Illinois Open Discussion

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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by marnold » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:47 am

Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Yeah, I mean if anyone enjoyed this tournament it would have to be the producers of Sack of Antwerp in gratitude that someone else had made something so bad everyone would forget about how bad their set was for a while.
Brilliant! Some more idle speculation about the sinister, true motives underlying the opinions other people claim to possess. A few more posts of this type and this very thread might stand up as a bonus part in a future po-mo nonsense distribution.
Marshall, if I've ever learned anything from Facebook comments, it's that you think the entire American right exists as a way for people to impose an underlying racist agenda.

Anyway, this latest skirmish between grammar and quizbowlers makes me think tournaments might be well-served by farming out copy-editing duties. I know this has been proposed numerous times before, but this seems like it would have been the perfect time for it since the grammar problems weren't caused by a time-crunch but just by a congenital problem. I don't know if the issue is that people don't want their name associated with a set for fear it's bad, or if there's just not much precedent for this outside national tournaments, or if the potential copy editors are just busy themselves, but it seems like this might be an idea whose time has come.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:53 am

Marshall, if I've ever learned anything from Facebook comments, it's that you think the entire American right exists is as a way for people to impose an underlying racist agenda.
Ah, but there's a difference between idle speculation based on nothing and attribution of underlying motives based on revealed preference. Notably, the former is likely to be mistaken.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by sds » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:27 am

marnold wrote:Anyway, this latest skirmish between grammar and quizbowlers makes me think tournaments might be well-served by farming out copy-editing duties. I know this has been proposed numerous times before, but this seems like it would have been the perfect time for it since the grammar problems weren't caused by a time-crunch but just by a congenital problem. I don't know if the issue is that people don't want their name associated with a set for fear it's bad, or if there's just not much precedent for this outside national tournaments, or if the potential copy editors are just busy themselves, but it seems like this might be an idea whose time has come.
I fully agree that most tournaments would benefit from one extra pair of eyes; you can only look at your own questions so many times. I'd be happy to volunteer as a proofreader/syntax-imposer for future tournaments I'm not attending.

Also, if anyone has specific comments to make about the biology, please let me know. I hear that people found it to be easier than the rest of the tournament; I haven't actually seen most of the other questions, but I apologize if there was a significant discrepancy in difficulty. In general, I think the bonuses turned out rather better than the tossups.


Answer lines are as follows:

Tossups
meristem
RuBisCo
ecological succession
peptidoglycan
dopamine
folate
beta/fatty acid oxidation
keratin
green fluorescent protein
tRNA
nonsense mediated decay
red blood cells
iron
humerus
cystic fibrosis

Bonuses
N. crassa / ascomycota / penicillin
pollen / stigma / endosperm
F-factor / sex pilus / merozygote
countercurrent exchange / gills / lamellae
hypothalamus / leptin / hypocretin(orexin)
peptide bond / proline / beta turn
glycolysis / TPP / pantothenic acid
endoplasmic reticulum / PDI / ubiquitin
cilia / axoneme / basal body
retrotransposon / reverse transcriptase / Alu
ELISA / horseradish peroxidase / Western
gastric ulcers / h. pylori / parietal cells
surfactant / alveoli / LaPlace's law
gram stain / silver / hematoxylin/eosin
inflammation / neutrophils / alpha-1 antitrypsin
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:43 am

Going against the grain, I enjoyed this tournament quite a bit and Ike should certainly not feel "ashamed" of himself for writing it. It was definitely an odd playing experience as I had a bizarre statistical split, powering as many tossups as I got for ten, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It wasn't successful as a tournament because of the wild variances in bonus difficulty, but I think there are some pretty crazy overreactions in this thread especially fixating on a few ridiculous bonuses. The key thing is not to blast this tournament as an exemplar of all that is wrong with quizbowl, but isolate the parts that were successful so Ike can build on those for future and isolate the several aspects that were obviously failures so Ike can avoid them in the future. In my next post I'll offer the three major areas for improvement that I think Ike needs to focus on to become a better writer (basically follow sub-distributions, use many more middle clues, and stop trying to be funny), but for right now I feel a need to defend this tournament as having many successful aspects because of the wild hyperbole in this thread suggesting it's the worse tournament ever.

