Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

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Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:01 pm

So, is HFT the same difficulty as in the past? This seems like an even more local field than in the past, and HFT seems to have finally lost all of its mirroring cachet, so I REALLY hope for your sake that this is a downright easy set, or else it seems like it will be a big mess for all involved.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Oct 13, 2012 4:38 pm

Horned Screamer wrote:So, is HFT the same difficulty as in the past? This seems like an even more local field than in the past, and HFT seems to have finally lost all of its mirroring cachet, so I REALLY hope for your sake that this is a downright easy set, or else it seems like it will be a big mess for all involved.
It will be slightly easier than last year because we overshot our difficulty goal in 2011. But the goal remains the same, as a set with accessible answer-lines comparable to those found in a "downright easy" set and easy/middle parts of bonuses in that range as well. This is what our stated difficulty has always been, it's just that in some years (ex. 2008) the Harvard team completely ignored that goal, and last year as a first-time editor I failed to get all of our questions to where I wanted them. But even given whatever problems Matt Weiner perceived in our set last year, it was well received at our site by all teams, so I don't think people need to worry about a "big mess" related to the difficulty of this tournament.

The "big mess" last year resulted from us letting MSU mirror our set for a field that was 90% teams playing their first or second tournaments. That won't be happening again. Also, mirrors haven't been announced but I've been contacted by several mirror sites, now listed in the tournament announcement.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Oct 13, 2012 6:52 pm

gyre and gimble wrote: But even given whatever problems Matt Weiner perceived in our set last year, it was well received at our site by all teams, so I don't think people need to worry about a "big mess" related to the difficulty of this tournament.
I'm sure with this wonderful attitude, all the problems are now solved.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:03 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote: But even given whatever problems Matt Weiner perceived in our set last year, it was well received at our site by all teams, so I don't think people need to worry about a "big mess" related to the difficulty of this tournament.
I'm sure with this wonderful attitude, all the problems are now solved.
I'm not saying those problems won't be corrected. I'm just saying that projecting this to be a big mess is unnecessarily pessimistic. That might have come off as a dig at you, which isn't what I meant, so I'll apologize for my internet-tone. What I meant was that those problems, some of which (like grammar) were serious, did not produce a "big mess."
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Oct 13, 2012 7:16 pm

Well, it obviously was a potshot at me, but who cares. The problem is not the dreaded incivility on the Internet, the problem is that you still don't get what the shortcomings of HFT are in respect to the nationwide mirrors (what sort of hard tournament you want to put on at Harvard that TOP TEAMS can choose to spend their money on, or not, is not really my concern). The problems are things like declaring that the easy parts of bonuses should distinguish the best teams in the tournament, or that all appropriate-difficulty high school quizbowl is "illegitimate," or that only Mean Old Internet Matt Weiner has a problem with this, or the fact that the main HFT field didn't complain about the tournament means anything when you've made it clear through both your actions and words that the average high school team has no business being a part of that field. These problems are all reasons why burdening your mirrors with a set that can never be appropriate for anything but a nationals-caliber field is a bad idea; as a two-time former TD of an HFT mirror, I am speaking from experience.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:02 pm

You can respond to this post how you like, but it will be the last one from me on this subject before 11/10 because I really don't want to get into an argument about this tournament before it's even happened.
Matt Weiner wrote:The problems are things like declaring that the easy parts of bonuses should distinguish the best teams in the tournament]
1. No one currently on the Harvard team has ever suggested this. I'm also unaware that any former member of the Harvard team has ever suggested this.
2. I have explicitly written out our goal for bonuses in this tournament in the announcement. Anyone who speaks English should be able to tell that we aren't even going anywhere near the idea that easy parts should distinguish the best teams.
Matt Weiner wrote:that all appropriate-difficulty high school quizbowl is "illegitimate"
Now that Ted is no longer on the team, no members of the current Harvard team hold this position either. HSAPQ and Ladue, as well as others, produce fine sets that are ALSO difficulty-appropriate for newer or less-experienced teams, IN ADDITION TO the field that HFT targets. (EDIT because some people don't get it.) But agreeing that other high school sets are legitimate doesn't mean we have to abandon HFT. More on this on the next point.
Matt Weiner wrote:These problems are all reasons why burdening your mirrors with a set that can never be appropriate for anything but a nationals-caliber field is a bad idea
Our tournament is far from nationals difficulty, which means it is appropriate for a field that is broader than just nationals-caliber teams. Nevertheless, we recognize that HFT shouldn't be mirrored as widely as LIST III, which is why I haven't advertised the set under the Mirrors forum, and why I picked out specific parts of the country where I think well-established circuits exist as places to pursue mirrors. I don't think HFT being played in Illinois, the DC area, or a central location in the South (Georgia) is some terrible difficulty-inappropriate thing. I'm not as confident with Southern California because I don't know what's going on over there anymore, but their mirror, if it happens, will be held as a pre-Nationals tournament in March or April, by which time teams that might not be ready for HFT in November will have improved enough to enjoy the set. I'm no longer pursuing a Texas mirror because a sizable part of the expected field is coming to Harvard to play.
Matt Weiner wrote:as a two-time former TD of an HFT mirror, I am speaking from experience.
I know you had bad experiences with HFT in 2008 and 2009. But no one on this writing team was involved with either of those, and I can't speak to what Andy Watkins did as editor but I am taking the difficulty goals I've set seriously. So I understand why you don't trust us, but this is really a different tournament from four years ago. Stay mad at Andy if you want, but don't project that onto me or my team.
Last edited by gyre and gimble on Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by Matt Weiner » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:09 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:HSAPQ and Ladue, as well as others, produce fine sets that are more difficulty-appropriate for newer or less-experienced teams.
HSAPQ produces sets that are difficulty-appropriate for HIGH SCHOOL QUIZBOWL TEAMS. Writing off everything below HFT difficulty as for novices is crap. You're doing the same thing Harvard's done since this ill-formed tournament sprang from your feeble brains: declaring all manner of ridiculous things in black and white, then denying them or proclaiming that you won't deign to discuss high school quizbowl with any non-Harvardian idiots when somebody challenges your crazy ideas. This does not inspire confidence in the drearily predictable annual ritual of the HFT editor declaring that this tournament is going to be the one that finally gets how high school quizbowl works.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament VII (Cambridge, MA 11/10/12)

