Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Old college threads.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Captain Sinico »

Yeah, I've never had a lot of problem with those, either.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

I feel like this discussion is moving off track and I want to bring it back to the actual content of the tournament. There was a weird trend I observed at least among the literature questions in which the lit distribution was heavily skewed in one direction or another. For example, packet 1 contains two tossups on British poetry, one on an American playwright, and zero on anything else. The bonuses were on Chaucer, Ben Hur (why?), novels with sad ends of which 2/3 were British, and a bonus on Lorraine Hansberry. Round 12 had tossups that were essentially all poetry, 3/4 of which were English-language: Lovelace, Kilmer, JW Howe, and Villon. There were other packets that seemed to skew heavily in one direction or another, and European non-English language literature in general seemed woefully underrepresented. I don't know if this is an artifact of the tournament-wide distribution policy or what, but it's really unfortunate and should be fixed. In tournaments using the ACF distribution, one expects to hear at least 1/1 non-English language literature per packet, and usually more (once you factor the world and European non-English lit), and I think the NAQT distribution needs to move in this direction as well.

Also, there was an appreciable number of literature tossups that seemed to have really large difficulty cliffs. The tossup on Richard Lovelace mentions one obscure play of his and then goes into his political history without giving any actual clues about his poems until the very end. There was a tossup on Defoe which gives the plots of Captain Singleton and Roxana, which eats up 3/4 of the question, before giving the titles and a giveaway of "this guy wrote Journal of the Plague Year." I'd recently finished reading an entire volume of E.A. Robinson's poems, but I found myself unable to buzz until Tristram and a description of "Richard Cory." A tossup on Trollope spends 2 of its 4 lines talking about what Trollope thought of Disraeli, which I suppose makes it possible to guess Trollope even if you have no idea about the works being described, but is more likely to just be frustrating. In general, it seemed like quite a few of these questions had really hard opening clues that would have been fine for a 6 or 7 line tossup but then just skipped right to the giveaway. I think that when you have such a limited amount of space to work with, using 1/2 to 3/4 of the tossup to discuss tertiary works and random opinions is not a good use of space.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

In the same vein, I commented on one DI tossup on Vargas Llosa, whose only description of what I understood to be his most famous work, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, was the title. I thought this was unwise; Andrew Yaphe claimed that it was, perhaps, hasty to suggest that marginal (i.e. the best team to miss ICT and the worst team to make it from a given sectional) teams know nothing (or little) but Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Vargas Llosa, as I had. I probably should retract that claim, as it may be a little strong, but I don't see why author tossups--particularly when space is at a premium--need to adhere to a model where little space (in this case, essentially none) goes to the most famous work. I'm more excited by teams buzzing on deep clues about Aunt Julia than I am by them buzzing on the titles of less-famous works in that question; I don't see why NAQT didn't favor the former.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Steve Watchorn »

Round 12 had tossups that were essentially all poetry, 3/4 of which were English-language: Lovelace, Kilmer, JW Howe, and Villon.
Not that this changes the point you're making, and I don't want to immediately derail that, but Villon is English-language? I thought he was French.

EDIT: Maybe next time I should actually read the post carefully first. Sorry.
Last edited by Steve Watchorn on Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

Crazy Andy Watkins wrote:In the same vein, I commented on one DI tossup on Vargas Llosa, whose only description of what I understood to be his most famous work, Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, was the title. I thought this was unwise; Andrew Yaphe claimed that it was, perhaps, hasty to suggest that marginal (i.e. the best team to miss ICT and the worst team to make it from a given sectional) teams know nothing (or little) but Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter by Vargas Llosa, as I had. I probably should retract that claim, as it may be a little strong, but I don't see why author tossups--particularly when space is at a premium--need to adhere to a model where little space (in this case, essentially none) goes to the most famous work. I'm more excited by teams buzzing on deep clues about Aunt Julia than I am by them buzzing on the titles of less-famous works in that question; I don't see why NAQT didn't favor the former.
I thought the Vargas Llosa tossup was a pretty good example of the right way to write that question. The structure of that tossup goes: The plot of The Feast of the Goat (a secondary or tertiary Vargas Llosa work, but one that good players know), a clue drop about the Shining Path (this is more history, but you can reverse engineer Vargas Llosa from that, since the SP is based in Peru), then the title of The Feast of the Goat, the plot of Time of the Hero (which could have used a little meat) and then well-known titles. I think towards the end it would have been better to have plot points from Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, but again, space constraints. It's a pretty good question overall and way better than that Defoe tossup.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by AKKOLADE »

