Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 10:42 am

QuizBowlRonin wrote: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.
I guess I was biased because several of these subjects came up in Lodish or whatever the genetics textbook we use is (Watson?) and others were covered in a very low level course (many people take it for "Science A" core credit) that I took last year. I know that it's amateurish to assume "this book I read came up in class, so it must be ACF Fall tossupable!" and then you get submitted tossups on The Golden Calf. I guess I thought that since science actually does try to teach you easy things before hard things (as opposed to "let's read some books" classes), and since this is meant to be a hard tournament, that some of these answers might go over okay. My bad.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by QuizBowlRonin » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:05 am

everyday847 wrote:I guess I was biased because several of these subjects came up in Lodish or whatever the genetics textbook we use is (Watson?) and others were covered in a very low level course (many people take it for "Science A" core credit) that I took last year. I know that it's amateurish to assume "this book I read came up in class, so it must be ACF Fall tossupable!" and then you get submitted tossups on The Golden Calf. I guess I thought that since science actually does try to teach you easy things before hard things (as opposed to "let's read some books" classes), and since this is meant to be a hard tournament, that some of these answers might go over okay. My bad.
I think it's been said here before, but it is a bad assumption to think that every topic in science textbooks are worthy to be asked of in quizbowl, especially when said textbooks are detailed enough to be commonly used as references for graduate students and faculty. On the other hand every topic in textbooks designed to be introductory texts (like Campbell) should be askable.

I don't know the caliber of Harvard students out there, but I would not recommend a generic music major to read Lodish for a class just to fulfill his or her distribution requirements for a degree. That really is the definition of overkill.
Last edited by QuizBowlRonin on Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by grapesmoker » Mon Apr 20, 2009 11:12 am

I demand more tossups on The Golden Calf!

I've been looking over the set and while the bio/chem science seems pretty wacky, the physics seems all right so far, and most of the humanities is at a decently high but not impossible level. I regret not being able to make this tournament.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:18 pm

Yeah this tournament is basically defined by pretty interesting Humanities, then completely uninteresting science that just went on way too long. Andy, you need to really get an editor for your writing, because between this and the Weekend of Quizbowl science that featured things like a 9.5 line tossup for high schoolers on Avogadro's number (that finished with a 4.5 long sentence AFTER the FTP) it is very clear someone needs to tell you to stop it and try to adhere to some kind of line cap depending on your tournament. Sure, and open tournament warrants longer tossups than a high school tournament, but nowhere near as long as you made it, especially given that often it was 12+ lines of clues nobody was buzzing on and had any real frame of knowlegde to be aided by. Also, I got pretty bored by the constant barrage of organic chemistry and medical clues. I would encourage science editors to make use of these things in better proportion with other subjects. Anyway, I think i'm speaking for the vast majority of attendants in saying it felt like engaging packets with interesting things that 5 times a game got put on pause for us to read a tossups full of nothing anybody knew that took at least a minute to read and that ended up annoying a lot of people.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sir Thopas » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:21 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:the Weekend of Quizbowl science that featured things like a 9.5 line tossup for high schoolers on Avogadro's number (that finished with a 4.5 long sentence AFTER the FTP)
While that's clearly ridiculous, the latter part is definitely a flaw of the PACE format.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 12:40 pm

