions of different entities (like Christians and brains). Why there was a tossup on It Came From Beneath the Sink! of all Goosebumps books is beyond me; it's probably one of the least famous ones--there are so many more (in)famous ones out there: Say Cheese--and Die!, Monster Blood, The Haunted Mask, etc. The Iannis Xenakis tossup seemed really fraudable: here are some titles that sound Greekish (Eonta, Nomos Alpha, Komboi) and here are some odd, esoteric compositional techniques--this might very well be Xenakis.

That's pretty much it. Tossups I enjoyed a lot: Hanuman, Albert Pinkham Ryder, the fake TU, Lone Wolf case, Migration of the Negro, Inextinguishable Symphony, Fernando Arrabal, limnic eruption, Season of Migration to the North, Brand, Swabian War

This was a long post.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Ike » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:30 pm

Yeah this was an excellent tournament. I only wished my mental energies weren't diverted before this tournament.

I don't have too much to say except that by the time I heard a literature tossup and knew that the three main writers were Ted, Shantanu, and Jonathan, it became pretty clear to me who wrote which question. I won't say that this applied to all of the questions, but for example the tossup on Waiting for Godot had Jonathan's name written all over it, because of the types of clues used. In the next tournament I play like this, I hope people will take a Westbrookian approach and write on things to service all facets of the canon rather than just a particular writer's interest.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen » Mon Jun 01, 2009 8:47 pm

Ike wrote:Waiting for Godot
Dang. Maybe I should've played.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Strongside » Mon Jun 01, 2009 9:28 pm

I have a few things to say.

First of all, this tournament was really great, and I definitely enjoyed playing it. It was awfully nice of the editors/question writers to work on this tournament, and receive nothing in return except the satisfaction that they put together an excellent set.

As for constructive criticism, I suppose I have a few things.

I think that having the questions worth 20/15/10/0 is a little better than 30/20/10/-5 in tournaments like this. This is just a personal preference, and it didn't affect how I played. The good things about having neg 5s is that it prevents people from buzzing like madmen.

As for the format, it didn't affect how I played, as I just tried to get our team to score as many points as possible, and hold our opponents to as few points as possible.

One other thing I wanted to address was tossups on easy answers at tournaments like these. I personally don't like them, in large part because I have a tendency to overthink them. I can understand the purpose that they serve though.

I agree with what Eric Kwartler said after 2008 ACF Nationals, "Though I know some people really get a kick out of writing the whole "easy answer with 7 of 8 lines being full of clues no one has heard of" questions, I personally don't."

The difficulty for this tournament was fine. It definitely wasn't too hard, and if anything, it was too easy.

I do think that the questions were quite long on average. I don't care about question length a lot, but I question why people choose to write such long questions for tournaments. When I write questions, I write as much as I can from memory, and then I search question archives and the internet to find more clues to make the question a sufficient length. I find that doing this is the most tedious, and difficult thing to do when writing questions.

Long questions are good in the sense that if you want to learn a lot about a subject or a tossup answer, there is more information sitting in front of you waiting to be gleaned. Long questions do make it harder to focus at times. Also, if the writers had written shorter questions, they might have been able to write more of them, or spend time doing other things. I know some people associate longer questions with higher credibility and legitimacy though, but I don't think super long tossups are necessary. I know that some people can feel overwhelmed and intimidated by questions like these, although I realize that most people who played this tournament knew what they were getting into. I think for tournaments like this, 6-8 lines is a good tossup length. This could also be because I have some fundamental differences in how I think questions should be written.

My favorite thing about this tournament was the science. I am not a great science player, but I thought this tournament's science was extremely accessible. I really like the number of questions on things that were eponymous, or multi-eponymous, as I tend to like science questions more when the names of actual people are involved.

Also, these things didn't take way from my enjoyment of the tournament, it was just a bit of constructive criticism.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by magin » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:16 pm

Looking back, the Molly Maguires tossup dropped the clue about the Ancient Order of Hibernians too early; sorry about that. I looked at every previous question on the Molly Maguires in an attempt to make sure the clues were in line with the clues of the other tossups, but I didn't do a very good job.