I think he was citing the other three as English language.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

Steve Watchorn wrote:
Round 12 had tossups that were essentially all poetry, 3/4 of which were English-language: Lovelace, Kilmer, JW Howe, and Villon.
Not that this has much to do with the point Jerry is making, but Villon is English-language? I thought he was French.
Yes, I meant that three of the four tossups were on English-language poetry: Lovelace, Kilmer, and Howe, with Villon being obviously French.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

grapesmoker wrote:I thought the Vargas Llosa tossup was a pretty good example of the right way to write that question. The structure of that tossup goes: The plot of The Feast of the Goat (a secondary or tertiary Vargas Llosa work, but one that good players know), a clue drop about the Shining Path (this is more history, but you can reverse engineer Vargas Llosa from that, since the SP is based in Peru), then the title of The Feast of the Goat, the plot of Time of the Hero (which could have used a little meat) and then well-known titles. I think towards the end it would have been better to have plot points from Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, but again, space constraints. It's a pretty good question overall and way better than that Defoe tossup.
Yeah, I agree; it is, in fact, much better than the Defoe. I feel like space constraints exacerbate--rather than relieve--the constraint to have plot clues about a most famous work. After all, space constraints make tossups proportionately more composed of titles, right? So of what description you can have, don't you get the most bang for your buck (again, if we want SCT to primarily differentiate the 33rd best DI team from the 32nd, and at this point good teams should recall their games against the bottom seed of their ICT prelim bracket last year) by using that description on the best-known work?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

In general, I felt the same way Andy did about the focus on what I think are considered more important things in the sectionals set. I know I'm just going off of feeling, but it sure feels like NAQT asks a ton of literature questions that follow the model of "Plot of obscure work - title - plot of less obscure work - title - plot of second or third most famous work, then a giveaway with a couple of their most famous works." I won't criticize an occasional question looking like this, but I think there has been an increasing move away from this style of question to allow us to go back and reward people for deep knowledge of the most important works of an author, rather than for superficially memorizing titles or plots. It seems NAQT has missed the train with this movement, which I think makes for much more informative and rewarding questions. For example, it is my understanding that Billiards at Half-Past Nine is Heinrich Boll's most widely read work (according to my high school coach who was also a German major, and what I can tell browsing the internet), but because of this model where we ask questions with descending superficial descriptions, I think a lot more people can recognize a clue about The Lost Honor of Katarina Blum than could ever buzz on a clue about Billiards, which I find to be a problem when that kind of superficial knowledge is emphasized over knowing more about the basics. This style also leads to what I think are a lot of pretty hard leadins and big difficulty cliffs - in the tossup about Joseph Conrad, I remember there being a clue about one of his short stories I hadn't heard of, then a description of a book I didn't recognize, then it went immediately into what is probably Conrad's most famous quote ("The Horror") without doing anything to maybe reward deeper knowledge of Heart of Darkness or any of Conrad's other, more widely read works. I don't think that is a good situation, and if NAQT were to put more of an emphasis on knowledge of what may be considered the most important things about their answer topics, that would produce much more enjoyable sets that get back to the core of rewarding knowledge about seminal aspects of our culture.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

Katamari Damacy wrote:For example, it is my understanding that Billiards at Half-Past Nine is Heinrich Boll's most widely read work (according to my high school coach who was also a German major, and what I can tell browsing the internet), but because of this model where we ask questions with descending superficial descriptions, I think a lot more people can recognize a clue about The Lost Honor of Katarina Blum than could ever buzz on a clue about Billiards, which I find to be a problem when that kind of superficial knowledge is emphasized over knowing more about the basics.
Not such a great example. The first clue of that question is the plot of Group Potrait with Lady, a major, major Boll novel. It's probably not as well known in quizbowl as The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, which is too bad, but there's nothing wrong with the clue selection in that question, which basically focuses on 3 or 4 major works by that author. What would be bad is if the first two lines plot clues from "Across the Bridge," and "The Train was on Time," and then the question segued into Billiards. Vide:
the tossup about Joseph Conrad, I remember there being a clue about one of his short stories I hadn't heard of, then a description of a book I didn't recognize, then it went immediately into what is probably Conrad's most famous quote ("The Horror") without doing anything to maybe reward deeper knowledge of Heart of Darkness or any of Conrad's other, more widely read works.
This is a good example. I guess "Typhoon" is somewhat commonly anthologized (the title was where I buzzed) but for a writer as prolific and important as Conrad, it really seems like you would do a lot better by not focusing for half the question on relatively minor works.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:As a reader I was also tripped up several times by the annoying habit of some NAQT bonuses to do stuff like:

For 10 points each--given what you know about Senator John Smith, name...
[10] His dog.
ANSWER: _Checkers_
Wait, was this actually a question? Is it even notable? I mean, I see from a Google search that Nixon gave a "Checkers speech" because of a dog he received, but I can't find anything on one John Smith and a Checkers.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area »

That was a made-up format example.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by cvdwightw »

Now that I've read through this behemoth of a thread, my thoughts:

I thought that the entirety of the trash bonuses was a "feast-or-famine" situation. That is, if you got 20 points it was typically easy to get 30, and if you missed any part you were going to struggle to get 10. I don't have my notes with me but I believe we got 0 on a bunch of trash, 30 on a bunch of other trash, and 10 and 20 on exactly one bonus each. I don't know that there's really any way to correct this.

I thought this tournament continued a good trend from last year in that questions were largely non-transparent. Of the questions I powered I think only one was achieved with limited knowledge (that was the tossup on Henry IV that essentially boiled down to "there's a dude in this book that thinks that other characters are random people from medieval times" although I'm willing to believe that there are other notable books with this plot point and that I actually got this question off recognizing Matilda of Tuscany as a figure in the Canossa incident but not recognizing that I recognized that).

I thought this tournament executed a final product that was on the correct side of acceptability in terms of the questions themselves (that is, there was an average rate of questions with transparency issues, giant-difficulty-cliffs-not-caused-by-length-restrictions, etc.) but there was an unacceptably high rate of what I believe Andy Watkins has termed the "Dumb Shit" category. The preponderance of wacky answers or reasonably-acceptable-answers-with-majority-wacky-clues led one of the participants at our site (it was either Ray Anderson or Chris) to wonder whether NAQT had intentionally become more CBI-like in order to better accommodate the previously-CBI-only teams.

I will agree with everyone else that this tournament's bonuses seemed harder than last year's. We sent essentially the same team (minus one 2.5 ppg player) to this SCT as to last year's and finished with a bonus conversion a point and a half lower. Granted, some of this is probably due to the fact that we haven't practiced on a regular difficulty packet in almost a year, but I highly suspect that this difference would be found to be somewhere around the border of significance if I went back and calculated the standard deviations of our bonus conversion both years.

As for previously-discussed questions, I will note that I thought the question on the "sharp" to be poorly executed. I don't have the question in front of me, but I found the Guido of Arezzo clue terribly non-unique and the rest of the clues not particularly helpful. And this is as the person who is responsible for approximately 90% of the terrible-answer-selection-in-music-theory questions. I thought Glenn Dorsey to be an unacceptably hard easy part in the "name these Outland Trophy winners" bonus. I see no reason why noted 2009 winner and generally recognizable name Ndamukong Suh could not have been placed as the easy part. Also, this may be the only tournament where I've seen a question answered entirely from meta knowledge despite neither the topic nor the clue being meta.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem »

What was the meta question again?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

Yet another problematic bonus:
The world's largest single-reflector telescope became fully functional in July 2009. For 10 points each—
A. Name the island group on which that instrument is found.
answer: Canary Islands or Canaries (or Islas Canarias)
B. The Canary Islands are owned by this European country.
answer: Kingdom of Spain
C. Though initially using a Nasmyth focus, the instrument will eventually adopt this kind of focus in which light exits through a hole in the primary mirror along the axis of the telescope.
answer: Cassegrain focus (accept plausible answers including Cassegrain)
I don't understand who this bonus is for. I guess I'm vaguely aware of the existence of the Canary Islands telescope, but outside of one or two astronomers in quizbowl, I can't imagine too many people getting it. Then there's the geography which I guess is intended to be the easy part; was it really so hard to find relevant telescope science to ask about? And the third part is really hard and nearly impossible to get unless you are intimately familiar with the design of that particular telescope. The problem is that Cassegrains and Gregorians differ with respect to what shape their secondary is, but both use a primary to reflect onto a secondary and then use the secondary to focus through a hole in the primary. Other than referring to the design of that particular instrument (which no one who doesn't plan to observe on it is likely to know anyway), the information in that bonus part is not uniquely identifying.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by OctagonJoe »