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Oct 13, 2012 8:30 pm

Okay I lied: one more post. For some reason you choose to misinterpret what I say to fit your perception of Harvard as a place where only a bunch of elitist idiots play quizbowl. I thought it was pretty obvious given the context of what we're discussing that the phrase you quoted implies that HSAPQ is appropriate for novice teams IN ADDITION to the field HFT is targetting. As in HSAPQ and Ladue do something that HFT does not. I was PROMOTING your questions, man. If you stopped and thought about it, this would be obvious. I mean, come on, you know I've been around long enough to know the difference between a novice set and a HSAPQ set. I literally just said your tournaments were perfectly legitimate. But I guess you have so little respect for me, someone who's never offended you and who you've never really met, that you're going to ignore my reasonable and hopefully thoughtful post and sum it up with an assumption YOU made up. You criticized my argumentative style once. Well what in the world are you doing?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by TheKingInYellow » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:20 pm

So, um, alright. We've written out goals for these questions in the tournament post. Here they are again, for convenience:

"This set will certainly be more difficult than novice sets and some questions will be more difficult than what one might expect from an HSAPQ or regular-difficulty house-written set. That said, the questions should be far easier than nationals-level. For tossups, we'll emphasize harder lead-ins and early clues over harder answer-lines, meaning you shouldn't worry about tossups on overly difficult topics. The bonuses will still be easy 10's and gettable 20's, and you should only notice a difference when you hear a slightly harder "hard" part. These differences serve to better differentiate very skilled teams while doing the best to maintain the same quality of playability for teams not quite at that level."

As you can see, we're describing our tournament as higher than novice level, and slightly more challenging than regular high school difficulty. That being said, this tournament will not be nationals level. We're being more careful about where we're mirroring the tournament, and we're being clear about what this tournament is. So please, hold us to what we've said we're going to do, and if you feel we haven't lived up to our word, tell us, after the tournament. The fact that this discussion is getting so heated before the tournament has even been played is slightly ridiculous.

I think the question of whether or nor a slightly more difficult than usual tournament is appropriate is a legitimate one. But we aren't deceiving any teams about what our tournament is. A slightly harder than regular difficulty tournament. If teams are willing to pay for that, that's for them to decide. If after the tournament is over you think we've misled anyone about our difficulty, please tell us. For reference, look at the set from last year--this year's will hopefully be slightly easier, but comparable.

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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Oct 13, 2012 9:53 pm

2010-2011 - HFT 3rd hardest term by average ppb out of 30 sets
2011-2012 - HFT 6th hardest of 36 sets
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Auroni » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:12 pm

Like, I get that you have a set of publicly stated goals for your set, but you need to understand that there is zero public confidence that you will deliver on any of them, especially among people who have been customers of yours on multiple occasions. When we see a set that was completely unreasonable several years in a row and when we are told that the set is being mirrored in many places, there's no way that telling us that the writers are different will calm our justified sense of dread.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:22 pm

TheKingInYellow wrote:But we aren't deceiving any teams about what our tournament is. A slightly harder than regular difficulty tournament. If teams are willing to pay for that, that's for them to decide.
2011- http://hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=11648 wrote:It is our goal to make the set a little easier than last year, but we'll err on the side of caution and and say it is at the higher end of regular-difficulty. The tossups will be similar to tossups from last year, and the bonuses will be easier than last year (which is where the problems were for the most part).
2010 - http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9870 wrote:Second, questions will be easier; the intention is for the set to be barely harder than a regular-difficulty tournament.
2009 - http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=7822 wrote: Unlike last year, there will be no bifurcation into more challenging playoff rounds, though the finals can be expected to be harder than the rest of the tournament, and the questions overall will be slightly harder than the average regular-season tournament--but dramatically easier from the harder set of questions from last year.
2008 - http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=5480 wrote:We're running the top two playoff brackets on questions of higher difficulty, in a similar manner to how NAQT writes questions for both Division I and Division II college teams: four brackets would hear a tossup on The Great Gatsby, and two would hear a tossup on Tender Is the Night; four brackets would hear a tossup on the Peloponnesian War, and two would hear a tossup on the battle of Aegospotami.
2007 - http://www.hsquizbowl.org/forums/viewtopic.php?p=63119#p63119 wrote:I'm glad you enjoyed the phonon and numerical integration questions; I wrote those and was wondering whether they would be too difficult for this tournament.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:26 pm

Here's a statistic I think is actually more important to consider than ppb for bottom-bracket teams: tossup-conversion.


