FICHTE discussion

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FICHTE discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

The tournament is now open for discussion.

Let me acknowledge ahead of time that the last few packets had some very strange attempts at spelling that probably made things difficult for moderators. Sorry about that.

Otherwise...I think the difficulty was not quite as crazy as I feared, judging from the stats I saw, and perhaps came closer statistically to the actual ICT than it might have initially appeared. What did everyone who played think?

Oh, and there's a version of the packets-as-used going around, so anyone who has them can feel free to distribute. I'll be posting an official version with some of the more egregious mechanical mistakes cleaned up in a little while.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

I wasn't playing in this tournament, but it did seem a bit on the harder side of NAQT. Looking at the DI ICT stats last year, the bonuses were significantly harder than at the ICT. The top teams in the tournament had conversion that was relatively in line with the ICT, but middle of the road teams really suffered a big drop in conversion. UNC, for instance, is probably a team that would be at least making the middle brackets of the ICT, but they only converted 9 PPB at this tournament. At the ICT, these teams were probably in the 12-14 PPB range.

Considered as a warm up to both ICT and ACF Nationals this tournament probably hit its difficulty mark. But if it was just suppossed to be an ICT warm up, which the title and announcement sort of indicated, I think this tournament was at least a notch more difficult than advertised.

The reason for this is probably more consistent question writing overall. As has been discussed over and over again, NAQT collegiate sets usually have huge problems with difficulty consistency. While there are questions in the ICT that are harder than the typical FICHTE question, there are also a bunch more that are way easier (at least when you get to the cute giveaway) which at least gives teams the impression that the tournament is more accessible.

But besides the difficulty issues, most of the questions seemed very enjoyable and there were only a handful of things that really stood out as being anti-pryamidal or way on one end of the difficulty.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by aestheteboy »

I'm not quite sure how the difficulty of this tournament was relative to other college tournaments, but I was able to leave with optimism (i.e. "if this is about the hardest college quizbowl gets, then it can't be that bad...").
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Strongside »

FICHTE was an awesome tournament set, and it was fun to play a tournament of its difficulty level. Thanks to Matt and Jerry for working hard on the set.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

I'd like to hear some discussion of the science, particularly the chemistry and "other" distributions. As a non-expert in those categories I tried my best to make the questions work but of course I'm interested in any criticism.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by btressler »

I too thought this was a good tournament. I agree with Mike that difficulty seemed slightly too hard, but not by much (especially bonuses).

I got beat to the punch on The Tudors tossup. I had decided that I was putting one in my next trash packet, and would have used almost the same clues to start it. Kinda scary.

For the most part, the science seemed reasonable. Almost all of the math / computer science that we heard got powered, but CMU's team was heavy in those categories (what a shocker) so I guess we're not a team to measure by.

All in all, please do this again.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

I played about half of the set with Stanford's A team for ICT. While my ignorance of the science is to be expected, they seemed to think that a lot of it was over the top, difficulty-wise.

By the way, I know that the set was written to approximate the NAQT distribution; did you also try to follow NAQT's limits on tossup length? If so, I think the set was interesting in illustrating some of the challenges to writing good questions in this style. I'm thinking here of things like the John Ashbery tossup, which featured what I recall as a precipitous plunge from description of a very minor Ashbery book, to cursory description of his most famous poem, to "For 10 points ..."
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I played about half of the set with Stanford's A team for ICT. While my ignorance of the science is to be expected, they seemed to think that a lot of it was over the top, difficulty-wise.
This is actually somewhat surprising to me, since I intentionally lowballed the difficulty of the science questions; I was afraid of making them too hard. It seemed to me that the humanities questions were quite a bit harder overall. I'd be interested to hear from those who thought it was too hard.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Yes, the average length of the NAQT tossups in sets I have access to was emulated.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Out of science categories, the only one I'm very good at recognizing things in is biology, and this set seemed to me to have a lot of hard bio.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Oh, another thing too, but was it intentional that Latin Amerincan lit seemed like it was a lot more represented than most other world lit categories? It seemed like pretty much every base was covered in that category.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Deesy Does It wrote:Out of science categories, the only one I'm very good at recognizing things in is biology, and this set seemed to me to have a lot of hard bio.
You'll have to talk to Ray Luo about that. I only contributed one bio bonus. Also, I think we forgot thank Dwight for contributing some questions along the way, so, thanks Dwight.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

The science tossups seemed to be pretty reasonable, the bonuses maybe on the harder side.