grapesmoker wrote:
Katamari Damacy wrote: the tossup about Joseph Conrad, I remember there being a clue about one of his short stories I hadn't heard of, then a description of a book I didn't recognize, then it went immediately into what is probably Conrad's most famous quote ("The Horror") without doing anything to maybe reward deeper knowledge of Heart of Darkness or any of Conrad's other, more widely read works.
This is a good example. I guess "Typhoon" is somewhat commonly anthologized (the title was where I buzzed) but for a writer as prolific and important as Conrad, it really seems like you would do a lot better by not focusing for half the question on relatively minor works.
The titles before "the horror" were The Shadow Line and The Lagoon, so either you typed in the wrong title or you buzzed with some luck. I think this tossup angered me the most and could've used some better early or middle clues. If you're going to pick a Conrad short story, you might pick The Secret Sharer, since it's often paired with Heart of Darkness. Alternatively, I hear Conrad also wrote some novels that are well known and actually read like Typhoon, Nostromo, Almayer's Folly, and Lord Jim, just to list a few.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by cvdwightw »

Cheynem wrote:What was the meta question again?
It wasn't a meta-question, merely answered due to meta-knowledge. While waiting for D2 to finish, we played exhibition-style matches featuring the eight D1 players and two D1 afternoon staffers, and after powering the tossup on Houston, Brian Lindquist explained that he got it based off of knowing that Eric Smith went to high school with Chamillionaire.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Sir Thopas »

So, using Hungarian as a good benchmark for whether the pronunciation guides are doing what they're supposed to, I find again that they are not—we have [meend-SHEN-tee] as the pronunciation for Mindszenty. This is incorrect in three (!) ways. Please, if you're going to put pronunciation guides onto words, you can surely do better than the writer or editor of this question's best guess from looking at the word, which is clearly what this is. It's distracting for those who don't need it and demonstrably unhelpful for those who do.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

OctagonJoe wrote:The titles before "the horror" were The Shadow Line and The Lagoon, so either you typed in the wrong title or you buzzed with some luck. I think this tossup angered me the most and could've used some better early or middle clues. If you're going to pick a Conrad short story, you might pick The Secret Sharer, since it's often paired with Heart of Darkness. Alternatively, I hear Conrad also wrote some novels that are well known and actually read like Typhoon, Nostromo, Almayer's Folly, and Lord Jim, just to list a few.
Oh yeah, I mistyped that. I totally meant to say "The Lagoon." I think my point stands regardless.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by cvdwightw »

Vienna summit wrote:So, using Hungarian as a good benchmark for whether the pronunciation guides are doing what they're supposed to, I find again that they are not—we have [meend-SHEN-tee] as the pronunciation for Mindszenty. This is incorrect in three (!) ways. Please, if you're going to put pronunciation guides onto words, you can surely do better than the writer or editor of this question's best guess from looking at the word, which is clearly what this is. It's distracting for those who don't need it and demonstrably unhelpful for those who do.
Guy, up until this year I would have agreed with you. Now, in light of the NAQT-ACUI agreement, I'm inclined to emphatically disagree with you.

With the new ACUI agreements, SCT questions are being read by people who have no idea who Aristophanes or Goethe are, much less how to pronounce their names. Moderators are apparently skipping over science questions because they see words that have more than three syllables and end in "-ol" or "-ase." In short, people are butchering these questions left and right.

The only way some of these regions are going to get anywhere close to intelligible mumblings from inexperienced ACUI volunteers is if NAQT literally puts in pronunciation guides for every non-obvious proper noun and every only-marginally-common chemical or biological entity. I'd rather have an ACUI moderator take two seconds to read the pronunciation guide and incorrectly pronounce Mindszenty as "meend-SHEN-tee" than have that moderator take six seconds on the clock to slowly sound it out even more incorrectly or, as I have heard alleged about one actually-quizbowl-experienced moderator, spell unfamiliar words or names out letter by letter.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Sir Thopas »

cvdwightw wrote:I'd rather have an ACUI moderator take two seconds to read the pronunciation guide and incorrectly pronounce Mindszenty as "meend-SHEN-tee" than have that moderator take six seconds on the clock to slowly sound it out even more incorrectly or, as I have heard alleged about one actually-quizbowl-experienced moderator, spell unfamiliar words or names out letter by letter.
But why not take the fifteen seconds to look up the Wikipedia page on Hungarian orthography? My point was that, if you must have pronunciation guides, make them right.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

It was typographer Ed Benguiat [BEN-gat] who suggested he try Windsor Condensed, which he has used exclusively since 1977, with the exception of 1978's Interiors. The other hallmark of his credits, (*) jazz or classical music, may be suggested by his Monday night habit of playing jazz at Manhattan's Café Carlyle. For 10 points—name this director who combined these two in the credits for Celebrity, Match Point, and Annie Hall.
answer: Woody Allen (or Allen Stewart Konigsberg)
I just wanted to post this tossup from packet 16. The thing, I believe, speaks for itself.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Cheynem »

