Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:46 pm

grapesmoker wrote:It was the same story with the El Dorado tossup in the same packet; I don't even understand why there's a tossup on El Dorado at all, but the gist of that question was "this is a thing Spaniards were looking for in the New World." Questions like that basically turn into games of chicken: is it going to be the obvious thing or something even stupider like the Seven Cities of Cibola (that was my unfortunate guess)?
I wrote this one. Isn't the problem here with clue selection (should have given more non-Spanish-sounding names) rather than answer selection?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:47 pm

Admiral Stockdale is pretty well known for his terrible debate sound bites ("Who am I? Why am I here?") and for his badassery as a POW (quote from wiki: "When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, Stockdale beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition."). This doesn't deny the criticism that there were too many answers at this tournament that were mostly-convertible politician #105, but I do want to quash the suggestion that Stockdale is crazy hard even for old people or something.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:53 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: The title refers to a manuscript and a letter which are given to Charlie Citrine. For 10 points each, name--
A. This 1975 novel.
answer: _Humboldt's Gift_
B. The Nobel Prize-winning American author of ~Humboldt's Gift~.
answer: Saul _Bellow_
C. The American author of ~Summer Knowledge~, on whom Bellow based the character of Von Humboldt Fleisher.
answer: Delmore _Schwartz_

Clearly here, B is the "easy" part. C. offers two specific clues about Schwartz -- the fact that he was the basis for Humboldt; the title of the book for which he won the Bollingen Prize. I'm not sure why "failing to give the title of an individual poem by Schwartz" would be a particular weakness of this bonus (what specific poem by Schwartz is all that well known?), or in general why Jerry suggests that this is a fatally flawed bonus. (It's a somewhat perfunctory bonus, sure; but I don't think it's bad in any of the ways implied by Jerry's general critique of the lit in the set.)
I don't think the bonus is "fatally flawed," I just think the following: Delmore Schwartz is already plenty hard. Sure, Summer Knowledge might have won the Bollingen, but you have to have really, really deep Schwartz and/or Bollingen knowledge to even know that. This question doesn't even tell you that the guy was a poet, which I think makes it hard enough already. I think it could have been made more gettable by either referencing the tribute to him in Berryman's Dream Songs (to me that's more famous than Bellow's book); the poems I was thinking of include two that I have read, "The heavy bear who goes with me," and "In the naked bed, in Plato's cave."

I mean, I understand that there's a space limitation here, but I think there's a way of incorporating this information into the question in a compact manner. Delmore Schwartz is unquestionable hard for this level, and I think expecting people to pull it from minimal information with the clock ticking is kind of unreasonable. If NAQT games weren't so fast, maybe it would be different (another reason to ditch the clock), but in the limited amount of time I had to think about this I wasn't really able to use the information provided to arrive at the answer.

My general philosophy on hard answers in bonuses is that I believe such questions should be generous with information. It's already a hard part, which implies that very few people will know it anyway. Why not give players some extra clues to work with? I just don't get that approach at all.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:54 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Well, like, there was a bonus that I got where the "easy" part was Caprica. I mean, I know that this is the prequel to BSG, and I figured that out from the clues, but I couldn't remember what it was called. I don't have cable, so I don't watch things like the Syfy (ugh) channel and the only way I know about Caprica is through some advertisements I briefly saw online. The other two parts were actors from the series, I think, so of course I had no shot at all at that. Can't you throw me a bone with a BSG part or something there? To me this is like a bonus ostensibly on Robert Louis Stevenson where the easy part is Catriona and the other two parts were on characters from that book.
So I actually didn't end up writing or editing much of the sports, but I did write this Caprica bonus Jerry alludes to:

Its pilot episode introduced a computer scientist named Daniel Graystone whose daughter Zoe dies in a bombing. For 10 points each--

A. Name this TV series, which is set almost 60 years prior to the beginning of another show.

answer: _Caprica_

B. On ~Caprica~, Daniel Graystone is played by this actor, who recently had a stint as a serial killer in need of medical help on ~Grey's Anatomy~.

answer: Eric _Stoltz_

C. In the 1990s, Stoltz had appeared as Dr. Robert Yeats on this CBS medical drama, which starred Adam Arkin and Mandy Patinkin.

answer: _Chicago Hope_

I've never actually seen an episode of "Caprica" (I also don't have cable, for what that's worth), though I have been seeing incessant ads for it in e.g. The New Yorker over the last months. Say what you will about the other two parts, but this isn't a "Caprica/aspect of Caprica/aspect of Caprica" bonus. The question was cranked out a couple of days before the tournament, but I don't think it's terrible; obviously A. could be made a bit easier by explicitly stating "the other show to which it is a prequel is BSG." But given your description of your own reaction to the question, that added info wouldn't have helped you in particular (you already figured out that "this is the prequel to BSG," you just couldn't name it), and I'm not sure how many people wouldn't be able to recognize "Caprica" from the description given in A but would be able to recognize it if BSG were specifically name-checked.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:57 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Admiral Stockdale is pretty well known for his terrible debate sound bites ("Who am I? Why am I here?") and for his badassery as a POW (quote from wiki: "When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, Stockdale beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition."). This doesn't deny the criticism that there were too many answers at this tournament that were mostly-convertible politician #105, but I do want to quash the suggestion that Stockdale is crazy hard even for old people or something.
He isn't known to me for any of these things! Not only that, but the assumption here is that wacky politician is notable, when in fact, wacky politician is not at all notable except for being wacky. James Trafficant threatened to stab his opponents with a sword, he sure was crazy! Let's write a bonus part about him.

