New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Irreligion in Bangladesh » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:37 pm

First off, a large congratulations to all who made the finals, and larger still to Andrew and Lloyd for an excellently played match. It was easily the best Solo final I've witnessed.

My opinions re: categories.
Non-comp. math: To my recollection, every alg/precalc and geo/trig question was computational. The non-comp questions in the pyramidal math category were largely "name the word that applies in each of these contexts," which is what you'd have to do to mesh a non-comp question with the general motif that "Pyramidal Math" aims for. As a whole, this left me somewhat nonplussed by the non-comp math, as were the players in my rooms - only one non-comp question (Fermat, by either Deveau or Blumenfeld, I don't remember) was answered in my room all day. Obviously, this can be fixed by writing "regular" non-comp questions along the lines we see elsewhere, but that would require a change in math categories. So...

Comp. math: I agree with the rest of the crowd - we're running out of rationales to account for computational math. I'm going to lump this in with...
Vocabulary/Nonfiction: I realize that the purpose of these categories is to allow for "standard" catgories like philo/soc/psych/etc. questions, but I feel that this concept can be better performed by a Social Science category as has been proposed.

Where the new distribution would go can be debated, but it really is time for changes like these.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Sun Nov 08, 2009 7:55 pm

David Riley wrote:I don't think any two people are ever going to totally agree on distribution. I don't think Mr. Reinstein is going to give up comp math, either, but he can speak for himself on this and other issues raised here.
I disagree with the first point. Certainly, there are debates over things like geography, but for the most part, experienced quizbowl players agree that ACF is the best model for question distributions. Actually, I think that's exactly what Jack said: that Scobol Solo should use ACF as a model, not necessarily following it to the letter. Anyway, there is little purpose in trying to come up with a new distribution ex nihilo when years of tournaments have refined the one used by ACF.

As for your second point...I don't want to start arithmetic debate 2901533-J here. Every other thread should suffice to show why it is not quizbowl. Most importantly, speed arithmetic tossups are converted at an unacceptably low rate. While I respect Mr. Reinstein for writing this tournament and improving its quality over the years, it is the purpose of this board to inform him of how to improve it further.
David Riley wrote:I really wasn't clear, I was speaking more of answer space for competitive teams/players rather than question quality. If we followed quiz bowl leads, I don't think the average high school student would be able to answer questions on the finer points of Achebe or Japanese literature.
If quizbowl were oriented towards the average high school student, I would quit tomorrow. The whole point of playing qb is to learn things: I agree that Japanese lit is overrepresented, but Achebe? Achebe is a staple of world lit. Honestly, a player who can't answer an Achebe tossup before FTP isn't a "competitive" lit player.

Anyway, here's my point: just rip the band-aid off. There's no reason for Solo to go through a gradual, painstaking process to become good quizbowl. Eliminate wonky categories, follow ACF's distribution, and write good questions. It would be great for quizbowl in Illinois if the state's premiere tournament followed good standards next year.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by JackGlerum » Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:04 pm

Furthermore, Solo caters to Chicagoland teams who by and large go to good tournaments (right?). Granted, I wasn't in attendance this year, but this proposed tweak in distribution shouldn't necessarily crank up difficulty and thus won't turn people off.

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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by David Riley » Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:11 pm

Matt: I don't agree with them, but the average high school student in Illinois--and their coaches, I'm afraid--perceive quiz bowl as a variant of Trivial Pursuit at worst or Jeopardy! at best. While those of us whoi embrace good quiz bowl (as Jonah said, relatively few individuals/teams) agree that you need to go beyonod the "average" knowledge base, that's not universal here. The "everybody wins" philosophy is rampant among them, whereas those of us who embrace good quiz bowl perceive it as a natuarlly elitist activity. Again, if Mr. Reinstein wishes to attract a large group, then that has to be taken into account.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by David Riley » Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:13 pm

JackGlerum wrote:Furthermore, Solo caters to Chicagoland teams who by and large go to good tournaments (right?). Granted, I wasn't in attendance this year, but this proposed tweak in distribution shouldn't necessarily crank up difficulty and thus won't turn people off.
I would have to check the schools in attendance against their participation in good tournaments.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Sun Nov 08, 2009 8:21 pm

David Riley wrote:
JackGlerum wrote:Furthermore, Solo caters to Chicagoland teams who by and large go to good tournaments (right?). Granted, I wasn't in attendance this year, but this proposed tweak in distribution shouldn't necessarily crank up difficulty and thus won't turn people off.
I would have to check the schools in attendance against their participation in good tournaments.
I wouldn't necessarily agree with Jack. Most of the teams are Chicagoland, but not necessarily those who go to good tournaments. The following schools were represented this year:
Auburn (9)+, Buffalo Grove (5)?, Carbondale (7)+, Crete-Monee (3), Fenton (5), Fremd (3)*, Hoffman Estates (3)?, Homewood-Flossmoor (3)*, IMSA (4)?, Latin (13)?, Leyden (5)?, Libertyville (2)?, Lincoln-Way North (3)*, Lisle (4), Loyola (10), Macarthur (1)+?, Maine East (4)*, Maine South (4), Moline (1)+*, Naperville Central (3)?, New Trier (3), Niles North (2)*, OPRF (4)?, St. Charles East (2)?, St. Ignatius (5), Stevenson (4), Wheaton Academy (6)?, Wheaton North (5)?, Wheaton-Warrenville South (5)