Some numbers, just for reference:

Westview's mirror of LIST (for novice teams!!!) converted 146 of 200 tossups read to them, a rate of 73%
The main site, 119/160 for 74.3%
Even OLEFIN, when one-quarter of the teams being used in my average couldn't break 3 ppb (yay OLEFIN! clearly challenging for top teams because a weak team can't break 3!) had 71.6%

Now, let's see how HFT fares:

Somehow, I am unable to comprehend the well-organized stats of last year's main site. For 2010, however, the bottom bracket converted 53.5% (75/140)

On last year's critically-acclaimed variety that will be similar in difficulty to this year's, a number of teams in Michigan had a delightful experience converting a whopping 40.3% of the tossups (yes, that means the average game had only 8 tossups answered).


However, you can be a national-caliber-difficulty tournament (whatever the hell that means) and still be reasonable for BOTTOM. TEAMS. -- for example, Yale's BHSAT main site had tossups converted at a 67.7% rate by their lowest bracket (I grouped together the 6 and the 3 for purposes of calculating this stat), and 67.5% at the Southern California mirror. Please shoot for that sort of thing instead.



PS: This stat is really easy to calculate! Total up the number of tossups answered by bottom bracket teams, divide by the total number of tossups heard, then multiply by 2!
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:40 pm

Fred wrote:2010-2011 - HFT 3rd hardest term by average ppb out of 30 sets
2011-2012 - HFT 6th hardest of 36 sets
I'm not going to talk about 2010-2011 because I'm the only person left on the team who wrote for it and I contributed a small 2/2 without a real sense of what difficulty we were aiming for.

2011-2012, then. Your statistic should be taken at face value when we evaluate last year's HFT. But it's not a good statistic for predicting this year's HFT, and here's why: I wasn't in charge of finding mirrors for HFT last year, but this year I am, and I'm being careful that only areas where HFT is appropriate are holding mirrors.

So if you want to use last year's PPB as a means of prediction, you should probably take out the stats from MSU's mirror from HFT's stats, because that site had basically 20 novice teams in a field of 22. Nothing like that should happen this year. I'd leave the WKU mirror stats in to make up for the uncertainty with how the SoCal mirror will turn out. This gives you an average PPB of 14.15, i.e. "2011-2012 - HFT 17th hardest of 36 sets." Ahead of HSAPQ-23 at 8th of 36, I might add. And I cite HSAPQ because it has the best editing team and the best quality control. To me, 17th of 36 isn't cause for serious concern.
Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:Like, I get that you have a set of publicly stated goals for your set, but you need to understand that there is zero public confidence that you will deliver on any of them, especially among people who have been customers of yours on multiple occasions. When we see a set that was completely unreasonable several years in a row and when we are told that the set is being mirrored in many places, there's no way that telling us that the writers are different will calm our justified sense of dread.
I guess that's a pretty reasonable thing to say. Here's what I can say on the matter, though: I told Matt and maybe a few other folks that despite whatever HFT was supposed to be in the past, this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country. And I still stand by that, and I don't think any of our mirrors, confirmed or pending, violate that statement.
Mewto55555 wrote: However, you can be a national-caliber-difficulty tournament (whatever the hell that means) and still be reasonable for BOTTOM. TEAMS. -- for example, Yale's BHSAT main site had tossups converted at a 67.7% rate by their lowest bracket (I grouped together the 6 and the 3 for purposes of calculating this stat), and 67.5% at the Southern California mirror. Please shoot for that sort of thing instead.
That's one of the unstated things we're going for. Of course, I don't expect you to just take my word for it, and that's fair. I can share the tossup answer-lines with you if you're not planning to play HFT, though. I wouldn't mind a second opinion from someone's who's managed to pull off two good sets already.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Auroni » Sat Oct 13, 2012 10:51 pm

One other thing, I guess: you might be handpicking the sites which mirror your set, but those sites will be managing their own fields, so we'll inevitably end up with several average to bad teams that end up playing this set anyway, repeating last years' situation. A lot of teams sign up for tournaments that are happening without having played enough quizbowl to realize what your stated difficulty entails, and so you'll be doing those teams a disservice.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Sun Oct 14, 2012 1:56 am

I don't really want to get involved in this discussion, but a few words on our site:

First, I don't think our field was so terrible. Yes, there were some teams at their first pyramidal tournament (not surprisingly, none of them have returned), but there were also many who are regulars on the Michigan circuit. It wasn't the best field, but I don't think that the average quality was so much lower than the average quality in most areas of the country that aren't DC, Illinois, or have similarly-developed circuits.

Secondly, there were many flaws with the tournament besides the difficulty, such as the lack of alternate answers and horrendous grammar (seriously, I cannot believe those questions were even read over, much less read out loud or playtested). While the difficulty needs easing, I would have been quite upset to receive the set we did last year even if it were easier.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Oct 14, 2012 11:43 am

Can people stop talking about "DC" and "Illinois" like they're these magical lands with a thousand teams in Fred's top 100 and no novices? Schools bring B-teams. Local non-nationally competitive schools make short drives to local tournaments. You can't just say "Illinois is a good circuit, therefore, our intended-to-be-hard set is exactly what they want" and expect everyone there to fawn over tossups on The Playboy of the Western World when you've got local high schools playing their second tournament ever and freshmen on B-teams trying their hand at quizbowl for the first time.

For example, the four teams in the bottom bracket of 2010(-11) HFT at Rockford Auburn had 60% tossup conversion in their playoff games; it might have been different had one of the teams not left at lunch complaining that the questions were too hard. I'd tell you what they did on the 2011(-12) incarnation of HFT, except none of them came back the next year.