Again, this happened almost 20 years ago. If your personal hobby includes crazy vice-presidential candidates, go you. This is not a dude who doesn't seem to have been relevant since 1992, so the odds of anyone remembering him seem pretty slim to me. You can use your limited answer space to ask about something important instead of 3rd party VP candidate minutia.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:58 pm

Sorry Andrew, I wasn't clear: I meant that I see no reason why BSG could not have been an easy part in that bonus, instead of Caprica.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:59 pm

grapesmoker wrote:I got stiffed by a baseball bonus that, to me, had no easy parts
Baseball bonuses:

"He is currently the oldest player in major league baseball. For 10 points each:

A. Name this pitcher who debuted with the Cubs in 1986, was an all-star in 2003, and won a World Series ring in 2008.

answer: Jamie _Moyer_

B. Moyer won 12 games in 2009 for this National League team that he was traded to in August 2006.

answer: _Philadelphia_ _Phillies_ (accept either)

C. Moyer revived his career with this American League West team where he played from 1996 to 2006.

answer: _Seattle_ _Mariners_ (accept either)"

"The top three single-season Runs Batted In records were set within seven years. For 10 points each--name the players:

A. This man's 191 RBI in 1930 for the Chicago Cubs is still the Major-League record.

answer: (Lewis Robert) Hack _Wilson_

B. In 1931 this Yankees first baseman set the American League record with 184 RBI.

answer: (Henry) Lou(is) _Gehrig_

C. In 1937 this Tigers first baseman fell one RBI of Gehrig's record, but finished just third in MVP voting.

answer: (Henry Benjamin) Hank _Greenberg_"

I think those have easy parts. B. of the first one reduces to "name the team that won the 2008 World Series" unless you propose some kind of odd hypothetical transaction history.

B. of the second one is "name this guy who played first base for the Yankees in the 30s." Now, this bonus may very well be ICT-hard (does it need both Wilson and Greenberg? should we have added "noted consecutive-games streak" to B.?), but B. is still an easy part.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:59 pm

grapesmoker wrote: Among the things that really annoyed me during matches were: I got stiffed by a baseball bonus that, to me, had no easy parts, hit a bonus on collegiate football players from the 30s that I only got 10 on because of a stock clue in there about Byron White's playing career, had to field and zero a bonus on college basketball statistics (!!!).
Was the baseball bonus on Jamie Moyer? If I had to guess, Seattle Mariners would be the "easy" part as there are only 4 AL West teams, but if you didn't know who Jamie Moyer is, you'd probably 0 it.

For the college football players bonus, perhaps University of Chicago would have been a better choice than Jay Berwanger. Also, the Davey O'Brien award has significantly decreased in significance in recent years. I follow college football a lot and am a pretty good sports quizbowl player and I couldn't tell you who won that award this year. Michigan A had no clue on that bonus.

For college basketball, I'd think that RPI is a valid medium/hard bonus part. "Tempo-free" is a fairly obscure statistical technique. "Bracketology" is not a good idea. None of these answers is accessible to someone that doesn't follow college basketball or ESPN extensively. The sabermetrics bonus (Theo Epstein/Bill James/third part that I can't remember) was another bad idea. General managers are better as clues, not as answer lines. Can anyone name more than 2 MLB GMs without looking it up? I could only name Epstein or Cashman.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:02 pm

This set did seem to have an especially high numbers no one on my team had heard of, sometimes including entire bonuses. I remember one round where the team we were playing started 0, 0, 0, 10 on bonuses, and I don't think we (~18 ppb) would have done too much better. Of 3 sets of stats I've seen so far, there have been 0 teams with 20ppb on DI questions. Obviously a stacked Chicago or Brown team would have reached the 20s, but these sorts of really low numbers are really bad. Did teams split their A teams as often in the past? If so, I think NAQT missed their mark on bonus difficulty. If not, did the larger number of sectionals cause diluted fields, which made more teams confident they would get an autobid despite not playing their best team?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:02 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I got stiffed by a baseball bonus that, to me, had no easy parts
Baseball bonuses:

"He is currently the oldest player in major league baseball. For 10 points each:

A. Name this pitcher who debuted with the Cubs in 1986, was an all-star in 2003, and won a World Series ring in 2008.

answer: Jamie _Moyer_

B. Moyer won 12 games in 2009 for this National League team that he was traded to in August 2006.

answer: _Philadelphia_ _Phillies_ (accept either)

C. Moyer revived his career with this American League West team where he played from 1996 to 2006.

answer: _Seattle_ _Mariners_ (accept either)"

"The top three single-season Runs Batted In records were set within seven years. For 10 points each--name the players:

A. This man's 191 RBI in 1930 for the Chicago Cubs is still the Major-League record.

answer: (Lewis Robert) Hack _Wilson_

B. In 1931 this Yankees first baseman set the American League record with 184 RBI.

answer: (Henry) Lou(is) _Gehrig_

C. In 1937 this Tigers first baseman fell one RBI of Gehrig's record, but finished just third in MVP voting.

answer: (Henry Benjamin) Hank _Greenberg_"

I think those have easy parts. B. of the first one reduces to "name the team that won the 2008 World Series" unless you propose some kind of odd hypothetical transaction history.

B. of the second one is "name this guy who played first base for the Yankees in the 30s." Now, this bonus may very well be ICT-hard (does it need both Wilson and Greenberg? should we have added "noted consecutive-games streak" to B.?), but B. is still an easy part.
I think that Wilson's 191 RBIs is a good hard bonus part, but Greenberg would be pushing it at this level.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:03 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Admiral Stockdale is pretty well known for his terrible debate sound bites ("Who am I? Why am I here?") and for his badassery as a POW (quote from wiki: "When told by his captors that he was to be paraded in public, Stockdale slit his scalp with a razor to purposely disfigure himself so that his captors could not use him as propaganda. When they covered his head with a hat, Stockdale beat himself with a stool until his face was swollen beyond recognition."). This doesn't deny the criticism that there were too many answers at this tournament that were mostly-convertible politician #105, but I do want to quash the suggestion that Stockdale is crazy hard even for old people or something.
He isn't known to me for any of these things! Not only that, but the assumption here is that wacky politician is notable, when in fact, wacky politician is not at all notable except for being wacky. James Trafficant threatened to stab his opponents with a sword, he sure was crazy! Let's write a bonus part about him.

Again, this happened almost 20 years ago. If your personal hobby includes crazy vice-presidential candidates, go you. This is not a dude who doesn't seem to have been relevant since 1992, so the odds of anyone remembering him seem pretty slim to me. You can use your limited answer space to ask about something important instead of 3rd party VP candidate minutia.
Ah, I didn't mean to claim that he was important per se, just that he could be converted. I suppose it's possible that either or both of our personal experiences were unusual, and so neither are great for inferring from.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by samer » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:04 pm

grapesmoker wrote:Sorry Andrew, I wasn't clear: I meant that I see no reason why BSG could not have been an easy part in that bonus, instead of Caprica.
Jerry: In other words, something like this?

For 10 points each--answer these questions about the 2010 TV series Caprica:

A. Caprica is a prequel to . . .

answer: _Battlestar Galactica_

B. On Caprica, Daniel Graystone is . . .

etc.