Things that stood out with the science tossups:

Markov - Chains was mentioned in the power, and that's one of the things he's most famous for. Also I don't know anyone else who has namesake chains.

Clemmenson - I only know one thing about the Clemmenson reaction, and that is that it takes place in strong acid solutions or something. This was also put in the power of the question.

Pointers - Saying "dangling" so early was a poor decision, as I hear even Chris Ray was buzzer racing on this clue.

Those are the only things that I really remember being way out of place, but it's possible there were a few more.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Oh yeah, powers in general were pretty stingy at this tournament. It's not that big of a deal since they were consistent for the most part, but if the goal was to award them at a similar rate to DI ICT, I think that fell a little short.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

grapesmoker wrote:It seemed to me that the humanities questions were quite a bit harder overall. I'd be interested to hear from those who thought it was too hard.
I don't remember any real qualms with the humanities tossups, but I did have an observation about the bonuses. A number of them were "reasonable part" "reasonable part" "part almost nobody is going to get." (I'm thinking here of questions like the Alan Sillitoe and Max Frisch bonuses, where the third part was "name this very minor work from a description.") God knows I've been guilty of this kind of thing myself, and on the face of it such a bonus can look reasonable. You describe what you know to be a relatively well-known work (say, "Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner") in the first section, using clues which aren't entirely transparent: that's a nice middle difficulty part. Then you ask for the author, which is clearly the easy part. And then you ask for some other work, which is obviously the hard part. The problem here is that the "hard" part is not so much "hard" as "unanswerable for almost everyone at the tournament." Sillitoe wrote about 40 books, only two or three of which have any recognizability (unless you are a hard-core Sillitoe devotee). So a question on some random other Sillitoe book is essentially going to go unanswered, unless there happens to be a person at the tournament who is, again, a hard-core Sillitoe-phile.

I think a better thing to do is to describe the random, very obscure book in the bonus lead-in, and then say "First, name this author of [random, very obscure book] who also did X," where X is a clue which tips the knowledgeable player off to the fact that the question is talking about an Angry Young Man.

Another intelligent way of avoiding the Impossible Third Part problem was nicely exemplified by the George Washington Cable bonus. The first part asked for Old Creole Days in a good way (i.e., it wasn't blatant, but a reasonably well-informed player could work out the answer from the clues given). The second part asked for Cable, which again is a fine easy part. And then the third part asked not for some unknown-to-all-but-Ezequiel-Berdichevsky Cable work (e.g. "John March, Southerner"), but rather for Bras-Coupe, a character from his best-known work. That's a better kind of "hard" part because it represents a deepening of the canon, rather than a random walk through some arbitrarily chosen titles.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

grapesmoker wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote:I played about half of the set with Stanford's A team for ICT. While my ignorance of the science is to be expected, they seemed to think that a lot of it was over the top, difficulty-wise.
This is actually somewhat surprising to me, since I intentionally lowballed the difficulty of the science questions; I was afraid of making them too hard. It seemed to me that the humanities questions were quite a bit harder overall. I'd be interested to hear from those who thought it was too hard.
The physics, other science, and chemistry was exactly at the right difficulty, and definitely hovered somewhere right below the humanities questions; there were quite a few individual questions in those categories did throw me for a loop:
-A tossup on the Edman degradation discussing the Merrifield synthesis in the first line (which lead me to neg with that)
-The leadin for the aldol condensation tossup wasn't great, but its a short question, its ok to start with an easy clue I suppose.
-The surfactants question; I'm not quite sure what to think of it. I negged with micelles because the question described the critical micelle concentration at the beginning, but I'm not sure how much of that was the question and how much was me being retarded.
-There's gotta be a better leadin for Fermat's Little Theorem than RSA encryption.
-The leadin to the clemmensen reduction tossup also applies to Wolff-kishner.

