"stanford housewrite" Question-Specific Discussion

Elaborate on the merits of specific tournaments or have general theoretical discussion here.
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"stanford housewrite" Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:36 pm

Anything about your opinions regarding particular questions should go here.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:48 pm

Who wrote the P2 bonus? I think I know, but I want to be sure before I make another post.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Feb 29, 2016 5:52 pm

christino wrote:Who wrote the P2 bonus? I think I know, but I want to be sure before I make another post.
That's a rather strange condition for posting...

Nathan wrote that bonus.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:34 pm

I'd like to see the solid-state NMR question (round 3) before saying some words about it. In addition, I'd like to see the tossups on size exclusion chromatography (round 11) and Woodward (round 2).
Last edited by Victor Prieto on Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Mar 01, 2016 1:50 pm

I don't think there's a real hard part in the Suharto / Indonesia / Asian financial crisis bonus - there's barely even a real middle part. The Asian financial crisis is one of the most important modern economic events - I'd put it right up there with the dot-com bubble and only really below the 2007-08 crash. You could probably beef it up by asking "what non-rupiah currency's crash caused the 1997 financial crisis that brought down Suharto's government (so as to not get people to guess the Indonesian rupiah) or something like that.

"Coffee with milk" is an informal name for the Brazilian First Republic and not an "official" one by any means. The only answers that should be underlined in that question are _coffee_ with _milk_, as opposed to _coffee with milk_

The tossup on trombones doesn't exactly have any wrong clues, but the following clue seems pretty unfortunate to me:
Packet 9 wrote:After the completion of a theme modeled on a theme from the finale of Brahms’ First Symphony, one of these instruments plays a notable solo in “Pan Awakens, Summer Marches In,” the first movement of Gustav Mahler’s Third Symphony.
To me (and Eddie Kim agreed with me on this after making the same neg) the most salient instrument-specific theme from the finale of Brahms' First is the "alphorn" theme played by the horn. Sure, this answer is wrong once you hear the whole clue, but as written it seems like negbait for people who know Brahms' First decently well. I think I'd rephrase this clue to make sure nobody else makes this mistake.

There were also a couple other issues with music clues that were not easy, but definitely suggested the answer to people way too quickly. The John Adams leadin, while not actually about Short Ride in a Fast Machine, sounds an awful lot like it (with the woodblock beat clue) and the clue about the Boccherini quintet, while definitely worth putting into the tossup, is probably a bit questionable - though admittedly Boccherini sure isn't an easy answer.

Also, whoever wrote that bonus on Swahili epic poetry brought an immense amount of joy to my heart.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:32 pm

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:I don't think there's a real hard part in the Suharto / Indonesia / Asian financial crisis bonus - there's barely even a real middle part. The Asian financial crisis is one of the most important modern economic events - I'd put it right up there with the dot-com bubble and only really below the 2007-08 crash. You could probably beef it up by asking "what non-rupiah currency's crash caused the 1997 financial crisis that brought down Suharto's government (so as to not get people to guess the Indonesian rupiah) or something like that.
There are 3 hits for the Asian financial crisis on aseemsdb.me - one from 2010 Chicago Open, one from 2013 ACF Nationals, and one from 2014 Cane Ridge Revival. I agree with you that's it's a very important event, but given that it has only ever come up 3 times in collegiate quizbowl since 2006 according to my search, I felt justified making it a hard part. We didn't want the hard parts to be routinely stumping the best players. And if you know stuff about Suharto without a time period or country being given, then you deserve 20 points. If the tournament is between ACF Regionals and ACF Nationals in difficulty, then people who are very good at a particular subject should routinely be getting at least 20. This is not one of the harder world history bonuses, but if you don't have some bonuses that are closer to ACF Regionals in difficulty, you're going to end up with the best teams having 20 PPB instead of 22.
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:"Coffee with milk" is an informal name for the Brazilian First Republic and not an "official" one by any means. The only answers that should be underlined in that question are _coffee_ with _milk_, as opposed to _coffee with milk_
I thought that was already the case; if 'with' was underlined, it's a mistake and we'll fix it.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Urech hydantoin synthesis » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:03 pm

gyre and gimble wrote:
christino wrote:Who wrote the P2 bonus? I think I know, but I want to be sure before I make another post.
That's a rather strange condition for posting...

Nathan wrote that bonus.
Tell Nathan to stop writing on P2; before the tournament, I was telling people (half in jest, half seriously) to study up on their P2 members because Nathan was writing for this tournament.

Also, the diamond hardness clue for boron should definitely be moved down a line or 3.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Tue Mar 01, 2016 7:20 pm

christino wrote:Tell Nathan to stop writing on P2; before the tournament, I was telling people (half in jest, half seriously) to study up on their P2 members because Nathan was writing for this tournament.
You tell him that. I don't see what the problem is--do people do studies on what different question writers like to write about? As far as I can tell, this is instance #3 of Nathan writing on P2, with #1 and #2 being for high school tournaments, one of which isn't even publicly available.

I don't know how other people feel, but this seems like a really inane complaint. Like, I was pretty confident Auroni was going to write on Elizabeth Bishop for George Oppen, and when it happened, I didn't go complaining about it because 1) I didn't think that was a problem and 2) if I did that would be me being unreasonable.