ETA: I had exactly one PC: bonus in DivII, and no trash questions at all in DivI.
Last edited by samer on Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:04 pm

Old Man of the Mountain wrote:Can anyone name more than 2 MLB GMs without looking it up? I could only name Epstein or Cashman.
People who follow baseball closely can do this (and earn thirty points). Just off the top of my head, I wouldn't hesitate to use Billy Beane as a middle part in a bonus about GMs.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:07 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Old Man of the Mountain wrote:Can anyone name more than 2 MLB GMs without looking it up? I could only name Epstein or Cashman.
People who follow baseball closely can do this (and earn thirty points). Just off the top of my head, I wouldn't hesitate to use Billy Beane as a middle part in a bonus about GMs.
I forgot about Beane, but I could see him being an answer.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:08 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:It was the same story with the El Dorado tossup in the same packet; I don't even understand why there's a tossup on El Dorado at all, but the gist of that question was "this is a thing Spaniards were looking for in the New World." Questions like that basically turn into games of chicken: is it going to be the obvious thing or something even stupider like the Seven Cities of Cibola (that was my unfortunate guess)?
I wrote this one. Isn't the problem here with clue selection (should have given more non-Spanish-sounding names) rather than answer selection?
When I heard this question, I figured out pretty quickly that it was either going to be El Dorado or noted other thing that Spanish people sought, the Fountain of Youth. I'm pretty sure my teammates were thinking the same thing, as I lost a buzzer race to neg with the latter when the question said "It may refer to Lake Guatavita".

I guess I'll have some more criticisms later.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:10 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:It was the same story with the El Dorado tossup in the same packet; I don't even understand why there's a tossup on El Dorado at all, but the gist of that question was "this is a thing Spaniards were looking for in the New World." Questions like that basically turn into games of chicken: is it going to be the obvious thing or something even stupider like the Seven Cities of Cibola (that was my unfortunate guess)?
I wrote this one. Isn't the problem here with clue selection (should have given more non-Spanish-sounding names) rather than answer selection?
When I heard this question, I figured out pretty quickly that it was either going to be El Dorado or noted other thing that Spanish people sought, the Fountain of Youth. I'm pretty sure my teammates were thinking the same thing, as I lost a buzzer race to neg with the latter when the question said "It may refer to Lake Guatavita".

I guess I'll have some more criticisms later.
I negged with Fountain of Youth once I heard "Lake" as well, and discussions with a couple other teams had that occur in their rooms as well.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:12 pm

samer wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:Sorry Andrew, I wasn't clear: I meant that I see no reason why BSG could not have been an easy part in that bonus, instead of Caprica.
Jerry: In other words, something like this?

For 10 points each--answer these questions about the 2010 TV series Caprica:

A. Caprica is a prequel to . . .

answer: _Battlestar Galactica_

B. On Caprica, Daniel Graystone is . . .

etc.
Something like that would be fine. Caprica, BSG, Stoltz would be fine too, I guess, which is more of what I had in mind.

For the Moyer bonus: the problem is, as always, time. Part 1 tells you to identify Moyer from the fact that he won a World Series title in 2008, but part 2 doesn't make an explicit reference to that title, so now you have to go back and reconstruct what was going on in part 1 and connect it back to the question at hand. This is very hard to do in a limited time frame, especially at a timed tournament when clues are coming at you super fast and moderators aren't actually giving you the full 5 seconds most of the time (this isn't to fault the mods, but that's just what happens, and I do it too even though I try not to). Why not just say "Moyer won the World Series title in 2008 with this team who lost the 2009 World Series to the Yankees." I mean, I assume that any half-assed baseball fan (and definitely anyone who knows who Moyer is) isn't going to have any trouble figuring out that the Phillies are the answer, so why not cut the rest of us a little slack?

Again, this is something academic tournaments do routinely. Whatever the problems of most recent ACF tournaments have been, they've really tried hard to give people enough information to convert easy parts of academic bonuses. I feel like trash questions at this SCT didn't do that.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by jonpin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:14 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Alejandro wrote: Could I see the "stack" question? The C++ clue didn't seem correct.
DII round 12 wrote:A C++ version of this structure might have methods implemented as "*a++ = n" and "return *--a", and the Java virtual machine is said to be "based" on one. They are typically used to code depth-first searches, evaluate (*) postfix expressions, hold local variables, and pass arguments to subroutines. The methods "push" and "pop" are used to manipulate--for 10 points--what "last-in, first-out" data structure?
As someone who read D2, I'm not surprised people thought the C++ clue was wrong, as I definitely noticed problems with this tossup. Here's what the question text said:
A C++ [“C plus plus”] version of this structure might have methods implemented as ”a++ = n” [“star a plus plus equals n”] and “return —a” [“return minus minus a”]
I noticed the text and the guide didn't agree and read the guide, but what seems to have happened is that the "*" in the first quote disappeared, and the "minus minus" in the second quote was auto-completed into a dash. Tiny technical problems like this are going to destroy a CS/programming question.

As the Canadian upthread mentioned, there may have been too many Congressmen (although it does pain me when a bonus on senators goes bageled). Did we for instance, really need to ask about all three of Kirk/Brown/Coakley? For a politics junkie, that's 20 probably 30. For someone who doesn't pay too much attention to politics, that's 0 maybe 10.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:17 pm

grapesmoker wrote: I don't think the bonus is "fatally flawed," I just think the following: Delmore Schwartz is already plenty hard. Sure, Summer Knowledge might have won the Bollingen, but you have to have really, really deep Schwartz and/or Bollingen knowledge to even know that. This question doesn't even tell you that the guy was a poet, which I think makes it hard enough already. I think it could have been made more gettable by either referencing the tribute to him in Berryman's Dream Songs (to me that's more famous than Bellow's book); the poems I was thinking of include two that I have read, "The heavy bear who goes with me," and "In the naked bed, in Plato's cave."

I mean, I understand that there's a space limitation here, but I think there's a way of incorporating this information into the question in a compact manner. Delmore Schwartz is unquestionable hard for this level, and I think expecting people to pull it from minimal information with the clock ticking is kind of unreasonable. If NAQT games weren't so fast, maybe it would be different (another reason to ditch the clock), but in the limited amount of time I had to think about this I wasn't really able to use the information provided to arrive at the answer.