Jeremy Gibbs Free Energy wrote:Yeah this tournament is basically defined by pretty interesting Humanities, then completely uninteresting science that just went on way too long. Andy, you need to really get an editor for your writing, because between this and the Weekend of Quizbowl science that featured things like a 9.5 line tossup for high schoolers on Avogadro's number (that finished with a 4.5 long sentence AFTER the FTP) it is very clear someone needs to tell you to stop it and try to adhere to some kind of line cap depending on your tournament. Sure, and open tournament warrants longer tossups than a high school tournament, but nowhere near as long as you made it, especially given that often it was 12+ lines of clues nobody was buzzing on and had any real frame of knowlegde to be aided by. Also, I got pretty bored by the constant barrage of organic chemistry and medical clues. I would encourage science editors to make use of these things in better proportion with other subjects. Anyway, I think i'm speaking for the vast majority of attendants in saying it felt like engaging packets with interesting things that 5 times a game got put on pause for us to read a tossups full of nothing anybody knew that took at least a minute to read and that ended up annoying a lot of people.
I'll gladly admit to the flaws of this tournament that actually exist; length was one of them. But I really don't think that the proportion of organic chemistry at this tournament was terribly high; it seems five tossups (pyrrole, Tamiflu, Curtius rearrangement, Schiff bases, Woodward) and four or five bonuses (harder because some were just parts; full bonuses I'll count nitro/Meisenheimer/Janovski, B-V ox/ aldehyde/ Dakin, carbenes/ Arndt-Eistert/ Wolff, Kolbe/ Schmidt/ Pinner as being orgo, with maybe another bonus total of orgo material) qualify.

Of these, I was very sure to try to touch new topics or touch old topics in new ways, like a tossup on syntheses of Tamiflu or important chemistry (mostly organic) done by Woodward. As for the constant barrage of medical clues, as you put it, it seems like just months ago people were calling for the revision of the chemistry canon to include more biological clues and such. Did I overdo it, resulting in an unpleasant barrage of clues discussing the biological importance of some areas of chemistry?

As to the WoQ set, I was asked to edit the science from four or five packets in one night, plus write the science for another (and rewrite piece of shit bonus parts on 2+2=4). I had two problem sets to finish. I prioritized pyramidality and preventing buzzer races over controlling length. I'll feel bad about that one pretty much never.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:25 pm

everyday847 wrote:As for the constant barrage of medical clues, as you put it, it seems like just months ago people were calling for the revision of the chemistry canon to include more biological clues and such. Did I overdo it, resulting in an unpleasant barrage of clues discussing the biological importance of some areas of chemistry?
Maybe it's the premed talking, but I really like these bio/biomedical clues. For me, the most tiresome aspect of the science was the quantum computing or obscure physics that was far out of my, and many other players', league; I found that the biomedical clues were the most intriguing. I did not like the Tamiflu tossup, though, because while it was a novel way of approaching a topic, the synthesis of Tamiflu is esoteric enough so as to render much of the question completely unbuzzable for even very good science players.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by cvdwightw » Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:59 pm

First off, I think it's universally known that Dees hates science and thus I would expect him to call science "uninteresting" even if it were actually well-written questions on important things.

Second, I would like to see a hard nine line cap on tossups at the nationals/open level (and yes, I've occasionally violated this hard cap) and a target of seven to eight. If you're going into double digits, it's not because you've spent so much time making finely graded distinctions in your clue difficulties; it's because you've (a) put way too many difficult clues in that no one's going to buzz on, (b) spent time putting every conceivable middle clue and giveaway in, or (c) put in run-on sentences with nonclues just to increase the length of the tossup. I once wrote an eleven-line tossup on "ketones," and was able to edit it down to eight without really any loss in quality. When I was at UCLA, I had a teammate send me a fifteen-line tossup for an ACF Regionals packet. The point is that outside of the really, really dedicated players, no one wants to hear these kinds of tossups. Save some of your fifty thousand lead-in clues for your next tossup on whatever it is, don't feel obligated to put every middle clue imaginable in, and read over your question to get rid of non-clues.

Jason, I too used Lodish for an intro to molecular bio lower division class, but I agree that the textbook goes into quite a bit of depth in a lot of topics (and not very in depth at all in some as well); those things (e.g. all the proteins they use as examples of stuff) should be saved for lead-ins/third parts of bonuses.

