Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

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Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness » Sun Nov 16, 2014 6:23 pm

Use this thread to discuss specific questions.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:08 am

Could I see the TU on The Master and Margarita and the bonus that went Franklin/Speak, Memory/Dahl? I thought the set was decent for the most part but both of those questions were not very good ideas.

The tossup was almost certainly too hard, even for this set (How many people actually know what happens in that book well enough to even power that question?). The bonus had a middle-school level easy part paired with two really difficult bonus parts. Between the part about a Nabokov memoir that only told players the time period it covers and the title it was supposed to go by, and the part that gave a kinda-known-ish autobiographical work and some downright-obscure adult fiction, which was supposed to be the middle part?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:13 am

pajaro bobo wrote:(How many people actually know what happens in that book well enough to even power that question?)
I don't want to pass judgement on a tossup haven't seen yet, but I'd wager that "anyone who's read it" is a possible answer to your question.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:14 am

You can read that as "How many high schoolers would have even read that book?", then.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by jmarvin_ » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:23 am

pajaro bobo wrote:The tossup was almost certainly too hard, even for this set (How many people actually know what happens in that book well enough to even power that question?).
I had read The Master and Margarita in high school just for fun, and I was far from what one would call a "literature specialist" (and I wasn't trying to be, either). It's certainly possible that players in this field had read it, and I'd even expect a few. It's an important work, and beyond that a very entertaining, compelling, and interesting one; if you've read it, or even a summary, you'd find the novel's various episodes are quite memorable.

And besides, there's no harm in isolated, more-difficult answerlines here and there in a set.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:25 am

I wasn't saying there was harm in more difficult answerlines, I'm just saying that in this case I think Harvard overshot their mark.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Milhouse » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:10 am

For what it's worth, I powered the Master and Margarita question having only read the Wikipedia article, though that was kind of a guess based off the fact that it sayed someone in a literary circle died or something.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:16 am

pajaro bobo wrote:Could I see the TU on The Master and Margarita and the bonus that went Franklin/Speak, Memory/Dahl? I thought the set was decent for the most part but both of those questions were not very good ideas.

The tossup was almost certainly too hard, even for this set (How many people actually know what happens in that book well enough to even power that question?). The bonus had a middle-school level easy part paired with two really difficult bonus parts. Between the part about a Nabokov memoir that only told players the time period it covers and the title it was supposed to go by, and the part that gave a kinda-known-ish autobiographical work and some downright-obscure adult fiction, which was supposed to be the middle part?
Hmmm, I'm surprised that The Master and Margarita is the lit tossup you thought was too hard; just within the first ten rounds, there were tossups on Fences, Lahiri, and Ishiguro that I had marked as the most difficult. It's been a while since high school, but I remember The Master and Margarita coming up quite a bit, and it was also powered in my room.

I'll defend the bonus--I'm not sure what other key piece of info about Speak, Memory would've led more teams to get it (and I think it's fine for a hard part). The Dahl part might've been a little tougher than the average middle part, but I think Boy is pretty well-known, and it's just patently incorrect to call the short story collections (The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More and Tales of the Unexpected) "downright obscure."
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Lo, Marathon Ham! » Mon Nov 17, 2014 12:44 pm

pajaro bobo wrote:Could I see the TU on The Master and Margarita and the bonus that went Franklin/Speak, Memory/Dahl? I thought the set was decent for the most part but both of those questions were not very good ideas.

The tossup was almost certainly too hard, even for this set (How many people actually know what happens in that book well enough to even power that question?). The bonus had a middle-school level easy part paired with two really difficult bonus parts. Between the part about a Nabokov memoir that only told players the time period it covers and the title it was supposed to go by, and the part that gave a kinda-known-ish autobiographical work and some downright-obscure adult fiction, which was supposed to be the middle part?
If I'm not mistaken I believe my teammate Shrayus powered it quite early.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:49 pm

Well darn, I guess I have no Master and Margarita knowledge at all.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Maury Island incident » Mon Nov 17, 2014 1:57 pm

I thought the The Master and Margarita one was fine, difficulty-wise, as well as the Fences and Lahiri tossups. The ones I remember being hard were the Ishiguro one and the Hopkins one.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by west neg, new york » Mon Nov 17, 2014 2:54 pm

For what it's worth, Fences was powered quite early in my room, although the team that got it had just read it in English class. Ishiguro is a tough answerline mainly because he isn't read much in high school, but I think that the tossup on him was very much gettable at the power mark (if not before) by anyone who's read The Remains of the Day. Remains won a Booker, and Never Let Me Go got turned into a Hollywood movie not too long ago, so I think it's perfectly okay to toss up Ishiguro mentioning those works in a set like HFT that aims to be a little more challenging than usual. I may be biased, though, since I'd love if his stuff came up more often in quizbowl in general.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Mon Nov 17, 2014 4:31 pm

I didn't mention most of the others because I didn't remember those at all. The two questions I mentioned were the only ones I happened to remember.

Though I did think Fences was easier than Master and Margarita. I guess I'm in the minority here, though.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:04 pm

pajaro bobo wrote:Could I see the TU on The Master and Margarita and the bonus that went Franklin/Speak, Memory/Dahl? I thought the set was decent for the most part but both of those questions were not very good ideas?
HFT IX wrote: At one point in this novel, a character shoots a pistol in a theater, causing banknotes to fall from the ceiling. At the beginning of this novel, a woman breaks a jug of sunflower-seed oil, leading another character to slip and be decapitated by a tram. That character in this novel is the head of a literary society housed in (*) Griboyedov’s House called MASSOLIT. In this novel, a poet is sent to an insane asylum, where he meets the author of a manuscript about the execution of Yeshua Ha-Notsri. In this novel, the cat Behemoth accompanies Satan, who is disguised as a professor named Woland. For 10 points, name this novel by Mikhail Bulgakov.
ANSWER: The Master and Margarita

Answer the following about memoirs, for 10 points each:
[10] This Founding Father described the growing success of his club, the Junto, and recounted his writing of Poor Richard’s Almanack in an unfinished autobiography which was published in 1791.
ANSWER: Benjamin Franklin
[10] This Vladimir Nabokov memoir which describes his life up to the year 1940 originally had a title that referred to “Mnemosyne,” but his publishers were concerned that American audiences wouldn’t be able to pronounce the word.
ANSWER: Speak, Memory
[10] This British author described his upbringing and wartime experiences in the memoirs Boy and Going Solo. This author’s short story collections include Tales of the Unexpected and The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and Six More.
ANSWER: Roald Dahl
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cheynem » Mon Nov 17, 2014 5:16 pm

That bonus is pretty rough for a high school one. Expecting high schoolers to know Speak, Memory seems excessive and while "Boy" is reasonably notable, some descriptions about Dahl's other books or characters might have been nice so it isn't just a total title recognition thing.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by The Polebarn Hotel » Mon Nov 17, 2014 6:50 pm

Cheynem wrote:That bonus is pretty rough for a high school one. Expecting high schoolers to know Speak, Memory seems excessive and while "Boy" is reasonably notable, some descriptions about Dahl's other books or characters might have been nice so it isn't just a total title recognition thing.
I agree with this.

Some of the lit answerlines were obscure, yes. The only reason I powered Jhumpa Lahiri is because I read Interpreter of Maladies, which was in the first line. I wouldn't expect many other teams to power it or even convert the tossup well because of that obscurity.