And you can't just say "this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country" -- there are tournament calendars and newsletters advertising this tournament as "a tournament in Rockford," and there are quite a few schools near Rockford who don't usually get to drive less than an hour to go to a well-run tournament. Is Auburn going to refuse an entry fee from a weaker local school if they need another team to fill the field? Is Auburn going to tell a weak school "sorry, but this tournament is only for good quizbowl teams?"

If you want to write a set of questions to challenge TOP TEAMS in Illinois just label it college difficulty and they'll drive to Urbana-Champaign and play it anyway. Assuming that bad teams won't come because you've written "this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country" on the internet is not a great strategy, and deleting the stats from an entire mirror because those teams weren't good enough to play your set is not a great worldview.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sun Oct 14, 2012 3:24 pm

in on these shenanigans wrote:Can people stop talking about "DC" and "Illinois" like they're these magical lands with a thousand teams in Fred's top 100 and no novices? Schools bring B-teams. Local non-nationally competitive schools make short drives to local tournaments. You can't just say "Illinois is a good circuit, therefore, our intended-to-be-hard set is exactly what they want" and expect everyone there to fawn over tossups on The Playboy of the Western World when you've got local high schools playing their second tournament ever and freshmen on B-teams trying their hand at quizbowl for the first time.

For example, the four teams in the bottom bracket of 2010(-11) HFT at Rockford Auburn had 60% tossup conversion in their playoff games; it might have been different had one of the teams not left at lunch complaining that the questions were too hard. I'd tell you what they did on the 2011(-12) incarnation of HFT, except none of them came back the next year.

And you can't just say "this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country" -- there are tournament calendars and newsletters advertising this tournament as "a tournament in Rockford," and there are quite a few schools near Rockford who don't usually get to drive less than an hour to go to a well-run tournament. Is Auburn going to refuse an entry fee from a weaker local school if they need another team to fill the field? Is Auburn going to tell a weak school "sorry, but this tournament is only for good quizbowl teams?"
Last year's Illinois HFT: http://www.ihssbca.org/statistics/2011_ ... ndings.php
HSAPQ-22 at Loyola/Auburn: http://www.ihssbca.org/statistics/2011_ ... ndings.php
To me, this isn't indicative of HFT being out of place at Auburn.

Here are last year's literature answerlines.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Crane, The Jungle, Miller, Updike, "Because I could not stop for Death", John Steinbeck, Holden Caulfield, The Old Man and the Sea, Ethan Frome, Eudora Welty, "Miniver Cheevy", William Carlos Williams, Tom Sawyer, Graham Greene, The Rape of the Lock, Percy Shelley, Christopher Marlowe, Great Expectations, Jude the Obscure, Sense and Sensibility, Do not go gentle in that good night, Middlemarch, The Faerie Queen, Vanity Fair, King Lear, Rudyard Kipling, John Donne, The House of the Spirits, Things Fall Apart, Tale of Genji, Australia, Borges, Antigone, Cry, the Beloved Country, Journey to the West, Mario Vargas Llosa, Vergil, Wole Soyinka, Pablo Neruda, Mahfouz, JM Coetzee, Moliere, Chekhov, Siddhartha, Kafka, Italy, Isak Dinesen, The Stranger, Rhinoceros, Ninth Circle of Hell, Rilke, Maupassant, Hedda Gabbler, Brecht, Balzac

Welty, Miniver Cheevy, Jude the Obscure, Rhinoceros, and Ninth Circle would be out of place in this year's set because they're too hard. (I could add to that list but I can't really talk a whole lot about a set that's yet to be played!) We're making up for that through fresh early clues, which are generally harder than what you're used to seeing but certainly gettable for anyone with real knowledge on the subject. There's really no need to worry about tossups on The Playboy of the Western World.
in on these shenanigans wrote:If you want to write a set of questions to challenge TOP TEAMS in Illinois just label it college difficulty and they'll drive to Urbana-Champaign and play it anyway. Assuming that bad teams won't come because you've written "this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country" on the internet is not a great strategy, and deleting the stats from an entire mirror because those teams weren't good enough to play your set is not a great worldview.
You're really skewing the view here. First of all, this set isn't college difficulty, and certainly wasn't last year. It's just not, I'm not sure anyone thinks that. And I removed those stats because the areas that are playing HFT this year are objectively stronger and more established with pyramidal quizbowl than the depleted field MSU saw last year, according to, well, MSU: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=11648&p=229372&hil ... nt#p229431. I'm not just taking out the low stats because that will make me look better, I'm taking them out because I've taken precautions so those stats won't happen again this year.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:19 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:Last year's Illinois HFT: http://www.ihssbca.org/statistics/2011_ ... ndings.php
HSAPQ-22 at Loyola/Auburn: http://www.ihssbca.org/statistics/2011_ ... ndings.php
To me, this isn't indicative of HFT being out of place at Auburn.
What conclusion(s) are you drawing here? I can read statlines, but I can't read minds.
Here are last year's literature answerlines.

