HI 2010 Discussion

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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Just to make things more exciting, Kevin Koai, who is probably the best straight up poetry player I have ever seen, buzzed immediately (like, half a line in) and said, "this is a line from 'Filling Station,'" and then just sat there. Needless to say, we were nowhere near picking it up at the end.

I don't know, I'm happy to accept HI as basically a vanity tournament that's all about asking questions on Bulgarian dynasties and Elizabeth Bishop collections. It's nothing like "Fake ACF," though.
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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed »

grapesmoker wrote: I don't know, I'm happy to accept HI as basically a vanity tournament that's all about asking questions on Bulgarian dynasties and Elizabeth Bishop collections. It's nothing like "Fake ACF," though.
...except that's not what the tournament is "all about". There was a substantial amount of easier material.

Harvard International was conceived of last year as a Nationals Preparatory tournament; the "Fake ACF" label got attached to it because there was some idea that we might want to change the name now that we took over FICHTE's spot and were no longer in the week between the two nationals. I think playing a tournament on mACF questions, many of which are challenging, is not useless when it comes to preparing for nationals. Hard things get asked about there too.
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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi »

If people still doubt the validity of Questions of a Travel as a stand alone topic I am happy to elicit some endorsements from numerous students and teachers I know who discuss this collection constantly. Honestly it isn't even debatable that the stand alone collection is important. Once again I think it is disappointing to let one tossup (that was written with full knowledge that it would be the hardest tossup in the set) to dictate the perception of all the lit and arts.
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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by salamanca »

Speaking only for myself: if Questions of Travel were submitted as a TU answer for ACF Nationals and it was the hardest question in that particular packet, I certainly would have thought about letting it through. I may have changed it to a Bishop question, but then again, I like asking about works and this is a key collection by a major author.

Sure hope you all working on them packets....

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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by magin »

marnold wrote:
magin wrote: I will say that the tossup on Questions of Travel seemed poor to me, since I knew immediately that it wanted an Elizabeth Bishop poetry collection, but could only pull the name "travel," not the full title, which I don't think really rewarded anyone's knowledge of Bishop at the tournament. I agree with Seth that a tossup on Bishop would have been converted much better; in this case, despite reading the complete poems of Elizabeth Bishop (http://www.amazon.com/Complete-Poems-19 ... 0374518173), I was unable to answer the tossup, and I doubt that anyone else answered it either. I like the idea of writing about important and underasked poetry, but I think asking about Bishop would have more accurately measured people's knowledge.
I'm sorry, I just can't resist this. In the earlier discussion about Boll and St. Anthony's Abbey, Jerry and I said "these questions are annoying. We've read the work in question, remember a good deal of the real substance and even some of the words comprising the particular answer but not the exact name," to which Jonathan responded "if you don't remember names you don't deserve points." This post says "I've read the subject in question, remember a good deal of the real substance and even some of the words comprising the particular answer but not the exact name. DONDE ESTAN MIS PUNTOS!?!?"
The two situations are not quite analogous. I would be fine with a hard bonus part on Questions of Travel, since it is undoubtedly important (and I wouldn't have converted it at HI, but I would have liked it as a bonus part). You are not fine with a hard bonus part on St. Anthony's Abbey, even though I don't see how it's different than asking for a named character (and I would hope people are fine asking about the names of major characters).

My only problem with the tossup was that it asked for the title of a collection whose poems many people read in anthologies by themselves. For similar reasons, I don't like tossups on Twice-Told Tales or Mosses From an Old Manse, since most people I know read Hawthorne's stories individually, not as part of one of those two collections; subsequently, most tossups on those collections are answered immediately by someone with perfect Hawthorne knowledge, in the middle by someone who's memorized what stories go with what collection, and at the end by everyone else. That doesn't produce enough buzzes based on actual reading of literature to satisfy me.