One thing that I remember distinctly is the easiness (or, from what it seemed to me) of the Mughal Empire tossup. Name-dropping Bairam Khan in the first line just didn't seem like a good idea to me, but he might be more obscure than I thought (though I doubt it).
The Ishiguro tossup was definitely difficult, and I'd only expect that to come up at nationals. The same goes for Hopkins. I wouldn't call this set obscenely hard by any means, but it was definitely difficult to power tossups and 30 a lot of the bonuses. I'll have more on this when I actually look over my notes.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Schmidt Sting Pain Index » Mon Nov 17, 2014 11:11 pm

Can I see tossups on Tibet, Urals, WWI, Netherlands, Hawaii, Afghanistan War, and Alexander the Great? Thanks
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by west neg, new york » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:07 am

Schmidt Sting Pain Index wrote:Can I see tossups on Tibet, Urals, WWI, Netherlands, Hawaii, Afghanistan War, and Alexander the Great? Thanks
HFT IX wrote:This modern-day region was ruled by the Phagmodrupa Dynasty, and its namesake empire lasted from the 7th to the 9th centuries and was founded by Namri Songtsen. Hundreds of soldiers from this polity were killed in the Massacre of Chumik Shenko during a turn-of-the-century expedition led by Colonel Francis Younghusband intended to resolve this polity’s border dispute with (*) Sikkim. This polity was incorporated into a country following the Battle of Chamdo, after which its leader Tenzin Gyatso fled to India from this polity’s capital of Lhasa. For 10 points, name this autonomous region of China whose spiritual leader is the Dalai Lama.
ANSWER: Tibet Autonomous Region [accept Tibetan Empire; accept Bod Rang Skyong Ljongs; accept Xizang Zizhiqu]

Kholat Syakhl, or the “Dead Mountain,” is located in this mountain range, which is home to the Mansi people. The Manpupuner rock formations are a popular tourist attraction in the Komi Republic just west of this range, and Vaygach Island and Novaya Zemlya are a northern continuation of these mountains. The south of this mountain range is home to its country’s largest iron and steel works at Magnitogorsk in (*) Chelyabinsk Oblast. These mountains extend south from the Kara Sea to Kazakhstan. For 10 points, name this mountain range that traditionally divides Russia into Asian and European parts.
ANSWER: Ural Mountains [accept Uralskiye Gory]

The Wafd Party was founded in the aftermath of this conflict, and a kingdom in Syria founded by Faisal lasted for four months following this conflict. A man made famous by the journalist Lowell Thomas led forces at the Battle of Tafileh during this conflict, during which an exchange of letters between Henry McMahon and Husayn bin Ali led to the (*) Arab Revolt. The Treaty of Sevres occurred in the aftermath of this conflict, the end of which also led to the May Fourth Movement. The exploits of T. E. Lawrence occurred during this conflict. For 10 points, name this war between the Central and Allied Powers between 1914 and 1918.
ANSWER: World War I [accept the Arab Revolt before read]

After establishing a trading post at Kingston, settlers from this country were led by Captain Martin Cregier in a series of two conflicts with the Esopus tribe. It’s not Portugal, but traders from this country were confined to an artificial island named Dejima in Nagasaki Bay. This country placed the Banda Islands under the monopoly of the (*) VOC, and traded the Island of Run for a North American island in the Treaty of Breda. One of this country’s colonies granted large landholdings to men called patroons and was governed by Peter Stuyvesant. For 10 points, name this country that colonized Suriname, Indonesia, and modern-day Manhattan, calling it New Amsterdam.
ANSWER: The Netherlands

The murder of Louis Stolz by a leper in this polity prompted an 1893 invasion. The end of this polity’s occupation by Britain during the Paulet Affair is celebrated on this polity’s Restoration Day. Inappropriate revolutionary activities in this polity were discussed in the Blount Report, which was contradicted by the (*) Morgan Report. A counterrevolution by Robert Wilcox followed the passage of this polity’s Bayonet Constitution. Planters led by Sanford Dole staged a coup against the monarchy of Queen Liliuokalani [lily-o-kal-AH-nee] in this polity, creating a republic annexed by the United States in 1898. For 10 points, name kingdom that later became the fiftieth U.S. state.
ANSWER: Kingdom of Hawai’i

During this conflict, British soldiers destroyed a base near the Kajakai Dam as part of Operation Achilles, and a commander using the pseudonym “Dalton Fury” criticized an operation in this war that occurred at a cave complex in the White Mountains. The Haqqani Network allied with one side in this conflict, which was kicked off by an invasion of the Shahi-Lot Valley in Operation (*) Anaconda. This war was announced in Operation Enduring Freedom following a faction’s unwillingness to hand over Osama bin Laden. For 10 points, name this military action in a Central Asian nation that began following the events of September 11, 2001.
ANSWER: Afghanistan War [or NATO/US invasion of Afghanistan]

This man married the princesses Parysatis and Stateira in a mass wedding he ordered at Susa, and besieged the mountain of Pir-Sar at the end of his Cophen Campaign. Rumors of an assassination plot led him to order the deaths of Philotas and Parmenion, and he killed Cleitus the Black during a drunken quarrel. This man built a (*) causeway to capture the Phoenician city of Tyre. The period after this ruler’s death is generally termed the Hellenistic period, and it his death also spurred a series of wars between the Diadochi. This man rode the horse Bucephalus and cut the Gordian knot. For 10 points, name this student of Aristotle and conquering king of Macedonia.
ANSWER: Alexander the Great [accept Alexander III of Macedonia; prompt on “Alexander”]
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Tue Nov 18, 2014 3:46 pm

May I see the tossups on 'Bridges,' 'Drones,' and 'Diffusion' from Round 1? Thanks.

EDIT: Also having 'Kitsch' as a hard part for a bonus seems a little too challenging, especially compared to some of the other FA bonuses (ie the cello bonus).
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by ndikkala » Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:02 pm

There was a difficult math bonus in one of the rounds that I wanted to look at again. I know for sure that it wasn't in rounds 9 or 10. I think it was the round that had the azide bonus, or possibly the round before that. If you can identify it, could you please list it?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:12 pm

ndikkala wrote:There was a difficult math bonus in one of the rounds that I wanted to look at again. I know for sure that it wasn't in rounds 9 or 10. I think it was the round that had the azide bonus, or possibly the round before that. If you can identify it, could you please list it?
Are you referring to the bonus that included Carmichael Numbers in round 8?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by ndikkala » Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:27 pm

That could be it. I can't remember the specific details, but if it's posted I'll know for sure.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Reesefulgenzi » Sun Dec 07, 2014 6:37 pm

May I see the biology tossup that opened with the Ediacaran clue?
I had trouble interpreting the species name.