There were several interesting tossups in said categories (recursive, Arrhenius - with a new leadin!, ylides, QCD, Onsager, chelates, etc), and overall it was very well done. I was also shocked at the lack of love for Andre Geim in the Meissner effect tossup.

Now the biology. Charlie is right in saying the bio was very difficult:
-The Organ of Corti tossup was downright shocking. I negged with cochlea off of the Reissner's membrane clue because I didn't think any internal structures were tossuppable at this level (I maintain it should be promptable there); I was sorely mistaken. I'm glad it came up, but I think it may have made a better hard part of a bonus.
-Sphingolipids? Really? I understand they're important, but you could have at least given a decent giveaway (that they're named after the Sphinx) rather than them being "mysterious" (what the hell does that even mean?).
-The imprinting tossup was good; my only complaint is that DNA methylation is viable there too.
-What's a lophophore?

The humanities questions were, for the most part, very interesting and addressed a great cross-section of the canon. I was really pleased that things like Word and Object, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, "Colorless green ideas sleep furiously" (!!), "A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings", Ashbery, Bocklin, the Shimibara revolt, the affair of the placards, etc., etc., etc. came up, and more than once I was pleasantly surprised to hear a particular answer come up after having read about it or having practiced on it. I do believe the bonuses were very hard, considering that Maryland A barely cracked 18ppb with two players who put up an excess of 10 powers each, but that's certainly not a bad thing.

This brings me to a general observation about this tournament in relation to last year's ICT: I had much more fun, and feel like I learned a lot more. I'm not 100% sure whether it was my teammates (which included people who knew things like sports and geography), or the superior quality of the writing, or the field at Maryland that was responsible for this. In general, I felt that this tournament seemed to iron out many of the complaints that people have in general about the NAQT college product, like poor clues, odd answer choices, difficulty issues, weird clue ordering, disconnect from the general college canon, etc. The issues of distribution, speed and length/difficulty cliffs, which I believe are inherent to the format, were of course still there, but they seemed to only minimally detract from what was a very good set.

I believe the purpose of the experiment was to show that an NAQT-style tournament can be "good"; in that sense, I believe it was a success. I hope that something similar is done next year, and I also hope that the writing of the SCT and ICT can be more like this tournament; it might make it worth the plane ticket.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by SnookerUSF »

Having played at the Chattanooga mirror the week prior- my memory is a bit hazy, but I will say my only genuine complaint systematically about the questions, was the occasional lack of prompts, acceptable answers, etc. at least not to the same level as I have come to expect from such editors. I imagine some additional polish was placed on the questions in the subsequent week.

BUT, what I am really interested in is the editors' point of view. As I understood this event, part of the idea, perhaps even most of the idea was to reveal all of what the style had to offer, and thus I ask for some debriefing. What did you think about writing questions in the "NAQT inspired" style? Did you run into special difficulties, did you learn anything about NAQT as a format itself? After writing an entire tournament in that format, would you do it again?
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by cvdwightw »

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:-The Organ of Corti tossup was downright shocking. I negged with cochlea off of the Reissner's membrane clue because I didn't think any internal structures were tossuppable at this level (I maintain it should be promptable there); I was sorely mistaken.
On one hand, I completely agree with you. On the other hand, you're wrong. There's more to the cochlea than the organ of Corti, but not a whole lot. That said, Reissner's membrane is one of those things that is inside the cochlea but not the organ of Corti, and the question mentions the structure being "Joined from above by the Reissner membrane", not containing said membrane (at least, the version I have does). It shouldn't be promptable or acceptable at all; however, it probably is at the hard end for a tossup answer at that level. You didn't get hosed, the packet just won.

