The Tournament as a Work of Art

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The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

So, I was having a discussion with Jonathan Magin recently and I thought I'd share. I developed a bit of a theory as to why I sometimes have a different vision on how to edit and write qb tourneys than a lot of people. I think that I tend to see a tournament as a "creative project," as something of a work of art, a lovingly-crafted masterpiece. Granted, I have a certain luxury by virtue of the fact that these days I exclusively do higher-level and open-type events - I don't suggest that anyone should see ACF Fall or even Regionals (or any tourney advertising as on that level) as too much of a work of art. In those events, the central focus must be very pragmatically on producing good pyramidal accessible questions for the intended audience to enjoy, so as to foster the spread of good quizbowl.

And, here I think is the difference - there are a handful of people, Magin being an example, who find it very rewarding simply to promote the spread of good quizbowl and produce events aimed to accomplish that end. Some people, for instance, have no qualms about writing that millionth Malinowski tossup which looks pretty much like all the others - because they say "it's an important and accessible subject, and there need to be pyramidal tossups on it...and after all, a lot of new players coming in don't know it's the millionth Malinowski tu, and it helps good quizbowl." I think that point of view is very respectable, and there needs to always be a critical mass of people thinking that way for qb to thrive and grow.

But, I think there's room and even a need for the way that I see tournaments too. It's not that (despite what some people might believe) I would never write a Malinowski tossup - but if I did write it, my logic might be something like: "You know, I've found some cool clues for this Malinowski tossup, and I haven't seen a good Malinowski tu in a while so maybe it's time to have one - yes, I think it would look pretty to have it in my tournament." Put another way, I select answers and clues as more of an artistic choice. I don't mean to suggest that I'm willing to compromise the ideal of having good middle clues or questions suitable and playable for the audience in favor of some notion of art - I try to work within that framework, as an architect would in creating a design. I even disavow some of my past work in the same way an artist or musician would spurn his past creations. I should also say that it's a pain in the ass to write tournaments my way - you'll spend a lot of time going "no, I don't like that answer, it's been done too much" or "no, that answer is annoying to write, or transparent, or not an inspired idea" or whatever...and you'll do things like obsessively rearrange sentence structure and carefully order the randomization of questions so as to make things "look" the way you want them to.

I think the difference between these two points of view is a real dichotomy - and maybe it creates a lot of the arguments we have too. Most people probably have some combination of the two above views, or they change back and forth depending on the situation...though, probably focusing more on the "pragmatic" view, if only because there are only so many types of tournaments where you can be a temperamental prima donna (and because, like I said, it's a pain in the ass to do it my way...and most people have way better and more profitable things to do). Someone will almost surely object that creating very pragmatic accessible tournaments can be its own art form - that's fine, I don't mean to be haughty by appropriating the term artist for myself - but I think there is an important difference in mindset between that and setting out to create a tournament the way that I do. Some may also derisively label my view as giving into "vanity" - but I would draw a quick distinction: I'm every bit as interested as anyone in satisfying the maxims of good quizbowl and I very rarely subordinate them to my artistic whims. I'm no friend of just writing events whatever way you want - "hey, side event! - 5/5 economics, 5/5 Japanese lit, 10/10 dinosaurs!" - to me, that's the equivalent of a dime store novel or some hack pop art.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Matt Weiner »

Nope.

I've done a lot of tournaments (high school, summer open, and everything in between) and the one I'm most proud of is the 2008 Regionals. Regular difficulty at controlled length requires way more "artistry" and skill than Chicago Open. Anyone who has the basic idea of a good question down can write a 9-line tossup on Nadir Shah--no one knows what the middle clues for Nadir Shah are, it's not very hard to just accumulate hard clues and then mention some things that have come up before near the end, and since nobody really knows anything about Nadir Shah anyway, it's not like people are going to have their internal bad question detector go off. Writing a 6-line tossup on Matthew Arnold for an audience that includes both the best players in quizbowl and completely new players is another story. To do it right, you really have to use your space judiciously, force every bit of useless verbiage out of the question, and agonize over the relative order of every pair of clues.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

I agree with Matt. The greatest sense of accomplishment I feel as a writer is after I write a tossup of the kind he described. If we define "art" as crafting something that is difficult to craft, I feel those kinds of questions best fit that definition.

