Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

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Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:07 pm

With the Mizzou mirror being over, comrades (and pig-dogs too, I suppose) are invited to discuss the questions and dialectics of the Harvard International.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by ... and the chaos of Mexican modernity » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:16 pm

I can't wait to see how difficult the science on this set was.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:43 pm

Alright lets do it.

I want to first say that almost every single tossup in this tournament was incredibly well-written [until the FTP]. I can only think of a handful of examples of tossups with too easy leadins (Phillip Larkin, glycine, lectins - the rolling is famous), and another handful of tossups with hose clues (logistic function, Ziegler-natta). Even the science tossups that were way too hard to ever be tossups had interesting leadins, tons of middle clues (they'd have to since they were all 12 lines long) and a well-graded structure to them, and I certainly am learning a lot from mining them for clues. This gave them the feeling of being incredibly "real", almost uncomfortably so (I literally read a paper about sevenless last week, for example).

So this brings me to the science, which obviously has been stated to be distinctly harder than every other category except for perhaps the social science. This difficulty not only came from some incredibly difficult answer choices (Bcl2, dichroism), but from some answer choices that were simply horrible ideas (a huge chunk of the linguistics, serialization + most of the CS). A tossup on multithreading does very little to distinguish between it and parallelism, for example, not to mention that so many of these things hadn't been tossed up before or were only tossups at experimental events. The bonuses were also incredibly difficult, so much so that you were lucky to get 10 points on a science bonus if any. I was literally relieved when we heard a bonus that went allene/overhauser/karplus equation because that was easily 30ed compared to bonuses like Nitro/Meisenheimer Complex/Janovski reaction, which like several of the bonuses contained only one part that was even remotely accessible to someone who didn't research the particular area the bonus was asking about (I'm seriously convinced that the only way to have 30ed that bonus, for example, was if you were an organic chemist that researched nucleophillic aromatic substitution). Hell I'm writing my thesis on histone modification (I'm staring at the fucking data right now!) and I couldn't 30 the bonus on it! Although I now know what a SANT domain (like the 5th most important histone tail-binding domain, by the way, for those of you paying attention at home) is! Fuck you bromodomains and chromodomains, no one cares about you!

Several of the other bonuses simply contained 3 medium or hard parts (Kolbe/Schmidt/Pinner), or contained fairly difficult clues for whatever they were asking for (could've said something about clathrin having a triskelion structure, although this is a bad example since I should have pulled that anyway. You could mention more about Bloch too). This also plagued a few of the tossups, including the one on Pyrroles which contained no "easy" giveaway (Its a goddamn 5-membered ring with nitrogen in it) and contained no clue that had previously come up before the FTP (except for the pre-FTP "Piloty-Robinson synthesis" mention). My knowledge of the Paal-Knorr synthesis and the Hantzsch synthesis isn't real enough for you?!

Keep in mind who these tossups are being written for, and even more importantly who these bonuses are being written for. Even at CO good science players were 30ing the majority of bonuses in their categories, and if they weren't it was more likely than not that they simply forgot the answer rather than having never heard of it before.

Next up is the mythology. In no universe is tossing up Ffnisien a good idea. The bonuses in this category were mostly good, although having to remember the island where Geryon's cattle is (instead of like the 4 other named things related to that story that have actually come up as bonus parts before) doesn't seem like a good idea. For the most part, this category had some great tossups on easy things (that Pan tossup was fun, so was Niobe).

History and Literature tossups were both solidly written and contained things at the appropriate layer of the canon, though I get the feeling that the literature bonuses were also a little out there; I'm not qualified to comment on that however.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by cdcarter » Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:47 pm

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by magin » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:21 pm

I agree with Eric about the difficulty of the science (and, at times, the social science). It seemed like every so often, the actual game would pause while both teams listened to a 12-line science tossup that no one knew at the giveaway. At this tournament, the science seemed to eschew conventional ways of expanding the canon for just writing on any answers regardless of whether teams could answer them; that was, is, and always will be a bad idea.

I very much enjoyed the history, literature, and arts; I especially enjoyed the tossups on plays that used extensive clues from their important lines (instead of beginning with immediate plot details). I think that using those lines as early clues does a good job of allowing people familiar with the play to get it before people who've only read or memorized clues about it. Also, that tossup on the Portinari altarpiece was really cool.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:50 pm

Also, that tossup on the Portinari altarpiece was really cool.
Wait, where was that?
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:00 pm

Obviously, my bad on the science. My bad especially on the glycine/ lectins tossups; I had a weird feeling that I had seen that first clue before and totally forgot to push it later. As for lectins, I see now that the rolling thing comes up.