I'm a little confused about Michael's critique of tossups that were "delighted with themselves;" if the Mozart or Japan tossups had a plethora of non-important, obscure clues, then those clues shouldn't have been there. Shantanu wrote the Mozart tossup, and I wrote the tossup on Japan; I can't speak for Shantanu, but when writing the Japan tossup, I tried to use clues important to the history of feminism in Japan (I'm not an expert on it, but I think such tossups are a good way to include social history without writing unanswerable or vague questions). I don't think that the Japan tossup was an attempt to say "look how clever I am, writing this tossup" (which I take to be the meaning of his critique), but an attempt to write a tossup about an oft-neglected historical area that would still conform to the principles of good question writing.

I also wrote the tossup on It Came From Beneath the Sink!, and did so entirely because it amused me. For a tournament like this, I think that the trash tossups should be about things the writers find amusing (like Westbrook's tossup on the Itty Bitty Titty Committee), as long as they're pyramidal, well-written, etc.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Important Bird Area » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:19 pm

I liked last year's set a bit better than this one, possibly related to the fact that this one contained no geography and last year's was filled with Meigsiana. However, I can't really complain about that, given the results from Friday night.

The history was, as expected, filled with excellent stuff that doesn't come up very often (Plan XVII! Battle of Derna! Stand Watie!).

I'll agree with Brendan about some of the easy answers feeling a little out of place; only at the Gaddis would I sit on the tossup on "Australian aboriginal myth" because I was expecting a prompt for a specific group of aborigines...
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:22 pm

As someone guilty of writing some pretty long tossups, I think that the tournament would probably be improved by imposing a length cap next year. This tournament is run directly after another tournament, and with questions generally being very difficult, it's probably not necessary to have tossups that reach 12-14 lines.

Also, my bad about the placement of that Stamford Raffles clue in the Singapore tossup.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:23 pm

Also, I agree that the point structure was pretty wonky. 30 points is entirely too much to give on a tossup, especially because the rare error in clue placement can pretty much mean the difference between victory and losing by 25 points.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:34 pm

Coral Gardens and Their Magin wrote: I wrote the tossup on Japan; I can't speak for Shantanu, but when writing the Japan tossup, I tried to use clues important to the history of feminism in Japan (I'm not an expert on it, but I think such tossups are a good way to include social history without writing unanswerable or vague questions). I don't think that the Japan tossup was an attempt to say "look how clever I am, writing this tossup" (which I take to be the meaning of his critique), but an attempt to write a tossup about an oft-neglected historical area that would still conform to the principles of good question writing.
I guess I would have to agree that it did not conform to those principles, since it basically repeated "this country had one feminist group called {name}" a bunch of times before dropping an obviously Japanese name well before FTP.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by magin » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:43 pm

Here's the text of the tossup:

[JM] This country's women's liberation movement was jumpstarted on October 21, 1970, when female demonstrators marched through its capital carrying signs like "A housewife and a prostitute are raccoons in the same den." This country's police attacked members of the feminist Red Wave Society during a May Day parade in 1921. After World War II, this country's feminist movement was led by the National Federation of Regional Women's Organizations, while this country's Fighting Women Group was formed in the 1970s to protect abortion rights. During the 1920s, this country's New Women's Association successfully lobbied for the repeal of article five of its Peace Police Law. This country legalized birth control pills because of protests from groups like the Pink Helmet Brigade, and feminists in this country use an system of communication outside the mass media called the minikomi. Feminists in this country often protest against the ideology of "good wife, wise mother," or ► Ryosai kenbo. For 10 points, name this country which granted women's suffrage in 1945 thanks to the efforts of Fusae Ichikawa, where feminists fight against the image of women as geisha.
ANSWER: Japan [or Nippon]

I tried to put the clearly Japanese names after the power marks; was I unsuccessful?
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by ihavenoidea » Mon Jun 01, 2009 11:48 pm

I remember Matt buzzing off of minikomi.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Megalomaniacal Panda on Absinthe » Tue Jun 02, 2009 12:13 am

I, too, am not sure where my Mozart tossup was "delighted with itself." I tried to incorporate clues from various important Mozart arias and operas, and I'm reasonably sure I mentioned nothing obscure or unimportant, though perhaps I overestimated people's knowledge of Il Re Pastore and Mitridate.