The other thing that makes me feel similar is when I write a tossup on something that has a reputation of being impossible to write a tossup on. For instance, I heard a lot of people compliment me on my "Auspicious Incident" TU at HI because they had previously tried to write a tossup on that and failed, for lack of clues or whatnot. But due to the ever increasing ease of finding clues, I think this is becoming less and less an art form and more and more something that can be mass produced.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Eh, I doth protest.

Despite the fact that I'm loathe to do so, I think I've proven that I can write a 6-line graded tossup on Matthew Arnold as well as anyone and maybe better, pardon the egotism. Trimming verbiage and being concise is not art - granted, it's something people don't do nearly enough - but it ain't that tough if you have a decent feel for the canon and you're good at finding clues and getting them out efficiently. I admit that it takes a certain amount of judiciousness - but, to me, writing these types of tossups is "grinding" - humdrum slave labor, an exhausting slog. Again, don't get me wrong...I fully appreciate people who are dedicated to writing this way often, it's necessary for the growth of the game.

I admit that the clue order of the 3rd and 4th clues in that Nadir Shah tu is not as important as in the above Arnold tu. But, clue order in the upper half of questions is a very small part of the equation (I say the upper half because, even if you pick a very hard thing, you always have to be careful around the lower half - where you start giving people clues they will likely buzz off of - and in fact, the lower half of one of my tossups on something like Halford Mackinder gets as tapered and careful as a good easy Arnold tu, I'd submit). Answer selection, on the other hand, is way tougher on my side - you can't just pick Zeeman Effect again and go to work, or do that same common link tossup everyone's already thought of before.

Tournaments like Fall or even Regionals are affairs of mass production - you have to spit out unimaginative tus on the same old stuff like a machine. Sorry, but "careful loving craftsmanship" isn't the phrase that usually pops to mind when I take a look at events like these, and for good reason. Even in the rare case where such events are done exceptionally well and carefully, to continue the art metaphor - what pops to mind for me is a reliably-constructed chair...nothing new, nothing innovative, just sure-handed functional design that works. And that's fine - that's the other equally valid (and more beneficial to spread of qb) view I refer to in my post - but it's different than what I do.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Tournaments like Fall or even Regionals are affairs of mass production - you have to spit out unimaginative tus on the same old stuff like a machine. Sorry, but "careful loving craftsmanship" isn't the phrase that usually pops to mind when I take a look at events like these, and for good reason. Even in the rare case where such events are done exceptionally well and carefully, to continue the art metaphor - what pops to mind for me is a reliably-constructed chair...nothing new, nothing innovative, just sure-handed functional design that works. And that's fine - that's the other equally valid (and more beneficial to spread of qb) view I refer to in my post - but it's different than what I do.
I really don't think this is true. I spent a good deal of time meticulously ordering clues and finding interesting leadins at EFT, almost as much time as I did writing any of the harder events that I wrote for. I don't think mass production precludes the possibility of being careful and taking extra care in crafting tossups - perhaps it takes a hit, but if you can spend the time the results are that much better.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

That may be true for Fall and Regionals (I have little experience editing or writing at that difficulty; I'll let Matt handle it), but if you are going to write a "hard tossup on easy answer" for, say, ACF Nationals or a summer tournament, no way in heck are you going to be able to reproduce that. You will have to pay close attention to what has come up recently, to new sources of information that might have just become available, etc.

Otherwise, you are going to end up with one of two things:

(1) a lead-in that Brendan Byrne will hit 500 feet to center field; or
(2) a buzzer race at the end.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

To be clear, I don't deny that writing any collegiate tourney really well requires a ton of effort and care. I'm trying to couch the discussion more in terms of the approaches of "functionalism" vs. "creative innovation."

It's not about "hard" vs. "easy" necessarily. You can apply either of the above approaches to a lot of different difficulty levels, and you can do either approach in a good way or in a shoddy way.

