Chicago Open thanks and discussions

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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jul 28, 2010 9:55 pm

Jerry, I'm not trying to lay out a particular "mission" other than a tournament that probes the knowledge that players have and challenges them with well-written questions, which I hope is a universal goal. I fully realize that this tournament attempted to strike certain balances within that mission, and that I might choose to strike different balances if given the opportunity. You seem to be deriving a more specific mission from two statements that I made, admittedly a bit ambiguously. When I say that core topics are a necessary part of a tournament like this, I mean that in this way: You can't deny that asking about stuff like Shakespeare or Keats or "water" has to come up at some point. I don't view this as a "global norm," but as a tautology. If you're going to write a CO-sized event, this kind of stuff will come up, and dealing with how to approach these subjects while maintaining the rigor of a CO-like event is one of the editor's main considerations.

Perhaps a better way to say what I'm saying would be this: I thought this tournament tended to skirt topics about which quizbowlers have deep knowledge and focus on areas of shallower knowledge. Philosophically, I have no problem with a vision of CO that emphasizes this balance. I don't find the way you decided to write the tournament illegitimate or insane by any means. Practically, I found it somewhat less than ideal to play games on what amounted to 15-tossup packets, most times with a majority of the buzzes near the end of the question.

The "mission of CO" I alluded to when talking about the "cool topics" was actually supposed to be referencing your own self-stated mission to ask about things that, for whatever reason, don't come up. I think it goes without saying that asking about things simply because they came up recently goes against that, and I was actually lauding you and your co-editors for combating the trend more than other similar tournaments of recent memory. I'm really calling on those who are writing and submitting packets to stop falling back on the same old (or, perhaps as they see it, en vogue and totally rad) topics.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:16 pm

theMoMA wrote:You can't deny that asking about stuff like Shakespeare or Keats or "water" has to come up at some point. I don't view this as a "global norm," but as a tautology. If you're going to write a CO-sized event, this kind of stuff will come up, and dealing with how to approach these subjects while maintaining the rigor of a CO-like event is one of the editor's main considerations.
I do deny this; specifically, I deny your usage of the words "has to." I mean, there was both Shakespeare and Keats in this tournament, and I kept those questions. In general I kept whatever questions came in that I thought were good regardless of their topics. But if this tournament had no Keats in it, I would be fine with that too.
Perhaps a better way to say what I'm saying would be this: I thought this tournament tended to skirt topics about which quizbowlers have deep knowledge and focus on areas of shallower knowledge. Philosophically, I have no problem with a vision of CO that emphasizes this balance. I don't find the way you decided to write the tournament illegitimate or insane by any means. Practically, I found it somewhat less than ideal to play games on what amounted to 15-tossup packets, most times with a majority of the buzzes near the end of the question.
I think it's true that by and large, this tournament emphasized a much wider range of topics at the expense of depth of knowledge about, say, Keats or Tolstoy. However, my counterpoint would be that breadth is its own depth in many ways. To me, the fact that someone, independently of quizbowl or anything of the sort, might know something about "The God that Failed," or Anselm Kieffer are good things. I pretty much always prefer major works of minor authors to minor works of major authors, for example, so this tournament reflected a certain level of eclecticism on my part.
The "mission of CO" I alluded to when talking about the "cool topics" was actually supposed to be referencing your own self-stated mission to ask about things that, for whatever reason, don't come up. I think it goes without saying that asking about things simply because they came up recently goes against that, and I was actually lauding you and your co-editors for combating the trend more than other similar tournaments of recent memory. I'm really calling on those who are writing and submitting packets to stop falling back on the same old (or, perhaps as they see it, en vogue and totally rad) topics.
Ok, noted. Sorry for the confusion then.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Terrible Shorts Depot » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:18 pm

I have no idea how this happened, but Juan Carlos Onetti has twice as many google results (257000 to 108000) as Kobo Abe. I eat my shoe and declare myself wrong.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Tanay » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:20 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote: If Juan Carlos Onetti or whoever where really so important, wouldn't more people than Jerry have heard of him?
Onetti is actually found in quite a few anthologies of Latin American literature, so I don't really see a huge problem with expanding the canon in that direction. It's not like he's entirely obscure, and for what it's worth (not a lot, I know), all students taking Spanish in my school end up reading at least one of his short stories as a model of how they are written.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by wd4gdz » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:21 pm

Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:I have no idea how this happened, but Juan Carlos Onetti has twice as many google results (257000 to 108000) as Kobo Abe. I eat my shoe and declare myself wrong.
Maybe some of the websites dealing with Kobo Abe are in Japanese?
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by theMoMA » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:25 pm

It's not particularly noteworthy that Anna Karenina is called that either. That's just how things work in quizbowl: they have names and you answer by giving those names. I think ultimately questions of "why did you write about X instead of Y?" are the de gustibus of quizbowl and aren't to be resolved by appeal to any universal principles. I had this debate before about other answer choices, and it always pretty much comes down to personal preference. I personally thought that tossup was fine, so I kept it.
I'm not asking why someone wrote about X and not about Y. I'm asking why someone wrote on X like they did. Ignoring the answer line is something that people do way too often, whether it's more technical (forgetting to include alternate answers, not specifying what to do when similar answers are given, screwing up the underlining) or stylistic, like what I'm talking about. I'd like to see people be more considerate of all of this when writing their answer lines. I'm not arguing that it's illegitimate to write the tossup like it was written, just that it might be better in this case to write the answer line in a more generous way. This is not so much a calling out as it is a call for people to pay attention to this sort of consideration as we move ahead.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Tanay » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:28 pm

wd4gdz wrote:
Terrible Shorts Depot wrote:I have no idea how this happened, but Juan Carlos Onetti has twice as many google results (257000 to 108000) as Kobo Abe. I eat my shoe and declare myself wrong.
Maybe some of the websites dealing with Kobo Abe are in Japanese?
Let's first establish that hits on Google, which total 3.3 million for Paulo Coelho and 1.3 million for John Dryden, aren't by any means a legitimate way of determining what's a good answer choice and what isn't. But anyways, when you add Japanese hits, Abe gets to 251,000, so it's roughly even.

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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:39 pm

Oh, so there are a few other things I wanted to say that have to do with this tournament:

1) Editing: basically, the way I went about editing questions was first to try and make sure that the answer was acceptable. If it was, I would do my best to make that question good, if it needed editing. So for example, a question on the Virginia resolves was heavily edited. There were certainly things that were submitted that I thought were basically too hard; I hope that tells you something. For example, the Alphonse Daudet tossup came to me as a tossup on "The Elixir of Father Gauchet." And some enterprising soul submitted a tossup on "humans." In literature. Anyway, for things that were just not good answer choices, I tried to do my best to recast them into some form that resembled the original submission, e.g. "Elixir" became Daudet. A tossup on the Byzantine-Sassanid wars became a tossup on Khusrau, because again, I couldn't quite figure out how I could write a useful, good tossup on those things. There are other examples. For science, there were a lot of questions I cut outright just because I was sick of having tossups on the Aharonov-Bohm effect in every tournament. If I couldn't rework the original and I also couldn't figure out how to make it into something related but good, I would just write a replacement tossup. In fact, I had a whole bunch of tossups written for the abortive ROBOT, so when appropriate I just substituted them.