This tournament had many excellent and accessible topics that are among the best literature and social science tossups in the past year. On the flip side, the world literature was representative of exactly the opposite of how people should write world literature and indulged in many questions on silly, quizbowl trendy topics like God's Bits of Wood, Inter Ice Age Four, Sabato etc. The tossups on the Whiskey Priest, Hills Like White Elephants, Henry V, Robert Lowell, Mamet, 95 Theses, Ivan Denisovich, The Jew of Malta, The Seagull, George Bernard Shaw, The Lonely Crowd, The Division of Labor in Society were all accessible, interesting and superbly written. Now I have among the highest standards for literature and have criticized technically sound questions for failing on minute issues, and I'll just say there were many absolutely first rate tossups in this tournament. There were also some disappointing questions (especially questions that lacked many middle clues), but I think we should celebrate the questions that were excellent so Ike can pursue those types of questions in his future writing and avoid problematic trends in his writing.

Contra Jerry, I think there were many harder questions on interesting topics that--as Rob Carson would say--were "rocking." These include "Blue Rondo alla Turk," "As I Walked Out One Evening," The Great Transformation, The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, the Churchlands, Dream Songs, and the Encantadas. The tossups on "As I Walked out One Evening" and "Blue Rondo alla Turk" struck me as perfect topics for tossups at harder tournaments. I think some people are doing the classic post-tournament discussion mistake of fixating on a few obviously flawed questions such as the Czech film-makers bonus.

I'll also add that Matt Weiner is certainly wrong when he claims that people wouldn't be defending this tournament if it wasn't written by Ike. Dallas just read the first two rounds and thought the tossups were really good and had many substantial clues too learn. Either way, IO was significantly better than any Sun n' Fun because it has substantial clues on important topics.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:57 am

On the flip side, the world literature was representative of exactly the opposite of how people should write world literature and indulged in many questions on silly, quizbowl trendy topics like God's Bits of Wood, Inter Ice Age Four, Sabato etc.
I have often seen you criticize silly trends in world literature questions but never in a way that might help others improve at producing it. What is your sensible alternative to this tournament's, or indeed any hard open's, world literature?

Anyway, you quoted a small handful of good tossups, several of which were much easier than the rest of the tossups in the set. As usual, you ignore bonuses in your criticism, which is unfortunate, because knowledgeable people often getting 0s and 10s was the predominant experience in this tournament and constituted the bulk of the misery of several players across sites, including my own.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:04 am

sds wrote: beta/fatty acid oxidation
I appreciated this question since we just covered it in biochem, even though I stupidly negged early with "fatty acid synthesis"
keratin
red blood cells
cystic fibrosis
These questions apparently had easy early clues. The red blood cells mentioned spectrin in the second line; that probably belongs somewhere 2/3 through the tossup. The salty-tasting skin caused by cystic fibrosis is incredibly well known and shouldn't be the very first clue.
GFP
My research involves Brainbow, so I'm thankful you made that an early clue!
Bonuses
N. crassa / ascomycota / penicillin
pollen / stigma / endosperm
F-factor / sex pilus / merozygote
countercurrent exchange / gills / lamellae
hypothalamus / leptin / hypocretin(orexin)
peptide bond / proline / beta turn
glycolysis / TPP / pantothenic acid
endoplasmic reticulum / PDI / ubiquitin
cilia / axoneme / basal body
retrotransposon / reverse transcriptase / Alu
ELISA / horseradish peroxidase / Western
gastric ulcers / h. pylori / parietal cells
surfactant / alveoli / LaPlace's law
gram stain / silver / hematoxylin/eosin
inflammation / neutrophils / alpha-1 antitrypsin
These are all pretty good. Overall, the bio was a notch easier than the rest of the set, in line with the easier questions that Ted listed above. I appreciate the lower difficulty and think that the tournament would have been much more successful if it kept to that base line instead of trying to outdo everyone by showcasing the next thing all the time in a hipster fashion.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Pilgrim » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:05 am

Magister Ludi wrote:"Blue Rondo alla Turk"
Whether this is a good idea for a tossup aside (I personally love the piece, but I think it's pretty hard), it doesn't seem to be executed very well. After a fine lead-in, we get "In the first two minutes of this work, the saxophone twice does not play with the piano, bass and drums, but in the last four or five minutes, there is a saxophone solo followed immediately by a piano solo". Can anybody possibly buzz on a description this vague? And then the next clue is the fact that it's in 9/8 time, possibly the most important fact about the piece (as a little research would show, 9/8 time is incredibly, incredibly rare in jazz).
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:08 am