As to the stuff that was just bad, which certainly includes the math and a large chunk of the physics (and apparently the CS, as you say), any more detailed critiques? i admit that the multithreading choice was unwise and I should have written it better (or just chosen another subject). I'm interested in seeing where some other things went wrong, though, for my own edification.

I do what to echo Jonathan's sentiments; from what I read of the literature and arts, the tossups seemed very carefully constructed.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by The Toad to Wigan Pier » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:04 pm

Writing a tossup on Multithreading is a horrible idea and while some might disagree with me, I think that writing tossups on things like phagocytes is a bad idea for the same reason that writing tossups on things like "carnivores" is a bad idea. A better tossup would be on a specific cell type or family say like a dendritic cell or a neutrophil.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:13 pm

The quality of this tournament's tossups (pyramidality, comprehensibility) was impressive. As more qualified people before me have stated, some subjects in this tournament were disproportionately difficult, but despite the occasional 13-line Bataan Death March of a science tossup, this tournament was great fun to play. I loved the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs and A Few Figs from Thistles tossups, among others.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Lapego1 » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:30 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: Nitro/Meisenheimer Complex/Janovski reaction
I don't know--I think this is a reasonable bonus at a post-Nationals difficulty level. I learned about Meisenheimer complexes (in fact we had to draw them on a midterm) in orgo 2, and, I mean, they are pretty important to any unit on aromatic substitutions. I claim I could've 20'ed this if the clues were okay, and I'm no organic chemist.

Anyway, I look forward to paging through this science before next weekend.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:36 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:some answer choices that were simply horrible ideas (a huge chunk of the linguistics, serialization + most of the CS)
Here are the linguistics questions I found in a quick scan of the set:
Tossups: William Labov, Kenneth Pike
Bonuses: Chomsky/Minimalist Program/Optimality Theory, prosody/scare quotes/suprasegmental

Scare quotes really seems to be the only sketchy answer selection (though maybe linguists actually use the term, I don't know). Which ones did you think were bad answer choices?

On the other hand, I thought the clue for suprasegmental was quite misleading. It's true that suprasegmentals don't necessarily correspond to any grammatical structure, but that's not an intrinsic part of their definition.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:40 pm

Lapego1 wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote: Nitro/Meisenheimer Complex/Janovski reaction
I don't know--I think this is a reasonable bonus at a post-Nationals difficulty level. I learned about Meisenheimer complexes (in fact we had to draw them on a midterm) in orgo 2, and, I mean, they are pretty important to any unit on aromatic substitutions. I claim I could've 20'ed this if the clues were okay, and I'm no organic chemist.

Anyway, I look forward to paging through this science before next weekend.
Hmm. This might just be a product of us skipping that chapter.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:51 pm

women, fire and dangerous things wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:some answer choices that were simply horrible ideas (a huge chunk of the linguistics, serialization + most of the CS)
Here are the linguistics questions I found in a quick scan of the set:
Tossups: William Labov, Kenneth Pike
Bonuses: Chomsky/Minimalist Program/Optimality Theory, prosody/scare quotes/suprasegmental

Scare quotes really seems to be the only sketchy answer selection (though maybe linguists actually use the term, I don't know). Which ones did you think were bad answer choices?
They're pretty hard unless you're an actual linguist, of which there were zero (0) at this tournament and of which there are very few of in quizbowl. Putting these in as tossup answers is really just pushing it
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by at your pleasure » Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:02 pm

Chomsky seems reasonable to me(besides, he seems to have been tossed up at ACF regionals), but I can't comment on the rest.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:05 pm

women, fire and dangerous things wrote:
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:some answer choices that were simply horrible ideas (a huge chunk of the linguistics, serialization + most of the CS)
Here are the linguistics questions I found in a quick scan of the set:
Tossups: William Labov, Kenneth Pike
Bonuses: Chomsky/Minimalist Program/Optimality Theory, prosody/scare quotes/suprasegmental

Scare quotes really seems to be the only sketchy answer selection (though maybe linguists actually use the term, I don't know). Which ones did you think were bad answer choices?

On the other hand, I thought the clue for suprasegmental was quite misleading. It's true that suprasegmentals don't necessarily correspond to any grammatical structure, but that's not an intrinsic part of their definition.
Scare quotes was literally only there to get an easy part in that bonus. I was worried about suprasegmental too, since I don't know much about it. How should that part have been written?
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by women, fire and dangerous things » Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:12 pm

everyday847 wrote:I was worried about suprasegmental too, since I don't know much about it. How should that part have been written?
I would write something like, "Prosodic features are this kind of feature, since they extend over multiple sounds." (Multiple segments is the precise way to say that, but obviously that can't be used.)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sir Thopas » Sat Apr 18, 2009 10:39 pm

man i sucked at the linguistics in this tournament :(
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Red-necked Phalarope » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:19 pm

Holy [whatever], I missed a tournament where Labov finally got tossed up?