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Crane, The Jungle, Miller, Updike, "Because I could not stop for Death", John Steinbeck, Holden Caulfield, The Old Man and the Sea, Ethan Frome, Eudora Welty, "Miniver Cheevy", William Carlos Williams, Tom Sawyer, Graham Greene, The Rape of the Lock, Percy Shelley, Christopher Marlowe, Great Expectations, Jude the Obscure, Sense and Sensibility, Do not go gentle in that good night, Middlemarch, The Faerie Queen, Vanity Fair, King Lear, Rudyard Kipling, John Donne, The House of the Spirits, Things Fall Apart, Tale of Genji, Australia, Borges, Antigone, Cry, the Beloved Country, Journey to the West, Mario Vargas Llosa, Vergil, Wole Soyinka, Pablo Neruda, Mahfouz, JM Coetzee, Moliere, Chekhov, Siddhartha, Kafka, Italy, Isak Dinesen, The Stranger, Rhinoceros, Ninth Circle of Hell, Rilke, Maupassant, Hedda Gabbler, Brecht, Balzac

Welty, Miniver Cheevy, Jude the Obscure, Rhinoceros, and Ninth Circle would be out of place in this year's set because they're too hard. (I could add to that list but I can't really talk a whole lot about a set that's yet to be played!) We're making up for that through fresh early clues, which are generally harder than what you're used to seeing but certainly gettable for anyone with real knowledge on the subject. There's really no need to worry about tossups on The Playboy of the Western World.
I like this response and am now optimistically looking forward to this tournament. I do wish some more things would be on this list -- things like Soyinka, Journey to the West, etc. in World Lit can be annoying in lower brackets, but that conversation goes well beyond HFT to quizbowl as a whole.
in on these shenanigans wrote:If you want to write a set of questions to challenge TOP TEAMS in Illinois just label it college difficulty and they'll drive to Urbana-Champaign and play it anyway. Assuming that bad teams won't come because you've written "this year's set wouldn't be advertised as intended for every team in the country" on the internet is not a great strategy, and deleting the stats from an entire mirror because those teams weren't good enough to play your set is not a great worldview.
You're really skewing the view here. First of all, this set isn't college difficulty, and certainly wasn't last year. It's just not, I'm not sure anyone thinks that. And I removed those stats because the areas that are playing HFT this year are objectively stronger and more established with pyramidal quizbowl than the depleted field MSU saw last year, according to, well, MSU: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=11648&p=229372&hil ... nt#p229431. I'm not just taking out the low stats because that will make me look better, I'm taking them out because I've taken precautions so those stats won't happen again this year.
I'm not saying it is college difficulty--though based on IMSA, Auburn, Loyola, and Macomb, it's not very far away from ACF Fall. What I am saying is that it has been far enough away from high school difficulty in the past, and most of the Harvard response has not been philosophically driven to bring it back to Earth. That's why this thread happens each year. What I'm saying is, if your philosophy isn't concerned with making the effort to bring it back to Earth, why not just move a tiny bit harder and calling it college difficulty anyway? That way, your advertising doesn't accidentally invite novices to its mirrors.

But, as I said above, your literature example above is a good response, and assuming that philosophy is adhered to, I'm optimistic that this set will be better than years past. I'm not going to recommend calling it college. Am I confident it'll be better? Nope -- I can't have confidence until I hear round 1. But I am optimistic that it'll be better, and I wish you guys good fortune in the end of the writing process and the hosting of your tournament.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:54 pm

in on these shenanigans wrote:What conclusion(s) are you drawing here? I can read statlines, but I can't read minds.
I'm only looking at bonus conversion here, but these two sets of stats don't make HFT look that much harder. I mean, it is harder, I'm not disputing that. But look: average or below average teams played HFT and their numbers weren't stellar, but that's true for pretty much every tournament. If a team had 6.67 ppb at HFT and that discouraged them from quizbowl, yes, that sort of thing shouldn't happen. But that same team had 6.74 ppb on HSAPQ-22. I just don't see this as a reason to tell that team not to play HFT again, because by that logic they shouldn't play HSAPQ again.
in on these shenanigans wrote:But, as I said above, your literature example above is a good response, and assuming that philosophy is adhered to, I'm optimistic that this set will be better than years past. I'm not going to recommend calling it college. Am I confident it'll be better? Nope -- I can't have confidence until I hear round 1. But I am optimistic that it'll be better, and I wish you guys good fortune in the end of the writing process and the hosting of your tournament.
Thanks. That's really all I'm asking for. Hopefully this set will earn your confidence as well.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:12 pm

You do realize that HSAPQ 23 was used at a Georgia regional tournament with a lot of teams you don't regularly see, a tourney at Caesar Rodney with inexperienced New England teams, a tournament at Helias and one at North Kansas City in Missouri, both of which had a number of inexperienced teams; and a tournament at New Kent with a decent enough field.

Meanwhile, HFT's main site drew a bunch of strong teams, the Illinois field was deep as well, decent enough fields in Kentucky and Georgia and a slightly weak field in Michigan.

You can't just plop their PPBs down and say "hey, look, totally equivalent!" Despite the larger number of strong teams, last year's HFT had the third worst for both median PPB and 1st quartile PPB.

I wish Harvard nothing but the best in their attempt to write a more appropriate set this year, and I don't think PPB is the most perfect number to look at (tossup conversion would be something good to track too), but it's problematic when the set appeared to still be quite hard last year and it's being so vigorously defended as being overly difficult.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:37 pm

Fred wrote: a tourney at Caesar Rodney with inexperienced New England teams
new england does not work that way, good night
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Sun Oct 14, 2012 6:55 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:And I removed those stats because the areas that are playing HFT this year are objectively stronger and more established with pyramidal quizbowl than the depleted field MSU saw last year, according to, well, MSU: viewtopic.php?f=20&t=11648&p=229372&hil ... nt#p229431.
You can say what you want about the field at the MSU mirror of HFT, but don't take Nalin as representative of MSU, on this topic or any other. (Same goes for me, or Joe Nutter, or anyone.) It's true that our field was weaker than it usually was, as Michigan usually has a decent circuit. If anything, that illustrates the uncertainty you face in what teams will actually come to the mirrors you have planned for this year's iteration, as others have mentioned. But besides that, it's absolutely not the case that (as you said earlier) 20 out of 22 teams that played were at their first or second tournament. I don't know if this was intended as hyperbole or not, but either way, many of them did have more experience than that, even if some don't live up to the standard you retroactively set for who ought to play HFT.