2) I'm somewhat disappointed that people didn't pick up on the "other" category at all. Most didn't even make an effort, which was kind of sad. What I was hoping would happen with that category is that it would be used to write about interesting intellectually relevant stuff that couldn't be pigeonholed into anything in particular. I think that The God that Failed is a good example of that. It's true as noted before that a lot of these questions ended up being sort of on social criticism and the like, which sort of ended up, again, as a reflection of the kind of stuff I had on hand and the kinds of things I read. Obviously, one can use that category for other things. I certainly hope that for ACF Nationals people make more of an effort to populate that category with things that aren't just geography (not to mention trash, of which there is none at Nats).
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:42 pm

There don't seem to be many ok-but-not-great players saying that this tournament was a fine difficulty, and that concerns me somewhat. I don't have any experience playing other incarnations of CO to draw on, but the set was exactly the difficulty I was both expecting and hoped for in the categories I know.
There has to be a tournament during the year where people can write about the things they think are important but have not come up before. In theory, something like FIST could take that place, but that didn't seem to draw enough of a field. HI can't, since I doubt that the members of the Harvard team have such broad knowledge bases that they know what is important in every discipline. ACF Nats can't have too many crazy answers without the possibility of messing with the results, and I think that title is worth more than one from any other tournament. Side tournaments can help, but they are usually written by an even smaller group of people than HI. That seems to leave CO. I will spend a lot of time looking through the answers in science, since I'm sure there are a lot of cool things that I would never see otherwise. I'm sure some of the books will end up on my reading list, and I'll go listen to a lot of the music.
I know I made an effort to write about things I had learned in classes or had read, and I hope other people did too instead of just looking for things that had been used as middle clues or hard parts of bonuses at ACF Nats a few years ago.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by alkrav112 » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:46 am

I'm going to back Michael up here -- I expected an extremely difficult tournament, and I was not disappointed. Things I've studied and had not seen asked about much before (Gender Trouble, Mary Renault, Ways of Seeing, Treaty of New Echota, Eugene Ysaye) came up, and my knowledge of them was rewarded. A lot of stuff I hadn't heard of before came up, and I hope to learn more about it. On a good packet I knew ten of the twenty answer lines, and against teams of this caliber, I was good for one or two tossups a game. Those numbers are completely reasonable, I think, given my general lack of science and philosophy knowledge.

The one thing I was disappointed about was that every FA question (3/3) from our packet was scrapped. I still haven't seen the Lully set, but I'll be interested and excited to see what shows up there.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:52 am

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote: There has to be a tournament during the year where people can write about the things they think are important but have not come up before.
This is a bizarre defense of this year's CO, given that Jerry in one of his first posts in this thread rejected the concept of "importance" at high levels in quizbowl.

HI can't, since I doubt that the members of the Harvard team have such broad knowledge bases that they know what is important in every discipline.
Have you ever seen the Harvard team play, or played an HI? If anything, the problem with HI and HI2 is that it was written by a team of specialists who knew their subjects a bit too well and went off the deep end difficulty wise.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Sir Thopas » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:48 am

Megalomaniacal Panda on Absinthe wrote:With regards to the "other" arts, I tried to hit on some otherwise neglected things: Krenek's Jonny Spielt Auf
Holy shit, awesome. Weimar Germany in general is probably a bit neglected in QB other than Brecht and Weill, so this is good to see.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jul 29, 2010 7:41 am

Morraine Man wrote:This is a bizarre defense of this year's CO, given that Jerry in one of his first posts in this thread rejected the concept of "importance" at high levels in quizbowl.
That's not at all what I said. What I said was that there were lots of things whose relative (to each other) importance is virtually impossible to gauge; therefore, importance alone cannot be the deciding factor in choosing what to write on. That doesn't mean we get to write on trivial and unimportant things; I take it for granted that the subjects I picked out are, in fact, important in the sense of being relevant to their disciplines and such.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jul 29, 2010 8:27 am

It occurred to me that a few of the answer lines were a little less generous than they should have been (for example, Frederick the Winter King should have been acceptable until mention on the Frederick V of the Palatinate tossup). I'm very sorry about that; most of those were oversights on my part and I hope that it didn't change any outcomes. I'm sure people would have protested if it had, but still, I'm sorry about missing those alternate answers.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by kdroge » Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:50 am

I do think this tournament was just slightly too hard. While I have no problem with dead tossups or tossups that expand the canon, it seemed like there was a bit too much of that occurring relative to questions with answer lines that were more accessible to the general field of the event. I understand that CO is the time to ask about new things (in tossups as well as in third parts of bonuses), but I would have liked to have been playing on packets with around 16-18 answerable TUs (for the non-tier 1 teams) each round rather than the 14-15 that seemed to be closer to the average.

I also think that there were some problems with bonus difficulty. I really felt that it wasn't ironed out about whether bonuses should have a true easy part or not, which led to some bonuses that had basically unmissable easy parts and others where one has to know something about the works of Fanny Burney or Bioy Casares to avoid bageling them. I would have been fine if the tournament had taken the stance either way; I understand that some people want to have true easy parts even in hard tournaments and others don't, I just would have liked to have seen this be delineated more clearly which option was the case.

I'm a little confused as to the argument presented above for being forced to change the "Elixir of Father Gauchet" tossup I wrote to one on Daudet- I could understand if the argument was that there shouldn't be any tossups at that level of difficulty, but there were (Onetti has been brought up a bunch, so I'll use that as an example, but there were others as well), so I don't really see why lesser-known (but still somewhat important) works of canonical authors can't come up but entirely new authors can. In addition, I realize that it may have been preference on the part of the editors for canon expansion via breadth rather than depth, but then the issue with the question wasn't that it was too hard, persay, but rather that it didn't fit the vision of what this CO was looking for, which is a different point altogether.

Maybe I'm wrong on this next point, but I think that Byzantine-Sassanid Wars is an easier answer line than Khusrau, so could you clarify why you felt this tossup needed to be changed? When I looked over what Libo had written, the original didn't seem that transparent.

That being said, I do think that, for what this tournament was trying to do, it did do a good job. Regardless of whether I'd have liked to have seen a couple less very hard tossups, those questions were still interesting and well-written, and they provide a great starting point to learn about a variety of new things. In general, the tossups were good with regards to pyramidal nature of clues and I felt that they did reward me for knowledge that I had while not rewarding me in areas where my knowledge was comparatively superficial. I had a great time playing the tournament, and a big thanks goes out to everyone who made it possible.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:05 am