I do wish I had edited it to make it more comprehensible and I wish I used fewer clues in a more palatable manner. I also think there were multifarious issues with clue placement and phrasing, and that the pyramid could have been much smoother than it was. That aside, I don't think the clues themselves were terrible.

I hope people preferred my tossups on I Puritani and Bach's Magnificat.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:53 am

I made a lot of jokes before this tournament began about how it was going to be a logistical nightmare and take forever to start. I was very wrong and would like to apologize to Jonathan, Dwight, etc. for it. The tournament was very well run. The last non-finals round finished just around midnight, which is extraordinary.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by magin » Tue Jun 02, 2009 2:17 am

Ike wrote: I don't have too much to say except that by the time I heard a literature tossup and knew that the three main writers were Ted, Shantanu, and Jonathan, it became pretty clear to me who wrote which question. I won't say that this applied to all of the questions, but for example the tossup on Waiting for Godot had Jonathan's name written all over it, because of the types of clues used. In the next tournament I play like this, I hope people will take a Westbrookian approach and write on things to service all facets of the canon rather than just a particular writer's interest.
I'm curious about this, since I wrote the vast majority of the literature, and consciously went out and read thirty books (like Felix Holt, Persian Letters, The Invention of Morel, The Changeling) that I hadn't read (or written about before) in order to write good tossups on them. Since doing that would seem to "service all facets of the canon," I'm not sure how reading a bunch of literature I'd never written tossups on before (in order to write non-predictable tossups on them) constitutes writing to my interests.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:57 am

When the first three clues of a tossup are on various performances of a work, I think most players start to get the idea that the tossup is going to be on a very famous answer. Throw in the fact that it's being performed in the U.S. in places like Miami and you probably have a very famous play in the mid twentieth century. Props to CBorg for his knowledge of the performance history of Waiting for Godot, but I was certainly thinking something along those lines of fame and time period, so in that way, that tossup seemed incredibly transparent.

I should also add that I have read that play multiple times, and don't necessarily understand why a hard tossup on it has to reward knowledge of its performances in the United States. It seemed to me that the performance clues announced "hey, this is going to be something super famous" without providing a lot of valuable clues; even if you know that stuff, I still find myself questioning whether it should be rewarded over knowledge of the text or criticism of it.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Tue Jun 02, 2009 9:18 am

The above criticism highlights what I think is the major problem about the "hard tossups on easy answers" movement that always seems to rear its head at Gaddis. There are many problematic things about those tossups when you have a field of very good players. First, it really throws players out of whack when the tossups have misplaced clues. The Molly Maguires tossup from this year was almost exactly like the Tammany Hall tossup from last year; both threw in a clue that could very well be an IS set leadin in the first couple of lines, leaving everyone confused about whether to buzz. Second, most players are really smart and can figure out when you're using really hard clues about a famous thing. The Waiting for Godot question was somewhat egregious for this simply because it used multiple lines of clues that most quizbowlers can deduce would never come up in a tossup on a hard work. The tossup on Mozart was a fine and enjoyable tossup, but after the third line or so I was thinking either Verdi, Puccini, or Mozart from pure heuristics. Tossups on easy things that use hard clues can't feel any different than tossups on answers in the target difficulty, because players are sharp and pick up on that right away.

There were certainly a large handful of easy-answer tossups that dropped easy clues far too early, but an equally frustrating problem is that you could often puzzle out that a tossup was going to have an easy answer just based on the kind of clues that were used.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:54 am

Thanks to Magin and company for putting this event on and their hard work constructing these questions, it was well worth my dangerously sleep-deprived expedition to and from Chicago.