Total: 29 different schools
*Doesn't go largely to good tournaments (7 = 24%)
+Not Chicagoland (5 = 17%)
?Unsure how to categorize with regard to participation in good tournaments (13 = 54%). Some schools are in this category because I just don't know; others because past years would put them in the * category but they appear to possibly be turning a corner this year. Most of them probably belong in the * category, but to avoid accidentally and incorrectly offending someone, I'm generally giving the benefit of the doubt.

Combining * and ?, we get a total of 69% of the schools in attendance (not counting relative proportions of students) whose participation in mostly good tournaments is not the case or is in question.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Big D » Sun Nov 08, 2009 11:17 pm

I'm not too sure where I stand on distribution issues. I share many people's opinions regarding Comp. Math, but in the end it's really gonna be Reinstein's choice. He's the one running the whole thing, and he's the one writing all the questions.

Whatever ends up getting decided, I'm almost positive that most, if not all of the schools that showed up this year would send people next year as well, because of the Solo being such a unique tournament. To be honest, it was always one of the tournaments I was more excited for (even if I only ended up going to two of them). If that's any indication of how other people feel, he probably wouldn't have a problem getting a fantastic turnout, regardless of how the distribution or format changes for next year's Solo.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:57 am

Thanks to Jack for pointing this discussion in a more interesting direction. I do work very hard on this tournament, but that does not mean that it is beyond criticism.

Two other people owed thanks are Jonah, who read through several drafts of the questions and gave a lot of good advice, and Chris Ray, who sent me some intelligent criticism of last year's questions after listening to my Kathy and Judy (RIP) bit. I got some help from other sources as well.

A few things about Jack's criticisms specifically--I don't really care whether or not my tournament is gimmicky, and I don't really care whether it is emblematic of new quizbowl or old scholastic bowl. This doesn't really negate his points, it's more of a semantics thing. I'll also add that the comparison between this tournament and Ultima can only go so far, since there were very significant differences. All that being said, the gist of what he was getting at was valid.

I do plan on keeping the math as is. If somebody wants to start a thread about math in Scobol Solo, I can be part of the conversation. For now, let me make a few points specifically about this tournament directed towards people who are against computational math:
* In tournaments which use IHSA format, you might drag along a math specialist or promote one to your A Team even if that person was uninterested or no good at other quizbowl questions. That's not an issue at a Solo Tournament.
* If the biggest problem with the math questions were that two knowledgeable in most matches were efficiently working out problems and that people who had a solid understanding of the problem were commonly being beaten to the buzzer, then that would be a serious problem. Based on what I have seen and heard, that isn't happening in this particular tournament so much. It's not an IHSA tournament pitting one team's math specialist against another's--it's two people going at it, and often at least one of them isn't so good at math.
* The questions are written by somebody who to at least some extent includes some conceptual thinking with the computation.
* If somebody outside of Illinois wants to mirror Solo, I will send them the questions sorted by category, which they can put into rounds however they want and toss out whatever they want.

Let me also say this--I find it laborious to write significant amounts of noncomputational math. I wrote five such questions for this tournament (Residual, Convergent/Converging, Fermat, Confidence, Rank), and I wasn't happy with them. I cannot make something a category unless I can come up with 20 questions a year in it without repeating myself year after year. One of my goals for next year is to write five good ones.

Let me say a few things about category changes for next year. This is not an official announcement, but it's where my thinking is at right now. If I'm still thinking the same way in July, then I'll be able to make an official announcement then. First of all, I think Vocabulary was the worst category in this year's tournament. It probably will be eliminated, opening up a space for a second American Lit category. I will revive what I did the first year of Solo, having a US Novels and Novelists category and an Other US Lit category. Also, I think Interdisciplinary is dispensable--if it helps me get to twenty categories I'll take it, otherwise I don't need it. I probably will replace it with an additional US History category, probably giving me a US History pre 1900 and a US History since 1900. I am also going to rearrange the Geography/Astro/ES category to get an Other Science category and combine the Geography with Current Events (so that each round will have Geography or Current Events). The Other Science would consist of Astronomy, Earth Science, topics that don't fit perfectly into the three main sciences (such as Biochem or Thermo), Health (along the lines of the Vitamin D and Rabies questions from this year rather than questions on MyPyramid), and possibly some computational science in the rounds containing some noncomputational math. (There will continue to be three computational questions per round.) I am also toying with renaming Nonfiction as Philosophy/Social Science, though I don't see that as a major change since that's the direction those questions have been going in recent years anyways.