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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Tue Dec 09, 2014 1:39 pm

There was a very transparent question in i think round 7, with answer line Maya Lin. In the second sentence, the question mentioned that the architect was female, and please correct me if I'm wrong but the only female architect that has ever been tossed up is Maya Lin. The tossup was subsequently "frauded" by the other team, and the player who got it admitted that he had no idea what the question was asking about but only buzzed once he heard "she".
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:13 pm

Hmmm, the question doesn't actually use the word "she." Must've just been the moderator slipping up--sorry about that.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Cody » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:28 pm

Shangdevin wrote:please correct me if I'm wrong but the only female architect that has ever been tossed up is Maya Lin.
Zaha Hadid is a staple of the architecture distribution. Also:
Fernando Arrabal Packet 04 wrote:19. One major building designed by this architect is six stories tall and contains a recessed Romanesque entrance archway, as well as a notable grand staircase with a vaulted ceiling supported by Corinthian columns and flanked by shield-bearing gargoyles, also designed by this architect. This architect’s design of the Ming Quon home led to a commission for a building that mixed a Renaissance floor plan with traditional Chinese elements. While working under John Galen Howard, this architect created the preliminary design for both the Sather Gate and the Greek Theatre on the Berkeley campus, and this architect’s other Bay Area work includes the bell tower at Mills College, the Chinatown YWCA, and the aforementioned Berkeley Women’s Club. This architect’s most famous work features the twin towers of the Casa Grande in the Mediterranean style as well as the thrice-rebuilt Neptune Pool surrounded by classical colonnades, and is located in San Simeon. For 10 points, identify this architect responsible for the design and construction of Hearst Castle.
ANSWER: Julia Morgan
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by pajaro bobo » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:40 pm

Cody wrote:
Shangdevin wrote:please correct me if I'm wrong but the only female architect that has ever been tossed up is Maya Lin.
Zaha Hadid is a staple of the architecture distribution.
In the architecture distribution in general or just the college one?
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by Steeve Ho You Fat » Tue Dec 09, 2014 2:48 pm

pajaro bobo wrote:
Cody wrote:
Shangdevin wrote:please correct me if I'm wrong but the only female architect that has ever been tossed up is Maya Lin.
Zaha Hadid is a staple of the architecture distribution.
In the architecture distribution in general or just the college one?
She obviously comes up more in college, but she's really important - enough so that it's foolish to hear a question on a female architect and assume there's no chance it's her, even in high school.
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by heterodyne » Tue Dec 09, 2014 3:08 pm

As possible Master and Margarita questions go, this one did seem pretty easy (the Variety theatre thing was, for me, one of the most memorable parts of the entire book). I was more surprised, like others, at Lahiri and the Dahl bonus, but I didn't have too many issues with the lit. The science (especially some third parts that I don't have on hand) seemed far more suspect.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Fri Jan 16, 2015 11:16 am

Could I see the painting(art?) tossup that mentioned The Order of Things? (not sure if it namedropped the title because I buzzed before then, but it was the one that talked about Foucault analyzing one of these). Thanks :)
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Santa Claus » Tue Jan 20, 2015 12:13 am

I have to agree with some of the sentiments about the particularly hard third parts in bonuses, especially in the science. While some were reasonable progressions from one to another, there were a lot of third parts that were hard for one reason or another.

I'm going to list a few of the progressions that I thought were a bit unreasonable, with a few comments on each. I wrote these answer lines down manually, so they may not be 100% accurate; I'd actually really appreciate seeing the actual bonuses for all of these. Feel free to throw in your own opinions on these though, and keep in mind that these were just my thoughts:

Coulomb's law-method of image-infinite plane of charge
  • Method of image is dang hard from what I can tell, and infinite plane of charge is a pretty hard second part too, requiring some pretty in-depth knowledge of physics from an actual class.
polyploidy-speciation-orthologous
  • Orthologous is a degree removed from the much more recognizable terms analogous and homologous. This one wasn't so bad, but still difficult to thirty.
galaxy-Hubble-Triangulum
  • I dunno, I guess I just don't really care what the third largest galaxy in the Local Group is. After a certain point, it feels like it's only significant because it's one past any that people know, like questions on asteroids gradually moving from Ceres to Vesta to Pallas.
inverse-first isomorphism-commutative
  • I actually have no idea what "first isomorphism" is anymore; I don't remember this bonus anymore. As such, I don't really have anything to say about it. It's pretty hard though.
nitrogen-azide-N2O3
  • Azide was fairly difficult, but I think that sodium azide is fairly well-known. N2O3 (dinitrogen trioxide) though; I don't know anything about that and I'm not sure if you could expect anyone else to either.
deserts-rain shadow-yardangs
  • Alright, this one I have some pretty serious problems with. I am a pretty big fan of earth science, and while this in not way means I'm an authority on yardangs, I can tell that it's far too difficult. It wasn't even hoodoos, something with a very similar formation process and composition but a more recognizable name. Jeez I don't think this was a good idea at all.
    EDIT: I took a quick look around, and I found another time that yardang has come up before: as the third part in a 2011 Chicago Open packet. Might as well reiterate that I don't think this was a good idea.
enzymes-Arrhenius-Michaelis-Menten
  • I think that this one was pretty reasonable; I actually 30'd it. Michaelis-Mentin definitely deserves to come up, but I might as well say that it still may be a bit too hard for this level - maybe not though.
uncertainty principle-time-matrix mechanics
  • I don't remember this one very well, perhaps because I didn't know it well enough at the time for it to really stick, but it seemed a pretty big jump up from the pretty well-known uncertainty principle and (if I remember correctly) the second sentence on time.
drosophila melanogaster-Watson & Crick-Warburg
  • Yeah, I don't really remember which Warburg this actually was, which could be interpreted as "he isn't important enough to know" or "Kevin is bad at science; why doesn't he know who Warburg is". He sure was out of left field though.
B cells-MHC-autoimmune
  • Taking a look at what major histocompatible complexes actually are, they seem important - in the specific field of immunology. I don't know if they're really something that most people would know though; I don't seem to remember it from taking AP Bio, but I could be wrong.
Millikan oil drop experiment-Thomson-Moseley
  • Yeah, I'm having the same problem with this one as I did with Warburg, i.e. I have no idea who Moseley even is and as a result can't really say anything about how hard or easy he is. Maybe I'll have more to say when I see the actual questions.
All in all, I ended up having some kind of a problem, minor or major, with 11 out of 38 science bonuses I played. Personally, I think this is just because I care too much about certain things.

On the plus side, most of the science tossups were quite reasonable for their difficulty, with a notable exception perhaps being feldspars.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Corry » Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:57 am

Like... many other people, I also echo concerns that a lot of 3rd parts in this tournament seemed randomly too hard. I realize that the point of HFT is to have "harder to 30" bonuses than a regular-difficulty high school set, but the jump in some cases was quite unusual. I'll probably have specific examples tomorrow after I read through the entire set one more time.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Cody » Tue Jan 20, 2015 4:40 am

Even at HFT, nearly every one of the bonus parts mentioned by Kevin is stupidly hard. Some are literally Nats and CO level hard parts, most are Regionals level. It takes true talent to churn out such egregiously bad questions -- please stop producing high school sets.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Tue Jan 20, 2015 7:16 pm

Cody wrote: It takes true talent to churn out such egregiously bad questions -- please stop producing high school sets.
I don't think that your comment here is really fair: for the most part the tossups' difficulties seemed to be right on par with slightly-above average hs difficulty. However, I do agree that the third parts of the bonuses leave much to be desired. Overall the bonuses' difficulty cliffs are the major problem and once that's fixed everything should be fine.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:50 pm

I think we're steering a little away from question-specific discussion here, but I can't exactly reply to this conversation on a different thread, so I'll try and tie it in.

For me, someone who is relatively inexperienced but still heard enough to know what's difficult and what isn't (especially in the subject I'm decent at), the problem didn't lie as much in the extreme difficulty of some bonus / hard parts / lead-ins - although that certainly wasn't perfect - it was more just the incredible disparity of difficulty both within and between bonuses and tossups.

I understand that this set touted itself as "some answerlines you'd find in A-sets, and some you'd find in HSNCT", but I have to say that felt like more of an excuse for a wildly variable difficulty range than it did an actual legitimate structure for a tournament. Rather than being "fun for everyone" and inclusive to all difficulties, it was just really frustrating at times. Personally, my mindset / buzzing strategy is very dependent on the difficulty of the tournament I'm playing - I'm going to tend to think a lot more laterally and make risky buzzes on an easy packet, but if I'm playing on a hard packet I know that "it's either the Tokugawa Shogunate or the Meiji Restoration" kind of attitudes don't really work.

