Chris, it's not just the answerlines that we need to be concerned about.DumbJaques wrote:Couldn't we just stop making every open event into difficulty clusterfucks where everyone is bludgeoned to death with the Watkins Pole? I mean, that's what I'm trying to do, and addressing the lack of regular season events/rampant openification concerns seems like a separate goal. I agree we don't need more events focused on super-experienced open players at the expense of everyone else, but I just as strongly reject the binary choice between that route and refusing to allow them to compete in field-sensible ways.but I don't think we really need more events with a focus on experienced/open players, which most open events end up having, even if they don't intend on having that focus.
I'll let Jonathan clarify, but I wonder if what he's really getting at is the lamentable reality that in the past few years, anytime anyone has written an event that's labeled "open," it nearly always ended up abusing even the top teams and being utterly inaccessible to less-experienced squads. That's bad! But even here, I doubt that the tournaments in question being declared "opens" is really the culprit; Penn Bowl wasn't open this year, and it was pretty darn hard. If the presence of a couple of people playing a given set actually changes how the editors go about writing it, I'd say that's a much bigger problem than what we're considering here.
To rephrase, let's say you find yourself putting together a tournament and thinking "oh, but Jonathan/Jerry/anyone else (in school or not) is playing this tournament, I better change this tossup on The Birthmark into one on Feathertop." STOP DOING THAT. It's bad, and honestly it's probably a big part of the reason why people have concerns about non-ironclad eligibility restrictions leading to ridiculous sets that won't play for most of the community.
People tend to write/edit tournaments with the field in mind. I'll eat my hat if there isn't a single editor out there who has written a particular tossup or a bonus in a particular way because he/she thought it would challenge the best players in the field. Furthermore, editors not only have to make judgments on tossup/bonus answers, but also on the clue ordering and structuring of the tossups.
If editors are aware that the best of the best players are going to attend their tournament, they are bound to make higher numbers of judgement calls which allow significantly harder clues for the leadins and the upper middle clues than the rest of the field can stomach. I know I have been guilty of this (my work for MO 09 is a good example.) I know other editors have succumbed to the same problem at times as well.
I think we can all agree that having more questions with harder (than appropriate) clues just adds more fuel to the fire of runaway canon/difficulty expansion. People start thinking in terms of "Oh, this clue X was an upper middle clue at regular tournament Y, it can't possibly be a middle clue for this harder tournament Z" or "Player A buzzed on this leadin clue for that tossup on B, so I'm sure he can answer 2 bonus parts on it," etc. This has real effects on the quality of submissions to tournaments and the ability of editors to make proper fixes to the submissions (see the ACF Nationals discussion.)
I strongly believe that one of the sure-fire ways of preventing escalating difficulty in leadin and middle clues (by reducing the number of judgment errors) is to just limit the chances for editors and packet-submitters to salivate over their favorite clues and/or challenge/appease/impress the best players of the tournament. Limiting the tournament to people who form a 'regular circuit' by being affiliated to institutions is a fair way of doing it across the board.
Lastly, I think that player turnover from year to year is a key part of maintaining reasonable levels of difficulty and vitality in the circuit. If, for example, Rob, Brendan, and I (as a team, as two teams, as three different teams, whatever) crashed the midwest circuit at all the regular difficulty tournaments in the 2011-12 season, it's not going to give the editors of Regionals/SCT and Nationals/ICT a good sense of how the actual midwest circuit (teams like Ohio State, Carleton, Michigan, Illinois, Chicago, Toronto) is playing and might cause them to make poor difficulty judgments.
I know some of the better active players are going to be affiliated with an institution, and are going to be playing all these regular difficulty tournaments. But then again, the point is that they play these events so that the editors of the national tournaments can more accurately determine the ideal difficulty of the championships and make proper judgments.