While in general I agree that announcing categories is bad, I don't think it's a huge deal, and I want to keep in order to keep the category tallies, which is one of the quirks in this tournament that I like and that seems to be popular. It's possible a few years from now that the tallying will become more automated, which would make it possible for me to keep the tallies while scrambling the question order, which in turn would allow me to eliminate announcing categories. It doesn't make sense to me to have the questions in the same order each round without announcing the categories, since putting them in the same order is tantamount to announcing them for each round after the first one.

As far as Shakespeare is concerned, I write four or five each year. Four of them go into the regular rounds, and each student plays half the regular rounds. In other words, the average student plays two Shakespeare tossups out of seven British Lit tossups or out of 140 total tossups s/he plays during the day. I am of the opinion that this is the right amount.

As far as Religion/Mythology is concerned, I try to have it come out 50/50, and given a choice I would rather have somebody play 4 Myth and 3 Religion rather than vice versa. Sometimes it comes down to which rounds you play--the first match had Ganesha and the second match had Tao.

As far as Palestrina and other difficult tossups, the Scobol Solo Championship is supposed to be played by the top nine students in Illinois. Visitors are also welcome, and due to conflicts and upsets it probably doesn't actually end up being the top nine, but by any rate this is a very good place for tossups that push the envelope. I pushed it too far last year, but I did not think I did so this year. Not counting the four tiebreakers, nine out of 60 questions went dead (geometry comp, Hysteresis, Entablature, Rank, another geometry comp, pyramidal math, Glycerine, Glucagon, Robert the Bruce). If one out of nine students can get Palestrina before, "Name this composer who sometimes is credited for saving polyphonic music," then that question properly rewarded knowledge.

I'll also stand by the Laser question.
These objects sometimes use mode-locking or Q-switching. They require that more molecules be in an excited state than a lower energy state, which is known as population inversion. They also contain a substance such as titanium sapphire which is used as a gain medium inside a resonator cavity, which typically has a fully reflecting mirror on one side and partially transmitting mirror on the other. This technology, whose red type was first introduced in 1960, is now ubiquitous, used in communication, printers, and data storage on CDs and DVDs. Name these devices that emit coherent light.
If you can't get that in the first two-thirds of the question, then I recommend learning something about lasers.

As far as the marketing/field issue is concerned, I don't see it as central to what I do. I spend too much time and make too little money ($0, and my team does not need money either) on this tournament to compromise my integrity at all. I will run it the way I want to run it. (That's not to say that I am not interested in feedback--it's just to say that if somebody told me I could double my field by doing something I didn't want to do that it wouldn't matter whether the claim was true or false.)
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by dtaylor4 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:05 am

drose4prez wrote:I guess it depends on the definition of what's social science and what's philosophy. I'd argue that writing 14 questions of those 4 subcategories of SS would be exhausting a large chunk of the HS canon as well.
I think philosophy you could ask about: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Stoicism, Epicureanism, St Augustine, Aquinas, Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesqiue, Kant, Descartes, Hegel, Marx/Engels. That's 15 right there and I haven't gotten to the late 19th or 20th centuries. Obviously you couldn't use all of the answers I listed, but still I'd think there's a big enough answer space. Maybe I'm just way off base here, but that's my view.
If you want to check out the UIUC Solo set from 2009, you'll find that every round (IIRC, there are 13) has a philosophy question and a social science question. For SS, I primarily used economics, psych, and sociology. For philosophy, I gave Trygve Meade full creative control, since he knows it better than I do. There was also no computational math. The math theory that was included was put under the four science questions per round.

For that tournament, I used the following distro:
4 Literature
4 History
4 Science
1 Religion
1 Myth
1 Philosophy
1 Trash
1 Music
1 Visual Art
1 Geography
1 Social Science

In my mind, the questions suffer from issues that stem from one person writing the whole thing. If Reinstein were to allow other people who can write in areas he is weak in, then the tournament would be all the better for it.

Also, I will use your Palestrina tossup against you. If only one out of nine good players is even buzzing until the end, it is probably too hard. I agree that you should push the envelope, but with that tossup, you're shoving it over the cliff.

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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Boeing X-20, Please! » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:21 am

dtaylor4 wrote: Also, I will use your Palestrina tossup against you. If only one out of nine good players is even buzzing until the end, it is probably too hard. I agree that you should push the envelope, but with that tossup, you're shoving it over the cliff.
I see absolutely nothing wrong with Palestrina being TUed. I am notably really bad at music, yet not only have I heard of him but also the Pope Marcellus Mass more than twice. (I'm obviously not good enough to connect those two things though). I know certain people on my team and from other IL teams notably good at music would have gotten that TU even earlier than that, and if you were to look at it from a national quizbowl perspective somebody like Tommy Casalaspi probably would have ripped that to shreds! Just because nobody on that stage was unable to get it until basically the end does not mean it was in any way, shape, or form too difficult. Hell, Lloyd got the TU because he had the most knowledge about music, and that was the goal of the TU as well as to expand the canon reasonably, and I fail to see how Mr. Reinstein's TU did not do that.