The trouble comes when you have a mix of those two. Take, for example, the incredibly transparent tossups on mosques that was in my experience almost universally disliked. (could you post that, by the way?). Most people I talked to immediately discounted a mosque answerline after the first line just because it seemed far too obvious - some said they were considering buzzing things like "minaret" or something, and not until far later in the clue did it become painfully obvious that "mosques" was really the answer the whole time. A similar thing occurred when the Hades tossup namedropped Rhadamanthus on the first line (unless i'm grossly underestimating the difficulty of that clue, that is pushing it for even an IS-A packet. Could I see that one too?)

While having strangely-easy tossups is annoying, the real problem comes when tossups like those are right next to rather hard tossups on stuff like the Heian period that tend to come up in college. Like Kevin Wang, I found the bonuses to be far more egregious in terms of difficulty variation, though. I'm going to compare two myth bonuses because it's what I have the most expertise in - I might be off on the relative difficulty but there was definitely a difference.

First, there was a bonus in Round 10 (i believe) that was pretty much a quintessential low-level Trickster god bonus. First part was Coyote, based on all the most famous stories (rolling ball of mud, sticks in the eyelids to stay awake, native american...). Second part was "spider" - if i remember correctly, it was literally just a description of Anansi, then "what animal is Anansi?". The third part was foxes, based on the Kitsune of Japan - the question was fairly transparent and anyone with even a modicum of exposure to Japanese culture or mythology would know it (and that's not a rare thing in QB, either).

In contrast, a bonus earlier in the day that Kevin ended up actually 30'ing really impressively was Odin / ??? / "What did Odin whisper into Baldr's ear before he was raised on a pyre at his funeral?". I'd really like to see this bonus to see if it's really as ridiculous as I remember it (don't even remember the first and second parts due to how ridiculous the third part was), but this seems like a really weird and specific choice for a hard part. I honestly don't think a question about the specifics of the Hervarar saga is appropriate at the high school level - the only time it's ever come up that I can find was early on in a question about horse sacrifice in RMPFest 2008. If there's some more famous place where this quote comes in, feel free to ignore me, but I personally hadn't ever even heard of it.

Similarly to the tossups, the difficulty of hard parts was made far worse by how insultingly easy the easy - and often, the medium - parts were. There was quite frequently very little distinction between the easy and medium parts of the bonus, which made the cliff all the more dramatic. I get the concept of offering a set that most teams can clear 10 PPB on and creating an experience that teams of all levels can enjoy, but I don't think that offering a set with huge variation in bonus and tossup difficulty is the way to go about doing that. All this ended up doing was lure inexperienced players into an idea that this set was something they could actually have fun playing and annoy more experienced players with the huge disparities in difficulty.

I guess the reason I'm as frustrated as I am about HFT was because there were so many parts of it that really were incredible. I enjoyed a lot of the questions that did tend towards slightly-more-difficult-than-normal-high-school, but ultimately I feel like the tournament was the product of if you sat down ten writers and told them to write questions for "hard high school level". Although most of them hit around the right mark in difficulty, there was no correction for either way overshooting or undershooting the mark in difficulty, and that ended up making the tournament a lot harder to play.

(Oh also if anyone has the philosophy bonus for round 10 that included legalism, I'd love to see that)
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Cody » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:12 am

Shangdevin wrote:
Cody wrote: It takes true talent to churn out such egregiously bad questions -- please stop producing high school sets.
I don't think that your comment here is really fair: for the most part the tossups' difficulties seemed to be right on par with slightly-above average hs difficulty. However, I do agree that the third parts of the bonuses leave much to be desired. Overall the bonuses' difficulty cliffs are the major problem and once that's fixed everything should be fine.
My comment is well above and beyond fair. A couple of years ago, I thought Harvard had turned the corner with HFT and that they might actually produce a usable, and maybe even good, set in the future. Instead, HFT has gotten worse by orders of magnitude -- many of the bonuses mentioned in this thread are vintage Andy-Watkins-era HFT.

The only way Harvard is likely to fix HFT is by not producing it.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:27 pm

Hey guys, thanks for all of your feedback. I'll try to respond to most of it—let me know if there's anything I miss.
Santa Claus wrote:I have to agree with some of the sentiments about the particularly hard third parts in bonuses, especially in the science. While some were reasonable progressions from one to another, there were a lot of third parts that were hard for one reason or another.
This is a totally valid criticism. I'm not trying to throw Sriram under the bus here, but he consistently writes pretty difficult hard parts. Raynor did a great job of toning most of them down, I think, but it's clear that too many slipped through. Raynor and I aren't science players, so developing an intuition for what's an HFT-level science hard part versus, say, a Regionals-level science hard part is tricky.
Corry wrote:Like... many other people, I also echo concerns that a lot of 3rd parts in this tournament seemed randomly too hard. I realize that the point of HFT is to have "harder to 30" bonuses than a regular-difficulty high school set, but the jump in some cases was quite unusual. I'll probably have specific examples tomorrow after I read through the entire set one more time.
I'd be interested in hearing more opinions on whether the problem of super-difficult hard parts was mostly contained to the science—that is, whether it was a systematic problem in any other single category, or in the set as a whole. The myth bonus that Charlie mentioned was:
6. This god transformed into a snake to retrieve the divine mead of inspiration. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this chief god of the Norse myth system. He has one eye and is advised by the ravens Hunin and Mugin.
ANSWER: Odin [accept Woden]
[10] Odin hung himself for nine days from the World Tree to understand this somewhat magical writing system.
ANSWER: runes
[10] Odin won two riddle contests by asking this final question, upon which the opponent realized they were facing Odin and surrendered. A general description is acceptable.
ANSWER: what Odin whispered in Balder’s ear at Balder’s funeral [accept anything involving saying something to Balder]
Looking at this now, I think the hard part could've been written more descriptively, but it's an event from the Poetic Edda that Raynor found memorable enough to write about.
charliemannetc wrote:I understand that this set touted itself as "some answerlines you'd find in A-sets, and some you'd find in HSNCT", but I have to say that felt like more of an excuse for a wildly variable difficulty range than it did an actual legitimate structure for a tournament. Rather than being "fun for everyone" and inclusive to all difficulties, it was just really frustrating at times. Personally, my mindset / buzzing strategy is very dependent on the difficulty of the tournament I'm playing - I'm going to tend to think a lot more laterally and make risky buzzes on an easy packet, but if I'm playing on a hard packet I know that "it's either the Tokugawa Shogunate or the Meiji Restoration" kind of attitudes don't really work.

The trouble comes when you have a mix of those two. Take, for example, the incredibly transparent tossups on mosques that was in my experience almost universally disliked. (could you post that, by the way?). Most people I talked to immediately discounted a mosque answerline after the first line just because it seemed far too obvious - some said they were considering buzzing things like "minaret" or something, and not until far later in the clue did it become painfully obvious that "mosques" was really the answer the whole time. A similar thing occurred when the Hades tossup namedropped Rhadamanthus on the first line (unless i'm grossly underestimating the difficulty of that clue, that is pushing it for even an IS-A packet. Could I see that one too?)