My general philosophy on hard answers in bonuses is that I believe such questions should be generous with information. It's already a hard part, which implies that very few people will know it anyway. Why not give players some extra clues to work with? I just don't get that approach at all.
Yeah, a part on Schwartz clearly has to be the "hard" part to any SCT-level lit bonus that includes him. (And probably the bonus here is "hard"/"easy"/"hard" rather than "medium"'/"easy"/"hard," though that's a separate critique.)

I'm less interested in nitpicking about this particular bonus, though, and more interested in the general point that arises from it. Jerry's position seems to be: With hard bonus parts in particular, a bonus should provide as many clues as possible, to maximize the chances that someone will know the answer. I think that's an attractive view. The argument here, I take it, is as follows: If you want to ask on something that rarely comes up, you can't just offer one or two "canonical" clues and assume that someone will get it, because by definition, as something that "rarely comes up," there aren't any "canonical" clues. That seems inherently plausible.

The obvious obstacle to this approach for NAQT questions is that in NAQT, as currently constituted, you generally can't offer 5-6 clues on a given bonus answer without eating up an untoward chunk of the clock. Maybe you would take this as yet another argument against the timed game, and maybe you'd be right to think so.

I demur at bit from the general premise, though, because it seems to me that your position assumes something like the following: "For hard answers, there are no clear canonical clues, so the question should include as many clues as it can afford to, in the hopes that one of them will register." In the case of Schwartz in particular, one can see how that might be the case: including a specific poem title (not because I would expect people to have read any one Schwartz poem, but because his manner of titling poems might ring a bell) and another couple of contextual clues (from Lowell and/or Berryman) would certainly cast a wider net. But with a lot of "hard" parts, I suspect that there isn't quite so obvious a range of clues. The point here would be that "offering six somewhat haphazardly chosen clues about someone who rarely or never comes up in the game" rather than "offering a mere two clues about such a figure" doesn't mean that you've made it three times as likely that someone will answer that part.

I think this is the problem with a lot of (what I think of as) "Westbrookian" hard bonus parts I hear in circuit tournaments, where my reaction tends to be "Great, you've given me two sentences worth of clues about this third-tier Sillitoe novel; but I still have no clue which of his myriad minor works this is, and why should I?" That is, I worry that there's a mindset which assumes something like "the problem isn't that a hard part is randomly chosen, and that almost nobody can reasonably be expected to know it; rather, the problem is that the question DIDN'T OFFER ENOUGH CLUES about that hard part."

I'm aware that this is a somewhat digressive post, but I was hoping that we as a group could derive more from this discussion than the usual fare of "clue X was in the wrong place, there seemed to be too much/too little of sub-category Y, etc."
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:18 pm

Ukonvasara wrote: When I heard this question, I figured out pretty quickly that it was either going to be El Dorado or noted other thing that Spanish people sought, the Fountain of Youth. I'm pretty sure my teammates were thinking the same thing, as I lost a buzzer race to neg with the latter when the question said "It may refer to Lake Guatavita".
Philosophy-of-quizbowl wise: is "El Dorado" a bad answer selection? We now have three items in the category "legendary things Spanish conquistadors looked for in the Americas" (El Dorado, Cibola, Fountain of Youth) (there are more things in this category not suitable for tossup answers at this level, or maybe any other). So: did I do something wrong as a writer if people neg because they are unable to separate these from middle clues?
round 10 wrote:The Nicholas Federmann expedition spent three years searching for this before meeting two other columns, one led by a future governor of Popayan, the other by Gonzalo (*) Jimenez de Quesada. Both Quesada and Sebastian Belalcazar were searching for this location, rumored to be near Manoa or Omagua. It may refer to Lake Guatavita, where a legendary king cast jewels into the water and anointed himself with gold dust. For 10 points--name this mythical city of South America.
So, there's a leadin that's not at all Spanish-sounding, I then describe Belalcazar before I name him (and if you know "Popayan" is an important city in southwestern Colombia, you get a leg up). Then we have some middle clues; once you can lateral this from "it's in the limited set of things Spanish explorers heard rumors about" you no longer get power. Finally, a giveaway with the most famous stuff about the answer: it's a mythical kingdom of gold in South America. (And I named Lake Guatavita before describing it because this one of the rare cases where the description "anointed himself with gold dust" is more famous than the name of the lake.) Discuss.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:20 pm

The problem with a lot of these ridiculous bonus parts is that they become okay or better bonus parts with one, VERY OBVIOUS switch. That bonus with three random-ass Mamet films? What the hell?! Was "Mamet" as a part that damn hard for whoever wrote this question? How about that bonus asking you to name nicknames of Polonius from Hamlet? Hey, how about asking for Polonius as a bonus part? I do commend that bonus on hockey players having hockey as a bonus part. That's good.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:21 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:It was the same story with the El Dorado tossup in the same packet; I don't even understand why there's a tossup on El Dorado at all, but the gist of that question was "this is a thing Spaniards were looking for in the New World." Questions like that basically turn into games of chicken: is it going to be the obvious thing or something even stupider like the Seven Cities of Cibola (that was my unfortunate guess)?
I wrote this one. Isn't the problem here with clue selection (should have given more non-Spanish-sounding names) rather than answer selection?
When I heard this question, I figured out pretty quickly that it was either going to be El Dorado or noted other thing that Spanish people sought, the Fountain of Youth. I'm pretty sure my teammates were thinking the same thing, as I lost a buzzer race to neg with the latter when the question said "It may refer to Lake Guatavita".

I guess I'll have some more criticisms later.
There were quite a few questions like this that gave away critical bits of information early on that made one play a game of chicken (the Hand of God question comes to mind). Why it's necessary to write on things that are difficult to make non-transparent is beyond me.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:23 pm

This tournament could also have benefited from just calmly examining answer lines and asking the question "Is this is a good idea?" Who in their right mind thinks A HISTORY TOSSUP ON THE DAMN SHIP THE MEDUSA is a good idea?!
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:25 pm

