Chicago Open Discussion

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Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Discussion of Chi Open may begin now, all mirrors (all one of them) are complete.

Let me first explain what happened regarding half of the science distribution at CO. Matt Keller was responsible for 2/2 per packet of bio and chem, and I think he did his job really well (as he always does as an editor)...I didn't hear anyone complain about those questions. Steven Canning was responsible for the other 2/2 science including physics/math/astro/other, and he did not do his job. That's putting it lightly. As a result, I was forced to do some emergency maneuvering with the set - I did my best in the remaining one day to edit the original submissions in Steven's categories, and I pilfered questions from a few teams who I suspected would not be in the finals to put those questions in the finals packets. I had plenty of questions, but what ended up happening was a significantly lower distribution of physics/math/etc. than other subjects. I apologize for that, it's not fair to those who excel at those subjects and were undoubtedly negatively impacted by their relative absence.

What's most frustrating to me about the situation is not that Steven flaked out, or his inexperience as an editor, which I was well aware of - it's that he absolutely failed to give me any warning that he was not going to deliver - worse than that, he three times (including once a week before the tourney) indicated to me that everything was going fine and would be done on time. Even worse than that, he proved to be impossible to contact, so it was impossible for me to determine what needed to be done - I emailed him upwards of 10-15 times, called his cell phone a bunch of times leaving messages, and contacted everyone in the community who might know how to get a hold of him - he simply didn't respond. Had I known that he would fail to deliver on the questions, even five or six days in advance, I could have made plans by searching for someone else to pick up the slack - or even by writing some questions of my own in those areas (which would have been pretty unfortunate, as those are not things I can write on competently). If this sounds like another throwing-under-the-bus scenario in qb history...well, it is. To put it flatly, I've never been so angry at any development during the entire time I've played quizbowl - and I speak as someone who went through the great Nationals science fiasco. It made what could have been a very pleasant week leading up to CO for me a complete and utter pain in the ass.

Now, with that unpleasantness out of the way, feel free to comment on anything regarding CO. On the logistics side of things, I want to say that I think things went really well - as well as anyone could have expected for the absolute marathon of 17 rounds that we played. Thanks to all of the readers who did a really great job - Lane Silberstein, Kathleen Kuo, Peter Onyisi, Margo, Damon Wang, and especially Evan Silberman and Katy Peters, and everyone else who helped read and staff too. Also, thanks to Donald Taylor, who was extremely helpful and did a great job through a long day of statkeeping for the tourney. Congratulations to the Weiner superteam who won the tournament on a finals packet that was quite likely (at least I intended it to be) the hardest legitimate packet written to this date (legit means I'm not counting VETO packets). I hope everyone enjoyed the event, as much of a never-ending gauntlet as it was.

I know a few people have told me that they wanted feedback on the packets they submitted to the event - that's no problem, I'm more than willing to give a brief question-by-question analysis and say why I edited or cut certain questions or anything like that. I've already recorded the emails of some people who wanted this, but if you also do - just drop me a line at [email protected] and tell me what you wrote for which packet. I want to say that, in general, I thought the packets that teams submitted to this event were really great - way better than I expected - and way better than I think would have been the case a couple years ago - it's the reason why I ended up running an insane full round robin, I had the packets to do it (well, and because, I secretly wanted to run the round robin - but I still needed enough good packets to be able to). I was particularly pleased with packets from a few teams who I wouldn't necessarily count on, judging by experience, to be able to write good packets, at least at this level - that includes the packets sent by the Dorman team, Chris Carter's team, and Greg Peterson's team, among others.

I'll respond to any discussion here as it progresses too.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Oops, I mean Katy Peters, not Peterson. And drat, I still can't seem to edit my posts on this computer. Oh, well.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by AKKOLADE »

Ryan Westbrook wrote:Oops, I mean Katy Peters, not Peterson. And drat, I still can't seem to edit my posts on this computer. Oh, well.
Edited it for you.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Strongside »

This tournament was awesome. Logistically it ran very smoothly. It obviously went late, but there is no way for a 17 round tournament followed by a championship series to end early. I liked the full round robin because it was the most fair way, and I got to play everyone, including numerous really good people I had never played.

As for the questions, they were excellent. I think this was the best quiz bowl tournament ever written. I feel this way in large part because of the level of difficulty, the high amount of interesting material, and the fact that there were at least 19 rounds produced.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Gautam »

A great set overall. I got points where I deserved, and the converse was also mostly true. Though some of the packets were significantly difficult than others, not having a "difficulty rating" declared before the round didn't deter me from answering tossups on topics that don't always fit the average difficulty of the packet.

It was fun playing all the teams, especially the two super-teams, and I can definitely say that it was a great learning experience. I enjoyed some of the art tossups, and I thought some of the new stuff introduced in lit was great.

The issue with the science editing was definitely very unfortunate, but I feel like whatever emergency effort was put in was adequate, if not very good. It definitely hurt PPGs, but it didn't spell the end of all those scientists out there.

That brings me to another point, which is that the circuit needs more science players, and experienced writers should try to produce good science writers out of them. I mean, I feel like there are about 4 people who are capable of editing science for a regular difficulty tournament (or higher), whereas I think we need at least 10 or so.