I'll probably have a more detailed post once I (a) look at the packets and (b) receive some feedback on the ACF Nats science.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:14 pm

cvdwightw wrote:Second, I would like to see a hard nine line cap on tossups at the nationals/open level (and yes, I've occasionally violated this hard cap) and a target of seven to eight. If you're going into double digits, it's not because you've spent so much time making finely graded distinctions in your clue difficulties; it's because you've (a) put way too many difficult clues in that no one's going to buzz on, (b) spent time putting every conceivable middle clue and giveaway in, or (c) put in run-on sentences with nonclues just to increase the length of the tossup.
This is what I realized a little after the fact; I think I was a little too concerned with some of my answer selections, since they were hard, and spent too much time trying to give them away (or since they weren't canonical and therefore had no pre-defined giveaway clue, mentioning a bunch of easy things about them), and probably too much time dawdling in the middle clues "just in case" (since for extra hard things, there's an even more precipitous drop between leadins and giveaways). I think that, besides obviously capping HFT at six lines, I'll try to institute eight and nine line hard caps for T-Party and HI, respectively, next year.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:31 pm

For what it's worth, of the relatively few packets I've looked through for this event, I don't think most of the science tossups are too crazy hard. Granted, they are mostly too long and probably several sci bonuses are unreasonably tough, but relatively few of the tossups strike me as "11-line tu on something noone's ever heard of" - rather, it's usually just "tossup on pretty hard thing which even most good players will have to wait about 7 lines to be able to buzz on"
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Captain Sinico » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:57 pm

I very much disliked the science at this tournament, not because it was hard* but because it was poorly written on the whole. Many or even most of the questions from math/computer science and especially physics spent significant amounts of time on non-unique, entirely useless, or even misleading/wrong clues. I suspect that the same was true in other science subjects, but the fraction of answers and clues I'd heard of in those areas was too small for me to create the sample size required for good inferences (though I didn't like what I did understand of it.) As I've already been over this point with Andy in IRC, I don't want to belabor it unnecessarily here, but I don't think anyone should walk away thinking that the only problem with the science was that it was too hard+.
To take flight from that point somewhat, it seemed to me that the issues with the questions were the result of someone who meant well, but didn't have the real background knowledge to write the stuff intended well. Let's consider an off-the-cuff example from the packet I most recently read: the tossup on lambda-CDM models-. This tossup spends on the order of three lead-in lines delineating and then naming the Courant (more often called CFL) condition. All of that is wasted: every explicit parabolic numerical code employs a CFL condition, since they won't work properly otherwise, so the number of answers given that clue is enormous (any model/theory containing a parabolic equation.) Now, as Andy Watkins doesn't spend his life writing such codes, I don't necessarily expect he'll know that fact; conversely, anyone who knows enough to understand that clue knows that it's useless. So, it's clear that this problem and the many analogues to it found throughout the questions result from attempting canon expansion without really understanding the subject, which leads to my point: don't fake the funk by attempting canon expansion (especially in hard science) without a solid understanding of the subject you're expanding into.

*Don't mistake my point here: the science in this tournament was extremely hard relative to other subjects at the same tournament and in any other reasonable sense, a fact that must be counted against the quality of this otherwise satisfying set in the final analysis. But premising that I want to play an extremely hard tournament's worth of science, an urge I often have, the answers en bloc aren't such that an acceptable set of questions is impossible.

+Perhaps this issue has not been raised heretofore (in two ways) because the science is so hard, so it's proportionally difficult to judge its clues.

-This question wasn't particularly egregious, it just happened to be at the end of the round from HI that I read most recently. There are many other questions with essentially the same issue.

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 3:24 pm

I think that's a fair criticism; I know that (when the questions have been at a low enough level for me to have seen this to be true myself), it's been frustrating. Let's call it the equation of state error, for the place where it's most evident and common (since in quizbowl, hearing "acentric factor" and "it's cubic!" means Redlich-Kwong, even though in reality that's not unique). (Actually, I tried to write a Redlich-Kwong tossup for this set, and I'm not sure how it turned out; I tried first to include specific classification schemes, etc. that seemed to use it exclusively, and then to stray away from just presenting non-unique facts about it by themselves.)

