Tees-Exe Line wrote:
Snap Wexley wrote:I would like to repeat my semi-regular observation about the irony of Theory Westbrook expressing various crazy opinions that have absolutely nothing to do with what Practice Westbrook does. The Janus-like character of Ryan the Theorist and Ryan the Actual Editor is truly a sui generis quizbowl marvel.
I disagree that there's no correspondence at all there, and were I to comment upon this tournament as a player, I would simply say that I found the history boring on the whole and it's unfortunate that's what the quizbowl community wants to plod through for its national championship. While I was glad to note the absence of William Pendleton and his ilk from tossup answer lines this year, I should congratulate Ryan on the coming-to-fruition of his lifelong quest to make the War of Mantuan Succession an answerable bonus part.
EDIT: I'll say one thing for Weiner--he had a way with history questions.
Since someone else has spoken: I'm going to disagree with Marshall's assessment of the history in that I found a lot of the history questions exciting to play on, though mainly because of their content (i.e. "awesome, only Westbrook ever digs this stuff up" - though I think Matt Bollinger's also done a great job of this in his history work) This includes "boring but notable" things as well as "cool, out of the way exciting things." For example, there was nothing wrong with that War of Mantuan Succession bonus - it actually had a good hard / easy / medium structure and asked about information connected to noted extremely important conflict The Thirty Years' War. You do need some questions on things like these.
Nonetheless, I think I'm going to agree with Marshall's sentiment by saying that, conversely, a substantial number of history questions seemed to not care about what actually might be important,and even more often were frequently calibrated based on an insane standard of difficulty (which, as last year, may well have been "this has come up X times and is therefore a middle part" i.e. that bonus on the Altalena affair which had a hard part that my IDF/Israel history buff friend was baffled by, the bonus on Anne of Kiev, the bonus on cool stuff in ancient Yemen, etc).
Probably the worst example of this was on the question about the Lodi dynasty, which seemed to lead in with two or three lines (one would probably be fine) about a legend about a seed that grew into some random mosque in New Dehli.
The next line was about some poetry that (probably) nobody buzzed on. The next clue namedrops the incredibly generically named predecessor dynasty
("Sayyid" simply means "descendant of Muhammad" and there are a tons
of dynasties that use that name, including a much more notable one in Oman) - at least it's paired with a clue about a guy people probably won't know either
. Nice, over half your tossup is gone. There's a pair of clues that appear to be solid after that (an obscure succession crisis between Ibrahim and his brother, the construction of Agra, naming some rulers). I'm going to go out on a limb and say this ended up being a neg, buzzer race or going dead in most rooms because there's not even a single clue about the thing most people in quizbowl would know about the dynasty for (losing the Battle of Panipat to Babur) until after "For 10 points!"
As in my opening paragraph, I will praise this tournament for going out of its way to dig up a bunch of cool out-of-the-way history topics and keeping a good overall distribution in a way that many other tournaments do not. There were a number of questions that did highlight this (the Toluid civil war question, while it could well have just been on Mongol civil wars, was a good idea for a topic, and the "Punt" tossup was also sweet if a little hard). That said, if the people trying to ask more questions about (really cool) old history topics choose to do so this way, I would understand why people prefer strongly modern questions (beyond the easier ability to study for them and write them).
In addition, it wasn't just Westbrook digging up cool, out-of-the-way stuff - Ike and Rob did some great work in the arts and RMP, or at least the bits that I know. I think the music had some minor subdistribution issues, like having a lot more Baroque content in bonuses and perhaps being a tad light on older stuff overall (at least to my ear) but this wasn't really that objectionable and the questions were quite good in general. As Isaac said, the religion probably could've used more Buddhism but that's also honestly not awful either. Finally, I can't really comment on Billy's science, but I will say that I was extremely excited to be able to get a tossup based on the Mexican hat potential.