I agree with Brendan that 20/15/10/0 works way better than 30/20/10/-5. For one thing, 30 is a ton of points to give people on a tu, and it often creates what feel like lucky swings in a match. Even 20 is a lot of points to give people on one tossup (especially when there are negs) - and unlike 30s, 20's weren't extremely hard to come by in this tournament. My beef with negs in tourneys like these is that they often put the player in a pickle - let's take the situation where a player thinks "hmmm, the answer to this is either X or I have no idea what it is, and I can't imagine anyone in this room does either" - so you have to play a game of chicken where you try to decide whether it's worth the risk of negging, and that's just uncomfortable.

I'm not in love with tossups being as long as these were. It's no skin off my back and I fully understand the temptation to throw everything in (especially when you've read the whole book, let's say), but I think ultra-long tossups often just don't work very well. I have some quarrels with the lateralability of questions like Robbers Cave, Rivers of Blood, democratic peace, and a handful of others I can't remember now...but I can remember either buzzing and thinking "what else could this possibly be!" or I getting beaten by someone else and clenching my fist in anger yelling "Yeah, of course it's that!" Also, Our Land and Land Policy seemed way too early in the Progress and Poverty tu. Maybe I'll comment more on individual tus later.

As for the format, I naturally agree with Bruce and others that an event like this doesn't need built-in incentives for collaboration to create an atmosphere of good feeling. If anything, I think having competitive matches with wins and losses actually helps promote dialogue and good feeling amongst participants - which is probably why people pretty much ignored the format from the start and went around asking people what their win-loss record was/what clues they buzzed on and when/how they "won" or "lost" matches on the last buzz/etc.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by magin » Tue Jun 02, 2009 1:26 pm

theMoMA wrote:When the first three clues of a tossup are on various performances of a work, I think most players start to get the idea that the tossup is going to be on a very famous answer. Throw in the fact that it's being performed in the U.S. in places like Miami and you probably have a very famous play in the mid twentieth century. Props to CBorg for his knowledge of the performance history of Waiting for Godot, but I was certainly thinking something along those lines of fame and time period, so in that way, that tossup seemed incredibly transparent.

I should also add that I have read that play multiple times, and don't necessarily understand why a hard tossup on it has to reward knowledge of its performances in the United States. It seemed to me that the performance clues announced "hey, this is going to be something super famous" without providing a lot of valuable clues; even if you know that stuff, I still find myself questioning whether it should be rewarded over knowledge of the text or criticism of it.
I was aware that players might think "this is a famous twentieth century play," but there are many, many, many famous twentieth century plays. Famous twentieth century play --> Waiting for Godot isn't a one to one mapping.

Also, a hard tossup on Waiting for Godot doesn't "have" to reward knowledge of its performances, but I believe that it can. Plays aren't novels; they're performed. There are important historical performances of them. There are important theatrical interpretations of a play. That you've read Waiting for Godot a lot is great; it's an excellent play. But I don't see why clues about important performances of a play aren't legitimate (or less legitimate than criticism or lines from a play).
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by ak47 » Tue Jun 02, 2009 3:49 pm

I think clues about the theatrical interpretation of dramas are fine as long as they are genuinely significant to the drama's development or significance. Just as it would be disingenuous of me to include random analyses of minor characters in a tossup about some work of literature, it would be pretty lame if a tossup on a play like Our Town was filled with descriptions of random locations and dates when the play was staged. The computer I'm on won't let me access the text of Magin's TU, but I for sure think some of those staging clues are famous and important (Susan Sontag's direction during the Siege of Sarajevo, for example). As long as such clues are used judiciously, I don't think they're a problem.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Gautam » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:29 pm

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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:32 pm

In play, the Mozart tossup led to me thinking immediately "well, there are singspiels and romance languages, I know Mozart did a lot of both but he's way too easy," and then not too long after that Mike Sorice obviously made the same conclusion and buzzed in with Gluck instead. This seems problematic to me to have a tossup where two good music players figure something out but are scared to buzz with the right answer because of where it's presented.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Megalomaniacal Panda on Absinthe » Tue Jun 02, 2009 4:58 pm

I'm not sure what heuristics could be applied to my Mozart tossup to be able to deduce that it was a tossup on an easy answer. Had I written a tossup on Francesco Cavalli from operatic works, it would not have looked terribly different.

