PARFAIT II

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ezubaric
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PARFAIT II

Post by ezubaric »

It would be great to get feedback on what everybody thought of the PARFAIT II. What did people think of the difficulty, the quality, and the organization of the tournament itself?

There were some rough spots and some distribution problems ... we've already taken steps in our question writing system to make sure the distribution within categories works out better next year.

Nevertheless, it was our first attempt at doing an in-house written tournament, and I (with my biased opinion) think that it turned out pretty well.
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Post by QB-dinosaur »

Jordan:

I thought most of the questions were insightful and well written. There was plenty of variety and subject-matter diversity among the tossups. It is evident that you got many unique voices on the writing staff.

If people compare these sets to EFT, you might find that PARFAIT questions were harder because of lower average scores. However, my observation from both sets suggests that many PARFAIT bonuses lack the simple clues that EFT used. For example, a team with no expert on advanced math or computer science will easily bagel those bonuses at PARFAIT.

I agree with your observation that the packets have distribution problems. That's why I thought you used the computer to randomly assign questions into packets. It's usually the most difficult and subjective part of the editing process--to ensure each packet has a balanced representation of geographical areas, historical eras, and subject matters. I somehow don't think this should be done with a computer program. It's almost like an "art" of packet editing.

Just some thoughts,

Willie

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Post by Matt Weiner »

I think the tournament handled difficulty well on the whole. I would have preferred that the first clues in tossups be a little harder, but the all-important "middle clues" were nearly perfect in most questions, and I didn't notice a lot of overly hard tossup answers. The statistics for the 2005 incarnation of this tournament showed that it had a huge problem with tossups going dead, so I'm happy to see that some major improvement was made in that area. It did seem that trash skewed a little harder/more niche than the academic categories, with marginal stuff like The Chieftains, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and some Broadway musical that no one on either of the top 2 teams had heard of being tossups. The bonuses were usually pretty good at progressive difficulty; some of the math/CS questions seemed to not have an easy part, but all the other subjects were consistently good. In minor distribution notes, I liked the way that current events questions on Mark Foley and Diebold were worked into the set in an intelligent fashion, and I didn't particularly care for the prominence of battle questions in the history tossups, though I will note that as far as battle questions go these were some very good ones.

As far as question quality goes, the bonuses were really outstanding. I personally prefer the longer bonus clues which were used, and I rarely had trouble following the logical flow of each bonus. I appreciated the use of proper English prose clues for every bonus, instead of abrupt matching prompts. The tossups had occasional weak spots with clue ordering, but the clues were very solid and there weren't many buzzer races or vague phrases.

I did notice a few 30-20-10s (including one on the author of the book that Planet of the Apes was based on, which was the only truly absurd question of the tournament) over the course of the day. I think that it's about time to retire that format as a relic of College Bowl that doesn't serve any real purpose in modern style untimed tournaments.

Overall, this set was a great deal better than the questions from last year's PARFAIT and I'd recommend future tournaments by this writing lineup to teams in the area.

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Post by QuizbowlPostmodernist »

Matt Weiner wrote:I did notice a few 30-20-10s (including one on the author of the book that Planet of the Apes was based on, which was the only truly absurd question of the tournament) over the course of the day.
Not having seen it, was it absurd because of the clues used or because you think Pierre Boulle is too hard of an answer? I can only think of two Boulle clues, Planet of the Apes and the book I've actually read, so I'm guessing the former.

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Post by ezubaric »

QuizbowlPostmodernist wrote:Not having seen it, was it absurd because of the clues used or because you think Pierre Boulle is too hard of an answer? I can only think of two Boulle clues, Planet of the Apes and the book I've actually read, so I'm guessing the former.
Here is the question:

15. Identify the novelist on a 30-20-10 basis.
30 Ears of the Jungle tells the tale of a wily North Vietnamese resistance leader who
uses the defoliating airstrikes of the U.S. to clear the way for a major highway to be
built after the war is over.
20 Based on his experiences as a WWII prisoner of war, he created Lt-Col. Nicholson,
who makes sure that the bridge he builds won’t be blown up in Bridge on the River Kwai.
10 He also wrote the story of Ulysse M´erou and his love interest Nova in The Planet of
the Apes.
Answer: Pierre Boulle
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Post by grapesmoker »

ezubaric wrote: 15. Identify the novelist on a 30-20-10 basis.
30 Ears of the Jungle tells the tale of a wily North Vietnamese resistance leader who
uses the defoliating airstrikes of the U.S. to clear the way for a major highway to be
built after the war is over.
20 Based on his experiences as a WWII prisoner of war, he created Lt-Col. Nicholson,
who makes sure that the bridge he builds won’t be blown up in Bridge on the River Kwai.
10 He also wrote the story of Ulysse M´erou and his love interest Nova in The Planet of
the Apes.
Answer: Pierre Boulle
The problem with this question is basically that both "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Planet of the Apes" are equally well known, so there's not much to distinguish the 20 from the 10. Perhaps a better way to write this would have been to make one part on Boulle from less well-known works, one part on "Bridge" and one part on "Nicholson" (this is just off the top of my head; there is likely to be a better way to write this question).