As for LASERs, I understand that if we didn't know those clues we know nothing about lasers. If we know nothing about lasers, we should not be getting TUs on them! To throw in 2 lines of cuteness that create massive buzzer races and so that almost everybody can get it is not the way to write questions. I have nothing wrong with there being a TU on LASERs, but the way it was executed is not in my mind justifiable.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:31 am

Shcool wrote:* If the biggest problem with the math questions were that two knowledgeable in most matches were efficiently working out problems and that people who had a solid understanding of the problem were commonly being beaten to the buzzer, then that would be a serious problem. Based on what I have seen and heard, that isn't happening in this particular tournament so much. It's not an IHSA tournament pitting one team's math specialist against another's--it's two people going at it, and often at least one of them isn't so good at math.
* The questions are written by somebody who to at least some extent includes some conceptual thinking with the computation.
I'm just not seeing either of those two points. I can go through the questions and provide more details at some future point if you want. Yes, these require conceptual knowledge in the form of "do you know how to set this up?", and some people just don't. However, lots of people do, and at that point it's strictly a matter of computation speed. I would argue that the "pyramidal" computation questions are actually even worse than the ones that don't claim to be pyramidal, but again, that's another issue.

My biggest problem with computation -- and Reinstein, I don't think I've ever made this explicit to you -- has nothing to do with how important it is to be able to compute, has nothing to do with upsetting the flow of a game, has nothing to do with the types of computation questions that are feasible, and is only indirectly related to the fact that they are not (generally) written pyramidally.

The problem, for me, is that it is difficult or impossible to learn anything from such a question. If you know how to do it, great, you solve it and if you do so before your opponent you get points. But if you don't, you just sit there and look stupid. By contrast, if there's a question on (say), Henry V that someone in the room answers on the fourth clue, everyone present has just learned three new things about Henry V (and probably everyone except the player who buzzed has learned four). No one is going to absorb every single clue they hear over the course of a tournament, but throughout the day a reasonably intelligent and curious person (the type of person we expect to play quizbowl) will pick up a decent number of new pieces of information. It's theoretically possible, I suppose, to have a moderator say "well, for that one, you draw an altitude from point C and then take the sine of theta and set it equal to one-half..." so that people can learn from computation, but that messes up the flow of the game even more, and comes with other problems. And of course no one does that, so it can't be used as an argument for the status quo.
Shcool wrote:Let me also say this--I find it laborious to write significant amounts of noncomputational math. I wrote five such questions for this tournament (Residual, Convergent/Converging, Fermat, Confidence, Rank), and I wasn't happy with them. I cannot make something a category unless I can come up with 20 questions a year in it without repeating myself year after year. One of my goals for next year is to write five good ones.
I know you've made a habit of writing Solo entirely on your own, though you also take editorial advice from me and maybe others. But if you have trouble writing a type of question that otherwise you think should come up, I think your perceived inability to write those questions shouldn't be a preventative factor. If you want me to write 20/0 conceptual math for next year's tournament, I'll do it.
Shcool wrote:Let me say a few things about category changes for next year. This is not an official announcement, but it's where my thinking is at right now. If I'm still thinking the same way in July, then I'll be able to make an official announcement then. First of all, I think Vocabulary was the worst category in this year's tournament. It probably will be eliminated, opening up a space for a second American Lit category. I will revive what I did the first year of Solo, having a US Novels and Novelists category and an Other US Lit category. Also, I think Interdisciplinary is dispensable--if it helps me get to twenty categories I'll take it, otherwise I don't need it. I probably will replace it with an additional US History category, probably giving me a US History pre 1900 and a US History since 1900. I am also going to rearrange the Geography/Astro/ES category to get an Other Science category and combine the Geography with Current Events (so that each round will have Geography or Current Events). The Other Science would consist of Astronomy, Earth Science, topics that don't fit perfectly into the three main sciences (such as Biochem or Thermo), Health (along the lines of the Vitamin D and Rabies questions from this year rather than questions on MyPyramid), and possibly some computational science in the rounds containing some noncomputational math. (There will continue to be three computational questions per round.) I am also toying with renaming Nonfiction as Philosophy/Social Science, though I don't see that as a major change since that's the direction those questions have been going in recent years anyways.
Well, you've already seen the bulk of my comments on the distribution, and you probably could've predicted to a good approximation what I was going to say before I did. But let me offer a few comments on those specific tentative plans:
  • Thanks for getting rid of vocab.
  • If you have a US history pre-1900 and a US history since 1900 category, are you still going to have a current events category? If so, that's an awful lot of recent happenings. This year's current events quesitons were overwhelmingly American -- the only non-US ones were Saudi Arabia, EU, China, Israel, and Honduras.
  • I hope you'll include some computer science in the Other Science category. Technology used to be a question every match, which was too much (and often trash rather than CS), but computer science is still important. A question or two per player per day (that is, 2-4 questions in the whole set) would probably be reasonable.
  • I support renaming the nonfiction category as indicated, but as you also indicated, it's not a big deal.
Shcool wrote:As far as Shakespeare is concerned, I write four or five each year. Four of them go into the regular rounds, and each student plays half the regular rounds. In other words, the average student plays two Shakespeare tossups out of seven British Lit tossups or out of 140 total tossups s/he plays during the day. I am of the opinion that this is the right amount.
I'm in agreement with the several people who have been saying that the number of Shakespeare questions this year was perfectly fine.
Shcool wrote:As far as Religion/Mythology is concerned, I try to have it come out 50/50, and given a choice I would rather have somebody play 4 Myth and 3 Religion rather than vice versa. Sometimes it comes down to which rounds you play--the first match had Ganesha and the second match had Tao.
Yeah.
Shcool wrote:As far as Palestrina and other difficult tossups, the Scobol Solo Championship is supposed to be played by the top nine students in Illinois. Visitors are also welcome, and due to conflicts and upsets it probably doesn't actually end up being the top nine, but by any rate this is a very good place for tossups that push the envelope. I pushed it too far last year, but I did not think I did so this year. Not counting the four tiebreakers, nine out of 60 questions went dead (geometry comp, Hysteresis, Entablature, Rank, another geometry comp, pyramidal math, Glycerine, Glucagon, Robert the Bruce). If one out of nine students can get Palestrina before, "Name this composer who sometimes is credited for saving polyphonic music," then that question properly rewarded knowledge.
This year's championship round was much, much better than last year's in terms of answer selection. I don't know about Palestrina, but it's certainly no "ampullae of Lorenzini". I'm not going to bother commenting on the computation questions. Hysteresis should never have gone dead; I was shocked that it did. (Learn your magnetism, dudes.) Entablature was weird -- I would say art theory questions are difficult to do well, and are probably better off avoided in general. The "rank" question was pretty poor, and, I would (and did) argue, somewhat antipyramidal. The glycerine and glucagon questions should not have gone dead. I don't know enough about history to be sure that Robert the Bruce should've been answered, but since I've heard of him (and had when I was in high school), I bet it should've been.
Shcool wrote:I'll also stand by the Laser question...If you can't get that in the first two-thirds of the question, then I recommend learning something about lasers.
It could've used more middle clues, but it wasn't a travesty.
Shcool wrote:As far as the marketing/field issue is concerned, I don't see it as central to what I do. I spend too much time and make too little money ($0, and my team does not need money either) on this tournament to compromise my integrity at all. I will run it the way I want to run it. (That's not to say that I am not interested in feedback--it's just to say that if somebody told me I could double my field by doing something I didn't want to do that it wouldn't matter whether the claim was true or false.)
I don't really know what to say here; those comments are pretty disappointing (though not particularly surprising). It would be nice if you would let standards of good quizbowl inform your tournament more than they do already; I don't think that constitutes any compromise of your integrity. It's just a shame that a tournament that could be phenomenal falls below its potential because of stubbornness.
Last edited by jonah on Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by dtaylor4 » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:31 am