I don't want to harp on this one tossup, and I want to reiterate that I found the literature in this tournament to be very good. The tossup on A Rebours, for instance, was one of the many tossups at this tournament to use interesting descriptions of events in a novel, and I appreciate the care taken to select clues that reward reading literature that HI demonstrated.
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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by DumbJaques »

I mean, in my room I'm pretty sure the buzz followed the description of The Self and Its Brain, whose main thesis I pretty much wrote into the question.
Eh, as the person who made that buzz* I find this argument mostly incidental to Matt's point; as has been said a thousand times before, pointing to one game's result is demonstrative of absolutely nothing. I doubt very much that anyone else playing HI had read that book, so I wouldn't want to see it anywhere except a leadin. That said, I think it's a good leadin, in that it's neither trivial nor typical among Popper's works. While Andy is not offering any substantive defense of the tossup, Matt is not really demonstrating why it was problematic. If the rest of the pre-FTP clues are on par with that one, well, then Matt's got a most salient (if slightly hyperbolic) point. Perhaps posting the text of the tossup can resolve this (and other) contentions about tossup construction at this tournament.

*Unless I wasn't in your room that round and somebody else also made such a buzz, in which case, point Watkins.

Where Matt is unambiguously spot-on in his critiques, however, was that this tournament suffered dramatically from its disjointed construction. I continue to be an ardent opponent of simply throwing 4 subject editors together and compiling the result, no matter how competent they may be - really, this tournament is a prime case study to prove my argument. All of this set's writers are demonstrably proficient in their categories - indeed, I doubt you could realistically hope to assemble a group of writers who were more so (certainly at anything but CO or Nationals). What's further, this editing team is in it's second year, across the board, writing this tournament, so you've also negated lack of experience working together as a factor. The tournament was still all over the place a decent percentage of the time (Matt accurately invokes Frankensteinian imagery), and it doesn't have anything to do with a lack of competence on the part of the editing staff.

Something pretty fucking cool about putting a tournament together - when you're really doing it right, at least - is it's actually a rather original entry in the corpus of human activity. We're doing something here that doesn't have direct comparisons to pretty much anything else. If you want evidence of that, look at what happens when people write tournaments and questions like they're writing an essay or a pop quiz, an op-ed or a textbook - the world is full of bad tournaments standing as monuments to the failure of their editors to grasp this reality. You can read guides on how to write questions, and you can be told a million things to avoid that ruin tournaments, but I'll be damned if you can become a great editor without writing tournaments until you win a brutal war of attrition against your own unique editing shortcomings.

Competently editing a tournament isn't something that you can learn from any single source, or even from any combination of sources. A good tournament is an extension of your being, an epiphyte growing on your sleep-deprived head. Creating a good tournament is equal parts mechanical ingenuity and artistic frenzy - it's Capability Brown meets M.C. Escher meets Henry Ford*. The best pictographic model I can conceive for the process would be a fugue-like dream state in which you endlessly pursue Trygve's laptop through the Chicago black market, bounding across the roof of Robie House as Chris White designs a sprawling Lincoln Log metropolis and Susan Ferrari cooks up the complete menu from Like Water for Chocolate as you are all the while being pursued by troggle-shaped wikipedia entries who are trying to eat you. And really that would only explain like half of the RMP tossups.
*Explains abundance of Nazi questions.

The point here is that you haven't a snowball Earth's chance in hell of pulling off a great tournament without a true chief editor, a guiding hand and mind shaping the substance of the set and the process of its creation. You can very rigorously use a division of labor (as we did with this year's Regionals, for instance), but it requires the presence of a master architect to direct the operation (Jerry, in the aforementioned case). A well-written Frankenstein's monster of a tournament is really the best you can hope for otherwise, no matter the quality of the editing team assembled. The fact that HI straddled the boundaries of canon innovation obviously made this effect much more pronounced - if you've got a great group of editors writing a regular-season event, it'll probably come out decently. Perhaps the day is coming when writing great, high-end events ventures into the realm of mass production, but as of now each such tournament produced has unquestionably been its own distinct character. I think it follows fairly naturally that without an overriding inner voice, such characters will be inevitably schizophrenic.
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Re: HI 2010 Discussion

Post by Nicklausse/Muse »

DumbJacques wrote:[speech]
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