Anyway, having seen nothing about those questions save the answers, those are all totally reasonable to ask about in regards to actual linguistic importance (save possibly Pike, but that might just be a gap in my knowledge). I honestly don't play enough high-level (i.e. post-Regionals) quizbowl to say anything about their canonicity, though Labov's only turning up 3 times in the Stanford Packet Archive and 0 times in grapesmoker + acfdb indicates he probably was too difficult for a tossup.

Honestly, though, if this helps expand the linguistic canon at lower levels beyond [basic rules of historical linguistics] + [phoneme/morpheme] + [a half-dozen linguists from Jespersen to Chomsky] + [other assorted Chomskiana], I could see it as a necessary evil. Not that you want to go too fast too soon either, of course.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Apr 18, 2009 11:32 pm

Yeah, Pike was a pull from totally outside the canon, included solely because he has neat things to say and has anthropology ties.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by DumbJaques » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:25 am

Yeah, Pike was a pull from totally outside the canon, included solely because he has neat things to say and has anthropology ties.
But, if you realize this, why in the world did you make him a tossup? I mean, it seems like a pretty basic principle of question writing that, if you have something that is outside the canon but really worthwhile, it gets introduced in a whole range of ways before you just decide to toss it up at a non-experimental tournament. It's easy to just throw your hands up and say "it was just my ignorance of how hard this was that led to many of these questions skullfucking everyone," but I think that's a dangerous trap to fall into. You're always going to want to give a tossup the benefit of the doubt because you spent a lot of time looking up great clues, it's really well-written, it really does deserve so much to come up more, there's a time crunch, etc., etc. - but these tossups add up. Really, I think this is how tournaments exceed their difficulty targets, because question by question people let stuff that's a bit questionable slide and it really adds up. Every writer feels this temptation, and it's hard for all of us to be as excellent at controlling it as guys like Jonathan Magin or Seth Teitler.

Andy, there are plenty of excellent writers for whom a very strong difficulty pull is just an inalienable part of their writing character, and the circuit is better for having them around. I haven't seen every question you've ever written, but I'd recommend considering that you're one of these writers, and that instead of saying that your general ignorance of the canon (one which I doubt you really do possess in a fair use of the term) was the problem and that it won't happen again, you develop some strategies for actively monitoring your difficulty the next time you work on a set. I found keeping an unofficial Magin scale for my own questions written in advance of TIT helped me some with this, as did checking some iffy answer selections with a couple of other people, so that might be worth trying out as well.

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:58 am

So I did try to keep these sorts of inclusions to a minimum, and I attempted (poorly, obviously) to keep track of whether they were adding up. I thought that Pike seemed important enough that people with an interest in linguistics would be reasonably likely to have some knowledge of him: while I knew he was outside the canon, I also thought that it would be known by people with connected interests.

Just like the Mobius aromaticity tossup at MO: a Mobius type OF THIS was a clue at EFT 2007 and Penn Bowl 2008, but it'd never graced a bonus part before. But it was totally reasonable (I didn't convert it, if you care) simply because it's something that people interested in chemistry will (or can reasonably be expected to) know.

i think it's not unreasonable to do this kind of thing at a tournament that's meant to be very hard; I think I overdid it. I think Ted's largely right in his suggestion that I don't have a great grasp of the canon; I think the larger problem, though, is that I just don't have as much experience with the actual content of nationals-level sets. (There have certainly been new tossup answers at nats before; there probably haven't, I guess, been new tossup answers from entirely outside the canon. One I can think of is BLAST--besides a Science of the Lambs mention, I don't see it at all elsewhere--but it's something that you can reasonably expect bio players to know about. I think the problem is that there are millions more bio players than linguistics players.)

But yeah, I'll be very, very conscious of my tendency to do this next time. Also, since while last summer I wrote an unusable 40/40 science or so, this summer I'll probably write questions of actual useful quality and therefore be able to playtest long in advance, weeding out some bad ideas.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:07 pm

As I told Ted and Andy privately, I am extremely happy with how Harvard International turned out and am proud to associate my name and reputation with the tournament.