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Post by Nathan »

I enjoyed this tournament immensely, with one caveat:

the Caltech packets were poorly written and had an immensely skewed distribution.

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Post by grapesmoker »

I've only played on the 2005 set at practice, but I probably would have preferred that one just due to the answer selection. However, I understand that Princeton had specifically lowered the difficulty from last year, and overall I would agree with Matt that barring a few weird outliers, the difficulty was entirely appropriate for the target audience.

I do have a few quibbles with the questions. Overall, I thought that many packets had a couple of questions that relied on well-worn chestnuts that are far too well known to be first clues; Nabokov's chess hobby, for example, is as well-known as his butterfly collecting, and is a poor way to start that question. Other problems I saw involved mostly a mistaken placement of easy clues in the opening parts of a tossup. Examples that come to mind include the Golden Fleece tossup in which Phrixus and Helle were mentioned very early, a tossup on Heller that began with "Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man," (by no means his best-known work, but certainly one that someone with cursory Heller knowledge would be familiar with), and some others that I don't remember now but will note when I have the set.

The other issue was distribution. At one point, I counted two consecutive rounds without a proper physics tossup, and overall some packets appeared to have more of some things than of others and tended to skew in unpredictable ways.

That said, I think this was, overall, a very good tournament. The questions were, aforementioned examples excepted, for the most part well written, the difficulty was good for an opening fall event, and the whole thing was well-run by Princeton, especially given the confusion that ensued following the 3-way circle of death for who would play us in the final. My one logistical suggestion for future reference is that if a team is late to a tournament and misses the first round, don't read the packet to their opponents against empty chairs. Instead, save the packet until, say, lunchtime, and play that round then. Of course, this penalizes the opponent and the moderator a little by making them miss lunch, but sometimes unfortunate events prevent a team from making it to their match on time, and I think that's the fairest way to resolve such issues.

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Post by grapesmoker »

I should also note that PARFAIT II is the only tournament in my recent memory where "they both only have one leg" was a correct answer. That by itself is worth a lot.

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Post by Mike Bentley »

grapesmoker wrote:I should also note that PARFAIT II is the only tournament in my recent memory where "they both only have one leg" was a correct answer. That by itself is worth a lot.
Was this in one of the final two packets? I don't remember that one.

I liked that Computer Science finally got a healthy number of questions in this tournament, although the subjects were occassionally very difficult for an early fall tournament (such as the bonus whose first part asked about 'for alls' and 'there exists', I'm not sure who there would get more than 10 points on that one). It was also nice to see some Computer Science tossups as well, as it seems that most CS questions are relegated to bonuses when they appear at all.

As for the other subjects, most of the questions seemed accessible and well written. There were a few hoses in the tournament that were a little annoying (such as the MTV question which mentioned networks that were all owned by Viacom and the Monte Carlo question that didn't make it clear they weren't looking for a Western US City (Las Vegas)). Bonuses I thought were very good, and were for the most part even difficulty throughout the packets.

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Post by grapesmoker »

ikillkenny wrote:Was this in one of the final two packets? I don't remember that one.
Yeah, I think it was in the final packet that we played against VCU.

Also, props for the "hobos" tossup, a topic I've been trying to insert into the canon for some time.

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Post by Nathan »

actually the plethora of CS was part of the problem:

no packet should have both a tossup and a bonus on CS (combined with 4 science tossups and a math tossup)....combined with "geek trash"

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Post by ezubaric »

ikillkenny wrote:I liked that Computer Science finally got a healthy number of questions in this tournament, although the subjects were occassionally very difficult for an early fall tournament (such as the bonus whose first part asked about 'for alls' and 'there exists',
While I agree that CS is underrepresented, we probably went too far in terms of both quantity and difficulty. Both Dan and I find it too easy to write a CS question on short notice, and so we're going to make sure that we get all of the other science taken care of before we get to CS next year.

Yeah, Monte Carlo was bad because it wasn't clear that Las Vegas was the intersection of coRP and RP. The question originally said Las Vegas there, which was thought too early a clue, so it was changed to "western US city" to make it harder, but that made it seem like LV was the sought answer. Mea Culpa.
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Post by Mike Bentley »

Nathan wrote:actually the plethora of CS was part of the problem:

no packet should have both a tossup and a bonus on CS (combined with 4 science tossups and a math tossup)....combined with "geek trash"
Yeah, 1/1 Comp Sci is too much for a packet, and there was likely too much for the entire tournament, but I think 0/1 or 1/0 Comp Sci in nearly every packet is fine. Astronomy, another "other science" that is arguably as studied (perhaps even less these days) as much as CS, comes up at least as often as this.

