Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

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setht
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Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by setht »

A recent email conversation (and, less directly, Harrison's recent post) have brought up something I've never really thought much about: given that NAQT is a timed format, and that teams will sometimes interrupt bonus parts in order to save time, should NAQT bonuses allow a wider range of acceptable answers on early interrupts? In other words, should they behave like tossups?

The current approach is to say that bonus prompts are meant to be heard in their entirety; if a team interrupts a prompt and says something that fits the clues they've heard but not some later clues, that's the penalty (sometimes) paid for the risky strategy of interrupting bonuses.

Two concrete examples:

-suppose Harrison had yelled out "Sheldon Glashow" right after hearing "Abdus Salam" in the following bonus part:
2013 SCT Round 9 wrote:B. This physicist shared a Nobel with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow for work on unifying the electromagnetic and weak forces.

answer: Steven _Weinberg_
At that point in the bonus, his response is correct: Sheldon Glashow is a physicist who shared a Nobel with Abdus Salam.

-suppose a Mystery Player, who I will call Shmeric Shmukherjee, yelled out "Hamiltonian" after hearing the first sentence of the following bonus part:
2013 SCT Round 5 wrote:B. The Darwin term gives a relativistic correction to this quantity for the {electron}. The Hamiltonian is the sum of this quantity and the {kinetic energy}.
At that point in the bonus, Shmeric's answer is correct: the Darwin term is a relativistic correction to the electron potential energy, and since the Hamiltonian equals the potential energy plus the kinetic energy, the Darwin term is also a relativistic correction to the Hamiltonian.

Should NAQT's bonuses be set up so that either of these answers would be accepted?

-Seth
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Cheynem »

I think this would be vaguely nightmarish for writers and editors and moderators to balance the range of potential answers that an "interrupt" could entail. My biggest piece of advice for NAQT bonus writers/editors is to keep it succinct. Some people always laugh at the NAQT bonus lead-ins that are like "Answer the following about something in common" or "Name these people," but I don't mind them.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Fond du lac operon »

setht wrote:The current approach is to say that bonus prompts are meant to be heard in their entirety; if a team interrupts a prompt and says something that fits the clues they've heard but not some later clues, that's the penalty (sometimes) paid for the risky strategy of interrupting bonuses.
I don't think there's any strong argument in favor of making the hurry-up, bonus-interrupting strategy less risky in general. You'll score more points that way and might be able to shellshock opponents by setting a quick pace (the "Chip Kelly strategy"), but you know what risks you entail by cutting down on chances to confer with teammates.

I've played in two(!) NAQT games where we had to rush through a bonus to get another tossup read for a chance to win -- one on Saturday, and one at last year's ICT. I suspect that it doesn't happen quite as often in general as it has in my small sample size, but it's a real strategy that can come up (and pay off; we won our ICT game), and this is the thing that's important.

The problem, as I see it, is that the necessity of this strategy essentially penalizes teams based on luck -- one has no real control over whether a bonus is going to be started with 45 seconds left versus 15. But this is a small amount of noise in what determines PPB (and win-loss record), and it's swamped by other factors -- for instance, stress. I missed the last part of that weak force bonus because I somehow heard "gauge boson" without ever processing the word "neutral."

There are a lot of factors that go into determining the outcome of a match that we don't like to think of as noisy, but which we might as well admit are, at least in part. Most obviously there's the random sampling aspect -- if I get a packet with tossups on Infinite Jest, Saul Kripke, and Philip Glass, my team is considerably more likely to win than if I get a packet with tossups on A House for Mr. Biswas, Henri Bergson, and Pierre Boulez. But there are also misheard or misinterpreted clues; memory and attention lapses; buzzer races; dumb wrong negs (I once said "Education and Democracy" for "Democracy and Education" despite knowing that work fairly well; Dargan once powered Whitewater but said Watergate instead); and others. The frequency of many of these things correlates negatively with skill and experience, it's true. I'm a lot more likely to misinterpret something than Matt Bollinger, and a freshman at her first tournament is in turn a lot more likely to have a brain fart than I am. But at a certain point, it's worth admitting that there's always going to be a random aspect to the game, and it's not worth making heroic efforts to make it slightly more "fair," especially when it might affect the outcomes of -- at most -- 2 or 3 percent of games played.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Important Bird Area »

Cheynem wrote:I think this would be vaguely nightmarish for writers and editors and moderators to balance the range of potential answers that an "interrupt" could entail. My biggest piece of advice for NAQT bonus writers/editors is to keep it succinct.
For what it's worth, both of these sentences reflect official NAQT policy. Players interrupt bonuses at their own risk, and keeping bonuses concise is more important than trying to make them pyramidal.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by theMoMA »