Pilgrim wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:"Blue Rondo alla Turk"
Whether this is a good idea for a tossup aside (I personally love the piece, but I think it's pretty hard)
I'm pretty surprised that this has been singled out as a hard tossup for this tournament. Isn't this a fairly well-known (maybe top 25?) jazz piece?
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:17 am

Also, I'll say that the one thing I really appreciate about Ike's writing is that he will put in the work to find real clues. Ike is among the best in the game at finding substantive clues for subjects, especially in literature and social science/philosophy. I felt this tournament rewarded my knowledge of SS books that I've read or studied better than any tournament I've played this year. The reason I point out this issue is because so many other writers (who write technically more sound questions than Ike) consistently struggle in this area and produce bad or lazy leadin clues. I think if Ike can marry his excellent research habits with including more middle clues and clues on subjects people are likely to know then he can quickly become one of the better writers in quizbowl.

After thinking about it, I guess the primary problem in Ike's tossups is that he sometimes seems to have a very catholic notion of real knowledge: his questions don't reward you for having real knowledge, but rather punish you for not having it. Let's look at a few questions.

One poem by this author discusses “these well-meant idioms into the smoky spring that fills the suburbs.” In another poem a black man “wanders in some mid-kingdom” and it is noted that “Aesop, driven to pondering, found Heaven with the tortoise and the hare.” In addition to “Praise for an Urn” and “Black Tambourine” this author wrote a collection that ends with six poems, the first of which begins “Above the fresh ruffles of the surf, bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.” He wrote a love poem that quotes a nonsensical passage in The Alchemist, and that poem begins “the mind has shown itself at times too much the baked and labeled dough.” This author of six poems called Voyages wrote a poem about “this fabulous shadow [that] only the sea keeps.” The speaker of that poem by this author saw the “dice of drowned men’s bones.” This author “The Marriage of Faustus and Helen” and “At Melville’s Tomb” put those poems into his White Buildings. For 10 points, name this author of an epic poem called The Bridge.


Here's a decent question on Hart Crane. I was playing Jonathan in this round and webuzzer-raced on the word "voyages." The problem with this question is that it devotes three-and-a-half lines to super obscure leadin clues that very few people are likely to know and only has the one line from "The Marriage of Faustus and Helen" (“the mind has shown itself at times too much the baked and labeled dough.”) from a poem that people are likely to have read. In other words, Ike often seems to have a middle clue rather than middle clues. I can understand the desire to not want to recycle the well worn lines from "At Melville's Tomb" for your early clues, but this tossup would have been much more successful if it had devoted just one line to an obscure poem like"'Praise for an Urn" which only people who have the complete Crane would know. Then the tossup should have delved into poems that are anthologized that people read and study such "My Grandmother's Love Letters" or "The Broken Tower" or "The Marriage of Faustus and Helen." This issue also hurt the Rimbaud tossup (which should have had many more clues from A Season in Hell) and the Senghor tossup. It's really pretty simple to figure out which poems are important since all one has to do is look up the table of contents of the Norton or any reputable anthology of poetry to see which poems are included. It's always better when writing tossups on poets to reward deeper knowledge of the anthologized poems rather than weighing down the tossup with a bunch of quotes from obscure poems.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:29 am

Magister Ludi wrote: One poem by this author discusses “these well-meant idioms into the smoky spring that fills the suburbs.” In another poem a black man “wanders in some mid-kingdom” and it is noted that “Aesop, driven to pondering, found Heaven with the tortoise and the hare.” In addition to “Praise for an Urn” and “Black Tambourine” this author wrote a collection that ends with six poems, the first of which begins “Above the fresh ruffles of the surf, bright striped urchins flay each other with sand.” He wrote a love poem that quotes a nonsensical passage in The Alchemist, and that poem begins “the mind has shown itself at times too much the baked and labeled dough.” This author of six poems called Voyages wrote a poem about “this fabulous shadow [that] only the sea keeps.” The speaker of that poem by this author saw the “dice of drowned men’s bones.” This author “The Marriage of Faustus and Helen” and “At Melville’s Tomb” put those poems into his White Buildings. For 10 points, name this author of an epic poem called The Bridge.