Despite having a rather small writing team, we were able to produce exactly the number of questions we said we would, and we finished all of them before the tournament began. These are both increasingly rare feats in the modern quizbowl world. (The only thing we had to do during the tournament itself was randomize the packets)

Moreover, we did not have to make any extensive use of outside writers -- I did go on IRC the night before the tournament and solicit some questions, but (1) I could count the number of questions so obtained on one hand; and (2) many of them turned out to have been unnecessary, because we had an internal communications failure that resulted in me thinking we needed more philosophy and trash than we actually needed. This compares extremely favorably with other recent tournaments that have required extensive outside intervention.

Moreover, I would claim that the vast majority of questions in this tournament are actually rather well written and of appropriate and consistent difficulty. As for the questions that were inappropriate, I argue that there exist easy, objective fixes for the problems that led to those questions being inappropriate. Thus, unless one or more of myself, Ted, Andy, or Dallas is killed, incapacitated, or expelled from Harvard in the next year, I feel pretty confident in stating that next year's HI will be even better.

(Also feel free to tell me if I am completely wrong)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:13 pm

DumbJaques wrote:
Yeah, Pike was a pull from totally outside the canon, included solely because he has neat things to say and has anthropology ties.
But, if you realize this, why in the world did you make him a tossup? I mean, it seems like a pretty basic principle of question writing that, if you have something that is outside the canon but really worthwhile, it gets introduced in a whole range of ways before you just decide to toss it up at a non-experimental tournament. It's easy to just throw your hands up and say "it was just my ignorance of how hard this was that led to many of these questions skullfucking everyone," but I think that's a dangerous trap to fall into. You're always going to want to give a tossup the benefit of the doubt because you spent a lot of time looking up great clues, it's really well-written, it really does deserve so much to come up more, there's a time crunch, etc., etc. - but these tossups add up. Really, I think this is how tournaments exceed their difficulty targets, because question by question people let stuff that's a bit questionable slide and it really adds up. Every writer feels this temptation, and it's hard for all of us to be as excellent at controlling it as guys like Jonathan Magin or Seth Teitler.

Andy, there are plenty of excellent writers for whom a very strong difficulty pull is just an inalienable part of their writing character, and the circuit is better for having them around. I haven't seen every question you've ever written, but I'd recommend considering that you're one of these writers, and that instead of saying that your general ignorance of the canon (one which I doubt you really do possess in a fair use of the term) was the problem and that it won't happen again, you develop some strategies for actively monitoring your difficulty the next time you work on a set. I found keeping an unofficial Magin scale for my own questions written in advance of TIT helped me some with this, as did checking some iffy answer selections with a couple of other people, so that might be worth trying out as well.

EDIT: Words
Chris, you made an argument a few months ago about how tournaments need one single editor at the top, or else their constituent parts will be of varying quality and difficulty.

I'll be honest: I feared this would be a problem for HI. Basically, each of us who wrote for the tournament was the unchecked lord and sovereign of the categories assigned to them. And Harvard being primarily a team of specialists, many of us would be unable to really edit each others questions even if we had to power to do so. But it turned out that the non-science/social science parts of the tournament basically converged on the same difficulty. So that is one thing that makes me optimistic about the future of HI and about tournaments with this editorial structure in general: it seems that decent writers can converge on an objective standard of difficulty.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:47 pm

So do you guys not playtest your questions against each other or something? I don't see how there can be a total ignorance of what's going on with other people's questions.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:49 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:So do you guys not playtest your questions against each other or something? I don't see how there can be a total ignorance of what's going on with other people's questions.
I'm going to be completely useless as a playtester for Ted's literature questions, and myself and Ted will not be particularly good at playtesting Andy's science questions.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:05 pm

everyday847 wrote:So I did try to keep these sorts of inclusions to a minimum, and I attempted (poorly, obviously) to keep track of whether they were adding up. I thought that Pike seemed important enough that people with an interest in linguistics would be reasonably likely to have some knowledge of him: while I knew he was outside the canon, I also thought that it would be known by people with connected interests.