Who cares if you joked about Nathan writing on P2?
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Mar 01, 2016 8:45 pm

Galaedred Damodred wrote:There are 3 hits for the Asian financial crisis on aseemsdb.me - one from 2010 Chicago Open, one from 2013 ACF Nationals, and one from 2014 Cane Ridge Revival. I agree with you that's it's a very important event, but given that it has only ever come up 3 times in collegiate quizbowl since 2006 according to my search, I felt justified making it a hard part.
"This has only come up X times, therefore it is a hard part" is just as bad of a line of logic as "this has come up X times, therefore it is now a middle part." Yes, past questions are a useful guide as to what to avoid to make sure things don't play poorly (reusing early clues, etc) but they can't really be a final arbiter of difficulty. The team we played that round seemed to regard the bonus as an easy 30 and I'm pretty sure everyone on our team would have 30d the bonus as well - yeah, we were four good players, but I'd say only two of us are top world history players. It's better to lean easy than hard, but if your hard part has no resolving power then it doesn't really have much point.

I'd apply a similar criticism to the bonus on the Chagatai khanate, which (in my opinion) was basically a middle part, a middle-easy part, and an easy part. Quizbowl doesn't ask a lot about the Chagatai khanate because actual events within its history are pretty obscure. The existence of the empire itself, however, is pretty well known because it's one of the four big empires that the Mongols broke up into - we definitely covered this in AP World, for example.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:26 am

gyre and gimble wrote:
christino wrote:Tell Nathan to stop writing on P2; before the tournament, I was telling people (half in jest, half seriously) to study up on their P2 members because Nathan was writing for this tournament.
You tell him that. I don't see what the problem is--do people do studies on what different question writers like to write about? As far as I can tell, this is instance #3 of Nathan writing on P2, with #1 and #2 being for high school tournaments, one of which isn't even publicly available.

I don't know how other people feel, but this seems like a really inane complaint. Like, I was pretty confident Auroni was going to write on Elizabeth Bishop for George Oppen, and when it happened, I didn't go complaining about it because 1) I didn't think that was a problem and 2) if I did that would be me being unreasonable.

Who cares if you joked about Nathan writing on P2?
Funny enough, long before Nathan wrote that bonus I floated the idea of writing a tossup related to P2 and/or the Banco Ambrosiano scandal, but Stephen said no and the idea died there (or so I thought). But yeah, this is a very weird hang-up to have and I don't think it merits further discussion. I sure hope no one was frantically studying ancient and medieval Chinese culture on my account. (Not that I recommend against people learning more about ancient and medieval Chinese culture, but you get the point.)
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Knot Gneiss » Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:27 am

Victor Prieto wrote:I'd like to see the solid-state NMR question (round 3) before saying some words about it. In addition, I'd like to see the tossups on size exclusion chromatography (round 11) and Woodward (round 2).
18. A method to remove sidebands in this technique applies a series of 180 degree pulses prior to data collection and is called TOSS. Heteronuclear couplings can be measured using an application of this technique called SEDOR, though REDOR is much more commonly used today. One constant important to this technique is proportional to one over r-cubed times gamma-sub-s times gamma-sub-I, where gamma is the gyromagnetic ratio; that constant is the (*) dipolar coupling constant. Dipole-dipole interaction in this technique leads to broadened lines in spectra relative to those in a different technique where that interaction averages to zero. A variety of this technique orients the sample at an angle of three cosine squared theta minus one relative to the magnetic field. For 10 points, name this technique which often orients samples at 54.74 degrees in its magic angle spinning variety and which exhibits chemical shift anisotropy, unlike solution-phase NMR.
ANSWER: solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy [prompt on NMR before mentioned; anti-prompt on magic angle spinning or MAS NMR before mentioned]
12. One form of this technique uses calibration curves that rely on the Himmel-Squire method to determine the approximate spherical equivalents of random coils. Hayashi, Matsui, and Takagi developed another form of this technique that incorporates static LS, UV, and RI detectors as well as ASTRA multi-angle laser light scattering software. Fitting the data measured with this technique to the Mark-Houwink-Sakurada equation enables the calculation of polymer (*) molecular weights from intrinsic viscosities. Sephadex and Sephacryl are common matrices for this technique, which may use thyroglobulin or dextran blue as markers for calibrating the void volume. This technique can separate monomers from oligomers and folded from unfolded proteins because they have different hydrodynamic radii. For 10 points, name this type of chromatography in which larger molecules pass more slowly than smaller ones through a column of porous beads.
ANSWER: size exclusion chromatography [or gel permeation chromatography; or gel filtration chromatography; or molecular sieve chromatography; prompt on “(column) chromatography”]
16. This chemist names a reaction in which alkenes react with iodine, followed with nucleophilic displacement with acetate in the presence of water. That reaction achieves the opposite result of the Prevost reaction because it creates syn diols as opposed to anti-diols and is this chemist’s namesake cis-hydroxylation. This chemist is the first namesake of a system that makes important distinctions between antarafacial and suprafacial topologies. With Albert Eschenmoser, this chemist famously demonstrated the total synthesis of (*) vitamin B12. The legendary synthesis of strychnine is also a part of this chemist’s pioneering work on demonstrating the total syntheses of many different compounds, for which he would win the Nobel Prize. This chemist is the alphabetically latter namesake of a set of rules for predicting barrier heights for pericyclic reactions. For 10 points, identify this chemist who co-names a set of rules with Hoffmann.
ANSWER: Robert Burns Woodward
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:30 am

This might just be me, but the tossup on "String Quartets" seemed disproportionately easier than the rest of the music in the set. Having a transparent description of the Dissonance quartet in the first line seems to be a little early, especially when compared to the non-transparent description of the Lyric Suite given in the first line of the Berg tossup.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:39 pm

Victor Prieto wrote:I'd like to see the solid-state NMR question (round 3) before saying some words about it. In addition, I'd like to see the tossups on size exclusion chromatography (round 11) and Woodward (round 2).
The first line of the solid state NMR question (sideband spinning) didn't really make it clear what you wanted. I just said NMR, then said "of proteins", because the only place I've seen it is in Magic Angle Spinning of proteins, and was negged.