Here's a decent question on Hart Crane. I was playing Jonathan in this round and webuzzer-raced on the word "voyages." The problem with this question is that it devotes three-and-a-half lines to super obscure leadin clues that very few people are likely to know and only has the one line from "The Marriage of Faustus and Helen" (“the mind has shown itself at times too much the baked and labeled dough.”) from a poem that people are likely to have read. In other words, Ike often seems to have a middle clue rather than middle clues. I can understand the desire to not want to recycle the well worn lines from "At Melville's Tomb" for your early clues, but this tossup would have been much more successful if it had devoted just one line to an obscure poem like"'Praise for an Urn" which only people who have the complete Crane would know. Then the tossup should have delved into poems that are anthologized that people read and study such "My Grandmother's Love Letters" or "The Broken Tower" or "The Marriage of Faustus and Helen." This issue also hurt the Rimbaud tossup (which should have had many more clues from A Season in Hell) and the Senghor tossup. It's really pretty simple to figure out which poems are important since all one has to do is look up the table of contents of the Norton or any reputable anthology of poetry to see which poems are included. It's always better when writing tossups on poets to reward deeper knowledge of the anthologized poems rather than weighing down the tossup with a bunch of quotes from obscure poems.
I thought that you'd be among the first to say that one problem with this tossup is that it drops the ball on including substantive clues from The Bridge, which most of this year's (many!) tossups on Hart Crane have fallen victim to. On the other hand, I guess that at the level of IO, neither "Black Tambourine" nor "Voyages" are super-obscure Hart Crane works, although the combination of clues from them at the expense of clues from The Bridge or "The Broken Tower" hurts the question a bit.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Pilgrim » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:36 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
Pilgrim wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:"Blue Rondo alla Turk"
Whether this is a good idea for a tossup aside (I personally love the piece, but I think it's pretty hard)
I'm pretty surprised that this has been singled out as a hard tossup for this tournament. Isn't this a fairly well-known (maybe top 25?) jazz piece?
It's hard for me to say, since I don't really know how well people know jazz. It is the second most notable song on a very famous jazz album, so I guess in that sense it might be known, but I don't think we want people to go out and start writing tossups on "Bemsha Swing" or even "All Blues". And (I could be wrong here) I don't think its a piece that's performed very often, and there are no notable recordings of it other than Brubeck's - two things that usually wouldn't be true for a famous jazz standard.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:46 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
On the flip side, the world literature was representative of exactly the opposite of how people should write world literature and indulged in many questions on silly, quizbowl trendy topics like God's Bits of Wood, Inter Ice Age Four, Sabato etc.
I have often seen you criticize silly trends in world literature questions but never in a way that might help others improve at producing it. What is your sensible alternative to this tournament's, or indeed any hard open's, world literature?
It's funny you mention this because I've been working on a post about my opinions abut world literature at higher levels ever since IO. Hopefully, it'll be up sometime tomorrow.

Also, I'm not sure why you're trying to get into an argument with me about Hart Crane. I assumed that if Ike wanted to write a tossup on The Bridge he would have done so. I assumed he wanted a significant portion of the tossup to be devoted to Crane's short lyric poems (which I might add are also read much more often than The Bridge). And I should add that the general consensus among non-Harold Bloom academics is that The Bridge is an interesting experiment but is ultimately a failure, while White Buildings and a few excerpts from The Bridge are Crane's true masterpieces. While I don't have a problem with tossups on The Bridge, in some sense it is actually more real to have questions on his major lyric poems, which are studied often (and I am willing to bet are read by more people in quizbowl) But I do agree with you that their have been too many tossups on Crane recently and people should probably explore other American major poets like William Carlos Williams or Ezra Pound who have lots of major poems that haven't been the subject of many questions recently.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auroni » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:01 am

Magister Ludi wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
On the flip side, the world literature was representative of exactly the opposite of how people should write world literature and indulged in many questions on silly, quizbowl trendy topics like God's Bits of Wood, Inter Ice Age Four, Sabato etc.
Also, I'm not sure why you're trying to get into an argument with me about Hart Crane.
Well, it's nothing more than me wanting to talk a little bit about Hart Crane after having spent a non-trivial amount of time reading him! I'm not attempting to challenge your knowledge of him anyway. This is getting off-track, but I was trying to argue that the read portions of The Bridge, such as the opening Proem and Cutty Sark, are probably more well known than the first two poems that are in the tossup and would probably help more people. I personally prefer the poems in White Buildings, as I'm sure that many quizbowlers do, but there is value to including some lines from the aforementioned sections of The Bridge, which is for better or worse the work he's most associated with, regardless of its literary merit.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 4:27 am