MoCity02 wrote:I see absolutely nothing wrong with Palestrina being TUed. I am notably really bad at music, yet not only have I heard of him but also the Pope Marcellus Mass more than twice. (I'm obviously not good enough to connect those two things though). I know certain people on my team and from other IL teams notably good at music would have gotten that TU even earlier than that, and if you were to look at it from a national quizbowl perspective somebody like Tommy Casalaspi probably would have ripped that to shreds! Just because nobody on that stage was unable to get it until basically the end does not mean it was in any way, shape, or form too difficult. Hell, Lloyd got the TU because he had the most knowledge about music, and that was the goal of the TU as well as to expand the canon reasonably, and I fail to see how Mr. Reinstein's TU did not do that.
So if that were to be tossed up at a regular tournament, you think it would see decent conversion across the board? Just because you and a select group of people know it does not determine difficulty. On several occasions, I've been guilty of tossing up things that I thought were gettable. Until I see it get decent conversion numbers at a regular season tournament, I will have to disagree with you.

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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:39 am

jonah wrote: Entablature was weird -- I would say art theory questions are difficult to do well, and are probably better off avoided in general. The "rank" question was pretty poor, and, I would (and did) argue, somewhat antipyramidal. The glycerine and glucagon questions should not have gone dead. I don't know enough about history to be sure that Robert the Bruce should've been answered, but since I've heard of him (and had when I was in high school), I bet it should've been.
Entablature sounds more like a vocab question than an art theory question, even. Art vocab in general is a problem for the same reason regular vocab is, unless it's done as a common link tossup on "murals" or something like that.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:41 am

Doink the Clown wrote:
jonah wrote: Entablature was weird -- I would say art theory questions are difficult to do well, and are probably better off avoided in general. The "rank" question was pretty poor, and, I would (and did) argue, somewhat antipyramidal. The glycerine and glucagon questions should not have gone dead. I don't know enough about history to be sure that Robert the Bruce should've been answered, but since I've heard of him (and had when I was in high school), I bet it should've been.
Entablature sounds more like a vocab question than an art theory question, even. Art vocab in general is a problem for the same reason regular vocab is, unless it's done as a common link tossup on "murals" or something like that.
Judge for yourself; it doesn't feel like a vocab tossup to me, but I'm not sure.
In classical architecture, this was made up of three parts, the highest of which often contained mutules on a horizontal geison. The lowest part, sometimes called an epistyle, consists of a lintel and is commonly called an architrave. The middle part of it, often decorated with bas-reliefs, is known as the frieze. Name these building sections below roofs that are on top of columns.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 1:50 am

Because I'm trying to avoid writing a paper on the evolution of rhinoviruses, here is a revised proposed distribution. I am continuing with the postulate of one computation question per match, though you'll see at the end an opportunity to subvert that.