Since I have nothing invested in this year's iteration of the set, I'll take your word that it will be somewhat easier than last year's. But I hope it's clear why some people are not entirely willing to make that leap of faith.

Also, I strongly recommend you proofread carefully.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by wexs883198215 » Sun Oct 14, 2012 9:56 pm

I don't have much to contribute in terms of discussing the statistics of previous iterations of HFT, but I would like to say that a great emphasis has been placed on reasonable difficulty and quality checking throughout the writing process and while we understand that there might be some deserved doubts about the difficulty of the tournament, we really intend on following through with the advertised difficulty and quality. We understand that these are important factors being carefully scrutinized by the entire community and will not ignore that. With that said, I think Stephen's time might be best spent working on the tournament instead of having to answer for the sins of HFT 2008 or other iterations, and if the purpose of this thread was to make clear that we have to write a quality tournament, the point has been made very clear and it is well taken.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:39 pm

Everyone in this thread owes me questions.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Cheynem » Sun Oct 14, 2012 10:47 pm

I don't!

EDIT: Apparently I do. Aw, crabapples!
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by njayant3 » Thu Nov 29, 2012 8:16 pm

Is the 2011 set posted somewhere?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:31 pm

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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:46 pm

Neither of those links actually contain the question set (and thank goodness 2012 doesn't, because it's not clear yet).
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Thu Nov 29, 2012 11:59 pm

The 2011 link was created by one of my teammates, not someone from Harvard, and is therefore unlikely to have the set attached. I still have the 2011 set from our mirror if somebody needs for posting I guess, although surely somebody who actually wrote it can help you out faster.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by I'm a goff (in case you couldn't tell) » Fri Nov 30, 2012 2:58 am

RyuAqua wrote:
Neither of those links actually contain the question set (and thank goodness 2012 doesn't, because it's not clear yet).
Whoops - I apparently wasn't totally paying attention when I grabbed those links. Sorry about that.

It doesn't look like 2011 ever got uploaded - if/when that happens (and the same for 2012 once clear) you'll be able to find them at the above links.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Sun Dec 02, 2012 12:51 am

To get this back on topic - it seems just from looking at stats that bonus conversion is uniformly up this year, and most lower-level teams are at least breaking 10 ppb and scoring more overall than in previous years. How do people who played the set feel about the end product?
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Guile Island » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:04 am

I enjoyed this set a lot more this year and definitely felt that the difficulty was pretty well controlled. While there was the occasional bonus part that was still really hard, overall difficulty was lower. I felt that bonuses did a good job with having gettable easy parts in particular
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Dominator » Sun Dec 02, 2012 8:13 am

Being too hard was simply not a problem here. I'd hear what I thought were an easy and medium part of a bonus only to find out the third part was the true easy one. In that sense, I was disappointed that the set became so easy as to lose the HFT character. There is a lot of room between this year's HFT and tossing up Playboy of the Western World, and I would like to see next year's HFT somewhere strictly between them.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Deviant Insider » Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:36 am

I thought this was a good set. There generally was a big jump between the middle part and the hard part of bonuses. I spent most of the day reading for teams in the bottom half of the competitive division, so I saw a whole lot of teams that are probably in the top 100 in the country but not the top 10, and there were a whole lot of 20s. If anything, some of those 20s were a bit too easily earned, though that may just be the sense I get asking teams questions that they obviously know the answer to. The teams in the top half of the competitive field got about half the hard parts, and the teams in the bottom half of the competitive field got very few of them, which is a good thing. If you look at the bottom playoff pool in the lower division, so it's the bottom 6 teams of the 30 who were there, 77% of the tossups got answered. If you look at the top playoff pool of the lower division, which is the middle of the overall field, 96% of the tossups got answered. I think it's fair to say that this is a good average difficulty high school set. There were two teams in the field of 30 that got less than 10 PPB, and some of the easy parts were laughably easy. Also, there were good deep clues in the first halves of tossups that served the purpose of differentiating between the elite teams.

The editing of the set was generally good, though it seemed to get worse as the day went on. Even the latter packets weren't horrible, but occasionally there was a missing word or something like that. I don't think that sort of thing happened once in the first five or six rounds, and it happened maybe two or three times per round after that, and even those were the types of things that are easy for a moderator to fix on the fly or for a team to just play through.

When it's all said and done, this is a good set that should get used.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Dec 02, 2012 1:33 pm

My optimism (described upthread) was warranted; you guys made a great effort in bringing HFT closer to regular difficulty for newer teams. In some places that effort manifested in, as Reinstein put it, laughably easy easy parts. Most of the time, it felt "right," rather than "laughable," though -- it is great that 80% of our field topped 11 PPB and 93% of the field topped 10 PPB.

That last statistic is both a good thing and a thing to improve -- one of the goals for 2013 HFT should be to better differentiate between teams at that tier, as it sounds like 10s were easily gotten for everyone but middle parts were uniformly out of reach. To take one category I was specifically paying attention to -- I don't think literature was at fault here, as it seemed like the easy parts were largely accessible and the middle parts were firmly within the regular canon. I wasn't paying as close attention to things like middle history or middle science parts, so feedback there would help.

