2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

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2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Sat Feb 22, 2014 9:55 pm

First let me acknowledge everyone involved with making this set. I thought the subject editors did an excellent job. Will Nediger and Carsten Gehring together edited half of this tournament and consistently put out high quality work in a very timely manner. Adam Silverman and Ashvin Srivatsa both came in late after our original science editor dropped out and as far as I can tell produced excellent questions. Adam particularly was very professional and someone I'd love to work with again. And I think Matt Jackson is one of the top writers the game has right now, and his questions reflect that.

Others: Seth Teitler wrote much needed questions for the physics and other science distributions, and did really thorough work helping Ashvin edit those categories. Jerry wrote a couple physics tossups and edited some CS. Sam Bailey helped me a lot by pointing out problems with my econ tossups and suggesting excellent solutions. Will N., Matt J, and Matt Bollinger each wrote a social science tossup for me, which is great because that category can be so hard to write well. Matt Jackson also helped me come up with some new interesting SS answers. I'd especially like to thank Matt Bollinger, who wrote tossups, identified a ton of problems, and played a big role in making some of the hardest bonus parts more accessible.

I'd also like to thank the playtesters for making some great suggestions and thank Carsten for reading the packets at playtesting.

Susan and Jerry should also be acknowledged for their hard work: this tournament could not have happened without their efforts on logistics.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:48 pm

I didn't play this set, so I can't make detailed analysis of how it actually plays in real games, but I did read through most of the packets while directing our mirror today. There are imperfections in the set I'm sure, and I doubt I would have liked some questions in actual game situations, but overall it read like what I expected it to. Most people at our mirror expressed the opinion that this was a good set, and I'd say it was a standard, non-offensive regular difficulty set that did it's job reasonably well. That's all I want out of ACF Regionals, and I thank the editors for getting that done.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Excelsior (smack) » Sun Feb 23, 2014 1:16 pm

I would like to reiterate what Evan said - Seth's and Jerry's (and especially Seth's) input was tremendously useful for the categories I ostensibly edited, and if anything about the physics and other science wasn't bad, that's why. (But the blame for anything terrible in those categories still falls at my feet, of course.)
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:08 pm

I liked playing the questions in every category in this set, except for the history. In general, I think the editors did a good job making a solid set with seven-line questions (as I gather from the round I spent reading, the questions were capped to roughly that length).

I felt the religion, myth, social science, and philosophy were all especially well done and pretty much ideal for a regular difficulty set. There were a lot of simple or canonical answerlines that were written in a way that tested both deep and real knowledge without dragging on forever, and there were just enough outliers tossed in that they made the game more interesting without really changing the difficulty of the tournament. Best of all, I did well on the subjects that I actually know and did not do well on areas that I didn't. Evan and Matt J, you guys did a great job (as did the playtesters).

The history, on the otherhand, felt like a weird mix of boring/stock questions and bad ideas. I understand that's not very helpful, and I'll elaborate on this in the individual question discussion thread, but I just did not enjoy playing on a lot of the questions and groaned at a number of the tossup answerlines. I do however, think that the distribution of history questions was good and was pretty well-balanced despite the tournament being packet-submission; kudos to Carsten for that.
Last edited by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea on Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Rococo A Go Go » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:17 pm

gamegeek2 wrote: The history, on the otherhand, felt like a weird mix of boring/stock questions and bad ideas. I understand that's not very helpful, and I'll elaborate on this in the individual question discussion thread, but I just did not enjoy playing on a lot of the questions and groaned at a number of the tossup answerlines.
The one complaint I did hear from a moderator (that I agreed with while looking over the packets) was pretty much exactly this.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley » Sun Feb 23, 2014 4:51 pm

SUBMIT is not clear. Please don't post anything about it in this thread.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by touchpack » Sun Feb 23, 2014 11:00 pm

The science in this tournament was great. One thing the questions should be particularly commended for was the cutting away of extraneous words to make very clue-dense concise questions. While I was playing the tournament, I was wondering what the length cap was since the questions seemed to have a lot of clues--but they were actually just very clue-dense. Here's some examples of how the editors trimmed down parts of my questions, allowing them to add more clues.
my submission wrote: The second type of these proteins is located in the collecting duct of the kidney, where it is stimulated by antidiuretic hormone to regulate urine concentration.

Nitro substituents in the reactant cause the regioselectivity of this type of reaction to favor the meta position, while amine groups serve as ortho/para directors.

Exemplified by the Friedel-Crafts reaction, for 10 points, the name this type of reaction in which an aromatic ring performs a nucleophilic attack on an electrophile.
ACF Regionals wrote: Vasopressin stimulates their activity in the collecting duct of the kidney to regulate urine concentration.

In this mechanism, pi donors favor ortho or para substitution.

For 10 points, name this mechanism exemplified by the Friedel-Crafts reaction, in which an electron-deficient species attacks benzene.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Mon Feb 24, 2014 2:39 pm

I'll try to give some more comments once I see the actual questions, but in the meantime, here's some data on points per bonus from the five regular-difficulty tournaments from this year (note that SUBMIT still has mirrors to run so I omitted it from the second graph).

Average PPB from all sites
Penn Bowl: 14.02
DRAGOON: 13.91
SUBMIT: 14.35
DI SCT: 15.01
Regs: 14.06 (Compared to 13.28 from last year excluding high school teams)

I thought the tournament felt more like regular-plus when playing it, but if these stats are any indication, the editors did a fine job hitting the regular difficulty target. This data obviously isn't perfect (e.g. it doesn't really account for field strength), so if anyone knows of a better way to compare these tournaments I'd love to hear it.
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PPB Normalized to Field Size
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Mon Feb 24, 2014 4:38 pm

I think Aaron's onto something here. I think easy and medium parts were in general similar to DRAGOON in terms of difficulty, but hard parts often asked for rather deep knowledge in order to get a 30 on a bonus. I suspect that this disproportionately hurt teams that have patchy coverage but relatively deep knowledge of a fair few subjects and was beneficial to teams that had more general coverage - the former type of team would get more 30s and 10s on a set like DRAGOON, while the latter team would get more 20s; the harder 30s would hurt the former team more than the latter. This wouldn't explain why Penn did about the same on DRAGOON and Regionals for PPB, though. I don't have a strong statistical justification of my statement here, though.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:00 pm

A delayed reaction:

I thought this set was okay, rather than good or great, and I came away from it slightly disappointed.

First, the good stuff: the philosophy questions in this tournament were excellent, balancing accessibility and "real"ness better than I've seen at this difficulty, and written with great clarity. I think this was Will's first time packet-sub-editing music questions, and if so, I thought he did a good job. The common-links seemed well executed, the bonuses asked about important things, the content-based clues seemed well-chosen. I also liked the Misc. Auditory Arts: the architecture, film, sculpture, etc. all seemed fresh and interesting in terms of answer-lines, and were clued well.

But, at our site, the history questions were met with near-constant groans about tossup transparency, inconsistency of bonuses (greater than those in other categories), and famous clues that would suddenly rear their heads as lead-ins, triggering buzzer-races. I am not a good enough history player to comment on the contents of the questions that produced these responses, and hopefully, someone more qualified will do so. But I can report from a witness' standpoint that this category did not seem to play well or produce contentment at our site.

The category that bothered me the most was the literature. I admire the creativity and thought that went into the bonuses; there were cool ideas for how to connect different strands of literature, and cool ideas for things to introduce. But most of these bonuses simply did not belong in ACF Regionals: either the medium part or hard part of very many of the bonuses were out of a Nats-level set (e.g. bonus parts on hard works that were clued without author as the first part of the bonus), and it seemed a pretty consistently difficult category.