Looking forward to CO 2009,
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

Great set. You could really tell how much effort Ryan put into it. The tossups were uniformly excellent and the bonuses were incredibly clue-dense and overwhelmingly even in difficulty. The difficulty was a bit over my head at times, but almost all of the stuff that came up was cool. The finals packet was amazing too; watching what are probably the best two quizbowl teams ever created going down to the wire on the hardest packet ever written was a treat.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

theMoMA wrote:The finals packet was amazing too; watching what are probably the best two quizbowl teams ever created going down to the wire on the hardest packet ever written was a treat.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Actually the packet that would have been read if Seth's team had won was even harder.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Susan »

Andrew Hart wrote:probably the best two quizbowl teams ever
Surely one of those teams would be Chicago A at Beaver Bonspiel in 2004.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by The Time Keeper »

myamphigory wrote:
Andrew Hart wrote:probably the best two quizbowl teams ever
Surely one of those teams would be Chicago A at Beaver Bonspiel in 2004.
There have probably been better individual teams, but if you look at it in terms of grouped talent in a finals match between the two playing teams it makes sense.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by cdcarter »

So I went 1/1 over this tournament. And it was the best quizbowl playing experience of my life.

On to talking about it. I felt the difficulty of this set was good. The stuff I did know I was generally beat to, which is how it should be. I felt that drama seemed a little underrepresented, but otherwise it seemed very solid. I especially enjoyed the Macbeth and Topdog/Underdog tossups though.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Eärendil »

This was a really fun tournament to play, and all the moreso because I got to compete against a lot of people I had only known in name. I had a great time, despite sleep deprivation and having half my team's negs. The answer selection struck an excellent balance between things I knew, things I had heard of, and things I had yet to learn. Thanks to Ryan for editing such a fine set, which I hope gets online soon.
gkandlikar wrote:That brings me to another point, which is that the circuit needs more science players, and experienced writers should try to produce good science writers out of them. I mean, I feel like there are about 4 people who are capable of editing science for a regular difficulty tournament (or higher), whereas I think we need at least 10 or so.
I'm not sure what could be done to get more science players into the game. The usual ACF/mACF packet submission requirement is only 5/5 science, which ends being 20-25% of the final packet. That alone is probably not going to convince someone to stay. What may work better is encouraging more players currently in the game to learn some science. Not enough to edit a regular tournament, perhaps, but enough to be able to write a few good tossups/bonuses here or there. That way at least an editor (at some level) won't be completely overwhelmed if a science editor flakes out. Some teams seem to be built up of three humanities players and one science player; the team selection ceremony at Gaddis, for example, saw several cries for players who knew science, and I've seen plenty of games where a player would put down his or her buzzer when a science tossup comes up. Put simply, I don't think that kind of polarity is good for the game. I've got more thoughts on this, but perhaps it deserves its own thread.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

cdcarter wrote:So I went 1/1 over this tournament. And it was the best quizbowl playing experience of my life.
This attitude is why the future is bright.

There were, by my count, 32 people under the age of 20 in this tournament of 64 participants. Fully half of the field came to the most difficult, most competitive, and longest tournament of the year despite being still in high school or barely out of it, and facing unique difficulties such as being unable to rent a car in Chicago. That's fucking inspiring. You're going to see names like Guy Tabachnik, Charlie Dees, and Evan Adams at the top of a lot of standings pretty soon, to go along with other current underclassmen like Brendan Byrne who are already appearing there. The best part is that these new faces are uniformly great individuals who make the atmosphere of every tournament more enjoyable than the last and encourage yet more players to try out and stick with serious quizbowl. Reports of the impending death of this activity have been greatly exaggerated.

I look forward to losing to all of these people at open events within the next few years, especially my esteemed teammate from the weekend, His Holiness Sri Sri Lord Eric Mukherjee, who is on pace to be the best player in quizbowl by nationals season of 2009. I also look forward to more tournaments as exponentially enjoyable as the CO weekend. Finishing a 17-hour drive at 7 in the morning was well worth it for this.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Stained Diviner »

I know several of the young people who were there and heard back from one of them. They knew what they were getting into and would have been happy even if they had lost all their matches just to be a part of it and answer a small number of very difficult questions. The student I got a message from said that everybody treated them with class and that they had a great time. They still have a ways to go, but they plan on getting better and contributing to the circuit (some at Indiana, one at Illinois, possibly others), and this tournament added to their enthusiasm. My thanks to everybody who was a part of it.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Anyone who has the packets on their computer is free to post them online (I don't actually have the fully completed packets on my computer here, though I could get them). I'm not one of these people who feels the need to touch up a set so that it looks better for posterity.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Strongside »

Yeah, I agree with what Matt said about the "youthfulness" at this tournament.

This was my first Chicago Open, but I remember getting the feeling last year that Charlie Dees was doing an unusual thing by playing Chicago Open as a high schooler.

There were numerous people at this tournament that were still in high school, or had just graduated in the spring, as well as people who had just finished their first or second year of college. I know many of these people spent a lot of time and money to come to the tournament, knowing it was going be very hard in many ways, so that is pretty awesome.