Also, the leadin to the vesicle fusion question more generally applies to "releasing neurotransmitters into the synapse" because you're describing the NSF component of SNAREs, so...yeah that neg also happened.

Overall I really enjoyed this tournament, there were just a few non-specific clues here and there that could have used a little fixing.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Masked Canadian History Bandit » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:07 am

The clue about the HMS Agincourt in the Brazilian First Republic tossup is sub-optimal for two reasons:
  • 1. Commissioning has a technical military meaning (officially entering into service with a navy) that is different from its everyday meaning (putting in an order). In the case of the HMS Agincourt, it was ordered by the Brazilians (as Rio de Janeiro), had its contract sold to the Ottomans (as Sultan Osman I), and seized and commissioned into the Royal Navy. So the only country that actually commissioned it would be the UK.
  • 2. It doesn't differentiate between the orders of the Brazilian First Republic and the Ottoman Empire (then in its Second Constitutional Era). Both countries ordered the ship, and the Ottoman order is more evocative as its seizure when it was completed, undergoing trials, and already partially paid for was one of the final factors in them joining the Central Powers.
Also, for the Montreal tossup, the Sir George Williams protests are way less known than the École Polytechnique massacre, even if the first clue is The Anorak.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Eddie » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:13 am

I was a little confused by this bonus part:
Round 13, Bonus 1 wrote: [10] The third movement of that harpsichord Suite No. 5 is in the Italian style of this type of composition. It is based on a dance whose French version is typically in three-two or six-four time and is the slowest of all French dances.
ANSWER: courante [or corrente]
Not knowing the first clue, I immediately thought of "sarabande" since a "slow triple-time Baroque dance" is usually a sarabande (although admittedly neither French nor usually in compound triple time). I think the "slowest" description is what confused me because courantes aren't particularly slow (esp. compared to other French dances like the minuet or gavotte, which are all pretty moderate in tempo), and loures are even slower - maybe that clue could be dropped?

On a related note, the second part of the bonus gives the key of Handel's Harpsichord Suite No. 5 as E minor, rather than E major.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Saltasassi » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:50 am

The Handel/Harmonious Blacksmith/courante bonus was on me. From what I've been able to find, the courante in French courts the 17th century was a very slow dance, but courantes of other places/eras are definitely quicker. In hindsight, I definitely should have more specific with what I was describing.

I wrote about half or two-thirds of the music in this set. You can blame me for misattributing the key of Glazunov's violin concerto and the too-inviting second clue of the John Adams tossup, as well as probably a lot of other complaints you may have! I have no prior experience to writing at this level in any capacity, so I welcome any criticism and/or suggestions you may have.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Fri Mar 04, 2016 5:27 pm

Masked Canadian History Bandit wrote:The clue about the HMS Agincourt in the Brazilian First Republic tossup is sub-optimal for two reasons:
  • 1. Commissioning has a technical military meaning (officially entering into service with a navy) that is different from its everyday meaning (putting in an order). In the case of the HMS Agincourt, it was ordered by the Brazilians (as Rio de Janeiro), had its contract sold to the Ottomans (as Sultan Osman I), and seized and commissioned into the Royal Navy. So the only country that actually commissioned it would be the UK.
  • 2. It doesn't differentiate between the orders of the Brazilian First Republic and the Ottoman Empire (then in its Second Constitutional Era). Both countries ordered the ship, and the Ottoman order is more evocative as its seizure when it was completed, undergoing trials, and already partially paid for was one of the final factors in them joining the Central Powers.
I didn't know that word had a different meaning in this context. Even so, I should have phrased the clue like "This government made the original order of the ship that eventually became the HMS Agincourt" to make it sufficiently clear we're not talking about the Ottomans.
Also, for the Montreal tossup, the Sir George Williams protests are way less known than the École Polytechnique massacre, even if the first clue is The Anorak.
Chalk this one up to me being unable to tell from packet archive hits which of these is more well-known, since I didn't know anything about either event before I wrote the question and they both seemed to have received very little exposure in quizbowl.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Fri Mar 04, 2016 7:38 pm

Knot Gneiss wrote:18. A method to remove sidebands in this technique applies a series of 180 degree pulses prior to data collection and is called TOSS. Heteronuclear couplings can be measured using an application of this technique called SEDOR, though REDOR is much more commonly used today. One constant important to this technique is proportional to one over r-cubed times gamma-sub-s times gamma-sub-I, where gamma is the gyromagnetic ratio; that constant is the (*) dipolar coupling constant. Dipole-dipole interaction in this technique leads to broadened lines in spectra relative to those in a different technique where that interaction averages to zero. A variety of this technique orients the sample at an angle of three cosine squared theta minus one relative to the magnetic field. For 10 points, name this technique which often orients samples at 54.74 degrees in its magic angle spinning variety and which exhibits chemical shift anisotropy, unlike solution-phase NMR.
ANSWER: solid-state Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy [prompt on NMR before mentioned; anti-prompt on magic angle spinning or MAS NMR before mentioned]
Okay, so I'm going to dive in here and advise future science writers to be careful when selecting their answerlines (the following applies to answerlines outside of science of course, but I think science writers need to be extra careful for reasons discussed below).

The selected answerline of solid-state NMR is the primary problem: the subset/superset issue. I think this was discussed in a lot of detail in a thread split off of George Oppen discussion last year. I don't think there was any consensus finalized. I do know that science questions are particularly prone to this issue, with many techniques and particles and processes belonging to larger classes or families or what have you. I'm guilty of this myself, I wrote a tossup on fullerenes for DEES that had anti-prompts for buckyballs and carbon nanotubes. In retrospect, I wished I had not included the anti-prompts and accepted buckyballs and carbon nanotubes outright.