I don't think that the same error extended into biology or chemistry (or at least the parts of chemistry that don't take training that I don't have in order to understand deeply), but if it did, please let me know.

EDIT: Also, while I've gotten better at sniffing out non-clues at lower levels, I obviously don't have that skill to an appropriate extent at higher levels. How best to develop it?
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Mon Apr 20, 2009 6:54 pm

While that's clearly ridiculous, the latter part is definitely a flaw of the PACE format.
As I pointed out off the boards to you, this isn't the case since it wasn't a stretch round tossup. Anyway, I guess one point I didn't fully get across is that I would like to see you use more periods in general. This weekend was not really an exception to my complaint that you had inordinately long statements after the FTP, and I really think in the future the stuff behind the For 10 points really should just be the last couple clues for a tossup. Here's an example -
Relevant to autocatalytic reactions, where the product catalyzes its own formation, and first described by Verhulst in response to Malthus, for 10 points, give the term for this kind of function, a simple example of which is equal to e to the x over quantity one plus e to the x, the most common example of a sigmoid curve most famous for its applications in population growth.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:02 pm

I don't really think a hard cap on length is necessary if people just adhere to a reasonable average with a few outliers here or there. This is a hard event meant to distinguish between the top players, so a few twelve-liners are probably okay. That said, there were too many of those in the set. I think the solution to this is to adopt a rule of reason instead of trying to legislate a hard-and-fast limit.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:09 pm

I can see how that's hard to read; I'll look out for that in the future. Thanks.

Anyway, to discuss the thing we're not discussing, the file that I sent Trygve had plasmas and Avogadro in the stretch round, as well as BEC/ photons/ Fermi-Dirac and H-W/ natural selection/ sickle-cell. I totally would not have done anything that ridiculous if the tossup (in my mind) had been meant for anything other than the stretch round. But since we're instructed to keep the fact that it's power before the FTP in mind when we write the questions, I always made sure to do just that, placing the FTP more or less where I thought a power mark ought to go.

EDIT: I think it's too easy, Andrew, to have an arms race with yourself if you don't set a hard cap. That is, once I've "reasonably" written a few tossups a half-line above the cap, it seems not unreasonable to break the cap by a line--and then, hey, why not two... It's not too dangerous an idea as long as you set a high enough cap, I guess. It's just a little hard to wish something to be like people adhering to a reasonable average: a hard cap is a tool to make sure people do that.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by theMoMA » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:14 pm

All I mean is that you should be trying to have the bulk of your questions in an appropriate range (say, 8-9 lines). If you can't tell the difference between a few reasonable deviations from that as the clues present themselves, and writing an entire tournament of 12-line tossups, perhaps a hard cap would be appropriate.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Magister Ludi » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:34 pm

theMoMA wrote:All I mean is that you should be trying to have the bulk of your questions in an appropriate range (say, 8-9 lines). If you can't tell the difference between a few reasonable deviations from that as the clues present themselves, and writing an entire tournament of 12-line tossups, perhaps a hard cap would be appropriate.
I agree with Andrew. I think stringent line caps is a somewhat foolish and unnecessary measure and question length should be evaluated on a question by question basis. I'm in favor of a soft line cap where questions can range from 8-10.5 lines, with the understanding that very few questions need to be over ten lines. There is no reason to enforce a line cap if that cap hurts a question. Perhaps, Andy wants to impose a hard cap on himself to control some of the issues with this year's science. However, I've found that consistent question length problems derive more from a lack of understanding of what the appropriate middle clues are for a subject leading to someone just haphazardly throwing clues in a question hoping some of the clues will work.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Mon Apr 20, 2009 7:44 pm

Yeah, that's certainly reasonable. A cap of 8.5-10.5 lines would feel luxurious enough that there'd be little temptation to carve out an exception, then make an exception from an exception, etc.. i agree that a case-to-case basis is ideal; the actual quality of the question is of course paramount.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by setht » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:27 am

I avoided this thread while Chicago played through the set in practice the last couple weeks, but now that that's done I wanted to register some complaints about the physical science and some scattered other stuff. Mike has already said a lot of what I wanted to say, but I'll go ahead and say it again because I felt pretty strongly while playing the set that there were lots of really bad questions that suffered from a few common issues.