Edit: Yeah, the point about singspiels leading you to Mozart is a valid one, I probably should have left that clue out.

To be fair, though, scaring off music players from buzzing when they don't actually know the answer from clues doesn't necessarily strike me as a bad thing. It's when you're deterred from buzzing off clues you're reasonably sure you know that I get worried.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Jun 02, 2009 5:40 pm

Now that I can see the packets:

-I don't know a whole lot about the book, but it seems like the "headless turtles" clue was a little early for Walk on the WIld Side. It's odd enough that it sticks in the mind more than some of the supporting characters or incidents, but I admit to not reading it. In contrast, the Summer and Smoke tossup seemed to reward deep knowledge of lines and events because I was only buzzing on the goofy Wikipedia clues ("Eccentricities of a Nightingale") I was reading about. I really like that Gentlemen Prefer Blondes tossup too--I've only read the book once but it must have really stuck with me because I would have buzzed on almost every clue beyond "Sigmund Freud" (which is basically where I buzzed).

-The Rollerball tossup repeated the clue about trees being set on fire in two consecutive lines. It was cool having that come up at HSNCT and Gaddis.

-I enjoyed the Battle of Derna tossup despite negging with Battle of Tripolis. I had read a book about William Eaton and thought it was cool and shouldn't have buzzed with Tripolis, but I just couldn't remember the name.

-I do note that Rome: Open City is 20 points all the way through, which strikes me as kind of generous for being the best known work of the important filmmaker Roberto Rossellini.

-The Ascension of Jesus tossup mentioned the chapters a bit too early. Mark 16 and Luke 24 clearly mark whatever event is being depicted as one of the final events in Jesus' earthly tenure, which led me to zero in on some aspect of Jesus' resurrection/ascension immediately.

-I enjoyed the Alf Landon tossup with humorous quotations and songs. In the far future, at some other tournament, I will write a vanity tournament featuring all goofy American political history tossups.

-I said "Great Migration" for "Migration" series, which I am pretty sure is wrong and it was accepted. That tossup could have benefited from some specfications about what to accept.

-The Godot tossup, while undeniably interesting and important, is mildly susceptible to fraud or whatever you want to call it. I don't know anything about Godot or its stage performances, but the clues (based on a painting about TWO old men) and the cast clues (featuring TWO stars) led me to think of plays that prominently feature TWO main characters. I realize this is sort of nonsensical reasoning, but when you have someone who knows nothing about Godot (me) think of Godot when hearing those clues...

-An additional fake tossup should have been written entirely in Jack Keefe-speak. I'm glad that I was curious as to what that dude posting as "Jack Keefe" on Baseball Think Factory was all about, else I would not have gotten that tossup.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by SnookerUSF » Tue Jun 02, 2009 7:13 pm

theMoMA wrote: I should also add that I have read that play multiple times, and don't necessarily understand why a hard tossup on it has to reward knowledge of its performances in the United States. It seemed to me that the performance clues announced "hey, this is going to be something super famous" without providing a lot of valuable clues; even if you know that stuff, I still find myself questioning whether it should be rewarded over knowledge of the text or criticism of it.
Let me put to one side the general debate regarding the "hard tossup on easy answer" and suggest that if you hold that the canon is not a canon of answers but one of clues (which is again debatable) then the performative aspects of a play ought to be a legitimate source of clues. Certainly, these aspects are studied and subjected to critical interpretation, and are important to the overall reception of the play in culture. It seems somewhat imprudent to me to suggest that this dimension of plays is somehow "not valuable" to the canon of clues that might surround a play of the standing of "Waiting for Godot." Moreover, it seems arbitrary and restrictive to suggest that every tossup on such a play consist mostly of plot details. I mean there is certainly room at the experimental level, which this tournament professed itself to be, to introduce this kind of legitimate material.