In this particular case, the author did a good job of anticipating potential buzzes with NMR or MAS NMR, but the issue is that after the prompt or anti-prompt is made, the player has to make some sort of intuitive leap to get to solid-state NMR, which is really, really tricky because magic angle spinning isn't a direct subset of solid-state NMR. It's almost always used for solid samples, but it's not a direct subset of solid-state NMR, unlike, say, pions are a direct subset of mesons.

I think the best solution here would have been change this to a tossup on magic angle spinning NMR, accept that answer outright on the MAS NMR clues, or just write a different NMR tossup. For future writers: picking a good answerline is 50% of the battle. Considering situations like this while selecting an answerline is key to fixing the problem before it becomes a problem (after you've written the question).
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:51 pm

Victor Prieto wrote:In this particular case, the author did a good job of anticipating potential buzzes with NMR or MAS NMR, but the issue is that after the prompt or anti-prompt is made, the player has to make some sort of intuitive leap to get to solid-state NMR, which is really, really tricky because magic angle spinning isn't a direct subset of solid-state NMR. It's almost always used for solid samples, but it's not a direct subset of solid-state NMR, unlike, say, pions are a direct subset of mesons.
I didn't write this question, but my understanding is that all of the clues are about solid-state NMR, and that many, if not all, of them are unique or generally specific to solid-state NMR. I think we did the prompt on MAS NMR to be lenient, and not because we used clues that apply with equal force (in terms of both accuracy and relevance) to both solid-state NMR and MAS NMR. So I'm a little confused what the complaint about the "intuitive leap" is. If you guess "MAS NMR" because things kind of sound like MAS NMR-related clues, but you buzzed without knowing that the clue is really about solid-state NMR, then you don't deserve the points.

Even if I'm totally wrong about this particular question because the clues are ambiguous, I think your complaint itself doesn't make a lot of sense. It's not really the job of the question writer to point players in the right direction via prompt instructions--the writer should do that entirely through cluing. As I understand it, prompts just give players a second chance to get it right because they were close enough on their first try. There's no obligation for a prompt or an anti-prompt to clarify that the answer required is a superset or subset of the given answer.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Mar 05, 2016 12:32 am

gyre and gimble wrote:I didn't write this question, but my understanding is that all of the clues are about solid-state NMR, and that many, if not all, of them are unique or generally specific to solid-state NMR. I think we did the prompt on MAS NMR to be lenient, and not because we used clues that apply with equal force (in terms of both accuracy and relevance) to both solid-state NMR and MAS NMR. So I'm a little confused what the complaint about the "intuitive leap" is. If you guess "MAS NMR" because things kind of sound like MAS NMR-related clues, but you buzzed without knowing that the clue is really about solid-state NMR, then you don't deserve the points.
You're completely missing the point. It's not a "guess" we're making on the first line based on things "kind of sound[ing] like" MAS NMR, its because the clues literally apply to MAS NMR and that's the context in which we've encountered them. We shouldn't have to divine which overlapping subset in the hierarchy you're going for in order to get points.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Eddie » Sat Mar 05, 2016 1:51 am

What do people think of guiding the player in the correct direction with more specific prompts than just saying "prompt!" or "more information, please"? I'm talking about something like this:
2015 BHSAT Round 9 wrote: ANSWER: crossing the English Channel [accept any reasonable equivalents; if they give an answer involving invading Britain or France, prompt by saying “What part of the invasion?”; if they give an answer involving “amphibious invasion,” “invading across a body of water,” etc., prompt by asking “Where?” and see above if necessary]
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:05 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
gyre and gimble wrote:I didn't write this question, but my understanding is that all of the clues are about solid-state NMR, and that many, if not all, of them are unique or generally specific to solid-state NMR. I think we did the prompt on MAS NMR to be lenient, and not because we used clues that apply with equal force (in terms of both accuracy and relevance) to both solid-state NMR and MAS NMR. So I'm a little confused what the complaint about the "intuitive leap" is. If you guess "MAS NMR" because things kind of sound like MAS NMR-related clues, but you buzzed without knowing that the clue is really about solid-state NMR, then you don't deserve the points.
You're completely missing the point. It's not a "guess" we're making on the first line based on things "kind of sound[ing] like" MAS NMR, its because the clues literally apply to MAS NMR and that's the context in which we've encountered them. We shouldn't have to divine which overlapping subset in the hierarchy you're going for in order to get points.
Hmm, I'd figured if that was the problem, the issue is pretty uncontroversial. Isn't the problem there simply that the clue is ambiguous, and not that the answerline of "solid-state NMR" was poorly chosen? There's a difference between saying "That clue applies to MAS NMR, so you should take MAS NMR off the leadin," and saying, "Don't write questions on solid-state NMR because people won't be able to figure out that it's that one you want." Now I'm confused which Victor is talking about. If it's the former, that's just a clue error and not a question of prompt theory, right?
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sat Mar 05, 2016 4:35 pm

Scientists can correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the "prompt theory" issue is this: if a clue or clues ambiguously apply to both solid-state NMR and MAS NMR and someone buzzes with the latter, a prompt as generally understood in quizbowl (asking for either a subset or more specific version of the answer) will do nothing to get the player closer to the answer--or, if you prefer, will do nothing to indicate the relation of the player's answer to the sought-after one. Ambiguous clues should be removed or changed, yes, but it's important to point out that you shouldn't try to resolve ambiguity through prompt instructions that essentially amount to "okay, say something similar". That can lead to a cycle of bad play and bad writing.