I'll also say that I did a Regionals - and while it wasn't analagous to the current Regionals, I didn't feel I was doing anything especially "artistic" with that tournament, within the context I'm talking about in this post. Now, when I wrote for the first EFT - I did feel I was being kind of artistic, albeit bad art - and I've disowned my work there. Not cause it was too easy or anything, mind you, just cause I think it was kind of problematic.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Matt Weiner »

But no innovation is required when people don't care about questions being difficult. Where do common-link questions come from? The creativity of writers looking for new material under difficulty restraints. No need to write a tossup on "gods of war" for a summer open--Kartikeya is a perfectly acceptable answer line there. Same goes for questions on "composers from _Hungary_" rather than on the Peacock Variations. Creativity and "artistry" must and do increase as difficulty goes down, not as its goes up.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

Matt Weiner wrote:But no innovation is required when people don't care about questions being difficult. Where do common-link questions come from? The creativity of writers looking for new material under difficulty restraints. No need to write a tossup on "gods of war" for a summer open--Kartikeya is a perfectly acceptable answer line there. Same goes for questions on "composers from _Hungary_" rather than on the Peacock Variations. Creativity and "artistry" must and do increase as difficulty goes down, not as its goes up.
Creativity in answer choices, not tossup construction, should go up as difficulty does, though. There are multiple instances that I've gone to a hard tournament, heard a particular answer line, and said to myself "that's a really good idea". I think that might be at least some of the artistry that Ryan is talking about.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by cvdwightw »

I agree with everyone in this thread not named Ryan Westbrook. Finding new ways to write on old things is much more rewarding than finding ways to write on new things.

Each question is like a piece of music. Just because I decide to play "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" doesn't mean that it's the same monotonous work you'd get with a computer; my interpretation of the work is different from anyone else's, and I can use the very accessibility of the work to have my particular style show through. To me, this is preferable to playing a technically difficult original composition, where people may respect the amount of work needed and its difficulty, but there is little room for individual expression and no one will notice if I make a mistake. Now, obviously there's quite a bit of reward in and of itself in the sheer creativity of the original composition that no one's heard before, and maybe Ryan feels that that reward is higher for him. For me, I get more out of variations on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Noone is a visionary because they can perform Twinkle Twinkle Little Star super competently. When you start talking about "putting your own spin on stuff", that's different - but I don't think most people are puttin' any new spin on most Zeeman Effect tossups - it's just plug and chug, stick a wig and some makeup on that same old bulldog.

Similarly, common link tossups for lower-level events are rarely high artistry. Most often, they're the same old ideas people have though of before - "what's that, you say, a myth tossup on "gods of war" or "the underworld" or "pigs"?...where do you come up with these breakthrough ideas!" (sarcasm, they're fine ideas - but they're nothing new). Hey, I was once a pioneer of such ideas - because they were art back then! Even if the ideas are in fact creative today, they're often ill-advised for various reasons. If it's both creative and well-advised, then awesome - you've stepped into my paradigm of artistry and out of functionalism, but that's quite rare - and especially at lower-level events, because the tight controls mean fewer possibilities. So, yeah, if you can find a way to pull off "EFT as a work of art," that's quite something - it also just plain ain't happenin'

By the way, Mukherjee's reaction of "that's a really great idea" is my favorite reaction while playing questions. Not un-coincidentally, I get that reaction a lot more at certain events than others.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by yoda4554 »

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Noone is a visionary because they can perform Twinkle Twinkle Little Star super competently.
Counter-example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=71f2fahFhDE
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Mike Bentley »

I'm not entirely sure what this thread is trying to accomplish. Sure, I think a lot of people strive to write interesting and creative tossups, especially for hard events. This is the feeling I got when working on the past two editions of the Magin-edited Gaddis, and it's what I strove for when writing Gunpei last year. I'm sure plenty of people also write tossups and then shelve them to extras or last minute additions to less-than-stellar tournaments out of a sense that these tossups weren't well constructed, boring, etc. I don't think there's anything special going on here that when you write tournaments that allow you to expand the answer space you try to make each one of these questions interesting in some way.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by AKKOLADE »

No Rules Westbrook wrote:Noone is a visionary because they can perform Twinkle Twinkle Little Star super competently.
Way to drag the Music Brigade into here, too.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Well, my threads are rarely aimed at accomplishing anything - I mean, hell, if I were so interested in that, I wouldn't be such an artist, thus defeating the point of this whole thread.

