Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

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Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby abnormal abdomen » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:30 am

Okay, so I've heard lots about how housewritten sets should typically avoid graduated difficulty and maintain a consistent difficulty throughout the set. I certainly agree that a set should be written in such a way that (a) a tournament minimizes fluctuations in conversions and such, and (b) it looks to create competitive matches in all of the different playoff/rebracketed flights. I do, however, feel that a lot of different factors play into "difficulty," and I was wondering about something particularly in regards to finals packets.

Is there anything inherently egregious about maintaining a consistent accessibility and clue depth/cliff throughout the first X non-finals packets (say, like, 10 or 12) of a set, and then, for the finals packets, maintaining the same general level of accessibility, but simply writing harder questions on the accessible answer lines? Think of this as it being possible for packet 3 and finals packet 2 to be completely interchangeable in terms of their editing quality, answer space accessibility (in both tossups and bonuses), and such, except for the fact that finals packet 2 is just a little more top heavy in terms of its tossups (but written at the same length).

Of course, I do see complications in this concept, as I'm sure many of you do. One issue would be bonuses; I don't think it'd be feasible to just amp up the bonus difficulty, given that it would simply be very unpleasant for the lower bracket finals. And while we're on that topic, I guess that this idea would simply be catering to the top bracket finals teams. Does this practice generally not take place simply because it is assumed that the difficulty of the first X packets is sufficient for differentiating between the best teams regardless (because it's rare for even two great teams to buzz on every single first buzzable clue in every single tossup)?

I apologize in advance if these seem like strange questions. I guess I see why it might be a strange idea, but I'm also not quite sure why I've never heard much discussion on this sort of idea.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby Great Bustard » Wed Oct 12, 2011 12:51 am

No, this isn't strange or odd, it makes sense, especially if not all teams are playing the finals packet. It's at some level a matter of personal preference, but I like the idea of having finals packets have harder answer lines. NSC does this; HSNCT does not from my understanding.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby at your pleasure » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:06 am

The problem you could run into is tournaments not using the finals packets per their labels or not being able or willing to burn them for finals, in which case you have a two-round difficulty spike.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby Charles Martel » Wed Oct 12, 2011 1:10 am

The only observable effect of the difficulty spike would be an increase in buzzer races between weaker teams, and a decrease in buzzer races between stronger teams. Everyone would also notice that the tossups take longer to get answered. However, if the answer lines were kept the same, conversion wouldn't really change.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby dtaylor4 » Wed Oct 12, 2011 2:26 am

The major question the writers have to ask as a group is how widely they want the set mirrored. In a number of growing circuits, the average difficulty for "stepped-up" finals packets is too much for teams to take. This severely handicaps teams running mirrors on these sets, as they are down those two packets.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby Public safety diving » Wed Oct 12, 2011 10:08 am

A lot of times, you have consolation rounds going on at the same time. It would not be ideal if the 29th-placed team played the 30th-placed team on a hard packet.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby Charles Martel » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:31 am

IMO, whether the 29th v 30th game has a high conversion rate is an insignificant concern compared to whether the first place game is good.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby Down and out in Quintana Roo » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:47 am

Paging Charlie Dees. Charlie Dees, you are needed in this thread to knock some sense into people.
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Re: Fluctuating Difficulty and Finals Packets

Postby abnormal abdomen » Wed Oct 12, 2011 11:58 am

whitesoxfan wrote:IMO, whether the 29th v 30th game has a high conversion rate is an insignificant concern compared to whether the first place game is good.


I'd rather not screw over those teams, though, if the experience would be unpleasant for them. I especially wouldn't want to screw over entire mirror sites which aren't as strong as others.

And actually, Coach Chrzanowski, I talked to Charlie about this. Obviously, he disagreed with the idea, particularly on the grounds that a tournament should seek to determine the best team on a particular and consistent style of questions. That makes sense to me, I think. I should stress that I'm not actually vehemently pushing for this idea. I'm really just trying to get a better understanding of its implications. I'm pretty certain that we will be looking to maintain a consistent difficulty for Auburn's housewrite, to be announced sometime soon.
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