4 science: physics, chemistry, biology, math/earth science/astronomy/computer science
1 computation
4 history: US pre-1900, US 1900-present (including current events), world, European
4 literature: US, British, world, non-prose (I don't have a really good solution for the fourth category, but I think balancing the big three is a good idea, and that two US questions per match is too many. The fourth category I have in mind would be poetry/plays [from anywhere] while the others are novels, but I'm not married to it.)
3 fine arts: music, painting, other (e.g. opera, architecture)
1 social science/philosophy
1 religion/mythology
1 geography (I don't love having 5% geography, but I also don't love having 0% geography.)
1 interdisciplinary (Or trash, or whatever. I just needed a 20th category.)
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by at your pleasure » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:01 am

jonah wrote:
Doink the Clown wrote:
jonah wrote: Entablature was weird -- I would say art theory questions are difficult to do well, and are probably better off avoided in general. The "rank" question was pretty poor, and, I would (and did) argue, somewhat antipyramidal. The glycerine and glucagon questions should not have gone dead. I don't know enough about history to be sure that Robert the Bruce should've been answered, but since I've heard of him (and had when I was in high school), I bet it should've been.
Entablature sounds more like a vocab question than an art theory question, even. Art vocab in general is a problem for the same reason regular vocab is, unless it's done as a common link tossup on "murals" or something like that.
Judge for yourself; it doesn't feel like a vocab tossup to me, but I'm not sure.
In classical architecture, this was made up of three parts, the highest of which often contained mutules on a horizontal geison. The lowest part, sometimes called an epistyle, consists of a lintel and is commonly called an architrave. The middle part of it, often decorated with bas-reliefs, is known as the frieze. Name these building sections below roofs that are on top of columns.
You're right, although either way it's not a good idea for a question. Your revised proposed distribution looks good, but here are some suggestions. For lit, try rotating the fourth spot among the big 3. I'd removedthe non-novel spot and just mix poetry/plays/other non-novel lit in with the rest of lit. Also, why is it necessary to have 20 categories?
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 2:05 am

Doink the Clown wrote:Your revised proposed distribution looks good, but here are some suggestions. For lit, try rotating the fourth spot among the big 3. I'd [remove the] non-novel spot and just mix poetry/plays/other non-novel lit in with the rest of lit. Also, why is it necessary to have 20 categories?
In normal circumstances, your lit point is ideal, and of course it's what most ordinary ACF-distro tournaments do. The trouble is that for Solo, we like to have category champions, so each question should always be from a distinct category. Because each player plays only half the time, it gets very complicated if we were to try something like "well, in round 1 the misc-lit question was Brit, in round 2 it was world...".

There's no particular reason that it's strictly necessary to have 20 categories, but it's a nice round number that's consistent with a common convention. It's probably a good upper limit in order to be able to have all the rounds we need run in a reasonable amount of time, especially since we need so many moderators that a lot of them aren't particularly fast. (I was finishing matches in well under 10 minutes, but 20 minutes were allotted for each one. Next year, I need to remember to get a guest logon for the wireless.)
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:25 am

Nobody is suggesting that Palestrina should be tossed up in a regular round. Let me be explicit: if you are writing for an NAQT IS or A Set or a regular HSAPQ Set, then don't write a tossup on Palestrina. The issue is whether or not Palestrina should be tossed up in that particular round, when the only room it is used in is an Illinois All-Star line-up.

As far as farming out some of the writing, it is something to consider. It isn't something I've done in the past because my question writing budget is $0, I like to get everything done over the summer even though the tournament is in November, and it isn't easy to find willing and able writers who aren't already working on other things.

PS Just so everybody is clear, I never wrote an ampullae of Lorenzini question, and one was never used at Solo.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by David Riley » Mon Nov 09, 2009 8:00 am

Shcool wrote: PS Just so everybody is clear, I never wrote an ampullae of Lorenzini question, and one was never used at Solo.