I just had some time to ponder..and so I attempted to provide a useful explanatory framework for two ways of looking at writing/editing tournaments. I think they're definitely different approaches though and it's important to see that, and I think my approach can be very valuable in certain situations.

I make no claim about which approach is more rewarding for anyone - that's up to you. But, I do strongly contest the claim that more innovation and artistry goes into writing a solid ACF Fall set than the type of writing that I do.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Cheynem »

Less innovation in Fall than Westbrook sets? Sure, that's the name of the game. The point of Fall is not exciting answer selections, but simply to provide well written, interesting questions on a relatively novice level. But artistry? That's another question. I am reminded of the eternal film argument of looking at Director A who makes art films and Director B who makes "genre" films. While certainly Director A is making more innovative things with his films about a sea wave counterposed with random shots of people sneezing as opposed to Director B's story of a cowboy tracking down the guy who killed his wife, but artistry is more to do with skill and intelligence. Director B's simple little story can be filled with art in its script, little camera flourishes, etc.. A well constructed ACF Fall tossup, perhaps with a lead-in to educate and confound a very good player (not every player, of course) that perfectly marches down the line of pyramidality and ends with a giveaway that a novice can react to, is like that genre picture.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Okay, sure, recast the distinction as "genre film" vs. "art film" - that conveys exactly the point I'm trying to make.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by grapesmoker »

I think you guys are mistaking Ryan's personal quizbowl aesthetic for a full-blown prescription of how to write tournaments. Although I frequently disagree with Ryan, I actually agree with him here; I derive much more satisfaction out of a question on a novel topic than I do on something staid like Matthew Arnold. Doesn't mean that I'm never writing a question on Matthew Arnold; rather it's a point about how people feel about their various projects. If Matt prefers the Matthew Arnold question, that's his personal choice, but it should be recognized that there are other legitimate aesthetic preferences too. And attendant to that, let's judge writers by the work they do, not by the theories they propound.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by theMoMA »

Instead of arguing whether Ryan's conception of "artistic" is the right one, maybe we should be looking into infusing this art-spirit into our works at all levels instead of perpetuating the stereotype of the cookie-cutter novice- or regular-difficulty tournament. It's when we as editors stop looking for creative answers and new ways to do the necessary old things that our tournaments become painful to work on. If people felt as lovingly about their lower-level tournaments as Ryan does about his tournaments, we'd have a lot more tournaments done on time with much better quality.

Sometimes we lose sight of the purpose of editing and writing amidst the conversion stats and time constraints, and the work becomes unfulfilling and monotonous. But I hope everyone here remembers being a newcomer overeager to see their questions played by, buzzed on, and hopefully praised by the best quizbowlers out there. We write and edit and innovate and create tournaments as "works of art" because we get an immense amount of satisfaction seeing our questions consumed and appreciated. Let's channel that into writing better tournaments, because the attitudes that Ryan advances can help alleviate a lot of our problems.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

theMoMA wrote:Instead of arguing whether Ryan's conception of "artistic" is the right one, maybe we should be looking into infusing this art-spirit into our works at all levels instead of perpetuating the stereotype of the cookie-cutter novice- or regular-difficulty tournament. It's when we as editors stop looking for creative answers and new ways to do the necessary old things that our tournaments become painful to work on. If people felt as lovingly about their lower-level tournaments as Ryan does about his tournaments, we'd have a lot more tournaments done on time with much better quality.