I think Victor's point in general was that you shouldn't write a solid-state NMR tossup if you can't find sufficiently unique clues for it, since "prompt on the sort of similar thing that the player also might say" isn't a good use of prompting instructions.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by nadph » Sun Mar 06, 2016 12:49 am

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:Also, the leadin to the vesicle fusion question more generally applies to "releasing neurotransmitters into the synapse" because you're describing the NSF component of SNAREs, so...yeah that neg also happened.

Overall I really enjoyed this tournament, there were just a few non-specific clues here and there that could have used a little fixing.
This is my mistake; I'll fix the answerline to prompt specifically on "synaptic vesicle exocytosis," "neurotransmitter release into the synapse," and equivalents.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Sun Mar 06, 2016 5:08 pm

Before I get onto the specific question, just want to say there was some fantastic Classics in this packet - it was a pleasure to hear "Nicias" as an answerline, given his importance. Psamtik was perhaps too hard (a team with two classicists who've done a specific period paper which covers this bit of Herodotus failed to pull it, but that may merely be our own fault), but was still pleasing to hear.

However, there is one question which really, really irritated me. I'm now going to do an OTT analysis of this specific question, because I'm procrastinating writing about Polybius
In an essay about this object, William Roger Paton identifies it with a depiction on the Kypselos Chest, where it appears with a centaur and golden-winged horses. While laying claim to this object, a warrior states, “Even a fool may be wise after the event.” Euphorbus died while attempting to retrieve this object, a second version of which is carried from Mt. Olympus by a falcon-like goddess at the end of Book 18 of the Iliad. That version of this object was created alongside a separate object wrought with images of a vineyard, a herd of cattle, and two (*) cities, one at peace and one at war. Athena clouded the sight of a man who was furious at not being awarded this object, after which he slaughtered a flock of sheep that he mistook to be Odysseus and Agamemnon. Ajax threw himself on a sword in shame after quarreling over this object, whose original version was stripped from the body of Patroclus by Hector. For 10 points, name this protective set of shiny gear owned by a nearly invincible Greek hero.
ANSWER: armor of Achilles [accept armor of Peleus or arms of Achilles; do not accept “shield of Achilles”]
I answered "shield of Achilles" after "falcon-like goddess"

I can't find the Paton essay - any chance of a link? But the Pausanias passage from which we know the Kypselos Chest, and in particular this scene on it (5.19.8) goes as follows (in English)
Next come two-horse chariots with women standing in them. The horses have golden wings, and a man is giving armour to one of the women. I conjecture that this scene refers to the death of Patroclus; the women in the chariots, I take it, are Nereids, and Thetis is receiving the armour from Hephaestus. And moreover, he who is giving the armour is not strong upon his feet, and a slave follows him behind, holding a pair of fire-tongs.

The Greek word Pausanias uses is ὅπλα - which is arms generally (i.e. all the accoutrements of war), and in usage by Thucydides onwards, usually meant the shield that was the stand-out feature of the hoplite. Quite what Hephaestus was handing to Thetis in this image, we'll never know, but I'd be happy to wager that it showed a shield (along with greaves, helmet etc) being handed over - the closest to the time of the manufacture of the chest I can find with a quick search is this 6th century hydria of Thetis giving them to Achilles, but in all the depictions I can find of the exact scene on the Chest, Hephaestus is always shown with a shield as part of the panoply being handed over. (e.g. http://www.theoi.com/Gallery/P13.4.html)
Image

Next - Euphorbus doesn't say much before Menelaus slaughters him at the start of book 17, but again, the term used for what he claims is the even more general ἔναρα "spoils/booty taken from a fallen foe"

Then, (at least before I buzzed in), calling the armour "a second version of this object" makes it sound distinctly singular - like the all important shield, rather than the more general "collection of objects" which makes up a full set of armour.

Finally, I don't really understand splitting the armour from the shield, which only becomes clear after the "separate" - only the latter is of great importance in the Iliad (along to a much lesser extent with the Pelian spear) and ultimately this seems to me like neg-bait.


Apologies for the rant.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:29 pm

Oliver wrote:I can't find the Paton essay - any chance of a link?
Here's the Paton essay: https://www.jstor.org/stable/694770. It's entitled, "The Armour of Achilles." If you don't have a JSTOR account, you can also find it by searching for The Classical Review, Vol. 26-27 on Google Books. The second page of the essay is where Paton disagrees with Pausanias' interpretation because there's a centaur (he says it's Chiron) and winged horses (Balius and Xanthus), thus concluding that it's not the death of Patroclus that's being depicted, but rather the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, where there was no separately-important shield.
Oliver wrote:The Greek word Pausanias uses is ὅπλα - which is arms generally (i.e. all the accoutrements of war), and in usage by Thucydides onwards, usually meant the shield that was the stand-out feature of the hoplite. Quite what Hephaestus was handing to Thetis in this image, we'll never know, but I'd be happy to wager that it showed a shield (along with greaves, helmet etc) being handed over - the closest to the time of the manufacture of the chest I can find with a quick search is this 6th century hydria of Thetis giving them to Achilles, but in all the depictions I can find of the exact scene on the Chest, Hephaestus is always shown with a shield as part of the panoply being handed over.
Even if we were still talking specifically about Pausanias and not Paton, I still don't see why this would make "shield" the right answer. At best, it might merit a prompt because, like you said, Pausanias says "armour" or "arms" and not "shield." I don't think what Thucydides says is really relevant to this question; it shouldn't really matter what Classicists think was probably meant by "arms," if that's not an established fact.
Oliver wrote:Next - Euphorbus doesn't say much before Menelaus slaughters him at the start of book 17, but again, the term used for what he claims is the even more general ἔναρα "spoils/booty taken from a fallen foe"
As I understand it, "spoils/booty from a fallen foe" almost always means armor in the Iliad. This isn't conjecture--the text usually uses the word "armor." When a warrior kills another, he generally takes a little bit of time off from fighting to strip the body of its armor. In any event, it's obviously not just the shield that Euphorbus wants, if he even wants it (again, the shield of Peleus is not important).
Oliver wrote:Then, (at least before I buzzed in), calling the armour "a second version of this object" makes it sound distinctly singular - like the all important shield, rather than the more general "collection of objects" which makes up a full set of armour.
I wrote in the singular because "armor" is a singular word, and because no one says "armors" and all of the objects are generally treated together (at least in all of the clues I used, except in the clue where I pointed out that the shield was separate).
Oliver wrote:Finally, I don't really understand splitting the armour from the shield, which only becomes clear after the "separate" - only the latter is of great importance in the Iliad (along to a much lesser extent with the Pelian spear) and ultimately this seems to me like neg-bait.
The main reason I wrote the question this way was that, up to the point where Mt. Olympus is mentioned, the clues are all about the set of armor that Peleus received on his wedding day, whereas "shield of Achilles" connotes something very specific, i.e. the shield that is forged in Book 18. Both sets of armor are important. Patroclus borrows Achilles' first set of armor to look like Achilles, and Ajax and Odysseus quarrel over all of the second set, not just the shield. (I strongly disagree with the notion that the rest of Achilles' second set of armor is not important. Sure, the quarrel isn't in the Iliad but this was not a tossup on the Iliad.)