Also, I really hope that this tournament didn't discourage anyone, because it shouldn't, especially if you are in high school.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I mean, I can't begin to express how much I loved this experience. So many people in this game are really fantastic people, and I had nothing but good interactions with people (I think, other than that Steak and Shake waiter). I had a phenomenal time learning all kinds of things at every tournament here, and can't wait for more to come once I start going to tournaments in college. Everyone involved in making this happen has every right to pat themselves on the back, this was real life quizbowl magic, if you will.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

There are times when you attend a tournament, and you have an experience that just blows you away. The questions are interesting, informative, pyramidal, and impeccably written. The competition is as good as you'll find anywhere. Your teammates are a phenomenal group of people, and the logistics of the whole thing are smooth as butter. Examples that come to mind are the J.S. Mill, 2007 ACF Nationals, 2006 MLK, and Manu.

This year's CO was for me one such tournament.

I know it's going to sound trite, but I simply can't heap enough praise on what went down this weekend. I want to commend Ryan for producing one of the best sets that I've ever had the pleasure of playing on; if there's any blemish to his achievement, it's the unfortunate screw-up with the science questions. This of course affected me somewhat, and I could only wish it hadn't been so, but in truth I barely noticed it, that's how good everything else was. I mean, what other tournament is going to have tossups on Robert Dicke and the Heimskringla? And, best of all, the wonderful set was complemented by near-flawless logistics. A 17-game round-robin (plus a potential advantaged final) is a taxing schedule on both players and staff, and the staff at CO this year were truly phenomenal. Thanks to Donald, Katy, Ryan, and everyone else who kept the schedule moving in a manageable way. I honestly don't remember waiting more than 5 minutes for a match to start, which served to heighten my enjoyment of the set by not allowing much dead space between games.

Also, I would like to echo Matt's comments on how heartening it was to see so many young faces at CO. Having current high school students and young underclassmen come to this thing and just enjoy themselves (and also do quite well) sets the status of my heart cockles to warmed. This is why quizbowl is awesome and will continue to grow: because of players like Brendan Byrne and Guy Tabachnik, Christian Carter and Evan Adams. I hope this once and for all puts the lie to Ryan Westbrook's thesis of how things were so much better in the olden days: these players are the future of the game, and it's bright indeed. Look for the average level of play to increase dramatically over the next few years; dinosaurs like me are going to have to evolve to keep pace.

Finally, I want to thank my teammates for allowing my out-of-practice, geriatric ass to ride their expansive coattails to a title. I look forward to having future best player in quizbowl Eric Mukherjee do all the work in our 2009 run at Nationals.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by fleurdelivre »

grapesmoker wrote:effusive praise
You'd better watch it or you're going to lose your title as the angriest man in quizbowl after too many posts like that...
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

fleurdelivre wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:effusive praise
You'd better watch it or you're going to lose your title as the angriest man in quizbowl after too many posts like that...
i call it like i see it sister
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by The Time Keeper »

fleurdelivre wrote:
grapesmoker wrote:effusive praise
You'd better watch it or you're going to lose your title as the angriest man in quizbowl after too many posts like that...
Jerry's made enough nice posts (when things don't merit being yelled at because they suck) that he's actually become known as simply the Jerriest man in quizbowl.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sir Thopas »

I thank Matt and Jerry for the kind words; I only hope that I can live up to the future prescribed for me. With that being said—I also want to agree with the others that CO was absolutely amazing. Although we did pretty bad, often not even putting up 100 in a game, I enjoyed every loss I got, because the questions were great, the people were great, and whatever I could get was great too. I suck at science, so I didn't notice that as a problem. I think that Brendan has nothing to worry about regarding people discouraged. We all knew that we were going to get slaughtered, but it was still awesome, just to hear about interesting stuff (THIS BLOWOUT IS ABOUT LEARNING) and watch QB luminaries pick up questions on ridiculously hard stuff. Also, writing stuff of this difficulty was a great experience, and I am eagerly awaiting getting topical protips from Ryan about why my stuff relatively sucked (no hurry, btw). All of the side tournaments were really well-written and fun to play, and not getting much sleep was well worth it.

Like Dees, I can't wait to become a bigger part of this circuit; look to see me at a bunch of college tournaments next year, especially CO.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

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metsfan001 wrote:We all knew that we were going to get slaughtered, but it was still awesome, just to hear about interesting stuff (THIS BLOWOUT IS ABOUT LEARNING) and watch QB luminaries pick up questions on ridiculously hard stuff. Also, writing stuff of this difficulty was a great experience, and I am eagerly awaiting getting topical protips from Ryan about why my stuff relatively sucked (no hurry, btw). All of the side tournaments were really well-written and fun to play, and not getting much sleep was well worth it.

Like Dees, I can't wait to become a bigger part of this circuit; look to see me at a bunch of college tournaments next year, especially CO.
I think this post makes a great point that no matter how overmatched some people may be by their competition, people with the right attitude will love good quizbowl. Weiner already expressed similar sentiments after Chris Carter's post, but I don't think it can be emphasized enough. Quizbowl is steadily getting more clue-dense and well-written, and that means that the better teams will be ever better at beating the weaker teams, but the weaker teams don't care. They are hearing questions on interesting material and are coming away with ideas for stuff to read and look up rather than being discouraged that they lost a lot or didn't put up good scores. There is no way this would happen to players being blown out on horrible questions. The increasing standards of college and open quizbowl (and to a lesser extent, independently-written high school quizbowl) are being met by hordes of inexperienced players and they are loving what they see, by and large.