Some science comments on a packet by packet basis:

Packet 1--the tossup on the Pleistocene first refers to it (incorrectly) as a period, then as an epoch. The question also refers to the Eemian as a period, but this is less problematic than misusing a noun with a specific (in this context) meaning to refer to the answer. This isn't terrible, but there's no reason to use period; just use "timespan," as is done later in the question. The tossup on loop quantum gravity seems like a really bad answer choice to start with, and then the giveaway is "loops + unifies quantum mechanics with gravity." If you pick an answer and then realize there is no legitimate giveaway because there is no widely-known fact associated with the answer, don't write the tossup. The bonus on the Thomas-Fermi model had plenty of useless verbiage that didn't clue me in to answering with Thomas-Fermi despite learning about it in class, and a second part that still confuses me when I read it ("Both functions..." refers to what, exactly? I count one function mentioned so far in the prompt) and gives zero description of the polylogarithm function. Perhaps the intent was that only people who know about the polylogarithm off its appearance in expressions relating to Bose-Einstein condensates (to keep all those posers who only know about the polylogarithm from its definition or something) would be able to get points. This is a legitimately hard answer to come up with even if the prompt gave the most useful clues; asking people to come up with hard answers and giving almost no useful material to work with is just ridiculous.

Packet 2--the tossup on Ehrenfest is 11 lines long. I don't think there are enough levels of Ehrenfest knowledge in the community at large to require this kind of length. In particular, the first 3.5 sentences (up through "spinor") don't do anything to help me, and the stuff about spinors is awkwardly worded. I understand that the intent is to say "he introduced the term 'spinor,'" which seems somewhat interesting, but it's pretty hard to parse that correctly while playing the question. Anyway, the next thing is the phase transition classification, which seems more important/famous to me than the paradox in the next sentence. If the paradox has become quizbowl famous or something I guess this is the right ordering; otherwise it's backwards. Finally, I think the giveaway should paraphrase what the Ehrenfest equation says, rather than writing it out in grisly detail (in fact, writing it out might make for a better late middle clue after the 3.5 lines of lead-in get trimmed down to reasonable length). The plasma bonus should have Vlasov as the necessary part. X-shaped radio galaxies seems overly hard.

Packet 3--the tossup on dichroism has a fair amount of useless stuff (e.g. "One type of this phenomenon is sometimes measured in the presence of a strong magnetic field and produces two different effects, one of which is much stronger at low temperatures.").

Packet 4--I think approximately the first half of the Kirchhoff tossup is leadin-level material. My advice would be to cut most of it and spend more time on middle clues--people actually learn stuff about Kirchhoff in classes, why not try to reward that? The bonus on groundwater movement has a completely non-specific third part ("[10] In the vadose zone, above the water table, the movement of water is often described by this equation."). There is no way that that prompt uniquely specifies the Richards equation (as opposed to Darcy's law or pretty much any fluid equation, depending on how far you're willing to stretch the definition of "often"). I happen to think that writing on the Richards equation isn't a good idea in the first place, but writing on it in such a manner that there's no possible way a player with good knowledge could be sure of what to say is really bad.