My contributions only amounted to about half the chemistry; had I had more time or been a more efficient writer I could have probably edited the rest of Jerry's chem. The aforementioned aldol condensation was mine, and I thought it was probably the easiest of the chem. I also did my darnedest to avoid any mention of a pre-exponential factor in the Arrhenius equation question, so I'm proud of that coming out so well.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

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ToStrikeInfinitely wrote: The physics, other science, and chemistry was exactly at the right difficulty, and definitely hovered somewhere right below the humanities questions; there were quite a few individual questions in those categories did throw me for a loop:
Like Ahmad, I played these a week ago, and we only heard 11 rounds. We also never really got through more than 20 tossups in a round either, and I believe there was some reworking done in the last week on some things I mentioned to Matt. That said, from what I heard, I'd say I agree with Eric's statement here. On the whole, the science skewed easier than humanities, but not drastically so. There was one azeotrope/Raoult's Law/Henry's Law bonus that I mentioned should be changed for this weekend, so hopefully it was. It was damn near impossible to get a science power when we played them, but the power marks on science were actually adjusted during the week, or at least that was mentioned to me as being the plan.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:-The surfactants question; I'm not quite sure what to think of it. I negged with micelles because the question described the critical micelle concentration at the beginning, but I'm not sure how much of that was the question and how much was me being retarded.
I did the same. It really sounded as if it were going for micelles as the answer, so I don't think it was just you. I did this like 5 other times too, negging with an answer that was then read later in the question. I think this question was the only time that, looking back, it was really justified by the wording. Other things included saying strong force for QCD and something about superconductivity for Meissner effect.

ToStrikeInfinitely wrote: Now the biology. Charlie is right in saying the bio was very difficult:
-The Organ of Corti tossup was downright shocking. I negged with cochlea off of the Reissner's membrane clue because I didn't think any internal structures were tossuppable at this level (I maintain it should be promptable there); I was sorely mistaken. I'm glad it came up, but I think it may have made a better hard part of a bonus.
I remember this being a tossup at ACF Nats '03, and I negged there with cochlea. I have no idea why I remember this, but I do. That was back in my like 7 ppg days, so maybe each buzz has more room in my memory... Anyway, I got it right this time, but it is probably too hard for a tossup.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote: -Sphingolipids? Really? I understand they're important, but you could have at least given a decent giveaway (that they're named after the Sphinx) rather than them being "mysterious" (what the hell does that even mean?).
-The imprinting tossup was good; my only complaint is that DNA methylation is viable there too.
-What's a lophophore?
Yeah, what he said.

As far as other areas of the distribution go, I thought fine arts was quite good. Is Bocklin perhaps a bit hard for a tossup though? I think I was the only one who got that at UTC, and I'm curious whether any of his non-Isle of the Dead stuff ever comes up that I've missed. The only lit question that felt pretty out there, even considering my non-specialty status with lit, was the bonus where "Bunin" was the easy part, but that may have been changed as well. History, SS, geography, etc. all seemed fine. That time I read all about the geography of Tajikistan finally paid off with my first power of the day on the Pamirs. The pop culture and general knowledge stuff was fun, and accessible for people in college, and a lot less "old" trash than is sometimes in NAQT. Sports was considerably easier than the rest last week, though. I mentioned that to Matt, so again, that may have changed.

My only other comment is about bonus length. I know tossup length was restricted to NAQT specs, but most of the bonuses were still ACF style, and this contributed largely to our not getting through as many questions as we otherwise could. Granted, the readers we had weren't the fastest ever (but hardly incompetent), but cutting down the prompt lengths I think would have been nice.

Thanks Matt and Jerry for your work. Although it would've been nice not to have to wait for questions in the afternoon, we still had a good time playing.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

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SnookerUSF wrote:BUT, what I am really interested in is the editors' point of view. As I understood this event, part of the idea, perhaps even most of the idea was to reveal all of what the style had to offer, and thus I ask for some debriefing. What did you think about writing questions in the "NAQT inspired" style? Did you run into special difficulties, did you learn anything about NAQT as a format itself? After writing an entire tournament in that format, would you do it again?
The event was mostly what it was advertised as- a reasonable opportunity to write questions harder than what I usually work on, and a way for teams to get warmed up for the national tournaments. I didn't really have the luxury of too many grand philosophical declarations about what NAQT/quizbowl should be, and I hope no one thought that was the purpose here. Personally, I found the NAQT tossup length limits very hard to work with in certain categories, particularly in literature. Including a few clues just before FTP that hint at what a person is best-known for, before actually giving the title, is something I normally do in ACF format, but often there just wasn't space for that here and tossups became more prone to difficulty drop-offs as a result.