I recently reread Paul Litvak's end of 2006 post about "Quizbowl five years from now" and I think that after only a year and a half, it is crystal clear that many of his pessimistic postulations, particularly about ACF's future, have been completely destroyed. While it is true that many of the "older" people in the game haven't fully left yet, and they will be sorely missed when (if) they do, the college undergrads and even high school players are stepping up in a way even the most optimistic couldn't have predicted two years ago. It's true that in the last couple years the game has received some uniquely motivated and eager new people who are already making great contributions, but I think it's simply just the start of a greater trend. I think that most intelligent younger players interested in learning will keep flocking to the game as it continues to get even better/more saturated with great events, and we're entering a sort of quizbowl golden age full of weekend-long tournaments and events where high schoolers and people in their late 20s will write and play the same events even more than they did this past weekend.

I think some of the credit goes to this board and the people behind it (Matt for starting it so long ago, Fred and the PACE people for maintaining it now) for facilitating the free flow of quizbowl thoughts and ideas and getting people of all levels of experience and ability to interact with one another. It feels like there's a growing sense of real community here that there just wasn't present back in the days of listservs and then the yahoo board. There are more sincere discussions and fewer anonymous flamewars about gibberish than in days long past and that's definitely a positive, despite the hilarity some of those posts produced back in the day. When I say "community" I'm referring to the in-person playing of quizbowl with people who increasingly know one another to some degree. I don't mean this board is in itself a community, because internet communities are stupid, but rather that the board helps people in the real community communicate and bring new people in.

I think the IRC channel has had a smaller yet individually stronger role in this as well, despite its constant declines into nonsensical banter. A lot of people over the last few years who had little concept of the game stumbled in and got to know some of the established people and what good quizbowl is and why it is that way. I don't want to specifically name anyone, but I can think of a few people (who I would encourage to post if they agree) who came in there when they were newish and received kind of an accelerated course in what good quizbowl looks like and have become good writers and/or players extremely quickly.

I think I'm out of things to ramble about, but I just want to conclude by saying that I've never felt more optimistic about the game of quizbowl and I'm really looking forward to being a lot more active as a writer and player next year and I hope others feel the same way.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Auroni »

Dolemite wrote:
metsfan001 wrote:We all knew that we were going to get slaughtered, but it was still awesome, just to hear about interesting stuff (THIS BLOWOUT IS ABOUT LEARNING) and watch QB luminaries pick up questions on ridiculously hard stuff. Also, writing stuff of this difficulty was a great experience, and I am eagerly awaiting getting topical protips from Ryan about why my stuff relatively sucked (no hurry, btw). All of the side tournaments were really well-written and fun to play, and not getting much sleep was well worth it.

Like Dees, I can't wait to become a bigger part of this circuit; look to see me at a bunch of college tournaments next year, especially CO.
I think this post makes a great point that no matter how overmatched some people may be by their competition, people with the right attitude will love good quizbowl. Weiner already expressed similar sentiments after Chris Carter's post, but I don't think it can be emphasized enough. Quizbowl is steadily getting more clue-dense and well-written, and that means that the better teams will be ever better at beating the weaker teams, but the weaker teams don't care. They are hearing questions on interesting material and are coming away with ideas for stuff to read and look up rather than being discouraged that they lost a lot or didn't put up good scores. There is no way this would happen to players being blown out on horrible questions. The increasing standards of college and open quizbowl (and to a lesser extent, independently-written high school quizbowl) are being met by hordes of inexperienced players and they are loving what they see, by and large.

I recently reread Paul Litvak's end of 2006 post about "Quizbowl five years from now" and I think that after only a year and a half, it is crystal clear that many of his pessimistic postulations, particularly about ACF's future, have been completely destroyed. While it is true that many of the "older" people in the game haven't fully left yet, and they will be sorely missed when (if) they do, the college undergrads and even high school players are stepping up in a way even the most optimistic couldn't have predicted two years ago. It's true that in the last couple years the game has received some uniquely motivated and eager new people who are already making great contributions, but I think it's simply just the start of a greater trend. I think that most intelligent younger players interested in learning will keep flocking to the game as it continues to get even better/more saturated with great events, and we're entering a sort of quizbowl golden age full of weekend-long tournaments and events where high schoolers and people in their late 20s will write and play the same events even more than they did this past weekend.

I think some of the credit goes to this board and the people behind it (Matt for starting it so long ago, Fred and the PACE people for maintaining it now) for facilitating the free flow of quizbowl thoughts and ideas and getting people of all levels of experience and ability to interact with one another. It feels like there's a growing sense of real community here that there just wasn't present back in the days of listservs and then the yahoo board. There are more sincere discussions and fewer anonymous flamewars about gibberish than in days long past and that's definitely a positive, despite the hilarity some of those posts produced back in the day. When I say "community" I'm referring to the in-person playing of quizbowl with people who increasingly know one another to some degree. I don't mean this board is in itself a community, because internet communities are stupid, but rather that the board helps people in the real community communicate and bring new people in.

I think the IRC channel has had a smaller yet individually stronger role in this as well, despite its constant declines into nonsensical banter. A lot of people over the last few years who had little concept of the game stumbled in and got to know some of the established people and what good quizbowl is and why it is that way. I don't want to specifically name anyone, but I can think of a few people (who I would encourage to post if they agree) who came in there when they were newish and received kind of an accelerated course in what good quizbowl looks like and have become good writers and/or players extremely quickly.