I liked most of the literature tossups on individual works (though I question whether tossups on Orlando or The Sea-Wolf are difficulty-appropriate), but I was disappointed in many of the literature tossups on authors. Far too many of them took the form of the "lazy person's literature tossup". The kind where the lead-ins go--

"In one work by this author, [name-drop characters from Work X]. In another work by this author, [name-drop characters from Work Y]. In addition to [Work X] and [Work Y]"

--and which can be written in a couple of minutes using Wikipedia.

This tournament's literature distribution had more character- and title-drops as early clues than any non-NAQT tournament I remember playing recently.

I suppose I should be quite explicit here: I'm not saying we should purge literature tossups of character names and titles (nor am I trying to posture as someone too "real" to have spent time learning these sorts of things for quizbowl). In fact, in order for any literature tossup to play well in a field where we cannot presume that everyone has read each work/author, the latter half of the question must contain these sorts of clues. But author tossups that just pack early clues with titles and character names do not in any way reward people for reading or distinguish between those who have and have not read an author. And most of all, they're simply not exciting or interesting to play: the best literature tossups trigger pleasurable memories of past reading experiences or generate interest in a book/author you haven't read yet. List-style author tossups may be structurally sound, and I'm not saying we should eliminate them altogether. But I think they should be the least preferred form. Hearing these in round after round was boring. And had I been in a field where there was stronger competition on literature questions, and those early clues were battlegrounds on which the tossups were fought, I would have been quite frustrated. Even cutting a line or two of buzzword-regurgitation from half of them and replacing those clues with textual clues would have vastly improved my enjoyment of this tournament's literature.

Perhaps I'm merely suffering from high expectations: the previous Regionals that I have played have been my best quizbowl experiences at regular difficulty, and because I have greatly enjoyed Evan Adams and Will Nediger's previous tournaments, I thus came to this tournament prepared to really like it. But this seemed a notch below their previous editorial efforts, and below previous Regionals.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:31 pm

As someone who likes history, I guess I'd like the people who didn't like the history in this set to clarify why. I'm not arguing it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but in both playtesting it and reading it, I did not encounter a horde of transparent tossups or famous lead-ins (I do agree that the calibration of the bonuses was occasionally challenging). Will suggests above that the history seems boring or stale, and I really thought Carsten did a nice job trying to produce a range of different topics instead of just "this battle," "this president," etc.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Ringil » Tue Feb 25, 2014 3:39 pm

Well it seems that everyone has had only positive things to say until John, but I'd like to talk about some parts I felt were not so great. Still, I felt that this tournament was solid, at least mechanically.

1) 3rd parts being often very very hard:
In one packet I opened we have these kinds of hard parts: O Guarani, terror birds, Klemperer. There's probably more in that packet but I suck too much and can't differentiate between super hard and just hard in other categories. Still, I felt that often the hard parts were very wild, way too wild for regular difficulty. And this happened quite frequently.

2) Poor subdistributions:
I won't talk about the large amount of film as I'm not so versed in that stuff, but I'll talk about the non-American history.
Looking at the Penn packet: We have tossups on British children, Morocco, and Aegospotami. Bonuses are on: Cyprus, Ecuadorian independence, South Sudan (?). Looking at the answer lines it seems okay, but this packet has 1 pre-Industrial history question. This kind of thing occurred throughout the tournament, with a considerable skew towards the modern world. I think that editors should do more to try to balance the subdistros better and I really dislike how more tournaments are written with a huge bias towards modernity.

That said, one could argue that you got all these great submissions on stuff and so the distribution naturally evolved in this way. However, I don't think that's a very convincing argument. What if every packet had a great tossup on George Washington with almost no overlap? Maybe it's just me but a tournament with 16 tossups on George Washington is just silly.

3) Strange questions:
Stuff like cars and Santa Maria seemed to play very poorly. There was a lot of rather "cute" ideas that probably didn't work out too well in practice.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Jem Casey » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:11 pm

I was impressed by the near lack of difficulty variability in this set's literature bonuses; the hard parts, middle parts, and easy parts all lined up unusually well across the packets. However, while many of the hard parts asked about interesting, important authors and works, they were on average almost certainly too hard for regular difficulty. Here are two random examples: Elizabeth Bowen, who appeared as a hard part in ACF Nationals 2012; and The Tartar Steppe, which appeared as a hard part at FIST 2009 (Buzzati with Tartar Steppe as a clue was also a hard part at Minnesota Open 2011). While some of such answer-lines might have gotten easier over the last few years due to canon expansion, and while they were, for the most part, completely gettable, I still suspect they were slightly excessive.

Furthermore, it seemed to me that a majority of these hard parts asked about famous things by difficult authors (e.g. O Guarani by Jose de Alencar), as opposed to difficult things by famous authors (e.g. Gotz von Berlichingen by Goethe). While the former style is a lot of fun and definitely has a place at regular difficulty, an overuse of it might make the bonuses less accessible and more overwhelming to newer lit players; it's easier to say "oh cool, a Goethe play I haven't heard of" than "oh cool, I haven't heard of almost 1/3 of the authors in this set!" I'm almost certainly exaggerating the extent to which the hard parts were skewed this way, but I guess it's something to look out for.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by OctagonJoe » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:18 pm

Ringil wrote:2) Poor subdistributions:
I won't talk about the large amount of film as I'm not so versed in that stuff, but I'll talk about the non-American history.
Looking at the Penn packet: We have tossups on British children, Morocco, and Aegospotami. Bonuses are on: Cyprus, Ecuadorian independence, South Sudan (?). Looking at the answer lines it seems okay, but this packet has 1 pre-Industrial history question. This kind of thing occurred throughout the tournament, with a considerable skew towards the modern world. I think that editors should do more to try to balance the subdistros better and I really dislike how more tournaments are written with a huge bias towards modernity.

That said, one could argue that you got all these great submissions on stuff and so the distribution naturally evolved in this way. However, I don't think that's a very convincing argument. What if every packet had a great tossup on George Washington with almost no overlap? Maybe it's just me but a tournament with 16 tossups on George Washington is just silly.
I'm sorry five of the history questions and one current events bonus in a single packet of this tournament were too modern for you. Here is an actual breakdown of the stuff I would consider pre-modern (my idea of that is roughly things from before c. 1450ish):

Tossups:
Wessex, Gracchus, Dacia, Burgundy, pyramids, Tiberius, Louis XI, Tamerlane, Black Death, hoplites, Great Fire of Rome, Aegospotami, Cistercians, Sundiata, and inquisitions (and circuses in the TBs). That's 15/48 tossups (16/53).

Bonuses:
Byzantine/Innocent III/Walter, Four Beauties/Tang/Spring and Autumn, Normandy/Charles/Roger I, Constantinople/Mehmed II/Constantine XI, Janissaries/Murad I/devsirme, Axum/Ethiopia/Frumentius, Solon/Cleisthenes/Salamis, Pharsalus/Pompey/Ptolemy XIII, Melos/Thucydides/Harmodius, Suryavarman II/Cambodia/god-kings, wool/Lando/Florence, Ain Jalut/Mongol/kuriltai, Ipsus/Alexander the Great/war elephants, and Cincinnatus/dictator/farming. That's 14/48 bonuses.