However, I do agree that the particular clue you buzzed on should have been written more clearly to rule out answers of just "shield," but I think it's the only clue in the tossup that applies equally to the armor and the famous shield.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by The Abydos Helicopter » Sun Mar 06, 2016 7:54 pm

Firstly, thanks for the detailed reply!
gyre and gimble wrote: Here's the Paton essay: https://www.jstor.org/stable/694770. It's entitled, "The Armour of Achilles." If you don't have a JSTOR account, you can also find it by searching for The Classical Review, Vol. 26-27 on Google Books. The second page of the essay is where Paton disagrees with Pausanias' interpretation because there's a centaur (he says it's Chiron) and winged horses (Balius and Xanthus), thus concluding that it's not the death of Patroclus that's being depicted, but rather the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, where there was no separately-important shield.

Interesting - thanks for the link - fair enough, though I think I probably disagree with him given the popularity of depicting the handing over the arms in archaic art, while depictions of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis show the procession of the gods arriving (e.g. Sophilos' Dinos and the Francois Vase both , and Hephaestus is not carrying arms in either of those)

Even if we were still talking specifically about Pausanias and not Paton, I still don't see why this would make "shield" the right answer. At best, it might merit a prompt because, like you said, Pausanias says "armour" or "arms" and not "shield." I don't think what Thucydides says is really relevant to this question; it shouldn't really matter what Classicists think was probably meant by "arms," if that's not an established fact.
My point about Thucydides was merely that by the time Pausanias was writing, hopla had come to have a more specific meaning than in Homer (i.e. the hoplite panoply, in particular the hoplon shield), so it does not seem impossible to me that this is what Pausanias meant, but yeah, obviously we cannot be certain.
As I understand it, "spoils/booty from a fallen foe" almost always means armor in the Iliad. This isn't conjecture--the text usually uses the word "armor." When a warrior kills another, he generally takes a little bit of time off from fighting to strip the body of its armor. In any event, it's obviously not just the shield that Euphorbus wants, if he even wants it (again, the shield of Peleus is not important).
Fair point!
I wrote in the singular because "armor" is a singular word, and because no one says "armors" and all of the objects are generally treated together (at least in all of the clues I used, except in the clue where I pointed out that the shield was separate).
I get that, and I understand why you wrote it like this, but at least in the heat of the game, it sounded to me that we were seeking a specific object and I wasn't the only person at my site to neg at this point. I guess I'd use "collection" or "panoply" or some other collective noun throughout to make this clearer, though I suppose that might make it too transparent.
The main reason I wrote the question this way was that, up to the point where Mt. Olympus is mentioned, the clues are all about the set of armor that Peleus received on his wedding day, whereas "shield of Achilles" connotes something very specific, i.e. the shield that is forged in Book 18. Both sets of armor are important. Patroclus borrows Achilles' first set of armor to look like Achilles, and Ajax and Odysseus quarrel over all of the second set, not just the shield. (I strongly disagree with the notion that the rest of Achilles' second set of armor is not important. Sure, the quarrel isn't in the Iliad but this was not a tossup on the Iliad.)
However, I do agree that the particular clue you buzzed on should have been written more clearly to rule out answers of just "shield," but I think it's the only clue in the tossup that applies equally to the armor and the famous shield.
Having read through, I accept that my initial criticisms were over-the-top - sorry :oops:
Both sets are definitely important, but the shield is disproportionately important. I guess I'd suggest that mixing the arms of Peleus, and those forged during the Iliad, is confusing - thinking about it, tossing up Achilles' original weaponry is a great (and original!) idea.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by gyre and gimble » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:38 pm

Oliver wrote:I guess I'd suggest that mixing the arms of Peleus, and those forged during the Iliad, is confusing - thinking about it, tossing up Achilles' original weaponry is a great (and original!) idea.
I think you're right, it was a bit awkward to try to ask about both sets of armor in one tossup. I wanted to make sure there were enough famous clues for the question to work at this difficulty, but neither individual set of armor would have provided the difficulty gradient I wanted. The awkwardness comes with the territory of exploring a new answerline, I guess.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:44 pm

I'm answering your comments à la Tarantino (not in chronological order), because I think my argument makes more sense when presented this way.