kdroge wrote:I'm a little confused as to the argument presented above for being forced to change the "Elixir of Father Gauchet" tossup I wrote to one on Daudet- I could understand if the argument was that there shouldn't be any tossups at that level of difficulty, but there were (Onetti has been brought up a bunch, so I'll use that as an example, but there were others as well), so I don't really see why lesser-known (but still somewhat important) works of canonical authors can't come up but entirely new authors can. In addition, I realize that it may have been preference on the part of the editors for canon expansion via breadth rather than depth, but then the issue with the question wasn't that it was too hard, persay, but rather that it didn't fit the vision of what this CO was looking for, which is a different point altogether.
It comes down to a difference between minor and major works. It seemed to me that "Elixir" was basically a minor Daudet work; yes, a somewhat known short story if you're familiar with the Daudet canon (if there is such a thing) but probably only like the 3rd of 4th most famous thing you'd know about him. If, for example, the tossup had been on "Tartarin of Tarascon," I would have probably kept it (since it's his best known work) but this seemed like a bit too much. For the Onetti tossup, it's his major work that's being asked about. Since I didn't feel sufficiently motivated to go find a copy of "Tartarin," I just wrote a Daudet tossup instead since I could do that easily.
Maybe I'm wrong on this next point, but I think that Byzantine-Sassanid Wars is an easier answer line than Khusrau, so could you clarify why you felt this tossup needed to be changed? When I looked over what Libo had written, the original didn't seem that transparent.
It wasn't an issue of transparency or anything (although I felt that there were some misplaced clues in that question) as that I saw two problems: one was just getting people to say "Byzantine-Sassanid wars," which can be tricky (since oftentimes people are trying to remember if these things have some kind of "canonical" names) and the other was that I did a bunch of reading on these conflicts and came to the conclusion that I really didn't understand quite how to order the clues appropriately for such a question. As a consequence, I went with something that I could do, which was the Khusrau question.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:13 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
kdroge wrote:I'm a little confused as to the argument presented above for being forced to change the "Elixir of Father Gauchet" tossup I wrote to one on Daudet- I could understand if the argument was that there shouldn't be any tossups at that level of difficulty, but there were (Onetti has been brought up a bunch, so I'll use that as an example, but there were others as well), so I don't really see why lesser-known (but still somewhat important) works of canonical authors can't come up but entirely new authors can. In addition, I realize that it may have been preference on the part of the editors for canon expansion via breadth rather than depth, but then the issue with the question wasn't that it was too hard, persay, but rather that it didn't fit the vision of what this CO was looking for, which is a different point altogether.
It comes down to a difference between minor and major works. It seemed to me that "Elixir" was basically a minor Daudet work; yes, a somewhat known short story if you're familiar with the Daudet canon (if there is such a thing) but probably only like the 3rd of 4th most famous thing you'd know about him. If, for example, the tossup had been on "Tartarin of Tarascon," I would have probably kept it (since it's his best known work) but this seemed like a bit too much. For the Onetti tossup, it's his major work that's being asked about. Since I didn't feel sufficiently motivated to go find a copy of "Tartarin," I just wrote a Daudet tossup instead since I could do that easily.
Speaking of this Daudet question, I was mildly curious as to why it didn't make mention of L'Arlesienne at all; that novel/play is reasonably famous, especially due to Bizet's incidental music to the latter adaptation. It's not a big deal, as I should probably know more about Daudet anyway and don't like endless debates about whether or not a given tossup should've included a clue that I knew; I was just curious, since I'd certainly include it if I were editing a Daudet tossup.

That babbling aside, I really enjoyed this tournament, merciless and occasionally frustrating though it may have been.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Jul 29, 2010 1:17 pm

Ukonvasara wrote:Speaking of this Daudet question, I was mildly curious as to why it didn't make mention of L'Arlesienne at all; that novel/play is reasonably famous, especially due to Bizet's incidental music to the latter adaptation. Its not a big deal, as I should probably know more about Daudet anyway and don't like endless debates about whether or not a given tossup should've included a clue that I knew; I was just curious, since I'd certainly include it if I were editing a Daudet tossup.
An oversight on my part.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Ringil » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:07 pm

grapesmoker wrote:
kdroge wrote:Maybe I'm wrong on this next point, but I think that Byzantine-Sassanid Wars is an easier answer line than Khusrau, so could you clarify why you felt this tossup needed to be changed? When I looked over what Libo had written, the original didn't seem that transparent.
It wasn't an issue of transparency or anything (although I felt that there were some misplaced clues in that question) as that I saw two problems: one was just getting people to say "Byzantine-Sassanid wars," which can be tricky (since oftentimes people are trying to remember if these things have some kind of "canonical" names) and the other was that I did a bunch of reading on these conflicts and came to the conclusion that I really didn't understand quite how to order the clues appropriately for such a question. As a consequence, I went with something that I could do, which was the Khusrau question.
I was very sad this question didn't show up, as these wars are something I've studied extensively, but I can understand the reasoning behind the removal of the question. However, I did think I said something around the lines of accept reasonable equivalents, so it doesn't seem to me the first problem was that major. The second problem obviously still applies though.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Susan » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:21 pm

Ringil wrote:However, I did think I said something around the lines of accept reasonable equivalents, so it doesn't seem to me the first problem was that major.
I am hijacking your conversation to point out that I'm always very wary of putting something like that in an answer line without trying to go through and list what the reasonable equivalents you might expect people to give are (unless it's something like the "falling down an elevator shaft" question at CO Trash, for example, where any English speaker should be able to tell what "reasonable equivalents" are). Not having seen your submitted question, I don't know if you did list such alternatives (if you did, great! but people don't do so often enough). This sort of speaks to the same problem as the discussion of including all reasonable do-not-accepts in the answerline--moderators should have to make as few judgment calls as possible since many will not be equipped to make such calls on all questions.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Cheynem » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:37 pm

I don't know anything about those wars, but as a player and editor, what sometimes makes me leery about such things is that unless the question makes it clear, a lot of times even if I know what's going on, I'm still not sure how the answer line will be set up. For example, perhaps I am aware that the question is asking on the wars fought between the Byzantines and the Sassanids. I might be stymied for a bit because I am not sure if this war has a name and I am not sure how the answer line will work? Will it be "prompt on wars between the Byzantines and the Sassanids"? "accept until mentioned"? I wonder if questions might occasionally just spell out what they want at the beginning: "We are looking for the two participants" or "This war does not have a name" or something like that.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Gautam » Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:45 pm

The best would be to use the classic Arthurian leadin: "Two polities required...."
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Ringil » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:47 pm

myamphigory wrote:
Ringil wrote:However, I did think I said something around the lines of accept reasonable equivalents, so it doesn't seem to me the first problem was that major.
I am hijacking your conversation to point out that I'm always very wary of putting something like that in an answer line without trying to go through and list what the reasonable equivalents you might expect people to give are (unless it's something like the "falling down an elevator shaft" question at CO Trash, for example, where any English speaker should be able to tell what "reasonable equivalents" are). Not having seen your submitted question, I don't know if you did list such alternatives (if you did, great! but people don't do so often enough). This sort of speaks to the same problem as the discussion of including all reasonable do-not-accepts in the answerline--moderators should have to make as few judgment calls as possible since many will not be equipped to make such calls on all questions.
This was my original answer line.

Code: Select all

ANSWER: Byzantine-Sassanid Wars or vis versa [prompt on Roman-Persian Wars since all the clues refer specifically to wars between the Byzantines and the Sassanids; accept anything with Romans and Sassanids or Sassanian; prompt on partial answers]
Looking back, I think doing what Mike and Gautam suggested would have made the answer line less problematic.

Thanks for the advice, and sorry for the derail of the thread.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:55 pm

gkandlikar wrote:The best would be to use the classic Arthurian leadin: "Two polities required...."
Yep. Instead of writing a tossup on "Byzantine-Sassanid Wars", write a tossup with an answer line like:
ANSWER: Byzantine Empire and Sassanid Empire
Except you'd also include alternate names for the empires, which I'm too lazy to list.