Math tells me that this is over 30% of the questions possible. I don't think that is too low for a tournament.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Gonzagapuma1 » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:31 pm

Ringil wrote:
3) Strange questions:
Stuff like cars and Santa Maria seemed to play very poorly. There was a lot of rather "cute" ideas that probably didn't work out too well in practice.
I would include the tossups on Gaius Grachus and Newreels in this category as well. That said, I thought this tournament was really good. I liked a lot of the history and, with the exception of a few tossups, didn't think it relied on "stock" clues or buzzwords.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:36 pm

I didn't hear the newsreels tossup, but I would have buzzed off the one clue that I knew. How is that an example of it playing poorly?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:42 pm

I think it's pretty tough to figure out what is wanted depending where you buzz.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Auroni » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:47 pm

The Korra clue is extremely clear, there's no confusion as to what those could be. I don't know about the other clues, I guess.

It might be helpful not to just unqualifiedly say "this tossup played poorly" without attempting to explain why.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 25, 2014 4:48 pm

The Korra clue is fine, but I think some of the other clues aren't. I agree that it's best to explain what "playing poorly" meant--I tried to do this in the specific questions thread.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:12 pm

Cheynem wrote:As someone who likes history, I guess I'd like the people who didn't like the history in this set to clarify why. I'm not arguing it's the greatest thing since sliced bread, but in both playtesting it and reading it, I did not encounter a horde of transparent tossups or famous lead-ins (I do agree that the calibration of the bonuses was occasionally challenging). Will suggests above that the history seems boring or stale, and I really thought Carsten did a nice job trying to produce a range of different topics instead of just "this battle," "this president," etc.
I had a post on just this subject typed up last night before the server decided to log me out, resulting in all of it being lost. I'll try to re-create what I had here:

The history was the weakest part of what was otherwise an excellently conceived and written tournament. In my estimation, based on my impressions while playing the set and from going over a few of the packets afterward, the bad parts of the history distribution suffered from three main issues: ill-conceived tossup ideas, lack of consistent difficulty in bonuses, and misplaced clues. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying, however. The entire distribution did not suffer from these issues, but they were apparent across more than just a few packets.

The first of these three are the most apparent and easiest to call out. Tossups like those on the “Santa Maria,” “cars” and “Gaius Gracchus” were either straight up bad ideas in the case of the Santa Maria and G. Gracchus, or use bad clues, such as the cars tossup, which seems to be filled with the history of the VW and Trabant? While there were much less of these sorts of questions in the history distribution, they were much more frustrating to play, especially in the case of “cars,” where a buzzer race on the giveaway helped decide our game against Illinois A. Gaius Gracchus is a little more defensible, but I still think it’s a bad idea to toss up an individual Gracchus brother, as both Tiberius and Gaius had extraordinarily similar careers and are always taught in unison. Santa Maria, however, is an awful idea. What was the purpose of this?

The second issue with these questions was probably the most consistent, and thus most frustrating. To illustrate this point, let’s look at a few bonuses that came to mind immediately.

From the Illinois A packet:
This woman was photographed with her friend Herta Schneider and dogs Negus and Katuschka by the photographer Heinrich Hoffmann, and she met her eventual husband while she was working for Hoffmann. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this woman who had twice attempted suicide in her twenties before she used a cyanide capsule to kill herself at age 33.
ANSWER: Eva Braun [prompt on “Hitler”]
[10] This husband of Eva Braun also committed suicide in his bunker in 1945, ending his twelve-year rule as Fuehrer of Germany.
ANSWER: Adolf Hitler
[10] Fritz Tornow and Werner Haase first tested the Heinrich Himmler-supplied cyanide capsules on this pet of Hitler. Erna Flegel said the death of this dog affected people in the bunker more than Eva Braun’s death.
ANSWER: Blondi [prompt on “Hitler’s German Shepherd” or equivalent answers]
From the Dorman packet:
This city’s conquerors had a giant cannon built by Orban. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this city that fell to an Ottoman siege in 1453, ending the Byzantine Empire. Following its fall, this city’s Hagia Sophia was converted from a church to a mosque.
ANSWER: Constantinople [or Istanbul]
[10] Constantinople fell to this Ottoman sultan, a son of Murad II. He was succeeded in 1481by his son Bayezid II.
ANSWER: Mehmed II [or Mehmed the Conqueror; or Mehmed Fatih; prompt on “Mehmed”]
[10] This final Byzantine emperor died defending Constantinople in 1453. According to legend, this ruler didn’t die, but was actually turned into marble and now waits to retake Constantinople from the Turks.
ANSWER: Constantine XI Palaeologus [prompt on “Constantine”]
Neither of these bonuses have a discernable hard part. Contrast them with these bonuses:

From the LASA A packet:
This man was called “perhaps the most timid waterman in the world” and described as “a man of no peculiar merit.” For 10 points each:
[10] Name this French-speaking man who worked for a time for the North West Company before he began living in Metaharta to trade with the Hidatsas and Mandan.
ANSWER: Toussaint Charbonneau
[10] Charbonneau and his wife Sacagawea worked as translators for this expedition, which explored the Louisiana Territory for Thomas Jefferson.
ANSWER: Lewis and Clark Expedition [or Corps of Discovery Expedition]
[10] This man, William Clark’s slave, accompanied the expedition on its journey. Some Native Americans thought he was magical because of his black skin.
ANSWER: York
From the Harvard packet:
The teenager Abdon Alderon became a hero when he died after this battle, in which the Albion battalion and
other troops sneaked around the slopes of Cotopaxi to attack Spanish forces. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this 1822 battle in which Antonio Jose de Sucre defeated Melchor Aymerich on the slopes of a namesake
volcano.
ANSWER: Battle of Pichincha
[10] The Battle of Pichincha took place near the city of Quito in this South American country, which gained
independence from Spain following the battle.
ANSWER: Republic of Ecuador [or Republica del Ecuador]
[10] In July, following the battle, Simon Bolivar moved into this city to make sure it became a part of Colombia
rather than Peru. Jose Joaquin de Olmedo protested, but was ultimately removed from his role as its president.
ANSWER: Guayaquil
The bonus on Pichincha is pretty hard already, but then the part on Guayaquil (which I'm taking to be the medium part) is a lot harder than it had to be, and that bonus as a whole looks especially hard in comparison on the bonus that rewards you 30 for having heard of the life and times of Adolf Hitler. The Lewis and Clark bonus is downright crazy. Why are we asking to name Sacagawea’s husband? And why are we doing it in the first part of the bonus, without even the benefit of telling us the most famous thing about him?

I think that the majority of history bonuses fell into the latter category and were thus on par with the difficulty of the literature in this tournament (that is, you had to work pretty hard to get 20 and a 30 felt pretty rewarding), but every so often there were bonuses that were insanely easy to 30.

The third problem, that of misplaced clues, was the most frustrating of all. To illustrate, let’s look at two tossups that contributed to the outcome of our game against Chicago A. Granted, that room was filled with some really good history players, but both of these tossups have very well-known events in the very first line, leading to buzzer races on both occasions.

The packet is Illinois A:
This party’s rule was protested by over a quarter of a million people in the Silent March, which was followed by a leader of this party sending troops to take over the National Autonomous University and National Polytechnic Institute. Another leader of this party was criticized for refusing international aid following a devastating earthquake in 1985. This party further lost face following its obvious rigging of the 1988 presidential election, which was controversially won by a member chosen to run by the finger tap, or el dedazo. This party in power during the Tlatelolco Massacre at the 1968 Summer Olympics was founded by Plutarco Calles. For 10 points, name this political party that held power for over seventy years in Mexico before it was defeated by Vicente Fox of the PAN.
ANSWER: PRI [or Institutional Revolutionary Party; or Partido Revolucionario Institucional]
The 1879 establishment of state-run, secular schools in this country started the School War, which led to an 1884 election beginning 30 years of dominance by the Catholic Party. G.M. Roentgen and David Mushet helped establish an iron works run by John Cockerill in this country’s city of Seraing. An 1860 trial in this country that resulted in the wrongful execution of two men was a cause of the 1898 Equality Law, which established a second national language. A revolution in this country started following a performance of the opera The Mute Girl of Portici. Article VII of the 1839 Treaty of London guaranteed this country’s independence and perpetual neutrality. For 10 points, name this European country whose 1914 invasion started the Western Front of World War I.
ANSWER: Kingdom of Belgium [or Royaume de Belgique; or Koninkrijk Belgie; or Koenigreich Belgien]
Both the occupation of UNAM and the School War are very important, very famous events. Placing them in the first line was not a good idea.