Cheynem wrote:Some people always laugh at the NAQT bonus lead-ins that are like "Answer the following about something in common" or "Name these people," but I don't mind them.
I almost always stick a clue before "For 10 points each," except in NAQT. I think it's good to have some of bonuses with extra clues in the lead-in, but it's also good for the timing of the format to have some shorter "For 10 points each--answer the following about _________" bonuses. I also find that this lead-in lends itself well to writing bonuses with a creative theme, because it announces to the player what the theme is right away.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by setht »

theMoMA wrote:
Cheynem wrote:Some people always laugh at the NAQT bonus lead-ins that are like "Answer the following about something in common" or "Name these people," but I don't mind them.
I almost always stick a clue before "For 10 points each," except in NAQT. I think it's good to have some of bonuses with extra clues in the lead-in, but it's also good for the timing of the format to have some shorter "For 10 points each--answer the following about _________" bonuses. I also find that this lead-in lends itself well to writing bonuses with a creative theme, because it announces to the player what the theme is right away.
Since we've wandered over to this topic, I'll note that I generally try to write NAQT bonus lead-ins in the "For 10 points each--blah blah" form, when possible, so that teams have a little bit more time to shut up and focus after a tossup is answered and before the important parts of the bonus are read. I'm sure it sounds a bit odd to people used to the "Clues. FTPE:" form, but I think it works slightly better in a timed format.

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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

setht wrote: Two examples
So there's a subtle difference between the two examples you've posited here. First, if I just hear Salaam and I was trying to run the clock, I could theoretically yell WEINBERG AND GLASHOW PICK ONE or something, because both are equally plausible answers (and answerlines for questions like this usually say something like "accept _Glashow-Weinberg-Salaam_"). But literally the only place I've seen the Darwin term used is in calculating the electronic Hamiltonian. I think there are instances in which bonus prompts are pretty clear-cut and can be used to make players' lives a little easier, and that this is one of them.

EDIT: Here's an example of what I mean
SCT 2013 Packet 4 wrote:C. A Poussin painting shows a group of shepherds examining a tomb in this title region; the painting is titled Et in
this region Ego.
answer: Arcadia (accept Et in Arcadia ego or Arcadian Shepherds)
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Stained Diviner »

Seth's examples actually do a good job of showing how bonuses are both different than and similar to tossups.

The Weinberg question gives very well-known information on Weinberg before being uniquely identifying. This is OK for bonuses even though it is obviously horrible for tossups. Anybody who answers where Seth suggests either has an extremely bizarre combination of knowledge and lack of knowledge or is knowingly taking a chance. Either way, it's not a problem that the team doesn't get points. It would be useful to get a clarification on how a moderator should handle a blitz answer in this case, since blitzing usually is a tossup phenomenon but could be reasonably used in this case to beat the clock.

The Darwin question is a hose. Hoses are worse for tossups than bonuses, but they should be avoided for both. If there was no clock and somebody wanted to play it safe, they would hear the end of the question and get it right. However, a person knowledgeable about the subject would feel comfortable doing exactly what Eric did because the first sentence sounds like it leads pretty clearly to that answer. All sets should try to avoid this, and the pressure to avoid it increases when a clock is involved.

Other than trying to write questions that avoid this situation, I don't know what the solution is. It seems kind of odd to instruct moderators to accept early answers on bonuses or to prompt something that is mentioned towards the end of a question. It also seems kind of odd to give the moderator leeway to prompt when they believe this situation has happened. However, those solutions probably are appropriate.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by theMoMA »

This seems like a solution in need of a problem. Yes, it's annoying that the bonus had two answers at a particular point, but that's almost inevitable across a set. I would definitely suggest that writers try to avoid the situation by ruling out answers sooner in a timed set.

But at the end of the day, bonus prompts are meant to be heard in their entirety. Interrupting a bonus prompt to save time comes with inherent risk that later clues would make coming to the correct answer easier, whether that's by ruling out other potentially correct answers or giving easier clues.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by setht »

The Quest for the Historical Mukherjesus wrote:
setht wrote: Two examples
So there's a subtle difference between the two examples you've posited here. First, if I just hear Salaam and I was trying to run the clock, I could theoretically yell WEINBERG AND GLASHOW PICK ONE or something, because both are equally plausible answers (and answerlines for questions like this usually say something like "accept _Glashow-Weinberg-Salaam_"). But literally the only place I've seen the Darwin term used is in calculating the electronic Hamiltonian. I think there are instances in which bonus prompts are pretty clear-cut and can be used to make players' lives a little easier, and that this is one of them.