That was "miscellaneous," so I didn't edit it.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:26 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:
Ukonvasara wrote: When I heard this question, I figured out pretty quickly that it was either going to be El Dorado or noted other thing that Spanish people sought, the Fountain of Youth. I'm pretty sure my teammates were thinking the same thing, as I lost a buzzer race to neg with the latter when the question said "It may refer to Lake Guatavita".
Philosophy-of-quizbowl wise: is "El Dorado" a bad answer selection? We now have three items in the category "legendary things Spanish conquistadors looked for in the Americas" (El Dorado, Cibola, Fountain of Youth) (there are more things in this category not suitable for tossup answers at this level, or maybe any other). So: did I do something wrong as a writer if people neg because they are unable to separate these from middle clues?
round 10 wrote:The Nicholas Federmann expedition spent three years searching for this before meeting two other columns, one led by a future governor of Popayan, the other by Gonzalo (*) Jimenez de Quesada. Both Quesada and Sebastian Belalcazar were searching for this location, rumored to be near Manoa or Omagua. It may refer to Lake Guatavita, where a legendary king cast jewels into the water and anointed himself with gold dust. For 10 points--name this mythical city of South America.
So, there's a leadin that's not at all Spanish-sounding, I then describe Belalcazar before I name him (and if you know "Popayan" is an important city in southwestern Colombia, you get a leg up). Then we have some middle clues; once you can lateral this from "it's in the limited set of things Spanish explorers heard rumors about" you no longer get power. Finally, a giveaway with the most famous stuff about the answer: it's a mythical kingdom of gold in South America. (And I named Lake Guatavita before describing it because this one of the rare cases where the description "anointed himself with gold dust" is more famous than the name of the lake.) Discuss.
I think the thing is that the vast majority of people don't actually know any middle clues about these things, so realistically, most if not all buzzes on questions like this will be laterals or buzzes on the giveaway. (Also, assuming people's overall lack of actual knowledge about the history of El Dorado-seeking expeditions, you've basically made this question impossible to power at all, except in the case of a daring and lucky guess.)
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:27 pm

bt_green_warbler wrote:That was "miscellaneous," so I didn't edit it.
Perhaps we've already been through this somewhere else (and perhaps this deserves a separate thread), but what exactly is the miscellaneous category for? What purpose does it serve?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:30 pm

tetragrammatology wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:That was "miscellaneous," so I didn't edit it.
Perhaps we've already been through this somewhere else (and perhaps this deserves a separate thread), but what exactly is the miscellaneous category for? What purpose does it serve?
Cross-disciplinary questions need to go somewhere; if a question isn't 60% (? maybe 66%) about one subject, it goes into misc. I've actually noticed NAQT's gotten much better at aggressively putting stuff like that into misc.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:30 pm

Ukonvasara wrote: I think the thing is that the vast majority of people don't actually know any middle clues about these things, so realistically, most if not all buzzes on questions like this will be laterals or buzzes on the giveaway. (Also, assuming people's overall lack of actual knowledge about the history of El Dorado-seeking expeditions, you've basically made this question impossible to power at all, except in the case of a daring and lucky guess.)
Well, I suppose if people genuinely don't know any middle clues then it needs to be a bonus part; my apologies. (But I don't actually believe the middle clues on this one were harder than a lot of other questions I write. Maybe it's true that almost everything is at some level an Eiffel question, which sounds like a good idea for a new thread.)
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:31 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: Cross-disciplinary questions need to go somewhere; if a question isn't 60% (? maybe 66%) about one subject, it goes into misc. I've actually noticed NAQT's gotten much better at aggressively putting stuff like that into misc.
Its "two-thirds."
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:32 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
tetragrammatology wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:That was "miscellaneous," so I didn't edit it.
Perhaps we've already been through this somewhere else (and perhaps this deserves a separate thread), but what exactly is the miscellaneous category for? What purpose does it serve?
Cross-disciplinary questions need to go somewhere; if a question isn't 60% (? maybe 66%) about one subject, it goes into misc. I've actually noticed NAQT's gotten much better at aggressively putting stuff like that into misc.
I think the point here is more "why do cross-disciplinary questions need to go anywhere?"
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:33 pm

The Medusa tossup isn't really cross distributional though, it's just dumb. A history tossup on the Medusa is pretty much not answerable by someone who doesn't know about the painting. So you require some art knowledge off the bat. But unless you've like studied the hell out of the backstory of that painting or if you've read some random Bathroom Reader article about the travails of the Medusa, you're just not going to get that tossup early. So I ask you--what sort of knowledge is this meant to reward?

This would be like me writing a tossup on the real life biography of "Christina" in Christina's World or Watson in Watson and the Shark or Grant Wood's dentist in American Gothic or any number of stupid things. It's trivia.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Rothlover » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:36 pm

Old Man of the Mountain wrote:
bt_green_warbler wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:I got stiffed by a baseball bonus that, to me, had no easy parts
Baseball bonuses:

"He is currently the oldest player in major league baseball. For 10 points each:

A. Name this pitcher who debuted with the Cubs in 1986, was an all-star in 2003, and won a World Series ring in 2008.

answer: Jamie _Moyer_

B. Moyer won 12 games in 2009 for this National League team that he was traded to in August 2006.

answer: _Philadelphia_ _Phillies_ (accept either)

C. Moyer revived his career with this American League West team where he played from 1996 to 2006.

answer: _Seattle_ _Mariners_ (accept either)"

"The top three single-season Runs Batted In records were set within seven years. For 10 points each--name the players:

A. This man's 191 RBI in 1930 for the Chicago Cubs is still the Major-League record.

answer: (Lewis Robert) Hack _Wilson_

B. In 1931 this Yankees first baseman set the American League record with 184 RBI.

answer: (Henry) Lou(is) _Gehrig_

C. In 1937 this Tigers first baseman fell one RBI of Gehrig's record, but finished just third in MVP voting.

answer: (Henry Benjamin) Hank _Greenberg_"

I think those have easy parts. B. of the first one reduces to "name the team that won the 2008 World Series" unless you propose some kind of odd hypothetical transaction history.

B. of the second one is "name this guy who played first base for the Yankees in the 30s." Now, this bonus may very well be ICT-hard (does it need both Wilson and Greenberg? should we have added "noted consecutive-games streak" to B.?), but B. is still an easy part.
I think that Wilson's 191 RBIs is a good hard bonus part, but Greenberg would be pushing it at this level.
Greenberg is one of the 10 most important players in baseball history easily, if looking at baseball in a broader context. The word "Jewish" would make that way more convertable for lay people I imagine. He certainly beats token shit like the first Heisman winner, which while trash people like me know that, also know it is trivia, not significa. I actually see the baseball bonus as having an easy part (Gehrig, one of the most known players in history) and two mediums (since people memorize stupid records, Wilson did better shit, but for space constraints, I see the whole RBI theme, which also just seems like a luddite response to the sabermetrics bonus, which I'd argue mirrors the divide in some organizations.