Probably the least enjoyable part of the writing process was coming up with the answers for 27/27 current events. I am unconvinced that there really are 54 things going on in the world at any given time that are worth knowing about and that one can write good questions on. I wasn't particularly proud of the Senatorial Elections Bowl that I found myself relying on as a result. We've seen a lot of questions on "trash or general knowledge that occurred recently" put into this category at official NAQT events, and it should be apparent why--there isn't really any way to fill it with academic current events without getting too hard or stylistically repetitive (I chose the latter over the former). At least with trash and geography, there's a pretty infinite well of possible answers, but with CE I think dropping the quota even from the current average of 3 questions per packet to an average of 2 might really help the set in terms of lessening the temptation to write trash for a non-trash category.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by setht »

I only played the first 16 packets, and we averaged just under 21 tossups heard/game, so there are plenty of questions I haven't heard in the set. Here are some comments on what I did hear.
Matt Weiner wrote:Otherwise...I think the difficulty was not quite as crazy as I feared, judging from the stats I saw, and perhaps came closer statistically to the actual ICT than it might have initially appeared. What did everyone who played think?
The tossup answers in general did not seem out of line, difficulty-wise. There were some categories (I'm thinking mostly of biology here) that seemed to have a larger number of truly hard tossup answers, and there were some questions here and there that had some issues with pyramid smoothness (things were pyramidal, but went from a really hard clue directly to a not-at-all hard clue), but I thought tossup difficulty overall was pretty good. Bonus difficulty seemed a little more variable: there were bonuses where a 30 was hard, but reasonably so; then there were bonuses where getting 30 was crazy hard. I think Mike's right that the bonus difficulty wasn't too out of line for the top teams at the Maryland and UIUC sites (with the exception of occasional bonuses that were pretty much impossible to 30), but it looks like it was a bit much for teams in the next tier. I also agree with Mike that powers were clearly stingier than at ICT, but that seems like a very minor issue to me.
grapesmoker wrote:
Birdofredum Sawin wrote: I played about half of the set with Stanford's A team for ICT. While my ignorance of the science is to be expected, they seemed to think that a lot of it was over the top, difficulty-wise.
This is actually somewhat surprising to me, since I intentionally lowballed the difficulty of the science questions; I was afraid of making them too hard. It seemed to me that the humanities questions were quite a bit harder overall. I'd be interested to hear from those who thought it was too hard.
I don't really know enough about bio to be sure about this, but my impression is that there were several bio questions that were over the top. I actually thought there were several chem questions, especially physical chemistry, that were noticeably weaker than much of the other stuff (e.g. Arrhenius equation [I'll get back to this], the bonus with answers azeotrope/Raoult's law/Henry's law [and now that I'm looking at the questions, it looks like there's an almost identical bonus in another packet with a much harder third part]). The math, earth science and astro mostly seemed fine.