I suppose that's reasonable. But again, so few linguists! There honestly wouldn't have been much wrong with tossing up someone like Rask, Jesperson, Trubetskoy, Harris, Greenberg, etc, and then saving this fellow for a bonus. "Real" linguists would have been able to convert points over me on any of these topics, but they wouldn't have gone dead.
everyday847 wrote:Just like the Mobius aromaticity tossup at MO: a Mobius type OF THIS was a clue at EFT 2007 and Penn Bowl 2008, but it'd never graced a bonus part before. But it was totally reasonable (I didn't convert it, if you care) simply because it's something that people interested in chemistry will (or can reasonably be expected to) know.
It may be reasonable from that angle, but the problem with that question was it really doesn't do a great job of distinguishing it from other forms of aromaticity. The references to the Dewar-Zimmerman rules have you guessing antiaromaticity, the fact that they mention 4n electrons kind of seals that deal, etc. I realize mobius aromaticity is a hot area of chemistry right now, but that's not enough to write a good tossup on something. Even though every Tom, Dick, and Harry with a set of pipets is doing a study on miRNA nowadays, I wouldn't foist a tossup on miRNA into a tournament, simply because 1. People who don't know any higher level bio would have a hard time with it, and 2. There are a kazillion different small RNAs that it could be confused with. If someone negged with siRNA I couldn't blame them.
everyday847 wrote:i think it's not unreasonable to do this kind of thing at a tournament that's meant to be very hard; I think I overdid it. I think Ted's largely right in his suggestion that I don't have a great grasp of the canon; I think the larger problem, though, is that I just don't have as much experience with the actual content of nationals-level sets. (There have certainly been new tossup answers at nats before; there probably haven't, I guess, been new tossup answers from entirely outside the canon. One I can think of is BLAST--besides a Science of the Lambs mention, I don't see it at all elsewhere--but it's something that you can reasonably expect bio players to know about. I think the problem is that there are millions more bio players than linguistics players.)
BLAST had come up as a bonus part at PARFAIT in 2006. Furthermore, it was simply one of those gaps in the canon that shouldn't exist, as almost anyone who as done any biology will have heard of it (my music major roommate recalls fondly how his AP bio teacher had him BLAST sequences for a project). I'm not sure if Mobius aromaticity really falls under the same banner.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:19 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:So do you guys not playtest your questions against each other or something? I don't see how there can be a total ignorance of what's going on with other people's questions.
Yeah, like, I read Bruce's answer choices and the most I could glean was "boy, that's pretty hard." I had no sense of how hard, because tossing up Matthias Corvinus will result in me getting as many points (zero) as tossing up, I don't know, some easy thing. I know very little history, so I can't judge too well from that.

Next year when Dallas knows every subject ever we'll have him do his thing.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:23 pm

Whig's Boson wrote:As I told Ted and Andy privately, I am extremely happy with how Harvard International turned out and am proud to associate my name and reputation with the tournament.
As you should be. Although your Asian history was somehow lacking that 'BRUCE' quality that makes your European and American history so interesting.
Whig's Boson wrote:Despite having a rather small writing team, we were able to produce exactly the number of questions we said we would, and we finished all of them before the tournament began. These are both increasingly rare feats in the modern quizbowl world. (The only thing we had to do during the tournament itself was randomize the packets)
The only tournaments to really suffer in this manner were FICHTE, VCU Open, and Regionals to some degree (and even then the only thing needed was randomization). While that may make your feat "increasingly rare", there are still plenty of tournaments done on time (Fall, Winter, EFT, Parfait, Cardinal Classic, MO, MUT, Penn Bowl, TIT) that it doesn't make your feat rare in the absolute sense.
Whig's Boson wrote:Moreover, we did not have to make any extensive use of outside writers -- I did go on IRC the night before the tournament and solicit some questions, but (1) I could count the number of questions so obtained on one hand; and (2) many of them turned out to have been unnecessary, because we had an internal communications failure that resulted in me thinking we needed more philosophy and trash than we actually needed. This compares extremely favorably with other recent tournaments that have required extensive outside intervention.
Again, those numbers are pushing it. Several of the above listed tournaments didn't need such intervention.

I don't really see the point of you talking about how the logistics of HI were superior to some other recent tournaments. If this is your way of calling for other editors to be logistically responsible, fine, most of us have made recent mistakes. This doesn't excuse any of the editing errors that occurred in this tournament.
everyday847 wrote:Moreover, I would claim that the vast majority of questions in this tournament are actually rather well written and of appropriate and consistent difficulty. As for the questions that were inappropriate, I argue that there exist easy, objective fixes for the problems that led to those questions being inappropriate. Thus, unless one or more of myself, Ted, Andy, or Dallas is killed, incapacitated, or expelled from Harvard in the next year, I feel pretty confident in stating that next year's HI will be even better.