Moyer is an easy 30 to anyone who follows baseball, I mean, he has been around forever with some notable seasons, a WS and tons of counting stats. Obviously, if you know nothing about baseball its a 0, but would it have greatly benefitted from an easy part, instead of Phillies, and with some rewording in the first part "Moyer plays this position that was also played by Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux"?

Stockdale seems ok for a hard part in that I think hes more significant than given credit for. We talked about him in AP US history, though that was 2002. If people ask about Crawford and Everett, Stockdale seems to work on that level, though whether you think Crawford etc. should still be coming up regularly is another question. Cunningham was pointless, I only knew that from watching the Colbert Report since the beginning, and guessing a corrupt politician, hell the most I knew about him was his boat's name.

The Easter Island-based tu also seemed weak. I've read two books on it and there was little to go off of until, as jerry said "polynesian sounding name."

And I thought the TV was mostly solid given the general difficulty of trash relative to subjects. For instance, the hard part in that Syfy bonus is a legitimately good and important historical show with known stars, even if Chicago Hope has been off reruns for years with no DVD release (a few seasons are on Hulu.) I always prefer important things within their area. Also, what was with the modern author associated with Brown bonus part that WASN'T Robert Coover? I knew enough to pull Schwartz, because thats butt for Humboldt knowledge, but I'd say Dream Songs and "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities" would be the two other most convertable things about him, though thats conjecture.

For bad ideas though. A fucking tu on The Medusa? Common link on "independent (hey with NAQT it could've been a Dearborn tu off the leadin)?" "13 at dinner?" the confusingly worded "Marble" tu, which also tragicomically goes from marble madness to the Elgins. George Luks still being in power for Ashcan school. Almost all of Holy Sonnets being in power. Totally transparent Hand of God tu.

Overall, I thought this was a meh set, better than my last SCT by far, but still rife with frustrating stuff, though still appreciated a bit.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:37 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I'm less interested in nitpicking about this particular bonus, though, and more interested in the general point that arises from it. Jerry's position seems to be: With hard bonus parts in particular, a bonus should provide as many clues as possible, to maximize the chances that someone will know the answer. I think that's an attractive view. The argument here, I take it, is as follows: If you want to ask on something that rarely comes up, you can't just offer one or two "canonical" clues and assume that someone will get it, because by definition, as something that "rarely comes up," there aren't any "canonical" clues. That seems inherently plausible.
That's a pretty good summary of what I'm advocating, with the exception that I don't think we should worry too much about "canonical" clues or whatever. If there are several things that are well-known about a particular hard answer, I'm in favor of providing as much of that information as is feasible given the space limitation.
The obvious obstacle to this approach for NAQT questions is that in NAQT, as currently constituted, you generally can't offer 5-6 clues on a given bonus answer without eating up an untoward chunk of the clock. Maybe you would take this as yet another argument against the timed game, and maybe you'd be right to think so.
Well, that's right. And it is one of my arguments against the timed game; I think it really negatively impacts the amount and kind of information that you can supply to players.
I demur at bit from the general premise, though, because it seems to me that your position assumes something like the following: "For hard answers, there are no clear canonical clues, so the question should include as many clues as it can afford to, in the hopes that one of them will register." In the case of Schwartz in particular, one can see how that might be the case: including a specific poem title (not because I would expect people to have read any one Schwartz poem, but because his manner of titling poems might ring a bell) and another couple of contextual clues (from Lowell and/or Berryman) would certainly cast a wider net. But with a lot of "hard" parts, I suspect that there isn't quite so obvious a range of clues. The point here would be that "offering six somewhat haphazardly chosen clues about someone who rarely or never comes up in the game" rather than "offering a mere two clues about such a figure" doesn't mean that you've made it three times as likely that someone will answer that part.
I don't think I'd take as expansive a position as that. It's really a case-by-case kind of thing. Maybe there are such bonus parts for which this strategy wouldn't work too well, but I'm not sure I can come up with any specific examples off the top of my head. I suspect for most answers one could easily come up with a few very useful pieces of information that could all reasonably be included into the structure of the question.

By the way, an important point that I want to bring back to this discussion, to which I think it's relevant, is the idea that the clues dictate the difficulty of the question. I think this is especially true for bonuses; if the most famous clue in your bonus part on Ingres is about his portrait of Louis-Francois Bertin, that's hard (at least for any non-national tournament). I fully expect good teams to be able to convert that of course, but we should plausibly expect good teams that know stuff to do that.
I think this is the problem with a lot of (what I think of as) "Westbrookian" hard bonus parts I hear in circuit tournaments, where my reaction tends to be "Great, you've given me two sentences worth of clues about this third-tier Sillitoe novel; but I still have no clue which of his myriad minor works this is, and why should I?" That is, I worry that there's a mindset which assumes something like "the problem isn't that a hard part is randomly chosen, and that almost nobody can reasonably be expected to know it; rather, the problem is that the question DIDN'T OFFER ENOUGH CLUES about that hard part."
Agreed.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:38 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:I think the point here is more "why do cross-disciplinary questions need to go anywhere?"
Cheynem wrote:The Medusa tossup isn't really cross distributional though, it's just dumb. A history tossup on the Medusa is pretty much not answerable by someone who doesn't know about the painting. So you require some art knowledge off the bat. But unless you've like studied the hell out of the backstory of that painting or if you've read some random Bathroom Reader article about the travails of the Medusa, you're just not going to get that tossup early. So I ask you--what sort of knowledge is this meant to reward?

This would be like me writing a tossup on the real life biography of "Christina" in Christina's World or Watson in Watson and the Shark or Grant Wood's dentist in American Gothic or any number of stupid things. It's trivia.
This is exactly my question. Who are you rewarding by having these inane tossups? I understand having an "other" category that does allow for some flexibility in writing cross distributional tossups, but questions on trivial topics like the real life Medusa or some dude who translated Plato into French's opinion on Abelard are entirely unnecessary and are taking up space in a distribution that could be used for more academic topics.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:43 pm

To me, cross distributional things are a good idea and should be retained at NAQT. Like asking about a city using a mixture of literary, history, and geographical clues is fine. It's the cross distributional things that are just stacked in favor of one thing that are dumb--tell me, if you didn't know about the Gericault painting, are you going to get that Medusa tossup on history knowledge alone? If so, good for you. But I doubt many would.