Yes, we know that YOU didn't write that. :grin:
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Deviant Insider » Mon Nov 09, 2009 12:35 pm

Full results are up.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 3:16 pm

Eventually, I'm going to run an analysis determining who would've won each match if the computation and vocab were eliminated. The motivation is that the Team Illinois selection committee want the data for their task, but I imagine it will be of interest beyond that. If anyone feels like doing that in the future nearer than winter break, that would be super-cool; if not, I'll do it and post it when I get to it.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Stephen Colbert » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:16 pm

jonah wrote:Eventually, I'm going to run an analysis determining who would've won each match if the computation and vocab were eliminated. The motivation is that the Team Illinois selection committee want the data for their task, but I imagine it will be of interest beyond that. If anyone feels like doing that in the future nearer than winter break, that would be super-cool; if not, I'll do it and post it when I get to it.
I think I can do this if you give me about a week. I'll determine the match outcomes assuming any questions involving computation (math or science) and vocabulary didn't exist. If any other categories need to be eliminated for the analysis, please let me know. Without looking at the results, I'm guessing a nonzero number of outcomes will change. If this is the case, obviously future match-ups would've changed. I'm not sure there's a way to predict how the match winner without these categories would have performed against his/her new opponents. If there is, it's way beyond my capability.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Mon Nov 09, 2009 5:19 pm

Stephen Colbert wrote:
jonah wrote:Eventually, I'm going to run an analysis determining who would've won each match if the computation and vocab were eliminated. The motivation is that the Team Illinois selection committee want the data for their task, but I imagine it will be of interest beyond that. If anyone feels like doing that in the future nearer than winter break, that would be super-cool; if not, I'll do it and post it when I get to it.
I think I can do this if you give me about a week. I'll determine the match outcomes assuming any questions involving computation (math or science) and vocabulary didn't exist. If any other categories need to be eliminated for the analysis, please let me know. Without looking at the results, I'm guessing a nonzero number of outcomes will change. If this is the case, obviously future match-ups would've changed. I'm not sure there's a way to predict how the match winner without these categories would have performed against his/her new opponents. If there is, it's way beyond my capability.
I'm pretty sure there's no foolproof way to predict matchups that didn't happen, but we might be able to make some guesses. Whatever you can do will be helpful.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Monk » Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:31 pm

The format is definitely different than accepted Quiz bowl, and I would hate to play a team tournament with this distribution. As a quirky solo event - and solos, at least in Illinois, are definitely more "fun" events than ordinary tournaments - I'm happy with the distribution.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by adeveau » Mon Nov 09, 2009 11:42 pm

First off, I'd like to thank Mr. Reinstein for a very well-run tournament. I thought the questions were very good, with only a few exceptions (mostly in vocab or interdisc, but that's more the fault of the category).
I agree with a lot of what has been said here regarding distribution. I think the most important changes are the addition of non-comp and the academization (made up word!) of nonfiction. I think replacing one computational question a round with non-comp, since it seems obvious this tournament is not going to be comp-free soon. There is a bigger answer space here than I think most people realize. People (Euler, Fermat, Descartes, Gauss, Archimedes, Riemann), results (Fermat's Little and Last, Pythagorean Theorem, Fundamental Theorems, etc), and concepts (I could write you a damn good tossup on "differentiability") make 20/0 completely plausible. This thread does a good job of discussing this: viewtopic.php?f=3&t=8583&start=0&hilit= ... ve+forward.
I think that philosophy and social science were sorely underrepresented this year without any good reason. As Kevin said, the answer space for philosophy is plenty big, even considering the wide range of abilities this tournament attracts. Social science might be a bit more difficult, as economics is, you know, really hard and other social sciences don't get much play in high school, but I think it's doable. Demand, Phillips curve, supply-side economics, Freud, Jung, Pavlov, Skinner, classical conditioning, operant conditioning, behaviorism, Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa. I could go on, but this post is long enough already and I think my point is clear. If you make only two changes next year, Mr. Reinstein, these are the way to go.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Deviant Insider » Tue Nov 10, 2009 7:54 am

I am willing to take up Jonah on his offer. Here's a deal I am willing to make: If he will write 20 noncomp math tossups for next year's tournament, then I'll drop from 3 comps down to 2 comps. The Algebra/Precalc and Geometry/Trig categories would stay as they were this year, and the Pyramidal Math and Physics (and Other Science) would become entirely noncomp. The deadlines would be 10 by July 1st and 10 by August 1st, with the understanding that the deal would be off if a deadline was missed. The majority of the questions would have to be answerable by the end by somebody a few months into Precalculus who is not a math hobbyist. I would have final control as editor.

I'll add that Jonah was correct about including Computer Science in Other Science. That was just simple oversight on my part.

To illustrate one of my above points that wasn't clear above, I am going to reopen everybody's favorite can of worms and cite an example from the first round:
Find all solutions in radians between zero and two pi for the equation cosine of x plus sine of the quantity x plus the fraction pi over two equals one.
Keep in mind that, because this is Solo, the issue of three people taking a nap while their math specialist works out the problem isn't an issue. (For the benefit of out-of-staters, the time limit was 30 seconds, and the match was untimed.)

I think the topic for this problem is an important one--understanding the unit circle and the basic functions associated with it. Students who understand the horizontal shift relationship between the sine and cosine graphs have an advantage on this problem over students who need to use the angle addition formula, which I think is a good thing.