I think I'm out of things to ramble about, but I just want to conclude by saying that I've never felt more optimistic about the game of quizbowl and I'm really looking forward to being a lot more active as a writer and player next year and I hope others feel the same way.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

While I'm sad to have missed CO weekend, I'm glad I could at least contribute a bit to the main event. From those so inclined, I'm curious how the bio and chem went over, since there were several tossups that had certainly never been tossups before, and some bonuses that explored new territory as well. I did my best to match my difficulty with Ryan's, so hopefully they didn't stand out one way or the other. Also, I wish I could have had time to step in and pick up the slack on the physics/math/other stuff, but getting ready for a conference I'm currently at (I'm even in a talk right now, but it's boring) prevented any such efforts pretty well.

On a different note, I agree that it's great to see younger folks showing so much enthusiasm for entering the college game and being active contributors. Now if only more of them were from the South (besides the Dorman guys)...
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

I'm very pleased that this set has caused the eruption of a lovefest in this thread, and I'm happy to regret posting what I did back in that Litvak thread (though I've long since admitted being wrong). I second what everyone has said about this being the future of quizbowl - an influx of younger players seeing good weekend-long events and meeting the many members of this community who are really quite likeable people.

Before I forget, I also want to thank Auroni Gupta, who submitted a handful of questions to this set. And Matt Lafer, who let me commandeer his laptop and provided some other miscellaneous help to allow me to get this set done.

I anticipated that one downfall of this set might be the collision of the science difficulty with the rest of the set, but I think Matt Keller did a really good job, on the whole, of matching my difficulty level (which can be a rather daunting task).
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sima Guang Hater »

I'm so glad I finally decided to show up to CO this year, after sitting on the sidelines in 2007. As has been already stated, the questions were superlative, the competition was intense and the logistics were amazing - props to Donald for his excellent statkeeping, and to the moderators who kept things moving. I especially wanted to thank Margo (I think that's your name, sorry I'm bad at identifying people) for reading the extra packet to Matt and I during our "round" against the deserter team. This was definitely the closest I've been to Quizbowl Valhalla, and I hope that the Valkyries will see fit to carry me to other tournaments and teams like this one.

I've said it before, I guess it won't hurt to say it again; I'm always impressed by what younger players these days know, and CO was no exception. Mike Bentley and I were thoroughly demolished in a cross-bracket round against George Stevens and Eric Douglass at history doubles, and one of the Dorman players buzzer-raced me to the tossup on Tay-Sachs disease; I was deeply impressed. Quizbowl's future is definitely looking bright, both in terms of dedication and ability, and I hope that I'll be able to keep up with the influx of talent.

Now, I hate to rain on everyone's parade, but I have some brief complaints (because I'm kind of a sourpuss).

1. As much as I admire the dedication of most of the teams at this tournament, the fact that the Dartmouth-led contingent left is pretty terrible, considering they knew what they were getting into. There's not much point harping about it now, but I'll just reiterate that leaving tournaments ruins my weekend. Especially for an event like CO, please don't do this; it means that a team has to miss out on playing a good packet, which is why any of us showed up.

2. There was a somewhat disturbing trend in the chemistry at this tournament. Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed 99% of it (especially people basically throwing their buzzers down whenever it came up), but I think we might be pushing the canon in a bad direction. There were many tossups on progressively more and more strange functional groups in the set, and while some of them were certainly interesting (furans), I think there's a point where you really can go too far with this (aryl halides). If the trend continues in this direction, we'll be writing tossups on more and more obscure moieties, which I really don't think is preferable (in the words of Matt: "What the hell is all of this crazy organic chemistry that's never come up before doing in this tournament"). I really don't want to see tossups on things likes beta-hydroxyesters and isothiocyanates (take my word for it. These can be done), when tossups on esters and nitriles can still be clue-dense and very interesting, and at the same time be gettable for non-specialists. I'd rather see the canon expand "up", with more obscure leadins about well-known things, and I think its on the verge of expanding a little too far "out".

3. I can't believe some douchebag stole trygve's laptop. Seriously, is this a common thing at Uchicago?

Also, I don't know what to make of the bio tossup in the final going dead.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Birdofredum Sawin »

Have the questions been posted somewhere? I want to deflate the love-in with a few bitter remarks, but I need to see the set for that to happen.

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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

I'll actually agree with Eric's chemistry sentiments. Aryl halides and metallocenes were two submitted tossups that I thought were a bit over the line, but Ryan wanted to leave submitted answers for the most part, so figured I may as well keep them. I wrote the furans tu as a replacement for a not-very-well-written ethers tossup, since I already had an epoxides tossup, and it's getting harder these days to write an ethers tossup for a high-level tournament like this. I was hopeful that people could at least identify them from THF. Not sure if carbenes were among the "out there" answers, but they seem to come up pretty often as clues/bonus answers and such. Anyway, part of the problem was that hardly anyone wrote inorganic chem tossups. I tend to be guilty of that myself, but it started limiting the tossup selection pretty quickly.

Also, no one got C-reactive protein eh? I guess I did learn about that one in a class taught by the med school, but it seems to get some press now and then too. Oh well...