EDIT: I agree with what Andrew Yaphe says below. A terrific tossup could be crafted on Jupiter using literary, painting, and musical clues. But the Medusa--there are no good history clues for that, so you end up with a dumb tossup choice. Greater care must be taken so that cross-distribution actually produces good answer lines.

Oh yeah, "thirteen guests"?! Who the hell thought that was a good idea?

I think I'm coming off angrier than I mean to be in this thread. I enjoyed quite a bit of this tournament (I actually enjoyed the American history for the most part, even if it was really politician stacked), but the fact remains this could have been a much, much better tournament with a little common sense. At times this tournament descended into self-parody with ridiculous answer lines and bonus choices which were pretty easily fixable.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:44 pm

Ukonvasara wrote: I think the point here is more "why do cross-disciplinary questions need to go anywhere?"
If we're going to rehash fundamental topics like "should there be any cross-disciplinary questions in NAQT," it might be a good idea to open up some separate discussion threads?

My general response, though, would be: Why not have cross-disciplinary questions? ACF obviously frowns on them, but this causes a certain amount of internal tension within ACF (see, e.g., the perennial calls for "rethinking the 'Your Choice' portion of the distribution"). Unless you think that the ACF distribution cuts reality at the joints, there's no prima facie reason to think that questions which don't really figure in it must be out of bounds.

As I may have mentioned in a previous discussion of this topic, I like the way the "miscellaneous" category allows me to ask questions that mingle clues from a bunch of areas of Western culture: literature, art, music, myth, etc. Where ACF might have a tossup on, say, "representations of Jupiter in paintings" which is tightly restricted to art clues, a "misc NAQT" tossup on the same subject might refer to poetry, paintings, the "Jupiter Symphony," etc. I don't see any obvious reason why the latter tossup need be inferior to the former; in fact, it strikes me as a cool feature of the NAQT distribution that it permits the latter kind of question.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:47 pm

I'll go ahead and start a new thread.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:50 pm

Rothlover wrote:Stockdale seems ok for a hard part in that I think hes more significant than given credit for. We talked about him in AP US history, though that was 2002. If people ask about Crawford and Everett, Stockdale seems to work on that level, though whether you think Crawford etc. should still be coming up regularly is another question. Cunningham was pointless, I only knew that from watching the Colbert Report since the beginning, and guessing a corrupt politician, hell the most I knew about him was his boat's name.
Everett and Crawford are important for reasons that have a lot to do with their historical situation; namely, that they were both part of transformative elections in their time that had wide-ranging consequences, and they were also accomplished in other areas (secretaries of State and Treasury, respectively). Stockdale just seems like some random dude who got picked for a ticket that had no hope of winning because he was a decorated veteran. And the structure of that bonus basically gives it one easy part and two hard ones.
And I thought the TV was mostly solid given the general difficulty of trash relative to subjects. For instance, the hard part in that Syfy bonus is a legitimately good and important historical show with known stars, even if Chicago Hope has been off reruns for years with no DVD release (a few seasons are on Hulu.)
This kind of view is a persistent problem with reforming trash questions. Most of your target audience in this tournament is a) not composed of expert trash players, and b) relatively young. Are there people in the 18-22 age group who routinely watch Chicago Hope on Hulu or something? Maybe it's a fine hard part for that bonus, intended to reward true TV mavens, and I'm fine with that, but you have to make allowances for those of us who don't go seeking out random shows that got canceled around the time I started college.
For bad ideas though. A fucking tu on The Medusa? Common link on "independent (hey with NAQT it could've been a Dearborn tu off the leadin)?" "13 at dinner?" the confusingly worded "Marble" tu, which also tragicomically goes from marble madness to the Elgins. George Luks still being in power for Ashcan school. Almost all of Holy Sonnets being in power. Totally transparent Hand of God tu.
These were all bad ideas, poorly executed.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 3:56 pm

Rothlover wrote: Greenberg is one of the 10 most important players in baseball history easily, if looking at baseball in a broader context. The word "Jewish" would make that way more convertable for lay people I imagine. He certainly beats token shit like the first Heisman winner, which while trash people like me know that, also know it is trivia, not significa. I actually see the baseball bonus as having an easy part (Gehrig, one of the most known players in history) and two mediums (since people memorize stupid records, Wilson did better shit, but for space constraints, I see the whole RBI theme, which also just seems like a luddite response to the sabermetrics bonus, which I'd argue mirrors the divide in some organizations.

Moyer is an easy 30 to anyone who follows baseball, I mean, he has been around forever with some notable seasons, a WS and tons of counting stats. Obviously, if you know nothing about baseball its a 0, but would it have greatly benefitted from an easy part, instead of Phillies, and with some rewording in the first part "Moyer plays this position that was also played by Nolan Ryan and Greg Maddux"?
The problem is that while Greenberg is important, the statistical approach to the question nullifies his impact. I don't know how shoehorning "Jewish" into the question makes sense.

Maybe instead of changing Jay Berwanger to University of Chicago, that bonus part could have been rewritten to be just Heisman Trophy, which leads into the Davey O'Brien award and having the third answer be TCU.

Moyer is a 30 or 0 bonus. Like Jerry said, the speed of the questions meant that if someone didn't retain the knowledge from the clues in the first part of the bonus, they weren't getting the second part without knowing Moyer. Maybe saying Moyer pitched on this team that features second baseman Chase Utley would help out.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Rothlover » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:04 pm

With regards to trash and sports, detailed stats on conversion 15/10/-5ing and BC'ing would be of great interest to me, as I would be interested in if there is a statistically significant difference in those numbers vs any of the other similar dists. Also the percentage 0'ed and 30'ed respectively would interest me. Because if a disproportionate amount of trash bonuses are one or the other, than there is a clear, easily fixable problem.

Also, that bonus on 1900s boxers was basically J. Johnson if you know historical context, fuck you, fuck you. And this is from someone who reads a ton on old boxing and would have a pretty good idea what the normal player would know on the subject.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:08 pm

Rothlover wrote:With regards to trash and sports, detailed stats on conversion 15/10/-5ing and BC'ing would be of great interest to me, as I would be interested in if there is a statistically significant difference in those numbers vs any of the other similar dists. Also the percentage 0'ed and 30'ed respectively would interest me. Because if a disproportionate amount of trash bonuses are one or the other, than there is a clear, easily fixable problem.