Stephen (and Eric):
gyre and gimble wrote:Hmm, I'd figured if [the lead-in] was the problem, the issue is pretty uncontroversial. Isn't the problem there simply that the clue is ambiguous, and not that the answerline of "solid-state NMR" was poorly chosen? There's a difference between saying "That clue applies to MAS NMR, so you should take MAS NMR off the leadin," and saying, "Don't write questions on solid-state NMR because people won't be able to figure out that it's that one you want." Now I'm confused which Victor is talking about. If it's the former, that's just a clue error and not a question of prompt theory, right?
I see what you're saying. Yes, the lead-in clue is ambiguous. The problem is that the ambiguity is endemic to every clue in the entire question as far as I can tell, except for the REDOR clue, because almost every clue in this tossup is about magic angle spinning NMR. This issue directly stems from the choice of solid-state NMR as the answerline, which (I imagine) has so few uniquely identifying clues that the author was forced to start shoehorning in clues about magic angle spinning NMR.

For me, the painfully obvious NMR clues right off the bat told me they wanted some specific form of NMR. Thus, I sat on it until I could figure out how specific an answer they wanted. When I recognized magic angle spinning clues, I figured that you couldn't get more specific than that, and I figured that an answerline of magic angle spinning NMR would be appropriate for this tournament, so I buzzed. Note: I think that if players have to gauge the tournament difficulty during a tossup and factor that into their answer, it's a sign that something's wrong with the question.

The anti-prompt from my initial answer of MAS NMR then totally threw me. I fortunately managed to read the author's mind before I ran out of time, but I can see so many players buzzing in on a magic angle spinning NMR clue and then not making it to solid-state NMR. This leads me back to your initial comment...
gyre and gimble wrote: I didn't write this question, but my understanding is that all of the clues are about solid-state NMR, and that many, if not all, of them are unique or generally specific to solid-state NMR... If you guess "MAS NMR" because things kind of sound like MAS NMR-related clues, but you buzzed without knowing that the clue is really about solid-state NMR, then you don't deserve the points.
I think I can argue that all of the clues in this question are not unique or generally specific to solid-state NMR. Most of the clues are unique to magic-angle spinning NMR, which is almost always performed in the solid-state, sure, but they're not the same thing.
Even if I'm totally wrong about this particular question because the clues are ambiguous, I think your complaint itself doesn't make a lot of sense. It's not really the job of the question writer to point players in the right direction via prompt instructions--the writer should do that entirely through cluing.


I don't get what you're saying here. Sure, in principle, the cluing should point players entirely in the right direction, but if the clues are ambiguous, how on earth is the player supposed to arrive at the correct answerline?
Spheal With It wrote:What do people think of guiding the player in the correct direction with more specific prompts than just saying "prompt!" or "more information, please"? I'm talking about something like this:

Eddie:
2015 BHSAT Round 9 wrote: ANSWER: crossing the English Channel [accept any reasonable equivalents; if they give an answer involving invading Britain or France, prompt by saying “What part of the invasion?”; if they give an answer involving “amphibious invasion,” “invading across a body of water,” etc., prompt by asking “Where?” and see above if necessary]
Like by saying "what phase is the sample in?" That would be like a tossup on binary stars with this answerline:

ANSWER: binary star system [prompt on star by saying “how many stars?”]

It'd be kind of too obvious what they were going for, I think. I just looked it up and realized ternary star systems are way more common than I realized, but I think my point still stands.
Auks Ran Ova wrote:I think Victor's point in general was that you shouldn't write a solid-state NMR tossup if you can't find sufficiently unique clues for it, since "prompt on the sort of similar thing that the player also might say" isn't a good use of prompting instructions.
This was the take-home message I was trying to get across, and hopefully I've provided a clearer argument for why that is the case now.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Tue Mar 08, 2016 2:28 am

that rigid rotor tossup is missing an extremely necessary prompt for phrases along the lines of "tops". While the wikipedia article for "rigid rotor" does say molecules are classified as symmetric/spherical/asymmetric rotors other sources refer to them symmetric/spherical/asymmetric tops. It's also extremely generous with the powermark unless apparently other low level chem classes aren't telling people that microwave level wavelength transitions are rotations.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by touchpack » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:36 pm

The tossup on cobalt has a clear hose for iron near the end.

It reads: "The standard source for Mössbauer spectroscopy is an isotope of this metal that decays to iron-57."

The way it should have been written is something like this: "An isotope of this metal beta decays into the standard gamma ray source in Mossbauer spectroscopy, iron-57."
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:05 pm

touchpack wrote:The tossup on cobalt has a clear hose for iron near the end.

It reads: "The standard source for Mössbauer spectroscopy is an isotope of this metal that decays to iron-57."

The way it should have been written is something like this: "An isotope of this metal beta decays into the standard gamma ray source in Mossbauer spectroscopy, iron-57."
This happened the game we played on that tossup as well.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Muriel Axon » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:07 pm

(The above also happened in our room.)

Could someone please post the tossup on Chinese (from poetry)? I felt hosed by it, but I want to see if my complaint is valid or not.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Victor Prieto » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:09 pm

touchpack wrote:The tossup on cobalt has a clear hose for iron near the end.

It reads: "The standard source for Mössbauer spectroscopy is an isotope of this metal that decays to iron-57."

The way it should have been written is something like this: "An isotope of this metal beta decays into the standard gamma ray source in Mossbauer spectroscopy, iron-57."
Super, super glad I read about cobalamin the day before
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Banned Tiny Toon Adventures Episode » Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:11 am

Victor Prieto wrote:
touchpack wrote:The tossup on cobalt has a clear hose for iron near the end.