Sometimes we lose sight of the purpose of editing and writing amidst the conversion stats and time constraints, and the work becomes unfulfilling and monotonous. But I hope everyone here remembers being a newcomer overeager to see their questions played by, buzzed on, and hopefully praised by the best quizbowlers out there. We write and edit and innovate and create tournaments as "works of art" because we get an immense amount of satisfaction seeing our questions consumed and appreciated. Let's channel that into writing better tournaments, because the attitudes that Ryan advances can help alleviate a lot of our problems.
Yeah; in large part I agree with this. This debate is just about the border between what is "art" and what is "craft" and what ought to be called one or both. Strive for art, but never fail to provide the utility of the craft.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Okay, I wasn't going to post again, but people always lament that I'm fond of presenting pie-in-the-sky idealistic theories and not trying to convey any realistically helpful point. Well, here's a central point I want to convey:

Judge writers and editors on the quality of their work, and strive for quality in whatever work you do.

Attendant to this, don't grandstand when someone produces a decently well-structured 6-line tossup on Mark Twain appropriate for the intended audience - they didn't pull a rabbit out of a hat, or walk on water, calm the hell down. Evaluate quality and skill objectively - and don't let your propaganda about what types of events are most healthy for the proper growth of the circuit get in the way of your assessment. I see that all the time, often in the form of people saying or intimating "Eh, so what, Ryan wrote a good tossup on the Robbers Cave experiment...but look over here at this okay tossup on George Washington - wow, now that's SKILL!" I see people give very questionable analyses of the merits and demerits of writing - analyses based less on the objective quality of said writing, and more on external factors and personal feelings.

This thread has nothing to do with hard questions vs. easy questions. It has everything to do with properly evaluating the quality and skill that goes behind producing all types of questions.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Cheynem »

Judging by quality is a good thing. You write high quality stuff for a different audience than, say, the very high quality ACF Fall last year. That said, I'm not sure what you want here. A lot of people praised both your edited Chicago Open and your recent Experiment as excellent quizbowl. The George Washington tossup you mentioned...I don't recall anyone falling over themselves over it (both Jerry and Jeff expressed reservations over it). And I'm not sure what you mean by "grandstanding over Mark Twain" tossups, which, again, as I mentioned last night, seems like a backhanded jibe at novice level tournaments (I don't think it was).

Perhaps some more concrete examples of the sort of criticism you are referring to would help.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Well, I don't want to make the discussion personal - I often just pick examples related to me because they're the ones I can remember. I don't want to go paging through archives of past hsqb tournament discussions to find relevant quotes or try to painstakingly recall the many conversations I've had with lots of different qb personalities about their opinions on writing quality and so on. I wasn't even specifically referring to one particular George Washington or Mark Twain tossup, let's be clear - I'm just using it as a generality.

Bottom line, in my experience, I've seen a lot of situations where people don't do a very good job of accurately evaluating the creativity, quality, and skill of writing. One reason is that I think they let a lot of irrelevant personal values and external considerations get in their way; I think a lot of people get easily blinded by these kinds of factors.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by magin »

Ryan, I think your posts in this thread are missing an important subtext: the fact that there are as many, if not more, well-written hard tournaments as easy/regular difficulty college tournaments. Not counting tournaments in between regionals and nationals difficulty like Illinois Open and Cardinal Classic, if you wanted to play hard questions (the kind of questions you champion here), you could play Minnesota Open, Harvard International, FICHTE, NAQT ICT, ACF Nationals, your experiment, Gaddis II, Chicago Open, ROBOT/The Experiment, Sun n Fun, Missouri Open, VCU Open, Cato/Taco, and numerous fairly difficult subject tournaments. On the other hand, look at the number of solid novice/regular difficulty tournaments: EFT, ACF Fall, ACF Winter, Terrapin, NAQT SCT, Penn Bowl, ACF Regionals, and MUT (I might be missing one or two, but the point remains). This suggests that we're doing a fine job providing hard tournaments, but we're not providing enough novice/regular difficulty tournaments.

Personally, I agree with Andrew Hart that we should all strive to write our questions for all levels with care, and look for ways to write creative, enjoyable, well-crafted questions (my personal definition of creative: using clues that people with primary knowledge know that don't come up in quizbowl all the time). But let's be realistic here: we already have plenty of tournaments to put that Robbers' Cave tossup in; we don't really need more. We could use more really good tournaments featuring those solid 6-line Mark Twain tossups, though. For the vast majority of college teams, quizbowl is not about Chicago Open; it's about playing regular college tournaments. By saying "I don't suggest that anyone should see ACF Fall or even Regionals (or any tourney advertising as on that level) as too much of a work of art," you're discouraging writers from writing those regular-difficulty tossups and encouraging them to focus on writing hard questions, which is misguided at best, considering we already have more than enough hard tournaments.