Yeah, this tossup sucks. I've seen a few Woody Allen films and read a bit about his works. He's a good dude to tossup, being a very important American filmmaker. Since I don't know what kind of font he uses in his credits and I had to parse that "Interiors" was a film title and not a phrase or something, I could not power it. Again, what kind of knowledge are you rewarding here? That you know the title of Woody's font? That you know he directed the unpopular film Interiors (which I did know, but again had to parse it a little bit)?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mechanical Beasts »

Yeah, I put a note in during editing that this was basically the worst thing ever; unfortunately, I know nothing about Woody Allen so I figured someone who did would make this into a tossup with clues. I am a novice in the NAQT editing process, unfortunately; my note may have gone unseen.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area »

I saw it, but know next to nothing of Woody Allen.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

You don't need to know anything about Woody Allen to know that clues about the typography of his credits are less than worthless. Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Not That Kind of Christian!! »

grapesmoker wrote:You don't need to know anything about Woody Allen to know that clues about the typography of his credits are less than worthless. Seriously, who thought this was a good idea?
I don't know shit about history, but I can write a not-execrable easy- to mid-level history tossup by avoiding clues that are clearly Wikitrivia. This fits the bill.

Anybody who knew nothing about Woody Allen could look at this tossup, say, "Well, clearly Celebrity, Match Point, and Annie Hall are three famous movies of his, and Annie Hall is probably the most famous," and write a tossup using some plot points from those movies.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Kyle »

Vienna summit wrote:
cvdwightw wrote:I'd rather have an ACUI moderator take two seconds to read the pronunciation guide and incorrectly pronounce Mindszenty as "meend-SHEN-tee" than have that moderator take six seconds on the clock to slowly sound it out even more incorrectly or, as I have heard alleged about one actually-quizbowl-experienced moderator, spell unfamiliar words or names out letter by letter.
But why not take the fifteen seconds to look up the Wikipedia page on Hungarian orthography? My point was that, if you must have pronunciation guides, make them right.
The pronunciation guides were very much appreciated by my British-accented readers, who giggled after every round about how "wonderfully American" they were, particularly the pronunciation guides for French words. "Kyle! Kyle! Look at this! It says dawnss zhay-nay-rahl! How perfectly American that is!" Do you really want to deny cultural amusement to your new British constituency by making the pronunciation guides accurate? I think not!
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by AKKOLADE »

I know a little bit about movies. Allen's usage of that certain typeface and the fact that he plays jazz are, like, factual, but really minor notes. If you want to work in "dude did X, so he worked X into his movies", then something about therapy should have been used. Still, it really should have used more plot clues or characters or hell, even titles.

As a side note, Kyle Haddad-Fonda going to Britain is the most amazing thing to every happen to these forums.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Kyle »

The Granny wrote:As a side note, Kyle Haddad-Fonda going to Britain is the most amazing thing to every happen to these forums.
NAQT's SCT host information suggested that all SCTs should be announced on the forums, which got first Peter and then Edmund to post here. I can't mock British quizbowlers openly anymore.

I do want to discuss one thing of substance in this thread, which is the tossup on tea parties. British people seem to care about the vagaries of American politics only so much as they intersect with sexual terminology, with the result that at least two of our four rooms had very, very early buzzes of "tea bagging" for "tea parties." I had suggested to the moderators that it is generally a good idea to prompt when in doubt about the acceptability of an answer, since you can't go back and prompt after the fact. One moderator, noting that tea bagging was specifically mentioned later in the question, prompted and, when the player came up with "tea parties," accepted it for power. A second moderator, noting that the lead-in referred to the first use of a specific term, negged "tea bagging" for "tea parties" at roughly the same spot in the question. Despite the obvious inconsistency, I let the decisions of both moderators stand since it wasn't worth it to make a big deal about it and nobody protested anyway. What should the moderators have done and what should I have done? My feeling is that the question actually was somewhat ambiguous, since, if you look back at it, it doesn't mention the first use of the specific phrase, but rather a particular speech from which the phrase in the answer line ("tea parties") was derived. Wasn't tea bagging also "derived" from this speech, albeit more indirectly, and thus deserving of a prompt?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Steve Watchorn »

I think the typography clue does have a place in a Woody Allen tossup as an opening clue (his distinct credit font is a defining characteristic), but only as the opening clue in a much longer question, and without having to spend time talking about the typographer. The trouble is that for anyone who gets an idea that it's Woody Allen from that clue, naming Interiors in the same line is going to be like dropping an anvil on the head. So, in effect, it's a high-level difficulty cliff. Saying something like "all but one" of his films since 1977 use that font, and then going into descriptions of some of the films (whether several second-tier ones or a few of the better-known ones) would have been preferable.