It reads: "The standard source for Mössbauer spectroscopy is an isotope of this metal that decays to iron-57."

The way it should have been written is something like this: "An isotope of this metal beta decays into the standard gamma ray source in Mossbauer spectroscopy, iron-57."
Super, super glad I read about cobalamin the day before
Man it's too bad I was too busy counting electrons to parse that clue
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by touchpack » Thu Mar 10, 2016 12:27 am

Black Miao wrote:
Victor Prieto wrote:
touchpack wrote:The tossup on cobalt has a clear hose for iron near the end.

It reads: "The standard source for Mössbauer spectroscopy is an isotope of this metal that decays to iron-57."

The way it should have been written is something like this: "An isotope of this metal beta decays into the standard gamma ray source in Mossbauer spectroscopy, iron-57."
Super, super glad I read about cobalamin the day before
Man it's too bad I was too busy counting electrons to parse that clue
That clue was so vague sounding that it didn't evoke anything in my brain
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by touchpack » Thu Mar 10, 2016 1:50 am

Black Miao wrote:that rigid rotor tossup is missing an extremely necessary prompt for phrases along the lines of "tops". While the wikipedia article for "rigid rotor" does say molecules are classified as symmetric/spherical/asymmetric rotors other sources refer to them symmetric/spherical/asymmetric tops. It's also extremely generous with the powermark unless apparently other low level chem classes aren't telling people that microwave level wavelength transitions are rotations.
Also, sorry for bombarding the discussion with posts, but I realized I forgot to mention something quite important.

Wang's definitely right here that another recurring problem in this tournament's chemistry was weird wordage derived from a question that was clearly being written from one source. (such as this, and the claim that Fenton's reagent "oxidizes the wastewater,")

When writing science questions, I find multiple sources for every single clue in the question. This is important because different textbooks/professors will teach things in different ways, use different nomenclature, emphasize different aspects of the material, formulate equations in different ways, etc. I get as many sources for the clue as I can and write the question in the language I see in the majority of the sources. This is an important part of conscientious science writing--if you just find one source for all your clues (be it Wikipedia or not), you are inevitably going to end up confusing scientists, and this is something that this tournament did not appear to do--any form of source checking at all would have told you that the vast majority of chem textbooks use the term "symmetric/spherical/asymmetric TOPS," not rotors.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Make sure your seatbelt is fastened » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:10 am

I believe Dante is actually lurking in the left background of Rossetti's Dante's Vision of Rachel and Leah.
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Red Panda Cub » Sun Mar 20, 2016 10:25 am

Was that acousmetre bonus part even possible? There are like ~2,000 hits for that word in total on google and it seems to just be a word some pretty minor film critic invented. That bonus set also had two really easy parts and no middle part, so basically seemed constructed to ask about a random cool-ish thing someone happened upon? I'm happy to be corrected if I've vastly underestimated the relevance of the acousmetre in film criticism, though
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Galadedrid Damodred » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:25 pm

Muriel Axon wrote:Could someone please post the tossup on Chinese (from poetry)? I felt hosed by it, but I want to see if my complaint is valid or not.
Packet 10 wrote:7. A poem written in this language is often referred to as the “Star Gauge,” and can be read forward, backward, horizontally, vertically, diagonally, or in color-coded grids. A poet who worked in this language wrote “Essay on Literature” in a poetic form that frequently changes rhyme and meter and rhapsodizes on a given theme using as many different words as possible. A major caesura typically precedes the last three syllables of each line in this language’s (*) regulated verse poetry. Eliot Weinberger and Octavio Paz co-wrote a book that compares nineteen translations of a poem in this language. That poem describes reflected sunlight shining on green mosses in the title “Deer Park.” A poem in this language begins with the sound of horses neighing and vehicles rumbling as they carry soldiers to the frontier. For 10 points, name this language that was used to write the Classic of Poetry, “Song of the Wagons,” and “Drinking Alone by Moonlight,” the last of which is a poem by Li Bai.
ANSWER: Classical Chinese [or Literary Chinese; or wényán wén; accept zhõngwén]
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by Inifinite Jest » Thu Mar 31, 2016 10:04 pm

I was reading through this tonight and I noticed a bonus clued a non-existent essay by noted fake* Lithuanian poet Martynas Jablonkis. I know it didn't affect game play, or really detract from my enjoyment of what was an excellent set, but I think this is kind of a dangerous precedent to set.

*well, Corin Wagen maintains a Martynas Jablonkis twitter feed and website but yeah that doesn't really make him "real"

Edit: According to Itamar the copy of the set he has doesn't contain this weird in-joke so we might've just been sent an unedited version of the set or something.
Caleb
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Re: Question-Specific Discussion

Post by The Ununtiable Twine » Wed Apr 20, 2016 1:45 am

Inifinite Jest wrote:I was reading through this tonight and I noticed a bonus clued a non-existent essay by noted fake* Lithuanian poet Martynas Jablonkis. I know it didn't affect game play, or really detract from my enjoyment of what was an excellent set, but I think this is kind of a dangerous precedent to set.

*well, Corin Wagen maintains a Martynas Jablonkis twitter feed and website but yeah that doesn't really make him "real"

Edit: According to Itamar the copy of the set he has doesn't contain this weird in-joke so we might've just been sent an unedited version of the set or something.
This made me think about stopping the match to explain that this Lithuanian poet was fictitious, however I didn't. I forgot to mention it in the thread. Thanks for mentioning it lol
Jake Sundberg
Louisiana '04-'10, '14-'16, '18-'xx
Alabama '10-14
President, University of Louisiana at Lafayette Club for Academic Competition

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