I also felt that some of the tossups (and it was definitely a minority of questions that did this) suffered from difficulty cliffs. The tossup on Tamerlane from the Northmont packet comes to mind:
This ruler allegedly retreated after he had a dream caused by Vasily I moving the Vladimir Mother of God icon to Moscow. The White Palace was built by this ruler in his birthplace, Shahrisabz. He was succeeded by his son Shahrukh, and his court was visited by the Spanish emissary Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo. This ruler defeated the sultan Mahmud Tughluq on his way to sacking Delhi. A victory at the Battle of Ankara included this man’s forces capturing Bayezid the Thunderbolt. He got a decisive victory on the Kur River against his rival, Tokhtamysh. The mausoleum Gur-e Amir was built for this ruler in his capital of Samarkand. For 10 points, name this Turkic conqueror whose wounding in a leg and arm by arrows led to his nickname “the Lame.”
ANSWER: Timur the Lame [or Timurlenk; or Tamerlane]
In this tossup we have a pretty interesting leadin followed by two short clues followed by probably the most famous thing that Timur did, the sack of Delhi. Even if the tossup got that far, the next clue is a very lazy line about the Battle of Ankara which just drops the name and moves on.

All that being said, there were some very interesting and enjoyable history questions in this set, and I disagree with whoever said that it was boring to play. There were good questions, but there were a lot of issues as well which affected some pretty important games at our site.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:18 pm

Gonzagapuma1 wrote:
Ringil wrote:
3) Strange questions:
Stuff like cars and Santa Maria seemed to play very poorly. There was a lot of rather "cute" ideas that probably didn't work out too well in practice.
I would include the tossups on Gaius Grachus and Newreels in this category as well. That said, I thought this tournament was really good. I liked a lot of the history and, with the exception of a few tossups, didn't think it relied on "stock" clues or buzzwords.
The two instances in which I made questions harder than the subject editors did original were the Gaius Gracchus tossup and the O Guarani bonus part, which were originally on "the Gracchi" and The Passion According to GH respectively. The Gracchus tossup I changed because I've seen that question play badly whenever I've seen it. While there are a decent number of potential "this last name" answers in Roman history, it's pretty easy to narrow down, and I think I've seen this answer just guessed correctly every time I've seen it. The Passion According to GH is just something I'm really tired of. Obviously, Carsten and Will don't deserve any blame for the difficulty of these.

As Aaron pointed out, the bonus difficulty in this tournament was fairly in line with other regular difficulty tournaments this year. Still, I would have liked to see slightly higher bonus conversion. I think we did a good job of avoiding so called "impossible" third parts in our bonuses. (I think this might also square the statistical averageness of the bonuses with the general impression that they were hard). I doubt there were many bonus parts that weren't converted in a couple of rooms. That said we could have done a better job on substituting out some of the difficult bonus parts for things we were certain would be converted at a higher level.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Rufous-capped Thornbill » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:40 pm

As for non-history thoughts, I really enjoyed the other subjects in which I can claim competence. The social science, mythology and especially the other art and religion did a great job asking about interesting things across a number of different subcategories. I especially enjoyed the film, even if Max beat me to most of (all?) it.

As for literature, it was about what I expected from a Will-edited set, in that it was difficult at times but always pretty interesting. I felt like there was a greater number of questions on poetry than drama or fiction, but I could be totally wrong. Do any editors have the numbers on this?

Overall, I had a pretty good time playing this set. Whatever issues there were, it was a technically sound set that only saw one tossup so hard it went dead (Tinker) and we only 0d one bonus, so I'd say the editors did a good job making an interesting and accessible set of questions.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 25, 2014 5:50 pm

The Hitler bonus strikes me as baffling, but not in the way Jarrett described it. It's actually a very hard bonus, and I would personally find it hard to get more than 10 on it. I don't know anything about Eva Braun, and those other names also mean nothing to me; I guess you could logic it from "this woman killed herself and is also German" but I wonder about the utility of asking about Braun in the first place. And the third part about the dog... well, that just seems ill-advised. What's so important about Hitler's dog that we're asking about it?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:38 pm

Most of you noticed that there were more film tossups than usual. (5.5/16) This was no accident, and represents the place I think film should have in the other arts distribution. Thoughts?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Periplus of the Erythraean Sea » Tue Feb 25, 2014 6:55 pm

OctagonJoe wrote:
Ringil wrote:2) Poor subdistributions:
I won't talk about the large amount of film as I'm not so versed in that stuff, but I'll talk about the non-American history.
Looking at the Penn packet: We have tossups on British children, Morocco, and Aegospotami. Bonuses are on: Cyprus, Ecuadorian independence, South Sudan (?). Looking at the answer lines it seems okay, but this packet has 1 pre-Industrial history question. This kind of thing occurred throughout the tournament, with a considerable skew towards the modern world. I think that editors should do more to try to balance the subdistros better and I really dislike how more tournaments are written with a huge bias towards modernity.

That said, one could argue that you got all these great submissions on stuff and so the distribution naturally evolved in this way. However, I don't think that's a very convincing argument. What if every packet had a great tossup on George Washington with almost no overlap? Maybe it's just me but a tournament with 16 tossups on George Washington is just silly.
I'm sorry five of the history questions and one current events bonus in a single packet of this tournament were too modern for you. Here is an actual breakdown of the stuff I would consider pre-modern (my idea of that is roughly things from before c. 1450ish):

Tossups:
Wessex, Gracchus, Dacia, Burgundy, pyramids, Tiberius, Louis XI, Tamerlane, Black Death, hoplites, Great Fire of Rome, Aegospotami, Cistercians, Sundiata, and inquisitions (and circuses in the TBs). That's 15/48 tossups (16/53).

Bonuses:
Byzantine/Innocent III/Walter, Four Beauties/Tang/Spring and Autumn, Normandy/Charles/Roger I, Constantinople/Mehmed II/Constantine XI, Janissaries/Murad I/devsirme, Axum/Ethiopia/Frumentius, Solon/Cleisthenes/Salamis, Pharsalus/Pompey/Ptolemy XIII, Melos/Thucydides/Harmodius, Suryavarman II/Cambodia/god-kings, wool/Lando/Florence, Ain Jalut/Mongol/kuriltai, Ipsus/Alexander the Great/war elephants, and Cincinnatus/dictator/farming. That's 14/48 bonuses.

Math tells me that this is over 30% of the questions possible. I don't think that is too low for a tournament.
Libo's point was that there was a lack of pre-industrial history, not pre-early modern history, so it seems like you're dodging his argument here.

Regardless, 30% of non-American history being pre-1450 isn't that unreasonable, though I'd personally prefer to see more. Assuming questions from various time periods were used in proportion to the rate at which they were submitted and considering that you have one classical history per ACF packet and seven other non-American history questions, this means that less than 2 out of 7 non-classical, non-American questions were on pre-1450 history. Do people really not like writing on pre-1450 history that much?
vcuEvan wrote:Most of you noticed that there were more film tossups than usual. (5.5/16) This was no accident, and represents the place I think film should have in the other arts distribution. Thoughts?
It's the Evan Adams-Cody Voight conspiracy! Oh no!