(Also feel free to tell me if I am completely wrong)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:29 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:The only tournaments to really suffer in this manner were FICHTE, VCU Open, and Regionals to some degree (and even then the only thing needed was randomization). While that may make your feat "increasingly rare", there are still plenty of tournaments done on time (Fall, Winter, EFT, Parfait, Cardinal Classic, MO, MUT, Penn Bowl, TIT) that it doesn't make your feat rare in the absolute sense.
IIRC, for Penn Bowl, the two finals packets were still being hammered out during lunch (and the second, which was still missing a couple science questions, ended up getting shipped off to TIT).
Last edited by Theory Of The Leisure Flask on Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 1:31 pm

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
Whig's Boson wrote:Moreover, we did not have to make any extensive use of outside writers -- I did go on IRC the night before the tournament and solicit some questions, but (1) I could count the number of questions so obtained on one hand; and (2) many of them turned out to have been unnecessary, because we had an internal communications failure that resulted in me thinking we needed more philosophy and trash than we actually needed. This compares extremely favorably with other recent tournaments that have required extensive outside intervention.
Again, those numbers are pushing it. Several of the above listed tournaments didn't need such intervention.

I don't really see the point of you talking about how the logistics of HI were superior to some other recent tournaments. If this is your way of calling for other editors to be logistically responsible, fine, most of us have made recent mistakes. This doesn't excuse any of the editing errors that occurred in this tournament.
I actually agree on this point; the fact that we wrote this tournament on time is great but irrelevant: better still is writing a tournament well AND on time. Meeting the obligation to write a tournament on time doesn't free you from the obligation that it be good.
The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
everyday847 wrote:Moreover, I would claim that the vast majority of questions in this tournament are actually rather well written and of appropriate and consistent difficulty. As for the questions that were inappropriate, I argue that there exist easy, objective fixes for the problems that led to those questions being inappropriate. Thus, unless one or more of myself, Ted, Andy, or Dallas is killed, incapacitated, or expelled from Harvard in the next year, I feel pretty confident in stating that next year's HI will be even better.

(Also feel free to tell me if I am completely wrong)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Daegan » Sun Apr 19, 2009 3:11 pm

I played at the MU tournament on these. As to people thinking the CS questions are completely unreasoable, I disagree. I'm a freshman CS at Missouri State and the only tossup CS that I didn't get was serialization, and I early buzzed for RSS shortly after the XML clue.

The multithreading question had a complete give away at the very end of it for anyone that knows about it.

Overall, the tournament was really fun and extremely well written.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by fleurdelivre » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:40 pm

Daegan wrote:The multithreading question had a complete give away at the very end of it for anyone that knows about it.
The multithreading question had a giveaway so spelled-out that I couldn't bring myself to believe it. In the one round I played (as "Louisville"), I heard this one and planned to guess at the end - and then upon hearing something about "multiple processes, called threads," I decided it had to be something less immediately obvious. Whoops...
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 4:48 pm

That's actually what I worry most about when I try to write dead-easy giveaways: people (justifiably) overthinking them.

Daegan, I think the larger point is that I didn't write a tossup on serialization that was very good (or that I did a poor job distinguishing between parallelism or whatever and multithreading). Whether that's true or not is separate from, say, whether multithreading had a giveaway that made it gettable: if I make someone neg with parallelism in the middle, the clarity of the giveaway doesn't matter. But I'm glad you enjoyed the questions, anyway.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Jeremy Gibbs Lemma » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:11 pm

I really appreciated this question set and would like to thank everyone involved in producing it.

The science got demoralizing for me at times, but at least we covered "bcl2" in my genetics course. For a player of my skill level playing in my first post-nationals level tournament (solo nonetheless), it was pretty eye-opening and very humbling to realize how much I am clueless on...and that's not a bad feeling. I look forward to this next year and now am even more excited for ACF Nationals next weekend.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:22 pm

Hey, so after reading through a fairly small portion of this tournament (I don't like reading stuff all at once, cause I'd rather take notes as I go), I want to say that I'm quite sad I didn't play this event. Producing 16 packets, no matter how many people you have at your club, is no small feat, and it looks like this went off pretty successfully. I could quibble with a few clue placement decisions (Satiromastix early in Dekker), and I imagine there were a few bonuses that can be cited as too easy or too hard in the context of this event (Caillebotte/Sisley/Renoir a bit easier than histone/sant/sliding clamp probably). But that's neither here nor there - the important part is that it's apparent that a good deal of thought and effort were put into this event, and it turned out pretty well - even though a lot of the science critique is probably justified.