"All his post-1977 films save one have used Windsor Condensed font for the opening credits. Those films include..."

Not exactly inspired, but it gets to the point.
Last edited by Steve Watchorn on Tue Feb 09, 2010 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Steve Watchorn »

Hi Kyle... I almost wrote a Tea Party tossup, but couldn't get it into shape (the exact problem I was having was the nebulous definition and origin of the term). Another writer was able to take it on, though. Nonetheless, from my brief research, I believe the consensus is that "teabagging," as it applies to the Tea Party movement, was not coined at the same time at the Tea Party name itself. Because of the uncertainty, though, I probably would have added a prompt for that related term... but I tend to prompt on the generous side.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by AKKOLADE »

Steve Watchorn wrote:I think the typography clue does have a place in a Woody Allen tossup as an opening clue (his distinct credit font is a defining characteristic), but only as the opening clue in a much longer question, and without having to spend time talking about the typographer. The trouble is that for anyone who gets an idea that it's Woody Allen from that clue, naming Interiors in the same line is going to be like dropping an anvil on the head. So, in effect, it's a high-level difficulty cliff. Saying something like "all but one" of his films since 1977 use that font, and then going into descriptions of some of the films (whether several second-tier ones or a few of the better-known ones) would have been preferable.

"All his post-1977 films save one have used Windsor Condensed font for the opening credits. Those films include..."

Not exactly inspired, but it gets to the point.
Yeah, this is fair (though I think it might have been a bit early to jump into titlefest, but that's just me). If the clue was much (, much, much) shorter, I wouldn't bitch much about it.

As is, it's about 1/3 of the question, and that's too much.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Mike Bentley »

Speaking of film, it seemed like there was a ton of film in this tournament. It seemed like many packets had at least 1/1 of the subject, which is certainly a lot.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

Bentley Like Beckham wrote:Speaking of film, it seemed like there was a ton of film in this tournament. It seemed like many packets had at least 1/1 of the subject, which is certainly a lot.
Most of this was trash. While there were a lot of questions on movies, there weren't too many questions on movies that had anything to do with art.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by theMoMA »

Issues:

Tossup construction. In addition to the stuff about difficulty cliffs that I already posted (essentially, if you waste question space extensively describing things that few people know, you're not going to have room for the clues that good players live on), there are several issues that constantly crop up in NAQT tossups.

1) NAQT loves to use boring clues, especially in current events and geography. Instead of writing a question on a more general topic, using a myriad of interesting and helpful clues, NAQT will almost always favor writing on the clerking career of some Kansas senator or the highest peak and longest river of Togo. If you write that tossup on "Kansas" or pick a geography answer with more middle clues, you'll be able to lace your tossup with things that people are interested in, care about, and remember. And most importantly, you'll be able to use important clues. This is what makes NAQT's CE, geography, and trash so tedious to me. There are plenty of rich clues to be found in all of those areas, but when you've picked a specific answer instead of a more general one, you're forced to fill in the early part of the tossup with how many points per game someone had in 1983, or some made-for-TV movie that Mark Ruffalo starred in, or whatever.

2) Why do we still have tossups like that RIchard Lovelace one? Saying that "this is a poet from the 1600s who fought wars" should not comprise the entirety of a tossup; that's not literature! One could read the entirety of Lovelace's poetic corpus without answering that tossup until the giveaway. If the tossup is in "literature," it's supposed to test for literature knowledge.

3) A small but always-present minority of the answer choices were unbelievably stupid. A tossup on the sharp sign? Fear of thirteen diners? These answers just suck; I can't believe that deep knowledge of those things exist, let alone deep knowledge worth having.

4) A lot of the answers at this tournament were just too hard! In my mind, SCT shouldn't feel too different from a regular circuit tournament. Sure, there's a different distribution, shorter questions, and maybe a few NAQT pet topics, but it shouldn't be so much more empirically difficult than supposedly comparable circuit tournaments.