On a more serious note, I don't pay much attention to the arts distribution (and am sadly ignorant of the subject matter of most of its components), but having roughly a third of the other arts distribution as film seems like having a third of the social science distribution be economics - both seem inappropriately high to me.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by The King's Flight to the Scots » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:21 pm

Tiberius and Gaius had extraordinarily similar careers and are always taught in unison.
Well...yes, they had similar careers and you'll often encounter them in the same class, but nobody ever has a problem with tossups on Robert F. Kennedy for that reason. The bulk of the question was about Gaius' legislative program, which was very different from his brother's, and his assassination, which the question definitely distinguished from Tiberius'. As Evan mentioned, the alternative of asking for "One man with this name" is terrible - it could pretty much be Gracchus, Scipio, or Cato, and as soon as you talk about anything remotely important it'll clearly be Gracchus. I think this was a much better method of testing for the same knowledge.

Overall I think you're overestimating the fame of things you know and underestimating that of things you don't. I don't really see a huge cliff in that Tamerlane tossup, which mentions Tamerlane's son and successor before the point you label as the drop-off. Conversely, nobody buzzed on the School War in the final at our site between UMD A and UMD B.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:50 pm

There's nothing wrong with a tossup on Gaius Gracchus. I don't know why people are complaining about that.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:51 pm

I think comparing film to economics doesn't make sense--in social science, there are more potential topics, and film is way more accessible to the average person than economics is anyway.

I support the larger film portion of the other arts distro for three reasons:

1. I like writing and playing it.

2. I think more people are more aware of film than things that have dominated the other arts distribution, such as opera for instance. While it is possible to watch operas, I think it's more likely that people watch film and have knowledge of that than most operas.

3. I think the answer space in film is so large (there are plenty of tossupable academic films, directors, common links, stars, etc.) and so relatively underexplored in quizbowl that there are lots of cool, interesting, accessible questions possible.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:04 pm

gamegeek2 wrote:Libo's point was that there was a lack of pre-industrial history, not pre-early modern history, so it seems like you're dodging his argument here.
Why is anyone obliged to respond to the argument that "at least one packet had only one question on 'pre-industrial history'" when the rule that "every packet must have at least 2 questions on pre-industrial history" and, in fact, the relevance of a "pre-industrial history" division to quizbowl history at all, were both things that Libo just made up in that post? Neither of these dogmas has ever existed in quizbowl before the post was made today, and certainly no argument has been presented for adopting them.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:14 pm

Matt Weiner wrote:
gamegeek2 wrote:Libo's point was that there was a lack of pre-industrial history, not pre-early modern history, so it seems like you're dodging his argument here.
Why is anyone obliged to respond to the argument that "at least one packet had only one question on 'pre-industrial history'" when the rule that "every packet must have at least 2 questions on pre-industrial history" and, in fact, the relevance of a "pre-industrial history" division to quizbowl history at all, were both things that Libo just made up in that post? Neither of these dogmas has ever existed in quizbowl before the post was made today, and certainly no argument has been presented for adopting them.
Here is what the ACF history distribution actually calls for:
American history: 1/1 (two different time periods and/or two different historical approaches)
European, Canadian, and Australian history: 3/3 (out of these six questions, 1 should be on classical history, 1 on British history, and 3 on continental Europe from three different post-classical time periods. The remaining question can be another British history question, another continental Europe question, or a question on Canadian or Australian history. )
World history: 1/1 (from two different large areas of the world besides those covered above)
I don't see anywhere in there where "pre-industrial history" is made to be A Thing.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by at your pleasure » Tue Feb 25, 2014 9:32 pm

gamegeek2 wrote:
Libo's point was that there was a lack of pre-industrial history, not pre-early modern history, so it seems like you're dodging his argument here.

Regardless, 30% of non-American history being pre-1450 isn't that unreasonable, though I'd personally prefer to see more. Assuming questions from various time periods were used in proportion to the rate at which they were submitted and considering that you have one classical history per ACF packet and seven other non-American history questions, this means that less than 2 out of 7 non-classical, non-American questions were on pre-1450 history. Do people really not like writing on pre-1450 history that much?
Regarding the first point-not a hell of a lot of people in quizbowl are terribly interested in the study of pre-1450 history outside of classics especially and that number isn't very much higher for pre-industrial history in general. That, combined with the fact that these questions are probably more difficult for a nonspecialist to write well(and I will admit that my tendency to carp about ancient history questions does not help here) does not make it very surprising that pre-1450 history is unlikely to be a large slice of the distribution.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:15 pm

Cheynem wrote:I think comparing film to economics doesn't make sense--in social science, there are more potential topics, and film is way more accessible to the average person than economics is anyway.
I totally agree with the rest of this post, but I'm interested by what you mean by "more potential topics" in social science (warning: potential derail?).

For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 10:57 pm

vinteuil wrote: For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
Can you support this "balance" a little more rigorously? You say that you "like the idea" of having the same number of visual and auditory questions. Do you have any reasons for this besides your subjective sense of aesthetics?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:27 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote: For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
Can you support this "balance" a little more rigorously? You say that you "like the idea" of having the same number of visual and auditory questions. Do you have any reasons for this besides your subjective sense of aesthetics?
OK, sure, let's say that we don't need to maintain this evenness. Then we end up with 1/3 film and the remainder split between the other topics (let's forget about "other other" for now). If we do this split evenly, then we get 1/9 of the distribution each for architecture, sculpture, photography, ballet, jazz, opera. I don't think many people will argue with the idea that at least some of these deserve more than 1/3 of the number of questions that film gets. I can't find a way to shoehorn all of these topics in in a way that doesn't make film by far the biggest subcategory or reduce all but two subcategories to minuscule numbers of questions. Could you share your ideal, and defend it rigorously?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:37 pm

There aren't that many photography and ballet questions. Even if you can go deeper in these categories than quizbowl normally does, they can't compare to the number of film questions.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:39 pm

vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote: For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
Can you support this "balance" a little more rigorously? You say that you "like the idea" of having the same number of visual and auditory questions. Do you have any reasons for this besides your subjective sense of aesthetics?
OK, sure, let's say that we don't need to maintain this evenness. Then we end up with 1/3 film and the remainder split between the other topics (let's forget about "other other" for now). If we do this split evenly, then we get 1/9 of the distribution each for architecture, sculpture, photography, ballet, jazz, opera. I don't think many people will argue with the idea that at least some of these deserve more than 1/3 of the number of questions that film gets. I can't find a way to shoehorn all of these topics in in a way that doesn't make film by far the biggest subcategory or reduce all but two subcategories to minuscule numbers of questions. Could you share your ideal, and defend it rigorously?
Let's move sculpture into painting and opera and ballet into classical music. Sculpture and painting are very similar categories. They're learned concurrently in "art history" classes. Often the same quizbowl players who know painting know sculpture. And many of the painters and sculptors are in fact the same people. Opera/ballet and classical music share the same commonalities (learned about together, same composers, similar audiences). Many ballet tossups are indistinguishable from music tossups on their suites. In fact, the concept of "other arts" is a fairly new quizbowl invention. Opera and ballet were originally in the music distribution. The only reason they were moved out is because many people were essentially writing lit tossups on the source material and calling them opera tossups. Since we don't have this problem anymore, we can restore opera and ballet to their more fitting home.