This is a terrifically nuanced task, of course -- it's a testament to this year's solid effort that it's the next thing on the list. Great work!
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Emil Nolde » Sun Dec 02, 2012 2:45 pm

Overall, I enjoyed the set. It was definitely not something that was out of anyone's league, and it didn't feel like everything was being raced to. The one really annoying buzzer seizure I remember was on a certain round six tossup, when playing IMSA B. Waleed beat me to it, but I'm pretty sure Mahir was buzzing as well. The one real thing I felt could've been avoided was the amount of awkward answer lines and really fraudable ones. If it hadn't been for my hesitance to neg, I would've gotten at least five first-lines off of just the "it feels like it should be this" vibe.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by No Electricity Required » Sun Dec 02, 2012 5:19 pm

On the whole I thought the set was good, but as has previously been mentioned the bonuses with laughable easy part were unpleasant. Enough sets have successfully been accessible without resorting to having as many easy parts that would have been painfully easy to lower-bracket teams that I don't see why this should have been necessary. This wasn't prolific enough to be a really serious problem, but putting in a just little more creativity when making those bonuses would have fixed the problem. There was a sub-distributional quirk that I thought was weird and probably not the best choice for accessibility as well.

This set was a big improvement over the past in terms of difficulty, so hopefully future HFTs will be able to maintain this reasonable level and clean out the problems (though mostly small) of this year's set.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by mahir256 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:07 pm

On the whole lots of the expected came out of the tournament, so I felt all right with the distribution and the quality of the questions. There was, at least from my point of view, a disproportionately high number of science in the playoffs and history/geography in the afternoon, but that is not surprising. Certainly there have been more unusually easy/fraudable parts (which were all buzzer races to the end), which I need to remember. Once the set is posted, I intend to scrutinize it quite thoroughly.

(Also it's been a while since I've been here.)
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Mewto55555 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:20 pm

No Electricity Required wrote:On the whole I thought the set was good, but as has previously been mentioned the bonuses with laughable easy part were unpleasant.
So I haven't seen the set, but I think that this is probably a good thing, considering that the one of the biggest problems with past HFTs was that teams were getting like 5 ppb. It doesn't affect you a whole lot, since you'll be getting it whether it's laughably easy or just regular easy, but for weaker teams, laughably easy is usually not, in fact, laughable. Sorry that easy bonus parts ruin your tournament experience.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Dec 02, 2012 6:35 pm

Mewto55555 wrote:
No Electricity Required wrote:On the whole I thought the set was good, but as has previously been mentioned the bonuses with laughable easy part were unpleasant.
So I haven't seen the set, but I think that this is probably a good thing, considering that the one of the biggest problems with past HFTs was that teams were getting like 5 ppb. It doesn't affect you a whole lot, since you'll be getting it whether it's laughably easy or just regular easy, but for weaker teams, laughably easy is usually not, in fact, laughable. Sorry that easy bonus parts ruin your tournament experience.
When you see the set, you'll understand exactly what Tristan and I and everyone mean by "laughable." Sometimes the laughs are enjoyed by all, because sometimes laughable really does mean we're laughing with the question writer -- sometimes it is actually funny! Sometimes, though, we're groaning because it goes too far and treats the players like children, and that's a feeling that isn't restricted to top teams. My freshmen, who fought hard to earn their 10 PPB, share this complaint on some of the parts. It wasn't nearly enough to make it a bad set - they felt it was a quirk, rather than a legitimate problem.

Tristan's got it right -- a little more creativity in a few small places and it's great.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Sun Dec 02, 2012 7:54 pm

The benefit of easy parts that are actually easy is that it helps the weaker teams; if someone wants to give me specific examples (privately!) of laughable stuff, it'd help me feel like this is less of a "I'm effectively saying I'm good at quiz bowl."

I haven't done any kind of study, but this year's set sure does seem like it was far more appropriate than the previous tries. I'll try to evaluate this in a couple weeks (as much as possible with mirrors still ahead), but it does look good so far.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by shrey96 » Sun Dec 02, 2012 9:20 pm

Overall, I thought this was a good set to play on. The only criticisms I would have is the hard parts of bonuses seemed inconsistent at times (some were kind of "gimme" 30s, others were challenging hard parts that good teams had difficulty converting). I won't mention any specifics (is there a usergroup for this somewhere?) but at times, there were repeated answerlines, bonuses with (albeit very trivial) factual inaccuracies that moderators pointed out, and even bonuses (yes, plural) that mentioned the answer in the question. I don't mean any disrespect, but I feel like it should have been edited a bit more closely to try and stop those things from happening. If there is a usergroup for this set, I could try and point out the specific instances that I can remember.