P.S. I also want to thank Jason Paik for some helpful pointers on some bio questions where his knowledge is greater than mine.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by vcuEvan »

I have nothing new to add really. This was a great tournament and I definately want to make the long trek again next year. Watching Matt, Eric, Jerry, and Jonathan score 360 points on us in the FIRST HALF of the first Westbrook editor's packet was without doubt the biggest beatdown I've ever received or even seen. Great work on the set Ryan, excellent freelance moderators, and the able and prompt stats keeping of Donald Taylor were all really impressive.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Gautam »

vandyhawk wrote:I'll actually agree with Eric's chemistry sentiments. Aryl halides and metallocenes were two submitted tossups that I thought were a bit over the line, but Ryan wanted to leave submitted answers for the most part, so figured I may as well keep them. I wrote the furans tu as a replacement for a not-very-well-written ethers tossup, since I already had an epoxides tossup, and it's getting harder these days to write an ethers tossup for a high-level tournament like this. I was hopeful that people could at least identify them from THF. Not sure if carbenes were among the "out there" answers, but they seem to come up pretty often as clues/bonus answers and such. Anyway, part of the problem was that hardly anyone wrote inorganic chem tossups. I tend to be guilty of that myself, but it started limiting the tossup selection pretty quickly.
I thought the carbenes and metallocenes were fine tossups. The furan tossup was okay, but I was slightly confused as to the tossup changing tone (if i recall correctly) from describing a functional group to describing a compound.

As has been noted, the aryl halides is definitely pushing it.

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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

I would also like to express my sentiments that this tournament was very good. I was going to post about how I was disapointed with the lack of CS in this tournament, but after reading the first post I can see why that is the case.

My only problem with the tournament was the length. I just don't think that playing 17 rounds of quizbowl on the same types of questions is conducive to having as good a time as possible during the later rounds. After a certain point, to me at least, it seems like questions are almost wasted by the lack of sleep, constant thinking etc. I realize that 17 teams is a difficult number to split up in some fashion, but I would personally prefer more on the order of 14 rounds plus finals for such a tournament in the future. Hopefully this will be accomplished by more teams showing up and necesitating brackets.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Eärendil »

vandyhawk wrote:I wrote the furans tu as a replacement for a not-very-well-written ethers tossup
I remember negging with pyrroles after "Paal-Knorr synthesis", though (to the best of my memory) the question hadn't explicitly ruled out thiophenes and pyrroles at that point. I didn't like that.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by cdcarter »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:I would also like to express my sentiments that this tournament was very good. I was going to post about how I was disapointed with the lack of CS in this tournament, but after reading the first post I can see why that is the case.
I noticed this too. Someday CS will be more prevalent in quizbowl....someday.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by vandyhawk »

Eärendil wrote:
vandyhawk wrote:I wrote the furans tu as a replacement for a not-very-well-written ethers tossup
I remember negging with pyrroles after "Paal-Knorr synthesis", though (to the best of my memory) the question hadn't explicitly ruled out thiophenes and pyrroles at that point. I didn't like that.
Hmm, so I can't say for certain, but it appears that the first two clues in the tossup apply only to furans. I do applaud your knowledge of the Paal-Knorr synthesis though.

Also, I don't think I actually got around to making my point in the previous post about the chemistry canon moving the wrong way. What I meant to say was that for this tournament, I let in or put in a few things that I wouldn't allow even for editing nats, and I hope people realize that. In my talking with Ryan, that's how it seemed he wanted things, and I hope people follow Eric's advice for non-open events, as cool as that isothiocyanate tossup or lactam-lactim tautomerization would [not really] be.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by theMoMA »

For what it's worth, as someone who basically only gets o-chem from clues I remember from other packets, I had the tossup on aryl halides narrowed down to acyl or aryl halides by the third or fourth clue.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

Mike B. wrote:
I just don't think that playing 17 rounds of quizbowl on the same types of questions is conducive to having as good a time as possible during the later rounds. After a certain point, to me at least, it seems like questions are almost wasted by the lack of sleep, constant thinking etc.
I agree with this. The last 3-4 rounds went by in a bit of a blur for me, and then we had the (excellent!) lit doubles to follow. It was kind of cool just to play 27 (!) rounds of QB on one day, if only just to say we did it, but I don't think I'd want to play that much again. We began at 8 am and finished (I think) around 9 or so (please correct me, as I'm hazy on that). That's not even very fast for 17 rounds. At close to optimal efficiency, we might have gotten through 17 rounds in 9 to 9.5 hours, and with an hour for lunch, we could have been finished by 6:30 or so, which would've been fine; however, we know that such tournaments rarely will be this efficient. I think we didn't get out of there till around 1:30 or 2 after the lit. I think we could all have had just as good a time if we played 27 and got out at 10 pm or so, or had split into brackets to play something like 11-12 rounds, allowing time for an actual meal and/or sleep at the end of the evening.

Having said this, I must echo everyone else about how much fun the entire weekend was. This was my 9th CO, and as a total experience, it was the best one yet (though winning in 2003 was specifically better than watching slack jawed as Yaphe et al hung 520 on us in the second round). It was especially enjoyable to get to meet a lot of folks I know only from screen names here, more so to find all of them so affable and excited about the game. I add my thanks to Ryan and everyone else involved in editing and staffing the tournament.