every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote:
every time i refresh i have a new name wrote:
On the flip side, the world literature was representative of exactly the opposite of how people should write world literature and indulged in many questions on silly, quizbowl trendy topics like God's Bits of Wood, Inter Ice Age Four, Sabato etc.
Also, I'm not sure why you're trying to get into an argument with me about Hart Crane.
Well, it's nothing more than me wanting to talk a little bit about Hart Crane after having spent a non-trivial amount of time reading him! I'm not attempting to challenge your knowledge of him anyway. This is getting off-track, but I was trying to argue that the read portions of The Bridge, such as the opening Proem and Cutty Sark, are probably more well known than the first two poems that are in the tossup and would probably help more people. I personally prefer the poems in White Buildings, as I'm sure that many quizbowlers do, but there is value to including some lines from the aforementioned sections of The Bridge, which is for better or worse the work he's most associated with, regardless of its literary merit.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Mar 23, 2011 5:59 am

Magister Ludi wrote: The Great Transformation, The Myth of the Birth of the Hero
Both of these were basically upscale versions of the classic Matt Bruce tossup that repeats one clue over and over again in slightly different phraseology, in this case hiding behind the fact that most people don't know the answer at all to disguise how weak and fraudable their leadins are. I would not call them good in the least.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:55 am

Matt Weiner wrote:
Magister Ludi wrote: The Great Transformation, The Myth of the Birth of the Hero
Both of these were basically upscale versions of the classic Matt Bruce tossup that repeats one clue over and over again in slightly different phraseology, in this case hiding behind the fact that most people don't know the answer at all to disguise how weak and fraudable their leadins are. I would not call them good in the least.
Yeah, I thought these questions were pretty poor. I did like the tossup on "The Encantadas," but, so, let's look at that Churchlands question.
One thinker with this surname wrote a work that suggests inner ostention and operational definition lead to problems in semantically defining so-called “common-sense psychological vocabulary.” That man discussed propositional attitudes in another work that traces the decline of the term “caloric fluid” in to claim rejecting so called “folk psychology” is the correct approach to understanding the mind body problem. He also wrote an article about “The Rediscovery of Light” that attacks Frank Jackson’s Blind Mary thought experiment. The other thinker with this last name, who espoused eliminative materialism with the first thinker, wrote a tome that claims “mental states are brain states.” That work by a thinker with this surname puts forth a “Unified Science of the Mind Brain” in the titular discipline. For 10 points, give this last name of Paul and Patricia, the latter of whom wrote Neurophilosophy.
ANSWER: Patricia and Paul Churchlands
Pre-emptive disclaimer: I've probably read more actual stuff by the Churchlands than most non-Andrew Yaphe people in quizbowl. I'm not a final authority on them, but I have some plausible claim to knowledge here.

I was originally going to say that the first clue was pretty good, but then I did some research. First of all, attacks on common-sense psychology are a trademark Churchlandian thesis, so that basically helped me buzz around "propositional attitudes." That clue comes from Paul Churchland's paper "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes," which is quite commonly read by the people who read these sorts of things. I have a bunch of the Churchlands' papers and I have searched a number of them for the word "ostention" but have come up blank. I don't know if that's a direct quote from a Churchland paper or Ike's own invention, but if it's a quote, then I don't know where it comes from. I haven't searched all of the papers in my possession but I looked at the ones that I thought were likely to contain this terminology. The rest of the question is also problematic. In my view, the clue about the response to Jackson is somewhat less-well-known. The title might be something that people know, but the content is probably not; that probably should have been the first clue. Also, there is nothing that screams "CHURCHLAND" more than "eliminative materialism," which should be the last two words in any tossups on them. It's substantially better known than the title of Neurophilosophy. But there are problems there as well because the clues actually get more vague; lots of philosophers have claimed that "mind-states are brain-states." Sure, that's probably a direct cite of Neurophilosophy but it's hardly helpful to anyone. Basically everything between "eliminative materialism" and "Paul," is not terribly useful, when that should be the most useful part of the question. I also find it odd to avoid mentioning some really major works, like Patricia Churchland's collaboration with Sejnowski called The Computational Brain or Paul's The Engine of Reason, the Seat of the Soul. I don't know if people are doing things like memorizing Churchland titles (stop it) but there's no reason why a few of these can't be dropped in the end.