Then your tossup would begin, e.g.,

"Warning: two answers required. These two polities fought each other at the battle of [whatever]. In one war between these two polities, the Armenian diplomat [name] negotiated the treaty of [name]...[more clues]...for ten points, name these polities with capitals at Ctesiphon and Constantinople"

It's not clear to me at all that "Byzantine-Sassanid Wars" is reified at all, so just write a tossup on the two polities in question and make all the clues about wars that they fought.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Ringil » Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:28 pm

Morraine Man wrote: It's not clear to me at all that "Byzantine-Sassanid Wars" is reified at all, so just write a tossup on the two polities in question and make all the clues about wars that they fought.
They are considered a scholarly thing, but generally have many different names, usually involving some combination of Roman, Byzantine, Persian, and Sassanids in conjunction with war.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Birdofredum Sawin » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:34 pm

I haven't so much as glanced at the CO set, but I have glanced at this discussion thread, which prompted me to say a few things. Obviously, what I'm about to say is offered in total ignorance of the questions themselves; I'm just reflecting on what people are saying.

First, I was struck by this statement of Jerry's:

In other words, I wrote/edited a tournament that I would have loved to play myself; I've long come to terms with the fact that no one is going to do that for me so I view this as the next best thing.

I have a lot of sympathy with this perspective; I think this is a place that a lot of veteran players/writers/editors get to. The temptation to produce, at long last, a tournament that approximates your own personal vision of "the kind of tournament I would love to play" has overtaken most of us, I think. So, I totally understand where Jerry's coming from here. However, it's important to recognize that if you give in to this temptation, you may end up discovering that your "personal vision" of quizbowl perfection is askew from the reality of what other quizbowlers will find playable. I say this as someone who succumbed to the temptation himself: In 2005, I sat down to write "the ACF Nationals that I would have loved to play myself." We know how that turned out -- it was, objectively, way too hard for the field. (When Zeke felt the temptation, he wrote Manu: which is probably the better way to gratify this kind of itch.)

I don't really get arguments about the alleged special "mission" or "goal" of CO; Jerry's right that there is no such thing. I would have thought that the mission of any tournament is "to be interesting and challenging, but playable, for the expected audience." (The only exception to this rule being specialty tournaments, but then those always have more or less explicitly declared goals like the Science Monstrosity's "let's see how much you know about hardcore science; if you don't know anything, stay home" or Westbrook's "let's see how much you know about this random shit I'm asking about; if you haven't been memorizing the tossup lead-ins from which I will be mining my answer lines, stay home.") If the objection is simply "Jerry overestimated the playability of this set," well, that's a common enough error (see, again, my '05 Nats).

On the other hand, I will say that I agree strongly with Andrew Hart's comments in this thread (at least, in their general tenor; again, I don't know anything about their application to CO in particular). I wouldn't necessarily phrase the argument in the same way: in particular, I'm not sure what the "core" of quizbowl is, or that any particular tournament has an "obligation" to hit X percent of it. But I very much agree with him in deploring the way people seize on minor figures who come up and then beat them into the ground (this is the "Danticat Effect" I've bemoaned in the past). When I sit down to write, say, a packet's worth of literature questions, I think "OK, the whole world of askable literature is now open to me -- what direction do I feel like going in today?" Based on packet submissions I've seen over the years, I'm forced to conclude that other people, when faced with the same task, think to themselves "OK, the following people and works have come up in tournaments I've played over the last six months -- which of those footsteps do I want to follow in?" As I've said before, I can see why relatively inexperienced writers take the latter route, as you have to have a somewhat robust sense of what the "world of askable literature" is if you want to adopt the first approach. But I wish more writers would think twice before saying "well, I've heard four questions on Lu Xun/"True Story of Ah Q" in the last couple of months; I guess it's time for me to write my Lu Xun tossup," and I wish that more editors had the time and resources to be able to reject such questions when they get submitted.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by bmcke » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:49 pm

When I wrote a Lu Xun question a few months ago, I actually thought I was filling a gap in the canon. My idea was that people don't ask much about Chinese lit, other than classics. To make sure it was gettable, I picked the one name I recognized.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Fri Jul 30, 2010 1:28 pm

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:On the other hand, I will say that I agree strongly with Andrew Hart's comments in this thread (at least, in their general tenor; again, I don't know anything about their application to CO in particular). I wouldn't necessarily phrase the argument in the same way: in particular, I'm not sure what the "core" of quizbowl is, or that any particular tournament has an "obligation" to hit X percent of it. But I very much agree with him in deploring the way people seize on minor figures who come up and then beat them into the ground (this is the "Danticat Effect" I've bemoaned in the past). When I sit down to write, say, a packet's worth of literature questions, I think "OK, the whole world of askable literature is now open to me -- what direction do I feel like going in today?" Based on packet submissions I've seen over the years, I'm forced to conclude that other people, when faced with the same task, think to themselves "OK, the following people and works have come up in tournaments I've played over the last six months -- which of those footsteps do I want to follow in?" As I've said before, I can see why relatively inexperienced writers take the latter route, as you have to have a somewhat robust sense of what the "world of askable literature" is if you want to adopt the first approach. But I wish more writers would think twice before saying "well, I've heard four questions on Lu Xun/"True Story of Ah Q" in the last couple of months; I guess it's time for me to write my Lu Xun tossup," and I wish that more editors had the time and resources to be able to reject such questions when they get submitted.
I pretty much agree with this perspective; let me just say again that, faced with the possibility of letting through a bad question, rewriting a question that I know nothing about, or writing a third question to fill the same category slot, the third option seems vastly preferable to me, even if it feeds the above phenomenon to some extent. There were a couple of questions like that in this set, which is unfortunate, but from my perspective, far better than a question that's outright bad.

I also want to say that we're going to be working really hard to avoid this for ACF Nationals. In order to facilitate this, one of the things that I'll tell you right now that we will do is to push the last submission deadline up to about a month before the tournament. Based on what I saw from CO submissions, there isn't a single team out there whose packet I would feel comfortable passing unedited, and we're going to really get on people's cases about submitting by the deadline. Be warned.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Fri Jul 30, 2010 5:43 pm

Morraine Man wrote:

HI can't, since I doubt that the members of the Harvard team have such broad knowledge bases that they know what is important in every discipline.
Have you ever seen the Harvard team play, or played an HI? If anything, the problem with HI and HI2 is that it was written by a team of specialists who knew their subjects a bit too well and went off the deep end difficulty wise.
I meant to clarify that line, but I guess I forgot before submitting. I'm not disputing that Harvard's team is full of specialists who know their subjects really well. But they aren't specialists in everything that comes up in quiz bowl. No team has that. I know very well that there aren't a lot of chemical or materials science engineers in quiz bowl, and so most things I learn in class is going to be very hard for everyone else. I can't name any player who is an electrical engineer, but I'm sure they have some interesting laws and systems that they learn about. My point wasn't anything about the Harvard team in particular, beyond the fact that they wrote the most recent hard house-written tournament. My point is that no team has even close to the breadth of knowledge of important things yet to reasonably expand the QB canon that a packet submission tournament like CO can provide. I'm sorry if that wasn't clear.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Nicklausse/Muse » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:00 pm

I can't name any player who is an electrical engineer
Aaron Rosenberg?
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:41 pm

Nicklausse/Muse wrote:
I can't name any player who is an electrical engineer
Aaron Rosenberg?
I had no idea. Apparently Cody from VCU is as well.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:34 pm

Sorry to crash this chain with more music stuff, but I found some more mistakes while reading through the packets today. One is small (round 4, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concertos: I think the anecdote is really talking about Nikloai Rubenstein, and not Anton). The others are larger and are in the tossup on Beethoven's Eighth in packet 13.