While having strangely-easy tossups is annoying, the real problem comes when tossups like those are right next to rather hard tossups on stuff like the Heian period that tend to come up in college.
I think you're conflating variability in answerline difficulty with potentially misplaced/transparent clues here.
HFT wrote: On one holiday, men usually travel to one of these locations at daybreak to perform a bayram prayer. A prayer urging “hasten to success” is declared from these locations. The “farthest” one of these was the end destination of the Night Journey and is located in Jerusalem. In these locations, the minbar are generally located to the right of the (*) mihrab. The calling of the adhan draws people to this place, an action that is performed by the muezzin. One of these locations surrounds the Kaaba, and salat occurs in them five times a day. For 10 points, name these buildings surrounded by minarets, the sites of Islamic worship.
ANSWER: mosques [or mosjid]
This question might clearly be pointing to a place of worship early on, but I'm not sure that it's obviously a mosque.
charliemannetc wrote: Similarly to the tossups, the difficulty of hard parts was made far worse by how insultingly easy the easy - and often, the medium - parts were. There was quite frequently very little distinction between the easy and medium parts of the bonus, which made the cliff all the more dramatic. I get the concept of offering a set that most teams can clear 10 PPB on and creating an experience that teams of all levels can enjoy, but I don't think that offering a set with huge variation in bonus and tossup difficulty is the way to go about doing that. All this ended up doing was lure inexperienced players into an idea that this set was something they could actually have fun playing and annoy more experienced players with the huge disparities in difficulty.
I tried to avoid making the easy parts pedantically easy most of the time, but we did want the vast majority of teams to get the vast majority of easy parts. (A lengthy discussion about this took place in HFT VII's thread, if I remember correctly). It's impossible not to include some gimme easy parts—to pick an example easy part from this year's set that played too difficult, a considerable number of teams missed the "Henry James" easy part of a Henry James bonus. I'd rather overcorrect for easy parts that are too hard than leave them.

I'm a little more surprised about your comment about the middle parts; looking at the distribution of PPBs across sites, there seems to be a good spread of teams between 10 PPB and 20 PPB. And, Charlie, La Jolla is a Top 30 team—I'm not saying that you're totally wrong, but consider that your perspective on the difficulty of the middle parts might be distorted by the fact that your team knows lots of things.

Finally, I'm not really sure what you're trying to say in your last few sentences here. Can you clarify?
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:39 pm

Part of it might be bc Sriram is a professional SciBo player....
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Re: Question-specific discussion

Post by gimmedatguudsuccrose » Wed Jan 21, 2015 4:40 pm

Mavis Beacon wrote:May I see the tossups on 'Bridges,' 'Drones,' and 'Diffusion' from Round 1? Thanks.

EDIT: Also having 'Kitsch' as a hard part for a bonus seems a little too challenging, especially compared to some of the other FA bonuses (ie the cello bonus).

Not to be a broken record, but could these TU's be posted? Thanks
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Wed Jan 21, 2015 5:01 pm

Sorry about the delay.
Harvard Fall Tournament IX Round 1 wrote:9. Joseph Stella is best known for his Precisionist paintings of one of these entities in New York. In a painting by Gustave Caillebotte [kye-BO] set on one of these entities “of Europe,” a dog walks away from the viewer and a couple walks toward the viewer. While in Arles, Vincent Van Gogh produced a series of four paintings showing women in multicolored hats washing clothing near one of these entities. One of these entities at (*) Old Battersea is shown in James Whistler’s Nocturne in Blue and Gold, and Claude Monet included a Japanese-style one of these in several of his early paintings of water lilies. For 10 points, name these structures that span bodies of water.
ANSWER: bridges

3. In 2014, Martha Stewart wrote a TIME article about her love of these entities, and Nabila Rehman testified to Congress about these entities. These entities are used in instances of so-called “double tapping.” In December 2013, Jeff Bezos announced that these entities would soon be used by (*) Amazon. Rand Paul filibustered the Senate for nearly 13 hours to oppose the nomination of John Brennan over his involvement with the American use of these entities, one of which was used to kill the American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen. For 10 points, name this type of aircraft that is operated remotely.
ANSWER: drones [Accept Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, or Unmanned Air(craft) Systems, or Remote Piloted Aircraft Systems.]

16. This process can be modeled by the simplest case of the three-dimensional Langevin dynamics. The Einstein-Smoluchowski relation equates particle mobility times Boltzmann’s constant times temperature to the namesake coefficient of this process; that namesake coefficient is the proportionality constant between the positional derivative of concentration and the flux of this process in (*) Fick’s law. Graham’s law predicts the rate of a special case of this process involving gas and a pinhole. When water undergoes this process through a membrane, it is called osmosis. For 10 points, name this process where particles from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration.
ANSWER: diffusion [accept Brownian motion before first instance of “namesake coefficient”; prompt on “effusion” or “osmosis” before mentioned]
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Santa Claus » Wed Jan 21, 2015 7:04 pm

6. This god transformed into a snake to retrieve the divine mead of inspiration. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this chief god of the Norse myth system. He has one eye and is advised by the ravens Hunin and Mugin.
ANSWER: Odin [accept Woden]
[10] Odin hung himself for nine days from the World Tree to understand this somewhat magical writing system.
ANSWER: runes
[10] Odin won two riddle contests by asking this final question, upon which the opponent realized they were facing Odin and surrendered. A general description is acceptable.
ANSWER: what Odin whispered in Balder’s ear at Balder’s funeral [accept anything involving saying something to Balder]
I would like to make a point that when I got that third part, I initially said "what Odin whispered into his son's ear", for which the mod was very unsure what to do, before I elaborated with "what Odin said in the ear of his son Baldr at his funeral before he was set on fire on his boat" somewhat facetiously. At no point do they ever name Baldr in the original text; he's just "[Odin's] son". If you insist on keeping that answer line, you might want to change it slightly so that the answer line is "what Odin whispered in his son's ear [accept Baldr in place of son]" or something like that.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by yeah viv talk nah » Wed Jan 21, 2015 11:28 pm

Could I see the tossup on decapitation? I think I negged at the Rati clue (which I think was first line) with "self-immolation;" I have never heard that Rati attempted to decapitate herself. It's usually held that she attempted self-immolation before a divine voice stopped her by telling her that Kama would eventually be revived (by Shiva). I also have an Amar Chitra Katha comic book that says the same - in India, ACKs are considered to be the go-to source for Hindu mythology.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:17 am

HFT IX Round 6 wrote:12. A goddess normally depicted standing atop an intertwined Kama and Rati performed this action to herself during the god-demon war, and is named Chinnamasta. Saint Denis preached a sermon after this action occurred to him on Montmartre [mon-MAR-truh], making him a cephalophore. In an Oscar Wilde play, a character demands that this action be performed on Jokanaan after performing the Dance of the (*) Seven Veils, and Sir Gawain performs this action on the Green Knight upon his arrival in Camelot with surprisingly non-fatal results. For 10 points, name this punishment which saw frequent use during the Reign of Terror via the guillotine.
ANSWER: beheading [accept descriptive equivalents, such as decapitation]
Though that is a mythology clue, I didn't write this question; I'll let Will respond. Due to my lack of Hindu myth knowledge, I probably wouldn't be able to respond anyway.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Corry » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:42 am

hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:I'd be interested in hearing more opinions on whether the problem of super-difficult hard parts was mostly contained to the science—that is, whether it was a systematic problem in any other single category, or in the set as a whole.
Sure thing! I can't say whether the problem was systematic, since I only know things about history and geography-- that being said, both categories had quite a few "clunkers" in terms of difficulty (probably more than any other set this year except Maryland Fall). This issue was exacerbated by the fact that the medium parts of bonuses were usually quite normal, making the transition to the unexpectedly difficult hard part particularly jarring. Here are a few of the more noticeable examples that I found reading the set once through:

Rocky/Tetons/Wind River- The first two parts are relatively easy, but then the difficulty on the 3rd part here just shoots through the roof. What the heck is the Wind River Range?
strike/IWW/Louisiana - First two parts are pretty easy, but if I remember correctly, there's a pretty huge difficult jump on the third part about Louisiana. That part only gives you "Thibodaux" and the "Jena Six" to work with.
Thor/Midgard/Hymir - Not history/geography, but worth mentioning, since Kevin had the same complaint at the SoCal site. The first two parts here are also relatively easy, but Hymir represents another really unusual jump in difficulty. How many high schoolers (or any quiz bowl players, for that matter) actually remember the name of the giant on Thor's fishing trip?
Buganda/Lake Victoria/Israel - Same as before, except flipped: this bonus goes incredibly hard -> easy -> easy.
Jordan/Petra/Churchill - Jordan and Petra are pretty good easy and medium parts, but I don't think it's reasonable to ask for Churchill when the only clue you give is an apocryphal story about him being drunk one time. Again, the contrast in difficulty is weirdly big here.
pyroclastic flows/Ring of Fire/Lake Toba - Also same as before. Lake Toba is multiple degrees of magnitude more difficult than either pyroclastic flows or the Ring of Fire. The latter two are commonly known terms, while the former is... not at all.