Now for a nitpick on commentary:
Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Clemmenson - I only know one thing about the Clemmenson reaction, and that is that it takes place in strong acid solutions or something. This was also put in the power of the question.
I don't think this is a valid complaint as it stands. If you mean that too many people know about the Clemmenson reaction taking place in strong acid solutions or something for that to be put inside the power mark, say that. If you go out and memorize one hard clue about something that you know nothing else about, that doesn't make it inappropriate for use as a hard clue. Also, I'll go out on a limb here and guess that there's at least one other reaction that takes place in strong acid solutions. Help me out here, people with real ultimate chem knowledge.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:Arrhenius - with a new leadin!
Actually, I thought this tossup was pretty weak--it did have a new lead-in, which is nice, but after that there was nothing definite or buzzable until "Eyring equation," at which point there was a buzzer race in the game where I heard that question. Did it play better in your room? I know at least 2 of 11 teams at the UIUC site knew the answer off that clue but not the lead-in, and I'm guessing at least one more team also knew the answer off that clue but not the lead-in; I realize this is a ridiculously small sample to try to make inferences from, but it didn't seem to me like a particularly successful tossup. I don't mean to rain on your parade, Dwight--I have no ideas off the top of my head of how to find a better second clue for an Arrhenius equation tossup, and it's entirely possible that Eyring is fine as the second clue, but it didn't feel that way at the time.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:-Sphingolipids? Really? I understand they're important, but you could have at least given a decent giveaway (that they're named after the Sphinx) rather than them being "mysterious" (what the hell does that even mean?).
I'm not a fan of the question or the giveaway, but I think it does refer to the Sphinx (via an alternate usage of sphinx to denote mysterious/enigmatic stuff, like Thomas Jefferson).
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:This brings me to a general observation about this tournament in relation to last year's ICT: I had much more fun, and feel like I learned a lot more. I'm not 100% sure whether it was my teammates (which included people who knew things like sports and geography)
I think this makes a bigger difference than most people realize--I've certainly noticed enjoying NAQT events more or less as my teammates varied between 3 people that, like me, know almost nothing about geography/trash/current events, to (say) Jeff Hoppes/Jon Pennington/David Farris, who took out very large swaths of those 3 categories. There's a pretty big difference between playing (m)ACF events where you can expect to hear something like 2-4 such questions (tossups and bonuses) per round, and playing NAQT events where you can expect to hear something more like 8+ per round: I think when you don't have someone killing those questions and you're trying to cudgel your brains for those answers so much more often, it noticeably detracts from the playing experience, especially for people that are used to playing lots of (m)ACF events each year and at most 2 NAQT events.
ToStrikeInfinitely wrote:I believe the purpose of the experiment was to show that an NAQT-style tournament can be "good"; in that sense, I believe it was a success. I hope that something similar is done next year, and I also hope that the writing of the SCT and ICT can be more like this tournament
I think this is an interesting point, and ties in with some of the discussion over on the private post-SCT discussion board that I don't think really made it back over here. I feel there have been previous NAQT tournaments that have shown that an NAQT-style tournament can be good, but let's leave that aside. I agree with Eric that this was a good NAQT-style question set, I would enjoy playing a similar event next year, and I hope future SCT and ICT sets can share more of the strengths of this tournament while avoiding its (few) weaknesses. Having said that, I would argue that spending "circuit capital" in the form of having a group of veterans write 18 packets for an ICT warm-up is less worthwhile than investing an equivalent amount of man-hours, distributed over a bunch of circuit players, into submitting lots of questions for SCT and ICT sets. For one thing, people make more of an effort to come out to SCT and ICT; if you want to see the top teams compete on your questions, you'd do better to write for SCT/ICT. If enough people get into this, I think we could really help NAQT put together solid SCT and ICT sets and also produce a good ICT warm-up set. That's what I'd really like to see, but if there's only enough energy to produce one ICT's worth of good questions, I'd rather see them at ICT.

Moving back into question discussion: as I said, most of the astro seemed fine. The Triton tossup, however, seemed noticeably weaker. I'm not really sure what to make of the first sentence--it seems very unlikely that it's uniquely identifying, to say the least (also, pet peeve moment: what is the word "notable" doing there? Are Triton's plains flatter than Kansas or particularly noteworthy for some reason? Am I supposed to use "notable" as a heads-up to get ready to buzz on "flat plains" or something?). Then there's the Lassell clue, which is fine, but it's not so fine if it's possibly the only truly uniquely identifying clue before "largest moon of Neptune," and I'm pretty certain that "atmosphere of nitrogen and ammonia" and "icy volcanism" are not uniquely identifying: Titan and Pluto have atmospheres of nitrogen and ammonia (Titan's isn't thin by most standards, Pluto's is), and there may be others; there are similarly many objects in the solar system that exhibit cryovolcanism. Actually, now that I've started looking things up, it would appear that even the Lassell clue is not uniquely identifying on its own, since he apparently discovered a couple other moons. I think most of the other science tossups did a better job of constructing a solid pyramid of clues most or all of which were uniquely identifying on their own. I would urge Jerry or anyone else trying to write "solar system geography" tossups to put in multiple clues that you are sure are uniquely identifying without being too vague (the first sentence might be uniquely identifying, but it seems akin to the "His paintings display his mastery of line and color" type lead-ins that were thrown out a while ago). If you can't make a decent pyramid with clues of that type, pick a different hunk of rock to write on or consider writing on some other topic of astro.