That reminds me of something I was wondering. I was unable to make CO last year, so I've been to 9/10. I'm sure some people have been to all ten: who?
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Yeah, I agree with the sentiment that aryl halides is unfortunate, not because of its hardness necessarily, but because it has an endless potential to be confusing (as all highly specific functional group tossups probably do, hence their iffyness). The set should soon be posted online, and we'll see, but I don't remember any chem tossups other than that one being a problem. Carbenes, furans, and metallocenes all seem like perfectly good/uniquely identifying answer choices to me (although, I sympathize too with that pyrrole buzz).
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Jeaton1 »

Now, I'm not someone who claims to know a whole lot about chemistry -- especially that there organic kind, but my problem with the chemistry in this tournament is that it only occupied a very small niche of what chemistry could encompass. Now I know as Eric had said earlier, chem doesn't get as in-depth as physics at its highest level, but it seems there should be an actual Chemistry distribution and not 1/1 functional groups and molecules.

I would recommend in the future expanding the answer selection to include a few more esoteric reactions, non-organic chemistry or even finding harder clues for more mundane things like the Arrhenius Equation or electroplating. If we can build upwards on existing portions of the canon rather than expand outward to the cold netherlands of quizbowl Jotunheim, we should be able to have questions that would satisfy even the most hardcore advocates and students of specific subjects while in the end having that question be answerable to most anyone with a little bit of knowledge.

Otherwise, while feeling that the set was a little difficult for my tastes -- I did manage to get a tossup or two per round -- I found this tournament to be very enjoyable and learned a lot of interesting things. I see future incarnations of the CO for myself as something to practice, study and work toward.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

On the tournament's length - I didn't feel quite the same blur after the 13th round, although I was already somewhat tired. However, I will say that the one thing I was very frustrated with at this tournament was that despite the announced 8 AM start time that was very clearly what this tournament needed, there were a number of players who didn't show up until 9-ish, and while it was nice of Ryan to hold up the tournament for them, I felt that the players who did follow the directions to keep the tournament efficient and got up an hour early shouldn't have effectively been punished because of some good players being really late, and that they should have instead been forced to start the tournament with partial teams as close to 8 as possible.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Deesy Does It wrote:I will say that the one thing I was very frustrated with at this tournament was that despite the announced 8 AM start time that was very clearly what this tournament needed, there were a number of players who didn't show up until 9-ish, and while it was nice of Ryan to hold up the tournament for them, I felt that the players who did follow the directions to keep the tournament efficient and got up an hour early shouldn't have effectively been punished because of some good players being really late, and that they should have instead been forced to start the tournament with partial teams as close to 8 as possible.
Yeah, this. Seriously, we had to get up early enough to get five people out the door of a hotel room and make a 30-minute drive in time for the announced 7:45 AM cutoff, only to stand there doing nothing while other people were MIA and Ryan wasn't really yet prepared to take money or hand out schedules. Don't announce really crazy things like "we're starting at 7:45 AM and if you're not there you forfeit" and then back off from them after people have already lost sleep.

Generally, I think the problems with packing events into the weekend can be solved by one simple change, which is: eliminate the Friday night event. As it stands, people have to get on the road or on planes pretty early in order to make it to the campus by 6 PM Friday, so they probably are not as rested as they could be Thursday night, then we have a tournament that goes until midnight. Combined with the fact that most people end up staying near O'Hare to save money and that finding food and getting a bunch of people stacked cordwood-like in cheap hotel rooms to avoid quizbowl funk by showering in the morning cuts into our time even further, you end up sleeping for about five hours if you're lucky. Do it all again Saturday night to accommodate the lit tournament and getting there in time for trash, and you're talking two or three days in a row of sleep deprivation, which is not tolerable for some people. If we just let people take it easy on Friday and show up to the first marathon day well-rested, I think having one short night before Sunday's events would be much less of an issue.

So, that's my suggestion: four events next year rather than five, with Friday night getting the axe.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Susan »

Matt's post reminds me of something I was curious about--is staying by Midway not a feasible solution? Living in or near Chicago for most of my life, I've never had cause to travel to the city, but it seems to me that there are some number of hotels by Midway that are located considerably closer to the tournament than the ones near O'Hare are. Are those hotels much more expensive? I can understand that the people who flew to the tournament would have stayed by O'Hare (since odds are they could fly into O'Hare more cheaply than Midway), but why the people who drove in did so as well is less clear to me.

This isn't meant to be an alternate solution to the problems posed in Matt's post; I was just wondering.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

myamphigory wrote:Matt's post reminds me of something I was curious about--is staying by Midway not a feasible solution? Living in or near Chicago for most of my life, I've never had cause to travel to the city, but it seems to me that there are some number of hotels by Midway that are located considerably closer to the tournament than the ones near O'Hare are. Are those hotels much more expensive? I can understand that the people who flew to the tournament would have stayed by O'Hare (since odds are they could fly into O'Hare more cheaply than Midway), but why the people who drove in did so as well is less clear to me.