With sculpture and opera restored, there's plenty of rooms for those other categories to breathe even with an expanded film.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:43 pm

vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote: For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
Can you support this "balance" a little more rigorously? You say that you "like the idea" of having the same number of visual and auditory questions. Do you have any reasons for this besides your subjective sense of aesthetics?
OK, sure, let's say that we don't need to maintain this evenness. Then we end up with 1/3 film and the remainder split between the other topics (let's forget about "other other" for now). If we do this split evenly, then we get 1/9 of the distribution each for architecture, sculpture, photography, ballet, jazz, opera. I don't think many people will argue with the idea that at least some of these deserve more than 1/3 of the number of questions that film gets. I can't find a way to shoehorn all of these topics in in a way that doesn't make film by far the biggest subcategory or reduce all but two subcategories to minuscule numbers of questions. Could you share your ideal, and defend it rigorously?
Let's move sculpture into painting and opera and ballet into classical music. Sculpture and painting are very similar categories. They're learned concurrently in "art history" classes. Often the same quizbowl players who know painting know sculpture. And many of the painters and sculptors are in fact the same people. Opera/ballet and classical music share the same commonalities (learned about together, same composers, similar audiences). Many ballet tossups are indistinguishable from music tossups on their suites. In fact, the concept of "other arts" is a fairly new quizbowl invention. Opera and ballet were originally in the music distribution. The only reason they were moved out is because many people were essentially writing lit tossups on the source material and calling them opera tossups. Since we don't have this problem anymore, we can restore opera and ballet to their more fitting home.

With sculpture and opera restored, there's plenty of rooms for those other categories to breathe even with an expanded film.
OK, this makes a lot more sense than what I had in mind, thanks. The only caveat I would have is that your assertion that opera questions are no longer ersatz literature questions with a very small number of music clues thrown in does not seem to be true in my experience.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:51 pm

vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote:
vcuEvan wrote:
vinteuil wrote: For major categories, let's say that social science includes something like Psychology, Economics, Anthropology, Sociology, Linguistics, Political Science, and "Other" (everything I've forgotten that's totally important).
On the other hand, if we have the 3/3 Fine Arts distribution split 1/1 Painting, 1/1 "concert music" with no component of acting, 1/1 Other, then that leaves Architecture, Sculpture, Photography, Film, Ballet, Jazz, Opera, and "Other Other," which seems to be about the same in terms of "potential topics" as social science? Even more topics if we're among supporters of including "classic" musical theater in the "other arts" distribution.

If we expand film to almost 1/3 of the "other arts" (apologies if this figure is wrong), then this seems unbalanced to me: I like the idea of maintaining an even distribution of visual/auditory arts, and if we do that, this relegates architecture, sculpture, photography, design, etc. to 1/6 of the "other arts" distribution—which seems suboptimal. Any arguments that film is both audio and visual, I would say, would need to be supported by something like half of film tossups being written mostly on audio clues.

For the record, I'm not against opera in particular playing a smaller part in quizbowl, and I love film questions—but not at the expense of balance.
Can you support this "balance" a little more rigorously? You say that you "like the idea" of having the same number of visual and auditory questions. Do you have any reasons for this besides your subjective sense of aesthetics?
OK, sure, let's say that we don't need to maintain this evenness. Then we end up with 1/3 film and the remainder split between the other topics (let's forget about "other other" for now). If we do this split evenly, then we get 1/9 of the distribution each for architecture, sculpture, photography, ballet, jazz, opera. I don't think many people will argue with the idea that at least some of these deserve more than 1/3 of the number of questions that film gets. I can't find a way to shoehorn all of these topics in in a way that doesn't make film by far the biggest subcategory or reduce all but two subcategories to minuscule numbers of questions. Could you share your ideal, and defend it rigorously?
Let's move sculpture into painting and opera and ballet into classical music. Sculpture and painting are very similar categories. They're learned concurrently in "art history" classes. Often the same quizbowl players who know painting know sculpture. And many of the painters and sculptors are in fact the same people. Opera/ballet and classical music share the same commonalities (learned about together, same composers, similar audiences). Many ballet tossups are indistinguishable from music tossups on their suites. In fact, the concept of "other arts" is a fairly new quizbowl invention. Opera and ballet were originally in the music distribution. The only reason they were moved out is because many people were essentially writing lit tossups on the source material and calling them opera tossups. Since we don't have this problem anymore, we can restore opera and ballet to their more fitting home.

With sculpture and opera restored, there's plenty of rooms for those other categories to breathe even with an expanded film.
OK, this makes a lot more sense than what I had in mind, thanks. The only caveat I would have is that your assertion that opera questions are no longer ersatz literature questions with a very small number of music clues thrown in does not seem to be true in my experience.
Even without my radical suggestion film can be increased in a reasonable way. Most people shouldn't feel persecuted with a 16/16 distribution something like:

5/5 film
3/2 opera
2/3 jazz
2/2 sculpture
3/3 architecture
1/1 other (photography goes here, there isn't much else, and there isn't much photography)
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Lagotto Romagnolo » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:30 pm

vinteuil wrote:OK, this makes a lot more sense than what I had in mind, thanks. The only caveat I would have is that your assertion that opera questions are no longer ersatz literature questions with a very small number of music clues thrown in does not seem to be true in my experience.
Jacob has a good point here. Still, I think the average opera question has improved somewhat from the days when people would write tossups on things like Otello using only plot clues (note: I never played such a tossup; I've only heard of its existence secondhand). And on the other hand, a few years ago quizbowl went through a phase where the standard opera question went: Describe aria, drop name, describe aria, drop name, etc. We've moved towards a happy medium, but there's still a ways to go. Perhaps we could just add some kind of guideline into tournament announcements or the official ACF distribution like "Opera questions should contain a mix of musical and plot clues. Do not write a list of arias or a simple plot summary of the source text."
vcuEvan wrote: Most people shouldn't feel persecuted with a 16/16 distribution something like:

5/5 film
3/2 opera
2/3 jazz
2/2 sculpture
3/3 architecture
1/1 other (photography goes here, there isn't much else, and there isn't much photography)
Well, I wouldn't feel persecuted. While we're at it, this probably merits another look at the subdistribution requirements within a packet.
Official ACF Distribution wrote:Please pick one largely visual category and one largely auditory category for your “everything else” subjects – e.g, pick jazz and photography, or opera and architecture, but not opera and jazz.
Film straddles the boundary between audio and visual, and yet doesn't really blend with any of the other categories the way sculpture does with architecture. So, how about we add to the above "Film can be paired with anything except other film"?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Feb 26, 2014 12:52 pm

Could this whole film thread be split and moved somewhere public?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:39 pm

I agree that we should split this thread and/or moved somewhere public.
vcuEvan wrote: 5/5 film
3/2 opera
2/3 jazz
2/2 sculpture
3/3 architecture
1/1 other (photography goes here, there isn't much else, and there isn't much photography)
While I would personally benefit as a player a great deal from the distribution Evan proposes (since film, opera, and jazz are my strong categories within Misc. Arts), and therefore have good selfish reason to support it, I must say that it strikes me as very odd to grant film (a century-old medium, the vast majority of whose contents quizbowl deems as trash) a significantly larger slice than is granted to any of the other art forms, most of which have spanned the entire course of human history, are more definitional to our cultural conception of "art", and consist almost exclusively of things quizbowl is willing to consider as art.

The arguments advanced thus far in favor of doing this seem to be:
Cheynem wrote: I support the larger film portion of the other arts distro for three reasons:

1. I like writing and playing it.

2. I think more people are more aware of film than things that have dominated the other arts distribution, such as opera for instance. While it is possible to watch operas, I think it's more likely that people watch film and have knowledge of that than most operas.