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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by setht » Wed May 06, 2009 11:23 am

I forgot that I wanted to bring up the following tossup:
HI Packet Five wrote:14. This figure’s brother became the leader of the Barking Giants, whose death was discussed between Gylfi and Harr, who thought he should have been strangled rather than killed with an antler. In addition to that brother, Beli, this goddess’ father was given Laevatienn, which was later used to cut the roots of Yggdrasil by Surt, who later attacks this figure’s future lover. This woman agreed to take a man as a lover after he threatened to have his messenger Skirnir cover the world in ice using that sword, after she initially refused eleven golden apples and the ring Draupnir. For 10 points, identify this daughter of Gymir and Aurboda, a goddess of sex and fertility who lit up the air and sea with her glowing, naked arms and was loved by Frey.
ANSWER: Gerd
I think the second sentence is constructed rather poorly (and the first sentence is no prize, either)--either my reading comprehension skills suck, or the beginning of that sentence incorrectly implies that Beli was given to Gymir. The final bit about "this figure's future lover" is also a bit confusing, since by the time Surt attacks Frey he's already married to Gerd; also, the attack on Frey comes before Surt cuts the roots of Yggdrasil. There's also some jumping around between different nouns for referring to Gerd (figure, goddess, and woman all make appearances, but never "giantess"), and Frey is referred to as a man.

There's also some material here that I've never seen before and can't find in my copies of the Eddas: Skirnir's threat to cover the world in ice (could be a translation issue--I do see Skirnir threaten to strand Gerd in the world of the frost giants), Laevateinn as Frey's sword (this seems to be an accepted "quizbowl fact" by now, but I've never seen a good source for it--does anyone have one?), the Barking Giants (again, no mention of this group in my copies of the Eddas; is there some other good source or version of the Eddas that mentions them?), and Beli as Gerd's brother (the closest I can find is that there's a line mentioning that Gerd is unhappy at Frey as her brother's killer [actually, it sounds like Gerd might be saying that Skirnir will kill her brother], and we know that Frey kills Beli at Ragnarok, but there's no explicit identification of Gerd's brother as Beli that I can find--any source for this?). Of these, the last one seems most problematic for this question, since the opening is based entirely on Beli being Gerd's brother. If there are good sources for these clues I'd like to hear about them.

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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by No Rules Westbrook » Wed May 06, 2009 12:07 pm

Hey, let's not squelch the backstory of Laevateinn here - if anything, we should be inventing stuff about it, cause I really want to have enough to write that tossup someday.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed May 06, 2009 12:34 pm

setht wrote:I think the second sentence is constructed rather poorly (and the first sentence is no prize, either)--either my reading comprehension skills suck, or the beginning of that sentence incorrectly implies that Beli was given to Gymir. The final bit about "this figure's future lover" is also a bit confusing, since by the time Surt attacks Frey he's already married to Gerd; also, the attack on Frey comes before Surt cuts the roots of Yggdrasil. There's also some jumping around between different nouns for referring to Gerd (figure, goddess, and woman all make appearances, but never "giantess"), and Frey is referred to as a man.
I agree. I think both Dominic and I negged with Surt or something in the first line.
setht wrote:There's also some material here that I've never seen before and can't find in my copies of the Eddas: Skirnir's threat to cover the world in ice (could be a translation issue--I do see Skirnir threaten to strand Gerd in the world of the frost giants),
This one's on me; I used this as a clue in a tossup at CO last year. Here's a source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ger%C3%B0r. You think I'd know better.
setht wrote:Laevateinn as Frey's sword (this seems to be an accepted "quizbowl fact" by now, but I've never seen a good source for it--does anyone have one?)
This one is definitely on me, and I'd like it to stop here. I wrote a bonus for ACF nationals 2007 which stated that Laevatienn was Frey's sword. It turns out that 1. My source on that was bad, again, and 2. The only place where Frey's sword is definitively Laevatienn was in Marvel Comics. Sorry about that.
setht wrote:the Barking Giants (again, no mention of this group in my copies of the Eddas; is there some other good source or version of the Eddas that mentions them?), and Beli as Gerd's brother (the closest I can find is that there's a line mentioning that Gerd is unhappy at Frey as her brother's killer [actually, it sounds like Gerd might be saying that Skirnir will kill her brother], and we know that Frey kills Beli at Ragnarok, but there's no explicit identification of Gerd's brother as Beli that I can find--any source for this?).
Yeah this is what confused me too, I'd never heard that Beli was Gerd's brother.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by DumbJaques » Wed May 06, 2009 12:40 pm