Myth tossups: I think the "single-topic" questions were generally stronger than the common-link tossups in this category. Berserkers (which may not have been put in as myth, I'm not sure), swallowing the sun, shoes and war gods didn't seem as good as other myth questions. I think they often fell into the trap of using up too much space on very minor mythologies, then having an even more compressed descent from lead-in/near lead-in level clues down to the giveaway. Actually, I don't think berserkers fell into this trap; that one just seemed transparent--if there's some other group of Norse savages that I should be aware of, please let me know.

I'm sure I'm forgetting some more comments and nitpicks that occurred to me during the tournament, but I'll stop now and declare this a fine tournament with much merit.

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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

setht wrote: Actually, I don't think berserkers fell into this trap; that one just seemed transparent--if there's some other group of Norse savages that I should be aware of, please let me know.
You slight the Ulfhethnar!

Berserkers was GK since it used history, lit, and myth clues and was on a sort of GK-ish topic.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by fett0001 »

setht wrote:Also, I'll go out on a limb here and guess that there's at least one other reaction that takes place in strong acid solutions. Help me out here, people with real ultimate chem knowledge.

At the moment, all I can come up with is nitration of aromatics, but there are more that I've forgotten since ochem 2 years ago.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

In regards to Clemmenson and the placement of that acidic clue, my comment was meant to imply I don't know anything substantial about organic chemistry, but I do know that clue because I've heard it so many times near giveaways.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:In regards to Clemmenson and the placement of that acidic clue, my comment was meant to imply I don't know anything substantial about organic chemistry, but I do know that clue because I've heard it so many times near giveaways.
I honestly had no idea this was that well known. I figured there are probably multiple reactions that take place in acidic environments, but that clue together with the zinc catalyst would be enough for people who know chemistry.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

A few things:

1. I think Mike's probably right about Clemmensen, he's not buzzing off of a "hard clue" - he's making a pretty reasonable assumption off of a really easy clue, so his point that maybe it shouldn't have been where it was is valid.

2. Organ of Corti is not hard.

3. This tournament was, by and large, quite good and I enjoyed myself. It was way better than any real NAQT event has ever been or will ever be, and nothing's going to change that, so let's not pretend it will. Instead, let's just play good tournaments.

4. The NAQT distribution is just plain dumb and having to work with it in writing a tourney would be a chore. Current events up the wazoo, forget about fine arts/philosophy/myth/soc sci - yep, all reasonable people agree that sucks balls. Length limits and clocks suck too.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

setht wrote:Moving back into question discussion: as I said, most of the astro seemed fine. The Triton tossup, however, seemed noticeably weaker. I'm not really sure what to make of the first sentence--it seems very unlikely that it's uniquely identifying, to say the least (also, pet peeve moment: what is the word "notable" doing there? Are Triton's plains flatter than Kansas or particularly noteworthy for some reason? Am I supposed to use "notable" as a heads-up to get ready to buzz on "flat plains" or something?). Then there's the Lassell clue, which is fine, but it's not so fine if it's possibly the only truly uniquely identifying clue before "largest moon of Neptune," and I'm pretty certain that "atmosphere of nitrogen and ammonia" and "icy volcanism" are not uniquely identifying: Titan and Pluto have atmospheres of nitrogen and ammonia (Titan's isn't thin by most standards, Pluto's is), and there may be others; there are similarly many objects in the solar system that exhibit cryovolcanism. Actually, now that I've started looking things up, it would appear that even the Lassell clue is not uniquely identifying on its own, since he apparently discovered a couple other moons. I think most of the other science tossups did a better job of constructing a solid pyramid of clues most or all of which were uniquely identifying on their own. I would urge Jerry or anyone else trying to write "solar system geography" tossups to put in multiple clues that you are sure are uniquely identifying without being too vague (the first sentence might be uniquely identifying, but it seems akin to the "His paintings display his mastery of line and color" type lead-ins that were thrown out a while ago). If you can't make a decent pyramid with clues of that type, pick a different hunk of rock to write on or consider writing on some other topic of astro.
Yeah, that was not a good question. I really had trouble with this and didn't want to resort to "it has such and such albedo and this orbital period" and I'm not even sure why I tried to write one of these, since it's actually the kind of question I really hate myself. In retrospect, proper names of various features of Triton would have been more useful clues. I think in the future I will just avoid writing solar geography tossups.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Brian Ulrich »