Ok, that's too many words about one question. My point is not "oh this question blew so much ass." It's not a horrible question, but it's also not great, which is evident to someone who knows a bit about the topic. The way the clues are put together seems to generally make sense, but a lot of the material is either in the wrong place or not terribly useful. My impression, confirmed by a reading of some packets post mortem, is that a lot of the questions suffered from these sorts of problems. I don't deny that there were good questions in this tournament, and I think most of the ones that Ted points to were generally pretty solid. But there were also lots of downright poor or confusing questions. I'm happy to focus on the positives for a moment, but my concern is that the disparity between good and bad indicates an inability to actually distinguish good and bad question-writing practices on the author's part. In other words, I'm not convinced that Ike didn't just get lucky with some questions and unlucky with others. My goal is to point out that questions need to be structured in a certain way: a way that makes them readable and includes useful clues that are contextually meaningful. And I think that a lot of questions in this tournament failed in that regard and that made it a frustrating playing experience.

My challenge to Ted is to take what he thinks are the good aspects of the questions he outlines and generalize that to a methodology. I've offered my own view of what those criteria should be and it looks like Ted is in the process of working out his version, so I look forward to seeing that.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:27 am

Before this turns into a conference on question writing methodology, let me just quickly praise Ike Jose for two things he consciously did during this tournament: write creative tossup answers, and write hard tossups on easy things.

Jerry will undoubtedly point out that many of these tossups were botched from a technical perspective; but technical flaws can be fixed through indoctrination or copy-edited away. A creative mind is harder to instill, and Ike seems to have one. And while there were many hard answers that would have been at home in a tournament of horrors, there were also a lot of tossups where the early clues challeneged even elite players, but where any team could get 10 points after the giveaway. I think those questions make the game more interesting for experienced players and less intimidating for novices.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by MLafer » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:00 am

I don't know if that's a direct quote from a Churchland paper or Ike's own invention, but if it's a quote, then I don't know where it comes from. I haven't searched all of the papers in my possession but I looked at the ones that I thought were likely to contain this terminology.
This appears to be from Matter and Consciousness, Ch. 3.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:04 am

MLafer wrote:
I don't know if that's a direct quote from a Churchland paper or Ike's own invention, but if it's a quote, then I don't know where it comes from. I haven't searched all of the papers in my possession but I looked at the ones that I thought were likely to contain this terminology.
This appears to be from Matter and Consciousness, Ch. 3.
Is there any good reason for being so coy about this? For what it's worth, that's a book I didn't even know existed until just now, and I actually own and have read parts of every other piece of writing mentioned in that tossup and the ones mentioned in my response. I believe in previous discussions with Ike I tried to impress on him the utility of later mentioning the titles of the things you are describing in the leadins, but for whatever reason that didn't seem to take.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:13 am

Morraine Man wrote:Before this turns into a conference on question writing methodology, let me just quickly praise Ike Jose for two things he consciously did during this tournament: write creative tossup answers, and write hard tossups on easy things.

Jerry will undoubtedly point out that many of these tossups were botched from a technical perspective; but technical flaws can be fixed through indoctrination or copy-edited away. A creative mind is harder to instill, and Ike seems to have one. And while there were many hard answers that would have been at home in a tournament of horrors, there were also a lot of tossups where the early clues challeneged even elite players, but where any team could get 10 points after the giveaway. I think those questions make the game more interesting for experienced players and less intimidating for novices.
I'm happy to concede this point to Bruce, but the counterpoint would be that there were also many tossups in this set that were rather ill-conceived. That may well be the price you pay for being adventurous, but I don't think it must be so.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:10 pm

I guess the last thing I have to say about this is that I still just don't get any real basis for this set being good other than "more difficulty = better than" and if this is the future of quizbowl, or even exclusively of hard quizbowl, then we are living in a grim dystopia indeed.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Tees-Exe Line » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:30 pm

if this is the future of quizbowl, or even exclusively of hard quizbowl, then we are living in a grim dystopia indeed.
Look, I don't think the future of hard quizbowl is 6/6 po-mo nonsense, as you colorfully put it. But I see nothing threatening in somebody with esoteric interests writing a tournament for other people who like weird intellectual subjects.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by magin » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:44 pm

This set definitely had problems with bonus consistency/difficulty and tossups that either lacked middle clues or were guessable fairly early, as many others have already discussed. I think other people have already examined those problems in detail, so I'd like to mention a more subtle problem that adversely affected the tournament.