I'm going to disagree with a few people in saying that, if you plan to write a nationals or post-nationals event, it's not a terrible thing to throw in a few tossups that will likely go dead. For example, Labov seems reasonable enough to me as I've heard of him...don't know anything about Pike. Now, both of those tossups will surely go dead in a majority of rooms (for that matter, so will a tu like Symph of Sorrowful Songs probably), but I don't think that's really such a big deal at an event like this. I don't like laying down hard-and-fast rules that every canon-expanding thing has to be a bonus part before it is a tossup - even though that's fine as a general rule of thumb, and as an important thing to understand for people not writing high-difficulty events.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Magister Ludi » Sun Apr 19, 2009 7:40 pm

I agree with Ryan it is a good idea to have a couple very difficult tossups that will likely go dead in most rooms both for canon expansion and to discourage lateral thinking. I also plan to include a few tossups on very easy answers in next year's HI to achieve the same effect.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Jeremy Gibbs-Marangoni Effect » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:23 pm

Overall, this was a very enjoyable set. I especially enjoyed the geography; it's nice to get a break from the standard cascade of place names. There probably could have been more math, but I thought that the "testing for primality" tossup was well-written, even though I negged it stupidly. My only quibble: the "shar'ia in Nigeria" tossup was a bit confusing, though that could have been just me.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:31 pm

Yeah, I intentionally tried to keep math and CS exactly balanced (and balanced with es/as; they each got 4/4). This may not have been a great idea, and a proper misc sci subdistribution (I'd imagine a lot of people would be happy with 6/6 math and 2/2 cs, right?) is something I'll be thinking about for next year.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:48 pm

everyday847 wrote:Yeah, I intentionally tried to keep math and CS exactly balanced (and balanced with es/as; they each got 4/4). This may not have been a great idea, and a proper misc sci subdistribution (I'd imagine a lot of people would be happy with 6/6 math and 2/2 cs, right?) is something I'll be thinking about for next year.
No.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sun Apr 19, 2009 8:52 pm

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:
everyday847 wrote:Yeah, I intentionally tried to keep math and CS exactly balanced (and balanced with es/as; they each got 4/4). This may not have been a great idea, and a proper misc sci subdistribution (I'd imagine a lot of people would be happy with 6/6 math and 2/2 cs, right?) is something I'll be thinking about for next year.
No.
Like, the whole reason that I wrote 4/4 was because I wanted to see how writing what I think CS deserves would actually go over. I get the impression that the CS wasn't converted at rip-roaring rates, and that's no fun. Now, if that's a function of me writing it poorly or of me picking too-hard answers, I'd like to hear that. But at the moment, I feel like more people are better at math than are good at cs, implying that for conversion purposes it needs a larger place in the misc sci canon. It will be a good day when we can ask more CS, certainly, but I don't think it's come yet.

Or do I just need to get more creative with answer choices?
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by BuzzerZen » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:21 pm

I dunno, post your CS and we can figure out if you had good answer choices or not. "Serialization" sounds like a particularly weaksauce answer choice to me but I haven't seen the tossup.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:38 pm

everyday847 wrote:Or do I just need to get more creative with answer choices?
Back in the day (circa 2002-2004, during my undergrad career) the CS canon used to regularly include questions on specific programming languages; these appear to have been mostly shunned in modern quizbowl as not "real CS". However, one of my teammates at Swat was a CS major, and for what little it's worth, he never once thought that those questions were bad, or not-real, or anything like that- in fact, he rather liked them, and wrote quite a few questions on languages.

...

Also, from what little I've read of the set so far, it looks utterly fantastic and I wish I'd played it. However,
leadin to Tossup 9, Packet 3 wrote:This composer twice submitted the aria “Salve en el mar” to religious authorities to ensure it was not heretical, and that aria was used in his “ scenic cantata” depicting Columbus as the “bearer of Christ.” He wrote his Harpsichord Concerto for Wanda Landowska
is still an effing hose for Francois Poulenc (I complained about the very same "harpsichord concerto for Wanda Landowska" clue after ACF Regionals)*. And it's not even like the early clues make Poulenc an implausible answer- in fact, they make it more plausible given Poulenc's late-in-life conversion to Catholicism.

*(Yes, I'm aware that the Poulenc concerto is actually called Concert Champetre- but it is his harpsichord concerto, just like Symphonie Espagnole is Lalo's violin concerto and Harold in Italy is Berlioz's viola concerto.)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by grapesmoker » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:44 pm

The reason that tossups on languages are typically shunned is because most programming languages are relatively identical to each other. There are obviously differences between C++ and Java, for example, but if those differences are truly important, they are what should be asked about; instead, those old questions used to have nonsense like "in this language, comments are designated by a wingding" or they would be on outdated crap no one uses anymore like Pascal or COBOL. This is stupid and of no use to anyone; I program routinely in 3 or 4 different languages, but for the most part, I don't remember which symbol in Perl designates command line parameters or whatever. It's just not that important to know these things as compared to knowing something about the internal logic of languages or about algorithms.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:54 pm

Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
leadin to Tossup 9, Packet 3 wrote:This composer twice submitted the aria “Salve en el mar” to religious authorities to ensure it was not heretical, and that aria was used in his “ scenic cantata” depicting Columbus as the “bearer of Christ.” He wrote his Harpsichord Concerto for Wanda Landowska
is still an effing hose for Francois Poulenc (I complained about the very same "harpsichord concerto for Wanda Landowska" clue after ACF Regionals)*. And it's not even like the early clues make Poulenc an implausible answer- in fact, they make it more plausible given Poulenc's late-in-life conversion to Catholicism.