I think it would be more productive to encourage writers everywhere to write those novice and regular difficulty tossups, and craft them with care. That six-line Twain tossup can be well-crafted and fun to write; moreover, a lot more teams can buzz in the middle of that tossup than any Robbers' Cave tossup. Not only that, but players who will come to enjoy those Robbers' Cave tossups are going to come from the pool of players who enjoy playing good easy/regular difficulty tossups on Twain.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Matt Weiner »

The idea that the context in which tournaments are played and the purpose of having them are "irrelevant" to evaluating their success is so trollishly absurd that it could only come from Ryan Westbrook.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by grapesmoker »

magin wrote:Ryan, I think your posts in this thread are missing an important subtext: the fact that there are as many, if not more, well-written hard tournaments as easy/regular difficulty college tournaments. Not counting tournaments in between regionals and nationals difficulty like Illinois Open and Cardinal Classic, if you wanted to play hard questions (the kind of questions you champion here), you could play Minnesota Open, Harvard International, FICHTE, NAQT ICT, ACF Nationals, your experiment, Gaddis II, Chicago Open, ROBOT/The Experiment, Sun n Fun, Missouri Open, VCU Open, Cato/Taco, and numerous fairly difficult subject tournaments. On the other hand, look at the number of solid novice/regular difficulty tournaments: EFT, ACF Fall, ACF Winter, Terrapin, NAQT SCT, Penn Bowl, ACF Regionals, and MUT (I might be missing one or two, but the point remains). This suggests that we're doing a fine job providing hard tournaments, but we're not providing enough novice/regular difficulty tournaments.
I think your list is misleading, Jonathan. A good portion of the tournaments listed in the "hard" section were either experimental events written to attend some other happening (The Emergency, for example, or the Gaddis tournaments) and a whole bunch of others were summer events, which are typically recognized (or should be recognized, anyway) as events for a more open circuit. Factor that out and you've got two nationals, Minnesota Open, and HI as the outstanding hard events of last year. By contrast, every event listed as easy or regular difficulty takes place during the "regular season." I don't think anyone thinks that we should not have quality events of this level; of course we should have excellent novice and regular difficulty tournaments. But the notion that there are not enough such tournaments or that there is no place to put that super-awesome Mark Twain tossup is just false. It's not in accord with the facts. I think we have as many novice tournaments as we reasonably need; if someone wants to do another one the circuit can accommodate it, but I don't see any particular driver to force another such event into the schedule.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by magin »

Jerry, I'm not of the opinion that there's "no place" to put that Twain tossup, but I think that Ryan's post encourages people to eschew writing for those easy/regular difficulty tournaments, and I believe that it's more important that people make the effort to write/edit tournaments like Terrapin, or EFT, or MUT instead of another hard open (I personally love hard opens, but I think that we have a fair amount of them, and I'd like to see more accessible tournaments that grow the college circuit instead of more hard opens).
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by Matt Weiner »

grapesmoker wrote:Factor that out and you've got two nationals, Minnesota Open, and HI as the outstanding hard events of last year.
I won't make any claim that FICHTE II was "outstanding," but it certainly was a hard event that took place last year. I also think that Illinois Open 2008 included some material that's not really regular difficulty (such as tossups on Watch on the Rhine, Endo Shusaku, and Aaron Douglas) alongside a mostly normal tournament, as IO usually does.

Even putting IO aside and accepting your premise that side events don't count, I think ACF Nationals, NAQT ICT, Minnesota Open, Harvard Internatonal, and FICHTE are more than enough clearly hard tournaments for one regular season. This year will likely see FICHTE blink out, but FIST is coming in, so we're still at five plus the summer schedule.