The finals rounds seemed somewhat more difficult than the rest of the set, as well. Was this on purpose? Anyways, a few more from packets 14 and 15:

Beirut/Bashir Gemayel/Ariel Sharon - I've actually watched "Waltz with Bashir", the documentary mentioned in this bonus. And I can tell you pretty confidently that he's too hard for a high school bonus. I liked this bonus, but it probably would've worked better at MUT-difficulty. Or maybe the easy end of ACF Regs?
gold rushes/Alaska/Chilkoot Trail - Easy -> Easy -> Wayyyy hard. What in the world is the Chilkoot Trail, and why should high schoolers have to name it?
Fukushima/Banda Aceh/Sri Lanka - Banda Aceh is really hard.
Sui Dynasty/Han Dynasty/Goguryeo - Here, the problem is hard -> easy -> hard. Sui Dynasty is already pretty much a hard part. Goguryeo is also extremely tricky (particularly because it's not the same thing as the similarly-named Goryeo); the only instances I could find of it was a hard part at 2011 ACF Regs and 2010 MUT.
Molotov/Cuban Missile Crisis/Gromyko - Gromyko is really tough. I've never heard of him personally, and I did a quick reverse packet-lookup just to make sure: since 2011, he's shown up as the hard part in a bonus for 2 regular college-difficulty packets (including SCT 2011) and once as a hard part for MUT 2011. So he's definitely on the far left field for a high school packet.
Last edited by Corry on Thu Jan 22, 2015 1:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Santa Claus » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:50 am

Santa Claus wrote: Coulomb's law-method of image-infinite plane of charge
polyploidy-speciation-orthologous
galaxy-Hubble-Triangulum
inverse-first isomorphism-commutative
nitrogen-azide-N2O3
deserts-rain shadow-yardangs
enzymes-Arrhenius-Michaelis-Menten
uncertainty principle-time-matrix mechanics
drosophila melanogaster-Watson & Crick-Warburg
B cells-MHC-autoimmune
Millikan oil drop experiment-Thomson-Moseley
Could I actually see the bonuses for each of these, and the tossup on feldspars? Also, Corry, I had totally forgot about the Hymir bonus, and man, that was too hard.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Lo, a momentary rabbit-stage » Thu Jan 22, 2015 12:56 am

hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:Hey guys, thanks for all of your feedback. I'll try to respond to most of it—let me know if there's anything I miss.
Corry wrote:Like... many other people, I also echo concerns that a lot of 3rd parts in this tournament seemed randomly too hard. I realize that the point of HFT is to have "harder to 30" bonuses than a regular-difficulty high school set, but the jump in some cases was quite unusual. I'll probably have specific examples tomorrow after I read through the entire set one more time.
I'd be interested in hearing more opinions on whether the problem of super-difficult hard parts was mostly contained to the science—that is, whether it was a systematic problem in any other single category, or in the set as a whole. The myth bonus that Charlie mentioned was:
6. This god transformed into a snake to retrieve the divine mead of inspiration. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this chief god of the Norse myth system. He has one eye and is advised by the ravens Hunin and Mugin.
ANSWER: Odin [accept Woden]
[10] Odin hung himself for nine days from the World Tree to understand this somewhat magical writing system.
ANSWER: runes
[10] Odin won two riddle contests by asking this final question, upon which the opponent realized they were facing Odin and surrendered. A general description is acceptable.
ANSWER: what Odin whispered in Balder’s ear at Balder’s funeral [accept anything involving saying something to Balder]
Looking at this now, I think the hard part could've been written more descriptively, but it's an event from the Poetic Edda that Raynor found memorable enough to write about.
Alright, this makes a bit more sense now with Kevin's distinction as well. The way this question is written (e.g. the answer explicitly necessitating Baldr) references something that only comes up in the Hervarar Saga ("... what did Odin say in Baldr’s ear before he was raised on the pyre?”), while the version in the Poetic Edda just states "his son". However, because it says "two riddle contests", it makes sense to only accept answers with Baldr in it - in fact, as Kevin said, when he answered just saying "son", our mod asked him "can you tell me the name of the son?", and then asked us if it was okay if he got the points for it. That's probably why when I was trying to figure out where this even came from, nothing from the far more common source came up. I imagine this problem came up because Wikipedia explicitly states that he asks about Baldr.

This isn't as unreasonable difficulty-wise changing it to son, it just seems kinda oddly specific. The Vafprudnismal like, very rarely has come up as the first line for Odin tossups, but a specific line from it (even though it is pretty much the most important line in it) seems a little bit of a stretch.
hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:
charliemannetc wrote:I understand that this set touted itself as "some answerlines you'd find in A-sets, and some you'd find in HSNCT", but I have to say that felt like more of an excuse for a wildly variable difficulty range than it did an actual legitimate structure for a tournament. Rather than being "fun for everyone" and inclusive to all difficulties, it was just really frustrating at times. Personally, my mindset / buzzing strategy is very dependent on the difficulty of the tournament I'm playing - I'm going to tend to think a lot more laterally and make risky buzzes on an easy packet, but if I'm playing on a hard packet I know that "it's either the Tokugawa Shogunate or the Meiji Restoration" kind of attitudes don't really work.

The trouble comes when you have a mix of those two. Take, for example, the incredibly transparent tossups on mosques that was in my experience almost universally disliked. (could you post that, by the way?). Most people I talked to immediately discounted a mosque answerline after the first line just because it seemed far too obvious - some said they were considering buzzing things like "minaret" or something, and not until far later in the clue did it become painfully obvious that "mosques" was really the answer the whole time. A similar thing occurred when the Hades tossup namedropped Rhadamanthus on the first line (unless i'm grossly underestimating the difficulty of that clue, that is pushing it for even an IS-A packet. Could I see that one too?)

While having strangely-easy tossups is annoying, the real problem comes when tossups like those are right next to rather hard tossups on stuff like the Heian period that tend to come up in college.
I think you're conflating variability in answerline difficulty with potentially misplaced/transparent clues here.
Maybe, but I don't know if I really could compare answerline difficulty in a set of this level. The things that come up in high school quizbowl are important because they're important at most any level - with few exceptions. I don't really think there's much of a lower end of answerline difficulty - I can't think of any reason why one couldn't write a regionals+ level question on a common high school topic like Kant or Odin - in fact, I know for a fact that it's done all the time.