*(Yes, I'm aware that the Poulenc concerto is actually called Concert Champetre- but it is his harpsichord concerto, just like Symphonie Espagnole is Lalo's violin concerto and Harold in Italy is Berlioz's viola concerto.)
I would not call Harold in Italy Berlioz's viola concerto. It's standard practice to label it a symphony, or maybe a tone poem, with an extensive solo viola part.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Theory Of The Leisure Flask » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:05 pm

HKirsch wrote:
Theory Of The Leisure Flask wrote:
leadin to Tossup 9, Packet 3 wrote:This composer twice submitted the aria “Salve en el mar” to religious authorities to ensure it was not heretical, and that aria was used in his “ scenic cantata” depicting Columbus as the “bearer of Christ.” He wrote his Harpsichord Concerto for Wanda Landowska
is still an effing hose for Francois Poulenc (I complained about the very same "harpsichord concerto for Wanda Landowska" clue after ACF Regionals)*. And it's not even like the early clues make Poulenc an implausible answer- in fact, they make it more plausible given Poulenc's late-in-life conversion to Catholicism.

*(Yes, I'm aware that the Poulenc concerto is actually called Concert Champetre- but it is his harpsichord concerto, just like Symphonie Espagnole is Lalo's violin concerto and Harold in Italy is Berlioz's viola concerto.)
I would not call Harold in Italy Berlioz's viola concerto. It's standard practice to label it a symphony, or maybe a tone poem, with an extensive solo viola part.
I've definitely seen seen it referred to as a concerto in CD reviews and the like; I guess that's not as common a formulation as I thought. (Even granting that Harold in Italy isn't, that doesn't change the problem with the de Falla tossup- the Poulenc piece is called a concerto.)
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by alkrav112 » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:26 pm

Thank goodness Labov is finally in the canon: his stuff on AAVE is groundbreaking and super-accessible, and he was John Baugh's (also an awesome dude, worked with linguistic profiling) thesis advisor for goodness' sake. I don't know if he was tossupable before this tournament, but I'm glad he is now.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Gautam » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:35 pm

alkrav112 wrote: I don't know if he was tossupable before this tournament, but I'm glad he is now.
I think that the point of the discussion is that he continues to be not tossupable at most tournaments
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Matt Weiner » Sun Apr 19, 2009 11:36 pm

Yeah, saying that some overly hard topic that is discussed for being overly hard is now askable because it was discussed on the board doesn't seem very fair to people who don't read the board.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by QuizBowlRonin » Mon Apr 20, 2009 9:19 am

The biology is very hard. Most tossups I would not have included in ACF Nationals except in playoff rounds, if at all.

A word about difficulty: inputting answers into Pubmed, and getting citation # <1000 is IMHO not worthy of an answer to a question. In the whole world, asking a question about topics such as those are answerable by less than several thousand people. In quizbowl, you'd be lucky to get even one (the question author most likely).

i.e.

sliding clamp proteins (280 citations)
Psi packaging (219 citations)
Warburg (283 citations, but arguably important)
SANT domains (68 citations!!!)
Wallerian degeneration (2220 citations, very low for a tossup answer)

Exceptions do exist for historically important topics i.e. Hayflick limit.

Also care needs to be taken when asking questions about pharmacology, which will exclude all people who are not physicians, pharmacists, or basic science pharmacologists from answer those questions. There aren't that many of those people in all of quiz bowl. Same is true of named unusual and rare syndromes - none except some physicians will know that.

====

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by alkrav112 » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:33 am

Matt Weiner wrote:Yeah, saying that some overly hard topic that is discussed for being overly hard is now askable because it was discussed on the board doesn't seem very fair to people who don't read the board.
Fair enough. Let me then express my opinion that he should be tossupable, albeit only at Nationals or near-Nationals difficulty tournaments. As far as non-Sapir/Whorf/Chomsky linguists go, Labov is a pretty big name; I'm glad that he finally came up that way at a tournament, and that people who went to this tournament and had not previously heard of him have now been exposed to the beauty that is William Labov.
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