The reason that bonuses at SCT are too hard is because they too often simply lump three related things together without regard for whether the field actually knows those things in an easy-medium-hard order. Do you know three French cycling terms? Can you instantaneously apply Snell's law to a hypothetical situation? Can you do it three times? These are things that NAQT's bonuses are constantly asking. Also, academic quizbowlers can't be expected to be trash experts, so you need to throw them a bone with the easy part, and reign in the hard parts to things that are within our realm of caring.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Brian Ulrich »

I just wanted to say that I agree with Andrew Hart's critique of a lot of our current events, especially U.S. political current events.

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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area »

theMoMA wrote:4) A lot of the answers at this tournament were just too hard! In my mind, SCT shouldn't feel too different from a regular circuit tournament. Sure, there's a different distribution, shorter questions, and maybe a few NAQT pet topics, but it shouldn't be so much more empirically difficult than supposedly comparable circuit tournaments.
I look forward to seeing the conversion stats for this tournament. I thought last year's set had quite a few answers that were too hard. Just within history tossups I edited: (Jean Jaures, Battle of Kasserine Pass, Leander Jameson, Bartolome de Las Casas, Battle of Sluys, Miklos Horthy). All of those came in under 75% answerability, in part because I was faced with the choice of "use this well-written tossup that's ICT-hard, or write something myself to replace it at the last minute?" This year I went out of my way to both write replacements myself where needed, and to scale back the difficulty by selecting tossup answers that I thought could get really good conversion numbers of 90% or so. I'll be interested to see how the history in this set compared with last year's, and with the other categories.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Coelacanth »

bt_green_warbler wrote: I look forward to seeing the conversion stats for this tournament. I thought last year's set had quite a few answers that were too hard. Just within history tossups I edited: (Jean Jaures, Battle of Kasserine Pass, Leander Jameson, Bartolome de Las Casas, Battle of Sluys, Miklos Horthy). All of those came in under 75% answerability, in part because I was faced with the choice of "use this well-written tossup that's ICT-hard, or write something myself to replace it at the last minute?" This year I went out of my way to both write replacements myself where needed, and to scale back the difficulty by selecting tossup answers that I thought could get really good conversion numbers of 90% or so. I'll be interested to see how the history in this set compared with last year's, and with the other categories.
Just some observational stuff here which obviously won't be as useful to you as the raw stats...

I thought the tossup accessibility at this tournament was quite good. My impressions are probably tinted by the fact that I was reading for a D1 field in which four of the six teams were ICT-quality, but at no time did I think "this tossup is too hard". There were some "this tossup is unanswerable because it's asking for some bizarre thing or it's difficult to parse exactly what it's asking for", but on the whole I thought most of the answers fell into "things a good college team should be expected to know".

I think it was round 3 or 4 before I actually had a tossup go dead, and there were no more than a handful during the 10 rounds I read. Of course, Brendan was playing in my room for 5 of those rounds...
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

The (non-crazy) tossup answers at this tournament in the major categories were very accessible; I think that's an improvement in some sense over last year, but I hope we don't have to view SCT as a compromise between these two poles.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by cvdwightw »

Oh, while looking through the tossups that went dead when we played (13 out of 274 heard), I came across this mention in my notes:

Why was "trans-Canadian railroad" or other equivalent that mentioned that it was a railroad that went all the way across Canada not even promptable on that weird "Canadian Pacific" question?

A second thing that I am concerned about is the diluted D1 SCT field. A significant number of teams had only one or two players for reasons unrelated to "we're diluting our A team to get as many ICT bids as possible." At one point on Saturday Brian Lindquist asked me whether the D-Value takes into account the fact that teams are at half-strength, which no stat I know of can do because no stat can predict how many points a hypothetically-there player would add to a team. I wonder whether the depressed bonus conversion is a result of the questions really being that much harder or a result of diluted field strength, and I'm especially concerned that a half-strength team whose full-strength team would be second or third bracket at ICT would be bumped to the waitlist in favor of a full-strength team that has only a very slim chance at escaping the bottom bracket, given that I'm the one that did most of the design work on the new S-value.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area »

cvdwightw wrote:Why was "trans-Canadian railroad" or other equivalent that mentioned that it was a railroad that went all the way across Canada not even promptable on that weird "Canadian Pacific" question?
That should be promptable; my mistake. I'll fix it for the mid-Atlantic (and my apologies to anyone who negged with that knowledge).
cvdwightw wrote:At one point on Saturday Brian Lindquist asked me whether the D-Value takes into account the fact that teams are at half-strength, which no stat I know of can do because no stat can predict how many points a hypothetically-there player would add to a team. I wonder whether the depressed bonus conversion is a result of the questions really being that much harder or a result of diluted field strength, and I'm especially concerned that a half-strength team whose full-strength team would be second or third bracket at ICT would be bumped to the waitlist in favor of a full-strength team that has only a very slim chance at escaping the bottom bracket, given that I'm the one that did most of the design work on the new S-value.
For the reason you state, I don't think it's possible to design a stat that compensates for this. The only really plausible solution is to issue wildcard bids; and even then it would be something very near a wild guess whether a team putting up X numbers on ACF Regionals is third-bracket, while the marginal full-strength team is fourth-bracket.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Susan »