First of all, let me say a thanks to whoever wrote this for finally writing a Beethoven's Eighth tossup. I've been waiting for one for a long time. And oddly enough, a couple of days before the tournament I thought to myself that Beethoven's Eighth was exactly the piece I wanted to be tossed up when I played Kevin, so it was really eerie when the first tossup of our match was indeed Beethoven's Eighth.
A forte C-sharp in octaves interrupts the opening pianissimo theme of its final movement.
Tiny thing: this is fortissimo, not forte.
The first and last measures of this composition's first movement are exactly the same
"Exactly" is a dangerously precise word, and it threw me way off. The first and last measures of this piece have the same melody, but otherwise are not the same; everything else about the presentation is different (the orchestration, dynamics, background figures, etc.). While playing this, I tried to run the first and last measures of first movements of various symphonies through my head for the next couple of lines, and came up short.
the fff ("fortiss-issimo") recapitulation eliminates the piano fifth through eighth measures of the opening theme
No, they are not eliminated. They are still there!
The minuet third movement contains a duet for horn and clarinet.
That's a trio for two horns and a clarinet, not a duet. The trio section of a minuet is so named for the older practice of showcasing a trio of instruments in that portion of the piece. Beethoven is honoring that tradition by featuring a genuine trio.
The finale of this piece contains forty-five repetitions of the tonic chord of F major.
I'm confused by this clue. What does this mean? Forty-five repetitions throughout the movement? Forty-five in a row? And how do you count repetitions of a chord in a texture where all the instruments are playing a different number of chords every bar? Are you counting by the instruments that are moving the fastest? Do you mean forty-five bars worth? If so, though I assume you're talking about somewhere in the coda, I can't find the spot. Where is the moment you're describing?
For 10 points, name this shortest of Beethoven's symphonies
No it's not. The first symphony is shorter. EDIT: I'll retract this, with apologies. I've since found some articles that claim outright that this is the shortest, and others which debate whether this or the first should be considered the shortest. So, apparently this is not a settled issue.
that premiered with Wellington's Victory and the more popular seventh symphony.
Wouldn't have affected gameplay, but just so any future writers on this answer line have this clear: Beethoven's Seventh and his Wellington's Victory were played at the concert where Beethoven's Eighth premiered, but only Beethoven's Eighth was being premiered. The other two pieces had premiered a couple of months earlier. The current phrasing of this statement is ambiguous.

I don't know quite what to make of this. Like the Russian Easter Festival Overture tossup, on the surface, this looks really good. The musical terms sound like they are being used by someone who understands what they mean, and the clue choice for this tossup is mostly very intelligent: lots of genuinely interesting and uniquely identifying moments in the piece. But, like the other one, some of the information is just plain wrong. I don't mean to put a writer on the spot again, but I have to ask: where are these clues coming from?
Last edited by ThisIsMyUsername on Fri Jul 30, 2010 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by marnold » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:46 pm

Who will be the Eliot Ness to quizbowl's music mafia?
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by millionwaves » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:47 pm

marnold wrote:Who will be the Eliot Ness to quizbowl's music mafia?
Hear hear.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Fri Jul 30, 2010 9:49 pm

Quantum Mushroom Billiard Hat wrote:
Nicklausse/Muse wrote:
I can't name any player who is an electrical engineer
Aaron Rosenberg?
I had no idea. Apparently Cody from VCU is as well.
And Nathaniel Kane from RIT. It seems half of quizbowl has asked me the question in my signature at some point or another FWIW, I wrote that bonus on FETs/ depletion layer/ q-point.
marnold wrote:Who will be the Eliot Ness to quizbowl's music mafia?
EDIT: I suppose it's time for me to defect from said organization, if I haven't already.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by recfreq » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:30 am

A couple of things from me.

First, the Lu Xun issue brings up a trend that I wish we can do something about. I was born in China and lived there for 14 years. I've talked to enough of friends, acquaintances, relatives (especially older ones), etc. to tell you that while Lu Xun (鲁迅) is important, he is likely not one of the top 3 most beloved authors from that era in Chinese literature. Lao She (老舍) is most frequently generally regarded as the most important, and perhaps artistically most significant (see "Ricksaw"). Others like Ba Jin (巴金), who integrated foreign elements with Chinese fiction, and Mao Tun (矛盾), with his much loved "Spring Silk Worms", are all arguably just as important if not more so. Communist China tended to inflate interest in Lu Xun because his writing fits their revolutionary political agenda. That's not to say Lu Xun is not a great writer, but if you talk to Chinese academics, you'll find that his significance is much less than we in the West perceive. This is coming from someone (me) who visited Lu Xun's monument in Sendai, and whose father is from Lu Xun's province, so no bias here. For some reason, we latched on to Lu Xun in quizbowl. I think it's similar to the phenomenon of people in the West knowing only Kurosawa for Japanese films. Japanese themselves love Ozu and Mizoguchi far more in the "Big Three." I'm not telling people to stop writing about Lu Xun, because Chinese literature of that era is engaging, beloved, and read by more people than any of the other authors we have, but to fill this niche, I hope people can investigate among those authors and find out who is truly important and in what sense.

Second, although I liked this tournament very much, I agree with Andrew H. and Andrew Y. that testing about the core is underrepresented in this tourney. There are always more authors to write about, but to read every "most important book" by every imaginable author out there seems insurmountable. To use as an example, I wrote the "Heartbreak House" question. If someone knows that play well enough to buzz on the "x-ray" clue, that is the sort of depth it appears that we ought to reward for the 3rd or 4th best known work of someone in the firmly established canon. I feel like that type of knowledge is more important and less superficial than knowing that there some dude named Onetti who's famous for that book I've heard of. I feel like the latter ought to be rewarded to some extent, but this tournament definitely leaned too far on that side than I feel we should.

Just a quick word on the science in this tournament. I don't know if it's just the difficulty or my lack of familiarity with the current canon, but this is the first time that I have not answered a single science tossup in a tournament. I don't say that the science was impossible, but it didn't hit any of the areas that I, as a CS/math undergrad + neuroscience grad student interested in most areas of science, could answer (e.g. diseases, taxonomy). I hope to improve, but it seems to me the science was a bit too hard, and may have pushed the tournament a bit too far to the onus of "who has the best humanities players" to the detriment of the "scientist advantage." I'd be interested to see the stats of science vs. nonscience answered in this tournament, but I realize that it's quite a bit of work to arrive at that.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Megalomaniacal Panda on Absinthe » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:33 am

ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Sorry to crash this chain with more music stuff, but I found some more mistakes while reading through the packets today. One is small (round 4, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concertos: I think the anecdote is really talking about Nikloai Rubenstein, and not Anton). The others are larger and are in the tossup on Beethoven's Eighth in packet 13.

I don't know quite what to make of this. Like the Russian Easter Festival Overture tossup, on the surface, this looks really good. The musical terms sound like they are being used by someone who understands what they mean, and the clue choice for this tossup is mostly very intelligent: lots of genuinely interesting and uniquely identifying moments in the piece. But, like the other one, some of the information is just plain wrong. I don't mean to put a writer on the spot again, but I have to ask: where are these clues coming from?
The Beethoven's Eighth question was graciously written by Hannah when I suggested I wanted a tossup on it in the set. Though she has yet to respond, I suspect the majority of the errors are drawn from this source: http://www.redwoodsymphony.org/history/ ... aspx?ID=33

In particular, while I too was somewhat confused by the mention of forty-five repetitions of the F major chord, I assume it's in reference to the concluding passage(s) following the timpani and then drums playing E-sharp/F, which does indeed contain myriad repetitions of the F major triad.