This isn't meant to be an alternate solution to the problems posed in Matt's post; I was just wondering.
I tried Priceline on the more immediate urban area first, then Midway, then O'Hare. I couldn't get anything that seemed budget-conscious until I went to the O'Hare area. My theory is that O'Hare is where they have lots of extra hotel space for conventions and other large events (eg the NAQT HSNCT) so when those events are not going on they are more likely to unload rooms for pennies on Priceline than other Chicago hotels, which probably see more consistent business levels year-round.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by ValenciaQBowl »

I've flown into and stayed near both airports, but O'Hare almost always wins for significantly cheaper flights (at least from Orlando), though hotel costs are indeed pretty similar. So we're usually in exactly the situation Matt outlines, and for the same reasons I love the idea of axing the Friday night. In effect, I chose that route anyway by not playing History Doubles, but since two in my party (Ahmad and Donald) had to go, we had to get them and bring them back anyway, meaning the effect was the same (well, worse, but I don't need to add to my rep).

Of course, I could see the same benefits by not having something Sunday night. In past years we've had something Friday night but not Sunday, and that seemed to allow folks to fly out then and save a hotel night. Since people have to be there Friday night due to the early Saturday start, if cost is a serious concern, it might be better to keep Sunday night open and have people come in earlier Friday.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by BuzzerZen »

I don't believe cost is the concern so much as fatigue. I was absolutely wiped on Sunday during the trash tournament. I was completely asleep for half of a round, even. This was after getting a combined 12 hours of sleep over the previous three nights. I might have gotten more than 1 tossup or so a round if I had been a little more alert.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Matt Weiner »

Yeah, it seems the idea of running a small event on Sunday evening worked out pretty well this year.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

I know I fell asleep while I was being podcasted, so you will probably be able to hear me waking up at the half when my teammates asked me something.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

As for what happened on Satudray morning, it's unfortunate, I'm unclear why there seemed to be a misunderstanding on the part of Andrew and Mike over when to get to the tournament. It's true that I wasn't exactly ready to take money and pass out schedules at 7:45 on the dime (which is when I arrived, as I said I would, since it was unclear whether we could even get into the building pre-8:00). For one thing, I needed to do a few other things like send out the questions to the mirror site first (a duty made necessary by the emergency plan for compiling packets I was forced to enact). Anyway, it wouldn't have mattered if I were all set and ready, because I wasn't going to be persuaded to start the tournament some 15 minutes earlier with half of the top team present. Sorry, but you know me, I'm Ryan "No Rules" Westbrook - I don't care what the official plan is or what the likelihood of a team of Seth and Selene being upset by another team is, I'm not going to take that risk for the sake of saving a few minutes. I don't intend to have a 17-round tourney decided by some stupid little freak loss in the morning, no matter what the "rules" say should happen (not that there were really any rules, hence "No Rules" Westbrook).

In any case, I certainly sympathize with everyone who was exhausted. Heavens knows, you're not going to find more of a qb warrior than myself...Yet, during the side events that I played - history and especially literature - I was downright exhausted and had very little left to give. I know well the disappointing feeling that really good questions are being wasted because they're being played by people way too exhausted to take them in the right way. I'm not really sure what the answer to this exhaustion problem is (which has been a problem at other times too), but I don't imagine a 17-game round robin will be happening again soon, so that's sure to help. I'd hate to see the Friday event cancelled, though, as it's a great part of CO weekend. But, I completely understand where the fatigue argument comes from.

However, I don't think we should pretend that it made a damned bit of difference in the tiredness department what time we started on Saturday morning. Woo, yeah, I sure would have felt refreshed had we saved that 20 minutes! I mean, really, once I get past a certain point of tiredness, it doesn't much matter - I don't have an "even more tired" setting, I just go into a perpetual "useless fucking zombie automaton" setting. I'd like to cite my staying up for five straight days with about 4 hours sleep total on ACF Nats weekend this year - you quickly reach the point where it just doesn't matter.

On the logistics side of things at this year's CO, I really don't think anyone can possibly complain - Lafer and I did the math on our trip home, factoring in everything, and we arrived at about 33 minutes per round played. That's awfully good, considering that the questions were quite long and labyrinthine. Stats were prompt, there was no rebracketing, lunch arrived and people started eating, people got back from lunch on time, readers were terrific, there was little milling around or talking in between, and on and on. I guess my humble argument is simply that there's no way anything logistical could have contributed to tiredness.
Ryan Westbrook, no affiliation whatsoever.

I am pure energy...and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!

Left here since birth...forgotten in the river of time...I've had an eternity to...ponder the meaning of things...and now I have an answer!
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by grapesmoker »

Maybe if you all didn't complain so much, you'd have enough energy to last you the weekend, you weaklings!

Yeah, the weekend of quizbowl can be pretty exhausting, but that's why we're there. I got 2 hours of sleep from Saturday to Sunday night and still managed to read 8 rounds of trash and the philosophy tossups. I wouldn't mind scrapping the Friday night event because for me it's a real hassle to make it in terms of travel, but I think the logistics at this tournament were as good as they have possibly been given the circumstances.
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Re: Chicago Open Discussion

Post by No Rules Westbrook »

Seriously, I should have thought to add Jerry to the Chi Open awesome list, he was an absolute beast. Even I expressed admiration at one point, upon spying his battered but ever-determined countenance on Sunday.
Ryan Westbrook, no affiliation whatsoever.

I am pure energy...and as ancient as the cosmos. Feeble creatures, GO!

Left here since birth...forgotten in the river of time...I've had an eternity to...ponder the meaning of things...and now I have an answer!
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