I think many of its tossups could have used a little more context with their clues. To explain what I mean, take this tossup on Robert Lowell:

3. One of his poems describes "where the landless blood of Cain / is burning, burning the unburied grain," and is found in a work titled after Etienne Gilson's study of Saint Bernard. He wrote a seven part poem whose 77th line makes use of the Latin word clamavus, and whose 6th part is dedicated to "Our Lady of Walsingham." In another of his works, "Love of Careless Love" is what a "car radio bleats," and the speaker claims "I myself am hell." In addition to Land of Unlikeliness, he wrote about "giant finned cars" that "nose forward like fish," in a poem that claims "The old South Boston Aquarium stands / in a Sahara of snow now." Another of his poems is dedicated to Elizabeth Bishop and describes the title animal that "jabs her wedge-head in a cup / of sour cream, drops her ostrich tail / and will not scare." For 10 points, name this author of "For the Union Dead" and "Skunk Hour."
ANSWER: Robert Lowell

This isn't a bad Lowell tossup, and definitely spends the majority of its clues on major Lowell poems that people are likely to read. However, I think some of the clues could stand to be fleshed out. Take the clue about "clamavus"; the tossup doesn't mention how it works in the poem, or the context that it's used in, but merely says that it "makes use" of it. Similarly, the early description of "Skunk Hour" separates the clues about "love, O careless love" and "I myself am hell" with the word "and," instead of showing a contextual relationship between them (something like "in another of his works, the speaker hears a car radio bleating 'love, o careless love' before declaring 'I myself am hell / nobody's here" would give players more context to understand the part of this poem the clues are describing).

All that is to say that many tossups at IO often had a lot of clues about marginalia that no one playing the tournament would likely know, and also often didn't give a lot of context in the clues that people were more likely to know. I would recommend focusing on fewer topics in each tossup and fleshing them out more (like a focus on 2 or 3 Lowell poems with multiple major lines in context from each) rather than mentioning a whole lot of interesting information without creating a strong context for that information, which can definitely frustrate players.

However, I'll agree with Ted that there were some good things in this tournament. I definitely don't think it was worthless or dumb or terrible, and I enjoyed having the opportunity to play it, imperfect as it was. I liked a lot of Ike's tossups on less adventurous answers (like Haydn, Schumann, The Seagull, The Division of Labor in Society), and his bonus on Jane Eyre, which rewarded reading Jane Eyre and had well-chosen hard and middle parts. I suspect that Ike did a ton of research to find clues rewarding real knowledge; the problem is, that many of his bonus answers were so difficult that his research ended up being meaningless, which I'm sure was not his goal. To more successfully use those research skills, I'd recommend in the future that he choose bonus parts on major works/people/ideas like the bonus on Jane Eyre, and devote most of his tossups to more contextual descriptions of clues.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Magister Ludi » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:49 am

I'll just say I agree with what Bruce said that I enjoy Ike's creativity in his writing and think it's much easier to teach someone to include middle clues or do other basic things rather than teach someone to be creative and to use proper research methods.

I'll post one more time in this thread to answer Jerry's question about what methodology I think some of the successful questions in this tournament might support, but first I wanted to expand on what I said before to offer some constructive feedback.

1- Distribution and sub-distribution. This tournament suffered from several very skewed sub-distributions. There were obviously too many questions on Renaissance and Baroque music, way too many tossups on poetry (and often poetry people were unlikely to have read), and too many questions on Christian religion. It seemed like all the viable Baroque music subjects were used up in the first few rounds, yet new questions on kept coming up. The overabundance of poetry questions also seemed notable to me because sometimes a round would have 3 out of 4 lit questions being poetry and there was a lack of questions on fiction. There was only one tossup on American novels (and two questions on American short stories) in the ten rounds I played, while there were six tossups on European poetry. This is an easy problem to fix, but Ike should be aware of these biases for the future. Especially writing a lot of questions

2- I think the major problem with the tossups themselves were a lack of middle clues and too many vague clues. Sometimes Ike falls into the trap of being too real in his questions and should remember that not only does a tossup does need to reward people with real knowledge of a subject, but also needs to fairly separate people who have the most secondary knowledge of a subject if no one has firsthand knowledge. In fact, the real art of question writing lies in arranging middle clues of a tossup. Lets look at a tossup