Similarly, it's hard to compare transparency / misplaced clues with "non-transparent" clues in the same set. The reason I brought up the mosque example (and I think there were a couple more, I just lost my notes on the tournament unfortunately) wasn't because I felt it was an easy answerline - what I mean to say is that high transparency tends to be a characteristic of lower-level high school sets. If I were playing on an NAQT set, I absolutely would have buzzed in the first two lines - at that level, clues like "travel to one of these locations at daybreak", "bayram prayer", and "prayer... declared from these locations" really couldn't be anything else. My issue was that when a hard tossup with a hard couple of first lines was immediately followed by a tossup that seemed to point towards an obvious answer within the first few lines, it was disconcerting. A better example would be the aforementioned Hades tossup that namedropped Rhadamanthus, or the later dwarfs tossup that namedropped Hreidmar within the first few words and Alvis very soon after. Even as a complete specialist who wasn't even aware of how hard or easy some of the clues in the 15/20 questions per round I have no chance of getting were, the switch between question difficulty I'd expect at a standard NAQT or A-set tournament and questions that reached well into college level made me second-guess myself a lot or get lulled into a false sense of easiness and end up negging a difficult answerline because I assumed it was something far easier.
HFT wrote: On one holiday, men usually travel to one of these locations at daybreak to perform a bayram prayer. A prayer urging “hasten to success” is declared from these locations. The “farthest” one of these was the end destination of the Night Journey and is located in Jerusalem. In these locations, the minbar are generally located to the right of the (*) mihrab. The calling of the adhan draws people to this place, an action that is performed by the muezzin. One of these locations surrounds the Kaaba, and salat occurs in them five times a day. For 10 points, name these buildings surrounded by minarets, the sites of Islamic worship.
ANSWER: mosques [or mosjid]
hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:
I tried to avoid making the easy parts pedantically easy most of the time, but we did want the vast majority of teams to get the vast majority of easy parts. (A lengthy discussion about this took place in HFT VII's thread, if I remember correctly). It's impossible not to include some gimme easy parts—to pick an example easy part from this year's set that played too difficult, a considerable number of teams missed the "Henry James" easy part of a Henry James bonus. I'd rather overcorrect for easy parts that are too hard than leave them.

I'm a little more surprised about your comment about the middle parts; looking at the distribution of PPBs across sites, there seems to be a good spread of teams between 10 PPB and 20 PPB. And, Charlie, La Jolla is a Top 30 team—I'm not saying that you're totally wrong, but consider that your perspective on the difficulty of the middle parts might be distorted by the fact that your team knows lots of things.

Finally, I'm not really sure what you're trying to say in your last few sentences here. Can you clarify?
Yeah, I got a little rambly at the end. Sorry about that.

Concerning the bonus parts, while La Jolla is a Top 30 team I'm a relatively weak player on everything other than the few specialties I have. Even with what I'd consider a novice-level coverage of the canon (I've only really been playing for a couple of months), I found many of the medium parts were far less difficult than I'd expect from HFT and it was sometimes hard to tell which parts were easy and which were medium. I'm sorry I can't give you more specific examples, but that was definitely a sentiment shared by a lot of people I talked to. I'm definitely not saying all the medium parts were easy - there were plenty of bonuses that I found quite hard. Again, I think the presence of the overly-hard bonus parts may have made the others seem more easy than they actually were.

Without going into a long tirade about why huge disparity in difficulty seems like a bad thing in a tournament - a tirade that I couldn't really support with any actual facts, I'll just note that the way I learn new things in Quizbowl (and from my impression the way most people do) is gradually. If I hear something that's one level removed from something I actually know, I'm going to be really interested in it - if I know that Artemis turned Actaeon into a stag, listening to a tossup on Actaeon will be really interesting and would make me want to research him more. However, if I'd never heard of his name before, it would be too obscure for me to even bother caring about. The whole "if you know the first two parts of a bonus question, research the third, if you get a clue on the second line, research the first" is a pretty espoused idea in quizbowl, and that unfortunately goes out the window a little bit when you have difficulty cliffs.

What I meant to say in the last part was basically this. The questions were all really well written, and had they each been sorted and put into their respective difficulty levels there were very very few that I found "bad' in any sense of the word. While the majority of the clues were right on target for the difficulty level, it felt like there were no checks in place for those that weren't. After hearing the concept of the tournament "having a mix of easy and hard questions" and then attending it, it felt like the set sort of hid behind this concept of "some too easy, some hard" to avoid having to actually adjust the difficulty of the submitted questions. I don't expect Harvard writers to have a perfect grasp on what "hard high school difficulty" is, but I feel like a little more effort making the insanely difficult questions less so and the oddly easy questions less so would have made the set incredible.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by hydrocephalitic listlessness » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:17 pm

Thanks, again, for providing extended feedback. I'll post the requested questions once I'm back at my computer (or maybe Raynor can). Corry, I actually disagree with you on several of your difficulty assessments, and while this is anecdotal, a lot of the specific difficult answerlines you provided were converted by teams for which I read. I don't think it's useful for me to systematically go through and explain why I deemed each one an appropriate hard part (and I agree with you on a few of them: Churchill, Hymir, Goguryeo), but I will if you want. The last two rounds were intended to be a step up in difficulty, so I'm actually cool with MUT-level hard parts such as Bashir Gemayel and Gromyko in those rounds.

Charlie, I still think you're a little confused. This tournament didn't try to (and no tournament should try to) have a mix of easy and difficult questions, but rather a mix of easy answerlines (George Washington) and hard answerlines (Heian Period). This isn't a new concept or anything, of course; we just announced it as a way of noting that HFT pulls from an expanded tossup answerline space, but still focuses on tossing up core things. I'm not disagreeing with you that some questions probably had earlier average buzz points than others, or that a few had difficulty cliffs, but I think it's pretty untrue to say that a significant chunk of the questions in this set were similar to ones in an A-set.
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by UlyssesInvictus » Thu Jan 22, 2015 8:11 pm

Santa Claus wrote:
Santa Claus wrote: Coulomb's law-method of image-infinite plane of charge
polyploidy-speciation-orthologous
galaxy-Hubble-Triangulum
inverse-first isomorphism-commutative
nitrogen-azide-N2O3
deserts-rain shadow-yardangs
enzymes-Arrhenius-Michaelis-Menten
uncertainty principle-time-matrix mechanics
drosophila melanogaster-Watson & Crick-Warburg
B cells-MHC-autoimmune
Millikan oil drop experiment-Thomson-Moseley
Could I actually see the bonuses for each of these, and the tossup on feldspars? Also, Corry, I had totally forgot about the Hymir bonus, and man, that was too hard.
Here they are...all of them...
(massive block of text incoming)
Various rounds of HFT IX wrote:14. Like Newton’s law of universal gravitation, this law is an inverse square law. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this law that sets the force between two electric charges proportional to the product of their charges divided by their separation distance squared.
ANSWER: Coulomb’s law
[10] Coulomb’s law is often not useful for calculating the electric potential for a distribution of charges. This method of calculating the potential introduces imaginary charges into the problem that replicate the original problem’s boundary conditions, but simplify the analysis.
ANSWER: method of image charges [accept method of mirror charges]
[10] Instead of using Coulomb’s law or the method of image charges, one can use Gauss’s law for symmetric distributions. Using Gauss’s law on this charge distribution gives a uniform electric field of magnitude equal to the charge density over two times the permittivity of free space.
ANSWER: uniformly charged infinite plane [accept clear equivalents like “sheet”]