Matt Weiner wrote:Probably the least enjoyable part of the writing process was coming up with the answers for 27/27 current events. I am unconvinced that there really are 54 things going on in the world at any given time that are worth knowing about and that one can write good questions on. I wasn't particularly proud of the Senatorial Elections Bowl that I found myself relying on as a result. We've seen a lot of questions on "trash or general knowledge that occurred recently" put into this category at official NAQT events, and it should be apparent why--there isn't really any way to fill it with academic current events without getting too hard or stylistically repetitive (I chose the latter over the former). At least with trash and geography, there's a pretty infinite well of possible answers, but with CE I think dropping the quota even from the current average of 3 questions per packet to an average of 2 might really help the set in terms of lessening the temptation to write trash for a non-trash category.
[/quote]

Since I wrote almost all the ICT's world CE and a majority of the U.S., I can sympathize with you here. I think, however, it's especially difficult for a single individual in a short period of time. Unlike most categories, there's no reference work you can look through to inspire yourself. I'm a regular reader of Foreign Policy's Passport's "Morning Brief" and the Christian Science Monitor, but that simply doesn't get you very far, and even expanding to the BBC during periods of intense CE writing leaves holes. I at least wound up using my imagination on things that I knew could be answered, and then search through the past few months of news to see if anything could be arranged in a good pyramidal toss-up. If, on the other hand, more people contributed regularly from their regular means of taking in information, I think the problem would go away. Of the stuff in ICT, there are a couple of questions I'm not happy with; I plan to read through your set to see what things I might have written about but didn't.

LATE ADDITION: It was just pointed out the above paragraph was probably a mistake to post at this point. Any damage seems done, but in the larger picture, my point is that the things I normally do tend not to get you very far, and didn't, so hopefully it won't matter.

Also, one thing you might not be aware of is that the distribution include:

1/1 Artistic Current Events, designed to cover things like art thefts, awards, the Smithsonian mess, and community or national arts issues (This still has never clicked in terms of quality like I want it to, though I blame that on the general problem with not having enough people writing regularly)
1/1 Business Current Events, on the belief that the world of high finance matters (Last year's Best Buy aside, this usually goes over fairly well. This is also the only one of these three allowed to bleed into the general current events distribution if we have extras)
3/3 Science Current Events - This is probably where we're the worst, and where the past couple of days have convinced me I'm part of the problem - not only am I not qualified to judge the importance of most of the random studies people write about, but my difficulty judgments are apparently awful. Last year I assumed Webb Telescope would be widely known at the college level; this year I apparently misjudged the other way, as various people involved with the ICT editing process felt stuff I thought of as ICT-level definitely wasn't. This is also usually the last to be filled, as I don't think most science writers really think about potential CE much, and those of us who are CE-oriented aren't scientists.

In any case, part of my reason for posting the above was to get some feedback, as while the above seems fine for hs, I'm not sure it's the right balance among those three for college. You might want to wait until after ICT to see how things play.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by ktour84 »

Brian Ulrich wrote:1/1 Artistic Current Events, designed to cover things like art thefts, awards, the Smithsonian mess, and community or national arts issues (This still hasn't clicked in terms of quality like I want it to, though I blame that on the general problem with not having enough people writing regularly)
I would have liked questions of this type, but there's a great deal of overlap with NAQT's Fine Arts distribution. Some of the more important stories that would fall into this category including Alice Walton's attempt to buy The Gross Clinic, her successful purchase of Kindred Spirits, and the current Fisk Collection litigation (O'Keefe's Radiator Building all would be good clues for TUs on those paintings and their creators. The ongoing return of antiquities to Italy and Greece by American museums would fall into this category as well. As far as prizes, sometimes there's a question on the winners of the Pritzker Prize in the FA distribution.
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Re: FICHTE discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Somewhat better-proofread versions of the packets are now free at http://www.hsquizbowl.org/fichte.zip .
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