EDIT: Here's an example of what I mean
SCT 2013 Packet 4 wrote:C. A Poussin painting shows a group of shepherds examining a tomb in this title region; the painting is titled Et in
this region Ego.
answer: Arcadia (accept Et in Arcadia ego or Arcadian Shepherds)
I'm not sure I follow your logic here. Off of the partial clue "This physicist shared a Nobel with Abdus Salam" there are two viable answers: Steven Weinberg and Sheldon Glashow. Off of the partial clue "The Darwin term gives a relativistic correction to this quantity for the electron" there are also two (actually, maybe three or more) viable answers: the Hamiltonian, the total energy, and the potential energy. I too have seen the Darwin term presented in connection with the Hamiltonian, but I have also seen it discussed in more detailed treatments as being a correction to the potential energy (and thus carrying over to the Hamiltonian and the potential energy).

I also don't understand what that bonus part on Arcadia has to do with the matter at hand.

But let's leave all that aside, because it really doesn't matter: I'm arguing that there's nothing wrong with having a bonus prompt that begins with an entire clue phrase that is not uniquely identifying, and not accepting answers that fit that clue phrase but not later clues in the prompt. In that vein, I will register a mild objection to Reinstein's use of the word "hose" to refer to the bonus part on potential energy: if that prompt were the start of a tossup, then the tossup answer line would need to allow various alternate answers. But it's not a tossup, it's a bonus prompt; in order for a bonus prompt to be a hose, I think the full prompt needs to point at one answer but only accept some other answer, or point at multiple answers but only accept some.

I think my job as a writer/editor is to write bonus prompts that point only towards answers listed in the answer line (and they should also be interesting and of appropriate difficulty and all that other good stuff). I think it's the job of players to do their best to score points using their knowledge base and the clues they hear in the prompt. If a player chooses to risk not scoring points by not listening to some of the clues, that's their prerogative, but I feel no need to try to give them points despite their risk-taking.

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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Auroni »

I think Eric's point is that when you have a bonus part on some part of a title or a more complete answer, sometimes writers will include the whole title or the whole complete answer as an "accept" in the answer line. From what I gather, Eric likes this and wants to see this happen to facilitate sprinting through bonuses against the clock.
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by theMoMA »

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:I think Eric's point is that when you have a bonus part on some part of a title or a more complete answer, sometimes writers will include the whole title or the whole complete answer as an "accept" in the answer line. From what I gather, Eric likes this and wants to see this happen to facilitate sprinting through bonuses against the clock.
I try to do this as much as possible (and there is a lot of it in SCT, though perhaps I missed it in several instances). But I don't think it's quite what Eric is talking about. When you say "Et In Arcadia Ego," you still say "Arcadia," which is what the bonus prompt wanted. I don't see any reason not to accept a full title when it contains the word or phrase that the prompt is looking for, even if the format is untimed. I do see a reason not to accept or prompt on answers that the first few words of the bonus prompt indicate, but is later ruled out. (Chiefly, this would open a can of worms about when a bonus prompt is supposed to be uniquely identifying.)
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by Cheynem »

The can of worms stuff could get even more ludicrous if you think about when people could conceivably interrupt: if the bonus begins "In a story about a machine that writes the words 'be just,'" could someone just shout out "KAFKA" before it says the pronoun, even if the question is asking for "In the Penal Colony" or perhaps something just related to it like "Explorer" or "Officer" or even "Frank Zappa."
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Re: Why aren't NAQT bonuses different from all other bonuses?

Post by setht »

Tokyo Sex Whale wrote:I think Eric's point is that when you have a bonus part on some part of a title or a more complete answer, sometimes writers will include the whole title or the whole complete answer as an "accept" in the answer line. From what I gather, Eric likes this and wants to see this happen to facilitate sprinting through bonuses against the clock.
I'm also fine with this, but I wouldn't say that the potential energy bonus part fits this description (I wouldn't consider potential energy to be part of the "more complete" answers Hamiltonian or total energy).

Also, my understanding is that people are allowed to blitz on bonus answers, following the same rules as blitzing on tossups. So it's fine to say stuff like "In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka" on a bonus part; it would not be fine to say "total energy, which includes potential energy" or "Sheldon Glashow and Steven Weinberg" (or rather, it would be fine to say that, but only "total energy" and "Sheldon Glashow" would be considered as answers given).

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