In one bizarre scene in this novel, a brother and sister talk about the effects of sunlight then discuss how the narrator writhes while sleeping on a hard wood floor before equating that action with the fact that he must have killed many people. The central location of this work is described a place situated so close to hell that hell’s inhabitants often come back to get a blanket. Shortly before dying, its author met with Susan Sontag in an airport to discuss its impact in America, and Sontag’s preface appears in most English editions of it. In another scene, the death of Miguel is signified by his vision of smoke and not a town when he tries to visit Media Luna on horse. Its narrator is told by his mother Dolores Preciado, who has just died at the beginning, to search out the title character, Juan Preciado’s father, in Comala, a town now inhabited by ghosts. For 10 points, identify this novel published after its author’s The Burning Plain, the masterpiece of Juan Rulfo.

I know in my site at least four people had read Pedro Paramo, but no one was able to power this tossup. The question is pretty good but could of been improved by including many more concrete clues. I vaguely remember the first line after thinking about it for a while, but I imagine someone would of had to have read the book very recently to have a chance at that answer it. The reason many writers use concrete anecdotes as leadins for tossups on novels is because they help jog people's memories and help people answer tossups on books they've read even if they've forgotten a minor character's name or something. Generally anecdotes are more effective than quoting a line or giving a few small details used in a description. Also, one shouldn't be afraid of including a few character names earlier in questions. I know one wants to avoid using too many Latin American sounding names at the risk of transparency, but like Jerry said this tournament often seemed to be coy in the wrong way. By being too coy basically the question was reduced to Miguel and Media Luna being the first buzzable clues. There should really be many more middle clues than leadins in all tossups.

3- The third thing I would suggest to Ike is that he might try to cut back on the comedy. I suspect that a few less than ideal third parts of bonuses were chosen just because they had amusing names such as the musical treatise writer Anonymous IV or Little Daffy Down Dilly. It's probably better to chose third parts that will give people with knowledge a chance to answer the part.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) » Thu Mar 24, 2011 2:41 am

I will jump in at this juncture to defend Anonymous IV, who produced the most important treatise on music prior to, like, the 1700s or so. Much of what we understand about music in the organum era comes from his book. The bonus he was in was sort of absurdly hard, and he's not a figure that really needs to come up more than a couple times in anyone's lifetime, but he's a legitimate thing people learn about in studying medieval music and having him come up once in a very blue moon at a really hard tournament is not a sin and certainly actually rewards real knowledge. You're wrong about him only being notably for humor reasons, and I wouldn't be surprised if his import is why Ike asked about him (I learned about him reading a very short, introductory book about the history of all classical music when I was like 12, so he was important enough to warrant a mention in that context).
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by minusfive » Wed Mar 30, 2011 7:36 pm

Regarding Kossuth, his name was sometimes translated to Louis, which probably should be accepted. Also, my understanding is that Hungarian names are surname first, which does not appear to have been done.

I would certainly be interested in the "made-up" questions/clues being brought to light and discussed, if someone has an offhand example and the time.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas » Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:09 pm

minusfive wrote:Also, my understanding is that Hungarian names are surname first, which does not appear to have been done.
You're correct, of course, but it shouldn't matter because names in either order should always be accepted no matter the culture.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Skepticism and Animal Feed » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:03 am

Yeah; even "Nixon Richard" is an acceptable answer.

As for Hungarian names, not only should the English translation be acceptable, but in many cases the German translation should also be acceptable. My Austrian ancestors controlled Hungary for hundreds of years, and during this time Hungarians frequently went by both forms of their name. Hungarian nobility also adopted "von" in front of their last name during this period. For instance, Miklos Horthy signed his autobiography (written in the 1950's) as "Nicholas von Horthy". Sometimes, they also dropped the -y suffix (which, when tacked on to a Hungarian last name, can denote nobility status) while adding von, so they even have two different acceptable surnames, but I can't think of an ACF canonical figure who did this.
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:54 am

Morraine Man wrote:My Austrian ancestors
(MY AUSTRIAN ANCESTORS)
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Re: Illinois Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:43 am

Morraine Man wrote:My Austrian ancestors were peasants.
That seems more accurate.

Hungarian names have usually been given in either order; I generally use the European form of <given name> <family name>. Neither is incorrect as long as the right part is underlined. Louis should have been an acceptable first name but it's not that big of a deal.
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