Do we need more novice events? We could probably use one in the spring, yes. Do we need more hard events? Of course not. Regular-season quizbowl is for college teams. I don't know if we need more regular, college-targeted events along the lines of Terrapin, Penn Bowl, and ACF Regionals--events that a Brown team including yourself can play and enjoy, but a marginally talented team can still answer questions at. But I doubt we need less of them, or that we should lose sight of those events as the basic form of quizbowl at the post-secondary level, from which everything else is a deviation upwards or downwards.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by grapesmoker »

magin wrote:Jerry, I'm not of the opinion that there's "no place" to put that Twain tossup, but I think that Ryan's post encourages people to eschew writing for those easy/regular difficulty tournaments, and I believe that it's more important that people make the effort to write/edit tournaments like Terrapin, or EFT, or MUT instead of another hard open (I personally love hard opens, but I think that we have a fair amount of them, and I'd like to see more accessible tournaments that grow the college circuit instead of more hard opens).
People should stop taking anything Ryan says as a prescription for what quizbowl ought to be like and interpret it as his own personal preference.

We should encourage people to contribute to the circuit by writing and hosting good tournaments. I don't think this is controversial. The problem when relatively inexperienced players try their hand at writing a harder event is that they typically don't know what's what and so we end up with tossups on impossible wacky things, and their question construction is not at the best level yet, so the result is often sub-par. To the end that we want questions to generally be of high quality I think we should encourage people to start off with easier events under the direction of more experienced writers and transition to harder events. But when it comes to the question of what experienced writers ought to do, I don't feel particularly strongly about demanding that you or Ryan or Matt or Seth or anyone else contribute to Terrapin as opposed to another Gaddis. Indeed, I think these kinds of demands are counterproductive; no one should be badgered into taking on a task they don't like. Quizbowl runs on goodwill and today we have more editors and writers than ever willing to fill any kind of niche for every kind of player, so let's not shoehorn people who would rather be doing something else into writing another EFT or editing ACF Fall.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by grapesmoker »

Matt Weiner wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Factor that out and you've got two nationals, Minnesota Open, and HI as the outstanding hard events of last year.
I won't make any claim that FICHTE II was "outstanding," but it certainly was a hard event that took place last year. I also think that Illinois Open 2008 included some material that's not really regular difficulty (such as tossups on Watch on the Rhine, Endo Shusaku, and Aaron Douglas) alongside a mostly normal tournament, as IO usually does.

Even putting IO aside and accepting your premise that side events don't count, I think ACF Nationals, NAQT ICT, Minnesota Open, Harvard Internatonal, and FICHTE are more than enough clearly hard tournaments for one regular season. This year will likely see FICHTE blink out, but FIST is coming in, so we're still at five plus the summer schedule.
Fair enough, I forgot to count them. Still, it doesn't seem to me that the list of hard events dwarfs that of novice ones. It's also not at all clear to me that this should be the case.
Do we need more novice events? We could probably use one in the spring, yes. Do we need more hard events? Of course not. Regular-season quizbowl is for college teams. I don't know if we need more regular, college-targeted events along the lines of Terrapin, Penn Bowl, and ACF Regionals--events that a Brown team including yourself can play and enjoy, but a marginally talented team can still answer questions at. But I doubt we need less of them, or that we should lose sight of those events as the basic form of quizbowl at the post-secondary level, from which everything else is a deviation upwards or downwards.
I'm happy with the schedule as it is. I would certainly prefer to play more hard events, but I'm not about to say that the circuit should cater to me. I wouldn't mind a few more novice events here and there either. My point is not that we need more of this or another kind of event, it's that I think we have enough events for anyone to play at any level and I think the claims that there are not enough events for novices are inaccurate.
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Re: The Tournament as a Work of Art

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I think Jerry's talking a lot of sense here. I'm not hostile to the notion that having more good eft-like events would be a good thing...of course it would be.

We're in a golden age of writing...these days, there are almost more willing writers and editors than there is space for events on the calendar. There's plenty of room for people to try to contribute in whatever way they want, and there needn't be any "orthodoxy" about what the preferred way to contribute is.
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