If there were many rooms where this question resulted in both students rushing to solve it, and one student was able to solve it in 8.2 seconds while another student was shut out because it took him 8.4 seconds, then that would be a cause for complaint, because nobody cares whether or not you can solve this problem in less than 8.3 seconds. However, what often happens (and the people who moderated can correct me if I'm wrong since they saw more matches than I did) is that one student starts working on it in an inefficient manner while the other one shrugs his shoulders. Sometimes the stronger student is able to get through it in less than thirty seconds, and sometimes it goes dead. I think that if one student is able to solve this problem while another is not (or if one student is able to solve this problem efficiently while another is not), then that justifies giving one student a point. That is, the student who got it demonstrated some superior academic understanding that should be rewarded by a general academic competition.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Tue Nov 10, 2009 11:31 am

Shcool wrote:I am willing to take up Jonah on his offer. Here's a deal I am willing to make: If he will write 20 noncomp math tossups for next year's tournament, then I'll drop from 3 comps down to 2 comps. The Algebra/Precalc and Geometry/Trig categories would stay as they were this year, and the Pyramidal Math and Physics (and Other Science) would become entirely noncomp. The deadlines would be 10 by July 1st and 10 by August 1st, with the understanding that the deal would be off if a deadline was missed. The majority of the questions would have to be answerable by the end by somebody a few months into Precalculus who is not a math hobbyist. I would have final control as editor.
You're on. Remind me at the beginning of the summer (which for me, is roughly in August).
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:00 pm

jonah wrote:
Shcool wrote:I am willing to take up Jonah on his offer. Here's a deal I am willing to make: If he will write 20 noncomp math tossups for next year's tournament, then I'll drop from 3 comps down to 2 comps. The Algebra/Precalc and Geometry/Trig categories would stay as they were this year, and the Pyramidal Math and Physics (and Other Science) would become entirely noncomp. The deadlines would be 10 by July 1st and 10 by August 1st, with the understanding that the deal would be off if a deadline was missed. The majority of the questions would have to be answerable by the end by somebody a few months into Precalculus who is not a math hobbyist. I would have final control as editor.
You're on. Remind me at the beginning of the summer (which for me, is roughly in August).
Remind me... after the deadlines?
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:03 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:
jonah wrote:
Shcool wrote:I am willing to take up Jonah on his offer. Here's a deal I am willing to make: If he will write 20 noncomp math tossups for next year's tournament, then I'll drop from 3 comps down to 2 comps. The Algebra/Precalc and Geometry/Trig categories would stay as they were this year, and the Pyramidal Math and Physics (and Other Science) would become entirely noncomp. The deadlines would be 10 by July 1st and 10 by August 1st, with the understanding that the deal would be off if a deadline was missed. The majority of the questions would have to be answerable by the end by somebody a few months into Precalculus who is not a math hobbyist. I would have final control as editor.
You're on. Remind me at the beginning of the summer (which for me, is roughly in August).
Remind me... after the deadlines?
I exaggerate. He knows when my summer starts.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Tue Nov 10, 2009 12:04 pm

jonah wrote:I exaggerate. He knows when my summer starts.
I thought this might be like an Illinois thing, like "Central Time."
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by rjaguar3 » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:30 pm

For what it's worth, here are the total number of correct answers per category (out of a possible total of 448). Purely computational categories are in bold.

Interdisciplinary 424
Geography/Earth Sci/Astro 317
Pyramidal Math 305
Chemistry 299
Biology 275
US History 270
Physics 269
World History 263
Vocabulary 259
Religion/Myth 249
British Literature 218
US Literature 213
Current Events 210
Music 197
World History 183
Nonfiction 180
Art/Architecture 178
Algebra 160
World Literature 139
Geometry/Trig 103

EDIT: As you can clearly see, old-style computational questions on the whole are answered an astonishingly low 29.3% of the time by a cross-section of Illinois players.

FOLLOW-UP: The following is the distribution of how many algebra and G/T questions were answered by each player.

Code: Select all

Qs Alg Geo
0   50  68
1   33  34
2   25  16
3   11   6
4    4   2
5    3   1
6    1   1
7    1   0
As you can see, only nine players answered four or more algebra questions correctly, while only four players answered four or more geometry/trig questions correctly. Further, for each category, about half the players were unable to answer a single question correctly.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jonah » Thu Nov 12, 2009 6:47 pm

Thanks for doing that work, Greg. To save others the time, the average conversion rate of all categories was 52.6%.
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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by mlaird » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:01 pm

I don't quite understand these "conversion statistics". The top of the column says "dead rooms". Does that mean that out of 32 rooms, only 3 of them managed to get a question on Maupassant? and only three got Turandot? And only one person could answer a question about The Adoration of the Magi?

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Re: New Trier Scobol Solo 11/7/09

Post by jdeliverer » Mon Nov 30, 2009 2:14 pm

Yes. That said, the questions you chose were all from the even rounds, which is generally the bracket with less wins. There are generally more tossups answered correctly in the odd rounds.

Average # of questions answered in odd rounds = 366
Average # of questions answered in even rounds = 313.3

In fact, the least answered round for the odds saw 351 questions answered, while the most answered round for an even round saw 359 questions answered.
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