I've always heard the eighth referred to as the shortest of his symphonies.

And yeah, it should definitely be Nikolai Rubinstein, which I presume, like most of the other errors, I missed while pointlessly agonizing over whether I thought Wilhelm Furtwangler was a hard part.

My apologies, again. I definitely should have spent more time looking over the questions that looked good instead of putting so much effort into writing new ones.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by fleurdelivre » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:41 am

grapesmoker wrote:
kdroge wrote:I'm a little confused as to the argument presented above for being forced to change the "Elixir of Father Gauchet" tossup I wrote to one on Daudet- I could understand if the argument was that there shouldn't be any tossups at that level of difficulty, but there were (Onetti has been brought up a bunch, so I'll use that as an example, but there were others as well), so I don't really see why lesser-known (but still somewhat important) works of canonical authors can't come up but entirely new authors can. In addition, I realize that it may have been preference on the part of the editors for canon expansion via breadth rather than depth, but then the issue with the question wasn't that it was too hard, persay, but rather that it didn't fit the vision of what this CO was looking for, which is a different point altogether.
It comes down to a difference between minor and major works. It seemed to me that "Elixir" was basically a minor Daudet work; yes, a somewhat known short story if you're familiar with the Daudet canon (if there is such a thing) but probably only like the 3rd of 4th most famous thing you'd know about him. If, for example, the tossup had been on "Tartarin of Tarascon," I would have probably kept it (since it's his best known work) but this seemed like a bit too much. For the Onetti tossup, it's his major work that's being asked about. Since I didn't feel sufficiently motivated to go find a copy of "Tartarin," I just wrote a Daudet tossup instead since I could do that easily.
There's actually a need to discuss the appropriateness of tossing up one of the Lettres de mon moulin? Sorry I'm late to the conversation, but it surprises me. The only other tournament I've encountered Daudet at all was the notoriously-impossible ACF nationals 2005, and having read the collection (admittedly some years ago now), I know I wouldn't have remembered the title of a particular story within.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:43 am

recfreq wrote:First, the Lu Xun issue brings up a trend that I wish we can do something about. I was born in China and lived there for 14 years. I've talked to enough of friends, acquaintances, relatives (especially older ones), etc. to tell you that while Lu Xun (鲁迅) is important, he is likely not one of the top 3 most beloved authors from that era in Chinese literature. Lao She (老舍) is most frequently generally regarded as the most important, and perhaps artistically most significant (see "Ricksaw"). Others like Ba Jin (巴金), who integrated foreign elements with Chinese fiction, and Mao Tun (矛盾), with his much loved "Spring Silk Worms", are all arguably just as important if not more so. Communist China tended to inflate interest in Lu Xun because his writing fits their revolutionary political agenda. That's not to say Lu Xun is not a great writer, but if you talk to Chinese academics, you'll find that his significance is much less than we in the West perceive. This is coming from someone (me) who visited Lu Xun's monument in Sendai, and whose father is from Lu Xun's province, so no bias here. For some reason, we latched on to Lu Xun in quizbowl. I think it's similar to the phenomenon of people in the West knowing only Kurosawa for Japanese films. Japanese themselves love Ozu and Mizoguchi far more in the "Big Three." I'm not telling people to stop writing about Lu Xun, because Chinese literature of that era is engaging, beloved, and read by more people than any of the other authors we have, but to fill this niche, I hope people can investigate among those authors and find out who is truly important and in what sense.
Ray, thanks for making this point. I think this is actually quite similar to the fact that, for quizbowl, Soviet literature begins and ends with Bulgakov. Now, Bulgakov is great and all, but there are a lot of other writers of the time who are no less worthy of mention; in particular, I find it weird that The Twelve Chairs, which is likely to be the most popular Soviet novel of the 20th century, is something that's considered on the borders of the canon. Anyway, it's good to have someone who has the additional knowledge put forth other candidates. While I'm guessing that quizbowl is not yet ready for a Lao She tossup, it's something that I'll try and track down and read at least for myself.
Second, although I liked this tournament very much, I agree with Andrew H. and Andrew Y. that testing about the core is underrepresented in this tourney. There are always more authors to write about, but to read every "most important book" by every imaginable author out there seems insurmountable. To use as an example, I wrote the "Heartbreak House" question. If someone knows that play well enough to buzz on the "x-ray" clue, that is the sort of depth it appears that we ought to reward for the 3rd or 4th best known work of someone in the firmly established canon. I feel like that type of knowledge is more important and less superficial than knowing that there some dude named Onetti who's famous for that book I've heard of. I feel like the latter ought to be rewarded to some extent, but this tournament definitely leaned too far on that side than I feel we should.
Your Heartbreak House question was fine and it was kept.

While I'm somewhat sympathetic to claims of difficulty about the literature, let's take a look at what answers actually came up across the 17 packets. I'm copy/pasting all the literature tossup answers from all the packets (not in order):

As I lay with my head in your lap camerado, The Unvanquished, The Pit, The Time of Your Life
All My Sons, Dutchman, The House of the Seven Gables, WH Gass
Billy Bathgate, The Comedian as the Letter C, The Changing Light at Sandover, WD Howells
Pale Fire, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Barn Burning, At Melville's Tomb, Delmore Schwartz
Heartbreak House, The Way of All Flesh, Jerusalem, L'Allegro, The Quiet American
DG Rosetti, Molly Bloom's Soliloquy, The Sea and the Mirror, Romola, The Whitsun Weddings
Kipling, The Man of Mode, Darley, The Spire, To Autumn
On Murder, considered as one of the Fine Arts, going to the moon, Leopardi, Atta Troll
Apollinaire, The Maids, Mary Renault, WG Sebald, Provencal/Occitan, Vinteuil's Sonata
Bread and Wine, Carlo Goldoni, Thebaid, The Family of Pascual Duarte, John Gardner
Alfonse Daudet, The Sandman, The man before the law, Raise High the Roofbeam Carpenters
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, Snow, The Poor Christ of Bomba, Elizabeth Costello
Diary of a Madman, Arrow of God, Mahmoud Darwish, R. K. Narayan, The Ark Sakura
Quincas Borba, The Chalk Circle, Wang Wei, A Manual for Manuel
Peter Carey, Paradiso, The Shipyard, Martha Quest

Looking at the set of those tossup choices, maybe people can tell me what parts they think are not in "the core." For myself, I would nominate the now-much-discussed The Shipyard, Mary Renault, Darwish, The Ark Sakura, Paradiso, The Poor Christ of Bomba, perhaps Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, and I'm not sure what else. I mean, all of these tossup choices (a majority of which were submitted, by the way, and not written by me) are from or about some pretty important core authors. We've got Faulkner, Proust, Keats, Cortazar, Auden, Durell, Golding, de Quincey, Joyce, Stevens, Lessing, Salinger, Kafka, Blake. I don't see how anyone could reasonably claim that the majority of the writers represented in this tournament are not part of whatever "core" you might like to imagine there being. I don't want to put words into anyone's mouth, but it seems to me that people are getting hung up on a few balls-out hard questions and ignoring the fact that there's a shitton of stuff on major, important authors in this tournament. And the stuff that isn't from authors that a lot of people have likely read was selected because it's the most representative or well known work of that author.