3. I think the answer space in film is so large (there are plenty of tossupable academic films, directors, common links, stars, etc.) and so relatively underexplored in quizbowl that there are lots of cool, interesting, accessible questions possible.
These strike me as unpersuasive. The first point is obviously not an argument at all, just a statement of preference. The second point is the most interesting and worthy of discussion; two questions in response to it being: (a) Is it actually true that people have more knowledge of or interest in art film (not all of film, including trash) than of the other fine arts genres? (b) Even if this true, is it the point of the distribution to function in proportion to the existing levels of knowledge of the various disciplines.The third point is a good argument for why the canon of acceptable answers for film needs to be expanded. But a need for canon expansion does not necessarily entail and should never be considered equivalent to a need to increase the distributional weight of a category.

I'm not saying that film shouldn't be expanded. I'm just saying that the degree of expansion being suggested here strikes me as drastic, and the arguments in support of doing this seem weak.
vcuEvan wrote:Let's move sculpture into painting and opera and ballet into classical music. Sculpture and painting are very similar categories. They're learned concurrently in "art history" classes. Often the same quizbowl players who know painting know sculpture. And many of the painters and sculptors are in fact the same people. Opera/ballet and classical music share the same commonalities (learned about together, same composers, similar audiences). Many ballet tossups are indistinguishable from music tossups on their suites. In fact, the concept of "other arts" is a fairly new quizbowl invention. Opera and ballet were originally in the music distribution. The only reason they were moved out is because many people were essentially writing lit tossups on the source material and calling them opera tossups. Since we don't have this problem anymore, we can restore opera and ballet to their more fitting home.

With sculpture and opera restored, there's plenty of rooms for those other categories to breathe even with an expanded film.
vinteuil wrote: The only caveat I would have is that your assertion that opera questions are no longer ersatz literature questions with a very small number of music clues thrown in does not seem to be true in my experience.
The argument that opera should not be considered part of the music distribution because opera continues to be written poorly and/or in ways that do not properly reflect its status as a musical genre also strikes me as a faulty line of reasoning. This is really just an argument for why the standards of writing and editing opera questions need to be improved. The fact that any particular sub-category is or could be written poorly by most people is not really grounds for minimizing its frequency. If a housewritten tournament wanted to execute the idea that Evan proposes (folding sculpture into the painting and opera into the classical music), I would be in favor of trying that, and seeing the results of this experiment.

But I think it is a bad idea for ACF to consider adopting this policy. The difficulty is that opera and ballet are disproportionately easier to write than are questions on instrumental music, because they give you extra-musical content to latch onto. If you allow those genres to count as part of the music distribution, inexperienced writers are going to default to writing them instead of instrumental music. The current problem we have of opera being over-represented is not going to get better; it is going to get significantly worse. The difference is that the category being harmed will be non-operatic classical music, rather than film. Managing the sub-distributional balance within the music category would be a nightmare for the editor (especially when you consider that there would now be mixed tossups, where composers are clued from works across genres). And frankly, there are very few current editors I would trust to be able to execute such a task competently.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:53 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote: But I think it is a bad idea for ACF to consider adopting this policy. The difficulty is that opera and ballet are disproportionately easier to write than are questions on instrumental music, because they give you extra-musical content to latch onto. If you allow those genres to count as part of the music distribution, inexperienced writers are going to default to writing them instead of instrumental music. The current problem we have of opera being over-represented is not going to get better; it is going to get significantly worse. The difference is that the category being harmed will be non-operatic classical music, rather than film. Managing the sub-distributional balance within the music category would be a nightmare for the editor (especially when you consider that there would now be mixed tossups, where composers are clued from works across genres). And frankly, there are very few current editors I would trust to be able to execute such a task competently.
You've definitely hit on the biggest problem with my proposal, especially for packet submission tournaments. I posted a thread in the collegiate discussion forum about changing the ACF distribution in which I left opera out of the shift but still proposed moving dance/ballet. I don't think this would cause the same problems, but a lot of this is speculation about what teams will and won't write.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Feb 26, 2014 2:57 pm

Well, obviously my first point was not an argument.

I would argue in counter-point to the others that:

1. The definition of what quizbowl thinks is "trash film" and what is "art film" should be expanded. You do not have to be made by a foreign director or be released prior to 1940 to be considered an art film. There are plenty of classic American films, or relatively recent American films (Easy Rider, Chinatown, many more) that would and should count as "academic film" for the purposes of quizbowl. I do not like the term art film myself, as I prefer academic film or some other term that gets past the commercial/artistic dichotomy and instead is about knowledge--is the film academically studied AND are you more likely to encounter it within an intellectual/academic context? There is no magic definition for this, but it would rule out, for example, Star Wars being considered as an academic film for quizbowl purposes despite the vast amounts of academic ink written on it, and would also count something like The Palm Beach Story as an academic film even though it was essentially a studio system fluff piece. I would also argue that the distribution should theoretically reflect existing levels of knowledge to some meaningful extent--this is why we don't see an influx of economics questions in social science probably relative to its actual importance because it's hard for people to write and play them, GENERALLY SPEAKING.

2. The need for canon expansion I would say is equivalent to the need to increase the distributional weight in conjunction with other reasons. Using a more simplistic way of arguing, increasing film's role in the distro will lead to better, more interesting, more accessible questions in my opinion that are easier for editors and writers to produce. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Adventure Temple Trail » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:00 pm

vinteuil wrote:Could this whole film thread be split and moved somewhere public?
I would support doing this only after Regionals is clear, so nobody is scooped on the idea that there are 5.5 film tossups in the set before playing it.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by Cheynem » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:01 pm

Then they might watch all the films.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vcuEvan » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:06 pm

ThisIsMyUsername wrote: These strike me as unpersuasive. The first point is obviously not an argument at all, just a statement of preference. The second point is the most interesting and worthy of discussion; two questions in response to it being: (a) Is it actually true that people have more knowledge of or interest in art film (not all of film, including trash) than of the other fine arts genres? (b) Even if this true, is it the point of the distribution to function in proportion to the existing levels of knowledge of the various disciplines.The third point is a good argument for why the canon of acceptable answers for film needs to be expanded. But a need for canon expansion does not necessarily entail and should never be considered equivalent to a need to increase the distributional weight of a category.

I'm not saying that film shouldn't be expanded. I'm just saying that the degree of expansion being suggested here strikes me as drastic, and the arguments in support of doing this seem weak.
I'm not prepared to empirically prove that people know more art film than opera but it's something I strongly suspect to be true. This ties into the "expansion" point Mike made that I think you're misunderstanding. People usually use the term "canon expansion" to describe the process of gradually introducing harder answers that people generally don't know. I think with film (and I think this is what Mike meant) we have a chance to introduce or at least stress tons of exciting new answers that people already know.