But to be honest, those problems weren't too bad. My team had a lot of fun playing this set, and I have no doubts that our coach was motivated to play it again next year.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Emil Nolde » Mon Dec 03, 2012 11:24 am

Shreyas is definitely correct, some of the bonus parts really were really obvious, or just easy to guess. Particularly, I think the history questions of all types had an inconsistent difficulty level. Like I said, though, overall, lots of fun to play.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Bernard Jenkins » Mon Dec 03, 2012 5:48 pm

“Laughably easy” is not the way I would choose to describe certain bonus parts. I'd say “insultingly easy.” Those bonuses were an insult to both teams playing it, and to the moderator who continued to need to read.
An easy part would ask to “identify this author of Macbeth, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet.” An insultingly easy part would go like this: “Edgar Allan Poe wrote about a masque of this kind of death, and Julien Sorel appeared in a work by Stendahl named for this and 'black.' Identify this color, which appears between purple and orange on the color wheel, and comes in crimson and 'blood' varieties.” That's a fictional example, but it's in line with some of the other questions.
To be fair, most bonuses simply had easy parts, and not insultingly easy parts. But, like repeated answer lines and saying the answer to the third part of a bonus in the lead-in, it happened more than once, and dragged down the quality of the set.
A more significant problem was inconsistency, bonuses especially. I admit- I'm a very bad judge of the difficulty of most questions. But for literature bonuses, the hard part ranged from being non-existent to something that's never come up, even as a clue, in high school questions before.
However, my biggest problem with Harvard Fall was that I was expecting a difficult tournament. And that's not what I got.
I understand that easy parts of bonuses should be accessible to all teams. Accessible, not free. If your team thinks that Kwanza is the Jewish New Year, you're probably going to miss every single part of Judaism bonuses. There's a decent chance you'll also miss a lot of religion bonuses in general. That's not the fault of the question writer, and if they're trying to make sure those teams can at least pick up ten points, they're probably doing something wrong.
I don't want to scare away weaker teams, but I also don't think we should keep stringing them along from tournament to tournament because they learned the capitals of countries and are able to get points that way. Just because they show up at tournaments doesn't mean they're going to have any incentive to improve, and giving them points for showing up doesn't encourage good quiz bowl.
Toss-ups weren't as bad as bonuses. There were several that were first-line fraudable, and some felt like they had rather large difficulty cliffs. For the mot part, though, it was everything that I'd expect from a regular high school set. But I wasn't expecting a regular high school set. I was expecting Harvard Fall.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by AKKOLADE » Mon Dec 03, 2012 6:55 pm

HFT announcement wrote:Some people had issues with the perceived discrepancy between the stated and actual difficulties of our questions, so I'll try to state exactly what we are aiming for. This set will certainly be more difficult than novice sets and some questions will be more difficult than what one might expect from an HSAPQ or regular-difficulty house-written set. That said, the questions should be far easier than nationals-level. For tossups, we'll emphasize harder lead-ins and early clues over harder answer-lines, meaning you shouldn't worry about tossups on overly difficult topics. The bonuses will still be easy 10's and gettable 20's, and you should only notice a difference when you hear a slightly harder "hard" part. These differences serve to better differentiate very skilled teams while doing the best to maintain the same quality of playability for teams not quite at that level.
The fact that they stated they were going to have an easier set than before should have taken the surprise out of this. The "insultingly" easy stuff I saw really wasn't for the most part, and was said to have been very rare when it happened.

I have a theory that the strongest players are naturally inclined to be the worst at judging difficulty. This thread isn't disproving that.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Dec 03, 2012 7:30 pm

As someone who enjoys his harder sets, I greatly enjoyed this set's tossups. It wasn't as hard as past HFT's in terms of some of the answerlines (which disappointed me to an extent,) but the tossups still started with lead ins that were hard enough to distinguish between two teams. There were however some awful selections for first and second clues (I think when we played Dorman 5 of the 9 people were buzzing on one of these) but they were few and far between.

The bonuses were for the most part good. There were some easy parts that, as others have stated,were hilariously easy (to the point that it practically spelled out the answer) but they really didn't affect me, so I'm not going to complain. I did feel however that a few hard and middle part bonuses were written in a way that made them too accessible, again as if the questions was just spelling the answer, so it got rid of the feel of an easy-middle-hard bonus part.

One small problem I had was the randomization, or lack of it. It seemed at times that the questions were just throne in without attempting to randomize (the history questions being in the first and last 4 questions, a bonus talking about, a bonus part, and a tossup on someone all within 3 questions of one another.) It's not really a problem for the quality of set, but it made some of the games much more boring for me than usual, seeing as I can only buzz on 4-5 questions.
Collin Parks
University of Michigan '18

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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Auroni » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:06 pm

These easy parts are not for you and until I see someone make the same complaint who did not score over 15 points per bonus, I have to take a page from the esteemed Yuri Vinokurov and respond to comments like "insultingly easy," "laughably easy," and the like by rolling my eyes and saying "that doesn't mean anything!"
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:17 pm

Collin (and anyone else complaining about this who played our housewrite): did you find our easy parts there as easy? One of the main criticisms that I got was for trying too hard to make easy parts easy, by doing things like asking for dualism and saying "not monism," or asking for the "Battle this of the Republic." I stand by that decision to make every single easy part gettable by every team (something that, despite what some people in here are saying, is actually important) despite sometimes sounding strange, and, having not seen the set, I'm not sure what Harvard could have done to provoke wrath by making them easier that I did.
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Re: Harvard Fall Tournament difficulty discussion

Post by Kilroy Was Here » Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:29 pm

I'm not complaining about the easy parts at all. I guess I should clarify that when I say "hilariously," I mean that the length of the bonus and the seemingly random things it gave to make it convertible made it humorous, not that it was just too easy. My complaint was that a lot of the middle and hard parts seemed to have multiple extra clues that made them easier than they should have been, but again that wasn't a huge problem.
Collin Parks
University of Michigan '18

"Aragorn was the famed king of Gondor, while the Iberian kingdom was Aragon. Both parties were aware of this coincidence: we have a journal entry from Aragorn that expresses his anger at receiving mail meant for King Peter IV of Aragon for the umpteenth time."~ CommodoreCoCo

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