As a possible alternative justification for their legitimacy; it seems plausibly less controversial to suggest that these kinds of "performance-based" clues would be quite natural and welcome for questions on works of music, opera, musicals etc. Why not plays? I will grant you that it is, in some ontological sense, more difficult to distinguish the performance of a musical work from the work itself (there are fewer of us in the community that have access to, intellectually or physically, musical scores, as compared to the texts of plays). This is to suggest that for most of us to appreciate music, on any worthwhile level, we have to listen to it being performed. While the same isn't strictly true for plays or poems, I do not think those oral and/or performative aspects, ought to be in every instance, ignored or dismissed in favor of the textual aspects.

I am not generally condoning this kind of sourcing as a general rule...plot details, interesting and relevant criticism, bibliographic information relating to the author will serve more than adequately for 95% of tossups.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by The Atom Strikes! » Tue Jun 02, 2009 8:44 pm

This tournament was fun. That said, the Goosebumps tossup should have been about "Why I am afraid of Bees."
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl » Wed Jun 03, 2009 8:02 am

I enjoyed listening to the Gaddis questions and watching Auroni answer so many of them. I was hoping for more Ragabishness (I dreamed of 2/2 20th-century French lit crit, for example), but oh, well.

Not knowing where else to post this, I wanted to thank Charles Meigs for shepherding folks to the stately pleasure dome on the 23rd floor after Gaddis where a bunch of QB people had a chance to hang out. I know I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to talk with people who I didn't know very well (or at all).
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Gautam » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:14 pm

Oh, I forgot to say:

Doc versions of the packets are available at: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~kand0028/quiz_bo ... %20Gaddis/

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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by powerplant » Wed Jun 03, 2009 12:30 pm

I just want to say that even though I left early due to crippling hunger/sucking at questions this hard, I had a great time. It's a neat experience to be taking down notes on answers not because I need to remember what something was, but merely because it sounded really interesting and would be worth trying to read the book or find more about the figure. Thanks to Jonathan and everyone involved in the set, as well as the staff who helped this happen.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jun 03, 2009 1:43 pm

Ahmad, I certainly agree in the abstract. I just think that the practicality of having multiple lines of performance clues starts to narrow down the answer choice really quickly. I mean, look at the first clues. Based on a Friedrich painting about two people doing something lazy? A production starring two people? Its "disastrous American premiere"? The only performance clue about Godot that I know is the Sontag one, but hmm, this tossup is stacking clues about a play's performance so the work must be super famous; it's using a lot of clues about two people, who are apparently doing something lazy; it must be pretty weird because it had disastrous premieres; and it wasn't written in the U.S. because it had an "American premiere." I really don't like buzzing off of stuff like that, so it's kind of frustrating that the question's thirty-point clues all laterally pointed to the answer.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Sampling » Wed Jun 03, 2009 3:50 pm

Many thanks. A delightful experience!
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by swwFCqb » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:01 am

Yeah, this was a pretty cool tournament and it was a nice addition to a fun weekend. I was happy to see tossups on Oroonoko and The Persian Letters (each of which are well worth a read), both of which I had recently read in one of last semester's classes. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this happen (writers, moderators, etc) and here's to hoping there'll be a third incarnation of Gaddis a year from now.
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Re: Gaddis II Thanks and Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:38 am

gkandlikar wrote:Oh, I forgot to say:

Doc versions of the packets are available at: http://www.tc.umn.edu/~kand0028/quiz_bo ... %20Gaddis/

GK
Hey, would you be able to upload a single zip file containing the packets? Thanks!
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