I see no problem with people using contentious translations as clues (really, I think a clue about an argument for what a sword is called, ie "Ryan Westbrook argued that its name means 'Whore-Killer' citing the controversial Berdichevsky manuscripts" is much more interesting than citing whatever random line of the Lokasenna that involves your tossup answer). Of course, you need to make it very clear that it's contentious, you need to make sure that it's actually a point of scholarly debate and not just a random bad translation on the internet (both of which I find hard enough to do), and all other writers need to make sure they don't just use your information without really understanding it. Really, it surprises me that people would go to something like Eric's tossups and mine clues instead of looking them up themselves - do people actually do that?
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Cheynem » Wed May 06, 2009 12:45 pm

Eh, almost all of my myth knowledge comes from Marvel Comics. DC is rather disappointing in this regard, although you can get random crap from Wonder Woman comics.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Sima Guang Hater » Wed May 06, 2009 1:04 pm

DumbJaques wrote: Really, it surprises me that people would go to something like Eric's tossups and mine clues instead of looking them up themselves - do people actually do that?
I do mine tossups for clues in order to pick them up, and I generally cross-check them somewhere. The problem arises when I cross-check them on wikipedia, it seems like.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Wed May 06, 2009 1:18 pm

Yeah, the final content of that Gerd tossup is due to Dallas, but its quality issues are attributable to me since I sent him a pretty horrific skeleton of a tossup that I had written over last summer to fix up into something useable. I can't claim credit for confusing sentence structure, but it should never have had to happen in the first place.
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Re: Tournament Discussion Committee of the First International

Post by MikeWormdog » Wed May 06, 2009 4:57 pm

setht wrote: There's also some material here that I've never seen before and can't find in my copies of the Eddas: Skirnir's threat to cover the world in ice (could be a translation issue--I do see Skirnir threaten to strand Gerd in the world of the frost giants), Laevateinn as Frey's sword (this seems to be an accepted "quizbowl fact" by now, but I've never seen a good source for it--does anyone have one?), the Barking Giants (again, no mention of this group in my copies of the Eddas; is there some other good source or version of the Eddas that mentions them?), and Beli as Gerd's brother (the closest I can find is that there's a line mentioning that Gerd is unhappy at Frey as her brother's killer [actually, it sounds like Gerd might be saying that Skirnir will kill her brother], and we know that Frey kills Beli at Ragnarok, but there's no explicit identification of Gerd's brother as Beli that I can find--any source for this?). Of these, the last one seems most problematic for this question, since the opening is based entirely on Beli being Gerd's brother. If there are good sources for these clues I'd like to hear about them.

According to the Dictionary of Northern Mythology by Rudolf Simek (trans. Angela Hall from 1992 German edition), Seth's line of reasoning is correct. Since Beli is a giant and Freyr is known as "Beli's killer" in a lot of kennings, and the giant Gerdr grieves over her brother's death at the hands of Freyr in the Lay of Skinir/Skinirsmal, Simek says, "We may conclude from this that Beli was the brother of Gerdr and as such the son of Gymir and Aurboda, but this is by no means certain." [Simek, s.v. Beli (1)]

No mention of the name of Freyr's sword or the "Barking giants" in Simek. I would guess that they were 19th-century suppositions or conjectures that have since gained fairly widespread credence and thus quizbowl validation.

As an aside, people writing Norse/Germanic myth questions should probably take a look at the Simek book since it's good at providing references, is fairly inexpensive, and was written by a pretty reputable guy.
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