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Post by cvdwightw »

grapesmoker wrote:I should also note that PARFAIT II is the only tournament in my recent memory where "they both only have one leg" was a correct answer. That by itself is worth a lot.
Especially considering the incorrect answers...

Anyway, I thought the tournament was well written in terms of pyramidality, bonuses (usually) not impossibly difficult or easy 30's, yada yada, what everyone else said. My issues are:

1) Like many people, I felt math/CS was over-represented in the science category at the expense of physics and maybe chemistry too. Just because CS is under-represented at just about every tournament doesn't mean that you get to reverse discriminate against other science topics. Enough flogging that horse.

2) The Caltech packets were not as good as the rest of the set, but they were still light-years beyond the median Technophobia packet last year.

3) Whatever happened to good grammar and eliminating redundancy? "[when] constant temperature is a constant", "[he] as well known than [some other dude]", and "he painted a self-portrait of himself" all came up as clues. I don't expect quiz bowl packets to have immaculate grammar, but when the moderator can't figure out what you mean by a clue or is laughing at the clues being tautologies, that's usually not a good sign.

4) Not referring to the questions themselves but the organization at Technophobia: What time in the morning did that schedule get thrown together? We spent the entirety of the tournament playing in 2 rooms; so did Stanford B. Stanford A had Yan moderating for every single one of their games. Please, even the room assignments out a little bit in case a team spends half the tournament with a moderator they can't understand.

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Post by Matt Weiner »

grapesmoker wrote:The problem with this question is basically that both "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Planet of the Apes" are equally well known, so there's not much to distinguish the 20 from the 10.
The problem I had with it is that, while those movies are well known, the author of the books on which they were based is not, and to write an entire bonus about him (rather than one in which the three answers are, perhaps, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Planet of the Apes, and Boule) is equivalent to writing an entire bonus on Peter George or Philip Van Doren Stern.

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Post by solonqb »

We stand guilty as charged as to the scheduling, Dwight. We'll try not to just crib it off some random round-robin site without looking next time.

I am aware that our packets may have been perceived as not as high-quality as the rest of the set. To that end, we are always looking for feedback to help improve, and please feel free to send any comments to narahman at caltech dot edu, where I assure you the relevant authors will receive them.
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Post by compucomp »

cvdwightw wrote: 4) Not referring to the questions themselves but the organization at Technophobia: What time in the morning did that schedule get thrown together? We spent the entirety of the tournament playing in 2 rooms; so did Stanford B. Stanford A had Yan moderating for every single one of their games. Please, even the room assignments out a little bit in case a team spends half the tournament with a moderator they can't understand.
What, nobody could understand what I was saying? Eric Smith seemed to do just fine hearing my words because he owned everything in my room. I do agree that next time I need to find a more balanced scheduling procedure.

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Post by solonqb »

He said in case, Yan, not necessarily implying anything about you, but rather a hypothetical that could happen next time if we keep doing this.
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Post by MikeWormdog »

Matt Weiner wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:The problem with this question is basically that both "Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Planet of the Apes" are equally well known, so there's not much to distinguish the 20 from the 10.
The problem I had with it is that, while those movies are well known, the author of the books on which they were based is not, and to write an entire bonus about him (rather than one in which the three answers are, perhaps, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Planet of the Apes, and Boule) is equivalent to writing an entire bonus on Peter George or Philip Van Doren Stern.
Is he not "well known" simply because Matt doesn't (or didn't at the time) know who Pierre Boulle is? I don't think the authors of Dr. Strangelove or It's A Wonderful Life comparisons apply in this case, in that they were one-hit wonders, and the books on which they were based aren't nearly as popular as Boulle's. A better analogy would be a 30-20-10 bonus on James M. Cain or Anita Loos, whose fairly well known books are better known as movies.

Planet of the Apes is best known for being a movie, especially in this country, but The Bridge on the River Kwai was also (and still is to some extent) a very popular book. While I wasn't at Princeton this weekend, I have heard Boulle questions come up before, even in high school tournaments way back when. Maybe he hasn't come up in a while, though, I don't know.

Still, I think Matt's right in regard in his anti-30-20-10 stance, and the bonus would be better the way he (or Jerry) structured it.

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Post by QB-dinosaur »

compucomp wrote: What, nobody could understand what I was saying? Eric Smith seemed to do just fine hearing my words because he owned everything in my room. I do agree that next time I need to find a more balanced scheduling procedure.
Yan--you are by _far_ the most cogent moderator at Technophobia. You alone accomplished all of the following:
1. Reading at a moderate pace (not too fast or too slow)
2. Refraining from jokes between questions
3. Not slurring words together
4. Pronouncing foreign-language words clearly and phonetically

I think Dwight is referring to someone else that day.

Willie

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