Were the questions difficult? For sure. But they were also questions that you could get and they certainly weren't skirting the periphery of stuff people actually read. If it seems like I'm being defensive about it, well, I am, because I think the accusations of "hollowness" against this tournament are not founded on any specific facts but rather on a general sense of frustration. If you think "this is too hard," then I guess I'm sympathetic to that, but suggesting that I'm somehow leaving out major parts of the canon in favor of pet expansion topics is not particularly fair.
Just a quick word on the science in this tournament. I don't know if it's just the difficulty or my lack of familiarity with the current canon, but this is the first time that I have not answered a single science tossup in a tournament. I don't say that the science was impossible, but it didn't hit any of the areas that I, as a CS/math undergrad + neuroscience grad student interested in most areas of science, could answer (e.g. diseases, taxonomy). I hope to improve, but it seems to me the science was a bit too hard, and may have pushed the tournament a bit too far to the onus of "who has the best humanities players" to the detriment of the "scientist advantage." I'd be interested to see the stats of science vs. nonscience answered in this tournament, but I realize that it's quite a bit of work to arrive at that.
The private feedback I got from Mike and Seth about the physics was positive. As for the "other science," CS was probably slightly underrepresented in this tournament relative to the norm, and geosciences were definitely underrepresented. Math and engineering probably got more than their usual share. Here are the answers:

comparator, Pigeonhole principle, De Moivre, homotopy, FPGA, dense, Jordan curve theorem, random number generation, von Neumann architecture, prior probability, interactive proof, scheduling, tetragonal, MOND, cirrus, odd perfect number, residue

I'm guessing that it's entirely possible that as far as CS/math was concerned, this tournament just missed what you know. It happens. I can't speak intelligently about either the bio or chem, but I don't feel like any of these answers are so hard as to eliminate the science advantage of good players. I know for a fact that the majority of these questions were answered in the room where I read (including all 4 science tossups that I wrote for the finals).

edit: questions written by me de novo (as opposed to simply edited on the same answer) are highlighted in bold.
Last edited by grapesmoker on Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Sat Jul 31, 2010 9:40 am

grapesmoker wrote:
recfreq wrote:First, the Lu Xun issue brings up a trend that I wish we can do something about. I was born in China and lived there for 14 years. I've talked to enough of friends, acquaintances, relatives (especially older ones), etc. to tell you that while Lu Xun (鲁迅) is important, he is likely not one of the top 3 most beloved authors from that era in Chinese literature. Lao She (老舍) is most frequently generally regarded as the most important, and perhaps artistically most significant (see "Ricksaw"). Others like Ba Jin (巴金), who integrated foreign elements with Chinese fiction, and Mao Tun (矛盾), with his much loved "Spring Silk Worms", are all arguably just as important if not more so. Communist China tended to inflate interest in Lu Xun because his writing fits their revolutionary political agenda. That's not to say Lu Xun is not a great writer, but if you talk to Chinese academics, you'll find that his significance is much less than we in the West perceive. This is coming from someone (me) who visited Lu Xun's monument in Sendai, and whose father is from Lu Xun's province, so no bias here. For some reason, we latched on to Lu Xun in quizbowl. I think it's similar to the phenomenon of people in the West knowing only Kurosawa for Japanese films. Japanese themselves love Ozu and Mizoguchi far more in the "Big Three." I'm not telling people to stop writing about Lu Xun, because Chinese literature of that era is engaging, beloved, and read by more people than any of the other authors we have, but to fill this niche, I hope people can investigate among those authors and find out who is truly important and in what sense.
Ray, thanks for making this point. I think this is actually quite similar to the fact that, for quizbowl, Soviet literature begins and ends with Bulgakov. Now, Bulgakov is great and all, but there are a lot of other writers of the time who are no less worthy of mention; in particular, I find it weird that The Twelve Chairs, which is likely to be the most popular Soviet novel of the 20th century, is something that's considered on the borders of the canon. Anyway, it's good to have someone who has the additional knowledge put forth other candidates. While I'm guessing that quizbowl is not yet ready for a Lao She tossup, it's something that I'll try and track down and read at least for myself.
Having just taken a modern Chinese literature class (in which Lu Xun and his influence came up all the damn time, though I'm sure at least some of that had to do with my instructor doing his PhD thesis on him), I'd be delighted for Lao She and Mao Dun to start showing up. Rickshaw's pretty good, Jerry; I recommend it. Also of potential interest, if we're busting the canon open, is Yu Hua, a prominent post-Cultural Revolution author (works include "On the Road at Eighteen", To Live, and Chronicle of a Blood Merchant).
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sat Jul 31, 2010 10:59 am

Megalomaniacal Panda on Absinthe wrote:
ThisIsMyUsername wrote:Sorry to crash this chain with more music stuff, but I found some more mistakes while reading through the packets today. One is small (round 4, Tchaikovsky's Piano Concertos: I think the anecdote is really talking about Nikloai Rubenstein, and not Anton). The others are larger and are in the tossup on Beethoven's Eighth in packet 13.

I don't know quite what to make of this. Like the Russian Easter Festival Overture tossup, on the surface, this looks really good. The musical terms sound like they are being used by someone who understands what they mean, and the clue choice for this tossup is mostly very intelligent: lots of genuinely interesting and uniquely identifying moments in the piece. But, like the other one, some of the information is just plain wrong. I don't mean to put a writer on the spot again, but I have to ask: where are these clues coming from?
The Beethoven's Eighth question was graciously written by Hannah when I suggested I wanted a tossup on it in the set. Though she has yet to respond, I suspect the majority of the errors are drawn from this source: http://www.redwoodsymphony.org/history/ ... aspx?ID=33

In particular, while I too was somewhat confused by the mention of forty-five repetitions of the F major chord, I assume it's in reference to the concluding passage(s) following the timpani and then drums playing E-sharp/F, which does indeed contain myriad repetitions of the F major triad.

I've always heard the eighth referred to as the shortest of his symphonies.
Shantanu is exactly right. As silly as this sounds, I believe I wrote this question on a Sunday, and so without any actual books (most of mine are no longer with me in preparation for my move), I had to rely on online sources. I should have made the forty-five repetitions clue more clear, and the premiere clue is also confusing (although I hardly think it would have hosed anyone!), but along with Shantanu, I've always heard the eighth called his shortest.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:14 am

As long as I'm doing the tossup answers for literature, I guess I'll do them for the other categories as well.