We shouldn't exactly match our distribution to the amount of knowledge people have in different areas. But it should definitely be a factor. Film is academic, it has a wider appeal than all the other "other arts," and its questions are or have the potential to be better than the rest of the other arts topics. These factors, combined with the accessibility of film strongly support increasing the level of film in the distribution.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by vinteuil » Wed Feb 26, 2014 3:37 pm

Cheynem wrote:2. The need for canon expansion I would say is equivalent to the need to increase the distributional weight in conjunction with other reasons. Using a more simplistic way of arguing, increasing film's role in the distro will lead to better, more interesting, more accessible questions in my opinion that are easier for editors and writers to produce. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.
I agree with the second sentence of this (and the third, I suppose), but I'm not sure how it implies the first—maybe if you could elaborate on "in conjunction with other reasons"?
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:35 pm

While I would personally benefit as a player a great deal from the distribution Evan proposes (since film, opera, and jazz are my strong categories within Misc. Arts), and therefore have good selfish reason to support it, I must say that it strikes me as very odd to grant film (a century-old medium, the vast majority of whose contents quizbowl deems as trash) a significantly larger slice than is granted to any of the other art forms, most of which have spanned the entire course of human history, are more definitional to our cultural conception of "art", and consist almost exclusively of things quizbowl is willing to consider as art.
I'd like to point out that this is not a very good way to evaluate the importance of film. Consider that while film is roughly 100 years old, in that time frame, a great deal of it has been produced. This is of course because there are just more people producing things in general, and because the turnaround time of production is much faster than for many other works of art (consider how long it takes to create a sculpture or how long some composers took on many of their works). So even though film is "young" it is definitely a mature art form and plenty of it has been produced.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by ThisIsMyUsername » Wed Feb 26, 2014 7:53 pm

I have enough editing work that this is probably the last post I can make on this subject before my editing/compiling work for CRR finishes on Friday evening.
vcuEvan wrote:I'm not prepared to empirically prove that people know more art film than opera but it's something I strongly suspect to be true. This ties into the "expansion" point Mike made that I think you're misunderstanding. People usually use the term "canon expansion" to describe the process of gradually introducing harder answers that people generally don't know. I think with film (and I think this is what Mike meant) we have a chance to introduce or at least stress tons of exciting new answers that people already know.
That may be how "people" misconstrue the term "canon expansion", but I meant "canon expansion" as literally what the term implies: expanding the range of answers that quizbowl considers canonical. Whether or not a topic is known by people outside of quizbowl, adding that topic to the quizbowl canon is automatically a form of expansion. So, I am not disputing the fact that there is plenty of untapped film knowledge when I call what is being proposed "canon expansion".

I agree that film is important and we should increase the distribution. The importance of film is the primary rationale some people are giving for this expansion, and I'm not merely totally okay with that, but rather think that that is the only productive line of reasoning we should pursue in determining by how much film should be expanded.

However, I think the additional rationale given by Mike (and to a lesser extent Jerry and Evan) is one that it is fundamentally unhealthy for quizbowl to adopt, in either this instance or in any future situation in which distribution tweaks are proposed.

Here is Jerry's statement implicitly suggesting that the large number of films that have been produced in the last century is a significant contributing factor to how important we should consider the genre as a whole:
grapesmoker wrote: I'd like to point out that this is not a very good way to evaluate the importance of film. Consider that while film is roughly 100 years old, in that time frame, a great deal of it has been produced. This is of course because there are just more people producing things in general, and because the turnaround time of production is much faster than for many other works of art (consider how long it takes to create a sculpture or how long some composers took on many of their works). So even though film is "young" it is definitely a mature art form and plenty of it has been produced.
This strikes me as a bizarre rebuttal. Why would the fact that films are easier to make-- and that more of them were made more quickly-- suggest that fine-arts films are as important to the general subject of fine arts as are all of sculpture and architecture combined? Why should we assume that quantity correlates with importance? If you want to argue that the films of the past century have shaped and continue to shape our culture more than do all non-painting visual arts ever produced (which is what Evan's distributional balance would suggest), I disagree, but that's an argument about importance I'm willing to have. It is, in fact, the exact argument I think should be guiding our decision. Pointing to how many films were made as some sort of sign of importance strikes me as a rather empty gesture.

Here is Mike's statement suggesting that the need for canon expansion should translate into an increase in distributional weight:
Cheynem wrote: The need for canon expansion I would say is equivalent to the need to increase the distributional weight in conjunction with other reasons. Using a more simplistic way of arguing, increasing film's role in the distro will lead to better, more interesting, more accessible questions in my opinion that are easier for editors and writers to produce. That's not a bad thing, that's a good thing.
Here is a fleshed-out version of the logical implications of what I think Mike is saying: There's a whole lot of expanding to do, and because lots of people know this material well and enjoy hearing questions about it, we can and should greatly increase the distribution, to speed the rate of canon expansion to accommodate all this material. The distributional weight given to film does not need to be proportional to film's importance vis-a-vis the other arts; rather, once we have established that film is important, and that practical concerns about questions going dead need not worry us (because there's tons of film knowledge out there), we can increase the distributional weight in proportion to how much untapped material there is / and how much people enjoy these questions. (I'm not trying to twist his argument here; I hope my summary accurately reflects his underlying rationale.)

This, to me, is fundamentally not what the purpose of determining a distribution should be about or has been about. A distribution is and should be about some conception of importance, albeit one that is inevitably highly constructed (and which would be problematical were we to reify it to the status of an unbiased reflection of reality). If I were using Mike's logic, all I would need to do in order to justifiably demand that musical theatre be given distributional weight equivalent to opera is to establish that there is more untapped knowledge of Broadway musicals among quizbowlers than there is untapped knowledge of operas (a fact that might very well be true!). We probably all agree that Japanese literature is important, and that quizbowlers engage with Japanese literature much more than they do most other forms of World Lit. But we nonetheless limit how much Japanese literature is in the World Lit distribution, and we set this limit far below the capacity that quizbowlers' knowledge base of the subject could sustain, because we have notions of how important Japanese literature is in the broader scheme of World Lit.

To summarize here: I think we all agree that film should be expanded, a move that would necessarily require reducing the weight given to the other Misc. Arts. I am merely arguing that the degree to which this should happen is something that should be guided primarily by notions of importance, and that how much film there is to ask about that we don't ask about-- or how many quizbowlers enjoy watching film-- should not determine the degree of expansion, or else they will inflate the expansion in a way that is inconsistent with established good practices in determining distributional balance.
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Re: 2014 ACF Regionals: General Discussion

Post by grapesmoker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:36 pm

This strikes me as a bizarre rebuttal. Why would the fact that films are easier to make-- and that more of them were made more quickly-- suggest that fine-arts films are as important to the general subject of fine arts as are all of sculpture and architecture combined? Why should we assume that quantity correlates with importance? If you want to argue that the films of the past century have shaped and continue to shape our culture more than do all non-painting visual arts ever produced (which is what Evan's distributional balance would suggest), I disagree, but that's an argument about importance I'm willing to have. It is, in fact, the exact argument I think should be guiding our decision. Pointing to how many films were made as some sort of sign of importance strikes me as a rather empty gesture.
This is not bizarre, it's a straightforward reply to your suggestion that because film was a young art form, it was less worthy of respect than older ones. There are two ways to be influential: you can be older than other stuff, which means that your influence propagates down the years, or you can just reach more people. Old sculptures do the former, film does the latter. From this, it is impossible to conclude that one should be favored over the other; I don't have any way of measuring the difference in influence between Canova and Resnais, and trying to do so strikes me as a pointless exercise. Film is an art form in its own right; no one disputes this. And it's one that people have a lot of exposure to, probably much more than they have to old architecture or old sculptures. That seems like it's worth taking into account. I actually think 5/5 out of 16/16 is a bit too much, but to have something like 20% of the questions be film is not ridiculous or unreasonable.

The problem with the "importance" arguments is that they never get resolve to anyone's satisfaction. Rather than trying to figure out whether film is "more important" than architecture, we should just shoot for some reasonable balance of all the "other arts." That seems to me to be a much more productive approach: have some of this, have some of that, and at the end of the day, if the distribution fluctuates a little bit across tournaments, it's no big deal.
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