cvdwightw wrote: A second thing that I am concerned about is the diluted D1 SCT field. A significant number of teams had only one or two players for reasons unrelated to "we're diluting our A team to get as many ICT bids as possible." At one point on Saturday Brian Lindquist asked me whether the D-Value takes into account the fact that teams are at half-strength, which no stat I know of can do because no stat can predict how many points a hypothetically-there player would add to a team. I wonder whether the depressed bonus conversion is a result of the questions really being that much harder or a result of diluted field strength, and I'm especially concerned that a half-strength team whose full-strength team would be second or third bracket at ICT would be bumped to the waitlist in favor of a full-strength team that has only a very slim chance at escaping the bottom bracket, given that I'm the one that did most of the design work on the new S-value.
Are there reasons beyond "the players who would otherwise have been on the D1 team were helping the host staff the tournament"? Because that's a case where I think teams ought to get some sort of consideration if they get screwed over by it, but if there are other non-bid-fishing explanations for the shorthanded D1 squads, I don't know what they are.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

bt_green_warbler wrote:For the reason you state, I don't think it's possible to design a stat that compensates for this. The only really plausible solution is to issue wildcard bids; and even then it would be something very near a wild guess whether a team putting up X numbers on ACF Regionals is third-bracket, while the marginal full-strength team is fourth-bracket.
Actually, this raises an important question. I don't think anyone would disagree that Illinois, Minnesota, Chicago, and Brown would, at full strength, most likely be the top seeds in their respective brackets. But since Brown A was me playing solo, the likely Chicago A was chopped in half, Illinois played on DII packets (and was composed of Mike and Donald, at best half of a real Illinois A team), and Minnesota A was Brendan playing solo, it's entirely likely that based simply on D-values, not all of those teams would get top seeding. Is NAQT planning to account for the full-strength teams that are going to be present at the actual ICT?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Important Bird Area »

If I understand your question: we're definitely not going to use the raw D-values as the endpoint of seeding ICT. (Their primary intent is as a qualification system; we have always used the qualification data as just one part of an ICT seeding system that inevitably has a bunch of judgment calls in it of the form "how good is the team from this host autobid likely to be?")
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by grapesmoker »

bt_green_warbler wrote:If I understand your question: we're definitely not going to use the raw D-values as the endpoint of seeding ICT. (Their primary intent is as a qualification system; we have always used the qualification data as just one part of an ICT seeding system that inevitably has a bunch of judgment calls in it of the form "how good is the team from this host autobid likely to be?")
Ok, that's what I wanted to know, thanks.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Sen. Estes Kefauver (D-TN) »

Did anyone pick out the foreign language question this year?
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Sir Thopas »

Katamari Damacy wrote:Did anyone pick out the foreign language question this year?
Languages of Brazil would be my guess.
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Brian Ulrich »

The foreign language question:
Teaching in this system was promoted by the {Z.T. experiment} and the textbooks of John DeFrancis. This system replaced that used by the Postal Map Reorganization of 1906. It does not use the notions of (*) consonants or vowels, but rather "initials" and "finals." It represents the {alveolo-palatal fricative} with the letter "X", in contrast to previous use of "HS." The official transliteration system for Mandarin Chinese is--for 10 points--what system now used in preference to Wade-Giles?

answer: _pinyin_
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Re: Welcome to the 2010 SCT discussion.

Post by Marble-faced Bristle Tyrant »

Brian Ulrich wrote:The foreign language question:
Teaching in this system was promoted by the {Z.T. experiment} and the textbooks of John DeFrancis. This system replaced that used by the Postal Map Reorganization of 1906. It does not use the notions of (*) consonants or vowels, but rather "initials" and "finals." It represents the {alveolo-palatal fricative} with the letter "X", in contrast to previous use of "HS." The official transliteration system for Mandarin Chinese is--for 10 points--what system now used in preference to Wade-Giles?

answer: _pinyin_
I think in the same packet was "Tell us the category of these Indian things FTPE", though it may have been categorized as something else.
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