History:

ABC conference, Anti-Rent War, Webster's 2nd reply to Haine, Shelley v. Kramer, John Stennis
Toledo War, Penn Central, Election of 1888, NLRB, The Great Railroad Strike of 1877
Munn v. Illinois, Report on Manufactures, Virginia Resolves, Woking Men's Party
Treaty of New Echota, the Burned-Over district, Burlingame treaty
Marie de Medici, Camillus, Aldo Moro, Kett's Rebellion, Maurice of Nassau, Necker
Wilfrid Laurier, War of the Polish Succession, workhouses, conversos, winds of change
equites, Richard Neville, Illyria, Battle of Rocroi, Felix Dzerzhinsky, Melbourne
Fourth Crusade, Frederick V of the Palatinate, Eusebius, Alexeius Comnenus, Saxony
Social War, Battle of Magenta, Council of Basel, Visconti, Louis-Auguste Blanquis
Swabia, October Manifesto, War of the Breton Succession, Ferdinand VII, Achemaenid
Weltpolitik, Passorowitz, Garnett Wolesley, Kongo
Maratha wars, Dhu Nawas, Genpei War, Nadir Shah, Biafran war, Abd al-Rahman, Yan'an
Southern Song, untouchables, Nepal, Ghaznavid, Khusrau I, Cristero Rebellion
Jose Gervasio Artigas, al-Mansur

Again, bolded answers were written by me. In addition Shantanu wrote tossups on al-Mansur and Melbourne.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:16 am

Physics:

action, COBE, rotation curves, scale factor, strangeness, scattering, spherical harmonics , spontaneous symmetry breaking, molecular beam epitaxy, integrable systems, Hulse-Taylor binary, boundary layer, triple alpha process, negative index of refraction, two dimensional, recombination, adaptive optics
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:20 am

RMP:

Cow Surra, Ramon Lull, Romans, Mahdi, James, Mencius, Book of Jonah, shrine, Karaites
bear cult, The Seven-Storey Mountain, Athanasius, Zohar, Kebra Nagast
Ephesus, Avalokitesvara, Rerum Novarum, Nidhogg, Viracocha, otters, bag
Oh-kuni-nushi, Nergal, Cattle Raid of Cooley, Dryope, Elaine, Zuni, Apis, Sigmund, Bhima
Vafthrudnismal, Lacplesis, kantele, Ilya Muromets, circular reasoning, Jerry Fodor
the self, Philosophy of Right, Husserl, Franz Rosenzweig, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature, Thomas Nagel
The Concept of Law, philosophers named Unger, Enchiridion, Gender Trouble, Sense and Sensibilia
On the Concept of History, Ideology and Utopia, propositional attitudes, Aesthetics
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Jul 31, 2010 11:22 am

Yeah, particularly for a tournament where packet submission ensures that you're not entirely in control of to what degree the tournament tests "the core," Jerry's subjects did an excellent job of returning to core subjects unerringly. Given what I saw in answer selection from submitted packets, that's a great credit to him.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:12 pm

Nicklausse/Muse wrote:
I can't name any player who is an electrical engineer
Aaron Rosenberg?
In a former life I was an engineer too.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:14 pm

I also wrote the tossups on Postmodernism, The God that Failed, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," and Ryszard Kapuscinski. These were all in the "other" category.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! » Sat Jul 31, 2010 12:42 pm

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:Given what I saw in answer selection from submitted packets, that's a great credit to him.
A note on this: I'm not going to stamp my foot and refuse to acknowledge the overdifficulty of some questions in this tournament, but while most of the people who are posting with difficulty objections submitted packets containing reasonable answer lines, there was stuff submitted that was just ridiculous, and I think this contributed to it. Misjudging the appropriateness of a Daudet short story is one thing, but consistently submitting tossups on answers so obscure as to be unusable or bonuses that have been lazily slapped together* is another. It both makes more work for editors (thus giving them less time to precisely calibrate questions or reevaluate possible poor choices of their own) and gives the implication that what you're looking for is a tournament of the same insane difficulty and level of vanity to which you've written your packet.

*Jerry already posted about this, but it's shocking to me that people playing Chicago Open would look directly to Wikipedia for significant portions of, say, their bio submissions. It's generally easy to spot this in reading a question, and most of the time when I went to the Wiki article to check my suspicions, I was correct.
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by Mechanical Beasts » Sat Jul 31, 2010 1:10 pm

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:Jerry already posted about this, but it's shocking to me that people playing Chicago Open would look directly to Wikipedia for significant portions of, say, their bio submissions. It's generally easy to spot this in reading a question, and most of the time when I went to the Wiki article to check my suspicions, I was correct.
Ditto for chemistry. Like, I will admit this: most of the chemistry concentrators I know use Wikipedia as a resource for checking facts. Why, while I learned one of the kinetic isotope effect clues I used through my professor's solution to a problem set, that solution referenced an explanation (for the tunneling mechanism) on Wikipedia. So I'll say that Wikipedia is not frequently wrong on chemistry; at worst it's from time to time affected, let's say, in its choice of words. It gives chemistry questions a bad mouth-feel, but if you drew all your basic information from Wikipedia, you could turn that into a difficulty appropriate and pyramidal tossup on a reaction or functional group,* no problem.

The problem arises when you find a fact about a reaction on Wikipedia and say "that must be a CLUE." It might not be. People have submitted clues to me in the past that were not very different from "the photochemically catalyzed form of this reaction is called the photo-this reaction." Now, I was thinking of the Favorskii rearrangement, which is a fascinating and synthetically useful transformation--it's how they first made cubane, which is what it sounds like--but you didn't know that, and no one can. (Amusingly, this does in fact rule out a couple of reactions whose photocatalyzed forms are known by a different name, but I can't imagine that that was the question-writer's intention.) It's all too easy to pull a tautology from Wikipedia, or to drop "alkyne" in the second line of an nine-line Sonogashira question (the final version was five and a half and "alkyne" was towards the end of the fourth); it's also all too obvious. If you're having trouble understanding something, ask me so I can help you understand it. That way real learning can happen instead of learning buzzwords (that may fail you) from Wikipedia pages.

Actually, that's an open offer. If there's a tournament I'm either helping to edit or not playing, for the rest of my time in quizbowl, and you want to write a chemistry question on something but don't understand it enough to competently choose clues, I will help. It saddens me when I see people trying--because, much as I don't like Wikiplagiarism, the writers are still trying to produce something playable and every clue they throw in is INTENDED to help the editors, not hurt them--and just missing because of simple, avoidable mistakes. I want to help people understand this beautiful discipline, because it's really not very hard. If you understand positive and negative charge and can remember from high school that atoms have "orbitals" where electrons go that have different "energies," I daresay you're done with all the "difficult concepts" from organic chemistry. Anything beyond that is just formalism piled upon formalism. I can help you navigate that, and I want to. If we get better at this, in the long run, we'll all be able to write and edit tournaments more easily and more quickly, and better enjoy learning about our world.


*less so a concept, because their explanations of analytical and of physical chemistry tend to be circular, incomprehensible, or wrong
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Re: Chicago Open thanks and discussions

Post by grapesmoker » Sat Jul 31, 2010 2:08 pm

Not That Kind of Christian!! wrote:A note on this: I'm not going to stamp my foot and refuse to acknowledge the overdifficulty of some questions in this tournament, but while most of the people who are posting with difficulty objections submitted packets containing reasonable answer lines, there was stuff submitted that was just ridiculous, and I think this contributed to it. Misjudging the appropriateness of a Daudet short story is one thing, but consistently submitting tossups on answers so obscure as to be unusable or bonuses that have been lazily slapped together* is another. It both makes more work for editors (thus giving them less time to precisely calibrate questions or reevaluate possible poor choices of their own) and gives the implication that what you're looking for is a tournament of the same insane difficulty and level of vanity to which you've written your packet.
Yeah, I mean, I got a physics bonus that was virtually impossible to get even 10 on unless you had a graduate background in a particular subfield of physics. When I get bonuses like that, I just shake my head and write another one.
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