2. The Plains Viscacha Rat is one of the very few mammals to have this property, for 10 points each:
[10] This word describes any cell or organism that has more than two sets of chromosomes. Species that exhibit this property include wheat, which has 6 copies of each chromosome, and cotton, which has 4 copies.
ANSWER: polyploidy
[10] Polyploidy is one of the most common sympatric methods for this event to occur in flowering plants. One variety of this event can also be described as allopatric, and is often caused by a geological barrier.
ANSWER: speciation [accept word forms]
[10] Genes in two different species that share the same common ancestor as a result of speciation are known by this name. These genes often have the same function in different species.
ANSWER: orthologous genes [or orthologs]

20. M81 is an example of one of these. For 10 points each:
[10] Name these gravitationally-bound collections of billions of stars that can exist in spiral, elliptical, or irregular geometries.
ANSWER: galaxies
[10] This astronomer created a namesake “tuning fork diagram”, a morphological classification of galaxies into ellipticals, lenticulars, and spirals. His namesake law describes the expansion of the universe.
ANSWER: Edwin Hubble
[10] This third largest member of the local group is one of the farthest objects visible with the naked eye. Its not Andromeda, but the analysis of 35 of its Cepheids by Hubble allowed him to estimate its distance in 1935.
ANSWER: Triangulum galaxy

8. For each element in a group, some element must exist such that their product under the group operation is equal to the identity. For 10 points each:
[10] Name the term used to describe that element. Less strictly speaking, when this operation is applied to a function of x, it “undoes” that function and returns another function whose composition with the original function is x.
ANSWER: inverse
[10] In group theory, this theorem states that for a homomorphism phi mapping elements in group G to group H, there exists a group isomorphism between G mod the kernel of phi and the image of phi.
ANSWER: first isomorphism theorem
[10] An abelian group has this property between its elements. In general, matrix multiplication does not have this property.
ANSWER: commutativity [accept commute or other word forms]

5. This is the most common gas in the atmosphere. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this diatomic gas often used to produce inert environments, which has a triple bond between two atoms of its namesake element.
ANSWER: nitrogen gas [accept dinitrogen; prompt on “N”]
[10] Nitrogen also forms this polyatomic ion containing three nitrogen atoms and a negative charge. Its sodium salt is used in car airbags.
ANSWER: azide
[10] This unstable nitrogen compound is a deep blue solid below -21 degrees Celsius. It is the acid anhydride of nitrous acid.
ANSWER: dinitrogen trioxide [accept N2O3]

3. The Atacama is the driest one of these regions on planet Earth. For 10 points each:
[10] Name these arid regions characterized by a lack of vegetation.
ANSWER: deserts
[10] These types of deserts form on the leeward sides of mountains, and are often geographically mid-latitude. This is because air loses its water content as precipitation as it crosses a mountain range, and is subsequently compressed and heated as it descends.
ANSWER: rainshadow desert
[10] These rock features, common in the Sahara desert, are small landforms with narrow bases and wide tops. They are formed by sandblasting that is most intense near the ground.
ANSWER: yardangs

3. Examples of these include catalase and carbonic anhydrase. For 10 points each:
[10] Name these biological catalysts whose three-dimensional conformation is the subject of major study.
ANSWER: enzymes
[10] Enzymes, like all catalysts, lower the activation energy of reactions. This equation from reaction kinetics explains how the rate constant is proportional to the exponential of the negative activation energy over RT.
ANSWER: Arrhenius equation
[10] This model of enzyme kinetics assumes the reversible association of enzyme and substrate to form an enzyme-substrate complex, which irreversibly forms enzyme and product. This model predicts a linear association between one over rate and one over substrate concentration.
ANSWER: Michaelis-Menten kinetics

1. This principle stems from the fact that the position and momentum operators in quantum mechanics do not commute. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this principle stated which asserts that the more precisely the position of a particle is known, the less precisely its momentum can be known, and vice-versa.
ANSWER: Heisenberg uncertainty principle [accept either or both underlined parts]
[10] Although position and momentum are one set complementary variables with an uncertainty relation, energy and this quantity are another set. The dilation of this general quantity is a consequence of special relativity.
ANSWER: lifetime of a state
[10] Along with Born and Jordan in 1925, Heisenberg developed this mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics, which treated operators like position and momentum as time-dependent, and states as time-independent.
ANSWER: matrix mechanics

15. Answer these questions about scientists who have won the Nobel Prize in Medicine, for 10 points each:
[10] In 1933, Thomas Hunt Morgan won the Nobel Prize for discovering the “role played by the chromosome in heredity” by studying these organisms, which have four pairs of chromosomes.
ANSWER: fruit flies [accept Drosophila or D. melanogaster]
[10] This pair of scientists, along with Maurice Wilkins, received the Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the structure of DNA.
ANSWER: James Watson and Francis Crick [prompt on partial answer]
[10] In 1931, this scientist won the Nobel Prize for his research on cytochrome and its role in respiration, especially in sea urchin eggs post fertilization. Sir Hans Krebs, who received the award for discovering the citric acid cycle, worked in this scientist’s lab.
ANSWER: Otto Heinrich Warburg

6. Along with T cells, this type of cells are collectively known as lymphocytes. For 10 points each,
[10] Name these cells whose plasma variety are responsible for producing antibodies. These cells are actually not named for the marrow in which they are created.
ANSWER: B cells
[10] The class I type of this molecule presents antigens on the surface of an infected cell to cytotoxic T cells, which identifies it through use of CD8. The class II type of this molecule is recognized by CD4 on helper T cells, which triggers B cell activation.
ANSWER: MHC (accept Major Histocompatibility Complex)
[10] This type of disease can occur when antibodies fail to distinguish self-proteins from non-self proteins and begin attacking them. Examples of this type of disease include multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.
ANSWER: autoimmune disease

4. This experiment was conducted in the University of Chicago in 1909. For 10 points each:
[10] Name this experiment that measured the charge of the electron from the terminal velocities of charged oil droplets.
ANSWER: Millikan oil drop experiment
[10] Once the electron’s charge was known, its mass could be immediately calculated because this scientist had previously calculated the mass-to-charge ratio of the electron in 1897. He also used the cathode ray tube experiment to discover the electron.
ANSWER: Joseph John (J.J.) Thomson
[10] This other English physicist, a contemporary of J.J. Thomson, names a law that shows a quadratic relationship between the frequency of the K-alpha characteristic X-ray emission of atoms and their atomic number, which historically confirmed the atomic nucleus model.
ANSWER: Henry Moseley
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Halved Xenon Stinging » Thu Jan 22, 2015 9:13 pm

By the way last year's set has yet to be posted....
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Re: Question-specific discussion (HFT 2014)

Post by Corry » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:22 pm

hydrocephalitic listlessness wrote:Thanks, again, for providing extended feedback. I'll post the requested questions once I'm back at my computer (or maybe Raynor can). Corry, I actually disagree with you on several of your difficulty assessments, and while this is anecdotal, a lot of the specific difficult answerlines you provided were converted by teams for which I read. I don't think it's useful for me to systematically go through and explain why I deemed each one an appropriate hard part (and I agree with you on a few of them: Churchill, Hymir, Goguryeo), but I will if you want. The last two rounds were intended to be a step up in difficulty, so I'm actually cool with MUT-level hard parts such as Bashir Gemayel and Gromyko in those rounds.
Thanks for the reply. I was under the impression that making final rounds harder than regular rounds in a set was now a deprecated practice, but I guess I'm alright with that.

Anyways, I'd certainly like your thoughts on a few of the specific answer lines. If we discount the questions in the intentionally-tougher finals rounds, that leaves only 4-ish: Louisiana, Lake Toba, Buganda, and the Wind River Range (with this last one probably being the most unusual out of all of them, in my opinion).
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