Also, that bonus on 1900s boxers was basically J. Johnson if you know historical context, fuck you, fuck you. And this is from someone who reads a ton on old boxing and would have a pretty good idea what the normal player would know on the subject.
I agree with all of these sentiments, except that I probably don't read nearly as much about boxing as you do.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:08 pm

Yeah, I've watched an entire documentary on Jack Johnson and taken a sports history course, and that was pretty tricky. I think the last part (Jeffries) was a good hard part, as that Great White Hope is legitimately important. But Tommy Burns...that's pushing it.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:49 pm

tetragrammatology wrote: I understand having an "other" category that does allow for some flexibility in writing cross distributional tossups, but questions on trivial topics like the real life Medusa or some dude who translated Plato into French's opinion on Abelard are entirely unnecessary and are taking up space in a distribution that could be used for more academic topics.
This touches on another point I wanted to make. I take it that this remark is a reference to the following bonus:

His books include 1836's ~On the True, the Beautiful, and the Good~, and one called ~Philosophical Fragments~. For 10 points each--

A. Name this philosopher who translated Plato into French and expounded a view known as "eclecticism."

answer: Victor _Cousin_

B. Cousin's other books include a study of the metaphysics of this Greek thinker, whose works include the ~De Anima~ and ~Generation of Animals~.

answer: _Aristotle_

C. In his edition of this philosopher, Cousin claimed that this scholastic and Descartes were the "two greatest philosophers" produced by France; this man wrote the ~Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian~.

answer: Peter _Abelard_ or Petrus _Abaelardus_

I wrote this bonus for SCT. I'm going to assert that Victor Cousin, far from being a "trivial" and "entirely unnecessary" topic, is in fact significant and completely worthy of being asked about within the "academic" philosophy distribution. (Cousin is arguably the most influential French philosopher of the 19th century; as my trusty Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out, Cousin "was not only the most famous French philosopher of his time but also supreme dictator of who should teach philosophy and what should be taught.") You could definitely say "he is too hard to be the hard part of an SCT bonus, and should only appear at ICT," but he isn't "trivial."

My larger point is this: I would have been happy to include this bonus in one of the ACF regionals or nationals that I edited. And my sense is that if it had appeared in that context, people would have responded by saying "huh, never heard of this Cousin guy -- guess I should learn something about him." When a question like this appears in SCT, though, the default response sometimes seems to be "huh, never heard of this Cousin guy -- so he can't be significant."

I'm not trying to disguise the real and serious flaws with this year's SCT. But I do feel that there is a different tone to some of the critique of a tournament like SCT which is absent from critiques of other tournaments. That is, circuit tournaments are often interpreted according to a principle of charity (in which someone might praise something like a bonus part on John Hawkes by writing "I had never heard of Hawkes, but quizbowl is also about learning, and it was cool to learn of a major American postmodern novelist who had escaped my notice"), whereas NAQT tournaments are sometimes interpreted according to, um, some other principle (in which someone might damn a bonus part on John Hawkes by saying something like "I had only heard of Robert Coover as a postmodern novelist associated with Brown University; WTF were this tournament's editors thinking letting a question on this other guy through?").
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by naturalistic phallacy » Sun Feb 07, 2010 4:55 pm

My remark had more to do with the third part of the bonus that included a quote from Cousin about his opinions on Abelard, which I don't think is particularly helpful, not his general inclusion in this set.

EDIT: tying
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:02 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote: This touches on another point I wanted to make. I take it that this remark is a reference to the following bonus:

His books include 1836's ~On the True, the Beautiful, and the Good~, and one called ~Philosophical Fragments~. For 10 points each--
A. Name this philosopher who translated Plato into French and expounded a view known as "eclecticism."
answer: Victor _Cousin_
B. Cousin's other books include a study of the metaphysics of this Greek thinker, whose works include the ~De Anima~ and ~Generation of Animals~.
answer: _Aristotle_
C. In his edition of this philosopher, Cousin claimed that this scholastic and Descartes were the "two greatest philosophers" produced by France; this man wrote the ~Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian~.
answer: Peter _Abelard_ or Petrus _Abaelardus_
I didn't hear this bonus, but it's relevant to the larger point I'm making. I'm happy with Victor Cousin as a hard part in this bonus, but the structure of this bonus as it stands is something like "hard/medium/hard" or "hard/medium/medium," in my view. There's no really easy part here for teams that aren't very good, and there ought to be. For something like a national tournament, one could reasonably expect good teams to know secondary and tertiary works of Aristotle and Abelard, but for this level, most teams are getting bubkis on this bonus. I'm guessing that Aristotle was supposed to be the easy part, so what's the harm of giving teams a Nicomachean Ethics or a Politics? Or giving Sic et Non for Abelard? I don't think that Abelard is so easy that everyone would convert that part; I imagine a lot of pretty decent teams probably got 0 points on this bonus, and I think that's not good.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by MicroEStudent » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:18 pm

Hey, I just tried to reply to a Mike Sorice post and now it's gone. What happened?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Captain Sinico » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:32 pm

Regarding "beta-minus decay," that process is never called neutron decay so there's no way you should accept or prompt on that. On the other hand, you should probably just accept beta decay as that's what it's usually called.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Captain Sinico » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:35 pm

grapesmoker wrote:...the Levi-Civita symbol is in fact a tensor,
That's not right.
grapesmoker wrote:...it's sometimes called a tensor! You can make this a lot less confusing by saying "This kind of mathematical operation is sometimes denoted by the Levi-Civita tensor," or something of the kind. In fact, you should actually avoid using weasel words like "sometimes" because they introduce a lot of ambiguity into the question and it becomes really unclear which "sometimes" you're talking about. Since I can't read your mind, writer of questions, I can't guess as to which application you are thinking of, and yet presumably you intend for me to make use of that clue or you wouldn't have put it there. So say what you mean unambiguously.
This emphatically is.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:36 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:Regarding "beta-minus decay," that process is never called neutron decay so there's no way you should accept or prompt on that. On the other hand, you should probably just accept beta decay as that's what it's usually called.
Isn't the process being described neutron decay though? Pretty much by definition?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Feb 07, 2010 5:39 pm

Captain Sinico wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:...the Levi-Civita symbol is in fact a tensor,
That's not right.
I guess technically it's a pseduo-tensor because it changes sign. I've heard it referred to as a permutation tensor, as the Levi-Civita tensor, or as just the Levi-Civita symbol.
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